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FCRA license of think tank CPR suspended

GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions Role of NGOs, SHGs, Various Groups & Associations

In News

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs has suspended Think tank CPR’s FCRA registration.
  • The Centre for Policy Research (CPR), a think tank for public policy, is being investigated by the Indian Income Tax Department.
  • According to the notice, its FCRA registration had been “suspended for a period of 180 days.”
  • CPR receives funding from numerous domestic and international sources, including foundations, corporate philanthropy, governments, and multilateral organisations.”
  • The investigation questions the tax-exempt status of the CPR and its participation in activities “not in accordance with the objects and conditions under which it was registered.”
  • CPR has asserted that it has not engaged in any activity that exceeds its stated purposes and legal compliance requirements.

What is FCRA?

  • The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) was enacted in 1976 in response to fears that foreign powers were interfering in India’s internal affairs.
  • The law aimed to regulate foreign contributions to individuals and organisations so that they operated “consistently with the values of a sovereign democratic republic.”
  • In 2010 and 2020, the government amended the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to increase oversight and control over the receipt and use of foreign funds by nonprofit organisations.

FCRA Registration

  • Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that wish to receive foreign funds must apply online using a prescribed format and submit the necessary documentation.
  • FCRA registrations are granted to individuals or organisations with specific cultural, economic, educational, religious, and social programmes.
  • Following the NGO’s application, the MHA investigates the applicant’s background through the Intelligence Bureau and processes the application accordingly.


Components Key points
FCRA Requirements
  • • Broadly speaking, the FCRA requires any individual or non-governmental organisation seeking to receive foreign donations to: o be registered under the Act; o open a bank account for the receipt of foreign funds at State Bank of India, Delhi; and o use the funds only for the purpose for which they were received and in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
  • Additionally, they must file annual returns and cannot transfer the funds to another NGO.
Changes in FCRA Rules
  •  The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) amended FCRA rules in 2022, increasing the number of compoundable offences under the Act from seven to twelve.
  • The amendment also increased the time limit for notifying the government of the opening of bank accounts and exempted contributions of less than Rs 10 lakh from having to be reported, up from Rs 1 lakh.


Validity of FCRA Approval • Once granted, FCRA registration is valid for five years;

• NGOs must submit a renewal application within six months of the registration’s expiration date.

• In the absence of a renewal application, the registration is deemed to have expired.

• Upon expiration, the NGO may no longer receive foreign funds or use its existing funds without the ministry’s permission.


Challenges of regulating foreign contributions

  • Stringent Compliance Requirements: The FCRA registration process can be time-consuming and requires extensive documentation, while the rules on the utilization of funds are also strict.
  • Ambiguity in the Law: There is often ambiguity in the interpretation of the FCRA, leading to NGOs being exploited by authorities to target NGOs and curtail their activities.
  • Political Interference: The government’s discretionary powers to cancel registrations or freeze accounts of NGOs have been misused in some cases to target NGOs critical of the government, leading to accusations of political interference..
  • Administrative Delays:The registration and renewal process under the FCRA can take a long time which delays their work and impact their ability to receive funding.
  • Lack of Clarity: There is a lack of clarity on the compliance requirements for foreign corporations and foundations operating in India leading to concerns about the transparency of their funding activities and potential influence on Indian civil society.

Importance of regulating foreign contributions in India

  • Preventing interference in Indian affairs: The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act was enacted to prevent foreign interference in India’s affairs by regulating foreign contributions to individuals and organisations. Transparency and accountability: The FCRA ensures transparency and accountability, which are crucial in preventing the misuse of funds.
  • National security:The FCRA also helps in safeguarding national security interests by preventing foreign entities from funding activities that could be detrimental to India’s security.
  • Promoting social and economic development:Foreign contributions can be an important source of funding for social and economic development in India.

Way ahead

  • The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) is an important law in India that regulates the receipt and use of foreign funds by individuals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in a manner consistent with the values of a modern democratic republic. Despite the fact that the FCRA has been amended, implementation challenges remain, such as the difficulty of balancing the need for transparency and accountability with the need to protect the autonomy of civil society organisations. To prevent the misuse of foreign funds and to ensure the transparency and accountability of NGOs in India, it is essential to continue working towards the effective implementation of the FCRA.

Source: TH

Extradition of Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEOs)

GS 3 Indian Economy & Related Issues


  • India has urged the G20 to adopt multilateral action to expedite the extradition and asset recovery of fugitive economic offenders.

