Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 29 October 2023

SC Strikes Down Rule Banning Use of Donor Gametes through Surrogacy

GS Paper II

Why in News?

The Supreme Court has protected the right of parenthood of a woman, suffering from a rare medical condition.

What was the background of the case?

  • The woman has the Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser (MRKH) syndrome.
    • Medical board records showed she has “absent ovaries and absent uterus”; hence she cannot produce her own eggs.
  • A government notification this year amended the law, banning the use of donor gametes. It said “intending couples” must use their own gametes for surrogacy.
  • The petition was filed in the Supreme Court challenging the amendment as a violation of a woman’s right to parenthood.
  • Addressing the government’s contention that the surrogate child should be “genetically related” to the couple, the court pointed out that the child would be related to the husband.
  • In this regard, the expression ‘genetically’ related to the intending couple has to be read as being related to the husband.

What is Surrogacy?

  • It is a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intended couple with the intention to hand it over to them after the birth.
  • Currently, the Indian Government only allows ‘altruistic surrogacy’ for which no monetary compensation can be provided. Surrogacy is prohibited for commercial purposes.
  • Eligibility of the Couple: It is only restricted to a legally wedded infertile couple who have no biological children of their own- not including a child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from a fatal illness- or a single or divorced woman above the age of 35.

Who can be a surrogate?

  • A surrogate mother has to be a close relative of the couple, a married woman with a child of her own, aged between 25-35 years, who has been a surrogate only once in her life.
  • She must also possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy. Commercial Surrogacy
  • Commercial Surrogacy is a branch of gestational surrogacy in which a gestational carrier is paid to carry a child to maturity in her womb and is usually hired by higher-income infertile couples.

Why is commercial surrogacy banned in India?

  • The commodification of the body and the child where both the surrogate as well as the child were treated as commodities and were sold at very low prices.
  • Payment for reproductive labour remains a major issue.
  • Other issues like Gender exploitation and human trafficking get their way to nurture.
  • Degradation of the morality of women is seen in many cases as if she is just justified to do this work etc.

Significance of Commercial Surrogacy:

  • Meets emotional and physical demands: Commercial surrogacy allows women to be compensated fairly for their yearlong commitment to intended parents as well as the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy.
  • Personal choice of intended couple: The ban on commercial surrogacy somewhat forces women into altruistic surrogacy which should not be the case as it is a woman’s personal choice to do what she wants.
  • Foreign experiences: In countries with well-defined laws, commercial surrogacy is legally regulated to protect the rights of the surrogate as well as the intended parents.
  • Giving an independent and free way for the intendedcouple: Commercial surrogacy is an option for intended parents who do not want to pressure close friends or family members to make the sacrifices required of altruistic surrogacy.
  • Clarity of the contribution: In commercial surrogacy, contracts are negotiated ahead of time to determine the monetary compensation the surrogate will receive, which can prevent disputes over reimbursements during and after the pregnancy.

Limitation of Commercial Surrogacy:

  • High Cost: Commercial surrogacy is more expensive than altruistic surrogacy because intended parents will be responsible for surrogate compensation in addition to medical and legal costs.
  • Non-friendly and high chances of vulnerability: Some opponents of commercial surrogacy argue that it exploits vulnerable women.
  • Ethical issue with surrogate mothers: Where the surrogate mothers, contribute to meetingthe family’s emotional demands, these women are generally criticized for being surrogate mothers. Moreover, they are morally degraded in society as motherhood through surrogacy is thought to be immoral.

Way Forward:

  • Health and background checks of a surrogate, laws to support them, strict punishments in place for not abiding by the rules and regulations and educating these women on the rights available to them as well as the possible risks are some of the ways to mitigate the perils of their exploitation.
  • The government needs to safeguard the interests of the unborn child.
  • Similarly, the right of women to control their own reproductive processes and the right of individuals to parenthood needs to be recognized as present in other countries with proper monitoring mechanisms. Surrogacy laws in India have had difficulty striking a balance between these competing interests.


