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Daily Current Affairs

30-January-2024

1. India's Economy Set to Surpass 7% Growth, Eyes Third-Largest Global Economy Spot by 2025: Finance Ministry Report

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy – Issues relating to growth
This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of the country’s economic trajectory, including growth projections, key challenges, and trends.
Context:
  • The Ministry of Finance released a report titled “The Indian Economy – A Review,” prepared by the Chief Economic Adviser, projecting a robust growth trajectory for India.
  • The report anticipates the Indian economy to grow at over 7% in the coming years, making it the world’s third-largest economy within the next three years, with a GDP reaching $5 trillion.
  • The growth is attributed to a combination of domestic demand, supply-side measures like infrastructure investment, and initiatives to boost manufacturing.
More about the news: Positive Growth Predictions and Resilience:
  • The Chief Economic Adviser, V Anantha Nageswaran, expressed confidence in India achieving a growth rate of 7% or above in FY24, followed by a similar rate in FY25.
  • This resilience, especially in the post-pandemic period, would mark the fourth consecutive year of substantial growth, showcasing the robust potential of the Indian economy.
Concerns and Risks:
  • While the report outlines positive projections, it acknowledges elevated risks due to geopolitical conflicts.
  • The global economy’s struggles post-COVID, including supply chain disruptions, are highlighted as potential challenges that could impact trade flows, transportation costs, economic output, and inflation worldwide.
Key Trends and Challenges for the Future:
  • The report identifies three major trends shaping India’s economic landscape: the end of hyper-globalization in global manufacturing, the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the challenges posed by the energy transition.
  • Nageswaran emphasizes the need to address logistics costs, invest in product quality, and navigate the complex landscape of AI’s impact on services trade and employment.
Balancing Economic Growth and Energy Transition:
  • The report acknowledges the trade-off between economic growth and the imperative for an energy transition, particularly in the context of rising global temperatures.
  • Nageswaran highlights India’s careful balancing act, maintaining economic growth while actively transitioning to greener energy sources.
India’s Preparedness and Future Aspirations:
  • The report underscores India’s preparedness to tackle these challenges, citing substantial investments in infrastructure, a healthy financial sector, and inclusive development initiatives like Jan Dhan Yojana.
  • The government’s adept management of the COVID crisis and vaccination efforts is credited for the quick economic recovery.
  • As longstanding issues are addressed, the aspirations of young Indians rise, reflecting a growing confidence in a better future for the country.
Conclusion:
  • The Chief Economic Adviser concludes that India is well-positioned to overcome challenges and aims for a growth rate exceeding 7% by 2030, aspiring to become a $7 trillion economy.
  • The report paints a positive picture of India’s economic prospects, emphasizing the nation’s resilience, strategic investments, and the population’s growing confidence in a brighter future.
PYQ: Define potential GDP and explain its determinants. What are the factors that have been inhibiting India from realizing its potential GDP? (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2020)
Practice Question:  Discuss the key determinants and projections outlined in the Ministry of Finance’s report on the Indian economy, emphasizing its potential to achieve over 7% growth and become the world’s third-largest economy by 2025. (250 words/15 m)

2. Indian Government Introduces 'Reasonable Pricing' Controls on Fertilisers, Imposing Profit Margin Caps for Industry Compliance

