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The narrative of development and populism

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The narrative of development and populism


Why in the News?

With election is round the corner in many states, and the General elections to be held in 2024, many developmental schemes and promises are given by various political parties.

Development and populism:

  1. In the election-bound State of Madhya Pradesh, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of projects worth over ₹50,700 crore. Few days later, a major opposition party of the state announced “guarantees” that included ₹2,500 financial assistance women every month, gas cylinders at ₹500, free travel for women in State transport buses, etc.,
  2. Such conjunction of ‘development and populism’ gain wide circulation before elections, as they are pitched as poll promises to evaluate the gains with respect to short-term versus long-term benefits.
  3. While development is the long-term ideal and populism is dubbed as myopic.

The development obsession:

  1. The poll promises of accelerated development often do not take up the issue of unevenness in welfare gains and inclusivity to understand the implications for welfare and sustainability in the post-poll time period. 
  2. Developments are often defined in narrow terms of visible physical infrastructure, so that it can be easily showcased and achievements can be quantified.
  3. The opposing political parties then have 3 options:
    1. To promise an even higher scale of infrastructure creation if voted to power.
    2. To highlight the unsuitability of the created infrastructure and dub it as failure
    3. To address welfare of some section of the population that is left out through economic populism.
  4. When development is equated to visible mega-infrastructure, it can lead to a dangerous obsession:
    1. The suitability of mega projects for the specific geographic location or users is often overstated without realistically assessing long-term environmental consequences and its implications on the livelihoods of present and future generations. 
    2. Financing mega-infrastructure are often on the assumption of exaggerated revenue accruals and flattened costs, which would surface as fiscal burden in medium term and impose additional costs to handle it.


The examples of projecting mega-infrastructure as development symbols, resulting in environmental disasters include:

      1. Himachal Pradesh, for instance, faced over 41 landslides, 29 flash floods, and one cloud burst during the period June 24 to July 10, 2023. Though it can be called as events of ‘climate crises’, the state has involved in ‘development’ through the construction of several highway roads connecting various tourist locations, thereby making the mountain regions fragile and unleashing unplanned urbanisation.
      2. Without learning lessons from the 2013 disaster, the state proceeded to rebrand development through construction of highway projects such as Char Dham Yatra, a road connectivity project to religious places beyond its carrying capacity.
  1. Results of such obsession:
    1. The easy route of development without sound scientific basis, selected by the policy regimes sets off a spiral of calamities. 
    2. It shall cost a huge financial burden and imposes long-term constraints.
      1. For instance, the total debt of the NHAI stood at ₹3,42,801 crore as on March, 2023, up from ₹23,797 crore in 2014. 

Space for populism

  1. Populism has the trait of claiming to represent and speak for ‘the people,’ which is assumed to be unified by a common interest.
  2. This common will is directed against the ‘enemies of the people’
    1. Minorities and foreigners (in the case of right-wing populists)
    2. Financial elites (in the case of left-wing populists). 
  3. Growth of political populism requires rules and restraints, while a fine blend of rules with discretion is required to curtail the expansion of economic populism.

On conventional models

  1. Conventional models of economic growth believed in ‘trickle-down effect’ or growth characterised by ‘high tide that lifts all boats’, where the element of populist re-distributive policies does not find a place.
  2. It bases the view that distribution was expected to be an inbuilt consequence of growth. 
  3. However, cross-country growth experience shows poor progress in automatic re-distribution and some sections of the population become ‘outliers’ in the growth process. 
  4. This emphasises the need for government-led redistribution to reduce the size of such outliers and spread the benefits of growth more evenly, which can be achieved through economic populism. 

Criminal law Bills and a hollow decolonisation

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Criminal law Bills and a hollow decolonisation


Why in the News?

Three criminal law Bills were introduced in the Parliament in 2022, after an earlier attempt of setting up the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Law in 2020.


  1. It is a process of oppression where the colonised become vehicles for the supreme colonial power to fulfil its desires.
  2. The colonised unquestioningly serves the colonial state and remains at its mercy. 
  3. The Colonisers work to protect its own interests and not the subjects’, who are not just inferior but also suspicious. 
  4. Thus, the foundational essence of colonial laws is to secure and protect the colonial state and not the colonised.
  5. The Laws such as the Indian Penal Code (1860) was not just to maintain law and order, but an attempt of the colonial state to legitimise its status as a potential victim under threat from the people it colonised, through law.

