Jobs: UPSC Key—21st February, 2024: Article 142 of the Constitution, Definition of Forest and Semiconductor industry in India


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

Main Examination: General Studies II: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-THE SUPREME Court Tuesday quashed and set aside the result of the January 30 mayoral polls for the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation in which the presiding officer had named BJP’s Manoj Sonkar as the winner, and instead declared Kuldeep Kumar, the AAP-Congress coalition candidate, as the validly elected candidate. It also issued a show cause notice to Anil Masih, the presiding officer, on why steps should not be initiated against him under Section 340 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

• The Supreme Court said what?

Festive offer

• On what grounds did the court strike down the result?

• What is Article 142 of the Constitution?

• Why Supreme Court invoked Article 142 in this issue?

• The Supreme Court of India invoked the extraordinary power conferred on the court under Article 142 of the Constitution in this case-What is that “Extraordinary Power” granted to Supreme Court under Article 142 of the Indian Constitution?

• Article 142 of the Constitution and ‘complete justice’-How Article 142 ensures ‘Complete Justice’?

• Can High court use Article 142?

• Why Supreme Court criticised Anil Masih?

• Why was this mayoral election important?

• For Your Information-A three-judge bench presided by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud perused the ballot papers and said that the eight ballots on which Masih had made a marking, and were later counted as invalid, were duly cast in favour of Kuldeep Kumar. Kumar had approached the Supreme Court against the outcome of the election.

Setting aside the January 30 election results as “contrary to law”, the bench — comprising Justice J B Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra —however refused to quash the entire electoral process. “We are of the considered view that it would be inappropriate to set aside the election process in its entirety when the only infirmity which has been found is at the stage when the counting of votes was recorded by the presiding officer. Allowing the entire election process to be set aside would further compound the destruction of fundamental democratic principles which has taken place as a consequence of the conduct of the presiding officer.”

Accordingly, it said, “We are of the considered view that in such a case, this court is duty bound, particularly in the context of its jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution to do complete justice to ensure that the process of electoral democracy is not allowed to be thwarted by such subterfuges. Allowing such a state of affairs to take place would be destructive of the most valued principles on which the entire edifice of democracy in our country depends. We are therefore of the view that the court must step in in such exceptional situations to ensure that the basic mandate of electoral democracy, albeit at the local participatory level is preserved.”

The Supreme Court said it was evident that Masih “is guilty of a serious misdemeanour in doing what he did in his role and capacity as presiding officer”. “The presiding officer has evidently put his own mark on the bottom half of the ballot for the purpose of creating a ground for treating the ballot to have been invalidly cast. In doing so, the presiding officer has clearly acted beyond the terms of his remit under the statutory regulations…,” it said.

Masih, who was the presiding officer, had told the court on Monday he had put the mark on the ballot papers as they were already defaced, so as to avoid them being mixed up with the other ballots. Referring to this, the order said, “In this court yesterday, the presiding officer made a solemn statement that he had done so because he had found that each of the ballots was defaced. As already recorded, it is evident that none of the ballots have been defaced.”

“The conduct of the presiding officer has to be deprecated at two levels. Firstly, by his conduct, he has unlawfully altered the course of the Mayoral election. Secondly, making a solemn statement before this court on February 19, 2024, the presiding officer has expressed a patent falsehood for which he must be held accountable,” it said.

• What was the role of Anil Masih in Chandigarh mayoral polls?

• Presiding Officer-What you know about the same?

• What is the role of Presiding Officer?

• Who appoints Presiding Officer in district?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Art 142, why SC quashed Chandigarh mayor election, why it matters

Maharashtra clears 10% Maratha quota; Shinde says it will survive the test of law


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

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-The Maharashtra Assembly Tuesday unanimously passed a Bill granting 10 per cent reservation in education and jobs to the Maratha community.

• Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Bill 2024-Know key features

• Do You Know-The principle of creamy layer will be applicable and reservation under this Act will be available only to those in the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes who are not in the creamy layer category. The report submitted to the government last week by commission chairman Justice (retired) Sunil Shukre said “exceptional circumstances and extraordinary situations exist” and this warrants granting reservation to Maratha community in excess of 50 per cent.

