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Article 356 of the Indian Constitution

In News

Recently, in Rajya Sabha, the Prime Minister talked about how the Union Government has used Article 356 in the past without following the rules.

What is Article 356?

  • • Article 356 of the Indian Constitution has rules about putting “President’s Rule” into effect in a state and getting rid of an elected government if the constitutional machinery in a state breaks down.
    •  The President can decide at any time, either after getting a report from the Governor or on his or her own, if the constitutional machinery has broken down.
  • Ground: Article 356 gives the President the power to give the executive and legislative powers of any state to the Union “if he is convinced that the government of the state cannot be run in accordance with the Constitution.”
  • Duration of President’s Rule: A state’s president can take over for up to three years, but only for six months at a time.
  • o Every six months, Parliament will have to agree again to use President’s Rule.
  • Origin: The idea for Article 356 came from Section 93 of the Government of India Act of 1935. However, instead of the Governor, the President has this power. For the British, this clause allowed for a “controlled democracy,” which meant that the British government could have the final say when they thought it was necessary.
  • Need of the Article 356
  • Several members of the Constituent Assembly were strongly against adding article 356 (draught article 278) because it seemed to bring back an imperial legacy. However, it was thought to be necessary because the Indian republic was expected to face problems soon after it got its independence.
  • The people who wrote the Constitution knew from their experience in society and politics that the safety of the country and the stability of its government could not be taken for granted.
  • The huge differences in social, economic, and political life, as well as the many different languages, races, and regions, were expected to make things hard for the new republic.
    • However, Dr. Ambedkar was able to get rid of these objections by saying that no part of any Constitution can’t be abused and that the possibility of abuse can’t be a reason not to include it.
    • We should expect that these articles will never be used and that they will just stay on paper. If they are put into effect at all, I hope the President will take the right precautions before stopping the provinces from running the country.

Misuse of Article 356

• The Constitution says that Article 356 should only be used in rare cases, but central governments have used it many times to settle political scores.

• In the past, the President’s Rule has been put on hold for much longer times than it is now. For example, from 1987 to 1992, Punjab was ruled by the president because of rising militancy.

• According to the Sarkaria commission, more and more people are using Article 356 as time goes on.

Supreme Court’s Observations

  • • In 1989, the S. R. Bommai government in Karnataka was thrown out by the Centre.
  •  In its ruling, the Supreme Court said that Article 356 can be used when the government physically breaks down or when there is a “hung assembly.” However, it cannot be used without giving the state government a chance to show that it has a majority in the House or without a violent breakdown of the constitutional machinery.
  •  The Assembly is said to be “hung” when no single political party wins a majority. This is also called “no overall control.”
  • Since the judgment, the arbitrary use of Article 356 has been largely controlled.

Relevant Committees/Commissions with respect to Article 356

    • Views of Sarkaria Commission on Article 356: The people who made the constitution thought that these parts would only be used in rare, extreme situations when all other ways to fix things had failed.
    •  The Commission then said that “failure of constitutional machinery” can be looked at from four different angles: (a) political crisis, (b) internal subversion, (c) physical breakdown, and (d) Union Executive not following constitutional directions.
  • View of National Commission to Review Working of the Constitution 2001:
    •  The commission said that the time to get rid of Article 356 has not yet come, but that the right way to use the Article can be made sure by making the right changes.
Emergency Provisions

  • • Part XVIII of the Constitution talks about what to do in an emergency.
  • You can divide the emergency provisions into three groups:
  • Articles 352, 353, 354, 358, and 359, which deal with national emergencies,
  • Articles 355, 356, and 357, which talk about when the President can take control of a state,
  •  Article 360, which talks about a money crisis.


Indo-French Strategic Partnership: 25th-anniversary

In News

• India and France recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of when they made a deal to work together.

