UPSC Key—22 September, 2023: Global Biofuels Alliance, Adi Shankaracharya and Sub-categorisation among SCs

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Qatar held separate Election panel talks with US & Iran on n-programme, drones


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-Qatar held separate bilateral meetings with the United States and Iran this week that touched on Iran’s nuclear program and U.S. concerns about Iranian drone transfers to Russia, two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

• Recently, Iran and the United States have successfully completed a prisoner exchange-know in detail

• United States and Iran bilateral relations-Know in detail

• Why the relations between the United States and Iran, have been especially bitter since 2018?

• What was the 2015 Iran nuclear deal?

• Do You Know-The deal, formally known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is a landmark accord signed between Iran and a coalition of world powers including the US, the UK, China, Russia, France, and Germany (collectively known as P5+1).
The relatively moderate regime of President Hassan Rouhani agreed to dismantle much of Iran’s nuclear programme, and open its facilities to greater international monitoring. In return, the world powers agreed to lift many of the sanctions imposed on the country, opening its economy to billions of dollars of lost revenue.
The world powers wanted to restrict Iran’s nuclear capabilities to the point that it would take Tehran at least a year to build a weapon, giving them adequate time to prepare and respond. Before the agreement, analysts estimated that Iran had reached a point from where it could build a weapon in approximately three months.
While the terms of the agreement were complex, in essence, they focused on eliminating Iran’s stockpiles of enriched uranium and plutonium (needed to produce a nuclear weapon), and on limiting the number and type of centrifuges Iran could operate.
Tehran also agreed to implement a protocol that would allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to access its nuclear sites to ensure Iran would not be able to develop nuclear weapons in secret.
However, many of the JCPOA’s restrictions have expiration dates, something that the opponents of the deal flagged.
While the West agreed to lift sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear proliferation, other sanctions addressing alleged abuses of human rights and Tehran’s ballistic missile programme remained in place.
The US committed to lifting sanctions on oil exports, but continued to restrict financial transactions, which have deterred international trade with Iran.
Nonetheless, Iran’s economy, after suffering years of recessions, currency depreciation, and inflation, stabilised significantly after the deal took effect, and its exports skyrocketed.
Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East, strongly rejected the deal, and other countries like Iran’s great regional rival Saudi Arabia, complained that they were not involved in the negotiations even though Iran’s nuclear programme posed security risks for every country in the region.

• What is the purpose of the joint comprehensive plan of action?

• What were the terms and conditions agreed by Iran under Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action?

• Former USA President Donald Trump abandoned the JCPOA-Why?

• Revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Under Biden Administration-Why?

• What is the role of Qatar and Oman in enhancing the Iran and the United States bilateral relations?

• Iran and USA bilateral relations-what implications could this have for India?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍US, Iran swap prisoners after Qatar deal unfreezes $6 billion

📍Iran-US tensions and the Indian dilemma


33% quota for women in Lok Sabha, state Assemblies set to become law


Preliminary Examination: Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc

Mains Examination: 

• General Studies I: Role of women and women’s organization

• General Studies II: Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- History was scripted Thursday night when The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, seeking to reserve 33% of seats in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies for women, was passed unanimously by Rajya Sabha, a day after it sailed through Lok Sabha.

• The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, is now passed unanimously by Rajya Sabha, a day after it sailed through Lok Sabha-now what?

• When will the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023 become act?

• To make the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, into an act, what steps are now required?

• Do You Know-The women’s reservation Bill, the first legislation to be cleared by both Houses in the new Parliament building, secured 214 votes in its favour with none against it in the Upper House. There was no abstention during the voting proceedings presided by Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar. Both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha were adjourned sine die, ending the special session of Parliament.

• By the way, what is adjourned sine die?

• In what ways the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023 bill is similar to — or different from — the Bill that was passed by Rajya Sabha 13 years ago?

• The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill 2023 proposes to introduce new articles — 330A and 332A — in the Constitution-what are these articles?

