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FCRA licence of Centre for Policy Research suspended


GS Paper II


Context: The licence of the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) has been suspended by the Union Home Ministry.

About Centre for Policy Research:
  • The Centre for Policy Research was founded in 1973 as a think tank with the goal of strengthening public conversation on issues affecting Indian society.
  • Its main office may be found at Chanakyapuri, New Delhi.
  • It is a non-profit, non-partisan, independent organisation whose mission is to conduct research that advances superior scholarship and better public policies.
  • It has developed a reputation as one of the top public policy think tanks in the nation over the years.
  • According to allegations, the Center for Policy Research received foreign donations in contravention of the FCRA.
What is FCRA?
  • The FCRA controls foreign donations and makes sure they don’t have a negative impact on domestic security.
  • It was first passed in 1976 but was changed in 2010 when a number of new regulations regarding foreign donations were established.
  • All associations, groups, and NGOs that wish to accept foreign donations must comply with the FCRA.
  • All of these Organizations are required by law to register with the FCRA.
  • If all requirements are met, the registration can be renewed after the original five-year period.
Why was FCRA enacted?
  • The FCRA aimed to make it easier for people, organisations, and businesses to receive and use foreign contributions and hospitality.
  • It aimed to forbid the use of such donations for actions that were against the interests of the country.
What was the recent Amendment?
  • In September 2020, the FCRA was changed to add a few new limitations.
  • The government claims that it took these actions because it discovered that many beneficiaries were not complying with rules on the submission of yearly returns and the upkeep of accounts.
  • The cash received by many were not used for the intended purposes.
  • It stated that between 2010 and 2019, the amount of foreign contributions received annually nearly doubled.
  • 19,000 organisations had their FCRA registrations revoked, and in certain cases, legal action was also taken.
How has the law changed?

NGOs consider at least three significant modifications to be overly restrictive.

Transfer of foreign cash obtained by an organisation to any other person or organisation is entirely prohibited by an amendment to Section 7 of the Act.

Any individual (or organisation) who has been granted a certificate or previous authorisation to accept abroad cash is required to create an FCRA bank account in a certain branch of the SBI in New Delhi, according to another modification.

Use of money: Only this account and no other should receive any foreign funds. The beneficiaries may, however, create a second FCRA bank account in any listed bank for use.

Shared information: The selected bank will provide authorities with information about any overseas transfer, including information about its origin and how it was received.

Mandatory Aadhaar: In addition, any organisation that requests FCRA registration or prior authorisation for collecting foreign funds is permitted to provide the Government with the Aadhaar numbers of all the key personnel.

Limit on administrative costs: Another adjustment is the reduction of the percentage of receipts that can be used for administrative expenses from 50% to 20%.

What is the criticism against these changes?

Organizations that are challenging the law view the transfer prohibition as an arbitrary limitation that is overly onerous.

Receivers are unable to provide financial support to other organisations as a result of the lack of sharing of cash. Foreign assistance cannot be shared when it is viewed as a commodity.

Irrationality of designated bank accounts: Designating a certain bank branch with the goal of upholding the public interest is not a logical association.

Operational difficulty: The bank account’s Delhi location makes it difficult for NGOS to operate elsewhere.

Illogical argument: According to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Pegasus Case, “national security” cannot be claimed as a defence without sufficient rationale.

What does the Government say?

Zero tolerance for interference: The modifications were required to stop foreign state and non-state entities from meddling in the domestic politics of the nation.

Diversion of foreign funds: The adjustments are also required to stop NGOs from misusing donor money.

Monitoring of the flow of cash is made easier by the requirement that just one bank be designated to receive foreign funds.

Operational simplicity: According to the government, opening an account may be done remotely, thus there is no need for anybody to travel to Delhi.

Supreme Court’s observation:

The supreme court said that an unchecked stream of foreign money may undermine the country’s sovereignty.

The petitioners claimed that the modifications were “vicious of ambiguity, over-breadth, or over-governance” and that they infringed against their basic rights.

The court disagreed, arguing that the changes merely offer a stringent regulatory framework to control the entrance of foreign capital into the nation.

The socioeconomic makeup and polity of the nation might be impacted by the open and unrestrained entrance of foreign capital.

The ruling said that no one could be heard to assert a vested right to receive foreign donations, much less an absolute right.

