News Analysis

21st February, 2024 (Wednesday)

1Article 142GS. 2: Indian Polity – Judicial Review
2Deemed ForestGS. 3: Ecology & Conservation
3Human Papillomavirus (HPV) & Cervical Cancer   GS.3: Science & Technology
4Elections of Rajya SabhaGS.2: Indian Polity – Parliament
5Core InflationGS. 3: Indian Economy: Types of Inflation
6UNSC ResolutionGS. 2: IR: International Institutions
7International Mother Language Day 2024Prelims Exclusive: Important Days


Syllabus: GS. 2: Indian Polity – Judicial Review

Why it’s in the News: The Supreme Court nullified the January 30 Chandigarh mayoral election result due to the deliberate invalidation of eight ballots supporting the AAP-Congress candidate by presiding officer Anil Masih. It invoked Article 142 of the Constitution to uphold electoral integrity.

About Article 142:

  • Article 142 provides a unique power to the Supreme Court, to do “complete justice” between the parties, where, at times, the law or statute may not provide a remedy.
  • In those situations, the court can extend itself to put an end to a dispute in a manner that would fit the facts of the case.
  • Exercise of Powers:
    • Scope Defined: Courts have clarified the scope of Article 142 through landmark judgments. For instance, in Prem Chand Garg, the court emphasized that orders under Article 142 must align with constitutional and statutory provisions.
    • Precedents: Judgments like Antulay and the Bhopal gas tragedy case have underscored the broad authority of Article 142, ensuring justice even in complex scenarios.
  • Significance:
    • Injustice Prevention: Article 142 prevents injustices by empowering the Supreme Court to rectify legal wrongs.
    • Upholding Rights: It safeguards the rights of citizens across various demographics, acting as a safeguard against governmental overreach.
  • Criticism and Judicial Response:
    • Ambiguity Critique: Critics argue that Article 142’s broad powers could lead to arbitrary decisions. However, courts have countered this by emphasizing the supplementary nature of these powers and the need to uphold substantive laws.
    • Checks and Balances: The judiciary has imposed self-regulation, ensuring that Article 142 powers are used judiciously. Rulings like A. Jideranath vs Jubilee Hills Co-op House Building Society and State of Karnataka vs Umadevi illustrate the court’s commitment to justice within legal frameworks.
  • Conclusion:
    • While Article 142’s powers are expansive, they are reserved for exceptional circumstances, with the judiciary imposing checks to prevent misuse and uphold the rule of law.


Syllabus: GS. 3: Ecology & Conservation

Why it’s in the News: The Hindu editorial emphasizes the importance of understanding ‘deemed forests’ and the implications of proposed amendments to India’s Forest Conservation Act. It highlights the Supreme Court’s intervention and stresses the need for clarity and a dispassionate assessment before making significant changes.

About Deemed Forests

  • Deemed forests, comprising about 1% of India’s forest land, are a controversial subject as they refer to land tracts that appear to be a “forest”, but have not been notified so by the government or in historical records.
  • The Forest Conservation Act of 1980 does not explicitly define “deemed forests.”
  • The Supreme Court, in the case of T N Godavarman Thirumalpad (1996), interpreted the Act’s broad meaning of “forests.”
  • According to the Supreme Court, “forest” includes all statutorily recognized woods, irrespective of designation (reserved, protected, etc.), as per Section 2 (1) of the Forest Conservation Act.
  • Expert Committee Definition (Karnataka, 2002)
    • Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Karnataka government formed an expert group.
    • The committee defined “deemed forests” as lands bearing forest characteristics regardless of ownership.
    • It identified various types of lands falling under this classification:
    • Land containing forest features, regardless of ownership.
    • Heavily forested land under the tax bureau’s jurisdiction not transferred to the forest service.
    • Thickly forested lands recommended for transfer to the Ministry of Forestry.
    • Forested land distributed to grantees without cultivation.
    • Dense forest plantations managed by the forest service.
  • Conclusion
    • The debate over ‘deemed forests’ underscores the need for a balanced approaches that considers both ecological importance and legal clarity.
    • As proposed amendments to India’s Forest Conservation Act are deliberated, it’s crucial to prioritize impartial assessment and clarity in decision-making.
    • By integrating scientific expertise with legal principles, policymakers can uphold environmental conservation while fostering sustainable development.
    • This approach ensures biodiversity protection, equitable governance, and resilience to environmental challenges.


