e-Governance (UPSC Notes)

Last Updated: June 2023 (e-Governance (UPSC Notes))

e-Governance (UPSC Notes)

This article deals with the ‘e-Governance (UPSC Notes).’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ series, which is an important pillar of the GS-2 syllabus respectively. For more articles, you can click here.


e-Governance (UPSC Notes)

It is of the following forms 

Government to Citizens (G2C)

E.g., e-District, Pravahan etc.
Government to Government (G2G) E.g., Pragati, e-Samiksha etc.
Government to Business (G2B) E.g., e-Procurement, GSTN etc.

Note: e-Governance is not just using Apps or Websites for the purpose of Governance (as people assume it commonly). In fact, it covers the use of a whole range of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools.

Models of e-Governance

US Prof Arie Halachmi gave 5 models of e-Governance

Models of e-Governance

1. Broadcasting

  • Use of Information and Communication Technology & Media to disseminate/broadcast governance info that is already present in paper form.
  • For example, Broadcasting Laws, Rules, Judgements, result-mark sheets on the internet.

2. Critical Flow

  • Only critical information is released using ICT to the targeted audience (like weather forecasts or crop prices to farmers)

3. Comparative Analysis

  • Benchmark parameters are created (like IMR, MMR, Life expectancy etc.) & then Regional parameters at District, State & National levels are measured and compared with the benchmark parameters 

4. e-Advocacy Model

  • Place the opinion of eminent persons or the opinion of the public collected through surveys on an online forum & try to change public opinion on certain laws or policy stances. 

5. Interactive Services

  • It is a 2-way channel that is used to provide public services online. 
  • For example E-Payment of Taxes, Electricity Bills etc.  

Benefits/Potential of e-Governance

  1. Accessibility and Convenience: e-Governance makes government services accessible to citizens and saves them from visiting government offices physically. For instance, citizens can digitally apply for driving licenses and vehicle registrations using the “Parivahan” portal (by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways). 
  2. Transparency and Accountability: e-Governance promotes transparency and accountability by making the information accessible to the public. E.g., the Right to Information (RTI) Act has a provision for digitizing documents, thus promoting transparency and increasing accountability.
  3. Efficiency and Cost Savings: e-Governance helps streamline administrative processes, leading to faster service delivery. E.g. Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of subsidies into the bank accounts of beneficiaries. It decreases the leakages and also reduces the cost of transfers. 
  4. Increased Citizen Engagement: e-Governance promotes citizen engagement in governance through processes such as citizen feedback and surveys. E.g., MyGov enables citizens to provide feedback and suggestion on various government initiatives.
  5. Financial inclusion: e-Governance initiatives such as Direct Benefit Transfers and UPI have helped in increasing financial inclusion in India.  
  6. Data-driven Decision Making: e-Governance initiatives generate enormous data which can be utilized for data-driven, evidence-based decision making. E.g., National Health Stack (NHS) will integrate health data from different sources to create a comprehensive health information system enabling the government to make data-driven decisions to promote health services in India.

National e-Governance Plan (NeGP)

  • NeGP is the joint initiative of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) and the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG).
  • It was started in 2006.
  • The NeGP comprises 31 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) and 10 components.
  • It aims at improving the delivery of government services to citizens and businesses with the vision of making Govt. services accessible to the common person through common service delivery outlets and ensuring transparency, reliability and efficiency of services at affordable costs.
  • Some of the Mission Mode Projects implemented under NeGP include
    1. e-District: Aimed to digitize the delivery of services at the district level, like issuance of certificates, licenses, and permits.
    2. National Land Records Modernization Program (NLRMP): To computerize land records 
    3. National Citizen Database: Create a comprehensive database of citizens, including demographic and biometric information 
    4. e-Procurement: Digitize government procurement processes 
    5. Common Service Centers (CSCs): Physical centres at the village level equipped with computers and internet connectivity to provide access to several government services to citizens. 
    6. State Wide Area Networks (SWANs): To establish robust and secure communication networks across states to connect government departments, enabling them to share data and information seamlessly with each other.
    7. State Data Centers (SDCs): Centralized repositories for storing and managing government data. 

ICT Initiatives in Governance

G2G or Government to Government Initiatives

1. National e-Vidhan Application

It is a mission-mode project to make the functioning of State Legislatures paperless.  

It is a Software suite of

  • Public website
  • Secure website (for members)
  • Mobile apps 

that fully automate the functioning of the legislative assembly  

What will be done?

  • No papers in the House: All replies to questions, copies of bills and reports will be provided online
  • MLAs will use touch-screen devices.  
  • Government departments will communicate with Vidhan Sabha online to send replies to approved questions.
  • The government will cut down expenditures incurred on the use of paper and other overheads. 
  • Common people will also get access to important documents and videos. They can also ask questions from the MLAs and MPs.

2. PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation)

  • AimTimely implementation of government programs (especially in infrastructure, worth trillions of rupees.)
  • The PMO, Union Government Secretaries, and State Chief Secretaries constitute the PRAGATI application, and hence it is a three-tier system.
  • PM holds monthly meetings with Secretaries of the Union government and Chief Secretaries of all state governments to scan the progress of projects under implementation. Meetings are held through video conference. 

3. e-Samiksha

  • e-Samiksha is an online monitoring and compliance mechanism developed by the Cabinet Secretariat.  
  • It is used for tracking the progress of projects & policy initiatives by the cabinet secretary and PM on a real-time basis.

4. UPaAI System

  • UPaAI (Unified Planning and Analysis Interface), or ‘solution’ in English, provides an integrated platform for data on infrastructure and social indices for each constituency to the MP and helps them take better decisions related to MPLAD funds and other Central Schemes. 
  • It is monitored by PMO too. 
  • In the next phase, it will be extended to include state schemes and bring district magistrates and members of legislative assemblies on the same platform. 

5. e-Office

  • NIC has developed an e-Office application to transform the traditional functioning of government departments
  • It has functions like 
    • Unified Internal Messaging  
    • E-Files: To make digital files and share them with others
    • E-Financial Management
    • Knowledge Management System providing essential documents and files accessible at any place

G2C or Government to Citizen Initiaves

1. e-District

  • e-District digitize the delivery of services at the district level, like issuance of certificates, licenses, and permits through Common Service Centers (CSCs)

2. Digilocker

  • It is a cloud-based application that allows people to store and access their documents digitally.
  • Citizens can store their documents digitally and also shares them with government agencies and other organizations.

3. Pravahan

  • It is an initiative of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
  • Pravahan allows citizens to digitally apply for and renew their driving licenses and vehicle registrations


  • UMANG is a mobile app that provides access to various government services like passport services, income tax filing, and utility bill payments through a single platform.  

5. e-Ticketing

An initiative of Indian Railways which allows passengers to book tickets, check seat availability, and make payments electronically. 

6. MyGov

  • MyGov is an online citizen engagement platform that allows citizens to participate in policy-making and Governance through their suggestions and feedback on various government initiatives and programs.

G2B or Government to Business Initiatives

1. MCA21

  • Ministry of Corporate Affairs 21, or MCA21, allows electronic filing as well as retrieval of documents such as company registration and compliance certifications.

2. e-Biz Portal

  • It is a unified platform for various regulatory clearances and permits.
  • It has simplified the process of starting and operating businesses.

3. Government e-Marketplace (GeM)

  • GeM helps to ensure that public procurement of goods and services is carried out through the online platform. 
  • It promotes transparency & eliminates corruption. 
  • Helpful in easy auditing because it will leave an audit trail.

4. Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN)

  • GSTN is the technology platform that is the backbone of the GST regime. 
  • It handles the registration under GST, filing and payment of GST, handling complex system of GST credits etc. 

5. e-NAM


6. Indiastack

  • IndiaStack is a collection of open APIs and digital public goods. 
  • API or Application Programming Interface allows two applications to interact with each other. 
  • IndiaStack includes APIs of Aadhaar, Unified Payment Interface (UPI), DigiLocker, Aarogya Setu, eSanjeevani, UMANG, DIKSHA, etc. 
  • Software makers can use these APIs in their software to utilize their functionality. E.g., UPI API is used by Banking Applications of various banks.


  • e-Governance is seen more as computerization & office automation rather than as a means to transform citizens from passive to active participants in Governance.   
  • Digital Divide: According to INDIA INEQUALITY REPORT 2022 by Oxfam, there is a huge digital divide in India. For instance, 61% of men-owned mobiles in contrast to 31% of women  
  • Funding for these programs is short in comparison to the huge ambitions we have placed on these schemes. 
  • Privacy & No Data Protection Law (Legal Vacuum): Aadhar information & other records are to be used, but there is no law to ensure privacy. 
  • The quality of local content is not good. Most portals aren’t user-friendly.  
  • No special programs to make the public aware of these programs.  
  • A status-quo attitude of the government departments: Despite a push for e-governance initiatives, many government departments continue insisting upon physical forms and signatures. 


According to Kentaro Toyama, formerly Microsoft India’s CEO, IT intervention has a limited impact on developmental outcomes when political will is absent. It is because technology can only be the ‘force multiplier’; it is not the force itself. The positive intent must originate in politics and motivate the bureaucracy to deliver on its mandate.

The Gupta Empire

Last Update: June 2023 (The Gupta Empire)

The Gupta Empire

This article deals with ‘The Gupta Empire ’ . This is part of our series on ‘Ancient History’ which is an important pillar of GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


Numerous small kingdoms rose and collapsed after the fall of the Mauryan empire. Finally, the Gupta Dynasty became a major political force and successfully brought about the political unity of much of the Indian subcontinent between 300 and 700 CE. 

Sources for Gupta Period

1. Inscriptions

  • Stone & Copper Plate Inscriptions: Imperial Guptas & contemporary dynasties like Vakatakas, Kadambas & Hunas issued various stone and copper plate inscriptions providing useful information about the polity, economy and society of the region. 
  • Prasastis: E.g., Allahabad Prasasti describes the personality and achievements of Emperor Samudragupta in 33 lines composed by Harisena and engraved in Sanskrit & Nagari script.
  • Royal Land Grant Charters: Provides information about administrative structure & agrarian relations 

2. Coins & Seals

Guptas issued a large number of gold coins called Dinaras, which have the name of kings, metrical legends & images of deities on them.

Coins & Seals of the Guptas

3. Literature

  • During this period, Sanskrit entirely replaced Prakrit as the court language.
  • Epics & major Puranas were given final shape during this period. 
  • Smritis belonging to this time include
    1. Narada Smriti
    2. Vishnu Smriti
    3. Brihaspati Smriti 
    4. Katyayana Smriti
  • Kamandaka’s Nitisara: Written during Gupta Age, it is a work on polity addressed to King (like Arthashastra during Mauryas).  

Other Books

Kamasutra Written by Vātsyāyana
Amarakosha (a lexicon) Sanskrit lexicon compiled by the ancient Indian scholar Amarasimha
Devi Chandragupta Drama written by Visakhadatta
Silapadikaram & Manimekalai Source of South Indian History

4. Mrichchhakatikam

  • Sudraka wrote Mrichchhakatikam (the clay cart). 
  • It is a social drama. The story follows the love affair between Charudatta, a poor Brahmin, and Vasantasena, a wealthy courtesan, involving political intrigues and social satire.
  • Characters in the drama were drawn from all strata of society- thieves, gamblers, rogues, police constables, politicians etc.
  • It shows various aspects of city life during the Gupta period.

5. Buddhist Accounts- Faxian

  • From the 3rd to 8th century, many Chinese monks travelled to India – to collect Buddhist texts, visit Buddhist pilgrimages etc. 
  • Three primary records have survived in entirety – Faxian, Xuanzang & Yijang.
  • Many Indian monks also travelled to China, but their accounts haven’t survived.