Topic: GS3 – Agriculture – Issues related to Direct & indirect farm subsidies.
This topic is relevant for Mains in the context of knowing government’s intervention in pricing controls and profit margin caps for fertilizers, involve a deeper understanding of economic policies, regulatory frameworks, and their implications.
Context:
  • The Narendra Modi government has implemented “reasonable pricing” controls on various fertilisers, including di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and muriate of potash (MOP), that receive nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) support.
  • Unlike urea, which has a fixed maximum retail price (MRP) set by the government, NBS fertilisers are technically decontrolled.
  • However, the Department of Fertilisers (DoF) has issued guidelines to evaluate the “reasonableness” of MRPs for non-urea fertilisers, effective retrospectively from April 1, 2023.
More about the news: Imposition of Profit Margin Caps:
  • The guidelines prescribe maximum profit margins for fertiliser firms, allowing 8% for importers, 10% for manufacturers, and 12% for integrated manufacturers.
  • Firms earning excessive profits, beyond the stipulated percentages in a financial year, are required to refund the surplus to the DoF.
  • Failure to return the money within the specified timeframe results in an interest charge of 12% per annum, starting from the next financial year.
Indirect MRP Controls and Profit Capping:
  • Effectively imposing indirect MRP controls on non-urea fertilisers, the guidelines cap profits based on the total cost of sales, covering production/import costs, overheads, and financing charges.
  • Deductions for dealer’s margin are allowed within specified limits. The guidelines mandate companies to self-assess unreasonable profits based on cost auditors’ reports, with scrutiny by the DoF.
  • Unreasonable profits, if identified, will be recovered from the companies.
Extension of Detailed Cost Monitoring and Price Controls:
  • These guidelines extend the detailed cost monitoring and price controls applied to urea to other fertilisers.
  • While non-urea fertilisers have been under informal price control, the new guidelines formalize the process, akin to urea pricing regulations.
  • There are suggestions for MRPs for various fertilisers, indicating an extension of price controls until the conclusion of the Lok Sabha elections.
Conclusion:
  • The government’s move establishes pricing controls and profit margin caps on non-urea fertilisers, aligning them with the regulations that have long been applied to urea.
  • This step aims to ensure reasonable pricing and prevent excessive profits in the fertiliser industry.
Practice Question:  Analyse the implications of the Indian government’s recent decision to impose ‘reasonable pricing’ controls and profit margin caps on non-urea fertilisers. (150 words/10 m)

3. UNRWA Funding Suspension Sparks Urgent Appeals Amid Gaza Humanitarian Crisis

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Important International institutions, agencies and fora – their structure, mandate.
Prelims – UNRWA is an international organization, and questions related to its functions, members, and recent developments can be expected. Mains – The ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip involve multiple stakeholders and have implications for international relations.
Context:
  • Officials have urged countries to reconsider their decision to suspend funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).
  • The call comes with a warning that strict action will be taken against any staff member found involved in the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel.
  • The suspension of funds by the US and eight other countries, which collectively provided over half of UNRWA’s 2022 budget, has put at risk the crucial services the agency provides to two million Palestinians in Gaza.
More about the news: Overview of UNRWA and Its Operations:
  • UNRWA, established in 1949, aims to aid Palestinians who were displaced during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
  • Operating in Gaza, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, the agency offers education, health, relief, social services, microfinance, and emergency assistance.
  • Currently serving around 5.9 million Palestinian refugees, UNRWA relies heavily on voluntary contributions from donor states, with the US being a significant contributor.
Israel’s Accusations and UNRWA’s Response:
  • Israel has accused 12 UNRWA staff members of involvement in the October 7 attack and alleged that the agency is connected to Hamas.
  • Israel also claims that Hamas utilizes funds meant for UNRWA and conducts military operations in and around the agency’s facilities.
  • UNRWA has vehemently denied these allegations, stating no links to Hamas.
  • Out of the accused staff members, nine have been terminated, one confirmed dead, and the identity of the remaining two is being clarified.
  • Former UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness has characterized the accusations as a “coordinated political attack” by Israel.
Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza and the Immediate Future:
  • UNRWA plays a vital role in sustaining the population of Gaza, which is currently grappling with a humanitarian crisis.
  • The agency provides essential supplies such as food, water, and shelter to the civilians in the enclave.
  • However, if the funding suspension persists, UNRWA warns that it would run out of money within weeks, exacerbating the already dire situation in Gaza.
  • The appeal underscores the urgent need to reinstate funding to ensure the continued provision of essential services.
  • The mission encompasses collaboration, innovation, and strategic planning to propel India to the forefront of the global quantum landscape.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East or the UNRWA
About
  • The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is a specialized agency established by the United Nations General Assembly to address the needs of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.
  • UNRWA was created on December 8, 1949, with the adoption of General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV), following the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1948, known as the Nakba (catastrophe), which resulted in the displacement of a significant number of Palestinian refugees.
Mandate:
  • UNRWA was established with a specific mandate to provide humanitarian assistance, relief, and works programs for Palestinian refugees who were displaced as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.
  • The mandate was later extended to cover those who became refugees during the 1967 Six-Day War.
Geographical Focus:
  • UNRWA operates in five areas: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.
  • Its services cover education, health care, social services, and emergency relief.
Services Provided:
  • Education: UNRWA operates schools for Palestinian refugee children, providing basic and secondary education. The agency has been a significant contributor to the education of Palestinian youth for decades.
  • Health Care: UNRWA provides health services, including clinics and medical facilities, to Palestinian refugees. These services encompass preventive, curative, and maternal health care.
  • Social Services: UNRWA offers various social services, including relief and social services for vulnerable populations, vocational training, and support for individuals with special needs.
  • Emergency Relief: UNRWA is involved in emergency response efforts, particularly during times of conflict or crisis. This includes providing shelter, food, and medical aid to those affected.
Financial Support:
  • UNRWA is funded primarily through voluntary contributions from member states and other donors.
  • Its financial stability has been a recurring concern, and the agency periodically faces funding shortfalls that impact its ability to deliver essential services.
Practice Question:  Examine the geopolitical implications and humanitarian repercussions of the recent suspension of funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). (200 words/12.5 m)