India- France Relations

  • Beginning and Developments 
  • The Indo-French Strategic Partnership, which was signed in 1998, has continued to grow because it is based on shared values and strategic autonomy.
  • France was one of the first countries to sign a civil nuclear deal with India.
  •  Paris was also very important in keeping India from being too far away from the rest of the world after the 1998 nuclear tests.
  • Trade & Commerce
    • France has emerged as a key trading partner of India with annual trade of $12.42 billion in 2021-22. 
    •  France is the 11th biggest foreign investor in India. It has put $10.31 billion into the country over the past 20 years, which is 1.70 percent of all foreign direct investment in India.
  • Defence
  • France has become an important defence partner for India, and from 2017 to 2021, it will be the second largest defence supplier.
    • France is a major strategic partner for India with crucial defence deals and increased military to military engagement. Some of the examples are
    • The French Scorpene conventional submarines, which are being built in India as part of a 2005 technology transfer agreement, will be put into service.
    • Indian Air Force’s order for 36 Rafale fighter jets was filled.
    • The Tata group and Airbus are working together to make C-295 tactical transport planes in Vadodara, Gujarat.
      • These relationships are strengthened by a strong network of military talks and regular joint exercises called Varuna (for the navy), Garuda (for the air force), and Shakti (for the army) (army).
      • France is willing to  partner India as it builds its national industrial base for the defence industry and for critical strategic defence projects
      • India and France are major powers in the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific regions.
      • “Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region” is a plan for strengthening ties, such as patrolling the Indian Ocean together by French and Indian ships.
      • India and France agreed to create an Indo-Pacific Trilateral Development Cooperation Fund. This fund will help countries in the region find new ways to solve problems.
      • The two partners, along with the United Arab Emirates, have formed a trilateral group to make sure safety from the east coast of Africa to the far Pacific.
  • Climate Change
    • India has backed France in the Paris Agreement, which shows how strongly it wants to reduce the effects of climate change.
  • In 2015, New Delhi and Paris started the International Solar Alliance as part of their joint efforts to fight climate change.
  • Indo-Pacific
  • Support for NSG :  

o France backs India’s efforts to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council and to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Common Concerns: 

  • Both countries share concerns over the rise of China and its aggressive behaviour, regionally and globally, and have committed to working together to ensure that there is no imbalance in the Indo-Pacific.
  • There is a broad understanding of each other’s position and resolve to coordinate to find a solution when they find themselves in opposite camps for example Russia-Ukraine crisis 
  • Having no  real substantive disagreements between the two nations is rare in international relations.

Future Outlook 

  • India’s partnership with France is built on common values and goals.

• The ongoing high-level political dialogue between India and France in the areas of defence, maritime, counterterrorism, and the Indo-Pacific is making progress in digitalization, cyber, green energy, a blue economy, ocean sciences, and space, making this truly a decade of cooperation between India and France.

Assessing Marine Protected Areas

In News

• Recently, experts talked about how important it is to evaluate how well Marine Protected Areas work.

Key Takeaways:

  • Experts are calling for a closer look at the quality and performance of MPAs, pointing out that a true assessment of their progress can only be made with a clear understanding of baseline data.
  • •At the moment, only 6% of the ocean has been set aside as Marine Protected Areas. Of that 6%, only 2.4% is fully and completely protected, while the other 3.6% is protected to a lesser degree.
  • To reach the goal of protecting 30% of the ocean, there needs to be a big increase in the number of new MPAs made in the next 7 years.

Status of MPA in India:

