This article deals with ‘Ethical Issues in International Relations and Funding.’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.
What is Conscience?
Conscience is the intrinsic intuitive capacity to discriminate between right and wrong.
The common metaphors for conscience include the “voice within“.
In contrast to the law, which is an external source of ethical guidance, conscience is the internal source of ethical guidance. Conscience comes into play when the mind passes a judgement on the rightness and wrongness of a particular act.
Conscience is also essential as a tool of ethical conduct where the law is silent or where a person has to exercise their discretion, whether in public or private life. Additionally, when laws become outdated and require renewal, conscience helps recognize the need to initiate the process and progress toward the most suitable form. In other words, conscience comes into play when compliance and cognitive ethics fail.
It supplements the role of law and rules in providing for ethical governance. In the absence of conscience, one may adhere to the letter of the law but may violate its spirit with impunity.
Limitations of Conscience
Conscience is not necessarily a product of a rational deduction but is something that can be influenced by the indoctrination of one’s parentage, social class, religion or culture. Hence, it is subjective and not objective.
Conscience often promotes social dogmas. E.g. somebody’s conscience may not allow him to allow Dalits to eat in his shop if his family values are like that.
It leads to multiplicity and inconsistency. Unlike the law that is consistent and equally applied to all in similar conditions, every person’s conscience can give him a different answer when faced with the same situation.
When should we go with our Conscience?
To avoid the above limitations, Conscience can be divided into different types
Which is in line
with rational morality
isn’t in line with rational morality
We should go with our conscience only when we know it is ‘True Conscience’. Although it is advisable that whenever you hear an “inner voice”, you must hear it. But because of inherent deficiencies, you must not blindly follow that inner voice. Think about it and evaluate it rationally. If the answer is yes, you must follow your conscience and act according to that.
Crisis of Conscience
When conscience fails to guide an individual in any specific situation due to a particular experience, it can be called a Crisis of Conscience. Individuals lose the ability to determine right and wrong.
It happens in a situation which is ambiguous in terms of the values involved and their consequences. As a result, an individual cannot resolve an ethical dilemma using his moral sense.
For instance, an IPS officer is given the duty to regulate the peaceful protest by farmers against corporations. Things were under control, and nobody indulged in violence. But, suddenly, the officer is asked to resort to strict measures, including firing at the protestors. The officer in such a situation can face a crisis of conscience as the situation is ambiguous.
This article deals with various facets of ‘India Indo-Pacific Relations.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’, which is an important pillar of the GS-2 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.
Indo-Pacific as the new Geopolitical Construct
The idea of the Indo-Pacific was originally conceived in 2006-07.
The Indo-Pacific region combines two regions, i.e. the Indian Ocean and the West Pacific Region.
Why this word has gained eminence?
The Indo-Pacific Region consists of
63% of global GDP
50% of global maritime trade
Rich in natural resources
The increasing geopolitical connection between the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific Ocean in the geo-economic and security dimensions. The security and economic dimension of Pacific and Indian Ocean can’t be seen separately.
The shift of economic Center of gravity: The global economic Center of gravity has shifted eastwards towards Asia due to the rise of China and India. Hence, the geo-strategists have started to view the Indian Ocean and West Pacific as a single entity.
The growing eminence of India: Due to the increase in India’s economic and strategic importance in global affairs, the world expects India to play a constructive role in the security, growth and development of the maritime environment of the region
Reaction to Chinese aggressiveness: The block led by the US wants to take India on board in its positioning against the aggressive posture of China in the region.
Benefit to India
It will help raise India’s geostrategic profile and make her a prominent player in the whole Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
It provides an opportunity for deeper cooperation with countries like Japan, the US, ASEAN, Australia etc.
The Indo-Pacific concept helps India counter the Chinese String of Pearls Policy of China.
It will help India and the world ensure peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and secure Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs).
The concept is in line with India’s Act East Policy.
Challenges for India
India has limited naval capacity and a lack of military bases in the region.
India will have to balance its continental and maritime strategies. Given its volatile borders, India can’t take responsibility for the security of such a vast maritime area.
In the scheme of things, the USA is putting India against China to check the Chinese rise and safeguard its interests.
This article deals with ‘ Non-Aligned Movement – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’, which is an important pillar of the GS-2 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.
The term ‘non-alignment’ is the foreign policy adopted by some countries during the cold war, which refused to align with either the capitalist bloc led by the USA or the communist block led by USSR.
Some Western scholars have confused non-alignment “with isolationism, neutrality and non-involvement. Non-alignment is not neutrality. It simply means taking an independent stand based on the merit of each issue.
Formation of NAM
The Congress of Vienna (1814–15), where the neutrality of Switzerland was acknowledged, is where the idea of not aligning a nation’s policy with others first emerged.
The origin of the Non-Aligned Movement can be traced back to the late 1940s, when former colonies were gaining independence and the world was divided into two blocks, i.e. Capitalist Block led by the USA and Communist Block led by the USSR. The newly independent countries faced the dilemma of joining either of the blocks. But NAM gave the third path of remaining non-aligned.
Three leaders played the main role.
Jawaharlal Nehru: India
Gamal Abdal Nassar: Egypt
Josip Tito: Yugoslavia
Among the first architects, Nehru would be especially remembered. Nehru believed that countries of Asia & Africa should build up an alliance of solidarity to fight neo-imperialism.