Way Forward:

In terms of philosophy, a foreign contribution (gift) is comparable to a pleasurable intoxication that has medical benefits and may function like honey.

But, if it is used discreetly and moderately for the benefit of mankind as a whole, it can act as medicine.

Otherwise, this contraption has the potential to bring as much misery, suffering, and turbulence across the country as the deadly chemical (powerful instrument) did.

Source: The Hindu

Election Commission Appointments


GS Paper II


Context: At a time when practically every political issue is a subject of adjudication before the Court, the Supreme Court of India (SC) continues to be the most potent centre of political power in the nation. In AnoopBaranwal v. Union of India, the main remedy requested was a neutral body to choose the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and other Election Commissioners. The Court approved this request as of Thursday’s decision. The ruling brings back the days of judicial activism.

AnoopBaranwal v. Union of India: The chronology:

PIL: It is unlawful to select election commissioners under the current system: AnoopBaranwal filed a PIL in January 2015 claiming that the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) existing procedure for selecting members is illegal. The Executive currently has appointment-making authority.

PIL for Independent system: The PIL requests that the Court provide instructions for the establishment of an independent, Collegium-like mechanism for ECI appointments.

Article 324:

While the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners are appointed by the President, Article 324 indicates that this is subject to parliamentary law (if such law exists).

While this clause requires Parliament to propose a pertinent law, it has not done so to yet. In the lack of such a statute, the President has been appointing people in accordance with the Prime Minister’s suggestions.

The defence of the Union government The Union has supported the present nomination process by pointing to the integrity of all previous Chief Commissioners.

It has urged the court not to become involved, arguing that the topic belongs in the purview of the executive branch.

Latest ruling: The Supreme Court ruled that until Parliament enacts a legislation on the topic, the President would be advised on nominations to the Election Commission of India by a committee made up of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Chief Justice of India.

What are the issues with Election commission?

The sticking point: Petitioners said that Article 324(2) required CEC and EC appointments to be supported by laws, yet no laws were passed. The dispensation at the Center takes advantage of this situation by selecting the CEC and ECs, who are frequently perceived as acting in accordance with those in authority and those who pick them. The petitioners thus argued in favour of an impartial selection committee.

Susceptibility of ECs and Immunity for CEC: Article 324(5) grants immunity for CEC but not for other ECs. Like to a judge on the Supreme Court, CEC can only be fired. Because to a lack of tenure security, other ECs may be more vulnerable to the executive.

The selection procedure is connected to the independence of CEC and EC. Executive control undercuts free elections in a democracy.

What is judicial activism and judicial overreach?

Judicial Review: This is the procedure by which a court examines the legality of a law or the application of a law and makes a decision in favour of or against it.

Judicial activism: This is the idea that judges, rather than carefully examining a legislation’s validity under the letter of the law and past precedent, issue decisions that are more politically motivated than legally sound in order to further an agenda. It describes the procedure by which the court fills the legislative void left by the legislature’s failure to create new laws and regulations earlier.

Judicial overreach is a particularly extreme form of judicial activism that involves the judiciary making frequent, arbitrary, and unreasonable intrusions into the purview of the legislature, frequently with the goal of upsetting the balance of power between the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary.

Supreme court’s Judgement: A great leap

Huge step forward towards a lasting democracy: A significant step towards a lasting democracy is the creation of an independent committee for the selection of the CEC, which would include the Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister, and the leader of the largest opposition party of the LokSabha.

Absolute Independence The comprehensive decision also ensures that the Election Commission will have equal protection against impeachment, a separate secretariat, rule-making authority, and a separate budget.

Bench remarks: Maintaining the integrity of the electoral process in order to represent the will of the people is essential for democracy to prosper.


The recent SC decision on the commission’s appointment is not a panacea for democratic democracy. It does, however, rectify an unfair selection procedure and greatly enhance the process’s validity.

Source: The Hindu

Artificial intelligence (AI)


GS Paper III


Context: India will have a great chance to showcase its strengths and contributions to information technology and the digital economy by hosting the G20 leaders’ conference later this year. The newest weaponry will be AI-powered apps and weapons that will be used to start and win conflicts, not the largest bombs, tanks, or missiles. India needs to face the problem of defending itself from the possible repercussions of an AI war.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

AI is a collection of technologies that give robots the ability to think more intelligently and mimic human sensing, comprehension, and action.

AI systems may be able to examine and comprehend the gathered data with the help of the natural language processing and inference engines.