4. NASA's Perseverance Rover Confirms Ancient Lake Sediments on Mars, Bolstering Hypothesis of Watery Past

Topic: GS3 – Science & Technology – Developing new technology- Space
This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of advancements in space exploration and planetary science.
Context:
  • NASA’s Perseverance rover has gathered data confirming the existence of ancient lake sediments on Mars, specifically within the Jerezo Crater.
  • The study, published last week in the journal Science Advances, relies on ground-penetrating radar observations conducted by the robotic rover.
  • These observations substantiate earlier orbital imagery and data, leading scientists to theorize that certain regions on Mars were once submerged in water, potentially providing conditions suitable for microbial life.
More about the news: Study Conducted by UCLA and University of Oslo Teams:
  • Led by teams from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Oslo, the study delves into subsurface scans taken by Perseverance over several months in 2022.
  • The car-sized rover navigated across the Martian surface, moving from the crater floor to an adjacent area with braided, sedimentary-like features resembling river deltas observed on Earth.
RIMFAX Radar Instrument Reveals Underground Insights:
  • The rover’s RIMFAX radar instrument played a pivotal role in the study, enabling scientists to explore underground structures and obtain a cross-sectional view of rock layers approximately 65 feet (20 meters) deep.
  • These layers provide conclusive evidence that soil sediments transported by water were deposited at Jerezo Crater and its delta, originating from a river that once fed it—mirroring the geological processes seen in Earth’s lake formations.
Implications for Mars’ Watery Past and Potential for Life:
  • The confirmation of ancient lake sediments strengthens the hypothesis that Mars had a watery past, with certain areas potentially fostering conditions conducive to microbial life.
  • The findings contribute to our understanding of Mars’ geological history and further support the search for signs of past or present life on the Red Planet.
  • Perseverance’s ongoing exploration continues to unravel the mysteries of Mars, bringing scientists closer to uncovering the planet’s complex and dynamic past.
About Perseverance rover:
It is a robotic explorer to land on Mars as part of NASA’s ongoing Mars 2020 Mission. Main Job:
  • Seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for possible return to Earth.
  • The rover will collect samples of rock and soil, encase them in tubes, and leave them on the planet’s surface to be returned to Earth at a future date.
Launch:
  • It was launched on July 30, 2020 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Landing:
  • Successfully landed on the surface of Mar’s Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.
Features:
  • It is about the size of a car, but weighs only about 1,025 kilograms with all instruments on board.
Power source: 
  • Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG). Converts heat from the radioactive decay of plutonium into electricity.
PYQ: How does the Juno Mission of NASA help to understand the origin and evolution of the Earth? (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2017)
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of NASA’s Perseverance rover confirming ancient lake sediments on Mars. How does this discovery contribute to our understanding of the Martian environment and its potential implications for astrobiology? (250 words/15 m)

5. ICAR-CMFRI Collaborates with Neat Meatt Biotech for Pioneering Lab-Grown Fish Meat: A Transformative Step in Sustainable Seafood Production in India