Nehru called Asian Relations Conference (ARC) in New Delhi.
Bandung Conference in Indonesia was held as African nations started to gain independence.
In July 1956, Egypt’s Nasser, India’s Nehru and Yugoslavia’s Tito met on the island of Brijuni on the Adriatic Sea and came up with an unspoken alliance that bound them together.
The first NAM meeting was held in Belgrade and pushed for alternative economic order.
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has completed 60 years.
Impetus for Non-Aligned Movement
The most crucial reason was the economic. Almost all the members were newly independent ones who needed trade and financial support from all the nations. Joining one of the groups would have limited that ability.
Need for peace, without which development wasn’t possible.
Need to be secure from global threat perceptions emanating from Cold war politics.
Ending the possibility of neo-colonisation of old imperial powers.
Conditions to become a member
conditions were necessary to become a member of NAM
Independent foreign policy
Oppose colonialism in all forms
Shouldn’t be a member of any of the military blocs
Shouldn’t have concluded any bilateral treaty with any of the two superpowers
Shouldn’t have allowed military bases on its territory to a superpower.
Erosion of NAM
authority and relevance of NAM have reduced over time, especially after the end
of the Cold War and the emergence of the USA as the world’s sole superpower.
The first challenge to the economic ambition of NAM states was posed by the Third World debt crisis of the 1980s, which forced the NAM states to approach Bretton Woods institutions.
The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the Unipolar world led by the USA. In such a situation, the rationale of NAM was challenged.
Several significant NAM powers started to distance themselves by the early 1990s. Argentina left the grouping in 1991. War tore apart Yugoslavia. India was forced to go to the IMF due to the Balance of Payment crisis.
Goals & achievement of NAM
One primary goal of NAM was to end colonialism. Hence, NAM supported the freedom movements in colonies and gave the status of full members to those who led these movements.
It also condemned racial discrimination and lent full support to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa & Namibia.
NAM made a significant contribution to the preservation of peace and disarmament. It lowered Cold War tensions as fewer states joined military blocs.
NAM states succeeded in altering the composition of the UN. In the later forties and fifties, deliberations in the UN organs were dominated by Big 2. But with the emergence of NAM, they had a majority in General Assembly which they used to espouse its cause.
NAM raised a voice for economic equality & called for establishing a New International Economic Order (NIEO). Even after the end of colonialism, the old colonies were still treated as raw material supplying appendages, and Neo Colonisation was in place.
Is NAM relevant today?
No, NAM is irrelevant
NAM was the product of the Cold War and bipolarism. With the end of the Cold War & fall of the USSR, NAM has lost its relevance.
NAM has accomplished all its charted goals i.e.
Colonies have gained independence.
Apartheid has been dismantled.
Foreign bases have lost their significance.
More particularly, when alliances have been disintegrating, where is the importance of non-alignment?
Lack of Leadership: The statesmen who started NAM had a vision, today NAM has none.
Yes, NAM is relevant
Although the world has become unipolar, the US and G-7 powers are virtually waging an aggressive war of neo-colonialism in the world by forcing developing nations to open their markets. Hence, the developing countries of the south need to assert their independence and act together. NAM can be a good platform for that
The world is still divided into nuclear haves and have-nots. Western nations are attacking the sovereignty of third-world states on frivolous reasons of human rights violations. Countries of NAM must continue to stay and act together.
Catalyst to foster South-South co-operation: NAM can be an important deliberation stage of the ‘economic south’ to reach a common stand on new issues like the environment, climate change, terrorism etc.
Bill was introduced by the NDA government banning commercial surrogacy and allowing just Altruistic Surrogacy.
Bill was re-introduced due to inherent deficiencies.
The Bill was passed and became an act
In the absence of law, many problems were coming
Medical problems wrt foetus, e.g., the surrogate child is disabled or has any genetic disease and parents refuse to accept the child.
Non-payment to surrogate mothers, especially when the child is born still or dead or born with a disability.
Baby Manji Case (2008): Baby Manji was commissioned by Japanese parents (through an unknown egg donor and husband’s sperm) and was born to a surrogate mother in Gujarat. The parents divorced before the baby was born. The genetic father wanted the child’s custody, but Indian law barred single men from it, and Japanese law didn’t recognize surrogacy. The baby was ultimately granted a visa, but the case underscored the need for a regulatory framework for surrogacy in India.
Law Commission of India has recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic surrogacy by enacting appropriate legislation.
Provisions of the Surrogacy Act, 2021
Defines Surrogacy: The Act defines surrogacy as ‘a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple.’
It bans commercial surrogacy and allows only allows Altruistic Surrogacy.
The following can opt for surrogacy.
Any heterosexual Indian couples or couples of Indian origin have a medical condition requiring gestational surrogacy.
only for altruistic surrogacy purposes
not for producing children for sale
prostitution, or other forms of exploitation
Couples shouldn’t have any surviving child (either biological, adopted or surrogate)
The couple going for surrogacy should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority.
The couple can only approach a close relative for surrogacy.
The surrogate child should be considered the biological child of the intending couple.
Regulatory Bodies: Regulatory bodies to regulate surrogacy clinics will be established at national and state levels
National Assisted Reproductive Technology & Surrogacy Board at the central level
State Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy Boards in the states
The act has also laid down the criteria for surrogate mothers, which include
Married women aged between 25 to 35 years having their own children.