• The current bill has a sunset clause-what is that?

• By which year the government would implement reservation for women?

• Do You Know-The 42nd Amendment froze the delimitation exercise until the results of the first Census after 2000 was published. In 2001, this was further extended for 25 years. And now, delimitation would happen after the results of the first Census after 2026 is published.
In normal course, this would have meant that delimitation would happen only after the 2031 Census results were published. But now that the 2021 Census has been delayed, ostensibly because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this timeline could be altered.
As things stand, the earliest that the Census 2021 exercise can now be expected to happen is 2025 — the houselisting exercise in 2024, followed by the actual Census in 2025. Thereafter, the publication of the Census numbers could take one or two years.
If the results of the 2021 Census are published after 2026, this could become the basis of delimitation of constituencies.

• How will the reserved seats be identified in the first instance, and subsequently?

• How are the seats that are reserved for SCs and STs decided currently?

• OBC’s reservation in the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill 2023-what is the demand exactly?

• What constitutional amendments will be needed to operationalise the scheme of women’s reservation?

• Economic and social empowerment of women-what are the steps taken by govt so far?

• For Your Information-Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sought to address the criticism of the government bringing the Bill after nine years, saying it had implemented several schemes for the socio-economic empowerment of women since 2014. “Schemes like more than 9-crore gas connections under Ujjwala, 11.72-crore toilets, the Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao Yojana that brought a fair gender balance, increase in paid maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks and 9.82 crore paid tap connections were provided,” she said. She said reservation for women constables was provided in Central Armed Police Forces, apart from opening the doors of the National Defence Academy and Sainik Schools for women. Sitharaman also linked the Article 370 move and making instant triple talaq a penal offence to women empowerment. “Article 370 did not allow women who married outside the state (Jammu and Kashmir) to inherit property. Instant triple talaq is not there in many Muslim-dominated countries but it was here for so long. We do not believe in appeasement but justice for women is important for us.” Addressing the question on why a special session was called for passage of the Bill, Sitharaman said the government wanted to start business in the new building with this important legislation, and thanked members across parties for their support. On the question of why delimitation will have to wait until 2026, she said that the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, brought during the Emergency, had frozen the date until 2000, and it was again frozen until 2026 in 2002. She said that as per Article 82, seats have to be readjusted after each Census not just in Lok Sabha but within states too.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Opp backs Bill, but says: Implement it immediately, why not include OBC

📍Why Mandal parties shift: BJP chips away at OBC base, perception matters

📍Women’s reservation: What is the road ahead, before it can be implemented

Sub-categorisation: On Centre table, proposal for quotas within SC quota


Preliminary Examination: Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-The Modi Government is weighing its options on a controversial and far-reaching step: introducing “sub-categorisation” among Scheduled Castes (SC). This entails fixing a separate quota for some castes within the SC category ostensibly to ensure that a few “influential SC communities” don’t corner most of the benefits, The Indian Express has learnt. The immediate provocation for this, sources said, is the demand by the Madiga community in poll-bound Telangana.

• The Modi Government is weighing its options on a controversial and far-reaching step: introducing “sub-categorisation” among Scheduled Castes (SC)-what do you understand by “sub-categorisation” among Scheduled Castes (SC)?

• For Your Information-States have argued that among the Scheduled Castes, there are some that remain grossly under-represented despite reservation in comparison to other Scheduled Castes. This inequality within the Scheduled Castes is underlined in several reports, and special quotas have been framed to address it.
For example, in Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Bihar, special quotas were introduced for the most vulnerable Dalits. In 2007, Bihar set up the Mahadalit Commission to identify the castes within SCs that were left behind.
In Tamil Nadu, a 3% quota within the SC quota is accorded to the Arundhatiyar caste, after the Justice M S Janarthanam report stated that despite being 16% of the SC population in the state, they held only 0-5% of the jobs.
In 2000, the Andhra Pradesh legislature, based on the findings of Justice Ramachandra Raju, passed a law reorganising 57 SCs into sub-groups and split the 15% SC quota in educational institutions and government jobs in proportion to their population. However, this law was declared unconstitutional in the 2005 Supreme Court ruling that held states did not have the power to tinker with the Presidential list that identifies SCs and STs.
Punjab too has had laws that gave preference to Balmikis and Mazhabi Sikhs within the SC quota; this was challenged and eventually led to the latest ruling.

