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10th May 2023 – Current Affairs

GS 2 : Issues relating to Health, Education and Human Resources

India Achieves Another Major Sanitation Milestone – 50% Villages Are Now ODF Plus Under Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen Phase II –

The country has achieved yet another major milestone under the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) with half of the total villages in the country i.e., 50% villages achieving ODF Plus status under phase II of the Mission. An ODF Plus village is one which has sustained its Open Defecation Free (ODF) status along with implementing either solid or liquid waste management systems. As on date, more than 2.96 lakh villages have declared themselves ODF Plus, which is a significant step towards achieving the SBM-G phase II goals by 2024-25.

The top performing states in terms of percentage of ODF Plus villages are – Telangana (100%), Karnataka (99.5%), Tamil Nadu (97.8%) & Uttar Pradesh (95.2%) among the big states and Goa (95.3%) and Sikkim (69.2%) among small states, are the top performer. Among UTs – Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra Nagar Havelli & Daman Diu and Lakshadweep have 100% ODF Plus Model villages. These States & UTs have shown remarkable progress in achieving the ODF Plus status, and their efforts have been instrumental in reaching this milestone.

Of the 2,96,928 ODF Plus villages, 2,08,613 villages are ODF Plus Aspiring villages with arrangements for Solid Waste Management or Liquid Waste Management, 32,030 villages are ODF Plus Rising villages with arrangements for both Solid Waste Management and Liquid Waste Management and 56,285 villages are ODF Plus Model villages. ODF Plus Model village is one which is sustaining its ODF status and has arrangements for both Solid Waste Management and Liquid Waste Management; observes visual cleanliness, i.e., minimal litter, minimal stagnant wastewater, no plastic waste dump in public places; and displays ODF Plus Information, Education & Communication (IEC) messages. So far, 1,65,048 villages have arrangements for solid waste management, 2,39,063 villages have arrangements for liquid waste management, 4,57,060 villages have minimal stagnant water while 4,67,384 villages have minimal litter.

Between 2014-15 and 2021-22, the Central Government has allocated a total of INR 83,938 crore to Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen The allocation for the year 2023-24 is Rs. 52,137 Crore. In addition to the SBM(G) funds there is clear allocation of 15th FC funds for sanitation. These funds have been utilized to build sanitation assets, promote behavior change, and implement solid and liquid waste management systems.

This year marks 9 years of the Swachh Bharat Mission. The achievement of 50% ODF Plus villages is a significant milestone for India as it is going beyond just construction and use of toilets towards complete and absolute cleanliness i.e., from ODF to ODF Plus. The major components of the Phase-II of SBM (G) are Sustaining Open Defecation Free Status (ODF-S), Solid (Bio-degradable) Waste Management, Plastic Waste Management (PWM), Liquid Waste Management (LWM), Faecal Sludge Management (FSM), GOBARdhan, Information Education and Communication/Behavior Change
Communication (IEC/BCC) and Capacity Building. The SBM-G program has been instrumental in improving the health and well-being of millions of people across the country. Several reports in the past few years have exhibited the ground impact of SBM-G programme.

In terms of Plastic waste management, 831 Plastic Waste Management Units and 1,19,449 waste collection & segregation sheds have been set-up. The plastic is cleaned, shredded, bailed and transported for use in road construction as per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and also as a fuel in cement factories etc. More than 1 lakh Gram Panchayats have passed resolution for ban on Single Use Plastic (SUP).

683 Functional Bio-Gas/CBG Plants set up across 206 districts

3,47,094 Community compost pits constructed

For Bio-degradable waste management at household level, people are being encouraged to segregate their dry and wet (organic) waste at source for composting at community level. 3,47,094 Community compost pits have been constructed, as on date. GOBARdhan, which stands for Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources-dhan, is an initiative to support biodegradable waste recovery, conversion of waste into resources and for creating clean & green village. It is a ‘waste to wealth’ initiative wherein waste generated in villages is used to generate bio-gas/CBG as well as bio-slurry/bio-fertilizer and is in tune with the circular economy and Mission LiFE initiatives of GoI. 683 Functional Bio-Gas/CBG Plants have been set up across 206 districts. This has numerous advantages including, Eco-friendly energy source, Nutrient rich slurry to enhance soil quality and reduce dependence on chemical fertilizers, Clean surroundings and reduced incidence of vector borne diseases, Saving in economic costs arising out of poor sanitation and health conditions, Reduced Green House Gases (GHG) emission, Reduction in import of crude oil (Forex saving), Employment opportunity for the local community, Foster entrepreneurship and boost private investment in green energy sector, Augment incomes of farmers/ local village community from organic waste, and taking care of agri-residue.

