India-Africa Relations

India-Africa Relations

This article deals with ‘India-Africa Relations .’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’, which is an important pillar of the GS-2 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Brief History

  • Geographically speaking, peninsular India and Africa were once part of ‘Gondwanaland’.  
  • Asia and Africa have historically enjoyed trade and cultural relations dating over a millennium. Monsoon wind has helped to develop commercial ties between India and Africa. Sailors from India sailed using South East monsoonal winds to reach Africa (from June to September) and the North Eastern monsoonal winds (from December to March) to sail back. The written evidence of trade can be found in a 10th-century book named ‘Periplus of the Erythraean Sea’.
  • The Father of the nation, i.e. Mahatma Gandhi, had a close connection with Africa. In 1893, Gandhi went on an assignment to Africa. During his stay in Africa, he witnessed severe racial discrimination. He evolved in South Africa and practised the concept of Satyagraha, which eventually emerged as a technique of mass mobilization in India.
  • After independence, India raised its voice for the liberation of African colonies at international forums such as the UN. E.g., India accorded full diplomatic recognition to the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), which was fighting for Namibia’s independence and provided material assistance in the fight against Apartheid in South Africa. 
  • During Cold War Era, newly independent African nations and India were part of the Non-Aligned Movement. 

Natural Allies

India and Africa are natural allies because 

  • Both fought big wars against imperialism.
  • Both were fighting against the capitalist system / neo-colonialism.
  • Both have diverse cultures, languages etc.
  • Both have underutilization of resources, although they are rich in resources.
  • India and African nations have similar interests in WTO and other multilateral organizations.
  • India and African nations also cooperate on issues pertaining to climate change & Paris Accord.
  • India has always emphasized ‘South-South Cooperation’, and Africa is an important component of that scheme.

Why Africa is important?

1. Political changes 

With the end of debilitating conflicts like those in Sudan, South Africa etc., African countries are now embracing the value of democracy and good governance.  

2. Economic importance 

  • Africa is resource-rich and is endowed with 10% of the world’s oil and 40% of the world’s gold.
  • Africa is the fastest-growing continent. According to a World Bank report, out of the 15 fastest-growing economies, 7 are from Africa. 
  • Due to economic development, the New middle class is emerging in Africa, creating a potential market.

3. Energy needs

  • African countries have rich oil deposits, which can help India diversify its oil imports. 
  • In 2017, India organized the India-Africa Hydrocarbons Conference to showcase its expertise in oil exploration, refining and drilling technology.

4. Strategic Location

  • The location of Africa is strategic as it helps India to connect to Central and South Americas through the Cape of Good Hope and to West Asia through the African Maghreb.

5. Maritime  interests

  • India and African nations can collaborate to protect Sea Lanes of Commerce, especially against piracy in Somali waters. Somalia is an easy base for piracy due to the absence of a stable government.

6. Diplomatic Reasons

  • India needs the votes of African nations in her favour to get things done at international forums. At international forums, the value of Burundi’s vote is equal to the USA’s vote. 

Indian Investments in Africa

1. Energy

Various private and public Indian corporations are involved in energy projects in Africa. These include

  • ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) has invested in Sudan, Ivory Coast, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria and Gabon. 
  • Reliance has invested in equity oil in Sudan. 
  • Essar has procured blocks in Madagascar and Nigeria. 
  • India has completed a $200 million pipeline from Khartoum to Port Sudan on the Red sea.
  • ONGC has invested in Mozambique’s Rovuma Basin.
  • India has entered into a Joint Venture for manufacturing Phosphate Fertilizers in Morocco  (Morocco has 75% of the world’s phosphate reserves).

2. HRD and capacity building

3. Funding

  • At India Africa Forum Summit (2015), India announced a US$ 10 billion line of credit to help finance the projects in African countries.
  • India is Africa’s fifth largest foreign investor, with investments amounting to $54 billion.
  • Cooperation with African Development Bank (AfDB): India joined AfDB in 1983 and has contributed to its General Capital.
  • India has initiated a Namaskar Africa program to showcase its domestic strengths in the sectors where it can assist Africa. 

4. Pharmaceutical and health

  • India is known as the ‘Pharmacy of the Third World ‘. Africans rely heavily on Indian generic drugs in their fight against HIV and other diseases on the continent. 
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, India assisted African countries by supplying the vaccine.

5. IT technology

  • India has built  Pan-African E-Network. It was launched in 2006 with the aim of providing satellite connectivity, tele-education and telemedicine services to African countries.
  • Indian IT firms like Tata Consultancy, HCL, NIIT and Aptech have launched their operations across Africa.

6. Agriculture

  • India is helping African nations to replicate the Indian “green revolution model” in Africa. 
  • Kirloskar Brothers Ltd. and Water and Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS) are engaged in water management projects across Africa. 
  • India imports pulses from Mozambique.  

7. Defence Diplomacy

  • African military cadets are trained at NDA & IMA.

8. Diaspora

  • In 1833, slavery was abolished in Britain. After this, a new system, called the indentured labour system, evolved. The British brought bonded labour from India to work on sugar plantations and cotton plantations. During the colonial period, an estimated 7.7 lakh Indians migrated to Mauritius, South Africa, Reunion Island, Seychelles, and East-African.

9. Deepening the democracy

  • India provides a valuable model for African nations of democratic development. India is helping African countries set up democratic institutions such as Election Commission. 

10. Sub-national & State  Collaborations

Governments of Indian states and African nations are also collaborating on various issues. Examples in this regard include 

  • Ethiopia and South Africa are working with Kudumbashree (SHG movement of the Government of Kerala ).
  • Punjabi farmers have been invited by countries like Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania to scientifically cultivate the lands in these countries. 

11. Climate Change

African nations are one of the lowest contributors of GHG emissions but the biggest sufferers of climate channel. India can assist African nations in dealing with the problem.

12. Others

  • A large number of Indian companies are already operational in Africa. These include Taj Group, Bharti Airtel, Essar’s Yu brand in Kenyan Telecom, Ranbaxy, Vedanta, Tata Coffee, Mahindra, Ashok Leyland, Maruti etc. 
  • India has sent Peace Keeping Forces (PKFs) to Namibia, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Congo and Sudan.
  • Indian assistance is seen positively because all the assistance is provided without any conditionality and is driven to help Africans grow. While assisting the African development process, India does not follow the white man’s burden approach but intends to share its own knowledge and developmental experiences with Africa for the mutual benefit of both.


