Daily Current Affairs 21 February 2024- Top News Of The Day

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Daily Current Affairs 21 February 2024- Top News Of The Day

1. Maharashtra clears 10% quota for all Marathas.

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice 
The approval of the Maratha quota in Maharashtra is significant for UPSC because it illustrates social and political dynamics as well as issues with governance.

– Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shinde has come under fire from activists and the opposition for approving a 10% quota for the Maratha community in jobs and education, referring to it as a pre-election move.

Additional information on this news:

  • Prior to the Lok Sabha election, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his Cabinet approved a bill granting the Maratha community a 10% quota in government jobs and education.
  • In a special session, the legislation was unanimously approved, meeting the government’s three-month deadline.
  • Manoj Jarange-Patil, an activist who wants a Maratha quota separated from the current OBC reservation in order to have a better chance of passing Supreme Court scrutiny, called it a “betrayal.”
  • Similar to a 2018 Act, the Bill increases Maharashtra’s total reservations to 62%, above the 50% Supreme Court limit, without altering the state’s current OBC quota.
  • Congress accused the government of misleading the Maratha community, while opposition parties criticised it as “pre-election eyewash.”

Demands for Higher Caste Reservations
Recent Demands:
Maratha reservation: Citing a breach of the 50% reservation cap, the Supreme Court of Maharashtra invalidated the Maratha reservation law in 2021.
Similar requests: The Jat and Gujjar communities, among others, have made requests to be included in the reservation categories.

– Addressing economic disadvantage: Affirmative action is justified, according to proponents, because some members of higher castes experience limited opportunities and financial hardship.

– Dilution of original intent: By extending reservations beyond historically marginalised populations, the policy may become less focused on redressing past wrongs.
– Less opportunities for current recipients: Wider reservations could lead to increased competition, which could hurt groups that already benefit from quotas.
– Merit violation: Detractors claim that caste-based reservations could undermine meritocracy in hiring decisions.

Way Forward:
– Focus on socio-economic criteria: In order to better address economic disadvantage, implement tailored programmes based on individual needs, regardless of caste.
Review creamy layer concept: To ensure equitable distribution, reexamine the exclusion of wealthy individuals from reservation benefits within any caste.
Comprehensive data collection: To support evidence-based policy decisions, compile comprehensive socioeconomic data on a range of communities.
Open and inclusive dialogue: Urge productive dialogues between all parties involved in order to identify solutions that advance equality and deal with actual disadvantage.

It is still very difficult to find a fair strategy that takes into account the requirements of affirmative action as well as the ideas of merit and equality.

Practice Question: Analyse critically the recent demands for reservation made by some Indian higher caste members. Talk about the possible advantages and disadvantages of such a policy and offer a solution that preserves equality and merit while addressing real disadvantage. (10 m / 150 words)

2. The BJP advocates for concurrent elections using a single voter list.

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity – Federal structure 
As it relates to federalism, governance, and electoral reforms, UPSC candidates should concentrate on “one nation, one election” and comprehend the benefits and drawbacks of doing so.

– The BJP points to disruptions in governance and economic stagnation during repeated imposition of the Model Code of Conduct as justification for its support of simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha, State Assemblies, and local bodies using a common voter list.

Additional information on this news:

  • The BJP proposes a common voter list for the Lok Sabha, State Assemblies, and local bodies, and supports holding elections for all three at the same time.
  • Former President Ram Nath Kovind is leading a high-level committee that is investigating the viability of the “one nation, one election” idea.
  • Revision of laws pertaining to simultaneous polls is suggested by the BJP, with a focus on avoiding repeated imposition of the Model Code of Conduct.
  • The BJP makes the case that the current election cycles upset the system of governance by bringing up examples of short-term, populist policies and economic stagnation under code imposition.
  • The idea is fiercely opposed by opposition parties, such as Congress and Trinamool Congress, who see it as an attack on the federal structure.

Simultaneous Elections of Lok Sabha and State Assembly

– Lower expenses: Saves tax dollars for political parties, candidates, and the general public by avoiding the need to hold multiple elections.
– Better governance: Reduces the disturbances brought about by regular elections, freeing up governments to concentrate on the formulation and execution of policies.
– Increased voter turnout: One polling day and less voter fatigue may lead to increased voter participation.
– Simplified administration: Lessens the burden on the security personnel and administrative equipment assigned to election-related tasks.


