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G.S II - Polity

Bihar’s demand for Special Category Status

Why in news?

In light of the “Bihar Caste-based Survey, 2022” which showed that almost 33% of Bihar’s people are poor, the State government seeks Special Category Status.

What is Special Category Status (SCS)?

  • It is a classification granted by the Centre to assist the development of States that face geographical or socio-economic disadvantages.
  • Launch year- It was introduced in 1969 on the recommendation of the 5th Finance Commission (FC).
  • Gadgil formula- It was named after the then Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Dr Gadgil Mukherjee which earmarked nearly 30% of the total central assistance for States to the SCS States.


  • Authority to grant SCS status- National Development Council.
  • Discontinuation- It was discontinued in 2015 after the 14th Finance Commission recommendations.


Special Category Status

Special Status


It is granted by the National Development Council, which is an administrative body of the government

The Constitution (Article 371 to 371-J) provides special status through an Act that has to be passed by 2/3rd majority in both the houses of Parliament


Deals only with economic, administrative and financial aspects.

Empowers them with legislative and political rights.

Applicable States

11 States - Assam, Sikkim, Manipur, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Telangana.

12 States- Maharashtra, Gujarat, Nagaland, Goa, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Telangana, Sikkim, Mizoram and Karnataka.

What are the benefits of SCS?

  • Centre-State funding- Centrally sponsored schemes is divided in the ratio of 90:10, far more favourable than the 60:40 or 80:20 splits for the general category States.
  • Special treatment- Preferential treatment in getting Central funds as 30% of the Centre's gross budget also goes to special category.
  • Incentives- These States can avail the benefit of debt-swapping and debt relief schemes.
  • Tax exemption- States with special category status are exempted from customs duty, corporate tax, income tax and other taxes to attract investment.
  • Concession is provided to excise duty for attracting industries to the State.
  • Carry forward- If they have unspent money in a financial year, it does not lapse and gets carry forward for the next financial year.
  • Increased devolution- Assistance to SCS states has been subsumed in an increased devolution of the divisible pool funds for all States (increased to 41% in the 15th FC from 32%).

Other States demanding SCS

  • Andhra Pradesh- Since its bifurcation in 2014, it has asked for a grant of SCS on the grounds of revenue loss due to Hyderabad going to Telangana.
  • Odisha- Due to its vulnerability to natural calamities such as cyclones and a large tribal population (nearly 22%).
  • Centre’s response- It denied citing the 14th FC report, which made a recommendation to the Centre that no State be accorded the SCS.

Why Bihar is demanding SCS?

  • Poverty- As per Bihar caste survey, nearly one-third of Bihar’s population continues to live in poverty.
  • Backwardness- Bihar is one of the most backward States in India with a per-capita GDP of around 54,000 rupees, which is less than half of the national average.
  • Low resource- The State faces challenges such as lack of natural resources, inadequate water supply for irrigation, frequent floods and droughts, and low human development indicators.
  • Industrial decline- Bifurcation of Bihar in 2000 resulted in the loss of mineral-rich areas and major industries to Jharkhand, leaving Bihar with a weak industrial base and low revenue.
  • Poor investment- It has been struggling to attract private investment and create employment opportunities for its large population.
  • Need financial assistance- Bihar has been demanding the SCS since 2010, to get more financial assistance and tax incentives from the Centre.

Is Bihar demand justified?

  • SCS criteria- It does not have hilly and difficult terrain, which is a major factor for granting SCS.
  • Raghuram Rajan Committee- It was set up in 2013 to suggest a new formula for allocating funds to the States.
  • The committee ranked the States based on a multi-dimensional index, which included per capita consumption, poverty ratio, education, health, household amenities, urbanization, financial inclusion, and connectivity.
  • Bihar was ranked the lowest among all the States, indicating its least developed status.
  • The committee recommended that the Centre should provide a fixed amount of funds to each State based on their development needs, and not on the basis of SCS or non-SCS.
  • The committee also suggested that the States should be given more flexibility and autonomy in spending the funds according to their priorities.
  • The committee’s report was not accepted by the Centre, and the SCS issue remained unresolved.