More about the news

  • Anti-corruption working group meeting: 
  • The first meeting of the G20 anti-corruption working group was held in Gurugram, Delhi.
  • Wherein India has urged the G20 to adopt multilateral action to expedite the extradition of fugitive economic offenders and the recovery of their assets on both the domestic and international fronts.
  • Significance:
  • Economic offences have been a problem faced by many, especially when the offenders flee from the jurisdiction of the country.
  • Speedy and effective procedure:
    • According to India, strengthening mechanisms for swift confiscation of criminal proceeds both at home and abroad will force criminals to return to their home country.
    • This will allow for an efficient investigation and prompt trial for the corresponding crime.
    • Help to banks and other financial institutions:

This would also help banks and other financial institutions and tax authorities recover from defaults committed by these FEOs. Thus, it will assist in restoring, to some degree, the overall health of these banks and other financial institutions, while eliminating the possibility of further misappropriation of these funds.

India’s Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018

  • India has put in place specialized legislation in the form of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.
  • Definition of FEO:
    • The ‘fugitive economic offender’ (FEO) is defined as an individual against whom a warrant of arrest in relation to scheduled offence has been issued by any court in India and who has left the country so as to avoid criminal prosecution; or the FEO abroad, refuses to return to face criminal prosecution.
  • Aim:
    • The Act aims to help confiscate assets of high-value economic offenders absconding from India till they submit to the jurisdiction of the appropriate legal forum.
  • Procedure to be followed: 
  • Under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the investigating agencies must file an application with a Special Court detailing the properties to be confiscated and any information about the person’s whereabouts.
  • The Special Court will issue a notice to appear at a specified location and date at least six weeks after the notice is issued.
    • If the individual appears: Proceedings will end if the individual appears.
      • If the person does not appear:
  • Otherwise, the individual would be designated as a Fugitive Economic Offender based on the evidence submitted by the investigating agencies.
  • According to the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act of 2018, a declared Fugitive Economic Offender may challenge the proclamation in the High Court within 30 days of the declaration.
  • Role of Enforcement Directorate:
  • The Enforcement Directorate is mandated to attach the properties of the fugitive economic offenders who have escaped from India warranting arrest and provide for the confiscation of their properties to the Central Government.
About G20

  • Origin:
    •  The G20 was established in 1999 in response to the financial crisis of the late 1990s, which particularly affected East Asia and Southeast Asia.
    • Its purpose was to ensure global financial stability through the participation of middle-income countries.
    • As stated by the official G20 Website: 
      • “On the advice of the G7 Finance Ministers, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors began holding meetings to discuss the response to the global financial crisis that occurred,”
  • Objectives:
    •  Policy coordination between its members to achieve global economic stability and sustainable growth; o The promotion of financial regulations that reduce risks and prevent future financial crises; and o The establishment of a new international financial architecture.
    • Members & guests: 
    • Members: 
      • The European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
      • Additionally, Spain is invited as a permanent guest.
      • Others:
      • Each year, the Presidency invites guest countries, which take full part in the G20 exercise. Several international and regional organizations also participate, granting the forum an even broader representation.


  • Together, the G20 countries include:

·         60% of the world’s population,

·         80% of the global gross domestic product, and

·         75% of global trade.

    • Presidency of G20 & Troika:

·         The G20 presidency rotates annually among its members.

o    The country holding the G20 presidency, along with its predecessor and successor, forms the “Troika” to ensure the continuity of the G20 agenda.

Increasing Money Power in Indian Elections

GS 2 Polity and Governance

In News

  • According to the Association for Democratic Reforms, eight recognised national parties declared a total income of Rs 3289.34 crore collected from all over India in the financial year 2021-22, with the BJP accounting for more than half ( a prominent NGO working for electoral reforms).


  • Service to the public has taken a back seat to money in politics.
  • Money plays a significant role in determining the shape and outcome of elections.


  • In western democracies, where voters are well-educated and have abundant means of subsistence, the role of money is negligible.
  • However, in countries such as India, where the majority of the population lives below the poverty line and is illiterate, money is crucial.
  • In some cases, political parties support criminals who have the ability to win elections.
  • The majority of money that enters the party coffers is ill-gotten and illegal.

Impacts and Concerns 

  • Election expenses are increasing daily, making it impossible for the average citizen to run for office.
  • The corrupting influence of money power has led to widespread ridicule and eroded public confidence in the system.
  • The policies and decisions of political parties are influenced by wealthy donors and corporations.
  • Purchasing votes with money is detrimental to democracy.

