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31st January 2023

Panel for OBC Sub-Categorisation Gets its 14th Extension


The commission under former Chief Justice of the Delhi high court, G. Rohini, which is tasked with the sub-categorisation of the Other Backward Classes has been given its 14th extension by the President.



  • The commission under Justice Rohini was formed in October 2017.
  • The commission was formed by the President under Article 340 of the constitution.
  • Objective: to slot the nearly 3,000 caste groups that makeup India’s OBCs into categories. 
    • The commission would then have to recommend how the 27% reservation for OBCs could be distributed among these sub-categories in a manner that was most equitable.
  • It was first given 12 weeks to slot the nearly 3,000 caste groups that makeup India's OBCs into categories.

Need to make classification:

Uneven distribution

  • In 2018, a consultation paper prepared by the commission was reported to have found that of the jobs and educational positions reserved for OBCs at the Central level, 97% have gone to people from less than a quarter of all OBC sub-castes.
  • In addition, 938 OBC sub-castes – which make up 37% of the total number – have no representation at all in the reserved seats.
  • To examine the uneven distribution of reservation benefits among different castes in the central OBC list.
  • To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms, and parameters in a scientific approach for sub-categorisation within such OBCs.
  • To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes/communities/sub-castes/synonyms for comprehensive data coverage.

Evolution of OBC status in India:

  • The Kalelkar Commission, set up in 1953, was the first to identify backward classes other than the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) at the national level.
  • The Mandal Commission Report, 1980 estimated the OBC population at 52% and classified 1,257 communities as backward.
    • It recommended increasing the existing quotas, which were only for SC/ST, from 22.5% to 49.5% to include the OBCs.
  • Constitutional Backing for OBC reservation:
  • The central government reserved 27% of seats in union civil posts and services for OBCs [Article 16(4)].
    • The quotas were subsequently enforced in central government educational institutions [Article 15 (4)].
  • In 2008, the Supreme Court directed the central government to exclude the creamy layer (advanced sections) among the OBCs.
  • The 102nd Constitution Amendment Act, of 2018 provided constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), which was previously a statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.


Attorney General objects to SC hearing pleas against State Anti-Conversion Laws


Attorney General R. Venkataramani submitted that he has "serious objections" to the Supreme Court hearing the pleas challenging state legislations, bypassing the High Courts.

The objection made by Attorney General

  • These are State legislations and the State High Courts are hearing them.
  • There are petitions pending there and the same petitioners have now filed petitions in the Supreme Court.
  • The Supreme Court has been hearing petitions filed by Citizens for Justice and Peace, and other connected petitions, challenging the validity of the enactments in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand and Karnataka.

Constitutional Provisions:

The Indian Constitution allows individuals the freedom to live by their religious beliefs and practices as they interpret these.

  • Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion
  • Article 26: Freedom to manage religious affairs
  • Article 27: Freedom to pay taxes for the promotion of any particular religion
  • Article 28: Freedom to attend religious instruction or worship in certain educational institutions.

Which Indian states have special laws on conversions?

  • In post-independence India, Odisha became the first State to enact a law restricting religious conversions in 1968.
  • More than ten Indian States have passed laws prohibiting certain means of religious conversions —Arunachal Pradesh (1978), Gujarat (2003), Chhattisgarh (2000 and 2006), Rajasthan (2006 and 2008), Himachal Pradesh (2006 and 2019), and Tamil Nadu (a law was enacted in 2002, but repealed in 2004), Jharkhand (2017), Uttarakhand (2018), Uttar Pradesh (2021), and Haryana (2022).
    • The Karnataka Assembly also passed an anti-conversion Bill.

Supreme Court Judgements on Marriage and Conversion:

  • Hadiya Judgement 2017: Matters of dress and food, ideas and ideologies, of love and partnership, are within the central aspects of identity. Neither the State nor the law can dictate a choice of partners or limit the free ability of every person to decide on these matters. The principle that the right to marry a person of one’s choice is integral to Article 21.
  • Lily Thomas and Sarla Mudgal cases: The Supreme Court of India, in both the Lily Thomas and Sarla Mudgal cases, has confirmed that religious conversions carried out without a bona fide belief and for the sole purpose of deriving some legal benefits do not hold water.
  • Salamat Ansari-PriyankaKharwar case of Allahabad High Court 2020: The right to choose a partner or live with a person of choice was part of a citizen’s fundamental right to life and liberty (Article 21).
  • Puttaswamy or ‘privacy’ Judgment 2017: Autonomy of the individual was the ability to make decisions in vital matters of concern to life.

NBDSA issues “guidelines for prevention of hate speech”


The News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) issued “guidelines for the prevention of hate speech”.

What is in the guideline?