Can become a surrogate only once in her lifetime.
Posses certificate of fitness for surrogacy
Insurance cover: 36 months for the Surrogate Mother to take care of all her medical needs and emergency conditions/complications.
Penalty: The penalty for going against the provisions of the act includes up to 10 years of imprisonment and a 10 lakh fine.
Issues with the Act
An outright ban on surrogacy will push this industry underground, increasing the vulnerability of women even more. It was seen in Thailand.
Act borrows heavily from the UK’s altruistic surrogacy Bill but has changed the British provision to allow only blood relatives to “close relatives”. Close Relative is a vague term open to legal challenges. Even the Select Committee has recommended changing the term ‘Close Relative’ with ‘Willing Woman.’
Violates Right to Equality: Restricting surrogacy to married Indian couples and disqualifying others based on nationality, marital status, sexual orientation or age does not appear to qualify the test of equality.
Violate Article 21: Right to life includes the right to reproductive autonomy.
Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality. Unfortunately, the Bill scarcely bears an imprint of the verdict & continues to speak the discriminatory language of Section 377.
The Bill violates UNDHR. Article 16 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights gives the right to men and women of full age to found a family.
This article deals with ‘Reproductive Technologies – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’, which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.
1. In-vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF is the process of fertilizationof an egg and sperm outside the mother’s body. The baby thus produced is known as Test Tube Baby.
In this process, a child is conceived outside the women’s body in vitro (i.e. lab). Eggs removed from the mother’s ovary are incubated with the sperm from the father. Now, they are allowed to divide until the Blastula stage (64-128 cell structure), which usually takes 3-4 days, which is then transferred to the mother’s or a surrogate’s uterus to develop normally.
This technique was discovered by Dr Edwards and Dr Steptoe in the UK. They successfully carried out the birth of the world’s first test-tube baby “Louis Joy Brown” whose mother had a blockage in the Fallopian tube. The second successful test-tube baby occurred in India, named Durga after 67 days of Louis’s birth,
IVF is used in the following cases:-
Defect in Fallopian Tube of women.
A low number of sperms in men.
Infrequent or absent ovulation.
Hence, it helps infertile couples to have a baby of their own (with their eggs and sperm). Without using a donor egg or donor sperm, the DNA of the zygote will be of the intended parents only.
Issues with IVF / Test Tube Babies
Multiple Births: During the process, drugs are induced to the patient’s ovaries to grow several mature eggs rather than a single one that develops each month. If more than one egg is fertilized and transferred to a uterus, chances of success increase. But this also increases the chance of twin births.
Ovaries Hyper Stimulation Syndrome: Stimulations done to produce more than one egg cell can cause side effects like swollen and painful ovaries.
Birth Defects: Test Tube Bodies have relatively higher risks of birth defects than naturally conceived babies.
There is a danger of a mix-up of the baby in the laboratory processes leading to future legal suits.
2. Embryo transfer
In this technique, the fertilized egg or young embryo is transferred from donor mother to recipient mother or from test tube to the recipient mother. The best transfer stage is the 2 – 4 cell stage.
3. Artificial wombs
This technique is used in the final stages of multiple pregnancies as the foetus becomes cramped by transferring the foetus to the artificial womb. The artificial womb is a tank filled with amniotic fluid and a machine that pumps nutrients and oxygen into the baby’s blood.
4. Artificial insemination
It is the introduction of semen into a female’s reproductive tract.
Semen collected from a male with desirable hereditary features can be frozen & transported long distances to fertilize females.
It is used for those females who wish to conceive when normal conception is not possible.
5. Gamete Intra Fallopian Transfer (GIFT )
In GIFT, egg and sperms are mixed and injected into Fallopian tubes, where the Fertilization takes place as it does naturally.
In contrast to in-vitro, this is an in-vivo technique.
Application of Reproductive Technologies
It helps in achieving enhanced fertility.
It helps maintain future fertility (Eg: before undergoing chemo or radiotherapy).
It can be used to restore fertility by the involvement of the couple.
It helps restore fertility by the involvement of a third party in premature loss of ovarian function.
The act to regulate ART or Assisted Reproductive Technologies was introduced in the Parliament in 2020 to standardise protocols of the growing fertility industry and provide for the regulation of ART services in the country.
Key provisions in the bill
1. Definition of ART: The Bill defines ART as all the techniques to obtain pregnancy using sperm and oocyte outside the human body and transferring the resulting embryo into a woman’s reproductive system.
2. Regulation of ART clinics and banks: Every ART clinic and bank must be registered under the National Registry of Banks and Clinics of India.
3. Rights of a child born through ART: Child born using ART will be considered biological child of commissioning parents and donor will have no rights over the child.
4. Written Consent: Clinic will have to take written consent from all the parties involved.
5. Offences and penalties: Offences mentioned under ART are
Abandoning and exploitation children.
Selling or buying gametes.
Exploiting commissioning parents or donors.
Transferring human embryos into animals.
The act discriminates against the LGBTQ, same-sex couples and single parents. The act is entirely against Supreme Court’s Navtej Johal judgement.
ART Act and Surrogacy Act doesn’t work in tandem with each other. Both the acts have set up multiple registration bodies while left some of the lacunae unaddressed.
This article deals with ‘Telescopes‘. This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology, which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.