Faxian or Fa-Hien

  • Faxian travelled to India during the period 399 – 411 AD.
  • He wrote an account of his travels in a book titled ‘Gaoseng Faxian Zhaun’ (Record of Buddhist Kingdoms).
  • Although his book didn’t mention who was the reigning King (who must be Chandragupta II), it contained several observations about the life of people (some erroneous and others useful). 

About Political System

  • Faxian tells about a region south of Mathura called the Middle Kingdom (Malwa)
    • The region was a stronghold of Brahmanism. 
    • The government was efficient & people were happy. 
    • People don’t have to register their households. 
  • Only those who cultivate royal land have to pay a portion of their grain as tax.
  • King ruled without corporal punishments. Criminals were simply fined high or low. Even in case of repeated attempts at rebellion, only their right hands were cut off. 
  • Kings, elders & gentry build shrines and gave lands.  
  • Royal officers were paid fixed salaries.  

About Social Life

  • People didn’t kill any living creature nor drink intoxicating liquor, except Chandalas. 
  • Chandalas lived separately, and their contact was considered polluting. 
  • Numerous charitable institutions were built by wealthy people. For example
    • shelter for travellers and wandering monks     
    • free hospitals for poor patients, & cripples 
  • He didn’t comment on SATI. Sati was commented upon by travellers like Ibn Battuta, Bernier etc. It may be considered that it was not practised on a larger scale.  

About Religion & Religious life

  • Rooms with beds & mattresses, food and cloth were provided to residents and travelling monks. Monks only spend their time in meditation & reciting scriptures.
  • Pagodas were built in honour of Sariputta & Ananda.   
  • Pious families made offerings to monks. Kings endowed Monasteries with fields, gardens & cattle. 
  • During the months after the rain rest, the pious collect a united offering for the priesthood and priests, in turn, hold a great assembly and preach the law.

About Towns and Cities

  • Faxian was impressed by the city of Pataliputra & also by  Ashoka Palace with its various halls, which according to him, were built by spirits. It shows Ashoka’s palace was still in existence.  
  • Faxian saw two monasteries, one occupied by followers of the Mahayana school & other by Hinayana. Faxian spent three years studying Sanskrit there. 
  • Faxian tells about 
    • The city of Gaya, which was empty and desolate. 
    • The holy places of Bodhgaya were surrounded by jungle
    • Only 200 families lived in Sravasti.

The above instances show signs of Urban decay in some places.

Using Faxian’s Accounts as a Source

  • The main aim of pilgrims like Faxian was to provide Buddhists in China an opportunity to visualise places connected to Buddha’s life. Hence, references to details concerning the lifestyle of Indians are few & cursory.
  • Faxian present an idyllic & idealised picture of society in the 5th century. Many things written about taxes and punishment were incorrect. Faxian wrote some observations because he wanted Chinese rulers to follow those things in China. 

6. Western Accounts

  • Examples of Western accounts include Cosmas Indicopleustes, a Christian Topography written in the 6th century.     
  • The author was a merchant who travelled India before becoming a monk.
  • The book mentions Christians in India & Sri Lanka and well developed Horse Trade. 

7. Archaeological Sources

  • Gupta sites like Purana Qila, Ahichchhatra, Basarh, Bhita & Kaveripattinam provide essential data to reconstruct the history of that period.

Debate: Origin of Guptas

Different scholars suggest different ancestry of the Guptas.


  • The suffix ‘Gupta’ in their name suggests the Vaishya lineage of the Guptas. 


  • Guptas had a matrimonial alliance with Lichchhavis & Nagas (both Kshatriyas)
  • Further, the marriage of Prabhavati Gupta with Brahmin Vakatakas falls within the Dharmashastra norm of Anuloma marriage. 


  • The marriage of the Brahmin Kadamba family with the Gupta kings points towards the fact that Guptas were Brahmins.
  • Inscription of Prabhavatigupta describes herself as belonging to Dharana gotra. Since Vakatakas were Vishnuvriddha, Dharana was the gotra of the Gupta dynasty. 

Gupta Rulers

1. Srigupta

  • Srigupta founded the Gupta Dynasty.

2. Ghatokacha

  • Ghatokacha succeeded Srigupta.

3. Chandragupta I

  • Chandragupta I was the first independent Gupta King with the title Maharajadhiraja. 
  • He increased his power with the help of a matrimonial alliance with the Lichchhavis (known through coins => Chandragupta & Kumaradevi were engraved on the coin with the legend Lichchhavayah (i.e. the Lichchhavis).)
Chandragupta I coins
  • Chandragupta I started a new era from 319-320 A.D known as Gupta Era. 

4. Samudragupta

The primary source of Information about Samudragupta’s reign is Prayaga Prasasti, composed by Harisena (who was an important official). Samudragupta is described as Lichchhavi Dauhitra in the Prayaga Prasasti. 

The Kacha Controversy

The coins with the name KACHA have generated controversy. 

  • Kacha’s coins are similar to that of Samudragupta’s coins. But the name Kacha does not appear in official lists of Gupta rulers. 

Various interpretations have been provided regarding this. 

  • 1st Interpretation: Samudragupta’s brothers revolted & placed Kacha, the eldest brother, on the throne. But Kacha died in the war. 
  • 2nd Interpretation: Samudragupta issued these coins in memory of his brother. 
  • 3rd Interpretation: Kacha was the initial name of Samudragupta. The name ‘Samudragupta’ was adopted after the conquest of the South.

Expansion & Consolidation

The Gupta Empire
  • Samudragupta was a great conqueror like Mahapadmananda & Chandragupta Maurya and aimed at the political unification of India.
  • He followed an aggressive and multifaceted expansion policy consisting of
    1. Battles & Wars 
    2. Matrimonial Alliances
  • From Allahabad Pillar, we get the following information about the expansion.

Campaigns in Aryavarta

  • According to Prayaga Prasasti, Samudragupta undertook 12 campaigns in Aryavarta. 

Campaigns in South

  • Prayagaprashasti mentions 12 rulers from Dakshinapatha or south India who were defeated by Samudragupta, like Hastivarman of Vengi (in the Krishna-Godavari delta).
  • According to Prayaga Prasasti, Samudragupta treated the Dakshinapatha rulers favourably by first capturing them (grahana) and then releasing them (moksha). Samudragupta realised the practical problem of controlling the southern rulers. Hence, defeated rulers were allowed to rule in return for acknowledging their suzerainty & periodic tributes.

Self Surrender by other rulers

  • Other rulers pleased him by self-surrender, offering (their own) daughters in marriage & accepting the suzerainty of Samudragupta. Later Kushanas, Sakas and the ruler of Sri Lanka were included in this category.

Control over Oversea Colonies

  • It is possible that Samudragupta exercised some control over the Hindu colonies in the Malay Peninsula, Java, and Sumatra (hence, the name Samudragupta)

He celebrated all his victories with the performance of Ashvamedha Yajana. 

Side Topic: Allahabad Prasasti 

  • Allahabad Prasasti was composed by Harisena consisting of 33 lines inscribed on the pre-existing Ashokan pillar.  
  • He used highly sophisticated ornate Sanskrit, suggesting it was meant for elite consumption.
  • Samudragupta emerges as RESTLESS CONQUEROR in Prasasti. It tells about the expansion of the Gupta Empire by Samudragupta (as mentioned above – 12 wins in Aryavarta & 12 in Dakshinapatha) 
  • Curiously, he chose a pillar carrying the Pillar Edicts of Ashoka, suggesting either that he was claiming some historical continuity or, if earlier inscriptions could be read, taking a contrary stand to the views of Ashoka. Although the Mauryan king controlled far more territory, yet was modest in his claims to power.  
  • But Samudragupta’s military successes were just one aspect of Harisena’s portrait of the King. He is described as 
    • An able, compassionate ruler concerned with the welfare of his subjects 
    • He is described as having put to shame the Brihaspati with his sharp intellect and Tumburu & Narada with musical performances.
    • Kaviraja (King among poets ), whose poetry surpassed the glory of genius poets 

Coins of Samudragupta

  • The coins of Samudragupta represent him in various poses suggesting his prowess & martial skills. These include 
    1. Archer-type Coin: Holding bow in one & arrow in the other hand 
    2. Tiger-slayer-type Coin: Trampling & killing a tiger  
    3. Lyricist-type Coin  
  • Ashvamedha/Yupa Type of coins suggests that he performed Ashvamedha Yajanas proclaiming suzerainty over large areas.  
  • Legends on Samudragupta’s coins include various epithets such as
    • Parakramah (brave)
    • Ashvamedha – Parakramah (performer of Ashvamedha) 
    • Vyagra – Parakramah (brave as tiger)  
Coins of Samudragupta

5. Chandragupta II / Chandragupta Vikramaditya

Sources for Chandragupta II

  • King Chandra’s exploits are mentioned in Mehrauli Iron Pillar Inscription (currently situated in the Qutab-Minar complex). Chandra is believed to be Chandragupta 2
  • He is identified as the hero of Kalidasa’s Raghuvamasa.  
  • Account of Fa-Hien (Faxian)  (although he did not mention the name of the king, which without a doubt was Chandragupta II) 
  • Coins like the Lion Slayer Type Coin of Chandragupta II.
Chandragupta II / Chandragupta Vikramaditya coins

Ramagupta Controversy

Gupta inscriptions mention Chandragupta II as Samudragupta’s successor, but based on literary sources, some copper coins and inscriptions, the successor was Samudragupta’s other son Ramagupta. 

  • Visakhadatta’s drama Devi Chandraguptam mentions that Chandragupta-II killed his elder brother Ramagupta because Ramagupta was facing defeat by Sakas and agreed to surrender his wife (Queen Dhruvadevi) to Saka king. Hence, he killed Ramagupta & married Dhruvadevi.
  • Sanjan Plates of Rashtrakuta king Amoghavarsha I  also narrate the above story. 
  • The same story was enumerated in the Persian work by Abdul Hussain Ali in 1226.  

But there is much criticism of this theory as this tradition found its way from the 9th century with no evidence before that.

  • It is hard to agree that the ruler of the mighty Gupta Empire was so weak that Sakas defeated him in such a way that he had to surrender his wife. The code of honour of the Guptas was much higher than even later Hindus when women performed Johar. Hence, it is suggested that Rama Gupta was a local ruler who was subjugated by the Saka King of Ujjain. That Saka king was killed by Chandragupta II. There is nothing to show that Rama Gupta was the elder brother of Chandragupta II   
  • According to Romila Thapar, the heroic tenor of the story may have been an attempt to hide an unsavoury event of killing his brother, which is often the case in courtly literature

It is rightly pointed out that while the story of Rama Gupta can’t be dismissed as a figment of imagination, we can’t also accept it as a historical fact. 

Matrimonial Alliances 

  • Matrimonial alliances with the Nagas: Chandragupta II married Princess Kuberanaga. 
  • Chandragupta II married his daughter Prabhavati to Vakataka ruler Rudrasena II.

Sakas Subjugated

He defeated the Saka king Rudrasimha-III and annexed his kingdom ending Saka Kshatrapa rule. Conquest is proven by

  • No Saka coins were minted after this period 
  • Guptas started minting Saka-type silver coins for this region => just the symbol changed; the rest remaining the same

Title of Vikramaditya

  • Chandragupta II took the title of Vikramaditya/’ sun of prowess’ and has therefore been linked with the legendary king of that name, associated with a strong sense of justice. 