• What is the Presidential list?

• If all SCs are treated as one group, what are the grounds for sub-categorisation?

• What are the arguments for and against sub-categorisation?

• Who are Madiga community?

• What are mala community?

• What is creamy layer?

• Do You Know-Unlike OBCs, there is no creamy layer for SCs and STs. Backwardness among SCs also draws from the practice of untouchability – sub-categorisation may sharpen differences within and bring in competitive affirmative action. Already, there is demand for OBC status from groups like Marathas, Patels and Jats. That’s why the move is fraught.
Of the nearly 17 per cent SC population in Telangana, Madigas account for nearly 50 per cent but they argue that most opportunities are cornered by another influential SC community Mala. So they have launched an agitation asking for a distinct quota for them. There are Mala-like examples in other states, too: the Paswans in Bihar or the Jatavs in UP.

• If the government decides to go ahead with sub-categorisation of SCs then, what steps will be taken?

• The issue of sub-categorisation among SCs has a fraught history-why so?

• A retrospective exploration-In 2004, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court struck down an Andhra Pradesh law for sub-categorisation of SCs; in 2020, a five-judge bench of the SC held that the state has the power to do so but requested the Chief Justice to refer the matter to a bench of seven or more judges. That is still pending.
States like Haryana in 1994, Punjab in 2006 and Tamil Nadu in 2008 moved to bring about sub-categorisation within their SCs but all these are on hold pending the SC decision.
The latest on this front happened in Karnataka in February this year, when the Bommai government passed a resolution to sub-categorise SC quotas. When contacted, then state Law Minister J C Madhuswamy told The Indian Express: “The matter is pending with the Centre now.”
Way back in 2006-07, the Centre had set up the National Commission to examine the issue of Sub-categorisation of SCs (NCSCSC) in Andhra Pradesh. It recommended sub-categorisation but the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) did not agree.
According to an affidavit filed in the SC in March 2000, 14 states had disagreed and seven states had agreed on sub-categorisation in their replies to a query from the Centre.

• The Government has set up the Rohini Commission-What is Rohini Commission for?

• Why the G Rohini commission was set up?

• What is the Commission’s brief?

• What is sub-categorisation of OBCs?

• What is the need for sub-categorisation of OBCs?

• What were the terms of reference of the Rohini Commission?

• How did the work of the Commission proceed?

• Know the background-Under the provisions of Article 340 of the Constitution, the Rohini Commission was established in October 2017. It was granted 12 weeks to present its report, but since then, there have been multiple extensions (13th extension), the most recent is until January 31, 2023 to submit its report.

• When was it meant to submit its report?

• What have its findings been so far?

• What is the extent of OBC recruitment in central jobs?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Rohini panel submits long-awaited report: what is ‘sub-categorisation’ of OBCs?

📍Explained: The ‘quota within quota’ debate


How a project showcasing India’s bamboo biodiversity is shaping up


Preliminary Examination: General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialisation.

Main Examination: General Studies III: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-From species native to Jammu and Kashmir in the north to the kinds grown in Lakshadweep island in the Arabian Sea, and from the varieties belonging to the Western Ghats to those found in the highest reaches of Arunachal Pradesh, over 6,000 types of plants from across the length and breadth of India are coming together in one place as part of an ambitious bamboo biodiversity project on Yamuna floodplains.

• What is current status of bamboo production in India?

• Which state is largest producer of bamboo in India?

