Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 23 December 2022

Social Progress Index

GS Paper - 2 (Social Issues)

PuducherryLakshadweep and Goa emerged as best-performing states and Aizawl (Mizoram)Solan and Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) were the top three districts on the Social Progress Index (SPI), a report released by Economic Advisory Council-Prime Minister (EAC-PM) along with the Institute for Competitiveness and Social Progress Imperative said.

According to the report

  1. SPI is a comprehensive tool that can serve as a holistic measure of a country’s social progress at the national and sub-national levels.
  2. The index assesses states and districts based on 12 components across three critical dimensions of social progress - Basic Human NeedsFoundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity.
  3. The index uses an extensive framework comprising 89 indicators at the state level and 49 at the district level.
  4. Based on the SPI scores, states and districts have been ranked under six tiers of social progress which are Very High Social ProgressHigh Social ProgressUpper Middle Social ProgressLower Middle Social ProgressLow Social Progress and Very Low Social Progress.

Performance of the states

  1. Puducherry had the highest score of 65.99 for its remarkable performance across components like personal freedom and choiceshelter, and water and sanitation.
  2. Lakshadweep and Goa followed close with scores of 65.89 and 65.53, respectively. Jharkhand and Bihar scored the lowest, 43.95 and 44.47, respectively.
  3. For the dimension of Basic Human NeedsGoaPuducherryLakshadweep, and Chandigarh are the top four states with the best performance in Water and Sanitation and Shelter as compared to the other states and union territories.
  4. For Shelter and Personal SafetyChandigarh and Nagaland have emerged as the front-runners, respectively.
  5. Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, and Goa emerged as the best-performing states for the Foundations of Wellbeing.


First UNSC resolution against Myanmar

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

IndiaChina and Russia abstained in the UN Security Council on a draft resolution that demanded an immediate end to violence in Myanmar and urged the military junta to release political prisoners, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. The 15-nation Security Council, under India's Presidency this month, adopted the resolution after 12 members voted in favour, none against and India, China and Russia abstained.

More about the resolution

  1. This is the first Security Council resolution adopted in Myanmar in 74 years. The only other UNSC resolution on Myanmar was in 1948 after the country formerly known as Burma got independence from Britain when the Council recommended to the General Assembly that the Union of Burma be admitted to membership in the United Nations.
  2. India underlined that the UN system should assist the parties in dialogue so that the state of emergency comes to an end and Myanmar returns to the democratic path.
  3. The resolution reaffirmed its support for the people of Myanmar and its strong commitment to the sovereigntypolitical independenceterritorial integrity and unity of the country.
  4. It demanded an immediate end to all forms of violence throughout the country and urged restraint and de-escalation of tensions.
  5. The resolution also urged the Myanmar military to immediately release all arbitrarily detained prisoners, including President Win Myint and Suu Kyi.
  6. The resolution acknowledged ASEAN's central role in helping to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Myanmar in the interests of the people of Myanmar and encouraged the international community to support the ASEAN-led mechanism and process in this regard, including ASEAN's efforts in the implementation of the Five Point Consensus.

Why does India abstain?

  1. India underlined that the UN system should assist the parties in dialogue so that the state of emergency comes to an end and Myanmar returns to the democratic path.
  2. The consequences of instability will affect the neighbouring countries the most and it is therefore important to consider their views and perspectives seriously.
  3. India shares a nearly 1,700 kilometres-long border with Myanmar and has historical and cultural links with its people. It is of direct interest to our national security. The welfare of the people of Myanmar remains our utmost priority and is at the core of all our efforts.
  4. The resolution reaffirmed its support for the people of Myanmar and its strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and unity of the country.
  5. The resolution also urged the Myanmar military to immediately release all arbitrarily detained prisoners, including President Win Myint and Suu Kyi.


Benchmarks for ECs’ appointments

GS Paper -2 (Constitution)

India’s constitutional and political structures have evolved over the years and seems to have made elections almost a mechanistic and ritualistic exercise. The reason behind this is the setting up and functioning of the Election Commission of India (ECI). This has come into public discourse because of the hearings in the Supreme Court on the appointment of Election Commissioners (ECs).

Working of the Constitution

  1. Article 324 of the Constitution is the fountainhead that creates the ECI. This brings to mind the larger issue of the working of the Constitution.
  2. While commending the adoption of the Constitution to the CA (Constituent Assembly) on November 25, 1949, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar said, however good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work on it happen to be a bad lot.
  3. If the people who are elected are capable, men of character and integrity, they would be able to make the best even of a defective Constitution.
  4. All the arguments and proposals mentioned during the court hearings will, obviously, be an improvement over the existing system of appointment of ECs.
  5. If we want ECs to match the qualities stated by Dr. Ambedkar and Dr. Prasad, then we need to go beyond how Article 324 of the Constitution and the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991have been operationalised so far.

Present weakness in the system

  1. One major weakness in the system(s) of appointments of the ECs proposed so far is that they all perpetuate the bureaucratisation of the ECI, which is not even hinted at in the Constitution anywhere.
  2. Two visible manifestations of this are the so-called elevation of ECs to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), and the tenures of ECs and CEC.
  3. The elevation is a clear violation of the principle of primus inter pares.Monopolisation of the positions of ECs and CEC by the administrative services is too obvious to need highlighting.

New process proposed to improve it

  1. An existing committee of Parliament or a new committee formed for this purpose should propose the qualifications and requirements for persons to be appointed as ECs/CEC.
  2. The proposals of the committee should be put to Parliament and should be considered approved only if they are approved by two-thirds majority of the members of Parliament present and voting.
  3. Once the qualifications and requirements have been approved by Parliament, the same committee should be entrusted with the task of searching for and selecting individuals proposed to be appointed as ECs/CEC.
  4. The committee should invite nominations and applications of individuals appropriate for or interested in being appointed as ECs/CEC.


IN-SPACe inks pact to develop QKD

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bangaluru-based deep tech startup QNu Labs to develop indigenous Satellite QKD (quantum key distribution) products.

More about MoU

  1. With this MoU, QNu Labs, with the support of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and IN-SPACe, aims to demonstrate unlimited distance Satellite QKD based quantum secure communication.
  2. Terrestrial QKD systems have the limitation of requirement of repeaters every 100-150 kms, which is a big hindrance in creating a large-scale Quantum Secure Network.
  3. With Satellite QKD capability, India holds the potential to become a world leader in creating Quantum Secure Communication Network.
  4. The outcome of this collaboration shall ensure that India leads the future of global quantum communication networks that will involve a combination of the quantum-satellite constellation, providing intercontinental connectivity.
  5. This technology will be a game changer and can be used to keep the exchange of sensitive information secure across long distances.
  6. ISRO with its broad expertise in this domain will play a pivotal role in helping QNu Labs achieve this milestone by supporting payload designs, telemetry, and other related activities.
  7. This project will provide secure cryptographic key delivery services to customers for a range of applications catering to the industry, government & defence sectors where the security and confidentiality of shared information are crucial.


  1. IN-SPACe was constituted in June 2020 following the central government's decision to open up the space sector and enable the participation of the Indian private sector in the gamut of space activities.
  2. IN-SPACe acts as a single-window, independent, nodal agency which functions as an autonomous agency in the Department of Space.
  3. IN-SPACe is responsible for the promotion, enabling, authorization, and supervision of various space activities of the Non-Governmental Entities that include, among others, the building of launch vehicles & satellites and providing space-based services; sharing of space infrastructure and premises under ISRO; and establishment of new space infrastructure and facilities.

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