6. Kumargupta  I

  • Kumaragupta I succeeded his father, Chandragupta II. 
  • He performed Ashvamedha Yajana. 
  • The primary source of information include coins, inscriptions & literary sources. 
    • His coins have representations of Kartikeya.
    • Mandsor Stone Inscription (436 A.D.) mentions Kumaragupta as ruler of the whole earth.

Hunas Invasion started

Towards the last years of his reign, they faced a foreign invasion of Ye-Tha/ Hepthalites (White Huns), which was checked by the efforts of his son Skandagupta. 

7. Skandagupta

Skandagupta was the last powerful Gupta monarch.

Hunas weakened the Gupta Empire

  • Huna invasions intensified during Skandagupta’s reign. Although he successfully threw them back, wars adversely affected the economy, as shown by the deterioration of gold coinage (coins had less gold than earlier coins).

Junagarh Inscription

  • During Skandagupta’s reign, Sudarsana Lake (built initially during the Maurya period) burst due to excessive rains. Hence, governor Pranadatta got it repaired. It indicates that the state undertook the task of public works.

Later Gupta Rulers

  • Skandagupta might not have been the rightful heir to the Gupta throne and therefore had to fight with other contenders (a seal inscription traces a line of Gupta rulers after Kumaragupta-I to his son Purugupta and not Skandagupta)
  • Guptas continued to rule till about 550 A.D., but by then, their power had already become very insignificant. 

Administration under Guptas

  • Guptas followed the policy of administrative decentralization. Defeated rulers were subjugated but were not incorporated. They were allowed to function independently in return for tribute.
  • But in areas under direct Gupta control, there was an elaborate administrative system  

Role of King

  • King remained a central figure in the whole administrative setup and embodiment of all powers. The Gupta ruler was the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, the Supreme Judge, and the owner of all land. 
  • Kings were projected as divine. For instance, Samudragupta is considered equal to Kubera, Varuna, Indra etc., in Allahabad Prasasti.
  • But in practice, the Gupta kings were not absolute despots. Various checks in the form of Brahmins, Vassals, Corporate bodies and Shastras were present. 

Council of Ministers

  • Allahabad Prasasti refers to the Sabha or Council of Ministers. But Inscriptions are not clear about the hierarchy of ministers.  
  • King used to consult his Ministers having various designations like Mantrin, Amatya, Kumaramatya etc.
  • Kumaramatya seems to be eminent among Amatyas & equivalent in status to princes of royal blood.  
  • Minister’s office was perhaps hereditary. E.g., Composer of Allahabad Prasasti, Harisena, a Mahadandanayaka was the son of Mahadandanayaka. 

Gupta Army

  • There must be an enormous army organization to control such a vast empire.
  • Gupta Kings maintained a standing army that was supplemented by the Army of Vassals
  • During Gupta times, Cavalry rose to prominence & Archery became important.
  • King was de-jure head of the Army. But a minister called ‘Sandhi-Vigrahika’ (Minister of Peace and War) was in charge of the Army. A group of high officials helped him.
Pilupati Head of Elephants
Asvapati Head of Horses
Narapati Head of Footsoldiers
  • Ranabhandagarika‘ or ‘Incharge of Stores‘ looked after the needs of soldiers. 

Other Officials

Elaborate & methodical bureaucratic structure was absent due to the presence of 

  • Feudatories 
  • Involvement of professional bodies in administration (explained later in article)
  • The state was indifferent towards the regulation of economic activities.

But important Officials were present. 

Justice Department

  • Although supreme judicial powers were vested in the King, Mahadandanayaka acted as the Chief Justice and he also assisted the King in delivering justice. 
  • In Provinces, Uparikas and in Districts, Vishayapatis were responsible for dispensing the justice. 
  • In villages, headman and village elders used to decide the petty cases. 
  • Further, Chinese traveller Fa-Hien stated that capital punishment was not given at all. 


  • Maha-Pratihara was the chief of the palace guards.
  • He regulated ceremonies and granted the necessary permits for admission to the royal presence. 

Espionage system

  • In Gupta Empire, there was an elaborate Espionage System (which was a continuation of the earlier period)


  • Land grant inscriptions often mention Dutakas 
  • Dutakas were probably associated with the task of land grants to Brahmanas and others.

Governance in Provinces

  • The Gupta Empire was divided into Rashtras (provinces), which were further divided into Vishayas (Districts) 
  • Rashtras were governed by Uparikas/Kumaraamtyas directly appointed by the King.

Governance in Districts

  • Vishayas were administered by an official called Vishayapatis. They were appointed by the Provincial governor. 
  • Some districts were also governed by Samantas/Feudatories. 
  • Pustapalas-officials whose work was to manage and keep records
  • Representation of Major Local Bodies was an essential aspect of district administration. Heads of Local Bodies were taken in District Council. These include 
    • Nagarsethi (Head of City Merchants)
    • Sarthavaha (Representative of Guild of Merchants)
    • Pratham Kayastha (Head of Scribes)
    • Pratham Kulika (head of artisan community)

Village Governance

  • During village governance, the villages assumed greater autonomy. 
  • Headman, called Gramapati or Gramadhayaksha, managed affairs with the help of elders (called Gramavriddhas)

Urban Governance

  • Representation of Local Bodies was the characteristic feature of Urban Governance.
  • Each city had a council consisting of 
    • Nagarsethi 
    • Sarthavaha  
    • Prathama Kulika 
    • Prathama Kayastha  
  • This council was different than described by Megasthenes 
    • In Maurya Empire, Members of the City Council were appointed by the government 
    • In Gupta Empire, the council consisted of local representatives, among whom commercial interests often predominated

Economy under Guptas

1. Agriculture during Gupta Empire

Agriculture Expansion

  • Agriculture expansion continued during Gupta Empire. Forest lands were cleared & brought under cultivation. 
  • But there was a difference between Mauryas and Guptas in Agriculture Expansion.
    • Mauryas:  Agriculture expansion was through State intervention
    • Guptas: Gupta Kings gave land grants to individuals who were expected to act as catalysts 
  • Using Land Grants, Peripheral areas could be brought into the agrarian economy. Initial grants tended not to be in the Ganges heartland but in the regions beyond. (Although the granting of land was at first marginal, by about the eighth century AD, it had expanded)

Agriculture Taxes

Agriculture taxes were the main financial source of the Gupta Empire. But there is a problem in interpreting the precise meaning of some of the fiscal terms. 

Main agricultural taxes during the Gupta period included

Bhaga Bhaga was the King’s grain share. According to Narada Smriti, it was 1/6th of agricultural produce. But 1/6th seems to be a conventional figure. 
Bhoga It was the supplies of fruit, timber, flowers etc. that villagers were obliged to give to King.
Kara Kara was the generic term used for taxes 
Upari-Kara The tax imposed on farmers without any proprietary rights  
Udranga The exact meaning of tax is uncertain. It might be police tax levied for maintenance of the local police station
Hiranya Hiranya is the king’s share in agricultural produce in cash 


  • Various types of waterworks used for irrigation, like wells, canals, tanks & embankments, are mentioned in texts. 
  • The role of the state in building & maintaining some of these is indicated in Junahgarh inscriptions.
  • Ghati Yantra / Araghatta was the method to draw water from wells for irrigation (tie a number of pots (= ghati) to a chain and rotate the chain to ensure that the pots would continuously fill with water and empty it.)

Royal Land Grants

  • Agrahara/Brahmadeya System started during this period. It means donation of revenue-free plots in favour of Brahmans or religious institutions (Temples, Buddhist Vihara or Jaina Monastery) by the royal class or ordinary people under Copper Plate charters with Royal Consent (.ie generally made by the ruling class but can also be made by ordinary people with royal consent)
  • The earliest inscription recording land grants & privileges were Naneghat & Nashik (by Satavahanas and Sakas). Imperial Guptas were not big donors. Only one inscription recording land grant, i.e. Bhitari Pillar inscription of Skandagupta in favour of Vishnu temple. But Vakatakas were great donees of land to Brahmanas. A total of 35 villages were donated & greatest during the reign of Parvasena II (he made 20 land grants). 
  • Later, there was an increase in the 4th century as by then the number of ruling families had vastly increased. 

2. Crafts and Guilds during Gupta Age

Craft production , Guilds & Trade

There are abundant inscriptions & seals mentioning artisans, merchants & guilds, which suggest thriving urban craft.

Crafts prevalent during Gupta Age were

Metal Works

  • Metalworking is listed in Kamasutra as one of 64 kalas (arts).
  • Mehrauli Pillar (of Chandra Gupta II) reflects a high level of metallurgical skill.  
  • Sultanganj Buddha was also crafted during this period.

Textile Works

  • Amarakosha mentions several words connected with cotton textile. 
  • Ajanta paintings depict elaborate garments.


  • Guilds were a feature of the Indian economy since early times & continued to be so in the Gupta age as well. 
  • Guilds were also responsible for City Administration (explained above)
  • Guilds in the Gupta period issued their hundis and probably even coins. It might be one reason why the Gupta rulers didn’t issue copper coins. 
  • Guilds had their seals & military arrangements for protecting their merchandise. 

3. Trade

The security offered by the strong Gupta Rule facilitated the easy movement of men and merchandise. Faxian was very much impressed by the freedom of movement.

Internal Trade

  • Internal trade was carried on by both land and rivers.
  • The state arranged security for travellers and traders. 
  • The campaigns of Samudra Gupta improved the means of communication, which facilitated trade.
  • There were references to Nauyoga (a boat parking station) in inscriptions from Bihar & Bengal, suggesting riverine transportation of goods.  

External Trade

  • Red Sea trade declined due to the fall of the Roman Empire. But there was simultaneous activation of the Persian Sea trade route due to impetus provided by the Byzantine and Sassanid Empires.
  • Cosmos, in his accounts, mentions various ports on the western coast like Calliena (Kalyan), Sibor (Chaul) etc.
  • Faxian refers to the port of Tamralipti in Bengal. 
  • Overland routes present too used by Caravan Traders. 
  • Silk Trade with China continued. Kalidasa refers to rich people wearing garments made of Chinamshuka. 
  • There was an appreciable rise in the import of horses (as in Gupta Army, the importance of the Cavalry was high), coming overland from Iran and Bactria & from Arabia by sea to the western coast.  

4. Money Economy

  • RS Sharma has argued that Gupta & Post-Gupta periods saw a decline in the money economy because Gupta issued many gold coins but comparatively few Silver & Copper coins.  
  • Most of the Gupta rulers issued only gold coins. Chandragupta II issued silver coins for the first time & copper coins were first issued by Kumaragupta. As pointed out earlier, the reason for not issuing copper coins might be copper coins were issued by Guilds. 
  • Money lending was present. Narada Smriti mentions that person will be born as a slave in the house of his creditor to pay off the debt.  

Urban Decay Debate

There is a debate among historians that the historic towns & cities that had developed during the second phase of Indian Urbanization between the 6th Century BC and 4th Century AD appeared to have lost their vitality & importance from the Gupta period. It was a phase of Urban Decay and village sufficiency. 

The main proponent of this theory is RS Sharma. He gave the following reasons to back his proposition 

  • Archaeological evidence point towards urban decline. 
  • A gloomy prophecy made in Varahamihira’s Brihatsamhita that various towns will fall on evil days, Valmiki Ramayana’s description of Ayodhya after Rama’s exile, & picture of the city’s desolation in Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsha
  • Faxian’s account depicting the desolation of Bodhgaya, Gaya, Kusinagara etc 

The main role played in this was the fall of the Roman Empire and the subsequent decline in long-distance trade  

But there are counterarguments.