22 Lakh Soak Pits (Community & Household) Constructed To Manage Grey Water

For Grey water management, which is the wastewater generated from everyday household chores- cleaning, cooking, bathing etc, in villages that do not have drainage systems, soak pits/leach pits or magic pits at household and community level can effectively treat grey water. A special campaign Sujlam was undertaken and approximately 2.2 million (22 lakh) soak pits (community & household pits) were made to manage grey water. Now, Sujalam 3.0 has been launched for holistic and convergent Greywater Management.

For Faecal Sludge, which is the wastewater generated from toilets, SBM(G) ensures effective management of faecal sludge, by supporting Districts to strengthen mechanized desludging of on-site sanitation systems and establishing treatment units for the safe disposal of faecal sludge. FSM is managed at household level via provision of retrofitting of toilets into twin pit toilets (or similar systems) and managed at village level by treatment at Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs)/Faecal Sludge Treatment Plant (FSTPs) located in urban areas for villages in proximity to urban areas, FSTPs for cluster of villages that cannot be linked to existing treatment systems, and Deep Row Entrenchment for cluster of villages or a large isolated village where FSTP is not feasible. Currently, 591 FSTPs are functional.

SBM(G) is a shining example of what can be achieved when there is a concerted effort to improve sanitation and hygiene. Department of Drinking Water & Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti congratulates and applauds the contribution of all villages, Gram Panchayats, Districts, States/UT on this proud achievement.

Recent Initiatives Undertaken By The Department Of Drinking Water And Sanitation Under Swachh Bharat Mission : Grameen –

Swachh Survekshan Grameen (SSG) –

  • Swachh Survekshan Grameen (SSG) is being conducted since 2018 to rank the States and Districts on the basis of their performance on key quantitative and qualitative Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen parameters.
  • SSG has proven to be not just a ranking exercise but also a vehicle for creating a ‘Jan Andolan’ (people’s movement) and ensuring prompt action for achievement of SBM(G) targets.
  • This year, SSG 2023 is being conducted with an objective to make it more participatory by introducing Panchayat Self-Assessment on ODF Plus parameters.
  • SSG ensures continued participation of the GPs throughout the year in the SBM-G programme through Self-Assessment and Peer Verification
  • As part of SSG, Rewards, Awards and Recognition of states/UTs along with their blocks & districts is done at National, State and District levels.
  • As on date more than 99% GPs completed their Baseline SelfAssessment and currently all GPs are undertaking Peer Verification.

Retrofit to Twin Pit Abhiyan –

  • To ensure safe disposal of the faecal sludge in rural areas, Retrofit to Twin Pit Campaign was launched
  • This campaign is focused on safe disposal of faecal sludge through simple on-site methodology i.e. twin pits and retrofitting of toilets, particularly converting single pit toilets to twin-pit toilets and safe management of effluent from septic tanks by construction of additional pit.
  • As on date nearly 5 lakh retro-fittings have been completed.

Swachh Iconic Places –

  • Initiative wherein all stakeholders are involved for maintaining cleanliness of 100 places across India that are “iconic” due to their heritage, religious and/or cultural significance i.e. Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Ajmer, Rajasthan, CST, Mumbai, Maharashtra, Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab, Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati, Assam, Maikarnika Ghat, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, to name a few.
  • In last four phases, 39 Iconic places and heritage sites of historical, spiritual, and cultural significance have been selected and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) are financially supporting the SIP sites.

Currently 29 SIP sites out of 39 SIP sites have been mapped with PSUs.


GS 2 : Historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure

Surrogacy Laws –

The govt in the Supreme Court has said that same-sex couples and live-in partners are not included in surrogacy and assisted reproduction laws to avoid ‘misuse’ and provide children a ‘complete family’.

Government’s stance –

  1. Same-sex couples and live-in partners are excluded from surrogacy and assisted reproduction laws to avoid ‘misuse.’
  2. The welfare of the child should be prioritized over any notions of equality among prospective parents or couples.
  3. No special provisions or additional rights have been granted to same-sex couples and live-in partners despite the decriminalization of their relationships.

Why in news?

  1. The government’s perspective is not in tune with several Supreme Court judgments that long live-in relationships “presume” marriage.
  2. Live-in partners are not bound by law, and the safety of the child born through surrogacy cannot be guaranteed.

Judiciary in support –

  1. Same-sex couples are fighting for their right to marry and raise a family as equal parents.
  2. CJI heading the Constitution Bench, has remarked that same-sex couples could offer as stable and loving a home, if not better, to children as heterosexual married parents.