In the Assembly, Shinde said there are 22 states that have over 50 per cent reservation. These include Tamil Nadu (69%), Haryana (67%), Bihar (75%). Currently, Maharashtra has 52 per cent reservation – SC (13%); ST (7%), OBC (19%), Vimukt Jati (3%), Nomadic Tribe B (2.5%), Nomadic Tribe C (3.5%); Nomadic Tribe D (2%); and Special Backward Classes (2%). Besides, 10 per cent is reserved for the EWS category and with the addition of 10 per cent for Marathas, total reservation in the state will reach 72%. The commission arrived at the conclusion that the Maratha population accounts for 28 per cent in the state.

The committee to determine the status of the Marathas was set up in December 2023 with Justice (retd) Sunil B Shukre of the Bombay High Court as chairperson. Over the past two months, the Commission claims to have surveyed 1,58,20,264 families across the state.

The Shukre commission notes that the population of Marathas in the state is 28%, while 84 % of them are not advanced, adding that such a large backward community cannot be added into the OBC bracket. The Commission describes extreme poverty, decline in agricultural income, and partitions in land holdings as reasons for the current status of the Marathas. It also notes that 94% of farmers who have died by suicide in the state belonged to the Maratha community.

The panel finds inadequate representation of the community in all sectors of public services, and says the Marathas have remained “completely out of the mainstream” due to their backwardness. It calls for separate reservation to the Marathas to increase their representation in government jobs and developed sectors.

The Bill said the state government “on the basis of the exhaustive study by the Commission on various aspects regarding the Maratha community, the empirical, quantifiable and contemporary data, facts and statistics set out therein,” decided that the Maratha community is a Socially and Educationally Backward Class and shall be specified as such under Article 342A (3) of the Constitution of India and to provide reservation for that class under Articles 15(4), 15(5) and 16(4) of the Constitution.

The commission report recommended that the Maratha community needed a separate denomination of percentage, distinct and separate from existing reserved categories and left it to the state government to decide the percentage of reservation for the Maratha community.

In November 2018, when the government moved to grant 10 per cent reservation to the Marathas, it was granted on the recommendations of the Maharashtra Backward Class Commission headed by Justice (Retired) M G Gaikwad that had investigated the backwardness of the Maratha community. In 2021, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court noted that the Gaikwad commission report had certain shortcomings and the conclusion arrived at by the commission was not borne out by the data and material before it. The Maharashtra government’s new Bill stated that it had made note of all Supreme Court observations.

• What is Maratha reservation issue?

• What are the Marathas demanding?

• What is the History and Status of the Maratha Reservation Demand?

• Who are the Marathas?

• Why Marathas demanding for reservation?

• For Your Information-In June 2019, the Bombay High Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Maratha quota under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018. While ruling that the 16 per cent quota granted by the state was not ‘justifiable,’ the HC reduced it to 12 per cent in education and 13 per cent in government jobs, as recommended by the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission.

The HC, however, said that the limit of reservation should not exceed 50%. However, in exceptional circumstances and extraordinary situations, this limit can be crossed. It said that this will be subject to availability of quantifiable and contemporaneous data reflecting backwardness, inadequacy of representation and without affecting the efficiency in administration.

The court heavily relied on the findings of the 11-member Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC) headed by Justice G M Gaikwad (retd). The commission surveyed nearly 45, 000 families from two villages from each of 355 talukas with more than 50 per cent Maratha population.

The report submitted on November 15, 2018 said the Maratha community is socially, economically and educationally backward. The HC expressed satisfaction over the data and observed that the commission had conclusively established the social, economic and educational backwardness of the Maratha community. It had also established inadequacy of representation of Maratha community in public employment in the state.

• In May 2021, a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan struck down the provisions of Maharashtra law providing reservation to the Maratha community-Why?

• What is 1992 Indra Sawhney (Mandal) judgment?