  • Historians are divided, arguing that the volume of Roman Trade was never so great as imagined by early historians  
  • Red Sea trade declined due to the fall of the Roman Empire, but there was simultaneous activation of the Persian sea trade route due to impetus by the Byzantine and Sassanid Empires.
  • Mrichchhakatika gives a vivid description of heroine Vasantasena’s magnificent house in Ujjayini & magnificent city life
  • Descriptions of the wealthy, educated, and sophisticated man referred to in the Kamasutra  

Conclusion: Some of the earlier cities, like Ujjain, Mathura, and Varanasi, showed signs of decay and less revenue generation. But other cities were coming up. Trade was changing its dimension. Hence, some cities showed decay, but to take their place and to make good the loss due to them, other cities came up 

Social Aspects

1. Varna System

  • Varna distinctions became very pronounced. For instance, people belonging to different castes were charged different rates of interest. 
  • Varna system was considerably modified due to various economic and political factors. For instance,
    • Kshatriya caste swelled up with the influx of Hunas & Gurjars. (Kshatriyastion of various castes)
    • The number of Shudras increased due to the absorption of forest tribes in Varna society as Peasants. (Peasantisation of Tribes)
    • The proliferation of Jatis:  Guilds of craftsmen were transformed into Jatis.
  • But it is evident from the inscriptions of this period that some degree of mobility among jatis was accepted. For instance, the guild of silk weavers moved from Lata in western India to Mandasor (Madhya Pradesh) when they could no longer maintain themselves through the production of silk. Some of them adopted professions of a higher caste than their original ones, such as archers, soldiers, bards and scholars. Despite the change of profession, loyalty to the original guild remained for at least one generation. Being sun-worshippers, they financed the building of a temple to Surya & mentioned in an inscription dated to AD 436. 

2. Position of Women

The position of women declined. According to Smritis and Inscriptions

  • Girls were not allowed to perform ‘Upanayana Samskara’ & pursue Vedic Studies. 
  • Early marriage for women, i.e. marriage before puberty, was recommended
  • Intercaste marriage was disapproved  
  • Women were denied any right to the property except Stridhana
  • Women were considered property which could be lent or loaned to any other person at the pleasure of her husband.
  •  A widow should lead celibate & austere lifeBrihaspati Smriti offers an alternative that she burns herself on her husband’s funeral pyre   (the first inscription mentioning Sati belongs to this period, dated 510 AD from MP) 

But Sources present different pictures wrt Royal women

  • Royal women are visible on coins & seals. For instancethe King & Queen type of coins of Chandragupta I & Kumaradevi
  • Matrimonial alliances were an important part of politics. Gupta, Vakatakas, Nagas etc used it
  • Some royal household women took the initiative in gift-giving. Prabhavati Gupta made grants in her own right 
  • Kamasutra suggests polygyny was also prevalent among the royal & non- royal elite.

Ganikas & Prostitutes

  • Kamasutra mention Ganikas (i.e. prostitute of nobles). Ganika was admired & celebrated for her beauty, but at the same time, due to fact that anyone for money could buy her sexual favours meant that she could never hope to attain social respectability 
  • The position of the ordinary prostitute was miserable as she was devoid of the glamour & wealth associated with Ganika. 
  • Epitome of Ganika is Vasantasena in Mricchakatikam

3. Slavery

  • Narada Smriti has a detailed discussion on slavery & mentions 15 types of slaves, including war captives, debt enslavement & voluntary enslavement
  • A child born of a woman slave in a master’s house was considered a slave as well
  • Slaves can be pledged or mortgaged   
  • The ceremony of manumission is mentioned in Smritis, with which the master could free slaves. 

4. Untouchability

  • The practice of untouchability became more intense  
  • According to Faxian – Chandalas had to live outside the towns & marketplaces and were expected to strike pieces of timber when they approached so that others could get out of their way to avoid their presence. 

Reasons for the disintegration of the Gupta Empire

Huna Attacks 

  • Huna attacks started during Kumaragupta’s reign but were repulsed at that time.
  • However, by the end of the 5th century A.D., Huna chief Toramana established his authority over large parts of Central and western India, further extended by his son Mihirakula. The continuous Huna attacks shook the Gupta Empire. 

Administrative weaknesses/ Samanta System

  • Gupta rulers allowed the defeated rulers to rule once they accepted the suzerainty of the Guptas. When Gupta Empire weakened, the subdued Local Rulers asserted their independence. 

Land Grants 

  • It has been argued that the Guptas issued land grants to the Brahamana donees and surrendered the revenue and administrative rights in favour of the donees.

Gupta Period: Golden Age of Ancient India-Reality or Myth ?

Nationalist historians called this age as Golden Age (i.e. age when every manifestation of life reaches a peak of excellence). They tried to prove this using political centralisation, high-quality literature, sculpture & architecture. Apart from the elite, ordinary people were materially well off, with little to complain about. 

Arguments in favour 

  • Foreign rule was completely removed, and peace and prosperity prevailed (According to HC Raychaudary)
  •  The enlightened character of the government, i.e. taxes were light, punishment mild, etc. (according to Faxian accounts) 
  • Revival of Hinduism, but all other religions were tolerant.
  • The use of Sanskrit developed, and art and literature flourished during the period
  • Great personalities like Kalidasa, Amarsimha, Dhanavantri, Ayabhatta, Varahamihira etc., lived during this period
  • Temple forms and cave architecture of the highest merit developed.

But in the 1960s & 70s, Marxist Historians refuted this claim. They studied the socio-economic structures and concluded that the main features of feudalism were present, which intensified in subsequent centuries.

Arguments against

  • Existence of too many feudatories
  • Absence of a large Central Bureaucracy 
  • Development of Feudal elements (like Increasing land grants, Serfdom, Sub infeudation etc.) 
  • Decline in trade   
  • Decline of urban centres 
  •  Increasing Varna distinction and social disorder.
  •  The decline in the status of women.

Lithium (UPSC Notes India)

Lithium (UPSC Notes India)

This article deals with ‘Lithium (UPSC Notes India).’ This is part of our series on ‘Geography’, which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


  • Lithium is the lightest solid metal. 
  • It is mainly produced from hard rock or brine mines.
  • Major Lithium Ores include
    1. Spodumene: Primary source of Lithium which contains high concentrations of Lithium (between 3% to 7.6%)
    2. Petalite: Another important Lithium ore.
Lithium Reserves - Properties and Applications

Use of Lithium

Lithium Batteries

  • Lithium Batteries or Lithium-ion Batteries is the primary use of Lithium due to their use in electric vehicles, smartphones, tablets, laptops etc. Lithium-ion batteries are popular as they have high energy density, long lifespan, and lightweight nature.
Lithium (UPSC Notes India)

Other Minor Uses

  • Heat-resistant glass and ceramics
  • Lithium Grease Lubricants: These can withstand high temperatures
  • Flux additives for iron, steel and aluminium production
  • Optics
  • Thermonuclear Weapons
  • Coolant in Nuclear Processes: Lithium has the highest specific heat capacity of all the solids
  • Fuel for Rocket Propellants: Complex hydrides of Lithium such as Li[AlH4] 

Global Distribution

  • Australia: It is the world’s biggest supplier, which produces it from hard rock mines. 
  • Lithium Triangle: The Lithium Triangle consists of Lithium rich region in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.
    1. Chile: It is the second-largest producer of Lithium. Salar de Atacama is very rich in Lithium.
    2. Argentina: It is found in the salt flats of Salinas Grandes and Hombre Muerto.
    3. Bolivia: It is found in the brine deposits of Salar de Uyuni.
  • China: China’s Tibet, Qinghai, and Sichuan are rich in Lithium.
  • Canada: In Canada, Quebec is rich in Lithium.
  • United States: Nevada, North Carolina, and California have Lithium deposits.
Lithium- Global Distribution

Indian Distribution of Lithium

  • In India, the first traces of Lithium were discovered in the ancient igneous rock of Karnataka’s Mandya district. 
  • Apart from that, Lithium reserves are also found in 
    1. Jammu and Kashmir
    2. Karnataka 
    3. Jharkhand
  • But currently, India imports all its lithium needs from other countries.

Steps taken by Indian Government

  • National Mission on Transformative Mobility: To encourage domestic Lithium-Ion Cell manufacturing and EV components. 
  • ISRO and BHEL Agreement: To develop low-cost lithium-ion batteries. 
  • India’s first lithium cell plant manufacturing facility will be launched in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. 
  • Strengthening relationship with Lithium Triangle Nations: India is focusing on ‘Lithium Triangle’ nations Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.

Cement Industry in India

Last Updated: June 2023 (Cement Industry in India)

Cement Industry in India

This article deals with the ‘Cement Industry in India.’ This is part of our series on ‘Geography’, which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


Cement Industry in India

Raw Materials Required

Raw Materials required in the Cement industry are

  • Limestone: 60-65%
  • Silica: 20-25%
  • Alumina: 5-12%
  • Slag from Steel plant 
  • Slag from Fertiliser plant 
  • Sea Shells

Location Factors of the Cement Industry

Availability of Raw Materials

  • Limestone, clay, and gypsum are used in huge quantities in cement manufacturing. As a result, the cement industry is situated close to the raw resources. That’s why cement plants such as Ultratech Cement and Ambuja Cement are situated in Rajasthan (rich in limestone).

Infrastructure and Transportation

  • The cement thus produced needs to be transported to the market. As cement is a heavy and bulky material, a well-developed network of roads, railways or ports (for exports) is required. 

Power Availability

  • Cement manufacturing is an energy-intensive industry. Hence, the cement industry is located in regions with an adequate and cheap energy supply like coal, hydroelectricity, or renewable energy. 

Water Availability

  • An ample water supply is required to manufacture cement for processes such as cooling. Hence, cement plants are situated near water sources, like rivers or lakes.

Government Policies

  • Government policies and regulations can also influence the location of cement industries. Environmental regulations, tax benefits and subsidies can encourage or discourage the establishment of cement plants in that region.

Environmental Factors

  • Air Pollution Regulations can affect the location of the cement industry. Since Cement is a polluting industry, it is not situated in states with strict air pollution requirements. 

Geological Considerations

  • Geological factors, especially the quality and composition of limestone deposits, can influence the location decisions of cement plants. 

Major Cement Producers

Major Cement Producers

Major industrial houses in the Cement Industry in India include 

  • UltraTech Cement
  • ACC Limited (Headquartered in Mumbai)
  • Ambuja Cement (Mainly Gujarat based)
  • Shree Cement (Beawar (Rajasthan) based)
  • Ramco Cement (Chennai based)
  • Dalmia Bharat Cement (Tamil Nadu based)
  • JK Cement

New Opportunities for the Cement Industries 

  • The Ministry of Transport has decided to build concrete cement roads instead of traditional bitumen roads as cement roads are cost-effective & require less maintenance.
  • Rapid urbanization and infrastructure development have increased the demand for Cement in India.
  • Government programs like “Housing for All” have increased the cement demand in India.
  • India is exporting cement to its neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan, as well as to markets in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

E-Technology in the Aid of Farmers

Last Updated: June 2023 (E-Technology in the Aid of Farmers)

E-Technology in the Aid of Farmers

This article deals with ‘E-Technology in the Aid of Farmers.’ 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 E-Technology in the Aid of Farmers?