 Distinct features of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021 –

  1. Definition of surrogacy:It defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple.
  2. Regulation of surrogacy: It prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy which involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance.
  3. Purposes for which surrogacy is permitted: Surrogacy is permitted when it is: (i) for intending couples who suffer from proven infertility; (ii) altruistic; (iii) not for commercial purposes; (iv) not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation; and (v) for any condition or disease specified through regulations.
  4. Eligibility criteria:The intending couple should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority ex. District Medical Board.

Eligibility criteria for surrogate mother : 

  • To obtain a certificate of eligibility from the appropriate authority, the surrogate mother has to be:
  1. A close relative of the intending couple;
  2. A married woman having a child of her own;
  3. 25 to 35 years old;
  4. A surrogate only once in her lifetime; and
  5. Possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy.
  • Further, the surrogate mother cannot provide her own gametes for surrogacy.

Basis of the Petition : Right to Reproductive Autonomy –

  1. The personal decision of a single person about the birth of a baby through surrogacy, i.e.,the right of reproductive autonomy is a facet of the right to privacy guaranteed under Article 21of the Constitution.
  2. Thus, the right to privacy of every citizen or person affecting a decision to bear or beget a child through surrogacy cannot be taken away.

Other issues with Surrogacy Law –

  1. Medical issue necessity:Married women can only avail surrogacy services if they are unable to produce a child due to medical conditions.
  2. Widow/Divorced:Otherwise, for women to avail of surrogacy services, they must be aged between 35 and 45 and widowed or divorced.
  3. One child obligation:Women can only offer surrogacy if they are aged between 25 and 35 and married with at least one biological child.
  4. Genetic relation obligation:The laws also require a surrogate to be genetically related to the couple who intend to have a child through this method.


GS 2 : India & Its Neighborhood – Relations

CPEC extension to Afghanistan –

Pakistan, China and Afghanistan have agreed to extending the Beijing-backed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan to fully harness the country’s potential as a hub for regional connectivity.

What is CPEC?

  1. The CPEC, one of the most ambitious components of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), was announced to great fanfare in 2015.
  2. CPEC is a collection of infrastructure projects that are under construction throughout Pakistan beginning in 2013.
  3. Originally valued at $47 billion, the value of CPEC projects is worth $62 billion as of 2020.
  4. It is intended to rapidly upgrade Pakistan’s required infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and SEZs.
  5. On 13 November 2016, CPEC became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia.

India’s reservation against CPEC 

 Sovereignty breach

  1. India which shares tense relations with Pakistan, objects to the CPEC project as upgrade works to the Karakoram Highway are taking place in Gilgit-Baltistan.
  2. This is the territory illicitly occupied by Pakistan in 1947-48.
  3. During the visit of Indian PM Modi to China in 2015, the Indian FM, Sushma Swaraj reportedly told the Chinese.
  4. India did not object to the Chinese construction of the Karakoram Highway which was built between 1959 and 1979.


  1. Economic push for Pak:CPEC has consistently been held up as a “gamechanger” for Pakistan’s economy.
  2. Debt trap diplomacy:At the same time, China is the only country that is heavily investing in Pakistan.

Progress status –

  1. Slow pace:Gwadar, despite being the epicenter of multibillion-dollar projects, lacks basic necessities like reliable access to water and electricity, let alone other facilities.
  2. At standstill:But the road to completion has proved long and winding. Reports indicate that the pace of CPEC projects has been slowing down in Pakistan in recent years.
  3. Baloch freedom movement:This is another impediment to the stalled project where Chinese officials are targeted and killed.
  4. Consistent security threat:China is also seeking to deploy its Army in the CPEC projects, to which Pakistan has contested.


GS 2 : India & Its Neighborhood – Relations

The recent meeting in Riyadh between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the national security advisers of the US, UAE, and India highlights India’s new possibilities in the Arabian Peninsula. The growing strategic convergence between India and USA in the Gulf and the opportunities and challenges for India in the emerging.

India-US Gulf Partnership: Departure from Traditional Approaches –

  1. Shedding the Anti-Western Lens:The Nehruvian foreign policy of keeping a distance from the US in the Middle East is being discarded, and India is working with the US in the Gulf region.
  2. Building New Partnerships: The formation of a four-nation grouping called I2U2, comprising the US, India, Israel, and the UAE, highlights the growing strategic convergence between Delhi and Washington in the Gulf.
  3. Rejection of Ideological Taboo: India is shedding its ideological taboo of keeping its distance from Israel, and transforming its relations with the two Arabian kingdoms, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, into solid strategic partnerships.
  4. Expansion of Partnerships: In addition to the US, India is beginning to work with France in the Gulf and the Western Indian Ocean.
  5. Change in Perception:The US is leading the West to discard its pro-Pakistan bias and rethink the relationship between the Subcontinent and the Gulf.

