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30th January 2023

All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2020-21


The Union Ministry of Education has released data from the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), 2020-2021, which showed a 7.5% increase in student enrolments across the country as compared to 2019-20.

Key highlights of the survey:
  • The data shows that total student enrolments reached 4.13 crore.
  • The rise in distance education:
    • The survey also revealed that in the year when the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was a 7% rise in enrolments in distance education programmes.
  • Increase in enrolment of students from weaker sections of society:
    • There were 2 lacks more SC students enrolled in 2020-21 compared to the previous survey.
    • About 3 lack more ST students and 6 lack more OBC students getting enrolled for higher education.
  • Overall enrolment reduced:
    • While the increase was noted in absolute numbers compared to 2019-20, the proportion of SC students dropped to 14.2% in 2020-21 from 14.7% the previous year.
    • The proportion of OBC students also dropped to 35.8% in 2020-21 from 37% the previous year. 
  • Data for minority communities:
    • The proportion of Muslim students enrolling on higher education dropped from 5.5% in 2019-20 to 4.6% in 2020-21.
    • Also the proportion of ‘other minority students’ dropped from 2.3% to 2% in the year 2020-21.
  • Women participation:
    • Female enrolment in higher education programmes had increased to 49% of total enrolments in 2020-21 compared to 45% the previous year.
  • The Gross Enrolment Ratio: For all enrolments (as per the 2011 Census) increased by over 2 points to 27.3.

The highest enrolment was seen at the undergraduate level, which accounted for 78.9% of all enrolments, followed by postgraduate level courses, which accounted for 11.4% of the year’s total enrolments.

The popular courses:
  • At Undergraduate level: The highest enrolment at the undergraduate level was in the Arts stream, followed by science and Engineering.
  • At Postgraduate level: At this level, the highest number of enrolment was in the Social science stream.
  • At STEM platform: The overall figures for STEM enrolments (at all levels of higher education) showed that women lagged behind men, who accounted for over 56% of enrolments in these fields.
  • At PhD level: The most popular course was in the field of Engineering and Technology, followed by Science.
The Listing for Institutions:
  • During 2020-21, the number of Universities has increased by 70, and the number of Colleges has increased by 1,453.
  • The maximum increase came in State public universities and State private universities, increasing to 17 and 38 respectively,
  • The number of universities increased followed by a rise of 14 in the number of Institutes of National Importance and an increase of 3 in the number of Central Universities. 
Data for Teachers:
  • The number of teachers increased across higher education institutes, but the SC and ST teachers continued to be under-represented.
  • At the All-India level:
    • 2% of teachers belong to the General category;
    • 2% to OBC
    • 1% to SC and
    • 5% to the ST category
  • Minority community teachers: About 5.6% of teachers come from a Muslim minority group and 8.8% are from other minority groups.
  • Women representation: There were 75 female teachers for every 100 males across institutes in the country.
  • The teacher-pupil ratio:
    • It was at 27 for all universities, colleges and standalone institutions and at 24 if only regular mode is considered.
    • It concluded that the best teacher-pupil ratio was found in States like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka

Increase in Death penalty by trial courts


According to the Annual Death Penalty Report 2022, the Supreme Court has called for reform in death penalty sentencing.

About the report:
  • Released by: ‘Project 39A’, a criminal reforms advocacy group with the National Law University, Delhi.
  • Key highlights:
    • According to NCRB data, 165 death penalties were awarded by trial courts since 2000.
    • The corresponding figure for the last five years was;
  • 146 in 2021, 78 in 2020, 104 in 2019, 163 in 2018, and 110 in 2017.
  • Sole decision taken by trial courts: The report notes that 3% of the death penalty cases were decided by trial courts “without any materials on mitigating circumstances of the accused and without any state-led evidence on the question of reform.”
What is the death penalty in India?
  • Hanging and shooting are the two methods of the death penalty in India.
  • According to the Criminal Procedure Code, hanging is the method of execution in the civilian court system.
  • The Army Act, of 1950, however, lists hanging and shooting as official methods of execution in the military court-martial system.
  • Under the provisions of criminal procedure, the death penalty must be awarded as an alternative punishment to life imprisonment which the offenders may be sentenced to in 'rarest of rare cases'.