1. Instability and governance issues

  • African nations have political instability and weak institutional capacity to enforce the rule of law. Hence, Indian corporations hesitate to make long-term investments in African countries. 

2. China factor

Chinese Investments in Africa
Chinese Investments in Africa
  • As the Chinese economy began to grow by the 1990s, it also began to search for resources. Africa, being a resource-rich region, was a natural choice. Moreover, China also found Africa to be a favourable market for its goods. Hence, China launched the ‘Going Out’ Policy in 2001, encouraging Chinese corporations to set up bases in Africa to gain access to natural resources and tap the local markets for Chinese goods. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an enhanced version of the ‘Going Out’ policy. 
  • China is favoured by a large number of authoritarian regimes in Africa because China follows a no-strings-attached aid policy. 
  • African countries have witnessed a phenomenal increase in trade with China, from $7 billion in 2000 to $ 220 billion in 2019 (compared to India’s $70 billion).
  • China is investing in massive infrastructure projects, especially under Maritime Silk Road. eg 
    • Mombasa Port in Kenya 
    • Djibouti – Addis Ababa Railway line, 
    • Transcontinental Railway Line
India-Africa Relations
Chinese Projects in Africa
  • Countries like Zimbabwe have declared that Chinese RENMINBI can be used as legal tender.
  • The first Chinese Military base has become operational in Djibouti.
  • Many Chinese are visiting Africa, giving impetus to the African Tourism sector.


  • China concentrates on infrastructure and cheque-book diplomacy, whereas Indian programmes focus on developing Africa’s human resources.  
  • Chinese philosophy can be summarised as China goes to an African nation, sets up industries and factories, exports Chinese labour to Africa, digs out resources from the nation, and brings the resources back using the infrastructure they have created to connect the industry to the port. In this entire Chinese model, the African country does not stand to gain anything except very little monetary profit in the form of taxation. It has led to a lot of disenchantment in the local people, ultimately leading to hatred against the Chinese presence.

3. Rise of Islamic Terrorism in Africa

  • Extremist groups like Boko Haram, Al-Qaida and ISIS have become active in countries like Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan etc.

4. Financial Implications

  • In terms of chequebook diplomacy and providing aid to African nations, India cannot compete with China or the US.  

5. Africans in India

  • Indians stereotype Africans as drug dealers and prostitutes. The stereotyping leads to racial attacks on Africans living in India. 

6. Others

  • Africa is facing  Dutch Disease (i.e. over-dependence on natural resource exports harms the growth of the non-resource sector.)  

Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC)

  • It is an Indo-Japanese Project aimed at the socioeconomic development of Asia and Africa.

What is Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC)? 

  • AAGC is India and Japan’s economic cooperation agreement which aims to create a “free and open Indo-Pacific region” by rediscovering ancient sea routes and creating new sea corridors to link Africa & Asia.

Key elements of AAGC

  • Building quality infrastructure
  • Enhancing capacities and skills
  • People-to-people partnership.
  • Development and cooperation projects in health and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and agro-processing farming, manufacturing and disaster management.

A challenge to Chinese OBOR

  • AAGC is an initiative led by India and Japan to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative. 
  • But AAGC differs from China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) project because it is more open and inclusive. The projects taken up under AAGC will be based on consultations with the local population. It will keep people as the centrepiece. 
  • Besides, AAGC will focus on building sea corridors connecting Asia and Africa in contrast to OBOR, which also has land-based components. 

Recommendations / Way Forward

  • Recognize diversity: Africa is not a monolith but a continent representing 54 countries. India should recognize diversity while formulating its African foreign policy.
  • Avoid emulating the Chinese, as there are pitfalls in that approach. China’s mercantilist approach has left many Africans disenchanted.
  • Rope in the Indian Diaspora: More than three million people of Indian origin live in Africa. India should use its diaspora to further its interests in Africa. 
  • Using Indian soft power: During the Ebola epidemic, India gave the maximum donations among all nations. Besides, India has spent $150 million on Pan Africa e-Network. But nobody in Africa knows about these initiatives. A better media campaign is desirable.  
  • Being one of the largest democracies in the world, India can share its democratic experience and provide training on electronic voting systems, parliamentary procedures and federal governance.

Conscience as a Source of Ethical Guidance

Conscience as a Source of Ethical Guidance

This article deals with ‘Ethical Issues in International Relations and Funding.’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Conscience?

Conscience as a Source of Ethical Guidance
  • Conscience is the intrinsic intuitive capacity to discriminate between right and wrong. 
  • The common metaphors for conscience include the “voice within“.  
  • In contrast to the law, which is an external source of ethical guidance, conscience is the internal source of ethical guidance. Conscience comes into play when the mind passes a judgement on the rightness and wrongness of a particular act.
  • Conscience is also essential as a tool of ethical conduct where the law is silent or where a person has to exercise their discretion, whether in public or private life. Additionally, when laws become outdated and require renewal, conscience helps recognize the need to initiate the process and progress toward the most suitable form. In other words, conscience comes into play when compliance and cognitive ethics fail.
  • It supplements the role of law and rules in providing for ethical governance. In the absence of conscience, one may adhere to the letter of the law but may violate its spirit with impunity. 

Limitations of Conscience

  • Conscience is not necessarily a product of a rational deduction but is something that can be influenced by the indoctrination of one’s parentage, social class, religion or culture. Hence, it is subjective and not objective.
  • Conscience often promotes social dogmas. E.g. somebody’s conscience may not allow him to allow Dalits to eat in his shop if his family values are like that. 
  • It leads to multiplicity and inconsistency. Unlike the law that is consistent and equally applied to all in similar conditions, every person’s conscience can give him a different answer when faced with the same situation.

When should we go with our Conscience?

To avoid the above limitations, Conscience can be divided into different types

True Conscience Which is in line with rational morality
False Conscience Which isn’t in line with rational morality 

We should go with our conscience only when we know it is ‘True Conscience’. Although it is advisable that whenever you hear an “inner voice”, you must hear it. But because of inherent deficiencies, you must not blindly follow that inner voice. Think about it and evaluate it rationally. If the answer is yes, you must follow your conscience and act according to that. 