       The Hindu- Why Bihar demands special category statu

G.S II - Polity

Revamping Indian Judiciary

Why in news?

The Supreme Court needs a structural overhaul to transform the Constitutional setup.

Supreme Court’s Structure

  • India has a single integrated system of judiciary in view of a single Constitution.
  • Establishment- It was inaugurated on January 28, 1950.
  • It succeeded the Federal Court of India and enforces both Central as well as the State laws.


  • Constitutional provision- Articles 124 to 147 in Part V of the Constitution deal with the organisation, independence, jurisdiction, powers, procedures etc., of the Supreme Court (SC).
  • It acts as the custodian of the Indian Constitution and the protector of the Fundamental Rights.
  • Jurisdictions- Supreme Court has 3 jurisdictions namely original, appellate and advisory.
  • It serves as a Constitutional Court as well as a Court of Appeal.
  • Article 145 – It says that a special bench of SC that comprises of at least 5 judges and deals with matters involving substantial question of law as to interpretation of the Constitution or the power of the President to consult the Court (Article 143).
  • Article 137- It empowers the Supreme Court with the judicial review through which it can declare any law as void when it is unconstitutional or in derogation with the Fundamental Rights.
  • Article 13- The laws which are contrary to the Fundamental Rights are declared as void by the judiciary.
  • Article 50 – It ensures the separation of Judiciary from Executive.

Why there is a need to revamp Supreme Court?

  • Wider jurisdiction-The Supreme Court hears matters between the Centre and the States, as well as between two or more States; rules on civil and criminal appeals; and provides legal and factual advice to the President.
  • Complexity- Supreme Court has different types of Benches like Division Bench, Full Bench and Constitutional Bench and has diverse jurisdictions to discuss on various topics.
  • Insignificant cases- Some cases are not very significant or urgent, thus taking up the court’s time and resources.
  • Backlog- Supreme Court has a huge backlog of pending cases, which affects its efficiency and quality of justice.
    • At present, there are 79,813 cases pending before the 34 judges of the Supreme Court.
  • Delay in justice- Justice delayed is justice denied. One of the main reasons for the delay of justice is that the institution of court cases exceeds its disposition.
  • Overburden- The increasing number of PILs has put a burden on the judiciary, which is already struggling to handle the backlog of cases.
  • Prison overcrowding- Much of the prisoners in Indian prisons are under trials, who are confined to the prisons until their case finds a definitive conclusion.
  • Judicial overreach-The judiciary has also been criticized for overstepping its boundaries and interfering with the functioning of the executive and legislative branches of government.
  • Regional imbalance- The top court receives more appeals from High Courts that are near it, such as Punjab and Haryana, Allahabad, and Delhi whereas courts that are far away had fewer appeals filed, due to difficulties in accessibility and costs.

What recommendations were given to revamp Supreme Court?

  • Splitting the Supreme Court- 10th and 11th Law Commissions proposed to divide the SC into 2 divisions- the Constitutional Division and the Legal Division.
  • This would make justice more widely available and would significantly decrease the fees that litigants have to pay.
  • Court of Appeal- The Supreme Court suggested creating a National Court of Appeal that would handle special leave petitions thus allowing the SC to focus on constitutional and public law matters.
  • Regional benches- The 229th Law Commission Report recommended setting up 4 regional benches (Delhi, Chennai or Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai) to hear non-constitutional issues.
  • Judicial efficiency- Regional benches would reduce the backlog of cases and enable the Supreme Court to deal with important cases.

Steps taken to simplify Legal Process

  • National Judicial Data Grid- It is a web-based platform that provides case status, pendency, and disposal data of district and subordinate courts across the country.
  • eCourts Mission Mode Project- Launched by the Department of Justice in collaboration with the Supreme Court to provide e-filing, digital case management, citizen-centric services etc.
  • Scheme for Action Research and Studies on Judicial Reforms- It is implemented by the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms and provides financial assistance for conducting research, evaluation, monitoring, capacity building, and innovation in the areas of justice delivery, legal research and judicial reforms.
  • FASTER 2.0- Fast and Secure Transmission of Electronic Records - Launched by the Supreme Court e-Committee to digitize all the judicial records and enable their online transmission between courts, tribunals, and other stakeholders.