Telescopes in News
in the news wrt India
30 m Telescope ( Hawaii)
National Large Solar Telescope ( Ladakh)
MULTI-APPLICATION SOLAR TELESCOPE (MAST), Udaipur
It has to be noted
that Light Pollution is a severe problem for Astronomers as artificial light
from buildings, street lights, and malls makes it challenging to observe and
study the stars in the sky. Hence,
Telescopes are set up in remote regions (far away from the cities).
After the E-ELT (European Extremely Large Telescope), it is the world’s highest and second largest telescope.
It is located at the Mauna Kea volcano summit in Hawaii (USA).
It is the joint project of India, Japan, the US, China, and Canada with $1.5 billion.
India has financed 10% of the cost and will get proportional time for use.
It observes between near UV to mid-infrared wavelengths and corrects the blur caused by the atmosphere by its adaptive optics system.
controversies are related to this project:-
Mauna Kea is considered sacred by the local Hawaiian people.
It presents a danger to the habitat of the Rare Weiku Bug found there.
The land was given for use essentially rent-free.
2. National Large Solar Telescope
NLST is being built by the Dept. of Science of Technology in Ladakh.
It will be the world’s largest solar telescope.
It can work both day and night.
It will fill the longitude gap between Japan and Europe. Currently, there is no telescope between these regions.
It will help in understanding sunspots. Thus it will help protect satellite communication as sunspots pose a threat to their working.
Why is Ladakh chosen?
Placement at a higher altitude will fundamentally enhance the NLST capacity.
Prolong region of sunshine, clear sky (high visibility).
Low concentration of aerosol and dust particles in the atmosphere.
Lower wind speed.
3. Multi-Application Solar Telescope (MAST), Udaipur Solar Observatory
Purpose and significance
For a detailed study of the Solar activity, including its magnetic field.
The observatory is situated on an island in the middle of Fatehsagar lake.
It is Asia’s biggest telescope.
Why is an observatory made in the middle of the lake?
A large water body surrounding the telescopes decreases the amount of heating of the surface layers.
It reduces the turbulence in the air mass and improves image quality.
4. Growth India Telescope
It is part of a multi-country joint initiative termed the Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen (GROWTH).
The US, UK, India, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Israel are part of this initiative.
Location: Hanle (Ladakh)
It is a fully robotic telescope and can be controlled remotely.
Aim: Study cosmic events happening over relatively small periods of the cosmological timescale.
5. Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA)
ALMA is the joint venture of the USA, Japan, Canada, Taiwan, South Korea, and Chile.
It is at 5000 meters. This place is most suitable as it is free from background noise, and the atmosphere is clean, dry and cool.
It consists of 66 high-precision antennas.
Aim: Explain very old and important astronomical anonymities and search for the origin of the Cosmos.
ALMA is the most powerful telescope used for observing the cold universe in which scientists study molecular gases and dust.
Using ALMA, astronomers have obtained high-resolution images of 20 nearby protoplanetary disks depicting the planet’s birth.
Telescopes in the Space
Astrosat is India’s first dedicated astronomy satellite (like Hubble of West).
It was launched in September 2015.
It can scan multi-wavelengths from ultraviolet to optical and low- and high-energy x-ray bands for studying distant stars, galaxies and other cosmic objects.
It is situated at the height of 650 Km.
It has been of immense benefit to our scientists, who have depended on inputs from other agencies and sources like the Hubble [US-European space telescope].
It has put India in an elite orbit with the US, Europe, Russia and Japan.
2. James Webb Space Telescope
It is the Joint Venture of NASA, ESA & the Canadian Space Agency.
It is the scientific successor of the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes.
The primary mirror of JWST consists of 18 hexagonal mirrors of 1.32 m diameter each (compared to Hubble Telescope with one mirror of 2.4 m diameter). Further, these mirrors are made up of beryllium as it is light and strong and coated with gold to increase the mirror’s reflection.
It will be placed at L2 (Lagrange Point), 930,000 miles from Earth’s surface.
It has become NASA’s flagship infrared observatory. JWST carries four instruments
Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam),
Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec),
Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) and the
Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph
JWST will study the following
Search for the very first galaxies that were formed after Big Bang.
Evolution of the galaxies until now.
Study formation of stars and their evolution in different phases.
Potential to support life in these systems.
Study solar systems, their planets, along with comets, asteroids and minor planets.
It was launched in 2009.
Aim: Survey the Milky Way galaxy region to discover planets in or around the habitable zone (Goldilocks Zone).
It was orbiting the Sun, nearly 156 million km from the Earth.
Kepler is described as the most prolific planet-hunting machine in history. By June 2017, it had discovered more than 4,000 planet candidates and 2,300 confirmed planets.
Nov 2018: NASA’s Kepler space telescope has been retired after running out of fuel.
Side Topic: Goldilocks Zone
Goldilocks region denotes the area at the proper distance from its home star that it is neither at too high temperature nor too cold.
Habitable exoplanets must have such a temperature in which water can exist in its liquid form.
4. Hubble Space Telescope
Hubble Space Telescope was launched in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in 1990 as a joint venture between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).
It used to orbit 550 km above Earth.
Its main payloads include
Wide Field and Planetary Camera (WF/PC),
Goddard High-Resolution Spectrograph (GHRS)
High-Speed Photometer (HSP)
Faint Object Camera (FOC)
Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS).