Rarest of rare cases

Rarest rare cases can be described as those when the murder is committed in an extremely brutal, ridiculous, diabolical, revolting, or reprehensible manner so as to awaken the intense and extreme indignation in the community. 

When total depravity and cruelty are the motives behind a murder.

The process to grant a death sentence:
  • Mercy petition process:
  • For a convict to file a mercy petition, his/her death sentence must be confirmed by a high court first.
  • The law says: “The death sentence convict can appeal to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court either refuses to hear the appeal or upholds the death sentence, then the convict or his relatives can submit a mercy petition to the President of India (Articles 72) or the Governor of the State (161).
  • Grounds to seek mercy appeal: physical fitness, age, the law was too harsh, or the convict is the sole breadwinner of the family.
  • According to Article 72 of the Constitution, the power to pardon — the philosophy of which is “every civilised country recognises and provides for the pardoning power as an act of grace and humanity in course of law” — lies with the President.
  • The Article also states that he/she can grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or suspend, remit or commute the convict.

The mercy petition is reviewed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which consults the state involved, before going to the President.

Supreme Court’s stand:
  • A three-judge bench headed by then Chief Justice of India U U Lalit had referred the issue of reconsidering death penalty sentencing to a five-judge bench.
  • The court had asked for a “uniform approach” to granting real and meaningful opportunities to convicts on death row.
  • The court has also mandated trial courts to collect psychiatric and psychological evaluations of the convict before holding that there is no possibility of reform and awarding a death sentence.
What are the issues in the current system?

A Supreme Court Bench led by Justice U.U. Lalit made the following observations:

  • Quick decision: In some cases, trial courts sentence a person to death merely hours after conviction.
  • Little effort to unearth the issue: Little effort is taken to unearth or understand the circumstances which led a person to commit the crime. In short, trial judges hardly know the people they are sending to the gallows.
  • Ignored individual details: No effort is ever made to dig deeper into a convict's childhood experiences, multi-generational history of physical and mental health issues, exposure to traumatic events and other familial, social and cultural factors crucial in order to undertake an individualised sentencing enquiry.
  • Mitigation expert: The court said a "mitigation expert", a qualified professional with unhindered access to the convict's past, ought to be at the centre of this change in outlook.
  • This 'one-size-fits-all' approach while considering mitigating factors during sentencing should end. A more enlightened approach has to be evolved. The apex court's introspection may be a sign of the judiciary veering away from the death penalty.

Capital Punishment and international standards:

Capital punishment founds its place in international human rights treaties as a facet of the right to life as imbibed in “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘ICCPR’)”, it was later discovered that implementation of capital punishment violates the norms of the prohibition against cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and punishment. With the enforcement of the second ICCPR, there had been an increasing trend towards the removal of capital punishment as a way of punishment.

New genus of wasp identified


The scientific community has named a new genus of wasp after the Soliga community of Karnataka.

  • Wasp is a social winged insect which has a narrow waist and a sting and is typically yellow with black stripes.
  • It constructs a paper nest from wood pulp and raises the larvae on a diet of insects.
  • In recognition of the conservation of forests and biodiversity of the indigenous people.
  • Genus named: Soliga ecarinata is an acknowledgement of the Soliga lifestyle which is rooted in the philosophy of sustainability since ancient days.
  • This is the second genus of this subfamily reported from India and the first from South India

Key features of the Species:

  • The new wasp belongs to the subfamily Metopiinae of Darwin wasps’ family Ichneumonidae.
  • The subfamily Metopiinae has 862 species in 27 genera including two fossil genera.
  • Most of these species are seen only in the Palaearctic region, Neotropical and Nearctic regions.

The species is named ‘ecarinata’ denoting the absence of ridges in certain body regions and this new insect is strikingly colourful and distinct from all its relatives.

The Soliga community:

  • The Soliga people are a tribal community found in the Biligiri Rangana (BR) Hills in the district of Chamarajanagar, in the southern state of Karnataka, India.