  1. What are the continued challenges for Women in India against time and space? (2019)
  2. Examine the scope of Fundamental Rights in the light of the latest judgement of the Supreme Court on Right to Privacy. (2017)


Food labels to have QR code

GS Paper II (Health and Governance)


In order to facilitate accessibility for visually impaired people, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has advised adding a QR (quick response) code to food products.


  • The advisory caters to two important regulations — the FSSAI’s Food Safety and Standards (Labellingand Display) Regulations, 2020 which outlines the information to be included on labels of food products and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 which recognises the rights of individuals with disabilities and emphasises the accessibility of health for persons with disabilities.
  • The front-of-pack labelling (FOPL), proposed by FSSAI in 2019, is a key strategy to alert and educate consumers in making an informed choice.

QR Code:

  • It is a type of two-dimensional matrix barcode. According to market experts, food manufacturers, using QR codes on food products can help improve their brand image, customer loyalty, and operational efficiency. The increase in smartphone usage by consumers indicates that QR codes are emerging as one of the most promising technologies to enhance the information provided to consumers and influence their buying behaviour.


  • Food business owners are urged to adopt QR codes on product labels to improve accessibility. Food products must be labelled in a way that makes them accessible to all customers, including those who are visually impaired.
  • According to the FSSAI, using a QR code would ensure that food safety is available to everybody. One of the fundamental rights of people is to ensure universal access to information.
  • The new QR codes will contain complete product information, such as ingredients, nutritional data, allergens, manufacturing date, best before/expiry/use by date, allergen warning, and customer service contact information.
  • However, the inclusion of a QR code for the accessibility of information does not replace or negate the requirement to provide mandatory information on the product label, as prescribed by Food Safetyand Standards (Labeling and Display) Regulations, 2020.

Need of the QR code:

  • A recently published paper titled, “Food literacy & food labelling laws—a legal analysis of India’s foodpolicy” noted that aggressively marketed, cheaper and more easily available pre-packagedfoods, often considered as foods high in fat, salt, and sugar, is finding a growing preference amongst consumers in India.
  • According to the World Health Organization, India is one of the world's biggest markets for packaged foods and is now seeing an increase in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which have sharply increased worldwide over the past two decades.
  • Every consumer has the right to know exactly what he is paying for and if he is getting what he is promised and advertised. With this new initiative, an informed choice will be offered to consumers.

Global studies conducted:

  • “Evaluating the Use of QR Codes on Food Products” – a study.
    • The U.S., India, France and the U.K. are among the top users of QR codes.
    • It noted that the size of the global packaged food market was estimated at $303.26 billion in 2019, with a compound annual growth rate of 5.2% over this period.
  • According to the survey, “QR Code Statistics 2022, the Latest Numbers and Use-Cases on Global Usage”.
    • 57% scanned a food QR code to get specific information about the product.
    • 99% of respondents want to see QR codes used more.
    • 67% of the respondents agreed that these codes make life easier.

Benefits of using QR code:

  • Food producers can boost consumer loyalty, operationaleffectiveness, and brand image by using QR codes. This enhances inventory management, reduces waste, and ensures compliance with legal requirements.
  • It provides consumers with instant access to product information, recipes, and deals, enabling them to make informed, customized decisions based on their beliefs and interests.

Challenges of using QR code:

  • Food producers may need to invest in hardware, software, and data management systems, as well as modernize their labelling and packaging
  • Issues can arise in food labelling due to varying regulations and content, and potential dataprotection, privacy, and security issues. For ex. - some countries may require labelling for allergies and GMOs, while others may not.
  • It faces security risks due to hacking, tampering, and counterfeiting. Technical issues like poor internet connection or incompatible equipment can also hinder access to the information.
  • Other issues include such as customer ignorance, lack of tools, difficulty in implementation and the digital divide.

Way forward:

  • In order to ensure consistency a standardized format of the QR code should be followed which should be user-friendly and compatible with presently available apps. The authorities can consider including audio descriptions or alternative formats for visually impaired people.
  • In order for consumers to make educated decisions, consumer organizations should work together to improve marketing efforts and consumer awareness.


