Daily Current Affairs 15 March 2024- Top News Of The Day

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Daily Current Affairs 15 March 2024- Top News Of The Day

1. The Uniform Civil Code Bill for Uttarakhand is approved by President Droupadi Murmu, marking a step towards harmony and equality.

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Interventions for development in various sectors
Since this analysis explores the constitutional provisions under Article 201, which give the President the authority to assent to state bills, it is pertinent to both the Prelims and Mains exams. It also emphasises how important committees, executive actions, and legislative bodies are to the governance process.

– Uttarakhand’s Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Bill has been approved by President Droupadi Murmu, as the state government of the Himalayan region announced.
– The bill was approved following its passage in February by the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly.
– The purpose of the bill is to govern laws pertaining to live-in relationships, succession planning, marriage, divorce, and related topics.
– This action is a major step towards guaranteeing equality among the state’s citizens and standardising civil laws in the state.

More about the news:

Legislative Procedure and Approval: UCC Bill Passage:

  • President Murmu approved the Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code Bill after it went through a rigorous legislative process. The state Assembly debated it for two days in February before passing it.
  • The passing of the bill is a result of legislators working together to address a number of legal issues pertaining to civil matters, including succession, marriage, and divorce.
  • The government’s move to pass this legislation demonstrates its dedication to updating state laws and maintaining social harmony.

Implementation Framework: Formation of Rules Making and Implementation Committee:

  • A Rules Making and Implementation Committee was established by the state government to supervise the UCC Bill’s implementation after it was passed.
  • This committee, chaired by retired IAS officer Shatrughan Singh, is entrusted with creating comprehensive regulations to implement the bill’s provisions.

Role of the Committee: Defining Implementation Guidelines:

  • Although the UCC Bill establishes the general structure for uniform civil laws, the Rules Making and Implementation Committee is in charge of formulating the particular rules that will be used to carry out its implementation.
  • These rules will specify how the bill’s provisions are to be applied, guaranteeing uniformity and clarity in court cases.
  • The committee’s decisions and the rules that follow will influence how the UCC is actually applied in a variety of civil law contexts, such as government official training, live-in relationships, and marriage registration.

Future Steps: Formalization of Rules and Notification of the Act:

  • After the Rules Making and Implementation Committee has completed the guidelines for implementation, the UCC Act will be officially notified.
  • This indicates that the passage of the bill initiates a more comprehensive procedure meant to guarantee Uttarakhand’s consistent civil laws are effectively enforced.
  • The significance of this legislative development in advancing the state’s legal framework and societal values is highlighted by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami’s statement about the government’s commitment to upholding citizen rights and maintaining social harmony.


  • In Uttarakhand’s legal history, President Droupadi Murmu’s approval of the Uniform Civil Code Bill is a significant development.
  • It represents a shift towards uniform civil laws meant to guarantee justice and equality for all citizens.
  • The government’s proactive approach to converting legislative intent into implementable measures is demonstrated by the establishment of the Rules Making and Implementation Committee.
  • With Uttarakhand moving closer to formalising the guidelines for implementation, the UCC has the potential to advance social justice, prevent discrimination, and create unity among the state’s various communities.

Why was the Bill Sent for President’s Approval?
Ambiguous Nature of Subject Matter:
– According to Article 162 of the Indian Constitution, a state’s executive power covers subjects over which the legislature of the state has the authority to enact laws.
– It is not possible to argue that the creation of a Committee to introduce and implement the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is ultra vires given the provisions of Entry 5 of the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule.
– Entry 5 of the Concurrent List addresses “all matters in respect of which parties in judicial proceedings were immediately prior to the commencement of this Constitution subject to their personal law, including marriage and divorce, infants and minors, adoption, wills, intestacy, and succession, joint family and partition.” 