  • They belong to the Australoid ethnic group: dark complexion, curly hair, short stature, a dolichocephalic head, a sunken nasal root and a depressed nasal bridge.
  • They speak the Soliganudia dialect that has 65% lexical similarity with Kannada, a Dravidian language spoken in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
  • The Soliga used to practice shifting cultivation.
  • They grow Ragi(Finger millet, Eleusine coracana) for subsistence.
  • Their main source of income is harvesting and sale of Non-timber Forest Produce (NTFP) like honey, nellikai(gooseberry, Emblica officinalis), bamboo, Paasi (Lichen), algae, wild turmeric, Indian blackberry, soapnut and nennari (wild root).
  • They also make baskets using bamboo.
  • Religion followed: Soliga people follow naturism and animism along with following Hindu practices and their main deities are Madeshwara.






Tax on tobacco products


The GST system for tobacco taxation is hindering efforts in regulating consumption and protecting public health.

Taxation of tobacco products in India:

  • Sugar, rum and tobacco are widely consumed and is a good candidates for taxation.
  • However, research in India has shown that tobacco taxes have not increased significantly since the implementation of the Goods and Services Taxation (GST) over five years ago.
  • Despite cigarettes accounting for only 15% of tobacco users, they generate 80% or more of tobacco taxes.
  • In India, the share of central excise duty in total tobacco taxes decreased substantially from pre-GST to post-GST for;
    • Cigarettes (54% to 8%),
    • Bidis (17% to 1%), and
    • Smokeless tobacco (59% to 11%).
  • A large part of the compensation cess as well as the National Calamity Contingent Duty (NCCD), currently applied to tobacco products is specific.

NCCD is levied as a duty of excise on certain manufactured goods specified under the Seventh Schedule of the Finance Act, 2001.

GST regime for tobacco:

  • The GST rates on certain smokeless tobacco ingredients such as tobacco leaves, tendu leaves, betel leaves, areca nuts, etc. have either zero or 5%-18% GST. 
  • The current six-tiered tax structure for cigarettes is complex and creates opportunities for cigarette companies to avoid taxes legally by manipulating cigarette lengths and filters for similarly named brands.
  • Smokeless tobacco products in India are taxed ineffectively due to their small retail pack size (often 1/2 gram or less) which keeps the price low. 

Why do tobacco products have fewer taxes?

  • Tobacco manufacturers in the informal sector: Many smokeless tobacco and bidi manufacturers operate in the informal sector, which reduces the tax base on these products.
    • While these exemptions are intended to protect small businesses, the public health rationale requires that they not be extended to businesses that produce or distribute tobacco products.
  • End to the monopoly of States: After GST, States can no longer raise taxes on tobacco, which hinders their ability to increase revenue and regulate consumption.
    • While a uniform tax across the country is good, not increasing it at the national level at regular intervals harms public health.


  • Increasing Health issues: Despite the government’s goal of making India a $5 trillion economy, the increasing affordability of tobacco poses a threat to this vision and could harm GDP growth.
    • Bidis and smokeless tobacco have low taxes, encouraging consumption.
    • Tobacco use is also the cause of nearly 3,500 deaths in India every day, which impacts human capital and GDP growth in a negative way.
  • Increasing economic burden of government: In 2017, the economic burden and health-care expenses due to tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure amounted to Rs 2,340 billion, or 1.4% of GDP.


  • To standardise and increase the retail price, mandatory standardised packing should be implemented for smokeless tobacco pouches (at least 50 g-100 g).
  • Inflation indexing should be made mandatory for any specific tax rates applied to tobacco products.
  • Both the GST Council and the Union Budget should take the opportunity to significantly increase taxes on all tobacco products, including bidis, cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco, through hikes in excise duties or compensation cess.

Situational awareness in aviation and its criticality


A Court of Inquiry has been set up to ascertain the cause of the crash of an IAF Sukhoi-30 (Su-30) and a Mirage-2000.

Details of the news:

  • The two fighter jets had taken off from the Gwalior air base on a training sortie.
  • The Mirage-2000 crashed at Morena, Madhya Pradesh, killing its pilot Wing Commander Hanumanth Rao Sarathi.
  • The Su-30 crashed at Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Both pilots in the Su-30 ejected
  • The inquiry will establish the exact cause of the crash.
  • The investigation is likely to ascertain, among other things, if loss of ‘Situational Awareness (SA)’ was one of the factors responsible for the tragedy.

