Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Bilateral Pacts on Drug Trafficking

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 26th July-2021


  • Inland Vessels Bill
  • Supreme Court on Secrecy of Vote
  • Production-linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Specialty Steel
  • Bilateral Pacts on Drug Trafficking
  • Digital Trade Facilitation:
  • UNESCO’s World Heritage list.


1.Inland Vessels Bill

#GS3 #Infrastructure- waterways #GS2 #Government policies and intervention

Context: Recently, the ministry of Shipping introduced the Inland Vessels Bill, 2021, in Lok Sabha.


  • New bill seeks to replace the Inland Vessels Act, 1917 after passing in Parliament.
  • The Bill will regulate safety, security and registration of inland vessels.
  • Currently, 4,000 kms of inland waterways are operational in the country.

Highlights of the bill:

  • It provides for a unified law for the entire country, instead of separate rules framed by the States.
  • The certificate of registration granted under the proposed law will be deemed to be valid in all States and Union Territories, and there will be no need to seek separate permissions from the States
  • The vessels which are mechanically propelled will have to register themselves mandatorily as per the bill, and the non-mechanically propelled vessels will also have to compulsorily register themselves at district, taluk or panchayat or village level
  • It enlarges the definition of ‘inland waters’, by including tidal water limit and national waterways declared by the Central Government
  • The Bill provides for a central data base for recording the details of vessel, vessel registration, crew on an electronic portal.
  • The Inland Waterways Authority of India, constituted under section 3 of the Inland Waterways Authority of India Act, 1985 will be the competent authority for the purpose of exercising or discharging the powers, authority or duties conferred, by or under this Act.
  • This bill also provides the standards for qualification, training, training institutes, examination and grant of certificate of competency.
    • No person under the age of eighteen years shall be employed on a mechanically propelled inland vessel registered under this Act.


  • The new law promotes economical and safe transportation and trade through inland waters,
  • This brings uniformity in application of law relating to inland waterways and navigation within the country,
  • Provides for safety of navigation, protection of life and cargo
  • Helps in prevention of pollution that may be caused by the use or navigation of inland vessels
  • It also ensures transparency and accountability of administration of inland water transportation by strengthening procedures governing the inland vessels, their construction, survey, registration, manning, navigation.

Inland Water Transport (IWT) in India:

  • About 14,500 km of navigable waterways are present in India, which comprises canals, rivers, lakes, etc.
  • IWT is a fuel-efficient and environment-friendly mode.
  • As per the National Waterways Act 2016, 111 waterways have been declared as National Waterways (NWs).
    • NW-1: Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly River System (Prayagraj-Haldia) with length 1620 km is the longest National Waterway in India.

Present Status of Utilisation:

  • About 55 million tonnes of cargo is being moved annually by IWT (Inland Water Transport), a fuel-efficient and environment-friendly mode.
    • However, freight transportation by waterways is highly underutilized in the country as compared to developed countries.
  • Its operations are currently restricted to a few stretches in the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly rivers, the Brahmaputra, the Barak river (north-eastern India), the rivers in Goa, the backwaters in Kerala, inland waters in Mumbai and the deltaic regions of the Godavari – Krishna rivers.
  • Besides these organized operations by mechanized vessels, country boats of various capacities also operate in various rivers and canals and substantial quantum of cargo and passengers are transported in this unorganized sector as well.
  • In India, IWT has the potential to supplement the overburdened railways and congested roadways. In addition to cargo movement, the IWT sector also provides a convenient function in related activities such as carriage of vehicles {on Roll-on-Roll-off (Ro-Ro) mode of cross ferry} and tourism.

Initiatives for the development of waterways and water transport in the country:

  • Sagarmala Project – Cabinet approved scheme, launched in 2015 to promote port-led development in India. The project also seeks to boost infrastructure for transporting goods to and from ports quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively
  • Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) – Announced in the Union Budget of 2014, the project is implemented by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) aims to develop the National Waterways of the country. It is financially supported by the World Bank and is expected to be completed by 31st December 2023.

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI)

  • Constituted in October 1986, is the body responsible for the development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation in the country.
  • It also assists States in the development of the Inland Water Transport (IWT) sector and provides a subsidy to IWT operators for acquiring a fleet for transportation of cargo and passengers.
  • It is headquartered at Noida (Uttar Pradesh).


2.Supreme Court on Secrecy of Vote

#GS2 #Judiciary # Representation of People Act (RPA) 1951

Context: Supreme Court says secrecy of vote a must in any election.


  • Taking note of the lenient view taken by the Trial Court in Lakshman Singh Vs. State of Bihar case, which imposed the sentence of only six months simple imprisonment, the bench reiterated Supreme Court’s 2013 Judgement in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties case.
  • The bench held that booth capturing & bogus voting affects Rule of Law & Democracy and Should Be Dealt with Iron Hands.
  • The court, in its judgment, confirmed the guilt and sentencing of eight men accused of using violence to snatch the voters slips and to cast bogus voting in an election in Bihar in 1989.

