UPSC Daily Current Affairs – Prelims & Mains [17th July 2023]

Table of Contents

The Collegium system

Syllabus: Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Judiciary

In News

The appointment process of judges to the constitutional courts has been recently streamlined by the SC Collegium under CJI DY Chandrachud, with a focus on transparency and merit. 

The Collegium system

  • The collegium system, which has evolved through judgments of the SC, is the way by which judges of the SC and HCs are appointed and transferred. 
  • It is a five-member body, headed by the incumbent CJI and comprises the four other senior-most judges of the SC at that time. 

Evolution – Three Judges Cases

  • The evolution of the collegium system can be traced back to the Three Judges Cases: P. Gupta & Others v. Union of India (1981), Advocate on Record Association v. UoI (1993), and re Presidential Reference case (1998). 
  • Through these cases, it was established that the recommendation made by the CJI without following the consultation process for the appointment of SC and HC Judges is not binding on the government.


  • However, the collegium system has faced criticism. 
  • It is seen as non-transparent, with concerns that it operates as a closed-door affair lacking prescribed norms regarding eligibility criteria or selection procedures. 
  • Moreover, the system is often perceived as opaque and not sufficiently accountable since judges are involved in appointing their peers, which is not the case in many other countries.
  • In terms of the role of the government, it has limited involvement in the process. While it may object to and seek clarification on the collegium’s choices, if the collegium reiterates the same names, the government is bound to appoint them.

How has the appointment process been streamlined recently?

  • The appointment process has been enhanced by incorporating a harmonious blend of merit and seniority through a selection procedure that entails meaningful discussions and thorough assessment of candidates’ judicial acumen. 
  • Notably, the government promptly notifies the recommendations made by the Collegium within days. 
  • Additionally, the Collegium has taken the initiative to make the requirements for candidates’ consideration public through its resolutions.

Points under the Collegium’s consideration

  • The candidates’ judgments undergo scrutiny by a Judgment Evaluation Committee to assess their quality.
  • Justice Dipankar Dutta’s nomination became the first to be approved for the Supreme Court appointment through this evaluation process.
  • The Collegium considers the seniority of Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges in their respective parent High Courts, along with the overall seniority of High Court Judges.
  • Moreover, the judges’ merit, performance, and integrity are taken into account during the selection process.
  • Ensuring diversity and inclusion in the Supreme Court is a priority. This encompasses representing High Courts that are either underrepresented or inadequately represented; appointing individuals from marginalized and backward segments of society; promoting gender diversity, as evidenced by Justice Sunita Agarwal’s appointment as the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court; and considering representation of minorities.
  • The better administration of justice is also a crucial factor in the Collegium’s considerations. As a testament to this, the Collegium remained firm in its decision and did not yield to the request made by three High Court judges seeking out-of-state tr

Prelims Question – UPSC 2019

Consider the following statements:

  1. The 44th Amendment to the Constitution of India introduced an article placing the election of the Prime Minister beyond judicial review
  2. Supreme Court of India struck down the 99th amendment to the Constitution of India as being violative of the independence of the judiciary

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: 2

Issue of succession faced by the regional political parties in India

Syllabus: Pressure Groups & Formal/informal Associations & Their Role in Polity

In News

24 years after its formation, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) split over the question of succession.

Similar cases:

  • The Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party (SP) have gone through this churn.
  • The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) seems poised to undergo this churn.

Rise of regional Parties

The emergence of regional parties in India occurred concurrently with the waning influence of the Congress party during the 1990s. These parties were primarily formed on the basis of caste affiliations, with the Mandal movement playing a crucial role in their formation.

Distinctive traits of regional parties in India are as follows:

  • Regional Agenda: These parties focus on addressing issues specific to a particular region or locality, catering to the needs and concerns of the people residing there.
  • Identity Recognition: Regional parties acknowledge and represent distinct religious, ethnic, cultural, or linguistic groups within their respective regions.
  • Limited Electoral Scope: The electoral influence of regional parties is confined to specific states or regions, and they do not typically contest on a national level.