These scientific payloads have helped uncover many secrets of the universe, including the theory of its expansion.
This article deals with ‘Logistics – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Economics’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.
What is Logistics?
Logistics means managing the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of consumption.
Importance of the Logistics Sector
Sunrise Sector: The Indian logistics sector is valued at $215 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.5% between 2019 and 2025.
Employment: Logistics industry employs 4.5 crores and is growing at the rate of 15%.
The growth of the manufacturing sector depends upon it. E.g., getting raw material, taking final goods to markets etc.
Boosting Indian Exports: China is an export giant because of its highly efficient logistics.
Service Sector: Amazon, Flipkart etc., have become giants due to their efficient logistics.
Increasing Farmer’s Income: An efficient logistic supply chain network has the potential to increase farmers’ income manifold, which can lead to a domino effect on the overall economy.
High Cost: India’s logistics costs are 4-5 times that of developed countries. It makes our products uncompetitive.
Inefficient: Logistics in India is inefficient compared to China. It takes more time to reach a product in the western market—days to send the product to the US – 14 days from China compared to 41 from Delhi.
Regulatory Issues: There are obstacles in land acquisition and consolidation, poor coordination among multiple regulatory agencies and a lack of transparency in compliances.
Warehouse Issues: The inadequate size of the warehouse, difficulty in getting land at the desired location, and the majority of warehouses are not leakproof.
Saturated Transport: Railways and roads have been saturated. The railway is operating at 120% of its capacity leading to delays.
Ports: Large vessels cant enter Indian ports. Hence, Indian cargo is first taken to Colombo or another port & transhipped from there.
Rural market: Logistics industry is least developed to cater to rural areas, which form a large chunk of the Indian market.
Lack of inter-ministerial coordination / Fragmented Policy: It hampers smooth multimodal transport in India.
Shortage of skilled workforce: Non-availability of skilled manpower is attributed to inadequate training and proper leadership and support. There are limited institutes for soft skills and operational and technical training. Also, due to poor working conditions and low pay scale (unorganized nature), it is not a preferred choice among skilled personnel.
Due to these challenges, India’s rank on World Bank’s Logistics
Performance Index is low.
Steps taken by the Government to improve logistics
Infrastructure Lending Status: Logistics sector has been given Infrastructure Lending Status. Due to this, loans for logistics have become eligible for the following benefits.
Logistics projects can get long tenure loans.
Loans will be cheaper (at least 50 basis points)
Such projects will now be eligible to borrow from specialized lenders like IDFC, IIFCL etc., which fund only infrastructure projects.
Attracting investments from debt, pension funds and international lenders (ECBs) into recognized projects.
GSTTax Reforms: The taxation system has become simple and has created a single market.
Dedicated Freight corridors will smoothen the transportation and logistics.
India has signed the Trade Facilitation Agreement of WTO and taken steps to make customs procedures smooth and paperless.
Creation of Logistics Division: The Logistics division in the Department of Commerce has been created. Further, the Logistics division has planned to create an IT backbone and develop a National Logistics Information Portal. This online Logistics marketplace will bring together the various stakeholders on a single platform.
Logistics Ease Across Different States (LEADS) Index: LEADS Index is an attempt to establish the baseline of performance in the logistics sector based on the perception of users and stakeholders at the state level.
Logistic Enhance Efficiency Program: It was launched to manage and develop logistic parks and reduce the cost of logistics.
What more can be done?
Formulation of National Integrated Logistics Policy to bring greater transparency and enhance efficiency
Faster clearances for setting up of logistics infrastructure like Multimodal logistic parks (MMLPs), Container Freight Station (CFS), Air Freight Station (AFS) & Inland Container Depot (ICD)
Promote the introduction of high-end technologies like high-tech scanning equipment, RFID, GPS, EDI, and online Track & Trace systems in the entire logistics network.
Transportation System (IMTS) serves to interconnect different modes of transport – road, rail, air, and
water – seamlessly and therefore improve the efficiency and speed
of goods and passengers movement.
In difficult terrain, Multimodal Transport is better suited. E.g. Kaladan Multimodal Project uses Road, Inland Transportation and Sea.
Ease in the movement of goods => Embedded cost of transportation in goods can be cut down.
The multiplier effect on the economy: They lead to the development of ancillary industries like Steel, Shipbuilding, Railway building etc.
International Relations: Our trade in South East Asia can grow with the development of Multimodal Projects in those areas.
Provides faster transit of goods
Reduces the burden of documentation and formalities
Establishes only one agency to deal with.
Coordination Issues: Different Ministries and agencies, both of Union and state, need to come on a single platform
Land acquisition issues
Maintenance of all the modes of transportation simultaneously is an issue.
Finance Issues: It requires huge investment.
1. PM Gati Shakti
Gati Shakti is a digital platform which connects 16 ministries such as Road,
Shipping, Aviation, Railways, Petroleum, Telecom etc., to ensure holistic
planning and execution of projects.
How will it work?
The platform has 200 layers of geospatial data, such as roads, railways, forests, rivers, state and district boundaries, etc., to aid in planning projects and obtaining rapid clearances.
The Gati Shakti portal will also help the government agencies to track the real-time development of various infrastructural projects from a centralized place.
Address the silos-based approach of infrastructure development by various ministries.
Reduce the logistics cost in India.