A machine learning system can also act physically or through technologies like inference engines and expert systems.

The capacity to gain knowledge through experience and continue adjusting over time is a supplement to these human-like capacities.

Applications for AI systems to enhance these skills across many industries are becoming more and more widespread.

The AI growth in recent times:

There is widespread concern that as the use of AI grows, both blue-collar and white-collar people may be replaced and made unemployed. AI has expanded dramatically in recent years. Nonetheless, despite opposition in some regions of the globe, AI has developed tremendously in recent years.

World Market Size: According to a recent Bloomberg analysis, the global AI market size was forecast to be $65.48 billion in 2020 and is anticipated to reach $1,581.70 billion by 2030.

Impact on the world and applications: The world order is evolving as a result of AI’s expanding influence on banking and financial markets, e-commerce, education, gaming, and entertainment.

More data accessibility, increased processing power, and improvements in AI algorithms are the driving reasons behind the progression of AI growth.

In reality, we all engage with AI through social media, transportation, banking, smartphones, smartwatches, and other technologies. Many people mistakenly assume that AI has minimal impact on their daily lives.

The Real AI threat: AI arms race

In 2020, machine gun fire wounded a nuclear scientist in Iran.

Later investigations revealed that an Israeli remote-controlled machine gun had really used artificial intelligence to target and kill the scientist.

A number of related negative events ignite moral debates about the possible advantages and disadvantages of AI.

The AI arms race between the US, China, and Russia suggests that there is a chance that AI might intensify international conflict and provide serious security dangers.

Smaller nations like Singapore and Israel are also leading.

Where does India stand in the AI ecosystem?

Investments are growing in India: A Nasscom analysis projects that by 2023, investments in AI applications in India would have grown by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31.8% and will total $881 million.

Indian contribution: The study further stated that while there has been a sharp rise in worldwide investments in AI, India’s contribution has stayed around 1.5%.

Artificial intelligence (AI) centres of excellence The government intends to create three Centres of Excellence for artificial intelligence (AI) in top educational institutions in India, the finance minister announced in the Budget 2023–24 address.


India has advanced significantly in digital technologies recently. Several top technological businesses call it home, making it the third-largest startup cluster in the world at the moment. India continues to behind China in terms of total AI skills, though. In terms of research, development, and AI applications, including the creation of intelligent robots, autonomous systems, and intelligent transportation systems, China is at the forefront of the field. The present trajectory of AI development predicts that it will decide future national security and economics in order to have an impact on global politics.

Source: The Hindu

Regulating online sale of drugs in India


GS Paper II


Context: A nationwide movement against online pharmacies is threatened by the All-India Organization of Chemists and Druggists.

The Ministry of Health has issued a show-cause notice to at least 20 businesses, including Tata-1mg, Flipkart, Apollo, PharmEasy, Amazon, and Reliance Netmeds, for selling medications online.

In terms of volume and value, the Indian pharmaceuticals market is the third biggest in the world.

The high burden of disease, solid economic growth leading to more disposable income, improvements in healthcare infrastructure, and improved healthcare funding, to mention a few, will be the main drivers of this market’s growth.

In the upcoming years, India is anticipated to rank among the top three pharmaceutical markets by incremental growth and to be the sixth-largest market overall in terms of absolute size.

Government stakeholders have frequently argued that regulating the industry rather than outright prohibiting companies would be a better solution given the growing demand for medicine delivery online.

All eyes are on the Ministry of Health, which will need to successfully oversee the new manner of doing e-commerce in the drug arena, in an environment that is shifting towards a hybrid mode.