Highlights of the Judgement:

  • Part of Fundamental Right: The secrecy is a part of the fundamental right of freedom of expression.
    • The confidentiality of choice strengthened democracy.
  • Part of Basic Structure: Democracy and free elections were a part of the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
  • Booth capturing and/or bogus voting should be dealt without any concessions, because it ultimately affects the rule of law and democracy.
    • Nobody can be permitted to dilute the right to free and fair election.
  • Once the unlawful assembly is established in prosecution of the common object, each member of the unlawful assembly is guilty of the offence of rioting.
    • The definition of ‘unlawful assembly’, according to Indian law, is laid down in Section 141 of the Indian Penal Code.
  • People’s Union for Civil Liberties case, 2013:
    • The two main key components that came out of the Supreme Court judgment are:
      • Right to vote also includes right to reject.
      • Right to secrecy is an integral part of a free and fair election.
    • Right to Reject: It implies that a voter while voting has every right not to opt for any of the candidates during an election.
      • The ‘right to reject’ was first proposed by the Law Commission in 1999.
    • Similarly, the Election Commission endorsed ‘Right to Reject’, first in 2001, under James Lyngdoh [the then CEC], and then in 2004 under S. Krishnamurthy [the then CEC], in its Proposed Electoral Reforms.
    • Besides, the ‘Background Paper on Electoral Reforms’, prepared by the Ministry of Law in 2010, had proposed that if certain percentage of the vote was negative, then election result should be nullified and new election held.
    • Such a right implies a choice to remain neutral. It has its genesis in freedom of speech and expression.
    • Right to Secrecy:
      • It is a central right of an elector to cast his vote without fear of reprisal, duress or coercion as per Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
        • Protection of the elector’s identity and affording secrecy is therefore integral to free and fair elections.

Right to Vote in India:

  • In India, the right to vote is provided by the Constitution and the Representation of People’s Act, 1951, subject to certain disqualifications.
  • Article 326 of the Constitution guarantees the right to vote to every citizen above the age of 18.
  • Further, Section 62 of the Representation of Peoples Act (RoPA), 1951 states that every person who is in the electoral roll of that constituency will be entitled to vote.

Other Related Judgement:

  • Secrecy of ballot is the cornerstone of free and fair elections. The choice of a voter should be free and the secret ballot system in a democracy ensures it, the Supreme Court has held in judgment.
  • Justice Khanna, who wrote the judgment, referred to Section 94 of the Representation of People Act, which upholds the privilege of the voter to maintain confidentiality about her choice of vote.
  • The judgment came on an appeal against the Allahabad High Court decision setting aside the voting of a no-confidence motion in a Zila panchayat in Uttar Pradesh in 2018.

What is the Secret Ballot?

  • The secret ballot, also known as Australian ballot, is a voting method in which a voter’s choices in an election or a referendum are anonymous.
  • It aims for forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation, blackmailing, and potential vote-buying.
  • The system is one means of achieving the goal of political privacy.


  1. Production-linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Specialty Steel

#GS2 # Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. #GS3 #Mineral and Energy resources #distribution of major industries

Context: Recently, union Cabinet approves Production-linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Specialty Steel.

Highlights and significance of the scheme:

  • The duration of the scheme will be five years, from 2023-24 to 2027-28.
  • It has a budgetary outlay of ?6322 crores.
  • It aims to boost the production of high-grade specialty steel in the country.
  • There are 3 slabs of PLI incentives under the scheme
  • The lowest being 4% and the highest is 12%, which has been provided for electrical steel (CRGO).
  • It is expected to bring in investment of approximately ?40,000 crores and capacity addition of 25 MT for speciality steel.
  • The scheme is expected to give employment to about 5,25,000 people of which 68,000 will be direct employment.
  • It is expected that the speciality steel production will become 42 million tonnes by the end of 2026-27.
  • Most of the imports into India are in the value-added and speciality segment.
  • This scheme will ensure that approximately 2.5 lakh crores worth of speciality steel will be produced and consumed in the country which would otherwise have been imported.
  • Similarly, the export of specialty steel will become around 5.5 million tonnes as against the current 1.7 million tonnes of specialty steel getting FOREX of Rs 33,000 crore.

  • The scheme will benefit both big players i.e. integrated steel plants and to the smaller players (secondary steel players)
  • Any company registered in India, engaged in manufacturing of the identified ‘specialty steel’ grades will be eligible to participate in the scheme.
  • It will ensure finished steel be made in India only, thereby ensuring that the scheme promotes end-to-end manufacturing within the country.


