Current Affairs July 23

Chandra Shekhar Azad

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has paid tributes to the valiant son of Bharat Mata, the remarkable Chandra Shekhar Azad on his Jayanti.

Key points

  • Chandrashekhar Azad was a Bharatiya revolutionary from Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. He believed that his Dharma was to fight for the Nation.
  • He said a soldier never relinquishes his weapon.
  • He was involved in the Kakori Train Robbery (1926), in the attempt to blow up the Viceroy’s train (1926), and in the shooting of Saunders at Lahore (1928) to avenge the killing of Lala Lajpat Rai.
  • He formed the ‘Hindustan Socialist Republican Association’.
  • He was an ideal for revolutionaries such as Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Batukeshwar Dutt and Rajguru.



United Nations Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation

  • India has scored 90.32% in United Nation’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific’s (UNESCAP) latest Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation. The Survey hails this as a remarkable jump from 78.49% in 2019.
  • After evaluation of 143 economies, the 2021 Survey has highlighted India’s significant improvement in the scores on all 5 key indicators, as follows:
  1. Transparency:100% in 2021 (from 93.33% in 2019)
  2. Formalities: 95.83% in 2021 (from 87.5% in 2019)
  3. Institutional Arrangement and Cooperation: 88.89% in 2021 (from 66.67% in 2019)
  4. Paperless Trade: 96.3% in 2021 (from 81.48% in 2019)
  5. Cross-Border Paperless Trade: 66.67% in 2021 (from 55.56% in 2019)
  • The Survey notes that India is the best performing country when compared to South and South West Asia region (63.12%) and Asia Pacific region (65.85%).
  • The overall score of India has also been found to be greater than many OECD countries including France, UK, Canada, Norway, Finland etc. and the overall score is greater than the average score of EU.
  • India has achieved a 100% score for the Transparency index and 66% in the “Women in trade” component

About the Survey:

  • The Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation is conducted every two years by UNESCAP.
  • The 2021 Survey includes an assessment of 58 trade facilitation measures covered by the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.
  • A higher score for a country also helps businesses in their investment decisions.


  • The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific is one of the five regional commissions under the jurisdiction of the United Nations Economic and Social Council
  • The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) serves as the United Nations’ regional hub promoting cooperation among countries to achieve inclusive and sustainable development.
  • The largest regional intergovernmental platform with 53 Member States and 9 associate members, ESCAP has emerged as a strong regional think-tank offering countries sound analytical products that shed insight into the evolving economic, social and environmental dynamics of the region
  • The overall objective of ESCAP is to promote inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in the Asia-Pacific region, with priority accorded to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals




Sela Tunnel

  • The breakthrough to facilitate faster completion of Sela Tunnel
  • Sela Tunnel to be world’s longest bi-lane road tunnel at an altitude above 13,000 feet
  • To provide all weather connectivity to Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
  • To play a crucial role in the development of North-east
  • Sela Tunnel is an under-construction road tunnel at 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) which will ensure all-weather connectivity between Guwahati in Assam and Tawang in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The tunnel is being excavated below the 4,200 metres (13,800 ft) Sela Pass in India on NH 13 component of Trans-Arunachal Highway system

Strategic Importance

  • This strategic tunnel is being constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) under Project Vartak.
  • It will enhance Indian military’s capabilities in combating the threat of China’s Western Theater Command opposite India’s eastern sector of Line of Actual Control.
  • It will cut the travel time from the Indian Army’s IV Corps headquarter at Tezpur to Tawang by at least 10 km or 1 hour and also help make the NH13 an all-weather road to access Tawang which usually gets disconnected during winter



SC as a Guardian of federal principle: case of cooperative societies


  • The cooperative movement certainly needs reform and revitalisation.
  • Beset by political interference, many cooperative societies do not hold elections regularly, while some are superseded frequently.
  • The 97th Constitution Amendment, which came into effect in 2012, was a major step towards infusing autonomy, democratic functioning and professional management.
  • The recent Supreme Court verdict holding the amendment unconstitutional to the extent it applied to cooperative societies under the control of the States
  • It is a reminder that even well-intentioned efforts towards reforms cannot be at the cost of the quasi-federal principles underlying the Constitution.
  • The amendment added Part IXB to the Constitution, concerning cooperative societies.
  • Part IXB delineated the contours of what State legislation on cooperative societies ought to contain, including provisions on the maximum number of directors in each society, reservation for seats for SCs, or STs, and women, besides the duration of the terms of elected members, among others
  • The question before the Court was whether the 97th Amendment impacted the legislative domain of the State Legislatures and, therefore, required ratification by half the legislatures, in addition to the required two-thirds majority in Parliament.
  • The Gujarat High Court had found the amendment invalid for want of such ratification.
  • The Supreme Court, by a 2:1 majority, upheld the judgment holding the amendment invalid, but only in relation to cooperatives under the States.
  • The elaborate amendment would hold good for multi-State cooperative societies, on which Parliament was competent to enact laws.
  • A significant limitation on Parliament’s amending power is the requirement that certain kinds of amendments to the Constitution must be ratified by 50% of the State legislatures.
  • The Union government believed that as the subject of ‘cooperative societies’ in the State List was not altered in any way by the 97th Amendment,
  • It only outlined guidelines on any law on cooperatives that the Assemblies may enact, the ratification was not necessary.
  • A key principle from the judgment is that the ratification requirement will apply if there is any attempt to fetter the State legislatures in any way while enacting a law in their own domain, even if there is no attempt to alter the distribution of legislative powers between the Union and States.
  • Thus, in the absence of ratification by the States, the amendment that sought to prescribe the outlines of State laws on a State subject did not pass constitutional muster