Reasons for succession battles in several regional parties in India today

  • These parties have transformed into ‘Hindu undivided families,’ comprising individuals who directly trace their ancestry to a common forebearer, along with their wives and unmarried daughters. However, they have relinquished their original broader objectives.
  • Initially, many of these parties were established with the intent of promoting sub-nationalism, safeguarding the interests of their respective castes or ethnicities, and advocating larger federal interests (as seen in the case of DMK). Nevertheless, as time passed, these parties have become entangled in internal family conflicts.
  • They exhibit a centralized party structure, with limited intra-party democracy, often under the control of a single family. Regrettably, they have failed to adapt and evolve with changing times. Splintering has occurred within castes, and caste identity itself has undergone significant transformations.
  • The ideological distinctions that once set them apart are diminishing, compelling everyone to move beyond the boundaries of family, caste, or ethnic loyalty to find a more extensive common purpose.

Implications of these succession battles: 

With the decline of regional parties, the challenges to a dominant party system will reduce.

Challenges faced by regional parties:

The enigma surrounding regional parties lies in their heavy reliance on family ties for survival, yet the same familial association can also prove to be a burden.

The absence of charismatic leaders poses a significant concern; a pressing example is the uncertainty surrounding the leadership of the BJD once Naveen Patnaik departs from the scene.

The way forward:

Regional parties must establish a well-defined internal decision-making process for selecting the next leader, ensuring a smooth transition of power.

To tackle leadership uncertainties, these parties can consider creating a think tank akin to the RSS for the BJP. This think tank can act as an impartial arbitrator, actively seeking alternatives when necessary.

Mains Question

“The Indian party system is passing through a phase of transition which looks to be full of contradictions and paradoxes.” Discuss. (UPSC 2016)

Efforts to reform the statistical system in India

Syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors

In News

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) has established a Standing Committee on Statistics (SCoS) with the aim of revamping the statistical system in India.

India’s statistical machinery


In 1999, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) was formed as an Independent Ministry through the amalgamation of the Department of Statistics and the Department of Programme Implementation. It comprises two wings, namely Statistics and Programme Implementation.

The Statistics Wing

Referred to as the National Statistical Office (NSO), it is composed of three entities: the Central Statistical Office (CSO), the Computer Center, and the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO). In addition to these wings, there are two other bodies – the National Statistical Commission (NSC) and the esteemed autonomous Institute of National Importance, the Indian Statistical Institute.

Mandate of NSO

  • The NSO serves as the central agency responsible for the systematic development of the statistical framework in the country. It plays a pivotal role in coordinating statistical activities across various Ministries and Departments of the Government of India while maintaining active connections with international statistical organizations like UNSD, ESCAP, etc.
  • Furthermore, the NSO is involved in preparing national accounts and disseminating annual estimates of national products. It provides crucial statistical data to assess and analyze changes in the growth, composition, and structure of the organized manufacturing sector.
  • The NSO’s responsibilities also encompass the compilation and publication of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), conducting the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI), undertaking all-India Economic Censuses, and conducting follow-up enterprise surveys.


Bibek Debroy, who chairs the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to the Prime Minister, proposed a comprehensive reform of the system and expressed his belief that the Indian Statistical Service lacks significant expertise in survey design.

About the SCoS

  • The newly formed committee will replace the Standing Committee on Economic Statistics (SCES), which was established in 2019 with the sole purpose of examining economic indicators.
  • Heading the committee is Pronab Sen, India’s first chief statistician and former chairman of the NSC.
  • The committee’s primary mandate is twofold: firstly, to establish a new internal oversight mechanism for official data, and secondly, to review the framework and outcomes of all surveys conducted under the NSO.
  • Although the panel will aid in finalizing survey results, the ultimate authority to approve the publication of these results will lie with the NSC.
  • The terms of reference for this committee are as follows:
    • Broadening Coverage: Comprising 10 official members and 4 non-official members, distinguished academics among them, the committee will extend its focus beyond economic data. It will offer advice to the Ministry on technical aspects such as sampling, design, and methodology for all surveys.
    • Identifying Data Gaps: The committee will identify data gaps that can be addressed through official statistics and propose suitable strategies to bridge these gaps effectively.
    • Harnessing Administrative Statistics: The committee will explore the potential of administrative statistics in enhancing the quality and outcomes of data analysis.