  • The five categories of specialty steel that have been chosen in the PLI Scheme are:
    • Coated/Plated Steel Products
    • High Strength/Wear-resistant Steel
    • Specialty Rails
    • Alloy Steel Products and Steel wires
    • Electrical Steel.
  • Out of these product categories, it is expected that after completion of the Scheme India will start manufacturing products like API grade pipes, Head Hardened Rails, electrical steel (needed in transformers and electrical appliances) which are currently manufactured in very limited quantity or not manufactured at all.

Why have these products been chosen?

  • The identified products have-
    • High potential for domestic production, import substitution, exports and attracting significant investments.
    • Demand of stakeholders
    • Niche applications.

What is Specialty Steel?

  • Specialty steel is value-added steel wherein normal finished steel is worked upon by way of coating, plating, heat treatment, etc. to convert it into high-value-added steel.
  • This steel can be used in various strategic applications like Defence, Space, Power, apart from the automobile sector, specialized capital goods among others.

 Why Speciality Steel for the PLI Scheme?

  • Speciality steel has been chosen as the target segment because out of the production of 102 million tonnes steel in India in 2020-21, only18 million tonnes value added steel/speciality steel was produced in the country.
  • Apart from this out of 6.7 million tonnes of imports in the same year, approx. 4 million tonnes import was of specialty steel alone resulting in FOREX outgo of Approx. Rs. 30,000 crores.
  • By becoming Aatmanirbhar in producing speciality steel, India will move up the steel value chain and come at par with advanced steel making countries like Korea and Japan.

PLI Scheme:

  • In order to boost domestic manufacturing and cut down on import bills, the central government in March 2020 introduced a PLI scheme that aims to give companies incentives on incremental sales from products manufactured in domestic units.
  • The scheme invites foreign companies to set units in India; however, it also aims to encourage local companies to set up or expand existing manufacturing units.
  • The Scheme has also been approved for sectors such as automobiles, pharmaceuticals, IT hardware including laptops, mobile phones & telecom equipment, white goods, chemical cells, food processing and textiles, etc.


  1. Bilateral Pacts on Drug Trafficking

#GS3 #Security challenges and their management in border areas

Context:  As per the information given by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), India has signed 26 bilateral pacts, 15 memoranda of understanding and two agreements on security cooperation with different countries for combating illicit trafficking of narcotic, drugs and psychotropic substances, besides chemical precursors.

International organisations with which the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) coordinated include:

  • The SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk.
  • BRICS Colombo Plan.
  • ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matters (ASOD).
  • Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-Operation (BIMSTEC).
  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
  • The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

Drug Problem in India:

  • India is situated between two largest Opium producing regions of the world.
    • The golden triangle area which comprises Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos.
    • The golden crescent area which has Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

  • As per the reportby All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) in 2019:
    • Around 5 crore Indians reported to have used cannabis and opioids.
    • It has been estimated that there are about 8.5 lakh people who inject drugs.
    • Of the total cases estimated , more than half of them are contributed by states like Punjab, Assam, Delhi, Haryana, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh.
    • Number of people using drugs in 2018 increased by 30% from 2009, with adolescents and young adults accounting for the largest share of users.
    • One out of three drug users is a woman but women represent only one out of five people in treatment.

National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) annual Accidental Death & Suicides in India (ADSI) reports:

  • In the year 2019, 7719 out of the total 7860 suicide victims due to drug abuse/alcohol addiction were male.
  • Even in the data relating to deaths due to road accidents, drugs & alcohol are one of the most causative factors.

Drug Abuse problem worsening due to Covid-19 Pandemic:

  • The economic downturn caused by the global pandemic may drive more people to substance abuse or leave them vulnerable to involvement in drug trafficking and related crime.
  • In the global recession that followed the 2008 financial crisis, drug users sought out cheaper synthetic substances and patterns of use shifted towards injecting drugs, while governments reduced budgets to deal with drug-related problems.
  • All over the world, the risks and consequences of drug use are worsened by poverty, limited opportunities for education and jobs, stigma and social exclusion, which in turn helps to deepen inequalities, moving us further away from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Domestic measures:

  • For coordination among various Central and State agencies, the Narco Coordination Centre (NCORD) mechanism was set up by the MHA in year 2016.
  • A Joint Coordination Committee with the NCB Director General as its chairman was set up on July 19, 2019, to monitor the investigation into cases involving large seizures.
  • For digitisation of pan-India drug seizure data, the MHA has launched an e-portal called ‘SIMS’ (Seizure Information Management System) in 2019 for all the drug law enforcement agencies under the mandate of Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS).
  • Security Agencies involved: Besides the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Border Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal, Indian Coast Guard, Railway Protection Force and the National Investigation Agency have also been empowered under the NDPS Act for making drug seizures.
  • Nasha Mukt Bharat’ : It focuses on community outreach programs.
  • The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, (NDPS) 1985: It prohibits a person from producing, possessing, selling, purchasing, transporting, storing, and/or consuming any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
  • Project Sunrise: By the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2016, to tackle the rising HIV prevalence in north-eastern states in India.