Crisis of Conscience

  • When conscience fails to guide an individual in any specific situation due to a particular experience, it can be called a Crisis of Conscience. Individuals lose the ability to determine right and wrong.
  • It happens in a situation which is ambiguous in terms of the values involved and their consequences. As a result, an individual cannot resolve an ethical dilemma using his moral sense.
  • For instance, an IPS officer is given the duty to regulate the peaceful protest by farmers against corporations. Things were under control, and nobody indulged in violence. But, suddenly, the officer is asked to resort to strict measures, including firing at the protestors. The officer in such a situation can face a crisis of conscience as the situation is ambiguous.

India Indo-Pacific Relations

India Indo-Pacific Relations

This article deals with various facets of ‘India Indo-Pacific Relations.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’, which is an important pillar of the GS-2 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Indo-Pacific as the new Geopolitical Construct

  • The idea of the Indo-Pacific was originally conceived in 2006-07.
  • The Indo-Pacific region combines two regions, i.e. the Indian Ocean and the West Pacific Region.
India Indo-Pacific Relations

Why this word has gained eminence?

  • The Indo-Pacific Region consists of
    • 63% of global GDP
    • 50% of global maritime trade
    • Rich in natural resources
  • The increasing geopolitical connection between the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific Ocean in the geo-economic and security dimensions. The security and economic dimension of Pacific  and Indian Ocean can’t be seen separately.
  • The shift of economic Center of gravity: The global economic Center of gravity has shifted eastwards towards Asia due to the rise of China and India. Hence, the geo-strategists have started to view the Indian Ocean and West Pacific as a single entity. 
  • The growing eminence of India: Due to the increase in India’s economic and strategic importance in global affairs, the world expects India to play a constructive role in the security, growth and development of the maritime environment of the region
  • Reaction to Chinese aggressiveness: The block led by the US wants to take India on board in its positioning against the aggressive posture of China in the region. 

Benefit to India

  • It will help raise India’s geostrategic profile and make her a prominent player in the whole Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
  • It provides an opportunity for deeper cooperation with countries like Japan, the US, ASEAN, Australia etc.
  • The Indo-Pacific concept helps India counter the Chinese String of Pearls Policy of China.
  • It will help India and the world ensure peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and secure Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOCs).
  • The concept is in line with India’s Act East Policy.

Challenges for India

  • India has limited naval capacity and a lack of military bases in the region.
  • India will have to balance its continental and maritime strategies. Given its volatile borders, India can’t take responsibility for the security of such a vast maritime area.
  • In the scheme of things, the USA is putting India against China to check the Chinese rise and safeguard its interests.

Non-Aligned Movement

Non-Aligned Movement

This article deals with ‘ Non-Aligned Movement – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’, which is an important pillar of the GS-2 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


  • The term ‘non-alignment’ is the foreign policy adopted by some countries during the cold war, which refused to align with either the capitalist bloc led by the USA or the communist block led by USSR.
  • Some Western scholars have confused non-alignment “with isolationism, neutrality and non-involvement. Non-alignment is not neutrality. It simply means taking an independent stand based on the merit of each issue.

Formation of NAM

  • The Congress of Vienna (1814–15), where the neutrality of Switzerland was acknowledged, is where the idea of not aligning a nation’s policy with others first emerged.
  • The origin of the Non-Aligned Movement can be traced back to the late 1940s, when former colonies were gaining independence and the world was divided into two blocks, i.e. Capitalist Block led by the USA and Communist Block led by the USSR. The newly independent countries faced the dilemma of joining either of the blocks. But NAM gave the third path of remaining non-aligned. 
  • Three leaders played the main role. 
    • Jawaharlal Nehru: India
    • Gamal Abdal Nassar: Egypt 
    • Josip Tito: Yugoslavia  
  • Among the first architects, Nehru would be especially remembered. Nehru believed that countries of Asia & Africa should build up an alliance of solidarity to fight neo-imperialism. 

Non-Aligned Movement
1947 Nehru called Asian Relations Conference (ARC) in New Delhi.  
1955 Bandung Conference in Indonesia was held as African nations started to gain independence.  
1956 In July 1956, Egypt’s Nasser, India’s Nehru and Yugoslavia’s Tito met on the island of Brijuni on the Adriatic Sea and came up with an unspoken alliance that bound them together.   
1961 The first NAM meeting was held in Belgrade and pushed for alternative economic order.   
2021 Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has completed 60 years.

Impetus for Non-Aligned Movement

  • The most crucial reason was the economic. Almost all the members were newly independent ones who needed trade and financial support from all the nations. Joining one of the groups would have limited that ability.
  • Need for peace, without which development wasn’t possible. 
  • Need to be secure from global threat perceptions emanating from Cold war politics.
  • Ending the possibility of neo-colonisation of old imperial powers.

Conditions to become a member

Five conditions were necessary to become a member of NAM

  1. Independent foreign policy 
  2. Oppose colonialism in all forms  
  3. Shouldn’t be a member of any of the military blocs
  4. Shouldn’t have concluded any bilateral treaty with any of the two superpowers
  5. Shouldn’t have allowed military bases on its territory to a superpower.

Erosion of NAM

The authority and relevance of NAM have reduced over time, especially after the end of the Cold War and the emergence of the USA as the world’s sole superpower.

  1. The first challenge to the economic ambition of NAM states was posed by the Third World debt crisis of the 1980s, which forced the NAM states to approach Bretton Woods institutions. 
  2. The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the Unipolar world led by the USA. In such a situation, the rationale of NAM was challenged.  
  3. Several significant NAM powers started to distance themselves by the early 1990s. Argentina left the grouping in 1991. War tore apart Yugoslavia. India was forced to go to the IMF due to the Balance of Payment crisis.

Goals & achievement of NAM

  • One primary goal of NAM was to end colonialism. Hence, NAM supported the freedom movements in colonies and gave the status of full members to those who led these movements.
  • It also condemned racial discrimination and lent full support to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa & Namibia. 
  • NAM made a significant contribution to the preservation of peace and disarmament. It lowered Cold War tensions as fewer states joined military blocs. 
  • NAM states succeeded in altering the composition of the UN. In the later forties and fifties, deliberations in the UN organs were dominated by Big 2. But with the emergence of NAM, they had a majority in General Assembly which they used to espouse its cause. 
  • NAM raised a voice for economic equality & called for establishing a New International Economic Order (NIEO). Even after the end of colonialism, the old colonies were still treated as raw material supplying appendages, and Neo Colonisation was in place. 