Syllabus: GS.3: Science & Technology

Why in News: Govt to offer HPV vaccine to girls but lacks screening plan. This misses vital part of cervical cancer control as screening catches existing cases & vaccination prevents future ones. Both are needed for a truly “wholesome” scheme & accessible to all women.

About the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) & Cervical Cancer

  • Prevalence in India:
    • Cervical cancer ranks as the second-most common cancer among Indian women, with its origin in the cervix, the entrance to the uterus from the vagina.
  • HPV Connection:
    • Persistent infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the primary cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus that affects nearly all sexually active individuals, often without any symptoms. While the immune system typically clears the virus, high-risk strains can lead to cancer.
  • India’s Alarming Stats:
    • India bears a heavy burden, accounting for nearly a quarter of global cervical cancer deaths. Every year, approximately 1.25 lakh women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and tragically, around 75,000 lose their lives to this disease.
  • Global Efforts and India’s Progress
    • WHO’s Elimination Strategy: In 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a strategy to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health concern worldwide. The strategy emphasizes three pillars: vaccination, screening, and treatment.
    • Positive Trends in India: India may not meet the 2030 goals outlined by WHO, but there is a glimmer of hope. Incidence rates are declining, possibly attributed to factors like sexual hygiene, pregnancy age, contraception use, and individual immune status.
    • Comprehensive Approach: Experts stress the need for a multi-pronged approach, including awareness programs, vaccination drives, regular screenings, and education to combat stigma.
  • Screening Methods and Challenges
    • Pap Smear vs. HPV DNA Testing
      • Traditionally, the pap smear was the gold standard for cervical cancer screening. However, it has limitations, such as the need for cytologists and low awareness, especially in rural areas.
    • Advancements in Screening
      • Today, HPV DNA testing is recommended as the primary screening method. It involves testing cervical cells for high-risk HPV strains. This method is more reliable and less prone to errors.
    • Empowering Self-Sampling
      • Studies suggest that self-sampling for cervical cancer screening, where patients collect their samples, can be as effective as physician-collected samples. Offering this option can enhance screening accessibility.
  • Vital Role of Vaccination
    • HPV Vaccine Controversy
      • India faced controversy in the past regarding the HPV vaccine’s safety. However, cervical cancer is preventable, and the vaccine targets HPV serotypes 16&18, responsible for 70% of cervical cancers.
    • Single-Dose Effectiveness
      • Recent recommendations from the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) highlight the effectiveness of even a single dose of the HPV vaccine, crucial for countries with low population coverage.
    • India’s Vaccination Efforts
      • Two vaccines, Merck’s Gardasil and Serum Institute of India’s Cervavac, are available in India. Expanding production and introducing the vaccine into national programs are essential steps.
  • Government Initiatives and Challenges
    • State-Level Success: Sikkim set a positive example by introducing free HPV vaccination, achieving high coverage rates among girls aged 9 to 14.
    • Slow National Rollout: The Central government’s plan for a nationwide HPV vaccination program faced delays. Despite recent reports suggesting a rollout in phases, the Union Health Ministry has yet to make a final decision.
  • Global Perspective
    • While 100 countries have integrated the HPV vaccine into their national schedules, achieving high coverage remains a challenge, particularly in poorer nations.
  • Encouraging Early Action
    • Optimal Age for Vaccination: Vaccination is recommended for girls aged 9 to 15, providing maximum protection. However, it can benefit adults up to the age of 45.
    • Combatting Hesitation: Effective communication and education are essential to address vaccine hesitancy and dispel misconceptions.
    • A Global Endeavor: The International Agency for Research on Cancer stresses the importance of scaling up screening programs, expanding HPV vaccination coverage, and increasing access to affordable treatment to meet WHO’s 2030 targets.

Top of Form


Syllabus: GS.3: Ecology & Conservation

Why it’s in the News: Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Madan Rathore and Chunnilal Garasiya were elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan.