Topic: GS3 – Science & Technology – Development & their applications
Prelims- Prelims may include questions related to current events, scientific advancements, and collaborations. As this is a recent development, it could be a potential area of questioning in the current affairs section. Mains- The venture aligns with broader themes like sustainable development, technological innovation in agriculture, and economic diversification, which can be crucial for essay writing and general studies papers.
Context:
  • The ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), headquartered in Kochi, has embarked on a groundbreaking collaboration with Neat Meatt Biotech, a New Delhi-based private-sector startup specializing in cultivated meat technology.
  • This Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is a milestone for India, representing the country’s first venture into lab-grown fish meat.
More about the news: Lab-Grown Fish:
  • Lab-grown fish meat is a form of cultivated or cultured meat that is produced without the need to raise and slaughter animals.
  • In this process, specific cells are isolated from fish and grown in a laboratory setting using animal-free media.
  • The resulting product aims to replicate the taste, texture, and nutritional qualities of real fish meat.
Roles in Collaboration:
  • Under the MoU, CMFRI will concentrate on genetic, biochemical, and analytical aspects related to the project.
  • The institute’s cell culture lab will focus on early cell line development of high-value marine fish species, initially targeting fish varieties such as pomfret, kingfish, and seerfish.
  • Neat Meatt Biotech, with its expertise in cell culture technology, will lead the optimization of cell growth media, scaffold development, and scaling up production through bioreactors.
  • The company will also provide necessary consumables, manpower, and additional equipment for the project.
Need for Lab-Grown Fish Meat:
  • The collaboration addresses the increasing demand for seafood while alleviating pressure on wild resources caused by overfishing.
  • Lab-grown fish meat has the potential to contribute to food security and environmental sustainability by reducing reliance on traditional fishing methods.
  • Additionally, it offers advantages such as being antibiotic- and contamination-free, with no exposure to microplastics or heavy metals found in polluted seas.
Global Landscape and Emerging Industry:
  • While large-scale commercial production of lab-grown fish meat may be a few years away, several countries have made significant strides in this technology.
  • Israel leads the way, followed by Singapore, the United States, and China.
  • CMFRI’s collaboration with Neat Meatt aims to ensure India’s active participation in this emerging industry.
  • Other lab-grown meats, including chicken, pork, lamb, and beef, are also being explored globally.
Conclusion:
  • This collaboration between CMFRI and Neat Meatt is positioned as a crucial step in fostering sustainable seafood production in India.
  • By leveraging CMFRI’s marine research expertise and Neat Meatt’s technological know-how, the initiative aims to propel India into the forefront of cultured seafood research.
  • The lab-grown meat industry is rapidly expanding globally, with over 150 companies operating on six continents and significant investments flowing into this innovative and sustainable food production sector.
ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute
  • The ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute was established by Government of India on February 3rd 1947 under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and later it joined the ICAR family in 1967.
  • During the course of over 75 years the Institute has emerged as a leading tropical marine fisheries research institute in the world.
  • Since its inception, the CMFRI grew significantly in its size and stature and built-up adequate research infrastructure and recruited qualified staff.
  • During the first half of the five decades of its existence, the CMFRI devoted its research attention towards the estimation of marine fisheries landings and effort, taxonomy of marine organisms and the bio-economic characteristics of the exploited stocks of finfish and shellfish.
  • This research effort contributed significantly to India’s marine fisheries development from a predominantly artisanal, sustenance fishery till the early sixties to that of a complex, multi-gear, multispecies fisheries.
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance and potential impacts of the collaborative research agreement between the ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) and Neat Meatt Biotech in developing lab-grown fish meat in the context of India’s quest for sustainable agriculture, food security, and environmental conservation. (250 words/15 m)

6.Centre pegs GDP growth at 7% in 2024-25.