What is situational awareness (SA) in aviation?

  • Simply put, it’s the cockpit crew’s mental picture of the aircraft’s location in relation to the terrain and other aircraft in the vicinity in a constantly changing.
  • An aircraft is constantly in motion and moves at great speed covering huge distances; presenting an ever-changing SA, the crew has to keep up with.
  • The crew builds this ‘mental model’ from the array of cockpit instruments, maps, charts, data being fed from outside (ATC, other pilots) and even ‘looking outside’ on a clear day.

Why is SA important for Civilian flying?

  • To avoid accidents: The loss of SA has caused mid-air collisions between civilian aircraft too, especially in airspace near airports where traffic is high with several planes taking off or preparing to land around the same time.
  • Maintain terrain identifications: Loss of SA has also caused passenger jets to collide with mountains in poor visibility.

Technologies like the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) and the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) have vastly helped improve the cockpit crew’s SA and, consequently, prevent potential collisions, in mid-air or with the terrain.

Short News Article


Mughal Garden renamed as Amrit Udyan

The iconic Mughal Gardens at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi were renamed as the ‘Amrit Udyan’.


  • As the Mughal Gardens become the Amrit Udyan, a part of the grand Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
  • The renaming has done to end the long legacy of foreign invasions in the country.
  • Unique features of the garden:
  • The Mughal garden was made in the charbagh structure which was intended to create a representation of an earthly utopia – jannat – in which humans co-exist in perfect harmony with all elements of nature.
  • The roses remain the star attraction of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • It has rectilinear layouts, divided in four equal sections; these gardens can be found across lands previously ruled by the Mughal.
  • A defining feature of these gardens is the use of waterways, often to demarcate the various quadrants of the garden.
  • These were not only crucial to maintain the flora of the garden; they also were an important part of its aesthetic.
  • Fountains were often built, symbolising the “cycle of life.”



Beating Retreat Ceremony 2023





Recently, the Beating retreat ceremony was attended by President as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister.


  • The ceremony was held in Vijay Chowk, Delhi, as a sombre end to the four-day-long Republic Day celebrations in India, including the Republic Day parade held nearby a few days prior.
  • It consists of synchronised marches and memorable musical pieces.
  • Such a ceremony was also held by Armed Forces in the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and others.

What is Beating retreat means?

  • Also called ‘Beating the Retreat’ traces its origin in India to the early 1950s.
  • The idea marks a centuries-old military tradition when the troops ceased fighting, sheathed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield to return to their camps at sunset at the sound of the Retreat.

Features of the Ceremony:

  • The musical bands: The bands are a unique feature, and this year 29 Indian tunes will be played by the music bands of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the State Police and the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF).
  • The bands play these songs and the national flag is unfurled.
  • Instruments used: Military Bands, Pipes and Drums Bands, Buglers and Trumpeters from various Army Regiments perform during the ceremony.

Art and Culture

Toys in India


Traditional toys of India are in verge of extinction and needs revival.


  • The Indian toy industry and craftspeople face survival challenges in today’s market, despite “vocal for local” initiative.
  • Some of the indigenous toys are:
    • Pallankuzhi,
    • Natungram wooden dolls,
    • Kondapalli toys,
    • Channapatna toys,
    • chaturanga, 
    • pachisi, 
    • bhatukali, 
    • bagh chal and 
    • kathputli are some of the traditional toys and games.

Traditional toys and Competition:

  • Traditional Indian toys cannot compete with video games, flexi toys, moving and spinning toys, robotic and AI-enabled toys of China and other countries.
  • Moreover, Chinese toys are available in all variants: electric, mechanical, plastic, wooden and soft cloth versions.


Warning bells


  • In the recent report, the scam allegations on Adani group has cited concerns for investors and questioned over the regulatory environment in India on companies stock manipulation activities.

Key points of the report:

  • Manipulating stocks: According to the U.S.-based short sellers report, the group is practicing stock manipulation and questionable accounting practices’.
  • Dragged down the stocks of SBI and LIC: These activities have dragged down banking shares led by the State Bank of India and even the state-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) appreciably.
  • Threat to investors of the Company: The report highlighted that loss of stocks has triggered investor concern about broader financial sector stability in the market.
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