  • E-pharmacy, often known as an online pharmacy, is a website that lets users buy prescription drugs and other healthcare items.
  • Customers may submit their prescriptions, choose the supplies they need, and place orders at e-pharmacies via websites or mobile apps.
  • Because to its ease, accessibility, and affordability, this method is growing in popularity when the items are delivered to the customers’ doorsteps.
  • Yet, they also provide regulatory difficulties and worries about the security, veracity, and quality of drugs purchased online.
Draft e-pharmacy rules:
  • Although being launched in 2018 with the intention of getting e-pharmacy enterprises in shape, the draught regulations were pushed into cold storage.
  • By offering substantial savings on medications and referring to themselves as facilitators of doorstep delivery, e-pharmacies made a splash on the market in 2015.
  • Yet businesses like PharmEasy are constructing a supply chain from scratch by acquiring both large and small wholesale medication distributors.
  • E-pharmacies have seen yearly losses since 2015. In FY22, Tata-1 Mg reported a loss of 146 crore, while PharmEasy saw its losses increase to 2,700 crore.
  • E-pharmacies and traditional retail pharmacies have both come to the conclusion that sticking to one method of conducting business is pointless.
  • Although being launched in 2018 with the intention of getting e-pharmacy enterprises in shape, the draught regulations were pushed into cold storage.
  • By offering substantial savings on medications and referring to themselves as facilitators of doorstep delivery, e-pharmacies made a splash on the market in 2015.
  • Yet businesses like PharmEasy are constructing a supply chain from scratch by acquiring both large and small wholesale medication distributors.
  • E-pharmacies have seen yearly losses since 2015. In FY22, Tata-1 Mg reported a loss of 146 crore, while PharmEasy saw its losses increase to 2,700 crore.
  • E-pharmacies and traditional retail pharmacies have both come to the conclusion that sticking to one method of conducting business is pointless.
  • The distribution of prescription drugs by unlicensed pharmacies is prohibited under Indian legislation.
  • E-pharmacies have been charged with operating illegally and selling drugs and medications.
  • For sales and distribution, pharmacies need authorization from state regulators even if they are registered with the central medicines regulator CDSCO.
  • Internet pharmacies serve orders from physically located, registered, and regulated pharmacies, however they frequently operate without the required licences.
Laws regulating e-pharmacies:

In 2015, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for the first time outlawed the purchase of medications online.

Comprehensive measures are included in the most recent draught of the New Medicines, Medical Devices, and Cosmetics Bill, 2022, including regular inspections, complaint redressal systems, monitoring e-pharmacies, and others.

According to Indian legislation, pharmacies must be registered with the central medicines regulator CDSCO and have licences from state regulators for sales and distribution. This applies to both online and offline pharmacies.

A self-regulation guideline for online pharmacies was previously created by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in 2016.

Way Forward:

It is difficult to regulate e-pharmacies in India because to issues with the security of prescription pharmaceuticals, the predominance of foreign investors, and the worries of local merchants.

The potential of the Indian e-pharmacy business may, however, be fully realised with the correct rules and regulations in place, aiding in the development of the digital economy and long-term economic prosperity.

Together, the government and interested parties must make sure that e-pharmacies run smoothly and legally while safeguarding the public’s health and safety.

Source: Indian Express

Forest Conservation Rules (FCR) (2022)


GS Paper III


Context: By using its constitutionally granted authority to approach the Indian Supreme Court directly, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) was able to get FRA (Forest Rights Act) implementation reports from every State and Union Territory.


The NCST requested in a letter to the Environment Ministry that the FCR 2022 be placed on hold when it was announced that it will undoubtedly contravene FRA rules.

In response, the Environment Ministry had claimed that the guidelines were created under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and that the NCST’s worry of these laws being in breach of the FRA was “not legally tenable”.

In a letter to the Supreme Court, the ST Commission requested all documents submitted to the court in connection with a number of applications contesting the legitimacy of the FRA.

The Commission wants to assess how the FRA has been applied generally on the ground.

What are Forest Conservation Rules 2022?

According to the FC Rules, 2022, the collector is not need to get the Gram Sabhas’ permission prior to the In-Principle approval.

This indicates that the state governments will be in charge of passing any orders for de-reservation, diversion, or assignment after the Union Government has given its final permission. The state government is now responsible for ensuring that the claims of forest inhabitants are resolved.

Before the granting of In Principle permission, neither the Gram Sabha’s approval nor the collector’s supervision of the process of recognising and vesting individual claims of forest rights are essential.

One who requests to divert forest land from a hilly or mountainous state that has more than two-thirds of its land covered in vegetation, or from a state or UT that has more than one-third covered in trees, may engage in compensatory afforestation in other states or UTs where the cover is less than 20%.

The new rules let private parties to exploit the property for plantations, which may result in the production of monocultures.

Criticism of the new Rules:

The FC Regulations, 2022 robs forest dwellers of their right to participate in decisions that impact their access to land and forests, as well as their culture and way of life, by reducing them to passive observers.

According to the new regulations, the problem of Gram Sabhas and FRA doesn’t come into play until the Central Government has granted its final permission.