Power of Governors to Reserve the Bill:
– Governors may set the bill aside for the president to review. In cases where the state legislature’s approved bill jeopardises the state high court’s authority, the reservation is required. But the governor may also put the bill on reserve if it contains any of the following provisions:
– In opposition to the DPSP and against the provisions of the Constitution
– Against the nation’s greater interest
– extremely significant for the country
– focuses on property acquisition that is required by law under Article 31A of the Constitution.
– Since the bill in question supersedes a number of national laws, including the 1937 Shariat Act, the 1954 Hindu Marriage Act, and the 1954 Special Marriages Act, it was sent to the president for approval prior to becoming operative.

PYQ: Examine the potential obstacles that India may face in implementing a unified civil code for its populace, as stipulated by the Directive Principles of State Policy. (12.5 m/200 words) (2015, UPSSC CSE (M) GS-2)
Practice Question: Talk about the implications for Indian government and society of President Droupadi Murmu’s approval of the Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code Bill. In what ways does this legislative development uphold the federalist principles and the executive branch’s legislative role? (15 m/250 words)

2. Ahead of the Lok Sabha Elections, Prasar Bharati Unveils PB-SHABD: A Free News Content Service for Media Organisations

Topic: Important topic for Prelims

– Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has launched a new service called PB-SHABD (Prasar Bharati-Shared Audio Visuals for Broadcast and Dissemination).
– The goal of this project is to make content available for free without requiring credit or copyright across a range of media, including newsfeed, audio, video, text, and images.
– Anurag Thakur, the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, introduced this service and noted that all news organisations that are registered with the ministry can use it.

More about the news:

Accessibility and Scope: Free Service for News Organizations:

  • For a year, registered news organizations—which include newspapers, magazines, TV channels, and social media news outlets accredited by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting—will be able to utilise PB-SHABD at no cost.
  • The content will be available on the websites of DD News and Akashvani News, as well as the updated News on Air mobile app. It comes in a variety of formats, including newsfeed, videos, audio, text, and images. End users won’t, however, have direct access to the content.

Objective and Significance:

  • Minister Thakur stressed the breadth of Prasar Bharati’s news delivery and gathering network, expressing the company’s intention to disseminate this precise and significant content to the larger print and digital media sectors.
  • It is anticipated that this initiative will help smaller news organisations by enabling them to operate more easily by giving them access to a clean feed without requiring them to display the Doordarshan logo. 

Implementation and Outreach:

  • As an initial offer, PB-SHABD, which provides news stories in 50 categories and multiple Indian languages, will be provided for free for the first year.
  • Gaurav Dwivedi, CEO of Prasar Bharati, announced plans to connect with media outlets and disseminate text, audio, video, and photo-based content that has been compiled by the company’s vast network.


  • Prasar Bharati’s introduction of PB-SHABD demonstrates their dedication to promoting media diversity and democratising access to news content.
  • Through providing this service without charge and without copyright restrictions, Prasar Bharati hopes to promote cooperation in the media sector and guarantee the distribution of reliable and varied information.
  • The quality of content shared and the initiative’s acceptance by news organisations will determine its success and, in turn, how it affects Indian society and governance.

What is Prasar Bharti?
– It’s the nation’s public service broadcaster.
– It is a legally recognised autonomous organisation that was founded in 1997 by the Prasar Bharati Act.
– The aim is to provide the public with information and entertainment through public broadcasting services.
– It consists of the All India Radio and Doordarshan Television Network, which were formerly media branches of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Headquarters are in New Delhi.

3. The groundbreaking Artificial Intelligence Act is finalised by European Union lawmakers, establishing international guidelines for AI regulation.

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Important aspects of governance: E-governance – applications, models, successes, limitations and potential
Understanding how the European Union has created regulations for cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, which offers insights into global governance frameworks and policy-making processes, makes this topic pertinent for both the Prelims and Mains exams.

– The Artificial Intelligence Act of the European Union (EU) has received final approval from lawmakers in the bloc, which is a major step towards regulating AI in the area.
– After five years of development, this legislation is about to set a global standard for governments around the world that are facing the difficulties of regulating quickly advancing technologies.
– The EU is taking a proactive approach to influencing AI governance going forward, with an emphasis on societal well-being and human-centric principles, as demonstrated by the adoption of the AI Act.