Is NAM relevant today?

No, NAM is irrelevant

  • NAM was the product of the Cold War and bipolarism. With the end of the Cold War & fall of the USSR, NAM has lost its relevance. 
  • NAM has accomplished all its charted goals i.e. 
    • Colonies have gained independence.
    • Apartheid has been dismantled.
    • Foreign bases have lost their significance.
    • More particularly, when alliances have been disintegrating, where is the importance of non-alignment? 
  • Lack of Leadership: The statesmen who started NAM had a vision, today NAM has none.

Yes, NAM is relevant

  • Although the world has become unipolar, the US and G-7 powers are virtually waging an aggressive war of neo-colonialism in the world by forcing developing nations to open their markets. Hence, the developing countries of the south need to assert their independence and act together. NAM can be a good platform for that
  • The world is still divided into nuclear haves and have-nots. Western nations are attacking the sovereignty of third-world states on frivolous reasons of human rights violations. Countries of NAM must continue to stay and act together. 
  • Catalyst to foster South-South co-operation: NAM can be an important deliberation stage of the ‘economic south’ to reach a common stand on new issues like the environment, climate change, terrorism etc.

Surrogacy and Issues

Surrogacy and Issues

This article deals with ‘Surrogacy and Issues – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’, which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


  • Surrogacy is the practice in which one woman carries the foetus in her womb in an arrangement where the child has to be handed over after the birth. 
Surrogacy and Issues
  • Surrogacy can be of two types.
    1. Altruistic surrogacy: The couple doesn’t pay any compensation to the surrogate mother except for medical expenses. 
    2. Commercial surrogacy: Couple pays compensation to the surrogate mother.
  • India has a well-developed surrogacy industry with more than $2.3 billion annual revenue. 
  • India has emerged as a reproductive tourist industry. 

Surrogacy vs Pro Surrogacy Debate  (General)

Anti-Surrogacy Arguments

  • Physical stress, risk, and emotional trauma to surrogate mother on abrupt separation from baby carried in the womb for nine months.
  • Children face health concerns such as being breastfed for at least six months.
  • The use of surrogacy is cheapening the idea of having a child as a commodity.    
  • Sex selection is the ‘dirty secret’ of commercial surrogacy (the discarded foetus is usually female).

Pro-Surrogacy Arguments

  • The surrogate mother has the right to asset her independent agency and make choices in her best interest.
  • In case government bans surrogacy, the market will go underground, leading to further exploitation of surrogate mothers. Hence, instead of banning the practice, it should be regulated.

Surrogacy (Regulation) Act

Need for the law of Surrogacy

Post-2000 Surrogacy became a crucial medical industry in India, with more than $ 2.3 billion in revenue.
2008 Baby Manji case happened, and the need was felt to have a comprehensive law on Assistive Reproductive Techniques (ART).
2014 Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) Bill was introduced in Parliament (covering all aspects).
2016 Bill was introduced by the NDA government banning commercial surrogacy and allowing just Altruistic Surrogacy.
2019 Bill was re-introduced due to inherent deficiencies.
2021 The Bill was passed and became an act

In the absence of law, many problems were coming 

  1. Medical problems wrt foetus, e.g., the surrogate child is disabled or has any genetic disease and parents refuse to accept the child.
  2. Non-payment to surrogate mothers, especially when the child is born still or dead or born with a disability.
  3. Baby Manji Case (2008)Baby Manji was commissioned by Japanese parents (through an unknown egg donor and husband’s sperm) and was born to a surrogate mother in Gujarat. The parents divorced before the baby was born. The genetic father wanted the child’s custody, but Indian law barred single men from it, and Japanese law didn’t recognize surrogacy. The baby was ultimately granted a visa, but the case underscored the need for a regulatory framework for surrogacy in India.  
  4. Law Commission of India has recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic surrogacy by enacting appropriate legislation.

Provisions of the Surrogacy Act, 2021

  • Defines Surrogacy: The Act defines surrogacy as ‘a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple.’
  • It bans commercial surrogacy and allows only allows Altruistic Surrogacy.
  • The following can opt for surrogacy.
    1. Any heterosexual Indian couples or couples of Indian origin have a medical condition requiring gestational surrogacy.
    2. only for altruistic surrogacy purposes
    3. not for producing children for sale 
    4. prostitution, or other forms of exploitation
    5. Couples shouldn’t have any surviving child (either biological, adopted or surrogate)
  • The couple going for surrogacy should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority.
  • The couple can only approach a close relative for surrogacy. 
  • The surrogate child should be considered the biological child of the intending couple.
  • Regulatory Bodies: Regulatory bodies to regulate surrogacy clinics will be established at national and state levels
    • National Assisted Reproductive Technology & Surrogacy Board at the central level
    • State Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy Boards in the states
  • The act has also laid down the criteria for surrogate mothers, which include 
    1. Married women aged between 25 to 35 years having their own children.
    2. Can become a surrogate only once in her lifetime.
    3. Posses certificate of fitness for surrogacy
  • Insurance cover: 36 months for the Surrogate Mother to take care of all her medical needs and emergency conditions/complications.
  • Penalty: The penalty for going against the provisions of the act includes up to 10 years of imprisonment and a 10 lakh fine. 

Issues with the Act

  • An outright ban on surrogacy will push this industry underground, increasing the vulnerability of women even more. It was seen in Thailand
  • Act borrows heavily from the UK’s altruistic surrogacy Bill but has changed the British provision to allow only blood relatives to “close relatives”. Close Relative is a vague term open to legal challenges. Even the Select Committee has recommended changing the term ‘Close Relative’ with ‘Willing Woman.’
  • Violates Right to Equality: Restricting surrogacy to married Indian couples and disqualifying others based on nationality, marital status, sexual orientation or age does not appear to qualify the test of equality.  
  • Violate Article 21: Right to life includes the right to reproductive autonomy.
  • Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality. Unfortunately, the Bill scarcely bears an imprint of the verdict & continues to speak the discriminatory language of Section 377.
  • The Bill violates UNDHR. Article 16 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights gives the right to men and women of full age to found a family. 