2. Multi-Modal Logistics Park (MMLP)
Multi-Modal Logistics Park (MMLP) is a modal freight handling establishment comprising warehouses, dedicated cold chain facilities, freight or container terminals and bulk cargo terminals, which eases and optimizes merchandise movement via road, rail, waterway and air, and consequently, rationalizes the cost of logistics and improves the competitiveness of logistics.
India is developing 35 MMLPs across India over the coming years. The first MMLP will be constructed in Assam at a cost of $407 million.
This article deals with ‘e-Commerce – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Economics’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.
Selling and buying goods using ICT is known as e-Commerce.
E-Commerce Sector is
growing at an incredible pace
e-Commerce sector has generated a multiplier effect
Huge creation of jobs
Reduction of market prices for consumers
Huge investment in logistics and infrastructure
Help Artisans exploit new markets. E.g. Karigar ke Dwar (Flipkart)
Help in promoting tribal art. E.g., Amazon and Trifed signed a contract to sell Indian Tribal Products globally under the brand ‘TRIBES INDIA
Two Models of e-Commerce
There are two models of e-Commerce
1. Market-Based Model
Market-based Model is followed by Amazon & Flipkart, in which the company provides the IT platform to facilitate the transaction between buyer and seller and takes their fees for providing the platform.
FDI Norms: FDI is allowed
2. Inventory-Based Model
In this Model, the seller manufactures and sells its product online—for example, the online store of Samsung, where Samsung sells its phones and other accessories.
FDI Norms: FDI is not allowed
Other way to define
Business to Business
Business to Customer
Need for e-Commerce Policy
Taking Market Based License but then acting as an Inventory based company. E.g., WS Retail, the biggest seller on Flipkart, is owned by Flipkart, and Cloudtail and Appario, which are the biggest sellers on Amazon, are owned by Amazon. Apart from that, Amazon sells its in-house products like Kindle in its marketplace.
A large amount of customer data is under the control of e-commerce companies which can be misused.
Importance of sector due to its revenue and job-creating potential. Hence, it should be properly regulated as any mishap can result in a catastrophe.
Monopolistic market: e-Commerce giants such as Amazon are trying to set up a Monopolistic market by making the brick and mortar stores go out of the market through their policies such as making exclusive deals with mobile companies to sell their phones on their platform only and by giving large discounts.
Silo-based regulation: e-Commerce in India is regulated by the IT Act, Consumer Protection Act etc. The government needs to consolidate it via a comprehensive act.
Draft e-Commerce Policy
FDI: Clearly demarcate a marketplace model & an inventory-based model and encourage FDI in the ‘marketplace’ model alone. (Earlier issue: Companies like Amazon show that they follow Marketplace Model but sell their inhouse products (like Amazon Kindle etc.)
Data: Policy acknowledges data as a ‘national asset’/’societal common’ and seeks to establish a legal & technological framework to restrict the cross-border flow of data generated in India (Earlier issue – Companies take Indian data outside and mine it to target advertisements or sell data about their preferences).
Taxation Issues: The concept of ‘significant economic presence‘ should be adopted for the purpose of taxation. (Earlier issue – Companies like Amazon don’t pay tax, arguing that they are based in Luxemburg).
Infrastructure Development: ‘Infrastructure status’ will be given to digital infrastructure like data centres, server farms for data storage etc.
Small enterprises and start-ups attempting to enter the digital sector can be given ‘infant-industry’ status.
Supply chain disruptions triggered by the pandemic led to a new sub-vertical of the online grocery segment is — Quick Commerce, or q-commerce — where the promise of deliveries within 10-30 minutes of ordering is the unique selling proposition. The focus of most of these ventures is on setting up micro-warehouses located closer to the point of delivery and restricting the stocks at these ‘dark stores’ to a focussed set of under 2,000 high-demand items, as against the traditional formula of well-stocked large-format warehouses located on the outskirts of towns and cities.
This article deals with ‘Inland Waterways– UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Economics’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.
India has one of the longest navigable inland water networks. But out of the total 15,000 kilometres of a navigable river, India is currently using just 2000 km.
West Bengal has the longest navigable length of rivers, followed by Assam and Bihar.
Inland waterways Transport constitutes just 0.5% of the total cargo transport. In China, 47% of goods and passenger traffic is transported through inland waterways. Whereas in India, domestic transport through water is 3.5%, out of which 0.5 % is inland & 3% is coastal.
According to a government study, one litre of fuel moves 24 tons/km on the road, 95 tons/km on rail and 215 tons/km on inland waterways.
Benefits of Inland Waterways
It is cheaper than Road and Railways and costs 1/5th compared to road transport.
The Carbon footprint is also lower than road and rail systems.
Land acquisition requirements are almost negligible compared with roads and railways.
The infrastructure that needs to be developed is minimal.
There is also little scope for transit losses.
It will open up considerable investment in the areas like water-based tourism, dredging of rivers, and operation of terminals generating millions of new jobs.
Dredging: Inland navigation requires a water depth of 3 m & in most of the stretches of Ganga designated as NW1, it is not more than 2 m. Hence, regular dredging and repair are needed.
Variability of water during the lean season impacts the operations.
Oil spills & noise pollution can harm river ecology. E.g., the NW-1 project harming Gangetic dolphins.
Several rivers meander, increasing the distance to be travelled compared to road and rail.