More about the news:

Human-Centric Approach: Nudging AI in a Responsible Direction:

  • The resounding endorsement of the Artificial Intelligence Act by the European Parliament indicates a dedication to directing AI research in a direction that prioritises humans.
  • Legislators stress how crucial it is to maintain human control over AI technology while taking advantage of its ability to advance society, spur economic growth, and realise human potential.
  • This strategy represents a determined attempt to strike a balance between ethical issues, societal values, and technological innovation.

Industry Response and Regulatory Landscape: Balancing Interests:

  • Big tech firms have largely agreed that regulations pertaining to AI are necessary, even as they push for laws that suit their needs.
  • The passing of the AI Act has sparked debates within the sector, with speakers like Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, emphasising the significance of compliance while voicing worries about possible consequences.
  • The legislation reflects the EU’s commitment to consumer safety and responsible technology adoption, as it attempts to strike a balance between promoting innovation and addressing risks associated with AI deployment.

Risk-Based Regulation: Addressing Diverse AI Applications:

  • The AI Act divides AI applications into high-risk and low-risk uses using a risk-based regulatory framework.
  • High-risk applications, like medical devices and critical infrastructure, are subject to strict requirements regarding data quality and user transparency, while low-risk AI systems, like content recommendation algorithms, are subject to voluntary requirements and codes of conduct.
  • Additionally, the law forbids the use of AI in some areas judged to carry unacceptably high risks, including intrusive surveillance technologies and social scoring systems.

Adaptation to Technological Advancements:

  • When it comes to adapting to technological advancements, EU policymakers have shown agility, especially with the emergence of general-purpose AI models such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
  • The AI Act now includes provisions pertaining to generative AI models, which guarantee regulatory control over systems that can generate realistic responses, images, and other content.
  • To improve accountability and transparency, developers of these models must abide by EU copyright laws and offer thorough summaries of training data.


  • The Artificial Intelligence Act of the EU was approved, which is a big step in the right direction towards creating comprehensive rules for AI governance.
  • The legislation seeks to protect societal interests and promote innovation by giving priority to human-centric values, addressing a variety of AI applications, and keeping up with technological advancements.
  • As the Act approaches official implementation, it is anticipated to establish a global standard for AI regulation and influence the course of AI research and application going forward.

What is India’s Strategy Regarding AI Regulation?
– India still lacks a thorough legal framework to govern AI. India, however, has changed its attitude from not considering regulation of AI to actively developing regulations based on a risk-based, user-harm methodology.
– Campaigning for Inclusive and Responsible AI: In 2018, India unveiled #AIFORALL, its first national AI strategy that prioritises inclusivity.
– The National Strategy for AI (2018) by NITI Aayog featured a section on responsible AI.
– The NITI Aayog published a paper titled “Principle of Responsible AI” in 2021. The paper listed seven general principles: privacy, accountability, transparency, inclusivity and nondiscrimination, safety and dependability, equality, and reinforcement of positive human values.
– IndiaAI, the national programme on AI, was launched by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in March 2023 with the goal of acting as a comprehensive initiative to cover all AI-related research and innovations.
– In a paper published in July 2023, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India suggested creating an advisory board made up of representatives from various government agencies, academic institutions, and industry experts, as well as creating a domestic statutory authority to regulate AI using a “risk-based framework.”
– Principal AI Frameworks in India by Sector:
– Healthcare Sector: In June 2023, the Indian Council of Medical Research released ethical guidelines regarding the use of AI in biomedical research and healthcare.
– Capital Market:
– In order to establish guidelines and compile an inventory for AI systems in the capital market, SEBI published a circular in January 2019.
Sector of Education:
– The National Education Policy 2020 suggests incorporating AI awareness into academic curricula.