  • India is home to a vast and diverse marine ecosystem that sustains numerous species of fish, mammals, birds, and other marine organisms. 
  • In recognition of the critical importance of the marine environment, India has established a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) aimed at conserving and sustainably managing its marine resources.
  •  Marine protected areas (MPAs) in India are areas set aside to protect marine and coastal biodiversity and make sure it can be used in a sustainable way.
  • These places have been set aside to protect their unique ecosystems and the animals that depend on them.
  • India has enacted legislation for coastal and marine conservation including:
    • Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
    • Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 1991
    • National Biodiversity Act, 2002
    • The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 provides for the establishment of protected areas by state governments.
  • Examples of important MPAs in India: Sundarbans National Park, Gulf of Kachchh Marine National Park, Gulf of Mannar National Park, and Wandoor Marine National Park.
Importance of MPAs Challenges of MPAs
  • Biodiversity Conservation: MPAs are very important for fish, marine mammals, birds, and other marine organisms that are threatened or endangered.
  • Ecosystem protection: MPAs keep coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds safe, which are all important parts of marine ecosystems.
  • Sustainable resource use: By protecting marine ecosystems and species, MPAs can help to ensure that marine resources are used sustainably and that future generations will have access to these resources.
  • Climate change mitigation: MPAs can help to mitigate the impacts of climate change by conserving marine ecosystems and their associated species, which play a critical role in regulating the Earth’s climate and weather patterns.

Economic benefits: MPAs can help the economy in a number of ways, such as by attracting more tourists and creating more opportunities for recreation. They can also help businesses, such as by increasing fish stocks and making the water quality better.

  • Lack of enforcement: It can be hard to make sure people follow the rules in MPAs, especially in remote or poorly patrolled areas.
  • Porous boundary: It makes it harder to stop illegal fishing, poaching, and other things that can hurt marine life and ecosystems in a big way.
  • Conflicts with local communities: MPAs can sometimes conflict with the livelihoods of local fishing communities and other coastal users. 
  • Limited financial and institutional support: MPAs require significant resources for their effective management, including funding for monitoring, enforcement, and research. 

Limited scientific understanding: Scientists don’t know enough about how complex marine ecosystems and the species that live in them work. This makes it hard to manage MPAs well and to come up with conservation plans that are based on solid scientific research.

Global Efforts 

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a global treaty signed by 196 countries, including India, with the aim of conserving biodiversity, promoting sustainable use of its components, and ensuring the fair sharing of benefits from genetic resources.
  • Previously, the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the CBD held in Kunming, China in 2021, emphasized the role of marine protected areas (MPAs) in conserving marine biodiversity and promoting sustainable use of marine resources.

Way ahead:

• MPAs are very important for protecting India’s rich marine history and keeping coastal communities alive. But it is important for the success of MPAs that they work well.

• Despite these problems, more and more people are realising how important MPAs are for protecting and managing India’s marine resources in a sustainable way.

For these problems to be solved, government agencies, academic institutions, and local communities need to work together more.

Source: TH

The Motion of Thanks

In News

In the Rajya Sabha, the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, answered the motion of thanks for the President’s speech to Parliament.

• The Prime Minister pointed out that the Azadi Ka Amrit Kaal has reached saturation, which is a big step for the government.

About Motion of Thanks 

  • Articles 86 and 87 of the Constitution deal with the Address by the President.
    •  Article 86 gives the President the right to speak to either House of Parliament or both Houses at the same time. For this to happen, members must be present.
    •  Article 87 is about the President’s Special Address. It says that the President must speak to both Houses of Parliament at the start of the first session after a general election to the Lok Sabha and at the start of the first session each year. He or she must explain why Parliament was called together.
    • The President’s speech essentially highlights the government’s policy priorities and plans for the upcoming year. 
      • The address provides a broad framework of the government’s agenda and direction.
  • After the speech, the Motion of Thanks is talked about in each House of Parliament, and the Prime Minister responds.
  • MPs can propose changes to the motion of thanks, which are then put to a vote. When a change is made to the address in Lok Sabha, it is seen as a vote against the government.

Source: PIB

Section 69(A) of IT Act

In News

• The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has recently given “urgent” and “emergency” orders to block 138 online betting sites and 94 money lending apps.

  • It is done because of Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Rationale behind Blocking 

• The decision was based on a recommendation from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which had heard from central intelligence agencies that some of the sites and apps were linked to China and had “material that hurts India’s sovereignty and integrity.”

What are some other instances of the government using Section 69A?