New Strategic Opportunities for India in the Gulf –

  1. Economic growth:The emerging Arabian Peninsula presents enormous new possibilities for India’s economic growth, given the massive financial capital and ambitious economic transformation of Gulf kingdoms like Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  2. Connectivity and security:India can play a productive role in promoting connectivity and security within Arabia and between it and abutting regions, including Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, and the Subcontinent.
  3. Overcoming extremism:The engagement with the Gulf can also help India overcome the dangerous forces of violent religious extremism within the Subcontinent.
  4. Elevating India’s standing: The new opportunities in Arabia and the emerging possibilities for partnership with the US and the West position India to rapidly elevate its own standing in the region.

Challenges that India may face in pursuing strategic opportunities in the Gulf –

  1. Regional instability:The Gulf region is prone to political and security instability due to ongoing conflicts, political tensions, and the presence of non-state actors. This can pose a challenge for India in pursuing its interests in the region.
  2. Dependence on hydrocarbons: India is heavily dependent on hydrocarbon imports from the Gulf, which makes it vulnerable to supply disruptions and price volatility. The shift towards renewable energy sources and reducing dependence on hydrocarbons may take time and require significant investments.
  3. Competition with other powers:India faces competition from other major powers such as China, the United States, and European countries, who are also seeking to expand their strategic presence in the Gulf region.
  4. Cultural differences:There may be cultural differences between India and some Gulf countries, which could pose challenges in developing strong partnerships and cooperation in areas such as security and counter-terrorism.
  5. Domestic political constraints:Domestic political constraints, such as political opposition to closer ties with certain Gulf countries, could hinder India’s efforts to deepen its strategic engagement in the region.

Way ahead: Steps is to continue building on the momentum –

  1. Strengthening economic ties:India should focus on deepening its economic relations with the Gulf countries, including diversifying its trade and investment portfolio, exploring opportunities in non-oil sectors, and leveraging its expertise in areas such as technology, healthcare, and renewable energy.
  2. Enhancing security cooperation: India should work with its Gulf partners to enhance security cooperation, including counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing, and contribute to regional stability and security.
  3. Promoting people-to-people ties:India should encourage greater people-to-people exchanges with the Gulf countries, including through cultural and educational exchanges, tourism, and sports.
  4. Supporting regional initiatives:India should support regional initiatives aimed at promoting stability, connectivity, and development in the Gulf and the wider Middle East region.
  5. Balancing relations with various actors:India should strive to balance its relations with various actors in the region, including the US, France, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Iran, and avoid getting embroiled in regional rivalries.

The emerging India-US partnership in the Gulf region presents a new era of cooperation that has the potential to promote economic growth, connectivity, and security within the region. The partnership marks a departure from traditional approaches to the Middle East and has the potential to elevate India’s standing in the Gulf.


GS 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc.

Renewable Energy – Challenges and way ahead

Access to affordable and reliable energy is essential for economic development and public services. However, the global energy market has been disrupted due to demand and supply-side factors leading to rising prices and disruptions in energy supply chains. As a result, countries with a high dependence on fossil fuels, including India, faced a significant challenge.

The correlation: Energy availability and economic development –

  1. The correlation between energy availability and economic development is that energy availability and accessibility are essential inputs for many public services, and securing affordable and reliable access to energy remains a central political and economic imperative for almost all governments.
  2. Energy availability and accessibility are necessary for economic growth and development, and a lack of access to energy can hamper the growth of industries, limit productivity, and impede social development.

Factors that contributed to the Global Energy Crisis –

  1. Demand and Supply-side Factors: There have been disruptions in the oil and gas supply chains due to the ongoing Russia and Ukraine war. Additionally, energy prices came under pressure due to a sudden rise in demand resulting from abnormally high temperatures and associated heatwaves across the globe. These factors inflated the international price of oil and natural gas.
  1. Dependence on Finite Fossil Fuels:Fossil fuels account for over 80% of global energy requirements and over 64% of electricity generation worldwide. Additionally, most countries are net importers of fossil fuels, and thus prone to adverse supply shocks resulting from various geopolitical and economic events.
  1. Over dependence on Fossil Fuels: Many countries turned to coal to meet their energy needs, while those already using coal intensified its exploitation, putting immense pressure on the coal market.
  1. Increased Cost of Electricity:The increased cost of electricity due to a higher usage of fossil fuel-based sources imposed a heavy burden on low-income households since they spend a larger share of their incomes on electricity and gas.
  1. Widespread Power Outages: Widespread power outages in many countries due to disruptions in electricity supply threw lives out of gear.
  1. Dependence on Imported Fossil Fuels:Europe, for instance, faced a challenging situation due to its historic high dependence on imported gas from Russia to meet its energy requirements.
  1. Climate Change:Fossil fuels account for 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions and around 90% of carbon dioxide emissions. Climate events, such as floods and droughts, cause immense human and economic loss.