E-Technology in the Aid of Farmers

Need for Digitization in the Agriculture Sector

  1. Increase Agricultural Productivity: Farmers lack access to high-quality agricultural inputs, farm machinery and other allied equipment, which leads to low agricultural productivity or low-quality crops. E-Technology can help farmers to remove this. 
  2. Strengthening Agricultural Ecosystem: Agriculture’s contribution to India’s GDP has decreased from 34% in 1983 to 17% in 2018 due to inherent inefficiencies in the agricultural ecosystem. Innovations such as satellites, sensors, data analytics, and improved means of connectivity can help farmers face myriad challenges, such as access to markets, information, inputs, expert advice, etc.  
  3. Informed decision-making: The application of information technology can support farmers in making intelligent decisions based on concrete data. It also enables individuals to get specialized solutions and granular information of direct use rather than a general policy overview that the centre or state government publishes. 
  4. Digitization of Land Records: It can empower farmers, especially tenant farmers, sharecroppers, oral lessees and landless labourers, by improving transparency in accessing institutional credit and enhancing overall ease of doing business in the Agri-sector. 
  5. Accessible Financial Services: Agritech can facilitate credit facilities for input procurement and equipment acquisition and offer crop insurance. Such services can help the agricultural sector to overcome several roadblocks, such as limited access to capital.

1. Information Dissemination

E-Technology can help farmers by providing them with marker prices, weather forecasts, farming techniques, crop diseases, and best farming practices. For example

  1. Mobile Applications: Mobile Applications such as e-Mausam Krishi Seva, PUSA Krishi App, Cropin, AgriApp, and Kisan Suvidha are developed to provide information related to market prices of various crops, weather forecasts, diseases etc., to farmers in personalized form using their location and crop preference information. 
  2. SMS ServicesmKRISHI and mKISAN are SMS-based platforms that provide weather updates, market prices, Crop management tips, market prices, and expert advice to the farmers via SMS. 
  3. Farmer Helplines: Toll-free helpline services such as Kisan Helpline (of Union Ministry of Agriculture) and Kisan Call Center (of Tamil Nadu government) connect farmers with agricultural experts who can provide information to farmers on various aspects such as farming best practices, new farming techniques etc.

2. Online Marketplaces

E-Tech platforms help farmers sell their produce at better prices, know realtime prices, and streamline logistics.  

  • Agri-Marketplaces: E-Technology platforms such as AgriBazaar, eNAM (National Agriculture Market), and BigHaat help in connecting farmers with buyers by providing a digital marketplace for trading. 
  • Price Comparison: Websites and Applications such as AgMarkNet provide farmers with realtime price information for different agricultural commodities across other markets. 
  • Logistics and Delivery: E-technology platforms such as Ninjacart, Jumbotail, and BigBasket offer last-mile delivery services to ensure that agricultural produce reaches the final customers promptly and efficiently.

3. Access to Financial Tools

E-technology helps farmers to access credit, insurance, subsidies and payment transfers efficiently. For example

  • Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT): Using DBT, subsidies and welfare payments can be transferred directly to the bank account of the farmers, thus reducing corruption and delays.
  • The Kisan Suvidha Portal is a comprehensive portal where farmers can access financial, insurance, agro-marketing etc., options available to Indian farmers.
Kisan Suvidha Portal
  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has provided a platform to make convenient and secure transactions even in rural areas. Now, farmers can receive their payments directly into their bank accounts.

4. Farmer Education and Training

Online platforms provide information regarding modern agricultural practices, livestock management, organic farming, and agro-entrepreneurship. For example

  • Websites like e-Pashuhaat, e-Krishi Yantra (of the Madhya Pradesh government), and e-Extension (of the Tamil Nadu government) provide information on improved farming practices. 
  • Platforms like TAFE e-Dost provide online courses and learning materials to farmers regarding innovative farming techniques.  
  • Videos are shared through YouTube channels like Apni Kheti and Indian Farmer.  

5. Use of Sensors, Drones and Satellites

IoT devices like sensors, drones, and smart irrigation systems are used on farms to monitor temperature, crop health, soil moisture, and temperature in realtime. For example

  • Smart Agriculture Systems: IoT devices monitor soil moisture levels, temperature, and weather conditions in realtime. It helps farmers to optimize the use of fertilizers, pesticides and water, which transfers to higher profits. 
  • Crop Monitoring: IoT devices, with the help of data from sensors, drones, and satellites, provide realtime data on crop growth, health, and growth patterns. 
Crop Monitoring in E-Technology in the Aid of Farmers
  • Livestock Monitoring: IoT devices such as GPS trackers, wearable sensors and temperature monitors track livestock’s location, health and behaviour.  
Livestock  Tracking to improve productivity
  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY): PMFBY aims to assess the damage to crops for insurance purposes through GPS-aided mobile images, satellite and drone imagery. It has improved accuracy and compensation.
Using Satellites in Satellites, Drones and Phones in Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana
  • AI Sowing App: Microsoft has developed this application in collab with International Crops Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT). AI Sowing App sends advisory to farmers about the optimal date of seeds-owing.
  • KISAN RAJA Mobile Motor Controller: The working is explained in the figure below.
KISAN Raja and E-Technology in the Aid of Farmers


  • Non-availability of Suitable Digital products: Digitization efforts often suffer from poor product design, inappropriate technology for a rural context and inadequate understanding of the needs of key agriculture stakeholders. For instance, most digital products operate in English or Hindi and do not offer services in other local languages. 
  • Digital Divide: Smartphone penetration is very low in rural India (25% in 2018), and internet access is limited—rural broadband penetration was a mere 29% in 2020.  
  • Limited funding for Private AgTechs: High-risk perception among investors, long gestation period, climate risk, lack of leverage etc., make it difficult for Technological Startups involved in Agriculture (AgTech).  
  • Limited availability of agri-data and access to it: Companies working in the AgTech sector find it difficult to access reliable agri-data owned by the government. Also, only a few states have digitized land records. 
  • Concerns related to sharing farmers’ data with private companies: Without proper safeguards, private entities could exploit farmers’ data to whatever extent they wish, which can lead to the commodification of agriculture and farmer data.  

Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

This article deals with ‘Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here.

How is Policy Made?

Policy Making involves various stages 

  • Problem Definition: In this stage, policymakers identify and define a particular issue or problem that requires attention and action from the government. 
  • Agenda Setting: Once a problem has been defined, it should be placed on the political agenda for consideration and action. Agenda setting involves determining which issues receive attention and priority from policymakers. This stage often involves debates, lobbying, advocacy efforts, and the formulation of policy proposals.
  • Policy Development: In this stage, policymakers and relevant stakeholders work together to formulate potential policy solutions or approaches to address the identified problem. 
  • Implementation: Once a policy has been developed, it needs to be put into action. Implementation involves the actual execution of the policy, including the allocation of resources, the establishment of procedures and guidelines, the coordination of various stakeholders, and the enforcement of regulations. 
  • Policy Evaluation: After a policy has been implemented, evaluating its effectiveness and impact is essential. Evaluation can involve collecting and analyzing data, conducting research, measuring key indicators, and soliciting feedback from stakeholders and affected communities. The findings from policy evaluation provide valuable insights for policymakers to determine if adjustments, modifications, or alternative approaches are necessary to improve the policy or address any shortcomings.
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Different Types of Policy Implementations

Policy implementation is the fourth stage of the Policy cycle in which adopted policies are put into effect. 

Different Types of Policy Implementation

Policy Implementation 1.0

  • It is the ability to deliver a standard product or carry out a standard procedure across the country. 
  • It can work well when one size fits all— the same dose of the same polio vaccine, the same procedure for voting, the same identity card etc. 
  • India has already proved its mettle in this area. For example – conducting the world’s largest election, ADHAAR project, 100% coverage of UIP (Universal Immunization Program), etc. 

Policy Implementation 2.0

  • In addition to carrying out the standard procedure, it also entails a change in behaviour. This policy implementation depends not solely on administrative actions but also on fostering behavioural change among the target population.  
  • The best example is the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign). Here, the challenge was not limited to the construction of toilets and infrastructure; it also required a fundamental shift in societal norms and individual behaviours related to sanitation.

Policy Implementation 3.0

  • It requires coherence amongst many policies, coordination among many agencies, and cooperation of many stakeholders. The successful execution of a policy often relies on its alignment and integration with other related policies to ensure a comprehensive and harmonized approach to addressing societal challenges.  
  • For example, the Industrial Policy of 1991 requires Policy 3.0 competencies. Implementing the Industrial Policy of 1991 necessitated a comprehensive approach that considered the interconnectedness of various policies, ensuring their compatibility and coherence to drive economic growth and development.

Why is there bad policy formulation, design & implementation? 

Excessive fragmentation in thinking and action

When multiple departments or ministries are responsible for addressing different aspects of a particular sector, it can lead to challenges such as lack of coordination, conflicting objectives, and duplication of efforts. For example, 

  • Five departments/Ministries in India deal with the transport sector, whereas in the US and UK, it is a part of one department. 
  • Environmental protection in India involves multiple ministries and departments, including the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, and the Ministry of Power.

Excessive Overlap between Policymaking and Implementation

  • Those who formulate are themselves involved in implementation. Hence status-quo or a minimum amount of changes are presented in the new policy. E.g., In the education sector, policymakers who formulate education policies often include officials from the Ministry of Education and other relevant government bodies. However, these policymakers are also responsible for implementing the policies they create. This overlap can result in limited innovation and transformative changes in the education system. 

Lack of Non-governmental Inputs and Informed Debates

  • In India, policymakers exclude or marginalize inputs from non-governmental actors, such as NGOs and civil society organizations. Hence, the resulting policies may fail to adequately address the needs, perspectives, and concerns of the affected communities. For example, in the formulation of public health programs, the exclusion of NGOs working with marginalized communities can result in policies that inadequately address their specific health challenges. 

Lack of Evidence-based Research

In India, the policies are often developed without a robust foundation of empirical data, analysis, and research, leading to suboptimal outcomes. E.g.,

  • Implementing the National Health Insurance Scheme (Ayushman Bharat) faced challenges due to a lack of evidence-based research. While the intent was to provide health coverage to economically vulnerable populations, the design and implementation of the scheme encountered issues related to inadequate infrastructure, limited healthcare provider networks, and low awareness among beneficiaries. Insufficient research on existing healthcare systems, demand patterns, and cost projections hindered the effectiveness of policy implementation and limited the scheme’s impact.

Politically Motivated policies

Politically motivated policies can lead to inadequate policy formulation, flawed design, and suboptimal implementation in India. These policies are driven primarily by political considerations, such as electoral gains or appeasing specific interest groups, rather than being based on sound evidence, expert advice, or the long-term welfare of the nation. E.g., 

  • Agriculture Sector: The introduction of populist measures like loan waivers and high minimum support prices (MSP) for crops, without considering market dynamics or fiscal sustainability, can distort market forces, create inefficiencies, and burden the government finances. 
  • Education Sector: The introduction of reservation quotas in educational institutions based solely on political calculations rather than the principles of merit and equal opportunity can undermine the quality of education and compromise the overall academic environment. 
  • Infrastructure Sector: Projects driven by electoral considerations rather than economic viability can result in poor planning, cost overruns, delays, and inadequate infrastructure quality. 

Centralized Policy Making

Centralized policy making, which follows a one-size-fits-all approach, can lead to challenges in policy formulation, design, and implementation in India. This approach overlooks the diversity of contexts, needs, and challenges across the country’s different regions, sectors, and communities. E.g.,

  • uniform Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops across the country does not account for variations in production costs, market dynamics, and local demands, leading to unequal benefits and discontent among farmers.
  • Centralized educational policies, such as uniform curriculum frameworks or standardized assessments, may not align with the specific needs and aspirations of students and communities in different states or regions. 