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy – Issues relating to growth
UPSC candidates need to understand India’s economic trajectory, projected GDP growth, and the goal of reaching a $5 trillion economy.
Context:
  • The Finance Ministry report anticipates India’s real GDP growth at 7% in 2024-25, with potential to exceed 7% by 2030.
More about the news:
  • A Finance Ministry report ahead of the Interim Budget forecasts India’s real GDP growth at approximately 7% in 2024-25, with the potential to surpass 7% by 2030.
  • Chief Economic Adviser V. Anantha Nageswaran emphasizes the significance of 7% growth amid global economic challenges.
  • The report envisions the Indian economy reaching $5 trillion within the next three years.
  • Prefacing a review of the last 10 years, Nageswaran notes the distinctiveness of growth rates, stating that when the global economy rising by 4%, India stands out with a GDP growth rate of 7%.
                            GDP And Similar Economic Terms
Gross Domestic Product (GDP):
  1. A key economic indicator that measures the total value of all goods and services produced within a country’s borders.
  2. Comprises three main components: consumer spending, business investments, and government expenditures.
  3. Excludes imports and includes exports to avoid double-counting.
  4. Divided into nominal GDP (current prices) and real GDP (adjusted for inflation).
  5. Used to assess the economic health and performance of a nation.
Gross National Product (GNP): Similar to GDP but includes income earned by a country’s residents abroad and excludes income earned by foreign residents within the country. Gross National Income (GNI): Measures total income earned by a country’s residents, including income from abroad. Net Domestic Product (NDP): GDP minus depreciation of capital. Per Capita GDP: GDP divided by the population, providing an average income per person. Economic Growth: Indicates the rate at which a country’s GDP or GNP is increasing over time. GDP Deflator: A measure of the average price change of all goods and services included in GDP.
PYQ: Explain the difference between computing methodology of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) before the year 2015 and after the year 2015. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2021)

7. Elections to 56 Rajya Sabha seats on Feb. 27.

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity – Parliament.
Understanding Rajya Sabha election process crucial for UPSC, testing knowledge of federal structure and electoral mechanisms in India
Context:
  • Elections for 56 Rajya Sabha seats, including key figures like BJP president J.P. Nadda and 9 Union Ministers, are set for February 27, with minimal expected changes in balance.
More about the news:
  • Elections for 56 Rajya Sabha seats, including BJP president J.P. Nadda, 9 Union Ministers, and former PM Manmohan Singh, to be held on February 27.
  • Balance in the Upper House unlikely to change significantly, with BJP expected to maintain its tally.
  • BJP-led NDA may gain around six seats, particularly in Maharashtra, Bihar, and Gujarat.
  • Opposition ranks to be further diminished, especially in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
                     Process of Election Of Rajya Sabha
  • Rajya Sabha members are elected by the elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies and the Electoral College of the Union Territories.
  • The method of election is proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.
  • Each state and Union Territory is allotted a certain number of seats based on its population.
  • Members are elected for a term of six years, with one-third of the members retiring every two years.
  • The voting is done through a secret ballot, and members can cast their votes in order of preference.
  • To win a seat, a candidate needs to secure a certain quota of votes calculated based on the total valid votes cast and the number of seats to be filled.
  • If a candidate exceeds the required quota, the surplus votes are transferred to the next preference.
  • The candidate with the lowest votes is eliminated in each round, and their votes are transferred to the next preference until all seats are filled.
Practice Question: Explain the election process of Rajya Sabha in India and discuss its significance in ensuring federal representation. (150 words/10 m)