Various Steps to tackle  

  • Since the Bihar Assembly elections in 2010, the Election Commission (EC) has successively enforced the ‘Election Expenditure Monitoring’ mechanism out of “serious concern” over the increasing use of money power in elections.
  • In order to keep election expenditures within the statutory limit specified in Rule 90 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, and to prevent excess expenditures/unaccounted expenditures, the Election Commission has implemented a robust mechanism for monitoring election expenditures during elections.
  • The deployment of expenditure observers, assistant expenditure observers, video surveillance teams, video viewing teams, accounting teams, complaint monitoring and call centres, media certification, and monitoring committees, flying squads, and static surveillance teams are among the various measures taken to monitor election spending.


  • Money power should not influence voters and ECI is working with district magistrates, local level hill council members, religious bodies, tribal leaders, and civil society groups to ensure clean elections
  • People also should understand that those who purchase votes will not serve them.
  • The need of the hour is a stringent implementation of restrictive provisions prescribed in law including disqualification of the contestants to curb the menace of money power in electoral politics.
    • There is also a need for a comprehensive plan to curb excessive poll spending by political parties and candidates and action against erring candidates and parties.
Do you Know?

  • Distributing cash and gifts during the electoral process is not permitted under the law, e.g., distribution of money, liquor, or any other item disbursed and given to the electors with the intent to influence them.
  • This expenditure comes under the definition of “bribery” which is an offence both under 171B of IPC and under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • The expenditure on such items is illegal.


Source: ET

Role of whip in state Assembly or Parliament


  • GS 2 Parliament & State Legislatures Polity and Governance

In News

  • The Supreme Court recently ruled that members of a legislature are bound by the ‘whip,’ and if any section of MLAs from a political party that is part of a ruling coalition declares that it does not wish to go along with the coalition, those MLAs will be disqualified.

What is Whip?

  • In parliamentary parlance, a whip can refer to both a written order to members of a party in the House to follow a particular direction and a designated official of the party who is authorised to issue such an order.
  • Depending on their party line, political parties issue whips to their MPs to vote for or against the bill. Once the whip is issued, members of each party will be required to follow it or risk losing their seat in the House. The term originates from the ancient British practise of “whipping in” legislators to adhere to party policy.
  • Parties appoint a senior member from their House contingents to issue whips; this individual is known as the chief whip and is assisted by additional whips.

Importance of a whip 


  • The whip is an official appointed to maintain discipline among, secure attendance of, and give necessary information to, members of his party.
  • They are expected to be a channel of communication between the political party and the members of the party in the legislature.
  • They also serve the function of gauging the opinion of the members, and communicating it to party leaders.

Whips in Other Democracies

  • In the United States, the role of the party whip is to determine how many legislators support a bill and how many oppose it, and to persuade them to vote in accordance with the party line.
  • In the United Kingdom, the violation of a three-line whip can result in the expulsion of the offending party member. This member may remain in the House of Representatives as an independent until the party accepts him or her back.


Anti Defection Law

•         To prevent political defections, the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, also known as the anti-defection law, was added.

•         Disqualification for defection:

§  A legislator belonging to a political party will be disqualified if he o I voluntarily relinquishes his party membership, or

·         2  votes/abstains in the House contrary to his party’s directive.

·         A member is not disqualified if he has received prior approval from his party, or if the voting or abstention is approved by the party within 15 days.

·         Independent members who join a political party after being elected to the House will be disqualified.

·         Nominated members are disqualified if they join a political party within six months of their nomination.

  • Exemptions in cases of merger  : When at least two-thirds of the original political party merges with another political party, members are not disqualified.
  • Further: (i) the members must have become members of the party they have merged with/into, or (ii) they should have not accepted the merger and choose to function as a separate group.
  • Decision making authority: The Chairman/Speaker of the House has the authority to disqualify a member of the House.


Foreign Higher Educational Institutions In India

GS 2 Governance

In News

  • Two Australian public universities have recently expressed interest in establishing campuses in GIFT City, Gujarat.


  • In 1995, the government drafted the Foreign Education Bill, which had to be shelved;
  • In 2006, an attempt was made, but the draught law did not receive Cabinet approval.
  • In 2010, the UPA-2 government introduced the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill, which lacked sufficient parliamentary support.
  • The law expired in 2014
  • The National Education Policy, 2020 permitted the establishment of certain universities, such as those from the top 100 universities in the world.
  • The Finance Minister announced a new route for establishing foreign universities in her Budget Speech in 2022 (GIFT IFSC).
  • The UGC issued guidelines for the establishment of foreign universities in January 2023.