PYQ: With the present state of development, Artificial Intelligence can effectively do which of the following? (2020)
1) Reduce the amount of electricity used by industrial facilities
2) Write poignant songs and short stories.
3) Diagnosis of disease
4) Voice-to-Text Translation
5) Electrical energy transmission via wireless

Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1, 2, 3 and 5 only
(b) 1, 3 and 4 only
(c) 2, 4 and 5 only
(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Ans: (b)
Practice Question: Talk about how the Artificial Intelligence Act of the European Union has shaped international governance frameworks for emerging technologies. How does the Act represent the EU’s strategy for encouraging the development of human-centric AI and striking a balance between innovation and societal interests? (15 m/250 words)

4. A High-Level Committee Suggests Modifications to the Constitution for Concurrent Elections

Topic: GS2 – Polity – Indian Constitution – Amendments
Given that the High-Level Committee on One Nation, One Election recommended significant constitutional amendments and governance reforms, this topic is pertinent to both the Prelims and Mains exams.

– The former president Ram Nath Kovind chaired the High-Level Committee on One Nation, One Election, which made recommendations to synchronise Lok Sabha, state Assembly, municipal, and panchayat elections within 100 days of each other.
– To help with this transition, the committee recommends significant constitutional amendments that will affect both local and national election processes.

More about the news:

Transition to Simultaneous Elections:

  • To implement these suggestions, the committee suggests introducing two bills to amend the Constitution.
  • The first bill aims to move state Assemblies and the Lok Sabha to simultaneous elections.
  • It proposes the addition of a new article, Article 82A, which describes the procedures for dissolving and reconstituting legislative bodies and lays out the process for holding simultaneous elections.

Expansion of Parliament’s Powers:

  • Additionally, the first bill suggests adding simultaneous election conducting to the list of powers granted to Parliament by Article 327 of the Constitution.
  • By this extension, Parliament would have more authority than it currently has over a number of electoral-related issues.

Handling of Dissolved Houses:

  • The committee discusses the possibility of state assemblies or the Lok Sabha dissolving before their entire term is up.
  • It suggests amending Articles 83 and 172 to create guidelines for the substitute legislative bodies until concurrent elections are held and to define the remaining time as the “unexpired term.”

Constitutional Amendment Process:

  • State governments are not required to be consulted or for state assemblies to ratify the proposed amendments under the first bill.
  • This demonstrates the committee’s goal of streamlining the process of holding simultaneous elections in the states and the federal government.

Local Body Elections and Electoral Roll Preparation:

  • State legislatures must ratify the second Constitution Amendment Bill, which focuses on panchayat and municipal elections.
  • It creates a new Article 324A to give Parliament the authority to enact laws directing local body elections to coincide with national elections.
  • A single electoral roll created by the Election Commission in cooperation with State Election Commissions is another change to Article 325 that the committee suggests amending.

Implications and Challenges:

  • The recommendations raise questions about local government and federalism even though they seek to improve efficiency and streamline the electoral process.
  • India’s federal structure may face difficulties due to the centralization of electoral procedures and the possible reduction of state autonomy in election administration.
  • To ensure successful implementation, the proposed amendments might also require major administrative and logistical adjustments.


  • The proposal to synchronise different levels of elections in India is noteworthy, and it comes from the High-Level Committee on One Nation, One Election.
  • To ensure the integrity and efficacy of the electoral process at both the national and local levels, however, their implementation would necessitate careful consideration of constitutional principles, federal dynamics, and logistical challenges.

What are the Challenges Associated with ONOE?
Constitutional Concerns and Mid-Tenure Collapse:
– The Constitution’s Article 83(2) and Article 172 provide that the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies have a five-year term, unless they are dissolved earlier.
– The idea of ONOE makes one wonder what would happen if the federal or state governments failed in the middle of their terms.
– The constitutional framework is complicated by the decision of whether to implement President’s Rule or hold elections in every State.