  • Following cross-border tensions with China, the MeitY banned 59 apps on June 29, 2020.
  • Similarly, on September 1, 2020, the government banned 118 apps, including the gaming app PUBG, followed by another ban on 49 apps on November 19, 2020.

Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

  • About:
  • o Section 69 of the IT Act gives the centre and the state government the power to give content-blocking orders to online intermediaries like Internet Service Providers (ISPs), telecom service providers, web hosting services, search engines, online marketplaces, etc. if the information or content being blocked is seen as a threat to India’s national security, sovereignty, or public order.
  • Process of Blocking Internet Websites:
  • • Section 69A, for the same reasons and grounds listed above, lets the Centre ask any government agency or any third party to block public access to any information created, sent, received, stored, or hosted on a computer resource.
  • • Any request to block public access must be based on written reasons.
  • Penalty:
  •  Social media middlemen who don’t follow the rules and regulations can be fined money and put in jail for up to 7 years.
  • The Safeguards for Section 69(A)
    • Blocking can only be resorted to where the Central Government is satisfied that it is necessary to do so
    • This kind of need only applies to some of the things listed in Article 19. (2).
    • In a blocking order, the reasons must be written down so they can be challenged in a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution.

Supreme Court’s observations 

    • Shreya Singhal vs Union of IndiaIn “Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India,” a landmark case from 2015, the Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000. This part of the law said that people could be punished for sending offensive messages through communication services, etc.
    •  Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000 is thrown out completely because it goes against Article 19(1)(a) and isn’t saved by Article 19(1)(b) (2).
    •  The plea also questioned Section 69A of the Information Technology Rules of 2009, but the SC said that it was “constitutionally valid.”
    •  The Court pointed out that, unlike Section 66A, Section 69A is a narrowly written law with several protections.
    • First and foremost, blocking can only be resorted to where the Central Government is satisfied that it is necessary to do so. 
    • Secondly, such necessity is relatable only to some of the subjects set out in Article 19(2). 
  • Third, the reasons for the blocking order must be written down so that they can be challenged in a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution.

Source: IE

Undersea Tunnel to Save Mangroves

In Context

• To save the mangrove forests in Maharashtra, a 7-km tunnel will be built under the sea as part of the bullet train project.

More about the news

  • About:
  • In order to save the mangrove forests in Maharashtra’s Thane creek, a 7-km tunnel will be built under the sea as part of the bullet train project.
  • The tunnel will be a single tube that can fit both tracks going up and down.
  • Significance:
  •  The goal of building the tunnel is to save about 12 hectares of mangroves in the creek.
  • The bird sanctuary and mangroves around Thane creek will be safe because of the tunnel.
  • Challenges:
    •  The cost of building the 21-km stretch of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor project from Bandra Kurla Complex Station to Shilphata will go up from?100 crores to?10,000 crores because of the underwater tunnel.
Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Corridor (MAHSR)

  • • MAHSR is a high-speed rail line that is being built between the economic centre of India, Mumbai, and the city of Ahmedabad.
  •  The whole corridor is 508 km long, and 156 km of it will be built in Maharashtra.
  • The shuttle time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is expected to drop from over 6 hours to between 2 and 2.5 hours.

More about Mangroves

  • About:
  • Mangroves are small trees and bushes that grow along the coasts.
  • These trees grow well in salty water and make unique forests where land meets the sea.
    • They can also be found in swamps.
  • Features:
    • Each hectare of these forests can hold up to 10 times more carbon than an acre of terrestrial forest.
    • Mangrove forests can live in harsh weather and need low levels of oxygen to stay alive.
  • Distribution:
    • Globally:
      • Mangroves are found in 123 countries, mostly in the tropical and subtropical parts of the world.
      • Asia has the largest coverage of the world’s mangroves, followed by Africa, North and Central America, Oceania and South America. Approximately 75% of the world’s mangrove forests are found in just 15 countries.
    • India:
      • India contributes to nearly half of the total mangrove cover in South Asia. 
      • West Bengal has the highest percentage of mangrove cover in India. Sundarbans in West Bengal is the largest mangrove forest in the world.
      • It is followed by Gujarat and Andaman, and Nicobar islands. 
      • Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Kerala too have mangrove.