• Why is bamboo eco-friendly?

• What is the status of bamboo cultivation in India?

• What are the important characteristics of bamboo?

• What are the initiatives taken by India to promote Bamboo?

• What is National bamboo scheme?

• What are the Soil and climatic conditions required for Bamboo Farming?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:  

📍Boosting bamboo, India’s natural ‘green gold’

📍World Bamboo Day: India’s green gold is sustainable and versatile


HC grants bail to Mahesh Raut after 5 years


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance and History of India

Main Examination: 

• General Studies I: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues.

• General Studies II: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-Over five years after his arrest, the Bombay High Court on Thursday granted bail to Mahesh Raut, an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case. The high court also stayed its order for a week after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) sought a 14-day stay on implementation of the order to challenge it before the Supreme Court.
So far, six of the 16 accused arrested in the case, including Raut, have got bail from the high court or Supreme Court. While Gautam Navlakha is under house arrest, Father Stan Swamy passed away in 2021 while in judicial custody. Eight accused still remain in jail.

• Who is Mahesh Raut?

• What is ‘Elgaar Parishad’?

• What is the case associated with ‘Elgaar Parishad’?

• Quick Recap-The case dates back to the Elgaar Parishad event held in Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017. On December 31, 2017, a day ahead of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, an event called Elgaar Parishad was organised in Pune at which several speakers, including Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, had made speeches criticising the BJP-led central government for its apparently anti-Dalit policies. Next day, as lakhs of people, mainly Dalits, marched from Pune to the village of Koregaon Bhima to mark the anniversary of the battle fought 200 years ago, rioting and violence took place, which resulted in the death of one person while several others had sustained injuries.
Pune police has claimed that the speeches made at the Elgaar Parishad were, in part, responsible for inciting violence. An FIR filed by Tushar Damgude had claimed that naxal “front organisations” like Kabir Kala Manch were involved in the organisation of Elgaar Parishad. It was on the basis of this FIR that Pune police made several raids early last year on organisations in Pune and Mumbai suspected to sympathise with the naxalite groups.

• Battle of Koregaon Bhima-Know the Historical background

• Do You Know-The story of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 1818 has come to be mediated by competing narratives of Dalit assertion against Brahminical oppression, and Indian ‘nationalism’ standing up to the colonial army of the East India Company. Dr B R Ambedkar visited the Jaystambh repeatedly, and said in a speech in Sinnar in 1941 that the Mahars had defeated the Peshwas at Koregaon. Despite British claims of having achieved “one of its proudest triumphs”, the outcome of the battle remains contested, and some Maratha histories have claimed it was the Peshwa army that was, in fact, victorious. The battle took place at the village of Koregaon (population 960) 16 miles northeast of Pune, where 800 British troops faced 30,000 Marathas on January 1, 1818. Six months earlier, on June 13, 1817, Peshwa Bajirao II had been forced to cede large swathes of territory to the Company, officially ending the Maratha Confederacy. In November, the Peshwa’s army revolted against the British Resident at Pune, but was defeated in the Battle of Khadki. Pune was placed under Colonel Charles Barton Burr. At the end of December, Burr received intelligence that Bajirao intended to attack Poona, and requested help. The second battalion of the first regiment Bombay Native Infantry of 500 rank and file under Captain Francis Staunton, accompanied by 300 irregular horse and two six-pounder guns manned by 24 European Madras artillerymen, left Sirur for Poona at 8 pm on December 31, 1817. After marching 25 miles, about 10 the following morning, they came across the Bhima river the Peshwa’s army of 25,000 Maratha horse. The Gazette does not mention the caste of Indian soldiers in Staunton’s army, but later accounts say a sizeable number were Mahars. The Marathas recalled a body of 5,000 infantry that had proceeded some distance ahead, the Gazette records. Three parties of 600 each — Arabs, Gosavis and regular infantry — supported by two guns, then besieged the British troops. Cut off from water and food, and after losing one of their artillery guns, some British troops were keen to surrender. However, the six-foot, seven-inch Lieutenant Pattinson led a counterattack to take back the artillery gun from the Peshwa’s Arab soldiers. Fierce fighting followed and, “as night fell”, the Gazette records, “the attack lightened and they (the British) got water. By 9 the firing ceased and the Marathas left”. Of the 834 British troops, 275 were killed, wounded, or missing. The Marathas lost between 500 and 600 killed and wounded. Subsequently, as Maratha strongholds started falling, Bajirao II went on the run, finally surrendering in 1823. The British kept him in Bithur until his death in 1851. His successor, Nanasaheb Peshwa, was the last of the titular heads of the Peshwai system.

