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2nd May 2023

China’s anti-espionage law


China’s legislature recently approved sweeping amendments to China’s anti-espionage law.

  • The amended law broadened the scope of what may be defined as activities related to spying and national security. 
    • The expanded law follows the Xi Jinping government’s increasing focus on “security” and a recent policy shift that now emphasises the dual importance of “development and security”, rather than a focus solely on economic development.
    • The recent amendments are to China’s 2014 anti-espionage law.
  • The latest amendments are the first changes since 2014 and will take effect on July 1, 2023.

What is China’s anti-espionage law?

  • Objective: Article 1 of the law says the idea behind the legislation is “to prevent, stop and punish espionage conduct and maintain national security.” 
  • Promoting national anti-espionage efforts: The law encourages ordinary citizens to take part in national anti-espionage efforts by reporting to the authorities any activity deemed to be suspicious and endangering national security.
  • Protecting State Secrets: They have further broadened the law’s scope, with one of the changes declaring that “all documents, data, materials, and items related to national security and interests” will be protected on par with what is deemed state secrets. 
  • Extended definition of espionage: The definition of espionage has also been expanded to include cyber-attacks. 
    • Essentially, the transfer of any information deemed by authorities to be in the interest of what they define to be “national security” will now be considered an act of espionage.
  • The latest change “improves the regulations on cyber espionage” and “clearly defines cyberattacks, intrusions, interference, control and destruction” as espionage.

What are the areas of concern?

  • The broad ambit of what constitutes “national security” as well as the law’s focus on involving a “whole of society” approach to counter-espionage, including from Chinese enterprises and organisations, evoked concerns among both rights groups and foreign enterprises in China.
  • Foreign governments are especially concerned whether Chinese companies, particularly in the tech sector, would be mandated to offer their vast amounts of data to the authorities. 
  • For instance, one article of the law mandates that “all State organs, armed forces, political parties and public groups, and all enterprises and organisations, have the obligation to prevent and stop espionage activities and maintain national security.” 

What are the likely impacts?

The amended law is likely to have a chilling impact both within China and beyond.

  • Restriction on Chinese journalists: Chinese journalists, academics and executives who frequently engage with foreign counterparts are likely to think twice before doing so, at least without explicit government sanction.
  • The toll on unrestricted engagements: Unrestricted engagement between Chinese and foreign scholars, which has already become limited in the Xi Jinping era, is likely to become even rarer. 
  • Close watch on foreigners: Foreign enterprises are also likely to be concerned.

How Indian Companies (in China) would be impacted?

  • Indian companies with a presence in China, particularly in sectors deemed to be sensitive such as pharma and IT, will likely need to review their exposure to risks under the expanded law and broadened definitions of “national security”, particularly amid deteriorating relations between the neighbours.

India Leads In Russian Oil ‘Laundering’ To Europe


A new report by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) has found that European countries that banned Russian oil imports are instead importing huge amounts of oil commodities from India, China, United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Turkey, therefore qualifying them as laundromats. 

Key Highlights of the Report

  • The report, titled Laundromat: How the price cap coalition whitewashes Russian Oil in third countries, reveals that Western countries bought $42 billion worth of laundered Russian crude in the form of various oil products from nations that are friendly towards Russia, with India leading the five other countries. 
  • For instance, India’s diesel exports tripled to ~1,600,000 barrels per day in March 2023, compared to a year ago, making diesel one of the largest components of India-EU trade.
  • India has particularly been offering a back door for imports of Russian oil into Britain, blunting the country’s efforts to restrict funding for the Kremlin. 
  • The CREA report said the most oil products were being exported from two ports in Gujarat: 
    • the Sikka port that services the Reliance-owned Jamnagar refinery
    • the Vadinar port that ships oil products

Japan to train 1,000 Indian engineers before transfer of bullet train tech


Japanese experts will train 1,000 Indian engineers for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail corridor before starting work on the track system.


  • The Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train will use the ballast-less Slab Track system (popularly known as the J Slab track system), which is used in Japan's Shinkansen high-speed railways.
  • Slab Track consists of precast Reinforced Concrete (RC) slab, over which fastening devices and rails are fitted. 
  • The Japanese track system is unparalleled globally, and its installation requires technicians with exceptional proficiency. 
  • 20 Japanese experts will certify the skills of Indian engineers, supervisors and technicians through intensive training, paving the way for the transfer of technology to the Japanese HSR track system.
  • JARTS, a Japanese non-profit, nominated by Japan International Cooperation Agency  (JICA), will provide training for the MAHSR project.

India’s First Bullet Train Project

  • Presently, MAHSAR is the only sanctioned high-speed rail project in the country.
  • The High-Speed Rail operating at 320 mph will traverse along west India’s landscape, covering a 508.17 km distance between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in just about two hours. 
  • This will save time compared to current travel time between the two terminal stations by about nine hours (by bus) or six hours (by conventional railways).
  • It will cover 155.76 km in Maharashtra, 4.3 km in the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and 348.04 km in Gujarat, with 12 stations en route.
  • The first trial run of the MAHSR project is scheduled for August 2026 between Surat and Bilimora (63 km).
  • The government is yet to determine a final deadline for the entire project.

ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise (AIME-2023)


Two frontline warships of the Indian Navy (INS Satpura and INS Delhi) reached Singapore to participate in the inaugural edition of the ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise.


    • The ASEAN-India Maritime Exercise (AIME-2023) aims to provide an opportunity for the Indian Navy and ASEAN navies to work closely with each other and conduct seamless operations in the maritime domain.
    • The harbour phase of the exercise is scheduled to be held at the Changi Naval Base, while the sea phase will be conducted in the South China Sea. 
      • The South China Sea has been witnessing major military assertiveness by China in the last few years. 
      • New Delhi’s move to increase its maritime security cooperation with the ASEAN region comes amidst China’s growing belligerence not only on land in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control but also in the Indian Ocean, South China Sea, east China Sea, Taiwan Strait and elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific Region.
  • With AIME-2023 India becomes the 4th ASEAN dialogue partner, after Russia, China and the US to hold the ASEAN+1 maritime exercise in which navies of the Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Brunei.
  • INS Delhi is India's first indigenously-built guided missile destroyer.
  • INS Satpura is an indigenously-built guided missile stealth frigate.

Both ships are part of the navy's Eastern Fleet based in Visakhapatnam. The ships are fitted with state-of-the-art weapons and sensors. 

1st ever OBC survey gets underway in Odisha


The Odisha government began its first-ever survey of the social and educational conditions of people belonging to 208 backward castes.

About Population Census
  • Population census is a Union subject.
  • The Government of India has been conducting a decennial census continuously since 1951 as per the provisions of the Census Act, 1948.
  • India’s decennial census was supposed to be conducted in 2021, however, it has been inordinately delayed.
  • Due to this delay, states like Bihar and Odisha have stepped forward to carry out their own census exercises. 

What is the Exact Population of the OBCs?

  • When the Mandal Commission wrote its report in 1979-80, it relied on the 1931 census data to estimate the OBC population and came up with the number of 52%. 
  • That report itself is now more than four decades old but the magic number of 52%, which was a guesstimate based on the 1931 census, gets thrown around whenever the OBC population is discussed.

Scheduled Tribe status for the Meitei community


Members of the Meitei community in Manipur, which has been seeking Scheduled Tribe status for decades, have now said that they intend to file contempt proceedings against the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, which recently passed a resolution opposing their inclusion.

What is the issue?

  • The Manipur High Court recently directed the state government to consider a demand to include the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes list.
  • The order revived old anxieties and further widened ethnic fault lines in the state.

Hill Areas Committee (HAC) of the Manipur Legislative Assembly

  • The HAC was set up through a 1972 order and comprises legislators of all constituencies that fall partly or wholly within the State’s hilly areas.
  • The tribal hill districts of Manipur enjoy special protections under Article 371C of the Constitution, which says that all laws affecting the districts must be vetted by the hill areas committee of the Manipur Legislative Assembly.

Major tribes of Manipur

  • Naga and Kuki: Manipur’s two major tribal communities – Naga and Kuki – live in the hill districts, which account for about 90% of the state’s area. 
    • But these 10 districts send only 20 legislators to the 60-member legislative assembly since they are more sparsely populated than the Valley. 
  • Meiteis: The Meiteis, who account for 60% of the state’s population, are largely concentrated in the Imphal Valley.

Points made by Meitei Community

  • The community, through the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur, has been demanding ST status for decades now. 
  • They argue that they had been listed as one of the tribes of Manipur before it merged with India in 1949 but that they lost this tag when the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 was drafted. 
  • Claiming that they had thus been left out of the ST list, they had persisted with their demands.

Analyzing protection given to Meitei Community

  • The Meitei community, a majority of whom follow Hinduism, is already protected under the Constitution. 
  • Most of them are categorised either as Other Backward Classes or Scheduled Castes.
  • The upper castes among them are also entitled to reservation under the economically weaker section (EWS) quota.

Centre decides to extend Smart Cities Mission deadline till June 2024


The Centre has decided to extend the Smart Cities Mission deadline by one year, from June 2023 to June 2024.

About Smart Cities Mission
    • The flagship mission was launched on June 25, 2015
    • It involves the development of 100 cities into smart cities.
    • The project aims to improve the quality of life for people living in India and drive economic growth. 
  • Implementation of the Scheme
    • The Union Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for implementing the mission. 
    • Also, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in each state is created, headed by the CEO; they look after the implementation of the mission

Mapping the urban population

  • Almost 31% of the population of India lives in cities, and they contribute 63% of the GDP, as per the data collected in Census 2011. 
  • It is believed that by 2030 around 40% of India will be living in cities and contribute 75% to the GDP.