Logistical Challenges in Implementing ONOE:
– Significant logistical obstacles to the implementation of ONOE include staffing levels, other resources, and the availability and security of electronic voting machines.
– The ONOE plan could become more complicated as a result of the EC’s potential inability to oversee such a significant electoral process.
– Federalism Issues and the Report of the Law Commission:
– In opposition to the notion of India as a “Union of States” as stated in Article 1, ONOE conflicts with the idea of federalism.
– The independence and self-governance of state governments are under attack when there are simultaneous elections. This may exacerbate the conflict of interest between the federal government and the states in addition to undermining the federal system.
– State governments have different terms, and Article 371 of the Constitution grants certain states special powers.
– According to a report by the Law Commission led by Justice B. S. Chauhan, concurrent elections are not possible under the current constitutional framework.
– It would be necessary to amend the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act of 1951, and the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies’ Rules of Procedure.

Recurrence of Elections and Democratic Benefits:
– In a democracy, it is thought that the current system of recurring elections is advantageous because it gives people more opportunities to voice their opinions.
– Greater accountability is ensured by this setup, which prohibits the merging of issues between national and State polls.
– The current framework preserves the unique requirements and needs of every state.

Biased Democratic Structure:
– When the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections are held at the same time, there is a 77% chance that the winning political party or alliance will emerge victorious in both contests, according to a 2015 study by the IDFC Institute.
– However, only 61% of voters select the same party if the elections are held six months apart.

Cost Implications and Economic Considerations:
– The EC and NITI Aayog have estimated different costs for simultaneous elections, but their estimates are not in line. Long-term savings from synchronisation may outweigh short-term costs associated with installing more Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) and electronic voting machines (EVMs).
– Despite possible short-term cost increases, economic research indicates that election spending by parties and candidates ultimately helps the economy and government tax revenues.

Legal Concerns:
– The Supreme Court stressed the independent constitutional existence of States in the S.R. Bommai case, which brought attention to the possibility that the Constitution would be violated by introducing a common election process.

Language Bias in Consultation Process:
– The website of the High-Level Committee reveals a consultation process that gives rise to concerns regarding bias, exclusion, and inequality.
– The website, which aims to serve as a platform for interaction and information exchange, is limited to Hindi and English, ignoring the richness of India’s 22 official languages.

Independence of the Election Commission:
– Similar to the demonetisation process, in which the Reserve Bank of India was not notified, concerns have been raised regarding the EC’s independence.
– The Election Commission’s independence to make independent election decisions is in jeopardy because it seems passive in the High-Level Committee’s proceedings. 

Practice Question: Examine the High-Level Committee on One Nation, One Election’s recommendations critically. Evaluate the possible advantages and disadvantages of this electoral reform while talking about the difficulties and moral issues surrounding the implementation of simultaneous elections. (15 m/250 words)

5. First State Bhawan to be Established by Maharashtra for Visitors and Officials in Jammu and Kashmir

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies – Interventions for development in various sectors
Understanding the details of Maharashtra’s initiative to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir for the construction of a tourist facility, which represents the dynamics of cooperative federalism and interstate relations in India, makes this topic pertinent for both the Prelims and Mains exams.

– An important step forward in interstate relations and tourism infrastructure has been made by Maharashtra’s initiative to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir for the construction of a tourism facility.
– This action demonstrates how states are becoming more interested in boosting travel and encouraging cross-border cultural exchange.

More about the news:

Land Acquisition for Maharashtra Bhawan:

  • The Maharashtra cabinet’s decision to approve the land purchase in the Budgam district of central Kashmir demonstrates the state’s determination to establish itself in the Union Territory.
  • Situated on a 2.5-acre plot close to Srinagar airport, the proposed Maharashtra Bhawan represents Maharashtra’s intention to establish a designated area for visitors and officials.

Approval and Transfer of Land:

  • The government of Jammu and Kashmir has granted permission for land to be transferred to Maharashtra, provided that Rs 8.16 crore is paid. This indicates the two regions’ collaborative efforts in supporting this initiative.
  • The official transfer of land from Shamlat Deh for the construction of Maharashtra Bhawan is a step in the direction of strengthening bilateral relations and boosting travel to the area.

Initiation and Purpose of the Project:

  • Following Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir and his meeting with Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, the construction of Maharashtra Bhawan was launched.
  • The facility’s main goal is to improve the Valley’s overall tourism experience by offering comfortable lodging and amenities to visitors and officials from Maharashtra.