5.Digital Trade Facilitation:

#GS3 #Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Context: United Nation’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific’s (UNESCAP) has released its latest Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation.

About the Survey:

  • The biennial survey is organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) to review the progress of trade facilitation reforms in their respective member states.
  • The survey is carried out jointly by the five United Nations Regional Commissions (UNRCs).
  • The 2021 survey is keenly awaited globally as it offers evidence-based data on whether trade facilitation measures have had the desired impact, besides drawing comparisons among countries.
  • The 2021 survey includes an assessment of 58 trade facilitation measures covered by the

WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.

  • Concluded at the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, the TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance.
  • A higher score for any country helps businesses take investment decisions.

India’s performance:

  • India has scored 90.32 percent against 78.49 percent in 2019.
  • The 2021 Survey has highlighted India’s significant improvement in the scores on all 5 key indicators:
  • Transparency:100% in 2021 (93.33% in 2019)
  • Formalities: 95.83% in 2021 (87.5% in 2019)
  • Institutional Arrangement and Cooperation: 88.89% in 2021 (66.67% in 2019)
  • Paperless Trade: 96.3% in 2021 (81.48% in 2019)
  • Cross-Border Paperless Trade: 66.67% in 2021 (55.56% in 2019)
  • India’s overall score is higher than many OECD countries including France, UK, Canada, Norway, Finland etc, EU region average.
  • India is also the best performing country when compared to South and South West Asia region (63.12%) and Asia Pacific region (65.85%).

The Government of India has implemented various measures bringing technological intervention to bring transparency in the day-to-day administration. These include:

  • Reforms by CBIC under the umbrella of ‘Turant’ Customs to usher in a Faceless, Paperless and Contactless Customs by way of a series of reforms.
    • This has had a direct impact in terms of the improvement in the UNESCAP rankings on digital and sustainable trade facilitation.
    • Further, during the Covid19 pandemic, Customs formations have made all efforts to expedite Covid related imports such as Oxygen related equipment, life-saving medicines, vaccines etc.
  • A dedicated single window COVID-19 24*7 helpdesk for EXIM trade was created on the CBIC website to facilitate quick resolution of issue(s) faced by importers.
  • AEBAS- Aadhar Enabled Biometric Attendance enables real time and flawless monitoring of employee attendance thereby ensuring punctuality among employee.
  • e-Office aims to usher in more efficient, effective and transparent inter-government and intra-government transactions and processes. It enhances transparency, assure data security and data.
  • GeM: Government e-Market (GeM) provided rich listing products for individual categories of Goods Services, transparent and ease of buying and user-friendly dash board for buying and monitoring supplies and payment.


  1. UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

#GS1 # Indian Culture – Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times

Context: India’s nomination of Rudreswara Temple, (also known as the Ramappa Temple) at Palampet, Mulugu district, near Warangal in the state of Telangana has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Key Details:

  • This is India’s 39th World Heritage Site.
  • The decision was taken at the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO today.

About the temple:

  • Ramappa temple, a 13th century engineering marvel is named after its architect, Ramappa.
  • The Rudreswara temple was constructed in 1213 AD during the reign of the Kakatiya Empire by RecharlaRudra, a general of Kakatiya king Ganapati Deva. The presiding deity here is Ramalingeswara Swamy.
    • It was started during Kalyani Chalukyan period and reached its zenith under Kakatiyas.
  • The temple complexes of Kakatiyas have a distinct style, technology and decoration exhibiting the influence of the Kakatiyan sculptor.
  • Star-shaped consists of Garbhagriha, Antarala, Ardha mandapa, Ranga mandapa, Nandi mandapa, Shasana mandapa and subsidiary temples, enshrined in a prakara (compound wall).
  • The temple is constructed on an upapitha of 6.5 ft height, endowed with a 10ft wide pradakshina patha.
  • The three-storied Shikhara or Vimana of the temple is completely brick-built not to burden the structure below.
  • The foundation is built with the “sandbox technique”, the flooring is granite and the pillars basalt.
    • The lower part of the temple is red sandstone while the white gopuram is built with light bricks that reportedly float on water
    • The brick of the Ramappa is the result of the culmination of experimentation in brick starting from Satavahana times in Telangana.
    • These floating bricks, as popularly called are made of clay mixed with the acacia wood, chaff, myrobalan and ushira (vatti verlu), making the brick very light enabling it to float on water.

Other world Heritage Sites:



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

× How can I help you?