Overbroad and constitutionally suspect:

  1. A ‘decolonised’ or a post-colonial law shall have the aspects of:
    1. Changed relationship between the citizen and the state compared to the colonial laws.
    2. An independent people are not to serve but to be served through the state and government they give themselves.
    3. Changes in the process of law-making, and the priorities and purpose of the law according the above prospect.
  2. The newly proposed Criminal law bills fail these essential requirements:
    1.  The new bills propose changes that are overbroad that essentially increases the net of what constitutes an offence and parallelly the avenues to use police powers. 
    2. It adds an additional layer of criminalisation by including ‘new’ offences that are already covered by existing laws (either under special laws or the Indian Penal Code). This also increases police powers.

An expansion of suppression:

  1. Colonisation is marked by suppression in the guise of security by giving the executive unchecked police powers.
  2. Such aspect of suppression is witnessed in the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) (it repeals the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973) expands such powers considerably.
    1. For instance,
      1. It allows police custody for periods longer than is allowed under the current CrPC.
      2. It prescribes for police powers in crimes such as terrorist acts, which are significantly broader than provided under harsh laws, such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
  3. The new bills don’t provide for the reforms of police and prison, the relics of colonisation.

In perspective

  1. There are also developments in other areas of criminal law that are becoming increasingly colonial.
    1. For instance, the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022, authorises the police to take measurements of convicts, accused and even persons in custody under preventive detention, furthers the aim of colonisation through increased surveillance of the populace and increased control by the state.
  2. The idea of decolonisation shall encompass the promise of people shaping their own destinies, honours and centres the citizenry.

Bihar Survey

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Bihar Survey

Why in the News?

The Bihar govt. has released the results of its survey of castes in the state, which was a result of unanimous decision of an all-party meeting in the state.

  • The survey involved a 17-question form on caste, religion, and economic status.
  • An app was used to collect the data for tabulation and processing.

Key findings of the Caste survey:

  1. The share of Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) stand at more than 63%. 
  2. The EBCs form 36.01% and OBCs account for 27.12% of the state’s population.
  3.  The “unreserved” category of so-called “forward” castes is about 15.5%.
  4. The Scheduled castes form 19.65% and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) form about 1.68% of the state population.



  1. Hindus comprise 81.99% of the population, and Muslims 17.72%, while Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, and other religious denominations form a minuscule population.



Significance of the survey findings:

  1. The changed proportion of share of castes in the increasing population can be used to pressure for holding a nationwide caste census in the coming days.
  2. The results from the survey can support demands for increasing the OBC quota beyond 27%, and for a quota within quota for the EBCs.
  3. The Bihar survey may push other states to carry out similar exercises.
    1. When Bihar started to conduct the exercise, the Patna High Court paused it stating that the state government was not competent to conduct what appeared to be a census.
    2. However, it signalled a green light after the state submitted that it was a “survey”, and assured that no one’s data would be disclosed.
  4. The survey data will reopen the longstanding debate over the 50% ceiling on reservation.
    1. In the Indra Sawhney v Union of India (1992) case, a 50% ceiling on reservation was imposed to ensure “efficiency” in administration.
    2. This ruling has been used by courts to block several attempts by states to breach it.
  5. With EBCs, OBCs, and SCs together accounting for more than 82% of the state’s population, a vote bank for which fierce battles among political parties will be fought in the upcoming elections.

The FDI of India has been falling

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The FDI of India has been falling



Why in the News?

Though the figures of GDP growth and geopolitical scenario indicate the economic rise of India, its FDI has been falling.

India’s falling Foreign Direct Investment (FDI):