Budget Allocation and State Priorities:

  • The Maharashtra government’s pledge of Rs 77 crore towards the construction of Maharashtra Bhawans in Srinagar and Ayodhya is indicative of the state’s dedication to fostering tourism and offering first-rate facilities to tourists.
  • The state’s priorities in developing tourism are reflected in Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s emphasis on providing better and safer facilities to visitors and devotees.

Context of Abrogation of Special Status:

  • The mention of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status being revoked in August 2019 draws attention to how the Union Territory’s laws on land ownership and acquisition are evolving.
  • A break from the past limitations is indicated by the decision to permit states such as Maharashtra to buy land for development projects, indicating prospects for investment and growth in the area.


  • The construction of Maharashtra Bhawan in Jammu and Kashmir through land acquisition by Maharashtra is a noteworthy step in the direction of advancing interstate relations, improving tourism infrastructure, and promoting cross-cultural exchange.
  • This development emphasises how crucial it is for states and Union Territories to work together to achieve shared developmental objectives and fortify regional ties.

What is Inter-State relations under the Indian Constitution?
– In India, the interactions and relationships between the country’s federal units—its states and union territories—are referred to as inter-state relations.
– The Indian Constitution has two parts: Part XI, which addresses administrative relations, and Part XIII, which addresses trade and commerce.
– India’s states have a cooperative relationship; they cooperate to carry out national policies and initiatives and to deal with problems that affect them all.
– Nonetheless, disagreements between the states may arise over a variety of topics, including finance and resource allocation.

Practice Question: Examine critically the choice made by Maharashtra to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir in order to build Maharashtra Bhawan. Talk about the possible opportunities and difficulties that come with these kinds of interstate cooperation, as well as the importance of these initiatives for regional development and cooperative federalism in India. (15 m/250 words)

6. “India is expected to begin talks with the EAEU on a free trade deal.”

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Agreements involving India or affecting India’s interests. 
vital to UPSC since it represents India’s diplomatic efforts and prospective business alliances in the context of shifting geopolitical conditions.

● A possible economic partnership is indicated when the foreign minister of Belarus states that India is considering holding free trade negotiations with the Eurasian Economic Union.

Additional information on this news:

  • India’s consideration to begin negotiations for a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is announced by Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik.
  • Aleinik emphasises the UN support that Belarus and India provide to each other as well as their shared perspectives on international relations.
  • In light of geopolitical developments, India’s interest in a free trade agreement with the EAEU suggests potential for economic cooperation.

Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU)
● The five member states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) are Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan.
● The EAEU was founded on January 1, 2015, with the objective of fostering economic integration among its members.
● Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) members benefit from preferential trade agreements, tariff reductions, and simplified customs procedures, which foster economic cooperation.
● The EAEU has a combined GDP of over $5 trillion and spans a vast geographic area, covering both Europe and Asia.
● One of its primary goals is to facilitate the free movement of goods, services, capital, and labour within the member states.
● The union operates through a supranational body called the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), which has its headquarters in Moscow.
● The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) has faced challenges and opportunities in the global economic landscape.
● Its member states collaborate on various sectors such as energy, transportation, and technology, with the aim of mutual economic development.
● The EAEU has pursued partnerships and cooperation with other regional blocs and countries.
● Critics argue that Russia heavily influences the union and raise concerns about unequal benefits among member states.

PYQ: News reports occasionally mention the “Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA)” in relation to talks between India and (UPSC Prelims 2017)

(a) European Union
(b) Gulf Cooperation Council
(c) Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
(d) Shanghai Cooperation Organization 

Answer: (a)
Practice Question: Consider the importance of India’s possible negotiations for a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union in light of current geopolitical developments. (10 marks, 150 words)

7. Panel suggests conducting simultaneous surveys

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity – Indian Constitution – Amendments 
Crucial to UPSC because it examines constitutional amendments, electoral reforms, and effective governance while considering India’s democratic values.

● In an effort to lessen the burden of frequent elections, the high-level committee led by former President Ram Nath Kovind suggests scheduling elections for the Lok Sabha, State Assemblies, municipalities, and panchayats at the same time.