• What happened in Bhima Koregaon battle?

• Who won the battle of Bhima Koregaon?

• Why Battle of Bhima Koregaon symbolises long history of Dalit warriorship?

• Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)-Key Highlights

• Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Human Rights-Connect the dots

• Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Article 22 of the Constitution-Connect the Dot

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Explained: What is the status of the Elgaar Parishad case?

MP CM unveils 108-ft statue of Adi Shankaracharya in Omkareshwar


Preliminary Examination: History of India

Main Examination:

• General Studies I: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

• General Studies‐ IV: Contributions of moral thinkers and philosophers from India and world.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan unveiled the 108-foot-tall ‘Statue of Oneness’ of Adi Shankaracharya at Omkareshwar in the poll-bound on September 21. The statue depicts Shankaracharya as a 12-year-old child when he is said to have visited Omkareshwar. The government has invested Rs 2,200 crore to develop the temple town located on the Mandhata island of Khandwa district, which will form an important tourism circuit, along with Ujjain, Maheshwar and Mandu religious towns.

• Who was Adi Shankaracharya?

• For Your Information-Adi Shankara, who is believed to have lived between 788 and 820 AD, was born in Kerela’s Kaladi, situated on the bank of the Periyar River. He became a sanyasin at an early age and left his Brahmin household, where he is said to have made his way to Omkareshwar. Here, he studied under his guru Govinda Bhagavatpada and soon became a proponent of Advaita Vedanta, challenging prevailing philosophical traditions – including Buddhism and Jainism. In his lifespan of 32 years, he is said to have visited all the important spiritual centres of the time — from Kanchi (Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu) to Kamrup (Assam), and Kashmir and the Kedar and Badri dhams, as well as Sringeri, Ujjain, Kashi, Puri, and Joshimath.
He is said to have authored 116 works. The most notable among them are the commentaries on the 10 Upanishads, the Brahmasutra and the Gita.

• Why is the Mandhata island considered an important religious destination?

• What are Sankaracharya’s main philosophical thoughts?

• Why Adi Shankaracharya is relevant today?

• Is Adi Sankaracharya India’s ‘national philosopher’?

• What is Vedanta, the system with which Sankara is most closely associated?

• Do You Know-As the nomenclature indicates, Vedanta or the Upanishads mark the ‘end of the Vedas’. Vedanta represents the culmination of the vast Vedic thought. The Vedas are polytheistic, with a belief in many gods. However, all of these gods have a supreme lord above them. Upanishadic or Vedantic thought shifts the centre from God to the Self (Atma), and the entire endevaour is to realise this Self.
There have been many commentators on Vedanta, such as Sankaracharya (early 9th century), Ramanujacharya (11th century), Madhavacharya (13th-14th centuries) and Vallabhacharya (15th-16th centuries). Each differs from others on many aspects. But Sankara is almost unanimously seen as the most prominent.
It is generally accepted that Sankara was born in Kaladi, not far from today’s Kochi, in 788 AD. At the heart of his philosophy of Advaita Vedanta (non-dualism) is Tat Twam Asi or Thou Art That, the famous phrase from the Chhandogya Upanishad, which perceives the Self (Atman) as the Absolute Reality (Brahman). Brahman is the sole cause, creator and consumer of the universe.
Sankara is also famous for his theory of Maya, which, according to him, is the charismatic power that creates the world, and is inseparable (ananya, abhinna, aprithak) from Brahman. Change, according to Sankara, is an illusion — nothing that did not exist earlier will come into existence. The change of outer form is visible to some eyes due to the operation of Maya, but truth remains the same.
Still, the world does possesses a practical reality. The dream is real until we wake up. Sankara doesn’t refute the dream, only points at the Maya that creates the illusion of dream. His notion of Brahman or Absolute Reality states that there exists just one infinite existence that reveals itself in myriad forms. Brahman is beyond distinctions, qualities, descriptions or definitions. It is Parabrahman, Nirguna Brahman (formless entity). Sankara’s philosophy has evoked the admiration of a spectrum of thinkers through the centuries.