Impact on countries –

  1. High energy prices:The increased cost of electricity due to a higher usage of fossil fuel-based sources imposes a heavy burden on low-income households since they spend a larger share of their incomes on electricity and gas.
  2. Power outages:Widespread power outages in many countries due to disruptions in electricity supply throw lives out of gear. For instance, Bangladesh witnessed a countrywide blackout as many gas- and diesel-based power plants, responsible for approximately 85 percent of the country’s electricity generation, were forced to shut down due to fuel shortages.
  3. Slowdown in economic growth:Increased prices and disrupted supply severely impacted those countries with a high dependence on fossil fuels, particularly its import, and led to a slowdown in global economic growth, forcing some countries and regions into recession.
  4. Environmental degradation: Over dependence on fossil fuels impacts countries adversely in the form of air and water pollution and soil degradation, while also being a significant cause of climate change.
  5. Foreign exchange reserves:The dependence on fossil fuels also affects countries’ foreign exchange reserves, as the fluctuations in prices of fossil fuels affect their import bills and balance of payments.
  6. Revenue loss:Many regions and their economies, especially in developing countries, depend on incomes derived from fossil fuel-based employment, such as mining, power generation, transmission, and distribution and storage. In many regions, governments are also dependent on the revenue generated from fossil fuels to enhance infrastructure that enables local communities to expand and diversify their livelihood options.

Challenges in way of transition to renewable sources of energy –

  1. Mobilizing capital:While the cost of clean energy is declining, many clean energy technologies require high upfront investment costs, which may be beyond the capacities of most developing countries. Additionally, international support for developing countries is lacking, making it difficult for them to transition to renewable energy sources without supportive international actions.
  1. Ensuring a just transition:There is a need to ensure decent work opportunities and social support for people likely to lose their livelihoods in the process of transitioning to low-carbon and renewable-based economies. Many people are employed in the fossil fuel industry globally, and there is a risk of destabilizing local economies during the transition process.
  1. Technical challenges:The transition to renewable energy sources may require significant upgrades to infrastructure, including energy storage and transmission systems, which can be costly.
  1. Policy and regulatory challenges: The transition to renewable energy sources requires significant policy and regulatory changes, including reforms to subsidy systems, pricing mechanisms, and energy markets.
  1. Reliability and intermittency of renewable sources: Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy sources are often intermittent, making it difficult to guarantee a stable supply of electricity. This may require investments in energy storage and backup power systems to ensure reliable supply.
  1. Public acceptance:The transition to renewable energy sources may face resistance from some stakeholders, including those who are reliant on fossil fuels for their livelihoods or those who are concerned about the visual and environmental impacts of renewable energy infrastructure.

Way ahead: Addressing these challenges

  1. Mobilizing capital:Developed countries need to fulfill their commitment to providing climate finance to developing countries. Innovative financial instruments such as green bonds and blended finance could also be used to attract private investment.
  1. Ensuring a just transition: Governments need to develop comprehensive plans that protect workers and communities affected by the shift to renewable energy. This could involve retraining programs, investment in new industries, and social safety nets.
  1. Investing in research and development: Governments, international organizations, and the private sector need to invest in research and development to drive down the costs of renewable energy technologies and improve their efficiency.
  1. Promoting energy efficiency:Governments and businesses need to prioritize energy efficiency measures such as retrofitting buildings and improving industrial processes to reduce energy demand and costs.
  1. Accelerating deployment of renewable energy: Governments need to set ambitious targets for renewable energy deployment and create policy frameworks that incentivize investment in clean energy.
  1. Building energy infrastructure: Governments need to invest in building the infrastructure needed to support the deployment of renewable energy, including grid upgrades, energy storage, and electric vehicle charging stations.
  1. Promoting international cooperation: The transition to renewable energy requires international cooperation, especially between developed and developing countries. Developed countries can support developing countries through technology transfer, capacity building, and financial support.