8. What is Humboldt’s enigma and what does it mean for India?

Topic: GS3 – Environment And Ecology
UPSC perspective: Understand Humboldt’s enigma, its impact on biodiversity, and drivers in mountains; crucial for environmental science, geography, and ecology in exams.
Context:
  • The article explores Humboldt’s enigma, challenging traditional biodiversity patterns by highlighting the exceptional diversity in mountains, particularly in India’s eastern Himalaya.
  • It discusses geological and climatic factors driving biodiversity, unanswered questions, and the need for research to address gaps in understanding.
Introduction: Humboldt’s Exploration
  • Alexander von Humboldt, a polymath explorer, studied various natural phenomena.
  • Explored South America and recorded plant distribution on mountains.
  • Proposed a relationship between temperature, altitude, humidity, and species biodiversity.
Humboldt’s Enigma: Biodiversity in Mountains
  • Humboldt’s enigma challenges the idea that biodiversity is concentrated solely in tropical areas.
  • Mountains, despite being outside the tropics, exhibit high biodiversity, challenging traditional biodiversity patterns.
  • Modern tools and analysis contribute to understanding the drivers of biodiversity in mountains.
Humboldt’s Enigma in India
  • Tropical areas in India, south of the Tropic of Cancer, are expected to be the most diverse.
  • Western Ghats and Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspot exemplify this zone.
  • However, the eastern Himalaya, outside the tropics, is more diverse, especially for perching and river birds.
Drivers of Biodiversity: Geological and Climatic Factors
  • Mountains host biodiversity through geological processes (cradles) and climatologically stable areas (museums).
  • Coastal tropical sky islands, like the Shola Sky Islands in the Western Ghats, illustrate persistence of old lineages.
  • Geological heterogeneity promotes biodiversity, and the foundations on which mountains stand influence their diversity.
Biodiversity in the Andes and Eastern Himalaya
  • The northern Andes, including Chimborazo, is considered the most biodiverse place globally.
  • Climatic variation, from tropical to alpine, over short distances supports immense biodiversity.
  • The eastern Himalaya’s biodiversity is driven by climate dissimilarity and evolutionary history.
Unanswered Questions and the Need for Research
  • Over a hundred hypotheses exist for explaining diversity variations globally.
  • Lack of fine data on species occurrence limits understanding.
  • More research, including the use of genetics, is needed to fill gaps, especially in under-studied areas like the Eastern Ghats.
National Programs and the Way Forward
  • National programs, such as the National Mission on Himalayan Studies, aim to address biodiversity gaps.
  • The need to strengthen these programs and support basic research on diversity is crucial.
Conclusion: Local Solutions to Global Challenges
  • Humboldt’s enigma is one of many puzzles in mountain biodiversity.
  • Backyards, including those in India, are excellent places for studying biodiversity and finding solutions to global challenges in climate and landscape change.
Practice Question:  In the context of Humboldt’s enigma, discuss the factors driving biodiversity in mountainous regions and their significance in ecological studies (250 words/15 m)

9. Pros and cons of simultaneous elections

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity – Legislature
UPSC Perspective: Understanding the debate on simultaneous elections is crucial for aspirants, covering governance, federalism, and constitutional aspects.
Context:
  • The article discusses the ongoing examination, led by the High-Level Committee, regarding the feasibility of simultaneous elections in India.
  • It explores the historical background, benefits, challenges, recommendations, and the need for constitutional amendments.
Background:
  • High-Level Committee (HLC) led by ex-President Ramnath Kovind formed in 2023.
  • Aims to explore simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha, State Assemblies, and local bodies.
Historical Context:
  • Simultaneous elections held during initial general election cycles (1952-1967).
  • Frequent premature dissolutions led to staggered elections.
  • Previous proposals by Election Commission (1982) and Law Commission (1999).
Case for Simultaneous Elections:
  • Cost Reduction: Estimated ₹4,000 crore for Lok Sabha; substantial savings with simultaneous polls.
  • Governance Efficiency: Reduces ‘permanent campaign’ mode, aiding policy-making and governance.
  • Administrative Convenience: Minimizes disruption, enhances administrative efficiency.
  • Social Cohesion: Mitigates polarizing campaigns, fostering national unity.
Challenges:
  • Federal Concerns: Risks overshadowing regional issues, favors national parties.
  • Democratic Impact: Limits electoral feedback, hinders responsive governance.
  • Constitutional Amendments: Requires changes to Articles 83, 85, 172, 174, and 356.
Recommendations:
  • Law Commission (1999) suggests two cycles with half of the State assemblies in each.
  • ‘No-confidence motion’ accompanied by ‘confidence motion’ to discourage premature dissolutions.
  • Bye-elections to be clubbed annually.
International Comparison:
  • South Africa, Sweden, and Germany have fixed legislative tenures.
  • South Africa conducts simultaneous elections for National Assembly and provincial legislatures every five years.
Ideal Solution:
  • Lack of consensus among political parties.
  • Proposes conducting Lok Sabha elections in one cycle and all State assembly elections in another after two and a half years.
  • Recommendations on alternative government formation, duration of houses, and clubbing bye-elections to be adopted.
Conclusion:
  • Achieving simultaneous elections requires consensus and suitable amendments.
  • Balancing benefits and democratic principles crucial for successful implementation.
PYQ: ‘Simultaneous election to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies will limit the amount of time and money spent in electioneering but it will reduce the government’s accountability to the people’ Discuss. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2017)

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