Advantages of Allowing Foreign Universities

  • Beneficial for Students: Recently, the government informed the Rajya Sabha that 11,300,000 Indians were studying abroad.
  • A recent report estimates that by 2024-25, Indians will spend $80 billion annually on education abroad.
  • Universities abroad could provide the same level of education without requiring students to relocate.
  • Reduced FOREX outflow: International branch campuses help in reducing the foreign exchange outflow.
  • Address the issue of Gross Enrollment Ratio: foreign universities in India may increase the enrollment ratio by providing more options for higher education and potentially attracting more students to pursue degrees.
  • Despite having one of the largest higher education systems in the world, India has one of the lowest Gross Enrollment Ratios (GER) in higher education at 27.1%.
  • Increased Competitiveness: By having foreign universities in India, the country can become more competitive globally in terms of education and research.
  • Cultural Exchange: Having foreign universities in India can foster cultural exchange and understanding between India and other countries.
  • Boost Research: The enrolments in M.Phil and PhD courses in india is very low. It can be expected that campuses of reputed foreign institutions  will improve enrolments in research courses and help improve the research ecosystem in India.



  • Regulatory challenges: The following regulatory factors may deter foreign higher educational institutions from investing in India-
    • Multi-layer regulatory framework governing different aspects of higher education
    • Lack of a single regulatory body overlooking the collaborations.
    • Multiple bureaucratic  approvals required to operate in India
  • Fees:The fees charged by foreign institution are often much higher than those charged by Indian institutions, which could make higher education less accessible to students from lower-income families.
  • Lack Of Interest: Many  reputed  foreign higher educational institutions operate on a not-for-profit basis and have no materialistic motives to go offshore.
    • A few countries that have such offshore campuses like Qatar had to hard-sell the institutions the idea by leasing land at almost no cost, bearing the bulk of infrastructure cost and promising them the academic, administrative and financial autonomy that they enjoy in their home country.India could hardly afford any such incentives.
  • Luke Warm Experience: A casual look at foreign institutions in other countries shows not a great picture.
  • Uneven Playing Field:foreign higher educational institutions(FHEI) can be for-profit institutions and they’ll be allowed to repatriate surplus funds abroad. Indian public HEIs are not ‘for-profit’ and have to reinvest the surplus. This will put FHEIs on a different pedestal than Indian HEIs.

Way Forward:

  • Developing Clear and Transparent Regulations: The government should establish clear guidelines for the establishment, operation, and accreditation of foreign universities in India. This can help ensure that these institutions operate in a way that is consistent with Indian laws and regulations.
  • Promoting Collaboration and Partnerships: Instead of allowing foreign universities to establish standalone campuses in India, the government could encourage them to collaborate and partner with existing Indian institutions. This could help to mitigate competition and ensure that the benefits of foreign universities are shared with Indian institutions and students.
  • Setting up EEZs: Setting up Education Excellence Zones (EEZs)  result, knowledge production would be clustered in India, and FHEIs could be invited into these EEZs for true inter-university excellence and competition.
State Of Higher Education in India 

• With more than 500 million people in the age bracket of 5 to 24 years, India has the largest population in the world, presenting an enormous opportunity in the education sector.

• India’s higher education system is the second largest in the world, with approximately 38 million students enrolled in 50,000 academic institutions (including 1,057 universities).

• By 2035, India hopes to double its current gross enrollment rate of 26.3% to 50%.


• After China, India is the second largest source of international students worldwide.


Social Stock Exchange

GS 3 Indian Economy & Related Issues

In News

  • Recently, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) granted the National Stock Exchange of India final approval to establish a Social Stock Exchange (SSE).


  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, presenting the Union Budget back in 2019, had proposed to initiate steps for creating a stock exchange under the market regulator’s ambit.
    • The proposal was cleared in September 2021.

What is a Social Stock Exchange?

  • The SSE would operate as a separate segment within the existing stock exchange and help social enterprises raise funds from the public through its mechanism.
  • It would serve as a platform for enterprises to seek financing for their social initiatives, gain visibility, and increase transparency regarding fund mobilisation and utilisation.
  • Features: Retail investors can only invest in securities offered by for-profit social enterprises (SEs) under the Main Board.
    • In all other cases, only institutional investors and non-institutional investors can invest in securities issued by SEs.
  • Eligibility: Any non-profit organisation (NPO) or for-profit social enterprise (FPSE) that establishes the primacy of social intent will be recognised as a social enterprise (SE), making it eligible for registration or listing on the SSE.
  •  Non-profit organisations can raise funds through the issuance of Zero Coupon Zero Principal (ZCZP) Instruments through private placement or public issue, as well as through donations from mutual funds.
  • Source: TH

Exit Polls

GS 2 Polity and Governance

In News

  • Exit polls for the Gujarat elections will be released in the evening, as voting concludes today.