Q1.    Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2018)

  1. The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 replaced the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954.
  2. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is under the charge of Director General of Health Services in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?  

(a)     1 only

(b)     2 only

(c)     Both 1 and 2

(d)     Neither 1 nor 2

Q2.    With reference to pre-packaged items in India, it is mandatory to the manufacturer to put which of the following information on the main label, as per the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011?   (UPSC 2016)

  1. List of ingredients including additives
  2. Nutrition information
  3. Recommendations, if any, made by the medical profession about the possibility of any allergic reactions
  4. Vegetarian/non-vegetarian

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a)     1, 2 and 3

(b)     2, 3 and 4

(c)     1, 2 and 4

(d)     1 and 4 only


Carbon Credit and Trading Scheme for Indian Carbon Market

 GS Paper III


Recently, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) revealed that the Carbon Credit and Trading Scheme (CCTS) for the Indian Carbon Market (ICM) will be amended soon.


  • The ICM will be set up with the aim of reducing GHG-linked emissions from the industrial sector of India. The industrial sector accounts for about 20% of total GHG emissions.
  • The current CCTS would build on the existing Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) framework, as the latter has essential elements required for GHG emission reduction.
  • The scheme would mainly cover carbon dioxide emissions and perfluorocarbons emitted from aluminium smelting.
  • Other GHG gases (methane and nitrous oxide) which have a smaller share in emissions will not be covered. 
  • Unlike the European Union Emissions Trading System, California cap-and-trade, and Korean Emissions Trading System, the ICM does not set an absolute emissions cap; instead, it relies on emission intensity baselines to determine targets. This is called the baseline-and-credit system.

What are carbon markets?

  • Carbon markets are essentially a tool for putting a price on carbon emissions— they establish trading systems where carbon credits or allowances can be bought and sold.
  • A carbon credit is a kind of tradable permit that, per United Nations standards, equals one tonne of carbon dioxide removed, reduced, or sequestered from the atmosphere.
  • Carbon allowances or caps, meanwhile, are determined by countries or governments according to their emission reduction targets.

Types of carbon markets

  1. Voluntary markets
  • These are those in which emitters— corporations, private individuals, and others— buy carbon credits to offset the emission of one tonne of CO2 or equivalent greenhouse gases.
  • Such carbon credits are created by activities which reduce CO2 from the air, such as
  • In a voluntary market, a corporation looking to compensate for its unavoidable GHG emissions purchases carbon credits from an entity engaged in projects that reduce, remove, capture, or avoid emissions. For Instance, in the aviation sector, airlines may purchase carbon credits to offset the carbon footprints of the flights they operate.

  1. Compliance markets
  • These are set up by policies at the national, regional, and/or international level— are officially regulated. Today, compliance markets mostly operate under a principle called ‘cap-and-trade”, most popular in the European Union (EU).
  • Under the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) launched in 2005, member countries set a cap or limit for emissions in different sectors, such as power, oil, manufacturing, agriculture, and waste management. This cap is determined as per the climate targets of countries and is lowered successively to reduce emissions.

Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT)

  • Perform, Achieve and Trade (PAT) is the flagship programme under the mission implemented by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) under the aegis of the Ministry of Power.
  • PAT scheme aims at reducing Specific Energy Consumption (SEC)e., energy use per unit of production for Designated Consumers (DCs) in energy-intensive sectors, with an associated market mechanism to enhance the cost-effectiveness through certification of excess energy saving which can be traded.

Energy Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2022

  • The Act empowers the Central government of India to specify a carbon credits trading scheme.
  • Under the Act, the central government or an authorised agency will issue carbon credit certificates to companies or even individuals registered and compliant with the scheme.
  • These carbon credit certificates will be tradeable in nature.
  • Other persons would be able to buy carbon credit certificates on a voluntary basis.