• What about the other philosophical strands Sankara was opposed to?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Is Adi Sankaracharya India’s ‘national philosopher’?


Delhi need not choose


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-Shyam Saran writes: The recent BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, which witnessed more than a doubling of its original membership of five major emerging economies, has led to exaggerated expectations of the grouping’s rising influence on the global economy and on the restructuring of global governance regimes.

• BRICS-Know in detail

• Evolution of BRICS-Know in Detail

• Quick Recall-Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa took a call last week to expand the BRICS grouping from five countries to 11.
The Johannesburg declaration, issued after the summit, said Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had been invited to become full members from January 1, 2024.

• Evolution of BRICS from Russia-China (RC) to Russia-India-China (RIC) to Brazil- Russia-India-China (BRIC) to Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS)

• For Your Information-BRICS brings together five of the largest developing countries of the world, representing around 41 per cent of the global population, around 24 per cent of the global GDP, and around 16 per cent of global trade.
The acronym BRIC was first used in 2001 by Goldman Sachs in their Global Economics Paper, ‘The World Needs Better Economic BRICs’. On the basis of econometric analyses, the paper projected that the four economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China would be among the world’s largest economies in the next 50 years or so.
As a formal grouping, BRIC started after the meeting of the leaders of Russia, India and China in St. Petersburg on the margins of the G8 Outreach Summit in 2006. The grouping was formalised during the first meeting of BRIC Foreign Ministers on the margins of the UNGA in New York in 2006.
The first BRIC Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, in 2009. It was decided to include South Africa at the BRIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New York in 2010, and accordingly, South Africa attended the 3rd BRICS Summit in Sanya, China, in 2011.

• What is the Fortaleza Declaration?

• Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Economy-Key Features

• RIC (Russia-India-China) out of BRICS-Significance and Stature in World Politics?

• Why BRICS Matters?

• Map Work-Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, Egypt, Ethiopia and Argentina

• What is Johannesburg Declaration?

• How the decision on the new members was agreed upon?

• What are the parameters utilised for the induction of new members into the BRICS Grouping?

• What is the significance of the 15th BRICS summit?

• What are the potential benefits or advantages for India in this context?

• What BRICS expansion means for India?

• The new members, with the exception of Iran, have significant stakes in their relationship with the West-Elaborate

• Why have so many countries of the Global South shown such unusual interest in BRICS?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:  

📍The 360° UPSC Debate | Is BRICS or its expansion relevant?



Preliminary Examination: General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialisation.

Mains Examination: General Studies III: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-Karthik Ganesan writes: International oil prices are surging, nearing $100 per barrel once again. India’s import dependence on crude oil and products stood at an all-time high of 87.3 per cent in FY2023, and 25.8 per cent of the country’s import bill was spent on it.

• What is Global Biofuels Alliance?

• Who launched the Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA)?

• Who are the members of Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA)?

