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Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. SC verdict on internet shutdowns.

2. Top Risks 2020.


GS Paper 3:

1. Open-loop scrubber usage in ships.

2. State Energy Efficiency Index 2019.

3. Cyber Crime Coordination Centre.


Facts for Prelims:

1. Coronavirus

2. Chinese paddlefish.

3. India’s borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh.


GS Paper  : 2

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

SC verdict on internet shutdowns

What to study?

For Prelims: Section 144, Article 19.

For Mains: The verdict, significance and lessons.

Context: Supreme Court has delivered the verdict on a clutch of petitions challenging the Union government’s decision to impose restrictions on the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir after the August 5 revocation of provisions of Article 370, giving special status to the state.

The Court said that all restrictive orders under Section 144 of CrPC and suspension of internet services in Jammu and Kashmir have to be reviewed by the administration within a week.


The verdict has laid down a framework of how the Internet can be suspended, and what rights and legal recourses a citizen has when it is suspended.

What’s the issue?

Many parts of Jammu and Kashmir have been under lockdown for five months now – with no internet and restrictions on movement. The internet shutdown in Kashmir is the longest in any democracy in the world.

The Union government decided to impose restrictions on the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir after the August 5 revocation of provisions of Article 370, giving special status to the state.

Observations made by the Court:

On internet restrictions:

Right to internet is a fundamental right (subject to reasonable restrictions) included in the freedom of expression under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.

Restrictions on fundamental rights could not be in exercise of arbitrary powers. These freedoms could only be restricted as a last resort if “relevant factors” have been considered and no other options are there.

Any order passed to restrict or suspend judicial scrutiny will be subject to judicial scrutiny.

Suspension of internet services indefinitely is also a violation of telecom rules. 

On section 144:

  1. Sec 144 cannot be used to suppress the legitimate expression of opinion or grievance, or the exercise of democratic rights.
  2. When Sec 144 is imposed for reasons of apprehended danger, that danger must be an “emergency”.
  3. The imposition of Sec 144 must strike a balance between the rights of the individual and the concerns of the state.
  4. Powers under Sec 144 should be exercised in a reasonable and bona fide manner, and the order must state material facts in order to enable judicial review.


Restrictions have virtually abrogated the fundamental rights and paralyzed the lives of seven million people in the region.

These restrictions have been imposed under the garb of public tranquillity, public order and national security, but national security does not appear in the order imposing Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the region.

The shutdown of internet services have severe consequences on business, trade and heavily affect the common people in the region.

India also tops the list of Internet shutdowns globally. According to Software Freedom Law Center’s tracker, there have been 381 shutdowns since 2012, 106 of which were in 2019.

What procedure does the government follow to suspend Internet services?

The Information Technology Act, 2000, the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973 and the Telegraph Act, 1885 are the three laws that deal with suspension of Internet services.

But before 2017, Internet suspension orders were issued under section 14 of the CrPC.

In 2017, the central government notified the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Service) Rules under the Telegraph Act to govern suspension of Internet. These Rules derive their powers from Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, which talks about interception of messages in the “interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India”.

Despite the 2017 rules, the government has often used the broad powers under Section 144.

So, what does the judgment say on the rules to be followed?

The court recognised that the 2017 Rules are the only procedure to be followed to suspend Internet services in the occurrence of a “public emergency” or for it to be “in the interest of public safety”.

  1. The verdict reiterated that the competent authority to issue an order under the Suspension Rules, in ordinary circumstances, would be the Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  2. The Rules also say that in case the confirmation does not come from a competent authority, the orders shall cease to exist within a period of 24 hours.
  3. Clear reasons for such orders need to be given in writing, and need to be forwarded to a Review Committee by the next working day.
  4. The confirmation must not be a mere formality, but must indicate independent application of mind by the competent authority to the order passed by the authorised officer, who must also take into account changed circumstances if any, etc.

Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services [Public Emergency or Public Service] Rules, 2017:

  • According to these rules, only the Home Secretary of the country and a secretary of a state’s home department can pass such an order.
  • These also state that any such order should be taken up by a review committee within five days.

For an overview of Section 144, refer:

Sources: The Hindu.



Topics Covered: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

Top Risks 2020

What to study?

For Prelims: Key findings.

For Mains: Concerns expressed, challenges and ways to address them.

Context: Eurasia Group has released its report titled “Top Risks 2020”.

The Eurasia Group is one of US’ most influential risk assessment companies.