  • In an exit poll, voters are asked which political party they supported after casting their ballots.
  • This distinguishes it from an opinion poll conducted before elections.
  • During the second Lok Sabha elections in 1957, the Indian Institute of Public Opinion conducted its first such survey.
  • It is intended to indicate the direction of the election’s winds, as well as the issues, personalities, and loyalties that have influenced voters.
  • Currently, exit polls cannot be broadcast from before voting begins through the conclusion of the final phase.

Rules governing exit polls in India

  • Representation of the People Act, 1951: Section 126A of the act prohibits the conduct of exit polls and dissemination of their results by electronic or print media during a defined period.
    • The period of prohibition starts from the beginning of the hours fixed for polling in the first phase of an election and continues till the end of polling in the last phase of the election.
  • Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961: It provides guidelines on the conduct of exit polls and mandates that any person who wishes to conduct an exit poll must obtain prior permission from the ECI.
    • The rule also requires the pollsters to provide certain information to the ECI, such as the methodology used, the sample size, and the time and place of the survey.
  • Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995: The act prohibits the transmission or re-transmission of any program or advertisement that violates the provisions of the RPA Act, 1951, including the prohibition on the dissemination of exit poll results during the specified period.
  • Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021: The rules impose obligations on digital media platforms to ensure compliance with the provisions of the RPA 1951.
  • Note:Violations of these laws can result in penalties, including fines and imprisonment, as well as the cancellation of the registration of the media organization or the pollster.

Major issues

  • Lack of structured questionnairesduring exit polls leads to data often being neither collected coherently nor be analysed systematically to arrive at vote share estimates.
  • Political parties often allege that these polls are motivated, or financed by a rival party.
  • Critics also say that the results gathered in exit polls can be influenced by the choice,wording and timing of the questions, and by the nature of the sample drawn.

Source: TH

SWAYATT Initiative

GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions

In News

  • Government e-Marketplace (GeM) celebrates “SWAYATT’s” success.

About SWAYATT Initiative

  • It is a programme designed to promote Start-ups, Women, and Youth Advantage Through eTransactions on Government eMarketplace (GeM).
  • It aimed to promote the inclusion of various categories of sellers and service providers on the portal by facilitating their training and registration, developing women’s entrepreneurship, and encouraging the participation of the MSME sector and startups in public procurement.

Government eMarketplace (GeM)

  • Government eMarketplace (GeM) is a one-stop National Public Procurement Portal designed to facilitate the online procurement of common use Goods & Services required by various Central and State Government Departments/Organizations/Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs).

Source: PIB

Landscape Management Plan For Greater Panna Landscape

GS 3 Biodiversity and Environment

In Context

  • As part of the Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP), a comprehensive Integrated Landscape Management Plan (ILMP) for the conservation of wildlife and biodiversity in the Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) and surrounding areas has been developed.


  • The plan will help to holistically consolidate the landscape for biodiversity conservation and human well-being, especially in forest-dependent communities.
  • Panna Tiger Reserve:
  • It is a national park located in the districts of Panna and Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh, India.
  • It was designated as India’s twenty-second Tiger reserve and the fifth in Madhya Pradesh in 1994.
  • Panna received the Award of Excellence in 2007 from the Ministry of Tourism of India for being the best-maintained national park in India.
  • In 2020, UNESCO added Madhya Pradesh’s Panna National Park to its list of Biosphere reserves.
  • This area is home to tigers, leopards, chitals, chinkaras, nilgais, sambhars, and sloth bears.

Ken Betwa Link Project

  • About: 
  • It is the first interlinking of rivers project to be implemented under the National Perspective Plan (NPP) in the drought-prone Bundelkhand region.
  • This proposal calls for the transfer of excess water from the River Ken to the Betwa basin via a concrete canal.
  • Aim:
  • A Special-Purpose Vehicle (SPV) named Ken-Betwa Link Project Authority (KBLPA) will be established to carry out the project.
  • The National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA) is authorised to establish SPVs for specific link projects.
  • About Ken and Betwa Rivers:
  • Ken and Betwa rivers originate in MP and are the tributaries of Yamuna.
  • Ken meets with Yamuna in Banda district of UP and with Betwa in Hamirpur district of UP.
  • Ken River passes through Panna tiger reserve.
  • Implementing Agency:
  • A Special-Purpose Vehicle (SPV) named Ken-Betwa Link Project Authority (KBLPA) will be established to carry out the project.
  • The National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA) is authorised to establish SPVs for specific link projects.