• For Your Information-The Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA) was formally launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the presence of leaders of a number of partner countries on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi. The GBA has been in the works for some time now and is a key initiative and priority under India’s G20 presidency. The alliance is aimed at facilitating international cooperation and intensifying the use of sustainable biofuels, along with facilitating global biofuels trade and technical support for national biofuel programmes.
The GBA, the effort for which was spearheaded by India, the United States, and Brazil, has been launched with nine initiating members–India, the US, Brazil, Argentina, Bangladesh, Italy, Mauritius, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates–while Canada and Singapore are observer countries. In all, 19 countries and 12 international organisations have already agreed to join the GBA.
Seven of the 19 countries are from the G20, four are among the G20 invitee countries, while eight are neither G20 members nor invitees. The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, World Economic Forum, International Energy Agency, International Energy Forum, International Renewable Energy Agency, and International Civil Aviation Organization are among the organisations that have agreed to join the alliance. Modi launched the GBA in the presence of leaders from the US, Brazil, the UAE, Singapore, Italy, Argentina, Bangladesh, and Mauritius.

• The launch of the Global Biofuels Alliance marks a watershed moment in India’s quest towards sustainability and clean energy-Comment

• What is the India’s biofuel policy?

• National Policy on Biofuel 2018-Know the key Features

• What amendments have been made in National Policy on Biofuel 2018 so far?

• What is the current blending status?

• In a bid to arrest the dependence on imported crude, India launched its ethanol blending programme in 2003-can you tell what is India’s ethanol blending programme?

• Before that, tell me what is Ethanol?

• And, what is Ethanol Blending?

• What is the Significance of Ethanol Blending?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍PM formally launches Global Biofuels Alliance; 19 countries, 12 global bodies agree to join

📍Explained: Why has Centre advanced its 20% ethanol blending target by five years?


The India-Canada standoff


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- India and Canada are dealing with an unprecedented diplomatic crisis, which can have political as well as geopolitical consequences.

• How it started?

• The story so far-It started after Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dropped a bombshell allegation earlier this week, telling Parliament that it is possible the Indian government had a hand in the murder of a Khalistani separatist in Canada in June.
He said he had taken up the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit for the G20 Leaders’ Summit on September 9-10. At their bilateral meeting in New Delhi, Modi had raised the concerns about pro-Khalistan elements in Canada.
The Ministry of External Affairs called Trudeau’s accusation “absurd and motivated”. It said he had made similar allegations during his meeting with the PM, which had been “completely rejected”.
The diplomatic escalation happened quickly — and shows the seriousness of the crisis.
Canada took the first step, expelling an Indian diplomat posted in Ottawa. The official was identified as the head of the Indian intelligence agency, and his identity was revealed. India responded by expelling a Canadian diplomat based in New Delhi.
India then issued a travel advisory for Indian nationals travelling to Canada, as well as a caution for the Indian community in Canada. Students, professionals, and tourists were asked to be cautious because, the advisory said, the Indian community could be targeted.
On Thursday, India suspended visa services in Canada. E-visa services were stopped too, and Canadian citizens who apply from other countries will also not get a visa for India.
India asked Canada to cut the number of its diplomats in India, saying there are more Canadian diplomats in India than there are Indian diplomats in Canada.

• The crisis underlines the resurfacing of the problem of Khalistan in India-Canada relations after having gone under the radar after the 1980s-Analyse

• Canada is an important strategic partner for major western powers-Know Canada’s geopolitical stature

• How did India’s relationship with Canada fare historically?

• India-Canada bilateral relations-know in detail

• How have India-Canada relations deteriorated in recent months?

• Why recent allegations by Canada are troubling and unprecedented?

• How the recent standoff will affect India-Canada trade relations?

• What is the present status of India-Canada trade?