Insufficient Capacity and Expertise

Effective policy formulation and implementation require skilled personnel, adequate resources, and institutional capacity. Limited technical expertise and a lack of capacity-building initiatives can impede the implementation of policies. For example

  • Implementing the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system in schools faced challenges due to a lack of trained teachers, resulting in inconsistent implementation and ambiguity in assessment practices.
  •  Implementation of Crop Insurance Schemes has faced difficulties due to limited awareness among farmers, inadequate risk assessment capabilities, and challenges in timely claim settlements.
  • Implementation of pollution control measures in industrial sectors has been hampered by limited expertise in monitoring and enforcement.

Complex Procedures

  • Complex procedures in policy implementation can hinder the participation of individuals, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. 
  • According to a World Bank report, when schemes are designed with intricate procedures that require poor individuals to visit offices, fill out forms, and navigate complex rules, their participation decreases significantly, often to as low as 10%. However, when these schemes are revamped and local officials, such as Asha workers or postmen, go door-to-door to implement them, participation increases substantially, reaching as high as 70%.

Fear of Unknown

  • The fear of the unknown, particularly prevalent among individuals with limited resources, can contribute to challenges in policy formulation, design, and implementation in India. This fear stems from the constant worry about potential financial loss and the inability to absorb setbacks.
  • Due to their precarious financial situations, individuals with limited resources may prioritize immediate gratification over long-term investment. Individuals with limited resources may not show significant interest in schemes designed to promote financial inclusion. Despite the potential long-term benefits of financial inclusion, immediate concerns and the need for immediate gratification take precedence for these individuals.
  • Programs focused on skill development and vocational training may struggle to attract individuals from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The fear of investing time and resources in acquiring new skills without a guaranteed immediate return on investment can discourage participation, hindering the effectiveness of such initiatives.
  • Addressing the fear of the unknown and aligning policies with immediate needs and concerns can contribute to better policy formulation, design, and implementation in sectors aiming to uplift the economically disadvantaged population.

Social Dynamics and Obligations

Policies must be formulated and implemented while keeping in mind the social dynamics and obligations that influence the behaviour and decision-making of the poor. When policies are formulated, designed, and implemented without considering these factors, they might not work. E.g., 

  • In rural India, where agriculture is a predominant occupation, poor farmers often face pressures to conform to social expectations. It can influence their cropping decisions and practices. For instance, if a farmer chooses to cultivate a crop that differs from what their neighbours or relatives cultivate, they may face the risk of crop theft or vandalism. 
  • Microfinance plays a crucial role in providing financial services to the poor, especially in rural India. However, some poor individuals may take microfinance loans not necessarily because of their dire need for cash but to signal their relatives and neighbours that they do not have spare money. This stems from the social obligation to help others in times of need, even if it means taking on debt. If policymakers fail to recognize this underlying motivation, it can lead to misinterpretation of the actual financial needs of the poor and the effectiveness of microfinance interventions. 

How to Address these issues?

  • Enhanced Interdepartmental Coordination: Establish mechanisms and platforms for improved coordination and communication among the relevant departments and ministries. This can include regular meetings, joint task forces, and the sharing of information and resources. 
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Consultation: Involve relevant stakeholders, such as civil society organizations, industry representatives, and affected communities, in the policymaking and implementation processes. Their perspectives and expertise can contribute to more comprehensive and balanced decision-making.
  • Separation of Roles: One approach is to establish a clear separation between policymakers and implementers. Policymakers should primarily focus on formulating effective and innovative policies, while implementers should be responsible for executing those policies. 
  • Enhancing Stakeholder Engagement: Policymakers should actively engage and involve non-governmental actors, including NGOs and civil society organizations, in the policymaking process. This can be achieved through regular consultations, open dialogues, and structured platforms for meaningful participation. 
  • Strengthen Research Infrastructure: Invest in building robust research infrastructure, including research institutions, think tanks, and universities, equipped with the necessary resources, expertise, and technology to conduct empirical studies. This will facilitate the generation of reliable data and evidence to inform policy decisions.
  • Decentralization and Regional Autonomy: Introducing decentralization in policymaking allows for greater regional autonomy and decision-making power at the local or state level. This enables policies to be tailored to the specific needs, contexts, and challenges of different regions. 
  • Enhance Training and Capacity Building: Implement training programs and capacity-building initiatives to equip personnel involved in policy implementation with the necessary skills and knowledge. This could involve conducting workshops, seminars, and specialized training sessions to enhance technical expertise and understanding of policy objectives. 
  • Simplify Procedures: This can include reducing paperwork, eliminating unnecessary bureaucratic steps, and streamlining the application process. By making procedures more straightforward and user-friendly, individuals are more likely to participate.
  • Societal Understanding: Policymakers need to develop a comprehensive understanding of the social dynamics and cultural norms that shape the behaviour and decision-making of the target population. It requires conducting thorough research, engaging with local communities, and consulting experts or social scientists who possess knowledge of the specific context. By gaining insights into the social pressures, expectations, and obligations faced by the poor, policymakers can design policies that align with these realities.

Child Sexual Abuse in India

Last Updated: May 2023 (Child Sexual Abuse in India)

Child Sexual Abuse in India

This article deals with ‘Child Sexual Abuse in India . This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Child Sexual Abuse

Child Sexual Abuse 
Children's involvement in a sexual 
activity that they (according to WHO) 
don't fully comprehend 
can't give informed consent to 
violates societal laws and taboos
  • 1.07 Lakh cases of Child Sexual Abuse in 2016 (NCRB data) 
  • (In)famous Example: the Bombay Orphanage Case ( 2011), where there was sexual abuse of young boys.

Causes of Child Sexual Abuse

Causes of Sexual Abuse
  • Poverty: In slums, children are most vulnerable to sexual abuse. 
  • Unregulated web content: Porn is freely available.
  • Psychological reason: The person involved in these types of crimes has a history of sexual violence & generally, the culprit is once a victim of the same crime
  • Cultural Norms and Taboos: cultural norms and taboos in India reinforce gender inequality, resulting in the stigmatization of survivors. Hence, these incidents are not reported.
  • Lack of Sex Education: Sex Education is considered taboo in India. Hence, there is a lack of awareness about consent in healthy sexual relationships. 
  • The emergence of nuclear and dual-carrier families
  • Weak Justice System: In India, laws such as POCSO Act exist. But due to a weak justice system, there is inadequate enforcement of laws.
  • Lack of sanitization facilities within the home 

Measure to Control Child Sexual Abuse in India

1. Constitutional Measures

  • Article 23: Prohibition of traffic in human beings, begar & other similar forms of forced labour.

2. Legal Measures

2.1 POCSO (Prevention of Children against Sexual Offence) Act, 2012

  • POCSO defines a child as a person below 18 years.
  • Section 7 defines sexual assault of a child as “whoever, with sexual intent, touches the vagina, penis, anus, or breast of such person.”
  • POCSO is gender-neutral law (the safety of both boys and girls is covered). 
  • It has widened the ambit of sexual abuse. It includes touch as well as non-touch behaviour. 
  • The act is non-bailable, cognizable and non-compoundable. 
  • For Penetrative Sexual Assault, the burden of proof is shifted on the accused. 
  • It has the provision of special courts, special public prosecutors and in-camera trials.
  • The media is barred from disclosing the identity of the child.  

2.2. Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018

Section 376 of IPC has been amended with the following provisions.

  • The minimum punishment for the offence of rape has been increased 10 years (from 7 years). 
  • The rape of a woman below 16 years has been made punishable for life.
  • The rape of women below 12 years has been made punishable with imprisonment for life or death.
  • The time limit of the investigation has been reduced to two months and six months for the disposal of cases.

2.3 CrPC (Amendment) Act, 2013

  • The age of consent for sex increased from 16 to 18.

2.4 IT Act, 2000

  • IT Act deals with the issue of pornography affecting children. Section 67 B states that browsing, publishing or transmitting any content which involves children in sexual activity is a criminal offence (5 years in jail).

3. Conventions

3.1 United Nations Convention on Rights of Child (UNCRC)

  • It prohibits the use of children for sexual purposes.

4. NGOs

Various NGOs work in this regard

  1. Child Rights and You
  2. Bachpan Bachao Andolan 

5. Schemes

  • Aarambh Initiative: To curb sexual abuse of children through the internet and remove child pornographic content.
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
  • Operation Muskaan: It aims to rehabilitate the missing children.

Diversity of India

Last Update: May 2023 (Diversity of India)

Diversity of India

This article deals with ‘Diversity of India’. This is part of our series on ‘Society’ which is an important pillar of the GS-1 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


Diversity is a prominent and defining characteristic of India. India’s diversity is often celebrated and acknowledged as a source of pride, showcasing the country’s pluralistic and inclusive character. 

Diversities in Indian Society

Diversities in Indian Society

India has a variety of races, religions, languages, castes and cultures.

Religious Diversity

  • India is known for being the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Additionally, it is home to significant populations of Muslims, Christians, and various other religious communities. Apart from that, there are tribal societies that still live in the pre-religious state of animism and magic. Hindus are divided into several sects, such as Vaishnavas, Shaivates, Shaktas, Smartas etc. 

Linguistic Diversity

  • India is linguistically extremely diverse, with 22 languages declared as official languages under the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. There are 124 major languages and 652 dialects being spoken in various regions. Each language carries its literature, poetry, songs, and oral traditions, contributing to the overall cultural mosaic of India.

Caste and Jati Diversity

  • Caste and Jati is an intrinsic features of Indian society. People from four castes reside in India, viz. Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. Apart from that, there are more than 3000 Jatis in India. 
  • These systems have been prevalent in India for centuries and are crucial in shaping social relationships, occupations, and identity. Each caste and Jati has its own distinct customs, rituals, occupations, and social interactions. Marriage within one’s own caste or Jati has been a traditional practice to maintain social and cultural boundaries.
  • While the Indian Constitution prohibits caste-based discrimination and ensures equal rights for all citizens, the influence of caste is still prevalent in various aspects of Indian society.

Racial Diversity 

  • India is home to various ethnic groups, including Indo-Aryans, Dravidians, Tibeto-Burmans, Mongoloids, Mediterranean, Proto-Australoids and Western Brachycephals. These groups exhibit distinct physical features, cultural practices, and historical backgrounds.
  • India’s history of invasions, migrations, and interactions with neighbouring regions has contributed to its diverse genetic and cultural landscape.

Geographical Diversity

  • India spans an area of 3.28 million square kilometres with great diversity of physical features like deserts, evergreen forests, lofty mountains, perennial and non-perennial river systems, long coasts and fertile plains.  

Unity & Diversity in India

Unity and diversity are two fundamental aspects that characterize India. Despite being a diverse nation with a multitude of languages, religions, cultures, and traditions, India has managed to maintain a sense of unity.

The concept of unity in diversity emphasizes the idea that although India is composed of diverse communities, there is a collective sense of belonging and shared values that bind the nation together.

Unity in diversity essentially means “unity without uniformity” and “diversity without fragmentation”.

How such a diverse society living together in India

Most states are generally suspicious of their cultural diversity and try to reduce or eliminate it. It is because community identities (like language, religion, ethnicity and so on) can act as the basis for nation-state formation. Hence, already existing states see all forms of community identity as dangerous rivals. That is why states generally tend to favour a single, homogenous national identity. However, suppressing cultural diversity can be very costly in terms of alienating the minority whose culture is treated as ‘non-national’. 

1. Constitutional Identity

  • With such diversity, it becomes essential to have a unifying force that binds the country together, and the Indian Constitution, by providing a common set of values, rights, and principles that transcend regional, linguistic, religious, and cultural differences, serves that purpose.