  1. India’s growth prospects:
    1. The Indian economy grew at 7.8% in the first quarter of the ongoing financial year and is forecasted to grow at around 6-6.5% over the full year.
    2. Medium-term assessments, such as by the IMF, peg growth at roughly 6% between 2023 and 2028.
  2. India has emerged as a prominent investment destination for multinationals as an alternative to China along with the geopolitical scenario seemingly shifting in India’s favour.
  3. However, the foreign direct investment (FDI) has been falling:
    1. In 2022-23, FDI inflows (including reinvested earnings and other capital) were $71.3 billion, which is 16% lesser from $84.8 billion in 2021-22.
    2. FDI flows in 2022-23 were below levels in 2019-20. 
    3. The fall of FDI in these periods is due to fall in fresh equity flows.
  • Equity flows dropped from roughly $59.6 billion in 2021-22 to around $47.6 billion in 2022-23.
    1. The investments through the reinvested earnings route have remained steady, though repatriation/disinvestment has picked up.
    2. FDI inflows between 2021-22 and 2022-23, fell not only in the computer software and hardware sector, but also in the automobile industry, construction (infrastructure activities), and metallurgical industries.
  1. FDI flows into countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia (India’s competitors in the “China plus one”) have been steady.
    1. FDI in Vietnam stood at around $18 billion and in Indonesia, flows stood at around $10 billion during January-June this year.
  2. The foreign portfolio investors (FPI) have increased with $15 billion pouring in the Indian markets, after withdrawing $16.5 billion in 2022.

Possible reasons for fall in FDI inflows:

In spite of India’s being an alternative in China+1 strategy, enough incentives through PLI scheme of the government and rising growth prospects, India’s FDI inflows are declining. This may be due to

    1. Reluctance among multinationals, and also the hesitation among domestic firms to invest in India due to policy uncertainty.
    2. Absence of the country from major trading blocks.
      1. India does not have a trade agreement with the European Union, not a part of RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), a trade agreement between the 10 member states of ASEAN and their free trade agreement partners — Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and Korea.
      2. India will be placed in a disadvantageous position as economic integration between these countries, which are at the centre of manufacturing supply chains, cannot be benefitted by India.

A plan for the Winter Crop

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A plan for the Winter Crop



Why in the News?

The Rabi conference was recently held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW), to discuss about the problems and prospects of rabi crops in the upcoming winter season.

India’s food production:

  1. The Indian monsoon (June to September) recorded a 5.6% deficit rainfall compared to the long-period average (LPA).
  2. Despite wide deviation in its temporal spread (August- driest month since 1901) the area planted under paddy and sugarcane is higher by 1.9 per cent and 7.64 per cent respectively, compared to the preceding year.
  3. However, area under pulses decreased by 4.2%.
  4. The Mustard production jumped by 37% which helped to tackle the import crisis of palm and sunflower oil.

The Rabi Conference:

  1. Adequate fertiliser stocks to take care of the demand of the rabi season.
  2. Wheat, the main rabi crop which is susceptible to heat wave, can be tackled with the release of numerous heat-resistant wheat varieties.
  • This shall cover roughly 60% of the sown area, up from 45% last year.
  • Of the 2,200 varieties of different crops released by India’s agri-research system in the last 9 years, 1,800 are climate resilient.
  1. To prioritise agro-ecological based crop planning for diversion of land from excess commodities like rice and wheat to deficit commodities like oilseeds and pulses and high value export earning crops.
  2. Increase area of cropping through
  • Inter-cropping and crop diversification
  • Productivity enhancement through introduction of HYVs
  • Adoption of suitable agronomic practices in low yielding regions.

Shift from “production-centric” to a “food systems” approach:

  1. Need better and more accurate estimates of production
  2. Monitor the prices that farmers get
  3. Monitor the progress of crops every week
  4. Upgrade our patwari-based production estimate system to one that is based on high technology, which will help settle crop insurance claims.
  5. Better technology and better policies rather than abrupt export bans/stocking limits.

Counting deaths in India’s prisons

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Counting deaths in India’s prisons

Why in the News?

As per the Supreme Court Committee on Prison Reforms, suicide was found to be the leading cause of ‘unnatural’ deaths (deaths other than ageing or illnesses) among Indian prisoners.

  • Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of suicides between 2017 and 2021.
  • The no. of custodial deaths has seen a steady rise since 2019, and recorded the highest number of deaths so far in 2021.
  • The no. of natural deaths (due to ageing and illnesses) stood at 1,879 people in 2021

How are prison deaths classified?