 Key findings:

Observations made on India:

  1. India is one of the world’s top geopolitical risks for 2020. It is the 5th highest geopolitical risk.
  2. PM Narendra Modi has spent much of his second term promoting controversial social policies at the expense of an economic agenda.
  3. The impacts will be felt in 2020, with intensified communal and sectarian instability, as well as foreign policy and economic setbacks.
  4. Modi has less room to manoeuvre on structural reforms, just as the economy is starting to sputter, with quarterly growth falling to a six-year low of 4.5% and forward-looking indicators looking softer still.
  5. A weakened economy will in turn feed further economic nationalism and protectionism, weighing on India’s troubled course in 2020.

Global scenario:

  1. US and its broken domestic politics is the “top” global geopolitical risk of this year.
  2. There were risks of a US election that many will view as illegitimate, uncertainty in its aftermath, and a foreign policy environment made less stable by the resulting vacuum. Besides, a broken impeachment mechanism, questions of electoral illegitimacy, and a series of court challenges will make this the most volatile year of politics the US has experienced in generations.
  3. The top risks include the technological “decoupling” between the US and China and the challenges that it poses to the world besides the enduring US-China tensions.
  4. This will lead to “more explicit clash over security, influence and values.”
  5. Countries and governments will push back more and more against multinational corporations, with tougher nationalism-based regulatory frameworks.
  6. The EU may increasingly push back against the unilateralism displayed by the US and China.
  7. Climate change will challenge companies and countries equally, creating conflicts between controlling emissions and bottomlines.
    The Shia world may rise creating greater regional instability.
  8. Turkey may be unravelling, which could be dangerous to others in the region. Latin American volatility and instability would be another source of risk.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  : 3


Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Open-loop scrubber usage in ships

What to study?

For Prelims: Exhaust scrubbers and about MARPOL.

For Mains: Sulphur pollution, concerns, challenges and ways to address them.

Context: According to GlobalData, a data and analytics company, there has been a huge increase in the use of open-loop scrubbers in ships in just last one year, even as a debate about their viability in mitigating sulphur emissions from ships has also escalated.

There are currently 3,756 vessels with scrubbers installed, compared to just 767 in 2018. Out of these, only 65 have closed-loop, rest are all open-loop.

How sulphur emissions are regulated?

The International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) adopted the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI in 2008 that regulates the prevention of air pollution from ships and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone-depleting substances such as sulphur oxides and nitrous oxides.

What’s the issue now?

Following the adoption, exhaust scrubbers have become one of the most preferred ways of reducing sulphur exhaust as they ‘scrub’ pollutants out of emissions.

There are two types of exhaust scrubbers- open and closed.

While closed-loop scrubbers retain the sulphur emissions for safer disposal at port, open-loop scrubbers release pollutants back in the sea after turning the sulphur dioxide into sulphuric acid.

However, uncertainty around the sustainability of open-loop scrubbers continues to escalate in the shipping industry.

About International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL):

The Convention was adopted on 2 November 1973 at IMO.

It includes regulations aimed at preventing and minimizing pollution from ships – both accidental pollution and that from routine operations.

All ships flagged under countries that are signatories to MARPOL are subject to its requirements, regardless of where they sail and member nations are responsible for vessels registered on their national ship registry.

Sources: down to earth.


Topics Covered: Infrastructure- energy.

State Energy Efficiency Index 2019

What to study?

For Prelims: Highlights of ‘State Energy Efficiency Index’.

For Mains: Energy efficiency- need, significance and government efforts.

Context: State Energy Efficiency Index 2019 has been released.

The first such Index, the “State Energy Efficiency Preparedness Index 2018”, was launched on August 1, 2018.

About the index:

It tracks the progress of Energy Efficiency (EE) initiatives in 36 states and union territories based on 97 significant indicators.

For a rational comparison, the States or Union Territories are grouped into four groups based on the aggregated Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) required to meet the state’s actual energy demand (electricity, coal, oil, gas, among others) across sectors.

The Index categorises states as ‘Front Runner’, ‘Achiever’, ‘Contender’ and ‘Aspirant’ based on their efforts and achievements towards energy efficiency implementation.

There isn’t any ‘front runner’ state this year.

The index has developed by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) in association with the Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE).

The objective behind releasing this Index is to help states in contributing towards national goals on energy security and climate action by:

  1. Helping drive energy efficiency policies and program implementation at the state and local level.
  2. Tracking progress in managing the states’ and India’s energy footprint.
  3. Institutionalising data capture and monitoring of energy efficiency activities by states.

Performance of various states:

  • Karnataka, HP, Haryana and Puducherry were the best performers.
  • Manipur, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir were the least performers.

Significance of the Index:

Such an index assumes significance in a country that is now the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, and which is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change. India plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels by 2030, as part of its commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted by 195 countries in Paris in 2015.