Breaking Barriers and Building Inclusivity – Women still minority

Syllabus: Social Justice

In News

Preeti Aghalyam, the first woman to assume the role of Director at an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), has brought attention to the underrepresentation of women on IIT campuses.

  • Her appointment aligns with a larger collective endeavor undertaken by various IITs to tackle the gender imbalance prevalent within their institutions.
  • Although the overall enrollment ratio of men to women in engineering colleges across India has shown improvement over the years, the proportion of women in IITs still remains relatively low. In 2014, some institutes recorded as little as 5% to 12% female representation.

Implications of Underrepresentation of Women in Higher Education in India

  • Limited Access to Opportunities
  • Gender-Based Stereotyping and Bias
  • Unequal Workforce Representation
  • Economic Disparities
  • Lack of Diverse Perspectives
  • Reinforcement of Social Norms
  • Missed Contributions to Research and Innovation

Government Schemes for Women

  • Digital Gender Atlas
  • National Scheme of Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education (NSIGSE)
  • Nai Manzil
  • Naya Savera


Despite ongoing efforts for gender parity, women continue to be a minority at IITs. Though there has been some progress, it is evident that significant work remains to be done in order to improve the gender ratio at these esteemed institutions.

Mains Question

What are the continued challenges for women in India against time and space? (Mains 2019)

Lightening: Natural Disaster

Syllabus: Disaster Management

In News

The Indian Union government hesitates to categorize lightning as a natural disaster, believing that raising awareness about safety measures can prevent deaths caused by lightning.

  • Presently, India has an early warning system for lightning, offering forecasts ranging from five days to three hours in advance.

Certain states, such as Bihar and West Bengal, have been urging the government to designate lightning-related deaths as natural disasters. If this declaration were made, victims would become eligible for compensation from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), with the central government contributing 75% to the fund.

Regarding the status of lightning-induced fatalities, data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reveals that in 2021, lightning strikes accounted for 2,880 deaths, constituting 40% of all accidental deaths resulting from natural forces.

What is a Disaster?

Defining a disaster, it refers to the abrupt disruption of normal life and substantial damage to life and property due to natural or man-made causes, surpassing the capacity of existing social and economic protection mechanisms to cope.

In India, the criteria for classifying a disaster as a natural disaster are generally based on guidelines provided by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Criteria for Declaring a Natural Disaster in India

  • Non-Anthropogenic – The disaster should not be primarily caused by human activities or interventions and should result from natural phenomena beyond human control.
  • Impact – The disaster should cause significant damage, loss of life, or disruption to the environment, infrastructure, or socio-economic activities, requiring specialized response and recovery measures.
  • Verification – The occurrence and impact of the disaster should be verified and confirmed by relevant government authorities, scientific institutions, or disaster management agencies.
  • Recognition – The disaster should be recognized as a natural disaster by the concerned state or central government authorities responsible for disaster management.

About Lightening

A lightning strike is a rapid and immense release of electricity into the atmosphere. It occurs when a natural electrical discharge of very short duration and high voltage happens between a cloud and the ground or within a cloud. This phenomenon is often accompanied by a brilliant flash of light, a loud sound, and occasionally thunderstorms.