– Amendments to the Constitution: These require major changes to the document, which makes implementation difficult and time-consuming.
– Logistical obstacles: Coordinating elections at the same time in several different places presents logistical difficulties.
– Impact on regional issues: In combined elections, national issues may take precedence over local ones, thereby disregarding regional priorities.
– Danger to federalism: According to critics, it might erode the federal system by providing national parties an unfair advantage over local parties.

Way Forward:

Open and inclusive discussion: To address issues and forge consensus, promote national dialogue involving all relevant parties, experts, and civil society.
– Implementation gradually: Think about implementing the policy gradually, kicking off with simultaneous elections in a few states before moving on to the entire country.
– Taking care of practical issues: Provide a strong framework and procedures to guarantee the smooth running of numerous simultaneous elections.
– Providing equitable representation: Investigate ways to protect local concerns and guarantee sufficient representation for various viewpoints within a unified electoral system.

Examining whether simultaneous elections present a workable solution necessitates a thorough analysis of the advantages and disadvantages, as well as a planned course of action.

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: Examine the possible benefits and difficulties of India holding elections for the State Assemblies and Lok Sabha at the same time. Provide a solution that takes these issues into account and guarantees successful execution. (10 m / 150 words)

3. India plans to pursue $26 billion in private investment in the nuclear power industry.

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy – Infrastructure – Energy
Important for UPSC because it illustrates India’s approach to utilising private investment to boost nuclear energy, which affects sustainability and energy security.

– India intends to entice Reliance, Tata, Adani, and Vedanta among other companies to invest $26 billion in the nuclear energy sector.
– With a goal of 50% non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030, this action seeks to increase the production of electricity without using carbon.

Additional information on this news:

  • To increase its output of electricity that emits no carbon dioxide, India intends to extend an invitation to private companies to invest $26 billion in its nuclear energy sector.
  • With the goal of reaching 50% non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030, New Delhi is now pursuing private investment in nuclear power for the first time.
  • Four private companies—Tata Power, Adani Power, Vedanta Ltd., and Reliance Industries—are in talks to invest about ₹440 billion ($5.3 billion) apiece.
  • By 2040, the government wants to increase the capacity of nuclear power generation by 11,000 MW.
  • Currently, the nation’s nuclear power facilities are managed by the state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL).
  • While NPCIL will maintain the right to build, operate, and manage fuel, private companies will invest in nuclear plants, purchase land and water, and undertake construction.
  • Electricity sales are expected to generate income for private companies, and NPCIL will charge a fee to operate the projects.

Need for Nuclear Energy in India
Need for More Production:
– Growing demand for energy: In order to keep up with the rapid economic growth, more electricity must be produced.
– Mitigation of climate change: Nuclear power provides a baseload electricity source with low carbon emissions, which is essential for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
– Energy security is improved by diversifying energy sources and lowering reliance on fossil fuels.

– Public perception: The public’s acceptance is hindered by worries about safety and the disposal of radioactive waste.
– Regulatory obstacles: In order to expedite the completion of a project, it is imperative to streamline regulatory procedures and acquire timely approvals.
– Technological developments: It is crucial to fund the study and creation of cutting-edge reactor technologies, such as thorium-based systems.
– Fuel security: Investigating domestic fuel sources and enrichment capabilities is necessary given reliance on imported uranium.

Way Forward:
– Promoting public awareness: Addressing issues with open dialogue and educational programmes to build public confidence.
– Quickening the regulatory procedure: streamlining processes and setting precise deadlines for clearances to guarantee project completion on time.
Investing in R&D: funding studies on cutting-edge fuel cycle technologies, reactor designs, and waste management strategies.
– Investigating domestic fuel options: Creating domestic mining and enrichment capacity for uranium to lessen reliance on imports.

PYQ: Should India continue to grow its nuclear energy programme in light of its increasing energy needs? Talk about the realities and worries surrounding nuclear energy.
(15 minutes, 250 words) (CSE (M) GS-3, UPSSC 2018)

4. Due to electoral malpractice, the Supreme Court invalidates the results of the Chandigarh municipal election.

Topic: GS2 – Polity – Judiciary
This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of knowing facts about the role of the judiciary in upholding electoral integrity and ensuring accountability.

– The results of the Chandigarh mayoral election on January 30 were declared invalid by the Supreme Court, which is made up of Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud, Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra. This was because presiding officer Anil Masih purposefully invalidated eight ballots in favour of AAP-Congress candidate Kuldeep Kumar “Tita.”
– Enforcing the sanctity of electoral democracy and upholding democratic principles, the court invoked its authority under Article 142 of the Constitution to declare Kuldeep Kumar as the legitimately elected candidate while setting aside the outcome.