Significance of Mangrove

  • Natural defence: 
    • Mangroves are the natural armies of tropical and subtropical countries because of how well they can adapt.
    •  Mangrove thickets keep water clean because they filter out pollutants and catch sediments that come from land.
  • Checking Global Temperature: 
    • Mangrove’s unique ability to capture and store carbon is increasingly catching the attention of the world, which is desperately looking for ways to keep global temperature in check.
  • Fighting against Climate Change: 
    • They are the best option to fight against consequences of climate change such as sea level rise and increasing frequency of natural calamities like cyclones and storm surges.
  • Maintaining ecology:

o Many different kinds of fish live in mangrove ecosystems.

  • When collected in a sustainable way, mangroves are also important sources of wood and firewood.

Major Threats

  • Developmental projects:
    •  The biggest threat to mangroves is the building of shrimp farms, hotels, and other structures along the coast.
  • Conversion of land:
    • Mangrove forests are cleared to make room for agricultural land and human settlements.
  • Exploitation:
    • In India’s Sunderbans, salinisation, population pressure, and overexploitation are the primary threats to mangroves and the area’s biodiversity.
  • Indirect threats:
  • Changes in the rate and pattern of sedimentation, rising sea levels, and more pollution are all indirect threats to mangroves that humans often make worse.

• Scientists say that at least one-third of all mangrove forests have been lost in the last few decades.

Government’s initiatives for Mangroves protection

  • Conservation and Management of Mangroves and Coral Reefs:
    •  The promotion measures are being carried out through a Central Sector Scheme under the National Coastal Mission Programme on “Conservation and Management of Mangroves and Coral Reefs.”
    • Under this programme, the annual Management Action Plan (MAP) for protecting and managing mangroves is made and carried out in all the coastal States and Union Territories.
  • Magical Mangroves campaign: 
  • Through the Magical Mangroves campaign, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in India has asked people in nine states, including Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha, West Bengal, and Karnataka, to help protect mangroves.
  • Scheme for Conservation & Management of Mangroves: 
  •  Under a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Conservation & Management of Mangroves, the Government helps Coastal States/UTs put their action plans into place. This includes surveying and dividing the area, finding other ways to make a living, taking steps to protect the area, and educating and raising awareness.
  • The Union Budget for 2023-2024 included a plan to plant mangroves along the coast and on salt pan lands. This plan is called MISHTI (Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes).
  • MISHTI will be put into action by bringing together the MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme), the CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) Fund, and other sources.

Global Quality Infrastructure Index(GQII)

In News

• In the Global Quality Infrastructure Index (GQII) 2021, India’s national accreditation system, which is run by the Quality Council of India (QCI), was ranked fifth in the world.Global Quality Infrastructure Index(GQII)

  • The GQII ranks the world’s 184 economies based on how well their infrastructure works (QI).
  • The GQII is a database and ranking that lets people compare the infrastructure quality of different countries around the world.
  • The independent consulting firms Mesopartner and Analyticar started the GQII programme to research and share information about Quality Infrastructure.
  • Quality Infrastructure is the international system for measuring, standardising, accrediting, and providing services related to quality (testing, calibration, inspection, verification, training and awareness building).
  • It creates confidence in international trade and contributes to the protection of consumers and the environment.

The GQII rankings are published and shown after the end of each year, based on the information that was gathered until the end of that year.

• The rankings for 2021 are based on data collected and analysed until the end of December 2021.