2. Religious Coexistence

  • The concept of religious coexistence allows people from different religious backgrounds to coexist harmoniously, acknowledging and appreciating the beliefs and practices of others.
  • Religious coexistence encourages interfaith dialogue, fostering understanding, empathy, and respect among religious communities.

3. Economic Integration

  • Economic integration creates opportunities for individuals and communities from different backgrounds to engage in economic activities. When people share economic interests and benefits, it helps to bridge the gaps and reduce social divisions based on cultural or ethnic differences.

4. Fairs and Festivals

  • Fairs and festivals provide a platform for people from different regions and communities to come together and celebrate their shared heritage. For example, Diwali, celebrated across India, unites people of different religions as they light lamps, exchange sweets, and share the joy of the festival.

5. Climatic Integration

  • The entire Indian subcontinent is intricately connected to the monsoon season, which influences flora and fauna, agricultural practices, and the way of life for its people. Hence, the festivities celebrated by the people are also centred around this significant climatic event.

6. Insight of our founding fathers

  • India’s founding fathers, the architects of the Indian Constitution, deeply understood the importance of unity in diversity. They recognized that India, with its vast array of languages, religions, cultures, and traditions, needed a strong foundation that could accommodate and celebrate this diversity while ensuring a cohesive and united nation. 
  • Indian Constitution makers envisaged India as a Mosaic culture. In a Mosaic culture, different languages & cultures coexist with each other. Although they stay together, their individuality remains intact (The concept of Mosaic Culture was given by Canadian sociologist John Murray Gibbon, who disapproved of the American melting pot concept. In American society, immigrants were encouraged to cut off their ties with their home country & assimilate into the American way of life).

7. Geopolitical Unity

  • India’s geographical unity, marked by the Himalayas in the north and oceans on the other sides, has played an important role in the formation of a shared cultural identity in India.

8. National Signs

  • National signs like Flag, Anthem, National figures and National sporting teams unite Indians and promote a sense of belonging and national pride among the diverse population.
  • These symbols are prominently displayed during national events, public ceremonies, and important occasions, instilling a sense of unity, patriotism, and collective pride. 

9. Interaction between societies, i.e. Acculturation 

Interaction between different groups has both positive & negative effects. They either reduce differences or increase differences  

  • Samuel Huntington, in his book “Clash of Civilizations”, argues that globalization, when more & more people are meeting, is leading to an increase in differences which is the leading cause of terrorism in Western nations because two communities are so different that they can’t live in harmony with each other. Even in India, we can see this process playing out when two communities are not able to live peacefully, as seen in Assam (Assamese vs Bangla Muslims)
  • But in India, mainly the process of Acculturation has occurred, i.e. the original culture of both communities changes somewhat to accommodate each other. It has led to the development of a secular fabric in India.

10. Other

  • Language: Hindi and English act as unifying threads on a pan-Indian basis.
  • Cinema: Bollywood is seen all over India 

Factors that threaten the unity of India

  • Communalism: Communalism divides people based on religion. 
  • Regionalism: Regionalism tends to highlight the interests of a particular region over national interests. They threaten national unity by following policies such as the policy of Sons of Soil.
  • Caste Politics: Caste-based parties promote the division of sections of society based on caste to create vote banks.
  • Linguistic Movements like the Dravidian movement sowed the feeling of difference between people of north and south India.
  • Development imbalance: Uneven socioeconomic development patterns can lead to a region’s backwardness. Consequently, this can result in violence, kickstart migration waves and even accelerate separatism demands. E.g., separatist demands in North-East India. 
  • Influence of external factors: Sometimes, external factors such as foreign organizations, terrorist groups, and extremist groups can incite violence and sow feelings of separatism. E.g., Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been accused of supporting and training mujahideen to fight in Jammu and Kashmir and sow separatist tendencies among resident groups.
  • Rise of the ultra-right wing in India, which try to mix religion with nationalism and impose the majority’s values on minority groups. 

Side Topic: Diversity in Unity

‘Diversity in Unity’ means the same sociological system manifests itself in different ways 

  • Patriarchy: Within Patriarchy, there are different forms of Patriarchy, like Brahmin Patriarchy, Dalit Patriarchy etc.
  • Hinduism: Within Hinduism, there are various sects like Shaivism, Vaishnavism etc.
  • Marriage: Marriage is a feature of almost all Indian Societies, but there are different types of marriages like Monogamy, Polygamy, Matrilocal, Patrilocal etc. 
  • Language: There are various dialects of the same language spoken in different areas

Exchange Rate Regimes

Last Updated: May 2023 (Exchange Rate Regimes)

Exchange Rate Regimes

This article deals with ‘Exchange Rate Regimes.’ This is part of our series on ‘Economics’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here .

Types of Exchange Rate

1. Fixed exchange Rate

  • In the Fixed Exchange Rate, the central bank of a country decides the exchange rate of the local currency for foreign currency. 
  • E.g., Consider an imaginary situation where RBI fix an exchange rate of 1$ = 10 ₹. If excess dollars enter the market, the RBI will print more ₹ to absorb the extra dollars. If fewer dollars enter the market, the RBI will sell the dollars from its forex reserve to ensure ₹ doesn’t weaken.
  • It was operational in India up to March 1992.
Exchange Rate Regimes

Challenge: External Shocks & Fixed Exchange Rate

  • In some situations, if the demand for a foreign currency in India increases exponentially, then the RBI maintained equilibrium will disturb. Initially, RBI will try to stabilize the situation by selling $s from its forex reserve. But, since RBI will not have an infinite amount of dollars in its reserve, ultimately, it will be forced to devalue ₹. Hence, the biggest drawback of the Fixed Exchange Rate Regime is that it is highly prone to external factors. 

Side Note: Devaluation 

  • Central Bank uses the devaluation process in the Fixed Exchange Rate Economy to cope with the abovementioned situations.
  • Devaluation involves weakening the domestic currency vis-à-vis foreign currency. E.g., RBI reduces the exchange rate to 1$ = 11 ₹ (instead of earlier 1$ = 10 ₹) 
  • Implications of the above devaluation are as follows.  
    • The demand for foreign currency will decrease because (say) what work could be done earlier with ₹10 lakh abroad will now need 11 Lakh. So, some people will abandon their plans.
    • Tourism and Foreign Investment: A lower currency value can attract tourists and foreign investors, making visiting or investing in the country more affordable. 
    • Export Competitiveness: Devaluing a currency can make a country’s exports more affordable and competitive in international markets. A lower exchange rate makes the country’s goods and services relatively cheaper when priced in foreign currencies, boosting exports and stimulating economic growth.
How Devaluation Works

2. Floating Exchange Rate

  • In Floating Exchange Rate Regime, the Central Bank of the country doesn’t intervene at all & the market forces (i.e. demand and supply) determine the exchange rate. 
Floating Exchange Rate
  • USA and UK are the major economies following this system
  • But in this case, the exchange rate is very volatile. Along with that, this system is also prone to currency speculation.

3. Managed Floating Exchange Rate

  • It is the middle path between the two extremes (floating and fixed).
  • In this, Central Bank doesn’t decide the exchange rate. In ordinary times, Central Banks will let the market forces determine the exchange rate. But if there is too much volatility, Central Bank will intervene by buying or selling the foreign reserves to keep the volatility under control.
Managed Floating Exchange Rate
  • Canada, Japan, India (since 1992–93) etc., follow Managed Floating Exchange Rates.

Exchange Rate in India

1928 to 1948 ‘Rupee’ was linked with the British Pound Sterling.
1948 to 1975 After the formation of the IMF, India shifted to the fixed currency system and committed to maintaining the Rupee’s exchange rate in terms of gold or the US ($ Dollar).
1975 to 1992 RBI started determining the Rupee’s exchange rate with respect to the exchange rate movements of the basket of world currencies (£, $, ¥, DM, Fr.).
1992 India shifted to Managed Floating Exchange Rate.


We keep on reading in the newspaper that ₹ has weakened against $. Does that mean ₹ is a weak currency & has become fragile? Nope, because the US is not the only country we trade with & $ is not the only currency we use to do all our transactions.  

  1. If we want to measure the volatility of ₹ objectively, we have to compare volatility with multiple currencies.
  2. 1$= ₹50 or 1$ = ₹40 doesn’t decide demand of goods & services between India & USA . It also depends on relative inflation.

For this, we use NEER & REER


  • NEER = Nominal Effective Exchange Rate
  • It is the weighted average of bilateral nominal exchange rates of home currency in terms of foreign currencies.


  • REER = Real Effective Exchange Rate 
  • REER is the weighted average of nominal exchange rates adjusted for inflation. Hence, it captures inflation differentials between India & its major trading partners. 
  • REER = NEER X ( Indian Inflation (CPI) / US Inflation ) 

What do we get with the help of NEER & REER?

  • If REER > 100: Currency is overvalued 
  • REER < 100: Currency is undervalued

REER Trends

Indian ₹ is overvalued (since REER > 100), and according to Economic Survey, this is bad for Indian Exports)

REER Trends in India

Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)

  • It is a theoretical concept that compares the exchange rate of two currencies through their purchasing power in respective countries.
  • For example, if 1 packet of bread in India costs ₹ 20 whereas it costs $2 in the USA, then Dollar to Rupee exchange rate (PPP) will be $1 = ₹ 10. 
  • According to OECD, in PPP terms, $1=₹ 17.
  • This exchange rate can happen in real life if both countries have Floating Exchange Rate without any intervention of the respective Central banks; and if the bilateral trade is free of protectionism.
  • If we look into the GDP of various countries in terms of PPP, then India is the world’s third-largest economy. The ranking is 1) USA, 2) China, 3) India, 4) Japan and 5) Germany.

Great Fall of the Indian Rupee

Great Fall of the Indian Rupee

Why this happened?

  • Russia’s Ukraine Invasion: Due to the invasion, currencies worldwide have shown depreciation as the supply of crude oil was disrupted due to sanctions imposed on Russia.
  • The outflow of funds: Capital is moving out of India because of rising interest rates in the US, making it more attractive to invest there.
  • Current Account Deficit: Historically, India had a current account deficit, i.e. it spends more on imports than it earns from exports. A higher current account deficit puts pressure on the Indian Rupee, leading to its depreciation.
  • Inflation Differential: The rate of inflation in India is higher than in the US, which erodes the purchasing power and the value of the Rupee relative to USD.

But according to Economic Survey (2023), with monetary tightening (by US Fed Reserve), the US dollar has appreciated against several currencies, including the Rupee. However, the Rupee has been one of the better-performing currencies worldwide.

What India did to fight?

  • FPI investment limits have been relaxed to attract foreign investors to India.
  • Currency Swap Agreements have been signed with countries like Japan. 
  • Agreement with countries like Iran to buy Crude Oil directly in ₹. 

Internationalization of Rupee

The Tarapore Committee on Full Capital Account Convertibility defined international currency as ‘a currency that is widely used for international transactions. Internationalization of a currency (Rupee here) is a process to increase rupee acceptance (credibility) worldwide.

 Benefits of Internationalization of the Rupee

  1. Reduced Foreign Exchange Reserves requirement for the balance of payment. It can also reduce the imposed cost of forex on the economy by Interest Rate Differential (IRD). IRD is the change in interest rates between the currencies of two countries.  
  2. Reduced Vulnerability to External Shocks because of reduced dependence on foreign currencies. 
  3.  Mitigates Currency Risks for Indian Enterprises by eliminating foreign exchange fluctuation, reducing the cost of doing business and supporting the global growth of Indian businesses. 
  4. Enhance India’s global stature and respect, helping Indian Businesses through increased bargaining power.