  • The guidelines direct editors, editorial personnel, anchors, journalists and presenters who are part of its member organisations to refrain from using “language and agenda-driven words”, “terms and adjectives” and “all forms of expression” which among other things advocate violence or engender hatred against individuals or communities.
  • Incidentally, the NBDSA covers nearly 80% of all news and digital channels. 
  • The Authority was originally set up by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) 14 years ago as the News Broadcasting Standard Authority (NBSA). 
  • The name was later changed to NBDSA as the body opened itself to digital platforms too.

What comes under hate speech?

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

Legal Provisions of Hate Speech in India:

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

Legislations around Hate speech: The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter IPC);

  • Section 124A IPC penalises sedition
  • Section 153A IPC penalises ‘promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony’.
  • Section 153B IPC penalises ‘imputations, and assertions prejudicial to national integration.
  • Section 295A IPC penalises ‘deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
  • Section 298 IPC penalises ‘uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person’.
  • Section 505(1) and (2) IPC penalises the publication or circulation of any statement, rumour or report causing public mischief and enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes

Bangladesh hill tribes seek support against their ‘extermination’


An organisation representing the Chin-Kuki-Mizo communities living in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar has sought the help of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in ending the “policy of extermination” of ethnic minorities inhabiting the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh. 

Who are Chin-Kuki-Mizo?

  • Chin-Kuki-Mizo belongs to the same tribe with different names residing in Myanmar, Bangladesh and India with close geographical proximity along the border region between the countries. 
  • This ethnic armed group is engaged in political and military endeavours to establish an independent state in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
  • Their political front, the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), also has an armed component known as the Kuki-Chin Army (KNA). 
    • It emerged as a non-profit development organization, but since 2017, it has evolved into a separatist group.
  • The Kuki-Chin is a geographical grouping of numerous Tibeto-Burman language-speaking ethnic communities that make up the majority in the Indian state of Mizoram and the Chin state of Myanmar. 
  • Along with the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, they also reside in the hilly regions of the Indian states of Assam, Manipur, and Nagaland. 
  • The KNF is made up of six members of the Kuki-Chin ethnic group: the Bawm, Pangkhua, Lusai, Khumi, Mro, and Khiang.

The location (Chittagong Hill Tracts)

  • The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) is an impoverished hilly, forested area that sprawls over more than 13,000 sq km of the Khagrachari, Rangamati, and Bandarban districts of southeastern Bangladesh, bordering Mizoram to the east, Tripura to the north, and Myanmar to the south and southeast.
  • A significant portion of the population is tribal, and culturally and ethnically different from the majority Muslim Bangladeshis who live in the country’s deltaic mainland.
  • The tribal population of the CHT has ethnic links with tribal populations in the adjacent areas of India, mainly in Mizoram. 
  • Mizoram shares a 318-km-long border with Bangladesh.

Tasks for India’s millet revolution


Despite the tremendous benefits associated with millet, there are serious constraints to increased millet cultivation and consumption in the country.

About Millets
  • Millet is a collective term referring to a number of small-seeded annual grasses that are cultivated as grain crops, primarily on marginal lands in dry areas in temperate, subtropical, and tropical regions.
  • Two groups of millets are grown in India.
    • Major millets include sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet
    • Minor millets include foxtail, little millet, kodo, proso, and barnyard millet
  • Benefits: Millets have
    • special nutritive properties: they are high in protein, dietary fibre, micronutrients and antioxidants
    • special agronomic characteristics: drought-resistant and suitable for semi-arid regions

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets.

What are the real problems?

  • The decline in the area under millet cultivation
  • Low productivity of millet
  • Changing food habits

Recent Government Interventions

  • The Government of India and State governments, notably Karnataka and Odisha, have initiated Millet Missions.
    • Odisha already has a dedicated millets mission that undertook procurement of 32,302 tonnes worth Rs 109.08 crore, mainly of ragi, in 2021-22.
  • Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana might want to do the same in bajra, just as Maharashtra may for jowar, Karnataka for ragi, and Madhya Pradesh for Kodo/ kutki.

Forest Cover in India Context


India is lagging behind in the targets to increase the number and quality of tree- and forest-cover plantations set in the Green India Mission, according to data accessed via the Right To Information Act.

The numbers

  • From 2015-16 to 2021-22, the Centre - based on submissions from 17 States - had approved a target of increasing tree/forest cover by 53,377 hectares and improving the quality of degraded forest by 1,66,656 ha. 
  • As per the Environment Ministry tree/forest cover had increased by 26,287 hectares and forest quality improved in only 1,02,096 hectares as of December 31, 2022.
  • For executing these projects, the Centre had allocated ?681 crore but only ?525 crore had been utilised.
  • States with significant shortfall in tree cover include 
    • Andhra Pradesh, with a target of 186 ha but having only achieved 75 ha
    • Uttarakhand with a target of 6,446 ha but only 1,505 ha achieved
    • Madhya Pradesh targeting 5,858 ha but delivering 1,882 ha
    • Kerala committing 1,686 ha but furnishing 616 ha
    • Punjab, unusually committed to 629 ha but having delivered 1,082 ha