Reproductive Technologies

Reproductive Technologies

This article deals with ‘Reproductive Technologies  – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’, which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Reproductive technologies

1. In-vitro Fertilization (IVF)

  • IVF is the process of fertilization of an egg and sperm outside the mother’s body. The baby thus produced is known as Test Tube Baby.
  • In this process, a child is conceived outside the women’s body in vitro (i.e. lab). Eggs removed from the mother’s ovary are incubated with the sperm from the father. Now, they are allowed to divide until the Blastula stage (64-128 cell structure), which usually takes 3-4 days, which is then transferred to the mother’s or a surrogate’s uterus to develop normally.  
Reproductive Technologies
  • This technique was discovered by Dr Edwards and Dr Steptoe in the UK. They successfully carried out the birth of the world’s first test-tube baby “Louis Joy Brown” whose mother had a blockage in the Fallopian tube. The second successful test-tube baby occurred in India, named Durga after 67 days of Louis’s birth, 
  • IVF is used in the following cases:-
    1. Defect in Fallopian Tube of women.
    2. A low number of sperms in men. 
    3. Infrequent or absent ovulation.
    4. Endometriosis
    5. Age-related infertility.
  • Hence, it helps infertile couples to have a baby of their own (with their eggs and sperm). Without using a donor egg or donor sperm, the DNA of the zygote will be of the intended parents only.

Issues with IVF / Test Tube Babies

  • Multiple Births: During the process, drugs are induced to the patient’s ovaries to grow several mature eggs rather than a single one that develops each month. If more than one egg is fertilized and transferred to a uterus, chances of success increase. But this also increases the chance of twin births.
  • Ovaries Hyper Stimulation Syndrome: Stimulations done to produce more than one egg cell can cause side effects like swollen and painful ovaries.
  • Birth Defects: Test Tube Bodies have relatively higher risks of birth defects than naturally conceived babies.
  • There is a danger of a mix-up of the baby in the laboratory processes leading to future legal suits.

2. Embryo transfer

  • In this technique, the fertilized egg or young embryo is transferred from donor mother to recipient mother or from test tube to the recipient mother. The best transfer stage is the 2 – 4 cell stage.

3. Artificial wombs

  • This technique is used in the final stages of multiple pregnancies as the foetus becomes cramped by transferring the foetus to the artificial womb. The artificial womb is a tank filled with amniotic fluid and a machine that pumps nutrients and oxygen into the baby’s blood.

4. Artificial insemination

  • It is the introduction of semen into a female’s reproductive tract. 
  • Semen collected from a male with desirable hereditary features can be frozen & transported long distances to fertilize females. 
  • It is used for those females who wish to conceive when normal conception is not possible. 

5. Gamete Intra Fallopian Transfer (GIFT )

  • In GIFT, egg and sperms are mixed and injected into Fallopian tubes, where the Fertilization takes place as it does naturally. 
  • In contrast to in-vitro, this is an in-vivo technique. 

Application of Reproductive Technologies 

  • It helps in achieving enhanced fertility. 
  • It helps maintain future fertility (Eg: before undergoing chemo or radiotherapy).
  • It can be used to restore fertility by the involvement of the couple. 
  • It helps restore fertility by the involvement of a third party in premature loss of ovarian function. 
  • Minimize severe maternal and foetal risks. 

Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, 2021

The act to regulate ART or Assisted Reproductive Technologies was introduced in the Parliament in 2020 to standardise protocols of the growing fertility industry and provide for the regulation of ART services in the country. 

Key provisions in the bill

1. Definition of ART: The Bill defines ART as all the techniques to obtain pregnancy using sperm and oocyte outside the human body and transferring the resulting embryo into a woman’s reproductive system.  

2. Regulation of ART clinics and banks: Every ART clinic and bank must be registered under the National Registry of Banks and Clinics of India.  

3. Rights of a child born through ART: Child born using ART will be considered biological child of commissioning parents and donor will have no rights over the child. 

4. Written Consent: Clinic will have to take written consent from all the parties involved.

5. Offences and penalties: Offences mentioned under ART are 

  1. Abandoning and exploitation children.
  2. Selling or buying gametes. 
  3. Exploiting commissioning parents or donors. 
  4. Transferring human embryos into animals.


  • The act discriminates against the LGBTQ, same-sex couples and single parents. The act is entirely against Supreme Court’s Navtej Johal judgement. 
  • ART Act and Surrogacy Act doesn’t work in tandem with each other. Both the acts have set up multiple registration bodies while left some of the lacunae unaddressed.



This article deals with ‘Telescopes‘. This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology, which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Telescopes in News

Telescopes in the news wrt India

  • 30 m Telescope ( Hawaii) 
  • National Large Solar Telescope ( Ladakh)

It has to be noted that Light Pollution is a severe problem for Astronomers as artificial light from buildings, street lights, and malls makes it challenging to observe and study the stars in the sky. Hence,  Telescopes are set up in remote regions (far away from the cities).

Terrestrial Telescopes

1. Thirty-meter telescope

  • It is called Thirty Meter Telescope because its primary mirror is 30m wide.
  • After the E-ELT (European Extremely Large Telescope), it is the world’s highest and second largest telescope.
  • It is located at the Mauna Kea volcano summit in Hawaii (USA).
  • It is the joint project of India, Japan, the US, China, and Canada with $1.5 billion. 
  • India has financed 10% of the cost and will get proportional time for use. 
  • It observes between near UV to mid-infrared wavelengths and corrects the blur caused by the atmosphere by its adaptive optics system.

Controversy associated

Three controversies are related to this project:-

  1. Mauna Kea is considered sacred by the local Hawaiian people.
  2. It presents a danger to the habitat of the Rare Weiku Bug found there.
  3. The land was given for use essentially rent-free.
Thirty-meter telescope

2. National Large Solar Telescope

  • NLST is being built by the Dept. of Science of Technology in Ladakh.
  • It will be the world’s largest solar telescope.
  • It can work both day and night.
  • It will fill the longitude gap between Japan and Europe. Currently, there is no telescope between these regions. 
  • It will help in understanding sunspots. Thus it will help protect satellite communication as sunspots pose a threat to their working. 

Why is Ladakh chosen?

  • Placement at a higher altitude will fundamentally enhance the NLST capacity.  
  • Prolong region of sunshine, clear sky (high visibility).
  • Low concentration of aerosol and dust particles in the atmosphere. 
  • Lower wind speed.
National Large Solar Telescope

3. Multi-Application Solar Telescope (MAST), Udaipur Solar Observatory

Purpose and significance  

  • For a detailed study of the Solar activity, including its magnetic field. 
  • The observatory is situated on an island in the middle of Fatehsagar lake. 
  • It is Asia’s biggest telescope.