  1. The Hindu- Revamp structure of Supreme Court
  2. Department of Justice- Scheme for action research

G.S III - Economy

Boost India’s Capital Goods Sector

Why in news?

India has the opportunity to create national champions in the capital goods sector.

Picture of Capital Goods Sector in India

  • Capital Goods - It is a category of stocks related to the manufacture or distribution of goods.
  • It includes companies that produce machinery, electrical equipment, aerospace and defence, engineering, and construction projects.
  • Status - The current value is at US 70 billion dollars, contributing about 2% to the country’s GDP. It is likely to cross US 100 billion dollars by 2025, in line with the growth of the Indian manufacturing sector.
  • It contributes 12% to the overall manufacturing in India.
  • It employs 1.4 million people.

What are the challenges present in capital goods sector?

  • Financial crunch- India invests only 0.7% of GDP compared to 2.5% of the developed world, which affects the competitiveness and productivity of Indian industry.
  • Poor skillset- There is a mismatch between the jobs and the people, which is counter to the demographic dividend that India currently holds.
  • Inverted duty structure- The import duty on raw materials and components is higher than the import duty on finished products, making domestic production uncompetitive and discouraging value addition.
  • High export transaction costs- It includes costs related to transportation, logistics, documentation, certification and compliance, which increases the time and money required to export capital goods from India.
  • Lack of strong institutional mechanisms - There is a lack of adequate and timely financing, insurance and marketing support for exporters of capital goods, especially for MSMEs.
  • Poor demand- The traditional markets for Indian capital goods, such as the US and Europe, have been experiencing low growth and reduced investment, affecting the export prospects of the sector.
  • Slowdown in domestic demand- This is due to policy uncertainty, regulatory hurdles, land acquisition issues, environmental clearance delays, and infrastructure bottlenecks, etc.
  • Lack of private players- Private sector accounts for 75% of total investment in capital goods, but there is slowdown in private investments due to low-capacity utilization, high debt, and low profitability.
  • Lack of awareness- MSMEs and SMEs form large part of capital goods but they are not aware of international standards and norms required to export their products.

Steps taken to promote Capital Goods Sector

  • National Capital Goods Policy- It was launched in 2016 to promote the development of capital goods sector.
  • Production Linked Incentive- It was launched to provide incentives on incremental sales from products manufactured in domestic units.
  • National Infrastructure Pipeline- It is a long-term plan to invest over 1.4 trillion dollars in various infrastructure sectors such as energy, transport, water, digital, and social by 2025.
  • National Logistics Policy- It was proposed to reduce the cost of logistics to 10% of GDP from the current 13-14%.
  • PM Gati Shakti- It is the national master plan for multi-modal connectivity to economic zones and aims to bring 16 ministries together for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure projects.
  • Samarth Udyog scheme- It promotes digital transformation and Industry 4.0 in Capital Goods sector.

What are the ways to improve the capital goods sector?

  • Foster innovation- Investment in research will form the foundation for success of industrial development.
  • Policy support- The Scheme for Enhancement of Competitiveness of the Capital Goods sector should be scaled up as it is nurturing collaboration between industry and academia with remarkable results.
  • Infrastructure support- Buildind a strong logistics and port infrastructure would reduce the cost associated with transportation.
  • Skill development- There is a need to skill and reskill the workforce to meet the changing demands of the industry.
  • Promote environment sustainability- India should be a responsible and sustainable player in the global trade and prioritise products with a low carbon footprint.
  • Access to testing facilities- India should ensure access to facilities for product testing, performance evaluation, and certification, especially for MSMEs.
  • Impetus to Industry 4.0- It emphasises the integration of digital technology into manufacturing processes which will not only improve efficiency, but also enhance the capital goods sector’s capacity for innovation and adaption to changing market demands.
  • Trade facilitation- Tariff rationalisation, trade agreements and diplomatic efforts will have to go hand-in-hand.
  • Global collaborations- India can learn from joint ventures, technology transfers and collaborative research with other countries until it develops its own capabilities for “Creating in India”.