More about the news: Basis of Supreme Court’s Decision:

  • Eight votes cast in support of Kuldeep Kumar were declared invalid by the court, thereby changing the results of the election.
  • Citing Masih’s incorrect classification of legitimate votes as invalid and the necessity of making amends, it underlined the significance of defending democratic values and guaranteeing the integrity of the election process.

Political Significance of the Election:

  • Politically speaking, the mayoral election was significant because it saw the first alliance between the AAP and Congress against the BJP, which could have an impact on future alliances for the Lok Sabha elections.
  • The result was significant in light of the parties’ continuing negotiations for seat-sharing arrangements, especially in Delhi and Punjab.

Pre-Election Circumstances and Voting Day Incidents:

  • The election, which was supposed to take place on January 18 but was moved to January 30 due to the illness of the presiding officer, Masih.
  • The election resulted from a legal challenge to the postponement by AAP and Congress council members.
  • Masih ruled that eight AAP-Congress votes were invalid on election day, which led to the declaration of BJP candidate Manoj Sonkar as the victor.

Legal Proceedings and Supreme Court’s Reaction:

  • Following the release of videos purporting to show Masih tampering with ballot papers, Kuldeep Kumar filed an appeal with the High Court and then the Supreme Court.
  • The court summoned Masih, denounced his behaviour, and emphasised the seriousness of his misbehaviour.
  • The court rejected Masih’s attempt to defend his actions and ordered that he be served with a show-cause notice.

Potential Ramifications and Political Maneuvering:

  • A new election might have resulted in a majority for the BJP and a decline in the AAP-Congress vote total.
  • The possibility of political scheming and changing allegiances is highlighted by the absence of anti-defection legislation in municipal elections.


  • The Supreme Court’s action to nullify the election results demonstrates its dedication to maintaining the credibility of election procedures.
  • By addressing injustices and guaranteeing impartial elections, the court upholds the essential tenets of democracy and responsibility in public administration.
Practice Question: Examine the importance of the Supreme Court’s intervention in overturning the Chandigarh mayoral election result, emphasising the wider ramifications for India’s democratic values and electoral integrity. (15 m/250 words)

5. The Supreme Court retains the definition of a comprehensive forest and temporarily halts the 2023 amendments.

Topic: GS2 – Governance
Understanding the nuances of laws pertaining to environmental conservation, like the Forest (Conservation) Act, makes this topic pertinent for both the Prelims and Mains.

– Until a unified record of all forest types in the nation is prepared, the Supreme Court has mandated that governments follow the comprehensive definition of forest set forth in its 1996 ruling in the T N Godavarman case.
– This directive is in response to petitions that contested the 2023 amendments to the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 (FCA), on the grounds that the Act’s scope was narrowed and the definition of forests was diluted.

More about the news:Reasons behind the 2023 Amendments:

  • The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 resolved perceived ambiguities arising from the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the FCA in the T N Godavarman case.
  • The government expressed concerns that the expanded application of the FCA after the 1996 ruling hindered development efforts by imposing restrictions on land use in areas that resembled forests.

Supreme Court’s Definition of Forest:

  • The Supreme Court restated its position, holding that the Forest Cover Act (FCA) ought to be applied to all land parcels that are classified as forests in official government records or those that closely resemble forests as defined by a dictionary.
  • This reading is consistent with the Court’s earlier decision and Parliament’s intention when it passed the FCA in 1980.

Impact of the 1996 Judgment and Subsequent Amendments:

  • Notwithstanding the government’s justification for the 2023 revisions, legal analyses indicate that the 1996 ruling already expanded the FCA’s purview.
  • Later revisions aimed to make the law more clear rather than drastically change it.
  • NGOs and retired Indian Forest Service officers filed lawsuits against the FCA because of ongoing worries that some forest areas might be excluded from its jurisdiction.

Challenges to the Amendments and Court’s Response:

  • The petitioners challenged the 2023 amendments, claiming that parcels that were previously classified as forests under the 1996 ruling could now be used for non-forest purposes without FCA approval while a consolidated record of forests is finalised.
  • In response, the Supreme Court mandated that the 1996 definition be followed until the consolidated forest record was finished.

Future Steps and Legal Proceedings:

  • States and Union Territories have until March 31 to turn in thorough forest records, and the Ministry must publish the information by April 15 at the latest.
  • The case will be heard by the Supreme Court in July with a focus on how crucial it is to balance the needs of environmental preservation with development.

Practice Question: Examine the significance of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 amendments that followed the Supreme Court’s directive on the definition of a forest in relation to legal interpretation, environmental preservation, and sustainable development in India. (15 m/250 words)

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