  1. The Prison Statistics India (PSI) report published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), identifies prison deaths are identified as ‘natural’ or ‘unnatural’, every year.
  2. PSI reports that in 2021, a total of 2,116 prisoners died in judicial custody, with almost 90% of cases recorded as natural deaths.
  3. With increasing prison population, the recorded natural deaths have increased from 1,424 in 2016 to 1,879 in 2021.
  4. Natural deaths are classified as Ageing and illness, while the latter is further classified into diseases such as heart conditions, HIV, tuberculosis, and cancer.
  5. Unnatural’ deaths are classified into:
    1. suicide (due to hanging, poisoning, self-inflicted injury, drug overdose, electrocution, etc.) 
    2. death due to inmates, assault by outside elements, fire, negligence or excesses
    3. Accidental deaths such as natural calamities (earthquakes, snakebites, drowning, accidental fall, burn injury, drug/alcohol consumption, etc.).



  1. A report by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) indicates that suicide rate among inmates was more than twice the rate recorded in the general population.

What have the courts said?

  1. The Supreme Court judgment by Justice Lokur noted that
    1. The NCRB’s distinction between natural and unnatural deaths is “unclear.”
    2. For instance, will a death due to a lack of proper/timely medical attention, be classified as a natural death [due to illness] or an unnatural death [due to negligence] is unclear.
  2. The prison deaths are largely under-reported and rarely investigated, which has resulted in classifying majority of deaths as ‘natural’.
  3. High occupancy rate of prisons.
    1. PSI report classified deaths due to COVID-19 as ‘natural’ deaths.
    2. At that time, the occupancy rate of prisons was 118% of their capacity and just one staff member was available to look after 219 inmates, against sanctioned strength of medical staff of 1:125.
    3. Only 5% of expenditure is spent on medical facilities, as per the PSI 2021 report.
  4. The issue of custodial deaths.
  5. The infrastructural deficiencies act as both cause and effect for neglect of the health of individuals in jail custody.
    1. Neglect shall include medical, psychological or a continued denial of access to healthcare, food or safety.
    2. Insensitive mindset of the police authorities as well as the jail authorities is also a reason for the neglect.

How are deaths investigated?

  1. In cases of Custodial death, it should be intimated within 24 hours, followed by post-mortem reports, magisterial inquest reports or videography reports of the post-mortem.
  2. If negligence is found to be the reason for custodial death as per enquiry by the Commission, it can recommend authorities of Central/State Governments for paying compensation to the Next of Kin (NoK) and also for initiation of disciplinary proceedings/prosecution against the erring public servant.
    1. A Lok Sabha question in 2022 revealed that only one ‘disciplinary action’ was taken between 2021-22 against an “erring official.”
  3. The Code of Criminal Procedure, in cases of custodial rape and death, requires compulsory judicial magisterial inquiry in place of an executive magistrate inquiry. 
    1. This was diluted in 2010, when the National Human Rights Commission weakened the legal requirement by stating that inquiry by a judicial magistrate is “not mandatory” when there is no suspicion or foul play.

What has the government done so far?

  1. The Supreme Court judgment (1996):
    1. It noted that there is a social obligation towards prisoners’ health as they suffer from a “double handicap”
      1. Prisoners do not enjoy the access to medical expertise akin to free citizens.
      2. Because of the conditions of their imprisonment, inmates are exposed to more health hazards than free citizens.
  2. The Model Prison Manual of 2016 and the Mental Healthcare Act of 2017:
    1. It emphasises inmates’ right to healthcare, which includes
      1. Adequate investment in healthcare facilities
      2. Setting up mental health units
      3. Training officers to provide basic and emergency care
      4. Formulating suicide prevention programmes
  3. The Supreme Court Committee on Prison Reforms made similar recommendations.

Way forward:

  1. Ensuring adequate staff by filling the existing vacancies.
  • The NHRC recommended filling positions of “Prison Welfare Officers, Probation Officers, Psychologists, and Medical Staff”, with states like Bihar and Uttarakhand having over 60% of positions lying vacant. 
  1. To “reduce the feeling of isolation” and “possibility of harmful activity”, inmates have to allowed to “adequate number of telephones” with friends and family and allowed access to newspapers or periodicals.
  2. To prevent suicides,
    1. A strict check on tools such as ropes, glasses, wooden ladders, pipes shall be required.
    2. initial mental health screening at the time of entry into jail
    3. installing CCTV cameras to monitor high-risk inmates, balancing the rights of prisoners against heightened surveillance.