Rare melanistic tiger found dead in Odisha’s Similipal Tiger Reserve


A rare melanistic tiger was found dead in Odisha’s Simlipal National Park (STR) in the Mayurbhanj district.

About Similipal Tiger Reserve
  • Similipal Tiger Reserve is the only place in the world to house the rare black tigers.
  • STR was declared one of the nine Tiger Reserves of India in 1973, it is the second-largest biosphere reserve in Asia and is listed under the UNESCO network of biosphere reserves. 
  • Tigers:
    • The Similipal reserve had three adult melanistic tigers, according to the 2016 all-India tiger survey. 
    • Similipal tigers are part of a distinct lineage of central Indian tigers that occasionally includes melanistic tigers. These melanistic tigers have no other home in the world.
    • Tigers are pseudo-melanistic because they have black and yellow stripes on their bodies.

Short News Article

Polity & Governance

Millets Experience Centre 

NAFED in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW) established the Millets Experience Centre with an aim to raise awareness on Millets and encourage their adoption among the general public.

About MEC

  • The setting up of the MEC is a step in becoming a ‘Global Hub’ for Millets, 
  • The ministry-led initiative of establishing a consumer-oriented ‘Millets Experience Centre’ would not only promote the dietary benefits of the ancient grain but also popularize millets or Shree Anna as a nutritional powerhouse fit for cooking a variety of dishes like Millets dosa, Millets pasta, etc.

International Year of Millets (IYM 2023)

  • Acting upon India’s proposal supported by 72 countries, the United Nations General Assembly declared the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets (IYM 2023).
  • The declaration positioned India at the forefront of the celebrations and the Government of India has been working on ‘mission mode’ to champion millets as a crop good for farmers, the environment, and consumers.


Scientists discover new Seamounts

In an astonishing discovery, scientists have reported finding 19,325 new seamounts after poring through new high-resolution data.

About Seamount

  • A seamount is an underwater mountain. 
  • They are formed through volcanic activity and scientists recognise them as hotspots for marine life. Like volcanoes on land, seamounts can be active, extinct or dormant volcanoes. 
  • Most seamounts are formed near mid-ocean ridges, where the earth’s tectonic plates are moving apart, allowing molten rock to rise to the seafloor. 
  • The planet’s two most-studied mid-ocean ridges are the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the East Pacific Rise. 
  • Some seamounts have also been found near intraplate hotspots – regions of heavy volcanic activity within a plate – and oceanic island chains with volcanic and seismic activity called island arcs. 


EU agrees rules to boost use of sustainable fuels in aviation

The EU has agreed rules requiring airlines to start using green aviation fuels from 2025 as it steps up plans to lower emissions from one of the bloc’s most polluting sectors.

About SAF

  • Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is a carbon-reduction solution that is available for use in aircraft and helicopters operating today. 
  • It is a “drop-in” fuel blended with up to 50% conventional jet fuel, requiring no aircraft modifications. 
  • SAF can reduce life cycle CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional fuel.


India to join international climate action in civil aviation from 2027

India will start participating in the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) and the Long-Term Aspirational Goals (LTAG) from 2027. 


  • The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is a global scheme to address emissions from international air travel. 
  • Agreed on in 2016 by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), it obliges airlines to monitor and report their emissions from 2019 and to purchase emission reduction units generated by projects in other sectors, to cover any growth in CO2 emissions above 2020 levels from 2021.
  • CORSIA is implemented in three phases: 
    • a pilot phase (2021-2023)
    • a first phase (2024-2026)
    • a second phase (2027-2035)
  • For the first two phases (2021-2026), participation is voluntary. 
  • From 2027 onwards, participation will be determined based on 2018 RTK data. 
  • As of 1 January 2023, 115 States had announced their intention to participate in CORSIA.


The Importance Of Constitutional Punctuality


Constitutional high offices must evolve guidelines to discharge their duties in a time-bound manner, safeguarding the will of the people

The Background:

  • The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed a resolution seeking to provide for a time frame for Governors to act on Bills passed by the State Legislature as the Governor of Tamil Nadu withheld assent to as many as 13 Bills passed by the TN Assembly.
  • The Supreme Court of India, while disposing of a case filed by the State of Telangana against its Governor, remarked that Governors should not sit over Bills indefinitely.
  • All constitutional high offices including those of the President of India and Speakers of Assemblies must suo motu evolve guidelines to discharge duties in a time-bound manner.

Evolving constitutional scheme

  • Article 200 of the Constitution limits the options before the Governor to give assent to the Bill sent by the legislature, or withhold assent, or reserve a Bill for the consideration of the President.
  • The original draft Article 175 moved for discussion in 1949 read as: “Provided that where there is only one House of the Legislature and the Bill has been passed by that House, the Governor may, in his discretion, return the Bill together with a message requesting that the House will reconsider the Bill.
  • In 1949, B.R. Ambedkar said there “can be no room for a Governor acting on discretion” and recommended removing the phrase “the Governor, in his discretion”. 
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