• One immediate demand from the Marathwada region is that the state government should grant Kunbi status to all Marathas-Why?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Maratha reservation: A long history of political tug-of-war and litigation

📍Third time lucky? Why the new law is unlike two previous bids to provide reservation to Marathas


WHO launches digital health platform agreed upon in India’s G20 presidency


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

Main Examination: General Studies II: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story– Achieving one of the three priority areas agreed upon during India’s G20 presidency in 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) Tuesday launched the Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH) virtually, a platform for sharing knowledge and digital products among countries.

• What is Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH)?

• Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH)-Know its key objectives

• Global Initiative on Digital Health (GIDH) will be a network of networks with four main components-what are those?

• G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration-What were the key takeaways on health?

• What is Digital Health?

• What are the benefits of Digital Health Technologies?

• What are key issues faced by the healthcare sector of India?

• India’s Health Budget-Know the Statistics

• How does the pandemic affected health services?

• How does the impact of the pandemic on health services put the spotlight on the benefits of digital innovation and technology-enabled solutions?

• How implementation of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) united all stakeholders in the digital healthcare ecosystem?

• Public Health Systems in India-Know the Background

• Current state of India’s health infrastructure- What World Bank data says?

• Steps required to strengthen the existing state of Health infrastructure in India

• What do you understand by Universal Health Coverage (UHC)?

• PM Atma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana and Ayushman Bharat Scheme-Key Highlights

• Is there any explicit/implicit recognition of the right to health or healthcare under the Constitution? (Hint: Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV of the India Constitution provide a basis for the right to health)

• What is Supreme Court of India stand on Right to Health?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Turning the spotlight on health


At Milan-24, Navy offers its submarine rescue capability


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-Indian Navy is offering its submarine rescue capabilities to friendly countries, a key highlight of the ongoing multilateral naval exercise Milan-24 in Visakhapatnam that will further India’s defence diplomacy.

• What is MILAN?

• Why biennial Multilateral Naval Exercise (Milan) is important?

• MILAN and SAGAR initiative-Connect the dots

• For Your Information-As many as 51 countries, 11 heads of maritime agencies, and warships and an aircraft from 15 countries will participate in the Indian Navy’s mega multi-national exercise MILAN. The 51 countries include new participants such as Canada, Spain, Germany, Italy, Iraq and Yemen in the exercise, which comes in the backdrop of a new set of security challenges in the Gulf of Aden, including a series of drone and missile attacks on merchant ships in the recent months.

The Navy has also carried out a series of anti-piracy operations in the Arabian Sea in recent weeks. In the 12th edition of MILAN, the 51 participating countries will be sending their operational units and delegations. As per the Navy, 15 ships and one Maritime Patrol Aircraft from friendly foreign countries, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Russia, US, Iran, Myanmar, Malaysia and France, will participate in the sea exercise. From the Indian Navy, nearly 20 ships, including aircraft carriers Vikrant and Vikramaditya, and nearly 50 aircraft will participate in the exercise.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Military exercises boost India’s diplomatic interests, provide platform for sharing strategies


‘Small scale fishing should be exempted from WTO talks’


Preliminary Examination: Economic and Social Development

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- Ahead of the WTO’s inter-ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi later this month, the National Fishworkers Forum (NFF’s) has written to the commerce and industry ministry asking it to protect the interest of small fishermen by pushing World Trade Organization (WTO) to keep small scale fishing out of fisheries subsidies negotiations later this month.

• What is the subsidy for fisheries in India?

• What is India’s stand on fisheries subsidies?

• Fishing Industry in India-Know present scenario of Indian fisheries

• Marine fisheries in India vs Inland fisheries in India-compare and contrast

• Do You Know-According to the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), as per Census 2016, the country’s marine fisherfolk population is 3.77 million, comprising approximately 0.90 million families. Nearly 67.3 per cent of these families were in the below poverty line (BPL) category.

• Twelfth ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies (AFS)-Know in detail

• Why Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies (AFS) is first-of-its-kind?

• Know the significance of the adoption of Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies (AFS)

• Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies (AFS) and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.6-connect the dots

• Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies (AFS) prohibits three kinds of subsidies. What are they?

• What is India’s demand on overcapacity and over-fishing (OCOF)?

• What Comprehensive Marine Fishing Policy of 2004 headed by Dr. B. MeenaKumari and the existing Guidelines for deep-sea Fishing in the Exclusive economic zones says about fisheries subsidies?