Additional information on this news:

  • As a first step, a high-level committee headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind suggests holding simultaneous elections for the State and Lok Sabha assemblies.
  • In the following phase, municipal and panchayat elections must be held within 100 days of the general election.
  • The committee sent President Droupadi Murmu a report that spanned 18,000 pages, but the public version is only 321 pages long.
  • It is also anticipated that the 22nd Law Commission will suggest concurrent polls from the general election cycle of 2029.
  • The Kovind panel recommends establishing a “Appointed Date” subsequent to the Lok Sabha’s initial sitting following the general elections in order to synchronise elections.
  • To implement these changes, it suggests amending Articles 83 and 172 of the Constitution.
  • Modifications to Article 324A and Article 325 require state ratification.
  • A group to oversee the implementation of the suggested eighteen Constitutional amendments and other statutes is advised.
  • The panel seeks to lessen the strain that the year’s numerous elections place on different stakeholders.
  • The recommendations are crafted to comply with the spirit of the Constitution with the fewest possible constitutional amendments.

Simultaneous elections in India
Need for Simultaneous Elections: 
● Preserves political stability by averting recurrent disturbances brought about by elections; lessens the financial strain on the government and political factions; and improves governance effectiveness by permitting the consistent application of policies.
● Encourages more efficient use of resources by preventing effort duplication during different elections.
● The drawbacks of simultaneous elections include the need for constitutional changes to align the terms of state and federal governments.
● Political parties might oppose because they might lose out on opportunities to share power.
● The Election Commission, state governments, and political parties face coordination challenges.
● Organising logistics and security for large-scale simultaneous polls across the nation presents practical challenges.

The next steps for simultaneous elections are as follows:
● Gradual implementation with pilot projects to determine viability and deal with obstacles.
● Creating a bipartisan consensus by means of discussions and cooperation between political parties.
● Constitutional changes to align national and state election cycles. The enhancement of institutional mechanisms for effective coordination and logistical planning.
● The implementation of public awareness campaigns aimed at enlightening the public about the advantages of holding simultaneous elections.

Conclusion: While there are many advantages to having simultaneous elections in terms of stability, effectiveness, and resource optimisation, there are also political, logistical, and constitutional issues that must be carefully considered before implementing them. Success requires gradual progress and bipartisan agreement.

PYQ: The amount of time and money spent on electioneering will be reduced by simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies, but the government’s accountability to the people will be diminished. Talk about it. (150 words, 10 seconds) (CSE (M) GS-2, UPSSC 2017)
Practice Question: Talk about the importance and viability of holding concurrent elections in India for different levels of government. (Fifteen marks, 250 words)

8. This winter, over a lakh migratory birds stayed in sanctuaries in Andhra Pradesh.

Topic: GS3 – Environment – Conservations 
Significant to UPSC because it highlights the contribution of local communities to environmental protection and India’s efforts to conserve its biodiversity.

● The story highlights the efforts being made by the Forest Department and the local villagers to conserve birds, as well as the influx of migratory birds that are drawing nature lovers to Andhra Pradesh’s Atapaka Bird Sanctuary. 

Additional information on this news:

  • Numerous migratory birds that visit Kolleru Lake are drawing tourists and nature enthusiasts to the Atapaka Bird Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Forest Department works to provide habitat for the birds by planting trees, mounds, and iron stands.
  • According to the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Andhra Pradesh is home to about 1.5 lakh migratory birds during this time of year.
  • A few notable bird counts are 43,130 at Coringa Sanctuary, 37,150 at Pulicat Lake, 16,000 at Nelapattu, 8,000 at Uppalapadu, and 50,000 at Kolleru Lake.
  • The villagers are commended for their part in keeping sanctuaries up to date and safeguarding the birds.
  • Indian skimmers, great knots, greater flamingos, pelicans, painted storks, and many other bird species have been sighted.
  • The yearly return of birds, including their breeding and rearing of young, is mentioned by the Atapaka villagers, demonstrating the importance of the area for ecotourism and bird conservation.