Forest Rights Act, 2006:

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006—commonly referred to as the Forest Rights Act (FRA)—acknowledges the rights of forest dwellers and the value of their involvement in the procedures involved in managing the forest.

Moreover, it represents a departure from the colonial-era assumption that communities living in woods are separate creatures that prey on the forests.

The legislation is primarily grounded in the idea that local communities are an integral aspect of forest ecosystems.

The “Gram Sabha” is a significant component of the instruments the act uses to accomplish its goal.


To right the past wrongs committed against the populations that live in the forests

To strengthen the conservation regime of the forests by including the responsibilities and authority of forest rights holders for sustainable use, conservation of biodiversity, and maintenance of ecological balance. To ensure land tenure, livelihood, and food security of the scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers.

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes It was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.
By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions – (i) the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), and (ii) the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) 2004.

Powers of the Commission: For Investigation and Inquiry, the Commission is vested with powers of a civil court having authority to:
●    Summon and enforce attendance of any person and examine on oath;
●    Discovery & production of any documents;
●    Receive evidence on affidavits;
●    Requisition any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;
●    Issue Commissions for examination of witnesses and documents; and
●    Any matter which President, by rule, may determine.

Source: Indian Express

Facts for Prelims


Frozen Semen Project RanbirBagh:


In the Ganderbal region of Jammu & Kashmir’s RanbirBagh, the Frozen Semen Station’s foundation stone was recently set by the Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairy.

With the help of the frozen semen station, the Kashmir province will be able to produce enough high-quality, disease-free germ plasm to fulfil all of its artificial insemination needs.

It was founded in 1980 as part of the INDO-DANISH project.

The RGM (RashtriyaGokul Mission) initiative, which seeks to create 10.95 Lac frozen semen dosages by the year 2025–2026, has approved the strengthening of this project.

National Youth Parliament Festival (NYPF) 2023:

The 4th National Youth Parliament Festival (NYPF) got underway recently in the Parliament’s Central Hall.

Idea for a Better Tomorrow: India for the World is the theme.       

In 150 locations throughout the nation, more than 2.01 lakh young people from 748 Districts of all the States and UTs took part.

The concept of NYPF was presented by the prime minister in his Mann Ki Baat Speech.

They take place on three different levels:

District Youth Parliament (DYP): A jury conducts preliminary rounds of screening to choose adolescents to participate in the DYP.

  1. b) State Youth Parliament (SYP): Participants in SYP at the state level are young people chosen by a jury from the District Youth Parliament.
  2. c) National Youth Parliament (NYP): At NYP, which is held in New Delhi, youth who are chosen by a jury from the State Youth Parliament participate at the national level.

The first NYPF 2019 was held with the motto “Be the Voice of New India and Discover Solutions and Contribute to Policy,” and 88,000 youth participated in physical mode.

VAIBHAV fellowship for Indian Diaspora:

On National Science Day, the centre introduced the VAIBHAV Fellowship Program for the Indian Diaspora overseas.

Indian scientists and researchers from other countries are invited to collaborate with Indian institutes and universities for a period of two to three weeks under the Vaibhav Fellowship programme.

Those of Indian descent who work in subjects like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are eligible for the programme (STEM).

The fellowship will provide diaspora members the chance to work with Indian scientists and researchers, take part in conferences, and advance the nation’s scientific and technology industry.

the development of a platform that would enable scientists and researchers from the Indian diaspora to collaborate with those in India and advance science and technology there.

to promote information exchange, encourage cooperation between Indian and foreign scientists and researchers, and create a network of experts that can aid in the nation’s growth.

The fellowship gives scholars the chance to work for a research organisation or academic institution in India for a minimum of one month and a maximum of two months every year.

The government would pay the researchers up to Rs 37 lakh over the course of three years.

The scholarship will be open to researchers from schools that rank among the top 500 universities worldwide.

The candidate must be an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI), Person of Indian Origin (PIO), or Non-Resident Indian (NRI) and hold a Ph.D., M.D., or M.S. from an accredited university.

The fellowship offers a venue for Indian scientists and researchers to work with their international colleagues, which can facilitate the sharing of information and ideas.

Also, it gives the Indian diaspora a chance to support the growth of their homeland.

The diaspora may contribute fresh concepts, innovations, and knowledge to India’s growth through cooperating with its institutions and universities.

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