Sources: pib.


Topics Covered: Cybersecurity.

Cyber Crime Coordination Centre

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: I4C- objectives, compositions and functions.

Context: The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) was recently inaugurated by the government.

The scheme to set up I4C was approved in October 2018, to deal with all types of cybercrimes in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.

About the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre:

It will be set up under the newly created Cyber and Information Security (CIS) division of the MHA.

 It has seven components:

  1. National Cyber Crime Threat Analytics Unit
  2. National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal
  3. National Cyber Crime Training Centre
  4. Cyber Crime Ecosystem Management Unit
  5. National Cyber Crime Research and Innovation Centre
  6. National Cyber Crime Forensic Laboratory Ecosystem
  7. Platform for Joint Cyber Crime Investigation Team.


The I4C will assist in centralising cyber security investigations, prioritise the development of response tools and bring together private companies to contain the menace.


  1. To act as a nodal point in the fight against cybercrime
  2. Identify the research problems/needs of LEAs and take up R&D activities in developing new technologies and forensic tools in collaboration with academia / research institutes within India and abroad
  3. To prevent misuse of cyber space for furthering the cause of extremist and terrorist groups
  4. Suggest amendments, if required, in cyber laws to keep pace with fast changing technologies and International cooperation
  5. To coordinate all activities related to implementation of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT) with other countries related to cybercrimes in consultation with the concerned nodal authority in MHA.

Need for surveillance:

Asia is the region most targeted by cyber-attackers, resulting in significant economic losses. As the region continues to play a key role in the global economic market, these cyber threats are expected to increase. Over 460 million people in India currently use the internet, leaving them vulnerable to online criminals – both individuals and organised syndicates.

Way ahead:

The government has decided to hire IT experts from premier public and private institutes, including IITs, to help fight new age crimes like online fraud, hacking, identity theft, dark net, trafficking, child pornography, online radicalisation and cyber-terrorism and prepare a roadmap for Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:



It is a new virus identified by Chinese researchers. It was responsible for a new pneumonia-like illness that had swept Wuhan since last month, leaving 59 ill and created panic.

Key facts:

  • Coronaviruses are a specific family of viruses, with some of them causing less-severe damage, such as the common cold, and others causing respiratory and intestinal diseases.
  • A coronavirus has many “regularly arranged” protrusions on its surface, because of which the entire virus particle looks like an emperor’s crown, hence the name “coronavirus”.
  • Apart from human beings, coronaviruses can affect mammals including pigs, cattle, cats, dogs, martens, camels, hedgehogs and some birds.

So far, there are four known disease-causing coronaviruses, among which the best known are the SARS corona virus and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, both of which can cause severe respiratory diseases.


Chinese paddlefish:

Why in News?

It is one of the largest freshwater fish has been declared extinct.

Chinese researchers made this conclusion based on the Red List criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

  1. Extinct in the wild means a species survives only in a captive environment.
  2. Locally extinct means a species has ceased to exist in a particular area but may exist in other areas.
  3. Functionally extinct means the species continues to exist but it has too few members to enable to reproduce meaningfully enough to ensure survival.
  4. Globally extinct means a species has no surviving member anywhere. Such a conclusion is reached when there is no reasonable doubt left that its last member has died.

Key facts:

  • The Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) was an iconic species, measuring up to 7 m in length, dating back from 200 million years ago.
  • Its ancestral home was the Yangtze River.
  • It was once common in the Yangtze, before overfishing and habitat fragmentation — including dam building — caused its population to dwindle from the 1970s onwards.
  • Between 1981 and 2003, there were just around 210 sightings of the fish.
  • The researchers estimate that it became functionally extinct by 1993, and extinct sometime between 2005-2010.


India’s borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh:

India is planning to erect non-cut steel fence in the sensitive areas of Pakistan and Bangladesh borders.

Key facts:

India shares 4,096.7 km border with Bangladesh and 3,323 km with Pakistan.


World Hindi Day 2020:

Context: World Hindi Day is celebrated on January 10 every year, marking the anniversary of first World Hindi Conference which was held in 1975 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

World Hindi Day was first observed on January 10, 2006. Since then, it is celebrated on January 10 every year.

World Hindi Day vs National Hindi Diwas:

National Hindi Diwas is celebrated every year on September 14. On that day in 1949, the constituent assembly adopted Hindi, written in Devanagari script, as the official language of the Union.

Focus: While the focus of the World Hindi Day is to promote the language at the global stage, the National Hindi Diwas, which is held across the country at a national level, marks adaptation of Hindi, written in Devanagari script as the official language.