On many rivers, bridges with low vertical clearance impede the passage of bigger vessels.
To be viable, the water transport projects will need to have assured two-way commodity traffic. Bulk goods, like coal, minerals, foodgrain and fertilizer, are usually unidirectional, requiring the vessels to return empty or under-loaded.
National Inland Waterways
National Inland waterway
Allahabad-Haldia stretch of the Ganga- Bhagirathi- Hooghly river system
Sadiya-Dhubri stretch of Brahmaputra river
Kollam-Kottappuram stretch on Champakara canal and Udyogmandal canal
Kakinada-Puducherry stretch of Canals (on Godavari and Krishna and Canals)
Talcher-Dhamra stretch (Brahmani river)
Lakhipur Bhanga on Barak River, Assam
National Waterway Act, 2016
Inland Waterways, Shipping and Navigation, are covered in Entry 24 of the Union list. Hence, Parliament is empowered to legislate on this.
This act repealed all earlier Acts for individual waterways, and 111 National Waterways have been notified under the provisions of this act.
Working National Waterways
National Waterway 1: Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly River System
National Waterway 2: Brahmaputra River
National Waterway 3: Kollam-Kottappuram stretch on Champakara canal and Udyogmandal canal
National Waterway 68: Mandovi
National Waterway 97: Sundarbans Waterways
National Waterway 111: Zuari
Jal Marg Vikas Project
This project aims to develop infrastructure to enable National Waterway 1 for commercial navigation on the Varanasi-Haldia stretch of river Ganga.
In 2018, the Varanasi freight terminal became operational when the cargo ship ‘MV Rabindranath Tagore’ arrived in Varanasi from Kolkata.
Ways to Finance
The government is using the corpus of the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) and Central Roads Fund (CRF) for upgrading the Inland Waterways.
Apart from that, the market borrowing route is also used.
Inland Vessels Bill, 2021
The bill will replace the Inland Vessel Act 1917.
Provisions of the bill include
To operate in inland waters, vessels must have a certificate of survey and registration.
The bill will bring all inland vessels & waterways in India under union government regulation.
Mechanical vessels must have certain equipment and signals to ensure safe navigation.
In case of an SOS signal is sent by the vessel, the nearest vessel must respond to the call and failure to respond can result in a fine of up to Rs. 10,000.
In case of an accident, the nearest police station will hold the jurisdiction for the inquiry.
The Centre will prescribe the rules for the minimum qualification of the crew.
Bodies related to Inland Waterways
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI)
IWAI was created in 1986.
Function: Regulatory body for Inland waterways
Headquartered in Noida.
Central inland Water Transport Corporation Ltd (CIWTC)
CIWTC was incorporated in 1967 by taking over all the assets of the erstwhile River Steam Navigation Co. Ltd.
It regulated the Inland Water Transport between India and Bangladesh.
This article deals with ‘Shipping– UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Economics’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.
Shipping is the world’s most efficient means of transportation.
In India, the sector works under the Ministry of Shipping.
In Schedule 6 of the Indian Constitution, Port development in India is a concurrent subject. Hence
Major ports are regulated by the central government
Non-major ports are regulated by state governments
(including Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep)
– There are 12 Major Ports in India (6 West + 6 East) – These ports handle around 60% of traffic
– There are more than 180 minor ports in India. – These handle 40% of traffic. – But presently, with the entry of private players (like Adani Group), these are witnessing tremendous growth.
India is ranked number one in shipbreaking. (Alang in Gujarat is the biggest in the world)
Cochin Shipyard Limited is the largest shipyard in India.
As of September 2019, India has a fleet of 1,419 ships (one of the largest among developing countries)
Note: Indian International Trade by volume and value carried by ships
Ports of India
According to India
Yearbook & Sagarmala Concept Paper, India has 12 Major Ports.
Major ports on the West Coast
1. Mumbai (Maharashtra)
It is situated in Maharashtra and is one of India’s most important major ports.
2. Jawahar Nehru Port, Nhava Shewa (Maharashtra)
It was commissioned in 1989 to ease pressure on Mumbai port.
3. Kandla (Gujarat)
Kandla is a tidal port which was developed in the 1950s because Karachi port was lost due to partition.
It was the first Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in India and Asia.
4. Mormugao (Goa)
Mormugao is a tidal port situated at Zuvari estuary
It is important for iron-ore export.
5. New Mangalore (Karnataka)
It is a deep water all-weather port.
It was operationalized in 1975.
6. Cochin/Kochi (Kerala)
It is situated on Willingdon Island.
Major ports on the East Coast
7. Haldia | Kolkata (West Bengal)
It is the only major RIVERINE port in India.
Haldia port is the oldest major port of India.
It has twin dock systems viz., Kolkata Dock System (KDS) on the eastern bank and Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) on the western bank of river Hooghly.
Port needs constant dredging to keep depth.
8. Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh)
Vishakhapatnam port is situated in Andhra Pradesh.
9. Paradeep (Odisha)
It is situated on a manmade lagoon.
JL Nehru laid its foundation in 1962 at a point where Mahanadi meet the Bay of Bengal
10. Tuticorin (Tamil Nadu)
It is a major port situated in Tamil Nadu.
11. Chennai (Tamil Nadu)
Port of Chennai is an all-weather port situated in Chennai.