• What is the WTO and the Ministerial Conference?

• For Your Information-The World Trade Organization is the only international organization that deals with the rules of trade between countries. Founded in 1995, the WTO is run by its 164 members, and according to its rules, all decisions are taken through consensus and any member can exercise a veto.

Its aim is to promote free trade, which is done through trade agreements that are discussed and signed by the member states. The WTO also provides a forum for countries to negotiate trade rules and settle economic disputes between them.
The Ministerial Conference is the WTO’s top decision-making body and usually meets every two years. All members of the WTO are involved in the MC and they can take decisions on all matters covered under any multilateral trade agreements.

• “The public stockpiling of food grain is the longest pending issue”-Why?

• What is India’s stand?

• ‘Peace clause’ agreed during the Bali ministerial in 2013-What was that?

• Dispute settlement mechanism (DSM)-what you about the same?

• What happened in the 12th WTO ministerial meeting?

• “A permanent solution at WTO will give India and a coalition of developing countries the flexibility to give out higher farm support”-Analyse

• “Giving out higher farm support could land India into legal disputes at WTO on account of distorting global trade”-Discuss

• Why India is very keen on a permanent solution?

• For Your Information-A permanent solution at WTO will give India and a coalition of developing countries the flexibility to give out higher farm support. This assumes special significance as farmers are holding yet again protests in the national capital seeking a law to guarantee minimum support price (MSP) for all crops. Several farmers groups have long held the opinion that India should walk out of WTO.

However, giving out higher farm support could land India into legal disputes at WTO on account of distorting global trade. India is already facing pushback from the Cairns Group — a group of agricultural exporting countries that include Australia, Brazil and Canada who claim that India’s public stockholding (PSH) programme is highly subsidised, especially for rice, and that this is affecting food security of other countries.

“The main reason why India is very keen on a permanent solution is that some of the provisions in the peace clause are ambiguous. So we don’t know how those provisions will be interpreted by a WTO panel. That creates uncertainty and unpredictability for us. Our invoking the peace clause from 2020 onwards has been subjected to detailed questioning by many countries. The objective is to make the peace clause more restrictive,” Abhijit Das, expert on international trade and former head, Centre for WTO Studies said.

India has invoked the ‘peace clause’ several times at the WTO for breaching the prescribed 10 per cent subsidy ceiling on rice procurement. India’s subsidy on rice had exceeded the threshold on multiple occasions forcing it to invoke the ‘peace clause’ agreed during the Bali ministerial in 2013 which allows developing countries to breach the 10 per cent ceiling without invoking legal action by members.

“Cairns Group is also pushing all countries to cut agriculture support by 50 per cent by 2030 which will result in countries such as India making huge sacrifices compared to developed countries,” Das said. He added if a scheme was not existing in 2013 then that can be implemented but the products benefiting for the scheme cannot exceed the 10 per cent subsidy ceiling. This means that for those products, the peace clause will not be applicable.

“The peace clause says that you are distorting trade due to your subsidies but nobody will sue you provided you meet certain conditions. The conditions include that a country should not hurt the food security of other countries or be trade distorting. These conditions are vague in nature and that is why India can be taken to dispute. This is the reason why India and other developing nations are pushing for a permanent solution,” Ranja Sengupta, Senior Researcher with the non-profit international research body Third World Network (TWN) said on Thursday.

Government officials had earlier said that India will not discuss any other issues on agriculture as long as the issue of permanent solution is not resolved. Developed and developing nations continue to differ on the subject of domestic support for farmers so much so that the WTO Director-General, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in November last year said that ongoing agriculture negotiations have “failed to achieve” the progress WTO members have called for.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍‘Permanent solution for public stockholding top priority for India’


Defining forests, saving them


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Main Examination: 

• General Studies II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

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

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- The Supreme Court has directed governments to follow the “broad and all-encompassing” definition of forest as laid down in its 1996 judgment in the T N Godavarman case until a consolidated record of all kinds of forests across the country is prepared.

• What is “forest”?