Steps taken by Government in this regard

  1. Cross Border Borrowing in Indian Rupees: Introduction of Rupee Denominated Bonds or Masala Bonds
  2. Currency Swap Agreements: India has signed currency swap agreements with countries such as Japan, UAE etc.
  3. International Trade Settlement in Indian Rupees (EXPLAINED BELOW)

International Trade Settlement in Indian Rupees

Mechanism of International Trade Settlement in Indian Rupees

In July 2022, RBI issued a circular that allowed a new arrangement for conducting international trade transactions using Indian Rupees (INR) facilitated through special Rupee Vostro accounts held by authorized dealer banks in India.

A Vostro account is a type of account maintained by a domestic bank on behalf of a foreign bank in domestic currency (Rupee in the case of India), allowing domestic banks to provide international banking services to clients with global banking requirements.

In this settlement arrangement, when Indian importers engage in imports, they will make payments in Indian Rupees (INR). These payments will be credited to the Vostro account of the partner country’s correspondent bank. On the other hand, Indian exporters involved in the export of goods and services through this mechanism will receive their export proceeds in INR from the balances held in the designated Vostro account of the partner country’s correspondent bank.

The framework could largely reduce the net demand for foreign exchange, the US dollar in particular, for the settlement of current account related trade flows.

Regulatory Bodies in India

Last Update: May 2023 (Regulatory Bodies in India)

Regulatory Bodies in India

This article deals with ‘Regulatory Bodies in India.’ This is part of our series on ‘Governance’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here.


Regulatory Bodies in India
  • The regulatory body is an organization set up by the government to monitor, guide and control a particular sector, such as banking, insurance, education or healthcare.
  • It is in contrast to laissez-faire which demands an entirely unregulated/free economy. But since we know the perils of a completely free market economy, regulation, up to a certain extent, is very much desirable. 
  • After Liberalization and Privatization, the state’s role changed to rule-maker and regulator. With this, we saw the emergence of a special category of regulatory systems, i.e.,  Independent Statutory Regulating Agencies. 

Need of Regulation

In the case of Natural Monopoly

  • A natural monopoly is a condition when an entire market is more efficiently served by one firm than by two or more firms. 
  • In the case of a natural monopoly, regulation is necessary to protect consumer interests, control prices, and ensure the quality of service, as there is no competition in the market.
  • In India, the sectors such as transmission and distribution of electricity and railways are still natural monopolies.  

Asymmetric Information

  • It is a situation when one party has more information than another. In India, asymmetric information is a significant reason for government intervention.
  • For example, In many sectors, like healthcare, insurance, and financial services, consumers may not possess the same expertise as service providers. Hence, regulation helps protect consumers by mandating disclosure requirements, ensuring transparency, and setting product quality and safety standards. 

Presence of Externalities

  • Negative externalities refer to the costs or harms imposed on third parties not directly involved in a transaction or activity. When negative externalities exist, market forces alone may not be adequate to address the issue. In India, regulation is often implemented to address negative externalities in various sectors. 
  • For example, Industries or activities that generate pollution or degrade natural resources often impose negative externalities on the environment and surrounding communities. India has implemented regulations governing air and water pollution, waste management, and environmental impact assessments to mitigate these externalities. 

Check Anti-Competitive practices 

Detecting and preventing anti-competitive practices is a crucial reason for regulation in India. For example, 

  1. The regulation targets cartels and collusive behaviour, where competitors engage in agreements to fix prices, allocate markets, or rig bids, aiming to restrict competition and maximize their profits. 
  2. Regulatory bodies monitor and address cases where a dominant firm exploits its market power to restrict competition, drive competitors out of the market, or engage in predatory pricing.
  3. Regulations govern mergers, acquisitions, and combinations that have the potential to reduce competition significantly. 

Promote Public Interest

  • Government regulations are implemented to safeguard the welfare, rights, and well-being of the general public.

Categories of Regulation in India

Regulation in India can be mapped under three broad categories: economic regulation, regulation in the public interest and environmental regulation. 

1. Economic Regulation

  • Economic regulation aims at preventing market failure. 
  • It is achieved by punishing market-distorting behaviour.
  • Examples include the Competition Commission of India (CCI), which addresses anti-competitive practices, and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which regulates the telecommunications sector.

2. Regulation in Public Interest

  • Public health and safety regulations aim to protect individuals and communities from health risks, hazardous substances, and unsafe practices. E.g., the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) sets quality and safety standards for various products  

3. Environmental Regulation

  • Regulations on environmental protection focus on conserving natural resources, preventing pollution, and promoting sustainable development. 

Reasons for the Proliferation of Regulatory Bodies from the 1990s

  • To Sustain Market Economy: The market economy demands competition. Regulatory Bodies were made to ensure a level playing field. 
  • To Attract Foreign Investment: Regulatory Bodies were made to ensure Foreign Investors that Populistic considerations will not guide decisions. 
  • After LPG, the capacity of states to answer various business problems was limited. Bureaucracy failed to answer many questions related to emerging sectors. Hence, the government decided to rope in Technocrats via Technocratic Regulators. 

Issues related to Regulatory Bodies in India

Based on the recommendations of the Damodaran Committee (formed in 2012 when the World Bank ranked India 132 on Ease of Doing Business) and the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission.

1. Independence

Functional independence of Regulatory Bodies is curbed by the dependence of regulators on concerned line ministries for 

  • Regulatory bodies in India face financial constraints as their budgets and resources are subject to approval by the government.
  • The lack of transparent and merit-based appointment processes can undermine the independence and credibility of regulatory bodies.
  • Political pressure on regulators can impact their ability to make impartial and unbiased decisions, particularly in cases involving influential individuals or corporations.

2. Over-Regulation

India is an over-regulated country, but many of the regulations are  not implemented in the right earnest due to complex procedures & outdated regulations.

  1. RBI has been criticized for over-regulating the banking sector with numerous regulations, including stringent capital adequacy requirements, lending restrictions, and extensive reporting obligations.
  2. Real Estate Regulatory Authorities (RERAs) were established to regulate real estate and protect the interests of the homebuyer. But they have imposed excessive burdens by imposing excessive paperwork, multiple approvals, and delays in project clearances.

3. Regulatory Gaps

Regulatory gaps refer to deficiencies or shortcomings in existing regulations or the absence of regulations in certain areas. For Example

  1. Sectors like e-commerce face challenges in ensuring consumer rights, addressing grievances, and holding businesses accountable for unfair practices.
  2. Although the financial sector is regulated by various authorities, including the RBI and SEBI, regulatory gaps exist in areas such as fintech and shadow banking. 

4. Accountability

In India, there have been instances where regulatory bodies have faced criticism for a perceived lack of accountability. 

  1. SEBI has faced criticism for handling several high-profile cases, where it was perceived to have failed to ensure accountability. For example, the case of the Satyam Computer Scandal of 2009 revealed significant gaps in SEBI’s oversight, where it failed to detect the financial irregularities in Satyam’s accounts.
  2. Reserve Bank of India’s accountability has been questioned due to cases such as the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud involving unauthorized transactions worth billions of rupees.
  3. Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has faced criticism for delays in certification, leading to debates on the infringement of creative freedom and the need for greater accountability of the CBFC.

5. Regulator vs Executive

  • Executive tries to encroach space given to regulators to enforce populistic agendas  
  • E.g., Electricity Sector, where State Governments try to keep charges low to keep consumers, and farmers lobby happy 

6. Overlapping functions

In India, regulatory overlap between different regulators can sometimes occur due to the complex nature of the regulatory landscape. For example

  • Competition-related Regulation: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) and sector-specific regulators, such as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) or the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), may encounter areas of regulatory overlap.
  • Financial regulation: There can be overlaps in financial regulation between different regulatory bodies such as the RBI, SEBI), IRDAI), and PFRDA.

7. Lack of Transparency

There is a lack of transparency in regulatory bodies in India

  • The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, which assesses the potential environmental impacts of projects, suffers from a lack of transparency due to non-disclosure of project-specific information, limited public participation, and inadequate dissemination of environmental impact assessment reports. 
  • Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has faced criticism for its lack of transparency in its functioning, such as non-disclosure of tariff-related information, limited access to relevant data, and insufficient transparency in decision-making processes. 

Ways to Improve Regulatory Bodies

  • Regulate where necessary and don’t over-regulate the sector because it chokes development (2nd ARC).
  • 2nd ARC has given 5 Principles on which Regulatory Mechanism should be based. These include
    • Simplicity
    • Objectivity
    • Transparency
    • Convergence
    • Speedy Disposals
  • Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) of every proposed regulation should be carried out
  • Ensure independence of regulatory bodies
  • Self Regulation is the best form of regulation. E.g. the News Broadcasters and Digital Association is an industry-led regulator regulating current affairs and news broadcasts.
  • Still, many sectors are under the regulation of State Departments—E.g., DGCA under Civil Aviation Ministry. Government should move towards Independent Statutory Regulators for all non-strategic sectors.
  • There should be constant interaction between Regulators and Policy makers and Regulators and other stakeholders so that regulators are aware of the concerns of stakeholders and also the regulator can explain the rationale of various regulatory decisions.
  • Introducing Multi-Sector Regulators:  The government should establish multi-sector regulators for sectors like communications; transport; electricity, fuels and gas. It would eliminate the proliferation of regulatory commissions. Even Justice BN Srikrishna Commission (also known as Fiscal Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC)) has recommended to form the Unified Financial Agency (UFA), which will subsume the functions of SEBI, IRDI and PFRDA.

Example: Good Regulator vs Bad Regulators

For a regulator to work independently, it must be independent of the Executive, Pressure Groups, Industrial Lobbies etc., which can pressurize them to get favourable outcomes 

Example of Bad Regulators

  • Forward Market Commission (FMC): FMC regulated Commodity Markets but couldn’t stop NSEL Scam. Hence, it was dissolved by the government.
  • MCI (Medical Council of India): Its Chairman, Ketan Desai, took bribes to grant clearance to medical colleges.
  • Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA): NSRA falls under the Department of Atomic Energy. But the Promoter of any sector can’t be its Regulator. 
  • FSSAI: In 2015, FSSAI banned the sale and production of Nestle Maggi due to alleged excessive lead content and mislabeling of MSG (monosodium glutamate). However, later, the Bombay High Court overturned the ban, stating that FSSAI had failed to follow proper testing procedures and acted arbitrarily.

Examples of Good Regulators

  • RBI: It has played a crucial role in maintaining monetary stability, safeguarding financial stability, and ensuring the integrity of the financial system. 
  • TRAI: It has protected Mobile Customers against Mobile Companies by ensuring competition and regulating tariffs.
  • Competition Commission of India: CCI broke the cartelisation of cement companies 
  • SEBI: SEBI managed the Security Market well (in stark contrast to FMC)

In questions about the Independence of Regulators is necessary to regulate the sector effectively; give examples of both good and bad regulators. Don’t just stick to bad ones. 

Important Regulatory Bodies (Prelims Point of view) 

IRDA Regulator of the Insurance Sector   
SEBI Regulator of Equity Market   
CCI To check monopolistic tendencies in the market  
TRAI Regulator of the telecom sector   
CERC Central Electricity Regulatory Commission was under the Electricity Act of 2003 to regulate the sector in India.  
FMC Forward Market Commission (FMC) was the Regulator of the Commodity Market 
It was dissolved in 2015. Now the Commodity market is regulated by SEBI   
FSSAI FSSAI regulates the Food Safety and Standards in India
It establishes food safety standards for various categories of food products, permissible levels of contaminants, labelling requirements, food additives, packaging, and hygiene practices.