Need for carbon market

  • To mitigate climate change:To limit global warming to 1.5-2°C, nations, including India, commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in their NDCs. They are increasingly using carbon markets as a mitigation strategy under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
  • Cooperation: It enables countries to work together on emission reduction goals and encourages developed nations to provide financial support to developing countries for sustainable development.
  • Innovation: Carbon trading encourages innovation in clean technologies and facilitates the transfer of such technologies between regions.
  • Market-based approach: A market-based approach assigns a monetary value to emissions, incentivizing businesses and industries to embrace cleaner technologies and practices, thereby enhancing economic efficiency in reducing emissions.
  • Economic benefit: Economic incentives in the form of carbon credits and trading motivate to cut emissions.

Challenges to carbon markets

  • Double counting & Authenticity: The UNDP points out serious concerns pertaining to carbon markets- ranging from double counting of greenhouse gas reductions and quality and authenticity of climate projects that generate credits to poor market transparency.
  • Greenwashing: There are concerns about what critics call greenwashing—companies may buy credits, simply offsetting carbon footprints instead of reducing their overall emissions or investing in clean technologies.
  • The IMF notes that adding high-emission sectors to trading schemes, allowing them to buy allowances, could potentially raise net emissions and lacks a built-in method for emphasizing cost-effective offsetting projects.
  • Inadequate Monitoring: Weak oversight can lead to the issuance of invalid carbon credits.
  • Inequity: The benefits of carbon markets may not always be distributed equitably. Wealthier entities or countries may benefit more than developing countries.
  • Policy Uncertainty: Frequent changes in carbon pricing policies or a lack of long-term commitment to carbon reduction goals can create uncertainty for businesses and investors.

Way forward

  • Alignment with NDC: The UNDP emphasises that for carbon markets to be successful, emission reductions and removals must be real and aligned with the country’s NDCs.
  • Need for transparency: UNDP says that there must be transparency in the institutional and financial infrastructure for carbon market transactions.
  • Provide incentives: Provide incentives, subsidies, or tax benefits to encourage businesses to invest in emissions reduction projects, renewable energy, and energy efficiency improvements.
  • Encourage green finance: Encourage financial institutions to invest in low-carbon and sustainable projects by offering green finance options and incentives for investments in clean technologies.
  • Carbon offsetting promotion: Encourage individuals and businesses to offset their emissions through the purchase of carbon credits from certified projects, both domestically and internationally.
  • Link to global market: Explore opportunities to link the Indian carbon market with international markets, allowing for the import and export of carbon credits.
  • Infrastructure: To support the efficient trading of carbon credits, it is important to develop the necessary infrastructure, including trading platforms, registries, and market oversight mechanisms.


Developing successful carbon markets on national and international levels will require collaboration among different regulatory bodies, businesses, financial institutions, and civil society. For India, it is important to align the carbon market's goals with the country’s broader climate and sustainability objectives and to ensure that it contributes to meaningful emissions reductions.

Prelims PYQ

Q1.    Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2023)

Statement-I: Carbon markets are likely to be one of the most widespread tools in the fight against climate change.

Statement-II: Carbon markets transfer resources from the private sector to the State.

Which one of the following is correct in respect of the above statements?

(a)     Both Statement-I and Statement-II are correct and Statement-II is the correct explanation for Statement-I

(b)     Both Statement-I and Statement-II are correct and Statement-II is not the correct explanation for Statement-I

(c)     Statement-I is correct but Statement-II is incorrect

(d)     Statement-I is incorrect but Statement-II is correct

Mains PYQ

Q. Should the pursuit of carbon credits and clean development mechanisms set up under UNFCCC be maintained even though there has been a massive slide in the value of a carbon credit? Discuss with respect to India’s energy needs for economic growth. (UPSC 2014)

Also in News

Vajra Mushti Kalaga 


A martial art form Vajra MushtiKalaga, that takes place during the Dussehra festival is facing terminal decline.