Why is an observatory made in the middle of the lake? 

  • A large water body surrounding the telescopes decreases the amount of heating of the surface layers. 
  • It reduces the turbulence in the air mass and improves image quality. 
National Large Solar Telescope

4. Growth India Telescope

  • It is part of a multi-country joint initiative termed the Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen (GROWTH). 
  • The US, UK, India, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Israel are part of this initiative.
  • Location: Hanle (Ladakh)
  • It is a fully robotic telescope and can be controlled remotely. 
  • Aim: Study cosmic events happening over relatively small periods of the cosmological timescale.

5. Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA)

  • ALMA is the joint venture of the USA, Japan, Canada, Taiwan, South Korea, and Chile. 
  • It is at 5000 meters. This place is most suitable as it is free from background noise, and the atmosphere is clean, dry and cool.
  • It consists of 66 high-precision antennas.
  • Aim: Explain very old and important astronomical anonymities and search for the origin of the Cosmos.
  • ALMA is the most powerful telescope used for observing the cold universe in which scientists study molecular gases and dust.
  • Using ALMA, astronomers have obtained high-resolution images of 20 nearby protoplanetary disks depicting the planet’s birth. 

Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA)

Telescopes in the Space

1. Astrosat

  • Astrosat is India’s first dedicated astronomy satellite (like Hubble of West).
  • It was launched in September 2015.


  • It can scan multi-wavelengths from ultraviolet to optical and low- and high-energy x-ray bands for studying distant stars, galaxies and other cosmic objects. 
  • It is situated at the height of 650 Km.
  • It has been of immense benefit to our scientists, who have depended on inputs from other agencies and sources like the Hubble [US-European space telescope]. 
  • It has put India in an elite orbit with the US, Europe, Russia and Japan.

2. James Webb Space Telescope

  • It is the Joint Venture of NASA, ESA & the Canadian Space Agency.
  • It is the scientific successor of the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes. 
  • The primary mirror of JWST consists of 18 hexagonal mirrors of 1.32 m diameter each (compared to Hubble Telescope with one mirror of 2.4 m diameter). Further, these mirrors are made up of beryllium as it is light and strong and coated with gold to increase the mirror’s reflection.
  • It will be placed at L2 (Lagrange Point), 930,000 miles from Earth’s surface. 
  • It has become NASA’s flagship infrared observatory. JWST carries four instruments
    1. Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam),
    2. Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec),
    3. Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) and the 
    4. Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph  
  • JWST will study the following
    1. Search for the very first galaxies that were formed after Big Bang. 
    2. Evolution of the galaxies until now. 
    3. Study formation of stars and their evolution in different phases.
    4. Potential to support life in these systems.
    5. Study solar systems, their planets, along with comets, asteroids and minor planets.

James Webb Space Telescope

3. Kepler

  • It was launched in 2009.
  • Aim: Survey the Milky Way galaxy region to discover planets in or around the habitable zone (Goldilocks Zone). 
  • It was orbiting the Sun, nearly 156 million km from the Earth.
  • Kepler is described as the most prolific planet-hunting machine in history. By June 2017, it had discovered more than 4,000 planet candidates and 2,300 confirmed planets.
  • Nov 2018: NASA’s Kepler space telescope has been retired after running out of fuel.

Side Topic: Goldilocks Zone

  • Goldilocks region denotes the area at the proper distance from its home star that it is neither at too high temperature nor too cold. 
  • Habitable exoplanets must have such a temperature in which water can exist in its liquid form. 

4. Hubble Space Telescope

  • Hubble Space Telescope was launched in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in 1990 as a joint venture between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA)
  • It used to orbit 550 km above Earth. 
  • Its main payloads include
    1. Wide Field and Planetary Camera (WF/PC), 
    2. Goddard High-Resolution Spectrograph (GHRS)
    3. High-Speed Photometer (HSP)
    4. Faint Object Camera (FOC)
    5. Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS).
  • These scientific payloads have helped uncover many secrets of the universe, including the theory of its expansion.

Hubble Space Telescope

5. Spitzer Space Telescope

  • NASA launched it in 2003.
  • Aim: To study the universe in the infrared
  • It was retired in January 2020.



This article deals with ‘Logistics – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Economics’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

What is Logistics?

Logistics means managing the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of consumption.

It includes

  1. Transportation 
  2. Inventory management
  3. Warehousing
  4. Packaging 
  5. Last-mile delivery 

Importance of the Logistics Sector

  • Sunrise Sector: The Indian logistics sector is valued at $215 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.5% between 2019 and 2025.
  • Employment: Logistics industry employs 4.5 crores and is growing at the rate of 15%.
  • The growth of the manufacturing sector depends upon it. E.g., getting raw material, taking final goods to markets etc.
  • Boosting Indian Exports: China is an export giant because of its highly efficient logistics.
  • Service Sector: Amazon, Flipkart etc., have become giants due to their efficient logistics.
  • Increasing Farmer’s Income: An efficient logistic supply chain network has the potential to increase farmers’ income manifold, which can lead to a domino effect on the overall economy. 


  • High Cost: India’s logistics costs are 4-5 times that of developed countries. It makes our products uncompetitive.
  • Inefficient: Logistics in India is inefficient compared to China. It takes more time to reach a product in the western market—days to send the product to the US – 14 days from China compared to 41 from Delhi.
  • Regulatory Issues: There are obstacles in land acquisition and consolidation, poor coordination among multiple regulatory agencies and a lack of transparency in compliances. 
  • Warehouse Issues: The inadequate size of the warehouse, difficulty in getting land at the desired location, and the majority of warehouses are not leakproof. 
  • Saturated Transport: Railways and roads have been saturated. The railway is operating at 120% of its capacity leading to delays.
  • Ports: Large vessels cant enter Indian ports. Hence, Indian cargo is first taken to Colombo or another port & transhipped from there.
  • Rural market: Logistics industry is least developed to cater to rural areas, which form a large chunk of the Indian market. 
  • Lack of inter-ministerial coordination / Fragmented Policy: It hampers smooth multimodal transport in India. 
  • Shortage of skilled workforce: Non-availability of skilled manpower is attributed to inadequate training and proper leadership and support. There are limited institutes for soft skills and operational and technical training. Also, due to poor working conditions and low pay scale (unorganized nature), it is not a preferred choice among skilled personnel. 