New e-commerce rules

  • Government’s original proposal indicated a blanket ban on all flash sales but a clarification later said it won’t apply for ‘conventional’ flash sales. These are typically pre-decided sale events for new smartphones with limited stocks at a discount
  • E-tailers should not allow ‘misleading’ ads potentially on pricing, quality, guarantee. They shouldn’t advertise sellers offering discounts. This could also impact the growing online advertising business of e-tailers.
  • E-tailers have to ensure product listings have the details of country of origin (CoO)—an arduous task given Flipkart and Amazon have millions of products listed on their platforms.
  • E-tailers typically highlight certain products as non-returnable at pre-purchase stage and generally offer free exchange or refunds to consumers. Explicitly asking consumer consent can only strengthen the online shopping experience for consumers.
  • No e-commerce entity shall indulge in mis-selling of goods or services
  • The likes of Flipkart and Amazon India operate the marketplace and they are not directly involved in selling goods. For platforms offering services, like food delivery, travel, they too act as a marketplace
  • E-tailers shouldn’t mislead users by manipulating search results
  • E-tailers shouldn’t permit usage of their name for brands—if such practices amount to unfair trade practice and impinges on the interests of consumers.
  • On sponsored listing of products and services ‘distinctly identified’
  • -This can only bring further transparency for online shoppers so they know more about the purchase they are about to make.
  • No e-commerce entity, which holds a dominant position in any market, shall be allowed to abuse its position.

On need of data to agencies within 72 hours


  • -Providing information to agencies within a certain period of time, provided there is adequate reasoning, could be more compliance for e-tailers and sellers than anything else.
  • No logistics service provider of a marketplace e-commerce entity shall provide differentiated treatment between sellers of the same category

On ‘fall back liability’ with e-tailers and platforms providing service


  • -E-tailers selling goods and services have maintained that the liability should be with sellers selling goods or services while they have their own internal checks.
  • The rules are applicable to all goods and services bought or sold over a digital or electronic network.
  • When we say “all goods and services”, it includes your food delivery apps, hotel booking websites, etc. So, basically any kind of e-commerce



Microplastic in Ganga

  • An analysis of the stretches of the river Ganga by a Delhi-based environment NGO, Toxics Link, has revealed pollution by microplastics, defined as synthetic solid particles sized ranging from 1 micrometre to 5 millimetre (mm), which are insoluble in water. The Ganga flows across five States.
  • Microplastics are recognised as a major source of marine pollution.
  • Untreated sewage from many cities along the river’s course, industrial waste and religious offerings wrapped in non-degradable plastics pile pollutants into the river as it flows through several densely populated cities.
  • The plastic products and waste materials released or dumped in the river break down and are eventually broken down into microparticles.
  • The river finally transports significantly large quantities downstream into the ocean, which is the ultimate sink of all plastics being used by humans




RBI plans Digital currency


  • The Reserve Bank of India is likely to soon kick off pilot projects to assess the viability of using digital currency to make wholesale and retail payments to help calibrate its strategy for introducing a full-scale central bank digital currency (CBDC).

Importance of digital currency


  • India is already a leader in digital payments, but cash remains dominant for small value transactions,
  • official digital currency would reduce the cost of currency management while enabling Realtime payments without any inter-bank settlement.
  • India’s fairly high currency to-GDP ratio holds out another benefit of CBDC — to the extent large cash usage can be replaced by CBDC, the cost of printing, transporting and storing paper currency can be substantially reduced,”
  • The advent of private virtual currencies –If these private currencies gain recognition, national currencies with limited convertibility are likely to come under some kind of threat
  • Transacting with CBDC would be an instantaneous process as the need for interbank settlement would disappear as it would be a central bank liability handed over from one person to another

Digital currency and foreign trade

  • Foreign trade transactions could be speeded up between countries adopting a CBDC. “
  • They could enable a cheaper and more real-time globalisation of payment systems — it is conceivable for an Indian exporter to be paid on a real-time basis without any intermediary…
  • The risks of dollar-rupee transactions, the time zone difference in such transactions would virtually disappear.

key issues are being examined:

  • Whether they should be used in retail or wholesale payments,
  • The underlying technology,
  • If the validation mechanism should be token-based, etc.