• Do You Know-The global standard for “forest” is provided by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations: at least 1 hectare of land with a minimum of 10% per cent tree canopy cover. While the FAO does not include areas “predominantly under agriculture or urban land use” in a forest, India counts all 1-hectare plots with 10% canopy cover “irrespective of land use” as forest. The FSI is not the only one looking at India’s forest cover. Over the years, several independent studies have reported significant loss of forests in India. According to Global Forest Watch, a World Resources Institute platform, India lost 1,270 sq km of natural forest between 2010 and 2021.

• What is the India State of Forest Report?

• For Your Information-India is one of the few countries to have a scientific system of periodic forest cover assessment that provides “valuable inputs for planning, policy formulation and evidence-based decision-making”. Since 19.53% in the early 1980s, India’s forest cover has increased to 21.71% in 2021. Adding to this a notional 2.91% tree cover estimated in 2021, the country’s total green cover now stands at 24.62%, on paper.

• Why was the Forest (Conservation) Act amended in 2023?

• How exactly did the Supreme Court define ‘forest’ for the purposes of the Act?

• To what extent did the SC’s 1996 judgment really expand the ambit of the FCA, 1980?

• What about the argument that following the T N Godavarman judgment, the FCA was impeding the government’s welfare agenda?

• Who challenged the 2023 amendments to the law, and on what grounds?

• What is the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023?

• How the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 is different from the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980?

• The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023-What are the objectives?

• For Your Information-On March 29 2023, the government introduced The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023 in Lok Sabha to make changes to The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. It was passed on July 27 and is now awaiting passage in the Rajya Sabha.

Diversion of forests for the construction of roads, railway lines or other projects of strategic nature near India’s international borders would no longer require clearance once the bill becomes law. It exempts certain kinds of infrastructure or development projects from the need to get forest clearance, which is mandatory at present. The amendment bill also renames the parent legislation, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, to Van (Sanrakshan Evam Samvardhan) Adhiniyam which translates to Forest (Conservation and Augmentation) Act.

Besides being in Hindi, the new name is a reflection of a new focus on afforestation and reforestation activities with the objective of increasing India’s forest cover and fulfilling its international commitment of creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes by 2030. The predominant idea of the proposed changes is to build forest carbon stock by raising plantations. The Bill also seeks to make land available for developers to meet their legal obligation towards compensatory afforestation in lieu of forest land diverted for development projects. The Bill tries to achieve both these objectives by restricting the applicability of the FC Act, and by freeing up land that is currently locked up as unrecorded forests.

• What is the 33 percentage of the forest policy?

• “With only 21 per cent of India’s land area having forest cover and even more worryingly, only 12.37 per cent
intact natural forest, we have a long way to go to meet our target of 33 per cent forest cover”-Discuss

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Forests and national security



Preliminary Examination: General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change

Main Examination: 

• General Studies II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

• General Studies III: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-After initial hopes of finally securing a viable bid to set up a semiconductor fabrication facility in India tapered off owing to numerous challenges, a fresh wave of proposals have rekindled hopes yet again. Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar recently confirmed that the Tata Group and Israeli chip company Tower Semiconductor have applied to set up foundries in the country.

• What are the proposals currently on the table?

• What had happened to the earlier fab proposals?

• Why is India focusing on semiconductor manufacturing?

• What factors may contribute to potential challenges in the domestic semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem?

• What makes Semiconductors the most important commodities in the global market right now?

• What is the supply chain for semiconductors?

• What are the steps in the semiconductor supply chain?

• Which nation holds the distinction of being the primary source of semiconductors on a global scale?

• “A key element of the partnership is the resolve to diversify the global semiconductor supply chain, which is at the centre of the rivalry between the world’s number 1 and 2 economic powers, the US and China”-What do you understand by this?

• What is semiconductor?

• What is the most basic component of a semiconductor chip?

• Semiconductors are the foundation of nearly every modern electronic gadget. Where does India stand in the semiconductor industry?

• The Government of India has undertaken several initiatives to promote electronics manufacturing-Know the important

• What are the current challenges of the semiconductor industry in India?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:

📍Why India’s semiconductor manufacturing industry is yet to take off

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