• Do You Know-India’s total trade with Canada in the last (2022-23) financial year was $8 billion — that’s 0.7% of India’s total trade ($1.1 trillion) with the world. The share has remained this way at least for the past five years, even though the export and import numbers have gone up and down, especially during the Covid year.
Bilateral trade has also been fairly evenly balanced; in 2022-23, for instance, roughly $4 bn of imports were matched by $4 billion of exports even though India enjoyed a tiny trade surplus of $58 million.
Among what India imports from Canada, three categories of goods dominate and account for 46% (that is, almost half) of the total import by value. These are:
1. Mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation; bituminous substances; mineral waxes.
2. Pulp of wood or of other fibrous cellulosic material; waste and scrap of paper or paperboard
3. Edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers
The top three exports, on the other hand, accounted for only 30% of the total exports. These were:
1. Pharmaceutical products
2. Articles of iron or steel
3. Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances; parts thereof

• What are the major agri imports from Canada?

• India is a significant importer of pulses, with masur being the biggest after arhar/tur or pigeon-pea-discuss how stand-off will affect?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍India suspends visa service, calls Canada terror safe haven

📍Work with Canada to allow justice to follow its course, Trudeau urges India


📍Fertiliser and pulses: the two big agri imports from Canada

📍Beyond McCain, Tim Hortons: Canadian investments in India span infra to fintech


Declare wilful defaulters within 6months of NPA tag: RBI proposal


Preliminary Examination: Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.

Main Examination: General Studies III: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Thursday proposed that lenders should classify a borrower as a “wilful defaulter” within six months of their account being declared a non-performing asset (NPA). The RBI did not earlier have a specific timeline within which such borrowers had to be identified. The revision of norms comes after a review of the instructions and consideration of various judgments and orders from the Supreme Court and High Courts, as well as representations and suggestions received from banks and other stakeholders, the central bank said.

• What exactly the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed?

• Who are wilful defaulters?

• How RBI identifies wilful defaulters?

• For Your Information-The RBI identifies wilful defaulters as those who have the ability to pay a bank’s dues but do not or divert bank funds. While large defaulter means a defaulter with an outstanding amount of Rs 1 crore and above, and whose account has been classified as doubtful or loss, a wilful defaulter means a borrower or a guarantor who has committed wilful default and the outstanding amount is Rs 25 lakh and above.
“The lender shall examine the ‘wilful default’ aspect in all accounts with outstanding amount of Rs 25 lakh and above or as may be notified by the RBI from time to time, and complete the process of classification/ declaring the borrower as a wilful defaulter within six (6) months of the account being classified as NPA,” the RBI’s draft norms proposed.
It said the evidence of wilful default needs to be examined by an Identification Committee, to be set up by lenders.
In case of publishing photographs of wilful defaulters, lenders will have to formulate a non-discriminatory board-approved policy that clearly sets out the criteria based on which the photographs of persons classified and declared as wilful defaulters will be published.
The RBI also proposed that no additional credit facility be granted by any lender to a wilful defaulter or any entity with which a wilful defaulter is associated. The bar on additional credit facility shall be effective up to a year after the name of wilful defaulter has been removed from the List of Wilful Defaulters (LWD) by the lender.
“In addition, no credit facility shall be granted for floating of new ventures by any lender to a wilful defaulter or any entity with which a wilful defaulter is associated for a period of five (5) years after the name of wilful defaulter has been removed from the LWD by the lender,” the RBI proposed.
As per the norms, wilful defaulters will not be eligible for restructuring of credit facility.

• What are Non-Performing Assets (NPAs)?

• How Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) are classified as per the RBI guideline?

• India’s public sector banks have struggled with high levels of non-performing assets (NPAs)- Why?

• What are the reasons for assets becoming non-performing assets?

• What are the impacts of High level of non-performing assets (NPAs) on India’s Economy?

• What is bad loans?

• What are the causes of bad loan?

• First of all, what is asset liability management (ALM) in banks?

• Why recently, RBI has started closely monitoring the business models of banks and financial institutions?

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• How corporate governance in banks, can have the potential to cause some degree of volatility in the banking sector?

• Recent bank failures in the India-know in detail

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