Due to these challenges, India’s rank on World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index is low. 

World Bank's Logistics Performance Index

Steps taken by the Government to improve logistics

  • Infrastructure Lending Status: Logistics sector has been given Infrastructure Lending Status. Due to this, loans for logistics have become eligible for the following benefits.
    • Logistics projects can get long tenure loans.
    • Loans will be cheaper (at least 50 basis points) 
    • Such projects will now be eligible to borrow from specialized lenders like IDFC, IIFCL etc., which fund only infrastructure projects.
    • Attracting investments from debt, pension funds and international lenders (ECBs) into recognized projects. 
  • GST Tax Reforms: The taxation system has become simple and has created a single market. 
  • Dedicated Freight corridors will smoothen the transportation and logistics. 
  • Sagarmala and Bharatmala projects have been started to upgrade port and road infrastructure.  
  • India has signed the Trade Facilitation Agreement of WTO and taken steps to make customs procedures smooth and paperless. 
  • Creation of Logistics Division: The Logistics division in the Department of Commerce has been created. Further, the Logistics division has planned to create an IT backbone and develop a National Logistics Information Portal. This online Logistics marketplace will bring together the various stakeholders on a single platform. 
  • Logistics Ease Across Different States (LEADS) Index: LEADS Index is an attempt to establish the baseline of performance in the logistics sector based on the perception of users and stakeholders at the state level. 
  • Logistic Enhance Efficiency Program: It was launched to manage and develop logistic parks and reduce the cost of logistics.  

What more can be done?

  • Formulation of National Integrated Logistics Policy to bring greater transparency and enhance efficiency
  • Faster clearances for setting up of logistics infrastructure like Multimodal logistic parks (MMLPs), Container Freight Station (CFS), Air Freight Station (AFS) & Inland Container Depot (ICD)
  • Promote the introduction of high-end technologies like high-tech scanning equipment, RFID, GPS, EDI, and online Track & Trace systems in the entire logistics network. 

Multimodal Projects

Integrated Multimodal Transportation System (IMTS) serves to interconnect different modes of transport – road, rail, air, and water – seamlessly and therefore improve the efficiency and speed of goods and passengers movement.

Multimodal Projects


  • In difficult terrain, Multimodal Transport is better suited. E.g. Kaladan Multimodal Project uses Road, Inland Transportation and Sea. 
  • Ease in the movement of goods => Embedded cost of transportation in goods can be cut down.
  • The multiplier effect on the economy: They lead to the development of ancillary industries like Steel, Shipbuilding, Railway building etc.
  • International Relations: Our trade in South East Asia can grow with the development of Multimodal Projects in those areas. 
  • Provides faster transit of goods
  • Reduces the burden of documentation and formalities
  • Establishes only one agency to deal with.


  • Coordination Issues: Different Ministries and agencies, both of Union and state, need to come on a single platform  
  • Land acquisition issues
  • Maintenance of all the modes of transportation simultaneously is an issue.
  • Finance Issues: It requires huge investment. 

Government Initiatives

1. PM Gati Shakti

PM Gati Shakti is a digital platform which connects 16 ministries such as Road, Shipping, Aviation, Railways, Petroleum, Telecom etc., to ensure holistic planning and execution of projects.

How will it work?

  • The platform has 200 layers of geospatial data, such as roads, railways, forests, rivers, state and district boundaries, etc., to aid in planning projects and obtaining rapid clearances.
  • The Gati Shakti portal will also help the government agencies to track the real-time development of various infrastructural projects from a centralized place.
PM Gati Shakti


  • Address the silos-based approach of infrastructure development by various ministries.
  • Reduce the logistics cost in India.

2. Multi-Modal Logistics Park  (MMLP)

  • Multi-Modal Logistics Park (MMLP) is a modal freight handling establishment comprising warehouses, dedicated cold chain facilities, freight or container terminals and bulk cargo terminals, which eases and optimizes merchandise movement via road, rail, waterway and air, and consequently, rationalizes the cost of logistics and improves the competitiveness of logistics.
  • India is developing 35 MMLPs across India over the coming years. The first MMLP will be constructed in Assam at a cost of $407 million.



This article deals with ‘e-Commerce – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Economics’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


Selling and buying goods using ICT is known as e-Commerce.

E-Commerce Sector is growing at an incredible pace


The e-Commerce sector has generated a multiplier effect

  1. Huge creation of jobs 
  2. Reduction of market prices for consumers 
  3. Huge investment in logistics and infrastructure 
  4. Help Artisans exploit new markets. E.g. Karigar ke Dwar (Flipkart)  
  5. Help in promoting tribal art. E.g., Amazon and Trifed signed a contract to sell Indian Tribal Products globally under the brand ‘TRIBES INDIA

Two Models of e-Commerce

There are two models of e-Commerce

1. Market-Based Model

  • Market-based Model is followed by Amazon & Flipkart, in which the company provides the IT platform to facilitate the transaction between buyer and seller and takes their fees for providing the platform.
  • FDI Norms: FDI is allowed
Market-Based Model

2. Inventory-Based Model

  • In this Model, the seller manufactures and sells its product online—for example, the online store of Samsung, where Samsung sells its phones and other accessories.  
  • FDI Norms: FDI is not allowed
Inventory-Based Model

Other way to define

B2B Business to Business
B2C Business to Customer

e-Commerce Policy

Need for e-Commerce Policy

  1. Taking Market Based License but then acting as an Inventory based company. E.g., WS Retail, the biggest seller on Flipkart, is owned by Flipkart, and Cloudtail and Appario, which are the biggest sellers on Amazon, are owned by Amazon. Apart from that, Amazon sells its in-house products like Kindle in its marketplace.
  2. A large amount of customer data is under the control of e-commerce companies which can be misused.
  3. Importance of sector due to its revenue and job-creating potential. Hence, it should be properly regulated as any mishap can result in a catastrophe.
  4. Monopolistic market: e-Commerce giants such as Amazon are trying to set up a Monopolistic market by making the brick and mortar stores go out of the market through their policies such as making exclusive deals with mobile companies to sell their phones on their platform only and by giving large discounts.
  5. Silo-based regulation: e-Commerce in India is regulated by the IT Act, Consumer Protection Act etc. The government needs to consolidate it via a comprehensive act.