Cholera cases

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Cholera cases


  1. Cholera is a water-borne disease affecting the small intestine of a person, which can be diagnosed by a stool test or a rapid dipstick test.
  2. It is caused by two strains of the bacteria Vibrio cholerae called O1 and O139.
  3. While O1 is responsible for almost all outbreaks, outbreaks of O139 have been rare and none recorded outside Asia so far. 
  4. WHO report: The world reported more than twice as many cholera cases in 2022 as it did in 2021.
  5. WHO has set the target to reduce the number of cholera deaths worldwide by 90% by 2030.
  6. The spread of cholera is closely linked to inadequate access to clean water and sanitation facilities, and other sources include undercooked shellfish.
  7. Vibrio cholerae bacteria also favour warmer waters with lower salinity, which gets intensified due to Climate change related events.
  8. Vibrio pathogens have a unique ability to ‘stick’ to microplastics.
  9. Nigeria had a large cholera outbreak that accounted for 78% of all cases in Africa.
  10. Oral cholera vaccines such as Vaxchora, with a recommended two dosage can provide reasonable protection for about six months.

Lagrange Points

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Lagrange Points


  1. They are points in space between celestial bodies where a spacecraft stays more or less stationary.
  2. Lagrange points are found along the plane of two objects in orbit around their common centre of gravity, where their gravitational forces cancel each other, so that a third body of negligible mass will remain at rest between them.
  3. Advantages:
    1. Best ‘parking spots’ in space for satellites
    2. Ideal for controllers on the ground to communicate with spacecraft stationed at these points.
    3. Spacecraft will need very little fuel to remain in orbit or to launch to another planet,
  4. Lagrange points exist throughout the Solar System due to this gravitational interaction between the sun and the planets and their moons.
  5. Of the five Lagrange points L1, L2, L3, L4, and L5,
    1. Lagrange points – L1, L2, and L3 are unstable positions which lies along an imaginary straight line connecting the two larger bodies. These unstable positions can easily de-orbited objects by even weak forces, and then drift off into space.
    2. Points L4 and L5 are stable locations that form the apexes of two imaginary equilateral triangles with the two large celestial bodies at the vertices of each triangle. But they also tend to accumulate interstellar dust and asteroids called Trojans.
  6. The recently launched Aditya-L1 by ISRO is designated to a parking slot at L1 in the sun-earth system.
  7. Robotic explorers placed in L1:
    1. NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Satellite
    2. Deep Space Climate Observatory
    3. Advanced Composition Explorer
    4. The Global Geospace Science Wind satellite. 
  8. Upcoming missions to park objects at L1:
    1. Three U.S. probes – Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe, Near Earth Object Surveyor, Space Weather Follow.
    2. The European Vigil mission.

R21 Malaria vaccine

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R21 Malaria vaccine


  1. The R21/Matrix-M™ malaria vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and the Serum Institute of India has been recommended for use by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  2. The vaccine was developed by leveraging Novavax’s adjuvant technology.
  3. The vaccine has met the requirements of safety, quality and effectiveness standards.
  4. Malaria:
    1. It is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other vertebrates.
    2. Its symptoms include fever, fatigue, vomiting, and headaches.
    3. Symptoms usually onset 10 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected Anopheles mosquito.
    4. Human malaria is caused by single-celled microorganisms of the Plasmodium group and is spread exclusively through bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes
    5. Most deaths are caused by P. falciparum, whereas P. vivaxP. ovale, and P. malariae generally cause a milder form of malaria.
    6. Medications for malaria includes artemisinin, mefloquine, lumefantrine, or sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine, Quinine.

OIML Certificates

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OIML Certificates



  1. India (Legal Metrology Division, Department of Consumer Affairs) has become one among the 13 countries in the world to become an OIML certificate-issuing authority.
  2. OIML stands for International Organisation of Legal Metrology, established in 1955 with headquartered in Paris.
  3. OIML is an international standard-setting body that develops model regulations, standards and related documents for use by legal metrology authorities and industry.
  4. It plays a key role in harmonising national laws and regulations on the performance of measuring instruments like clinical thermometers, alcohol breath analysers, radar speed measuring instruments, ship tanks found at ports, and petrol dispensing units.
  5. India became a member of the OIML and signed the metric convention in 1956.
  6. OIML certificate System is a system for issuing, registering and using OIML certificates, and their associated OIML type evaluation/test reports, for instruments like digital balance, clinical thermometers, etc.
  7. It is a single certificate accepted worldwide.
  8. It shall help India to increase in exports, earning of foreign exchange, and generation of employment.

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