Impacts of Lightning

  • Between 1972 and 2019, around 90,632 people were killed due to lightning strikes.
  • Lightning is the biggest contributor to accidental deaths due to natural causes.
  • Frequent lightning strikes adversely impact small and marginal farmers. Around 77 per cent of farmers are killed due to lightning as they work in agricultural fields during the Kharif cropping season in the monsoon period.
  • Mainly, rural and forest areas are the most vulnerable due to lightning because of the presence of water bodies and tall trees, with almost 96 per cent of deaths occurring in rural areas compared to urban areas. Regarding deaths due to lightning, the population in rural areas is more vulnerable than in urban areas.
  • The Annual Lightning Report 2020-2021 confirms that 60-70 per cent of deaths occurred in tribal populations due to lightning in Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and other states.
  • Lightning also adversely impacts the aviation, power, and communication sectors.

Endogamy and harmful genetic variants in India

In News

Researchers from the Institute for Human Genetics at the University of California conducted a study focusing on genetic variations within South Asian populations, particularly in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

  • The study uncovered distinct genetic patterns in various regions, including smaller areas within India. 

About Endogamy

These patterns were attributed to the practice of endogamy, wherein individuals marry within specific social, cultural, or ethnic groups, with the intention of preserving their traditions, customs, and identity.

Key Findings

One of the significant findings of the research was a concerning trend of a higher frequency of homozygous genotypes among the South Asian cohort. This increase in homozygosity can potentially elevate the risk of genetic disorders within these populations.

The study emphasized the importance of creating a comprehensive map of the Indian genome to gain a better understanding of the country’s remarkable genetic diversity and to address prevalent hereditary disorders effectively. Conducting such research within the country is also essential to protect vulnerable communities from exploitation.

Moreover, harnessing the power of genetic studies could lead to targeted interventions for addressing major health concerns in India, benefiting the population as a whole.

Export Preparedness Index (EPI) Report, 2022

In News

The third edition of the Export Preparedness Index (EPI) for States/Union Territories (UTs) of India in the year 2022 is set to be released by NITI Aayog.

The report presents an in-depth analysis of India’s export performance and delves into the sector-specific export performance within the country. It emphasizes the importance of nurturing our districts as export hubs and conducts a comprehensive district-level analysis of merchandise exports in India.

About the Report

EPI is a comprehensive tool that measures the export preparedness of the States and UTs in India.


  • The main objectives of this endeavor are to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the States and Union Territories (UTs) based on various export-related parameters, with the aim of identifying their respective strengths and weaknesses.
  • Furthermore, the exercise seeks to showcase and acknowledge the accomplishments of different states and UTs, fostering a culture of peer learning among them, and promoting the concept of competitive federalism.


  • Policy Pillar: This pillar assesses the performance of states and UTs concerning their adoption of export-related policies at both the state and district levels. It also examines the effectiveness of the institutional framework surrounding the export ecosystem
  • Business Ecosystem: This pillar focuses on evaluating the prevailing business environment within each state/UT. It takes into account factors such as the availability of business-supportive infrastructure and the quality of transport connectivity.
  • Export Ecosystem: Within this pillar, the emphasis is on evaluating the export-related infrastructure in each state/UT, as well as the support provided to exporters. Additionally, the prevalence of Research and Development activities in the state/UT is analyzed to gauge its impact on fostering innovation.
  • Export Performance: This pillar employs output-based indicators to measure the growth of a state’s exports over the previous year. It also analyzes the export concentration and the state/UT’s footprint in the global markets.

Agri Infra Fund

In News

The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has initiated a fresh campaign called BHARAT (Banks Heralding Accelerated Rural & Agriculture Transformation) as part of the Agri Infra Fund (AIF) program.

  • Running from July 15, 2023, to August 15, 2023, this one-month campaign aims to raise an impressive amount of Rs 7200 crore.

About the AIF

The AIF itself, introduced in July 2020, is a financing facility designed to offer comprehensive financial assistance to farmers, agri-entrepreneurs, FPOs, PACS, Cooperatives, SHGs, and others involved in agriculture. Its primary goal is to develop post-harvest management infrastructure and foster community farming assets nationwide.