12. Ennore (Tamil Nadu)
It is a private major port made under the companies Act
(Newly proposed) Enayam Port (Tamil Nadu)
The proposal to establish Enayam port was accepted in 2016.
Currently, around 78% of the marine traffic from ports of India is trans-shipped to Colombo, Singapore and Klang (Malaysia), as most of the Indian ports don’t have a draught (depth of water needed for a ship to float) to match global cargo handling. Enayam will solve this problem. The Enayam port has a natural deep draught of about 20 meters which makes it feasible for the largest vessels in the world.
But this port is very close to Vizhinjam (Transhipment) Port of Adani’s in Kerala.
Private Ports by Adani Group & others
In recent years, there has been an attempt to increase the country’s port capacity, but the real successes have been in the private sector, mainly by the Adani Group.
Sikka & Mundra port of Adani Group in Gujarat has overtaken Kandla to become the country’s largest.
Dhamra (in Odisha) of Adani Group has become as big as Haldia.
Adani will become the champ of the country’s port business once he builds the deep-water port at Vizhinjam in Kerala, designed to take some of the transhipment traffic away from Colombo.
Meanwhile, Krishnapatnam port on the southern Andhra coast is being developed by local entrepreneurs, andclaims to handle as much traffic as the long-established Chennai.
Side Topic: Dry Ports
They are inland terminals, directly connected to a seaport by rail or road, which provide similar services as that of a seaport, such as handling, temporary storage, inspection and customs clearance for international freight etc.
They are beneficial as they reduce the seaports’ capacity constraints and, simultaneously, develop the hinterland.
Problems of Indian shipping
Colombo can handle
more container traffic than all of India’s ports put together — with 75% of that being transhipment of containers
from India because India’s ports are too shallow to accommodate big container
Problems related to Ports
India doesn’t have world-class ports. Third-generation ships can’t enter Indian harbours & as a result, goods are offloaded in Sri Lanka & sent to India via smaller ships.
Port charges are high as compared to other developing nations.
Poor mechanization and manual handling of critical processes. E.g. in Paradip port.
A dual institutional structure has led to the development of Major and Minor ports as individual projects.
Ports in India are operating on the “Trust Model”, where the government is the owner and operator of the port.
Procedural bottlenecks as there is a lot of paperwork to load -unload cargo.
Poor performance of Government ports: It takes up to four times as long to fill or unload a cargo ship at Jawaharlal Nehru Port than at a private rival due to lower mechanization and unskilled labour.
Lack of Evacuation from Ports
There is inadequate road & rail connectivity to ports.
Fleet = Ageing + Low number
Ageing fleet: There is an urgent need to replace our ageing ships with new ones.
Indian ships account for a tiny part of the country’s trade, i.e. about 15%, compared to the international norm of 40%.
India has no civilian shipyards to compare with the world’s best. The two or three private ones that look to build commercial vessels are deep in debt and short of orders; most Indian ship-owners prefer to look to foreign yards because of better quality and assurance on delivery schedules.
Low Penetration of Inland and Coastal Shipping
Coastal and inland shipping hasn’t developed in India due to limited facilities, higher costs and policy constraints.
In short, India’s
maritime business needs a booster shot.
What govt is doing to boost Maritime Sector
The government is taking various steps to boost the Indian Maritime Sector, which includes
Maritime India Summit
National Waterways Bill
Enayam Deep Sea Transhipment Port
Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)
Major Port Authorities Bill
Projects regarding Shipping Ministry
1. Sagarmala Project
Sagarmala is an initiative for port-led development whereby India’s coastline will become the gateway to India’s prosperity.
Port Modernisation: It aims to transform existing ports into world-class ports by modernization of port infrastructure and existing systems & developing 6 to 8 new world-class ports
Efficient Evacuation Systems / Port Connectivity: Develop efficient rail, road and inland waterway networks connecting ports to the hinterland.
Coastal Economic Development: Encourage coastal economic activity in coastal regions by:
Development of Coastal Economic Zones (CEZ), port-based SEZs etc. 14 CEZs are to be made under Sagarmala.
Promotion of coastal tourism.
Coastal Community Development: This will be achieved via
Uplifting fishermen and other local communities
Sagarmala could boost India’s merchandise exports to $110
billion by 2025 and create an estimated 1
crore new jobs.
2. Sethu Samudaram
The project aims to create a shipping canal connecting Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar.
It will reduce time and fuel consumption.
But it has been struck because of opposition on account of religious sentiments about Ram Setu and the threat it poses to marine biodiversity.
Major Port Authorities (MPA) Act, 2020
It has replaced the Major Port Trust Act of 1963.
The composition of the Board of Authority has been simplified, and it will now comprise 11-13 members instead of the earlier 17-19 members.
Each port will have a separate Board of Major Port Authority members from the State Government, Railways Ministry, Defence Ministry, Customs Department etc.
Model of Ports
Under the earlier Act: Ports used to operate on the “Trust Model”, where the government is the owner and operator of the port.
Under MPA Act: Ports operate onthe ‘Landlord-Tenant Model’ where Major Port Authority will be the owner and regulator.
Earlier, Ports’ user fees were decided by National Tariff Authority for Major Ports. In the MPA, the Board of Major Port Authority will set up Committees to determine their user fees.
The Board of Port Authority has been given full powers to enter into contracts, plan and develop except in national interest, security and emergency arising from inaction.