 India State of Forest Report-2021

  • As per the Report, forest and tree cover in the country increased by 2,261 square kilometre since the last assessment in 2019. 
  • India’s total forest and tree cover was 80.9 million hectares, which accounted for 24.62% of the geographical area of the country. 
  • 17 States and Union Territories had more than 33% of their area under forest cover. 
    • Madhya Pradesh had the largest forest cover, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra. 
  • The top five States in terms of forest cover as a percentage of their total geographical area were 
    • Mizoram (84.53%)
    • Arunachal Pradesh (79.33%)
    • Meghalaya (76%)
    • Manipur (74.34%)
    • Nagaland (73.90%)

India’s Target to increase forest cover

  • National Mission for a Green India (GIM) is one of the eight Missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change. 
  • It aims at protecting, restoring and enhancing India’s forest cover and responding to climate change. 
  • The target under the Mission is 10 million hectares (Mha) on forest and non-forest lands for increasing the forest/tree cover and to improve the quality of existing forest.

Need to improve tree cover

  • Improving tree cover is critical to sequester carbon and bolster India’s carbon stocks as part of its international commitments to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Short News Article


Munroe Thuruthu: The sinking island of Kerala

A recent study revealed anthropogenic interventions as the main reason for the plight of Munroe Thuruthuresidents, Kerala’s first set of climate refugees.

  • Munroe Thuruthu  is slowly going under water
  • Munroe Island is located 27 km away from the heart of Kollam. 
  • It is a string of eight islets at the confluence of the Ashtamudi Lake and the Kallada river. 
  • The island’s decline began with the construction of the Thenmala dam. 
  • Located 70 km away and constructed in the 1960s under the Kallada Irrigation Project, the dam blocked the flow of fresh water as a result of sediments from the Kallada river — the main determinant of the land’s fertility. 
  • Today the whole area has turned saline.


Red-headed vulture finally seen

For the first time since 2017, birders spotted a red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus) in the Bhatti mines area of Delhi.

  • The red-headed vulture species feed on carcasses of medium sized and large mammals. 
  • Family: The red-headed vulture belongs to the family Accipitridae. 
  • Scientific Name: Sarcogyps calvus
  • Habitat: These red-headed vulture species are distributed in Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.
  • Size: The red-headed vulture is a large bird, measuring 75 to 85 cm in length and weighing 3,500 to 5,500 grams.
  • IUCN Status: The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these bird species and has listed them as "Critically Endangered".

Science & Technology

IOC starts exportation of aviation gasoline

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has started the exports of aviation gasoline, which is used to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and small planes. 

  • Aviation gasoline is a high-octane aviation fuel with superior performance and quality standards compared to imported fuels. 
  • Usually, flying schools use this fuel for piston-engine aircraft. 
  • The gas is certified by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and will benefit around 35 flying schools in the country.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are increasingly being used in modern warfare, including in Russia-Ukraine, so the development marks an important milestone for India from the perspective of defense preparedness.
  • The beginning of fuel exports marks the entry of India into an estimated $2.7 billion global market.

Polity & Governance

Air Marshal A.P. Singh to be new Vice Chief of IAF

Air Marshal A P Singh has been appointed as the new Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force, officials said on January 30, 2023.

  • He will succeed Air Marshal Sandeep Singh, who will retire from service on January 31, 2023.
  • Air Marshal A P Singh is currently serving as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Central Air Command. He will take charge as the Vice Chief on Wednesday, the officials said.
  • He was commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF on December 21, 1984.
  • Air Marshal A P Singh is an alumnus of National Defence Academy, Defence Services Staff College and National Defence College.

Science & Technology

Exercise Topchi 2023


This year’s edition of Exercise Topchi was recently conducted.

  • Indigenously manufactured weapon systems were the highlight of the Indian Army’s ‘Exercise Topchi’.
  • Exercise Topchi is an annual firepower demonstration and training exercise.
  • This edition of “Exercise Topchi” showcased the integrated employment of firepower and surveillance assets to include guns, mortars, rockets, drones, and aviation assets.
  • In line with the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, the highlight of the exercise was display and firing by indigenously manufactured artillery equipment viz K-9 Vajra, Dhanush, Indian field gun (IFG)/ light field gun (LFG) system and Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers.


Water woes


The Indian government has decided to negotiate the Indus water treaty with Pakistan citing disputes over the Kishenganga and Ratle hydropower projects in Jammu & Kashmir.

Issues between India and Pakistan:

  • Water sharing and demands: India has argued since 2006, when the objections began, that the Hydropower projects were within the treaty’s fair water use, as permitted to India on west flowing rivers (Chenab and Jhelum).
  • Pakistan’s move to third-party negotiations: Pakistan has refused to conclude negotiations with India via the Permanent Indus Commission of experts and the issue escalated.
  • The World Bank interference: Later on, the World Bank appointed a neutral expert, even though Pakistan urged the issue in Hague conference.
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