India’s Performance

  •  India’s overall QI system ranking stays at 10th place, which is still in the top 10.
  •  the system for standardisation (under BIS) at 9th
  •  The metrology system, which is run by NPL-CSIR, is ranked 21st in the world.
  • This is the sign of a New India in the Amrit Kaal with a quality first approach.
  • India’s accreditation system is the youngest among the three QI pillars in India
  • Accreditation helps establish the competence and credibility of conformity assessment bodies (CABs) which perform testing, certification, inspection, etc
Quality Council of India (QCI)

  • • It is a group that was set up in 1997 by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and the Indian industry.
  • It is run by the Boards that make up QCI, especially the National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB), which gives accreditation to the certification, inspection, validation, and verification bodies, and the National Accreditation Board for Testing & Calibration Laboratories (NABL), which gives accreditation to the testing, calibration, and medical laboratories.


India Energy Week 2023

In News

  • The India Energy Week (IEW) 2023 kicked off in Bengaluru with a speech from the Prime Minister.
  • The PM also started selling E20 fuel and gave the signal for the Green Mobility Rally to begin.

What is India Energy Week? 

• India Energy Week is the first big energy event on the G20 calendar. It takes place from February 6th to 8th and aims to show how India is becoming a leader in the energy transition.

  • At the event, leaders will talk about the challenges and chances that come with a responsible energy transition.

Key Highlights of the Energy Week 

    • Unbottled Initiative: The Indian Oil “Unbottled” initiative uniforms were launched by the Prime Minister.
    •  Following the Prime Minister’s plan to get rid of single-use plastics, Indian Oil has decided to use recycled polyester (rPET) and cotton to make uniforms for retail customer attendants and LPG delivery staff.
    • Each set of uniforms of IndianOil’s customer attendant shall support the recycling of around 28 used PET bottles.
    • IndianOil is taking this initiative further through ‘Unbottled’ – a brand for sustainable garments launched for merchandise made from recycled polyester. 
      • Under this brand, IndianOil targets to meet the requirement of uniforms for the customer attendants of other Oil Marketing Companies, non-combat uniforms for the Army, uniforms/ dresses for Institutions & sales to retail customers.
  • Twin-cooktop model: The PM also started the commercial rollout of the IndianOil Indoor Solar Cooking System’s twin-cooktop model. This model works on both solar energy and other energy sources at the same time, making it a reliable cooking solution for India.
  • E20 Fuel: E20 fuel was made available at 84 Retail Outlets of Oil Marketing Companies in 11 States/UTs. This was in line with the Ethanol Blending Roadmap.
  •  E20 is a mixture of 80% gasoline and 20% ethanol. The government wants to have 20% ethanol in all fuels by 2025. HPCL and other oil marketing companies are building 2G-3G ethanol plants to help make this happen.
India’s Energy Market

  • • India’s energy needs have grown a lot, and in the next few years, they will make up 11% of the world’s energy needs, up from 5% now. This gives energy companies a chance to invest in and work with energy companies in the country.
  • The government set aside?1 lakh crore for green hydrogen as part of the National Green Hydrogen Mission. India is in the lead when it comes to green hydrogen. In the next five years, it plans to replace grey hydrogen, which is made from natural gas or methane by steam methane reformation without capturing the greenhouse gases that are released.
  •  One of the main goals of the energy sector in the country was to look for fuels in the country and make more of them.
  • •In order to deal with these changes, the government is ready to help speed up the use of low-carbon options like biofuels, electric vehicles, and green hydrogen.


Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile System (QRSAM)

In News 

  • The indigenous Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM), which is being made by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), will be tested again in April. The Army has suggested some changes that will be made to the missile.

Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile System (QRSAM)

• It is a surface-to-air missile system with a short range that is meant to protect moving armoured columns from attacks from the air.

• The whole weapon system is built on platforms that can move quickly and can defend the air while on the move.

• The Indian Army is putting it to use (IA).

• The QRSAM weapon system is one of a kind because it can operate on the move, search and track, and fire after a short stop. This was shown by the mobility tests that were done earlier.

Do you Know?

  • • The DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries are working together to make a Medium Range SAM (IAI).
  •  The MRSAM Army Version was launched for the first time in December 2020.
  • Production has begun on the MRSAM. It is being trained and is ready to be sent out.