Practice Question: Using Atapaka Bird Sanctuary as an example, discuss the value of community involvement in preserving migratory bird habitats (150 words, 10 marks).

9. Study identifies inconsistent Forest Rights Act implementation

Topic: GS2 – Governance  – Government policies  – Issues arising out of their design & implementation
Comprehending the implementation of the Forest Rights Act highlights issues related to indigenous rights and governance, which are important for the UPSC civil services exam.

● A fact-finding committee headed by Justice S.N. Dhingra (retd.) discovered inconsistent Forest Rights Act implementation in five Indian states, citing inadequacies and delays.

Additional information on this news:

  • Assam, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Karnataka were the five states where the Forest Rights Act (FRA) was evaluated by a fact-finding committee chaired by Justice S.N. Dhingra (retd).
  • Concerns were voiced in Assam about the FRA’s inadequacy in meeting the particular requirements of communities that live in forests and practise shifting agriculture, or jhum cultivation.
  • In the districts of Kanker and Korba in Chhattisgarh, there were observed delays in decision-making.
  • The FRA was implemented satisfactorily in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, but it was not completed in Nashik.
  • The districts of Kandhamal and Sundargarh in Odisha showed significant progress, but there was a discrepancy between the submitted and acknowledged claims for individual and collective forest rights.
  • A notable high percentage of individual forest rights claims (94.83%) were rejected in Karnataka, specifically in the districts of Ramnagara and Mysuru.
  • As the Call for Justice organization’s report makes clear, agencies were unsure of the difference between individual and community forest rights, and there was a general lack of emphasis placed on community rights.

Forest Right Act 2006
Key Provisions of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006:
● acknowledges and grants Scheduled Tribes (FDST) and other traditional forest dwellers (OTFD) the right to live in and use forest land.
● Gives primitive tribal groups the right to habitat and ownership as well as the ability to gather, use, and discard small amounts of forest produce.
● Designates Gramme Sabhas as the principal authority for recognising and validating claims related to forest rights.
● Allows for the formation of Sub-Divisional Level Committees (SDLCs) and District Level Committees (DLCs) for the purpose of adjudicating claims.

Empowerment of Tribals under FRA:
● increases socioeconomic security by giving ancestral lands legal recognition and ownership.
● Promotes customary means of subsistence while facilitating sustainable management of forest resources.
●Offers a forum for tribal communities to engage in Gramme Sabhas decision-making procedures.

Challenges in Implementation:
● Communities living in forests are unaware of their rights under the Forest Rights Act (FRA).
● Prejudicial perspectives and reluctance on the part of forest department employees to put FRA provisions into practice.
● Insufficient institutional capability and resources to promptly handle and decide on claims related to forest rights.
● The invasion and repurposing of forest areas for purposes other than forests, resulting in confrontations and the eviction of indigenous people.

Way Forward for FRA Implementation:
● stepping up capacity-building programmes and awareness-raising campaigns for officials and communities living near forests.
● Ensuring the recognition and settlement of claims related to forest rights in a timely and transparent manner.
● Encouraging collaboration and coordination across departments to ensure successful execution across all tiers of governance.
● Improving the effectiveness of the FRA by clarifying and amending legal and policy ambiguities.
● Promoting collaborations among governmental bodies, non-profits, and nearby communities to oversee execution and tackle obstacles.

Through the recognition of their rights over forest resources, tribal communities could be empowered by the Forest Rights Act. However, coordinated efforts are needed to overcome obstacles and guarantee the achievement of its goals in order for it to be implemented effectively.

PYQ: Which federal ministry is in charge of overseeing the efficient execution of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 at the federal level?

(a) Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
(b) Ministry of Panchayati Raj
(c) Ministry of Rural Development
(d) Ministry of Tribal Affairs

Ans: (d)
Practice Question: Talk about the difficulties and shortcomings in the Forest Rights Act’s implementation in the various Indian states, with a focus on the governance issue. (10 marks, 150 words)


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