What lies ahead?

  • The cascading effects of having a booming capital goods industry will help provide insulation from the uncertainties of the world and truly transform India’s aspirations from ‘Make in India to Make for the World’.
  • With the momentous task of transforming India into the ‘Factory of the world’ and to reach a production size of 112 billion dollars  by 2025, a concerted approach is the way forward
  • There is a need to boost manufacturing and capital goods sector to achieve the India’s vision for 2047 as a developed nation.



  1. Business Line- Capital goods sector needs a lift
  2. Invest India- Capital goods new India advantage

Prelim Bits

Prelim Bits 29-11-2023 | UPSC Daily Current Affairs

Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)

The Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, GoI is organizing the 19th Working Party on Data Collection and Statistics (WPDCS19) of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)

  • About - IOTC is an intergovernmental organization that manages tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean and adjacent seas.
  • Establishment - The Agreement for the establishment of the IOTC was adopted in 1993 and entered into force in 1996.
  • It was created within the framework of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s (FAO) Constitution.
  • Headquarters - Victoria, Seychelles.
  • Objective - Appropriate management, conservation and optimum utilisation of stocks and encouraging sustainable development of fisheries based on such stocks.
  • Members - 30 member countries including India
  • Membership is open to Indian Ocean coastal countries and Countries that are members of the UN and UN special organisations and those who fish for tuna in the Indian Ocean
  • Functions – The Commission has 4 key functions and responsibilities drawn from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
    • Reviewing the conditions and trends of the stocks of Tuna and tuna-like fish.
    • Encouraging, recommending, and coordinating research and development activities.
    • Adopting conservation and management measures to ensure conservation of the stocks.
    • Reviewing the economic and social aspects of fisheries, bearing in mind the interests of developing coastal states.

The Indian Ocean is the second largest tuna fishery in the world.

Tuna fish (Thunnus and Katsuwonus species)

  • Tuna is a nomadic species found throughout the world's oceans.
  • It belongs to a subgroup of the mackerel family.
  • It is high in protein, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids.  It is also known as Kera fish or Choora in India.
  • Species - Northern Bluefin Tuna Albacore, Yellowfin Tuna, Southern Bluefin Tuna, Bigeye Tuna, Blackfin Tuna, and Longtail Tuna.

Bluefin tuna is the largest and most prized species and categorized recently as Endangered by IUCN due to overfishing.


  1. PIB | Indian Ocean Tuna Commission
  2. IOTC | Functions of IOTC
  3. WWF | Tunas
  4. Britannica | Tunas

Farlowichnus rapidus

Brazil's geological service scientists identify new dinosaur species from footprints in Brazil recently.

  • It is a new dinosaur species that has been identified in Brazil based on footprints found in the city of Araraquara.
  • The name Farlowichnus rapidus denotes “Fast Farlow’s track.”
  • It was a small carnivorous animal about the size of a modern-day seriema bird, or about 60-90 cm (2-3 feet) tall.
  • It was a very fast animal that lived in the desert during the early Cretaceous period (100 to 145 million years ago).

Cretaceous period

  • It was a geological period that lasted from about 145 to 66 million years ago.
  • It was the last and longest period of the Mesozoic Era.
  • It is named after the chalk formations that cover much of northwestern Europe.
  • The Cretaceous Period came after the Jurassic Period and before the Paleogene Period.
  • The Cretaceous Period began with Earth’s land assembled essentially into 2 continents - Laurasia in the north and Gondwana in the south.
  • During this period, the first flowering plants appeared and the Rocky Mountains began to rise from the Cretaceous Interior Seaway.

Cretaceous Period


  1. The Hindu | Scientists identify new dinosaur species
  2. Kashmir Life | New Dinosaur Species Found in Brazil
  3. NDTV | Scientists Discover A New Dinosaur Species in Brazil
  4. Britannica | Cretaceous Period

Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)

Ecologists from Mexico’s National Autonomous University recently relaunched a fundraising campaign to bolster conservation efforts for axolotls.