Draft e-Commerce Policy

  • FDI: Clearly demarcate a marketplace model & an inventory-based model and encourage FDI in the ‘marketplace’ model alone. (Earlier issue: Companies like Amazon show that they follow Marketplace Model but sell their inhouse products (like Amazon Kindle etc.) 
  • Data: Policy acknowledges data as a ‘national asset’/’societal common’ and seeks to establish a legal & technological framework to restrict the cross-border flow of data generated in India (Earlier issue – Companies take Indian data outside and mine it to target advertisements or sell data about their preferences).
  • Taxation Issues: The concept of ‘significant economic presence‘ should be adopted for the purpose of taxation. (Earlier issue – Companies like Amazon don’t pay tax, arguing that they are based in Luxemburg).
  • Infrastructure Development: ‘Infrastructure status’ will be given to digital infrastructure like data centres, server farms for data storage etc.
  • Small enterprises and start-ups attempting to enter the digital sector can be given ‘infant-industry’ status


  • Supply chain disruptions triggered by the pandemic led to a new sub-vertical of the online grocery segment is — Quick Commerce, or q-commerce — where the promise of deliveries within 10-30 minutes of ordering is the unique selling proposition. The focus of most of these ventures is on setting up micro-warehouses located closer to the point of delivery and restricting the stocks at these ‘dark stores’ to a focussed set of under 2,000 high-demand items, as against the traditional formula of well-stocked large-format warehouses located on the outskirts of towns and cities.
  • Examples: Instamart, Zepto, Grofers etc.

Inland Waterways

Inland Waterways

This article deals with ‘Inland Waterways– UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Economics’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


  • India has one of the longest navigable inland water networks. But out of the total 15,000 kilometres of a navigable river, India is currently using just 2000 km
  • West Bengal has the longest navigable length of rivers, followed by Assam and Bihar.
  • Inland waterways Transport constitutes just 0.5% of the total cargo transport. In China, 47% of goods and passenger traffic is transported through inland waterways. Whereas in India, domestic transport through water is 3.5%, out of which 0.5 % is inland & 3% is coastal.
Inland Waterways
  • According to a government study, one litre of fuel moves 24 tons/km on the road, 95 tons/km on rail and 215 tons/km on inland waterways.
Efficiency of Inland Waterways

Benefits of Inland Waterways

  1. It is cheaper than Road and Railways and costs 1/5th compared to road transport. 
  2. The Carbon footprint is also lower than road and rail systems.
  3. Land acquisition requirements are almost negligible compared with roads and railways. 
  4. The infrastructure that needs to be developed is minimal.
  5. There is also little scope for transit losses.
  6. It will open up considerable investment in the areas like water-based tourism, dredging of rivers, and operation of terminals generating millions of new jobs.

Main challenges

  1. Dredging: Inland navigation requires a water depth of 3 m & in most of the stretches of Ganga designated as NW1, it is not more than 2 m. Hence, regular dredging and repair are needed.
  2. Variability of water during the lean season impacts the operations.
  3. Oil spills & noise pollution can harm river ecology. E.g., the NW-1 project harming Gangetic dolphins. 
  4. Several rivers meander, increasing the distance to be travelled compared to road and rail.  
  5. On many rivers, bridges with low vertical clearance impede the passage of bigger vessels.
  6. To be viable, the water transport projects will need to have assured two-way commodity traffic. Bulk goods, like coal, minerals, foodgrain and fertilizer, are usually unidirectional, requiring the vessels to return empty or under-loaded. 

National Inland Waterways 

National Inland waterway Length (km)
Allahabad-Haldia stretch of the Ganga- Bhagirathi- Hooghly river system 1620 (longest)
Sadiya-Dhubri stretch of Brahmaputra river 891 
Kollam-Kottappuram stretch on Champakara canal and Udyogmandal canal 205
Kakinada-Puducherry stretch of Canals (on Godavari and  Krishna and Canals) 1078 
Talcher-Dhamra stretch (Brahmani river) 588
Lakhipur Bhanga on Barak River, Assam  121
National Inland Waterways

National Waterway Act, 2016

  • Inland Waterways, Shipping and Navigation, are covered in Entry 24 of the Union list. Hence, Parliament is empowered to legislate on this.
  • This act repealed all earlier Acts for individual waterways, and 111 National Waterways have been notified under the provisions of this act. 
  • Working National Waterways
    1. National Waterway 1: Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly River System
    2. National Waterway 2: Brahmaputra River
    3. National Waterway 3: Kollam-Kottappuram stretch on Champakara canal and Udyogmandal canal
    4. National Waterway 68: Mandovi
    5. National Waterway 97: Sundarbans Waterways
    6. National Waterway 111: Zuari

Jal Marg Vikas Project

  • This project aims to develop infrastructure to enable National Waterway 1 for commercial navigation on the Varanasi-Haldia stretch of river Ganga.
  • In 2018, the Varanasi freight terminal became operational when the cargo ship ‘MV Rabindranath Tagore’ arrived in Varanasi from Kolkata.

Ways to Finance

  • The government is using the corpus of the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) and Central Roads Fund  (CRF) for upgrading the Inland Waterways.
  • Apart from that, the market borrowing route is also used. 

Inland Vessels Bill, 2021

The bill will replace the Inland Vessel Act 1917.

Provisions of the bill include

  • To operate in inland waters, vessels must have a certificate of survey and registration.
  • The bill will bring all inland vessels & waterways in India under union government regulation.    
  • Mechanical vessels must have certain equipment and signals to ensure safe navigation.
  • In case of an SOS signal is sent by the vessel, the nearest vessel must respond to the call and failure to respond can result in a fine of up to Rs. 10,000.
  • In case of an accident, the nearest police station will hold the jurisdiction for the inquiry.
  • The Centre will prescribe the rules for the minimum qualification of the crew.

Bodies related to Inland Waterways

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) 

  • IWAI was created in 1986.
  • Function: Regulatory body for Inland waterways
  • Headquartered in Noida.

Central inland Water Transport Corporation Ltd (CIWTC)

  • CIWTC was incorporated in 1967 by taking over all the assets of the erstwhile River Steam Navigation Co. Ltd.
  • It regulated the Inland Water Transport between India and Bangladesh.
  • Headquartered in Kolkata.