Some of the key features of the AIF include:

  • Funding of 1 Lakh Crore in the form of loans from banks and financial institutions, with a favorable interest subvention of 3% per annum.
  • Provision of credit guarantee support through the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme, benefiting loans of up to Rs 2 crore.
  • The management and monitoring of the fund will be facilitated through an efficient online Management Information System (MIS) platform.
  • All eligible entities will have the opportunity to apply for loans under the AIF.
  • The duration of the AIF will span from FY2020 to FY2029, encompassing a decade of support for agricultural and rural transformation.
  • To ensure effective monitoring and timely feedback, National, State, and District level monitoring committees will be established.
  • With these initiatives, the government aims to uplift and revolutionize the agricultural sector, promoting sustainable growth and prosperity in rural areas.

Evolution of synthetic Genomes

In News

Recent studies have provided evidence that synthetic life forms possessing minimal genomes have the capacity to undergo evolution and surpass their non-evolved counterparts in competitive scenarios.

What is evolution?

In simpler terms, evolution refers to the gradual transformation and progress observed in living beings over time. It involves the transfer of traits from one generation to the next, resulting in species diversity and their ability to adapt to their surroundings.

What is Synthetic Genome?

A synthetic genome, on the other hand, is an artificially generated or modified genetic material that can be introduced into a living organism. This process entails the design and construction of DNA sequences within a laboratory environment, empowering scientists to engineer and manipulate the genetic composition of an organism.

As an illustration, researchers have successfully produced synthetic genomes for bacteria like Mycoplasma mycoides, leading to the development of synthetic life forms with the capability of replication.

Significance of Evolution of Synthetic Genome

  • Enhanced understanding of life processes
  • Industrial Applications and Biotechnology
  • Advancements in medicine and healthcare
  • Study of natural evolutionary processes
  • Understanding antimicrobial resistance
  • Environmental applications

China event raises concern over India’s only ape

In News

During a global event focused on gibbons held in China, the conservation status of the hoolock gibbon, which is India’s sole ape species, emerged as a cause for concern.

  • Gibbons are the smallest and fastest apes, typically inhabiting tropical and subtropical forests in Southeast Asia. The hoolock gibbon, unique to India’s northeastern regions, is one of the 20 gibbon species found on our planet, with an estimated population of around 12,000 individuals.
  • All 20 gibbon species, including the hoolock gibbon, face a significant risk of extinction due to severe declines in their distribution and populations since 1900. As a result, they are now found in only small pockets within tropical rainforests.
  • The main threat to the hoolock gibbon in India is the deforestation caused by infrastructure projects, leading to the loss of their natural habitat.
  • To address these critical conservation challenges, the Global Gibbon Network (GGN) has taken initiatives aimed at protecting and preserving gibbons and their habitats. The GGN promotes participatory conservation policies and actions on an international scale.
  • Among the founding organizations of the GGN from seven countries is Aaranyak, a non-profit conservation organization based in Assam, India. Their efforts contribute to the collective mission of safeguarding gibbons and ensuring the continuity of their existence.

Controversy regarding conservation status

Previously thought to be two distinct species, a genetic examination conducted by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad in 2021 has established that there is actually only one species of ape in India – the hoolock gibbon.

Nonetheless, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List has categorized the western hoolock gibbon as endangered and the eastern hoolock gibbon as vulnerable, introducing intricacies to their conservation status.

North Korea

North Korea recently conducted a test of its newly developed Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), utilizing solid propellants. The test has prompted reactions from neighboring countries, with Japan, South Korea, and the United States expressing concerns regarding regional stability. They are emphasizing the necessity for closer cooperation and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea is situated in East Asia, occupying the northern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It shares borders with China and Russia to the north, along the Yalu and Tumen rivers, and with South Korea to the south at the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The war between North Korea and South Korea commenced in 1950, with both governments claiming to be the sole legitimate authority over the entire Korean territory and neither accepting the border as permanent.

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