  • Axolotls are paedomorphic or neotenic aquatic salamanders.
    • Neoteny is a process in which there is a slowing down of the development of an organism.
    • The ability to retain juvenile or larval traits by an adult is called pedomorphosis.
  • They are amphibians (can live both in water and on land) with feathery gills and lungs.
  • It is also called as Water Monster.
  • Habitat - Only found in Lake Xochimilco, near Mexico City.

Lake Xochimilco is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

  • Characteristics - Axolotls are made of cartilage instead of bone.
  • It is renowned for its ability to regenerate its spinal cord, heart and limbs and also readily make new neurons throughout their lives.
  • They are over 1,000 times more resistant to cancer than mammals.
  • Reason for its larval form - In axolotls, there is a surge in thyroxine release when the animal is in its early larval stage.
  • However, the enzyme that makes it active is not present in the larvae, which blocks the metamorphosis (the process by which the young form of insects, frogs, etc., develops into the adult form).
  • Conservation Status IUCN – Critically Endangered
  • Threats - Encroaching water pollution, a deadly amphibian fungus and non-native rainbow trout.



  1. The Guardian | Axolotl
  2. WWF | Axolotl
  3. Sandiegozoo | Axolotl

IUCN Red List & Green Status

Scientists and conservationists across the world have expressed concerns recently that the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is outdated and unreliable.


  • About - International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership organization that works to protect nature and natural resources.
  • Established in - 1948 in Fontainebleau, France.
  • It was originally called the International Union for the Protection of Nature and later known as the World Conservation Union.
  • Functions - It provides public, private, and non-governmental organizations with the knowledge and tools to achieve sustainable development.

IUCN’s Red Data List

  • About - The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, also known as the Red Data Book, is a list of the global conservation status and extinction risk of biological species.
  • Founded in - 1964
  • It is the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network, backed by 1,300 member organisations and 16,000 experts.
  • It describes itself as the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.
  • Functions - It provides information about range, population size, habitat and ecology, use and/or trade, threats, and conservation actions that will help inform necessary conservation decisions.
  • IUCN Red List Categories

IUCN Red list category

Green Status of Species (GSS)

  • GSS is a global standard created by the IUCN to measure how well a species is functioning in its ecological system and how much it has recovered due to conservation efforts.
  • The GSS classifies species into 9 Species Recovery Categories which indicate the extent to which species are depleted or recovered compared to their historical population levels.
  • The GSS became an optional part of Red List assessments in 2020.


  1. Down To earth | IUCN Red List outdated
  2. IUCN Red List | About
  3. IUCN | Green Status of Species

Mullaiperiyar Dam

The Supreme Court recently directed the Survey of India (SoI) to examine whether a mega car park constructed by Kerala at Mullaiperiyar Dam is encroaching property covered under the Periyar Lake Lease Agreement.

  • About - It is a masonry gravity dam in Idukki district of Kerala, where the Periyar and Mullayar rivers meet.
  • Construction - The dam was constructed during 1887-1895 across Periyar River in the then Travancore state (now Kerala).
  • Agreement - Although the dam is located in Kerala, it is operated by Tamil Nadu following an 1886 lease indenture for 999 years.
  • The lease indenture was signed between the Maharaja of Travancore and the Secretary of State for India.
  • The Periyar Dam with full reservoir level of 152 ft. provides for diversion of water from the reservoir through a tunnel to Vaigai basin in Tamil Nadu for irrigation benefits.
  • Rule Curve - According to Tamil Nadu Water Resources Organisation, Mullaperiyar is the 1st reservoir to have Rule Curve implemented in India.

Rule Curve is a tabulation that specifies quantum of storage of water or empty space to be maintained in a reservoir during different times of a year, based on the rainfall data for 35 years.

  • The dam is located in the Seismic Zone III area (moderate damage risk zone)
  • Issue – There lies a bone of contention between Tamil Nadu and Kerala regarding the safety of the dam, release of water etc.                                       


Related linksMullai Periyar issue


  1. The New Indian Express | Mullaiperiyar
  2. The Hindu | Report on Mullaperiyar dam


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