About Vajra Mushti Kalaga:

  • It is a unique Indian martial art that incorporates various techniques of hand-to-hand combat like grappling, wrestling, and striking.
  • It makes use of a knuckleduster, a small metal weapon (usually made of animal horns) hence it is called a ‘Vajra Mushti’ (Thunderbolt Fist).
  • The objective behind the celebration of the martial art is to neutralize the opponent and counter his weapon.
  • What does the history say?
    • This form of martial art finds its evidence from the Vijayanagara Empire reigned between the 14th and the 17th centuries.
    • The Medieval Era Portugal travellers had noticed this form of wrestling during the Navratri days in the Vijayanagar Empire and have left detailed accounts of it in their writings.


Pichwai Painting 


Chennai hosts an art exhibit showcasing Pichwai paintings. 

About the Pichwai painting:

  • Pichwai is a traditional style (400 years old) of painting from Rajasthan and usually depicts LordKrishna and related stories. They show various moods of Krishna and are executed in the miniature style.
  • This unique word Pichwai comes from the Sanskrit words, ‘pitch’ meaning back and ‘wais’ meaning hanging. It therefore means traditional paintings are hanging behind the idol of Shrinathji.

  • Other themes are also portrayed, such as the map of the Nathdwara temple, and cows (as symbols of Lord Krishna) among others and not very often, are also created on paper.
  • The paintings are made of cloth and are used as a backdrop to the idol in the temple.
  • The classic styles are generally made with natural colours and even natural brushes. The base is mostly red woven with yellow or any bright-coloured embroidery. Some of the paintings arefilled with puregold.


Banni Festival


Banni festival was recently celebrated in Andhra Pradesh.


  • Banni, an ancient custom celebrated under the Vijayanagara Empire, involves mock fights for capturing idols during the Dussehra (Vijayadashami) festival.
  • The idols of Parvati (Malamma) and Shiva (Malleshwara Swamy) at Mala Malleswara Swamy temple located at Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh) are brought down to the foot of the hill.
  • Some devotees form a security ring, while others try to capture them. The procession, led by farmers, symbolizes the killing of demons by Mala-Malleshwara (Shiva).
  • Despite a Supreme Court ban, locals continue the tradition.




A case of Thallium poisoning has been reported in Maharashtra.


  • It is a soft, silvery-white, heavy metal found in trace amounts in the earth's crust. It is tasteless and odourless and has been historically used as a rodenticide.
  • It is found in pyrites, mainly as a by-product of copper,zinc, and lead refining, and in manganesenodules on the ocean floor.
  • Thallium is used in electronics, low-temperature thermometers, optical lenses, and imitation precious jewels. It is used to produce special glass with a high index of refraction and low melting point.
  • Thallium has no known biological role and is highly toxic, with evidence of teratogenic (disturbs the development of an embryo or foetus) and carcinogenic


International Competition Network


The Competition Commission of India (CCI) becomes a member of the International Competition Network's (ICN) steering group.

About ICN:

  • It is an informal, virtual network that seeks to facilitate cooperation between competition law authorities globally.
  • The ICN is unique as it is the only global body devoted exclusively to competition law enforcement and its members represent national and multinational competition authorities.
  • It comprised 132 member states from 120 competition jurisdictions exclusively devoted to international competition enforcement.
  • Members produce work products through their involvement in flexible project-oriented and results-based working groups.

Competition Commission of India (CCI)

  • CCI is the chief national competition regulator in India.
  • It is a statutory body within the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and is responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002 to promote competition and prevent activities that have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India.
  • The CCI looks into cases and investigates them if the same has a negative impact on competition.
  • CCI also approves combinations under the act so that two merging entities do not overtake the market.


Melghat Tiger Reserve


Tiger found dead in Melghat Tiger Reserve.


  • Melghat was among the first nine tiger reserves of India to be notified in 1973 under Project Tiger.
  • It is located in the northern part of the Amravati district of Maharashtra.
  • Melghat Wildlife Sanctuary was declared in 1985.
  • The Tapti River flows through the northern part of Melghat Tiger Reserve and forms the boundary of the reserve together with the Gawilghur ridge of the Satpura Range.

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