About Rajya Sabha:

  • Origin:
    • India’s parliamentary system draws inspiration from the British model, with the Rajya Sabha, or the Upper House of Parliament, mirroring the role of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom.
  • Strength:
    • Currently comprising 245 members, the Rajya Sabha includes 233 elected members and 12 nominated members. As per constitutional provisions, the Upper House’s membership cannot exceed 250.
  • Membership:
    • While 233 members are elected from states and Union Territories (UTs), the President of India nominates the remaining 12 from distinguished fields like art, literature, science, and social services.
  • Tenure:
    • Each Rajya Sabha MP serves a term of six years, with elections to one-third of the seats conducted every two years.
  • Vacancy:
    • In the event of a vacancy, a member chosen to fill the position serves for the remainder of their predecessor’s term, as outlined in Section 154 of the Representation of the People Act 1951.
  • Chairmanship:
    • The Vice President of India serves as the Chairperson of the Upper House, with a Deputy Chair also appointed to facilitate proceedings.
  • Election Process to Rajya Sabha:
    • While members of the Lok Sabha are directly elected by voters, Rajya Sabha members are elected indirectly by the elected Members of a state’s Legislative Assembly (MLAs).
    • The number of Rajya Sabha members a state can send depends on its population.
    • MLAs participate in Rajya Sabha elections using the proportional representation with the single transferable vote (STV) system.
    • In this system, MLAs indicate their preferences for candidates, marking them in order. Each MLA’s vote counts only once.
    • Votes are shown to an authorized party agent to prevent malpractices, with independent MLAs not required to show their ballots.
    • Candidates securing a specific number of first-preference votes, known as the quota or preference vote, are elected.
    • The formula for determining the quota is adjusted based on the number of vacancies to be filled, ensuring a fair and balanced election process.
    • Formula: The total number of votes required for a candidate in the case is = [(Number of votes x 100) / (Vacancies + 1)] + 1


Syllabus: GS. 3: Indian Economy: Types of Inflation

Why it’s in the News: The Finance Ministry expects low headline inflation due to falling core inflation and stable food prices. Strong private consumption drives economic growth, supported by buoyant consumer sentiment and improved capital formation prospects. Despite challenges like declining exports, global trade outlook and domestic factors remain positive, although risks persist from commodity price spikes and inflationary pressures.

About the Core Inflation

  • Definition:
    • Core inflation refers to the change in the costs of goods and services, excluding those from the food and energy sectors.
  • Exclusion Rationale:
    • Food and energy prices are omitted from this calculation due to their tendency to exhibit high volatility or fluctuate significantly.
  • Importance of Core Inflation
    • 1. Impact on Consumer Income: Core inflation helps determine the effect of rising prices on consumer income.
    • 2. Monetary Policy Considerations: When price index increases stem from temporary shocks that are likely to reverse soon, no immediate monetary policy action may be required.
    • 3. Central Bank Strategy: Many central banks utilize measures of core inflation designed to filter out transitory price movements to address such situations.
    • 4. Predictive Value: By eliminating volatile components from the headline figure, core inflation aids in identifying the underlying trend in inflation, thus enhancing the prediction of future inflation.
    • 5. Guidance for Central Banks: Core inflation serves as a useful tool for central banks in achieving their objective of controlling total inflation.
  • Understanding Headline Inflation
    • Definition: Headline inflation represents the raw inflation figure reported through the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
    • Calculation Basis: CPI determines inflation by assessing the prices of a fixed basket of goods.
    • Volatility Management: Core inflation excludes CPI components prone to significant month-to-month volatility.

By distinguishing between core and headline inflation, policymakers and economists gain insights into the underlying inflationary trends, facilitating more informed decision-making in economic policy formulation.


Syllabus: GS. 2: IR: International Institutions

Why it’s in the News: The U.S. vetoed a UN resolution for an immediate Gaza ceasefire, fearing it would jeopardize negotiations to release hostages held by Hamas. Instead, the U.S. proposed an alternative draft. Israel faces pressure to delay its offensive. The resolution opposed displacing Palestinian civilians and demanded hostage release.

About UNSC Resolution

  • United Nations resolutions serve as formal expressions of the opinion or will of various United Nations organs.
  • Specifically, a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution is a crucial mechanism adopted by the fifteen members of the Security Council, delineated within the framework of the UN Charter.
  • The UN Charter, a multilateral treaty, serves as the foundational document that delineates powers and functions among the UN organs. While it authorizes the Security Council to take decisive action on behalf of its members, it notably omits explicit references to binding or non-binding resolutions.
  • UNSC resolutions carry significant legal weight, binding member states to their directives. According to Article 27 of the UN Charter, a draft resolution on non-procedural matters necessitates the support of nine or more Council members for adoption, barring veto by any of the five permanent members.
  • Conversely, resolutions on procedural matters can be adopted with an affirmative vote by any nine Council members.
  • UNSC Resolution 2593:
    • Addressing Afghan Concerns In a recent example, UNSC Resolution 2593 underscored the imperative for the Taliban to uphold commitments regarding counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan and facilitate safe evacuations.
    • Despite the abstentions of Russia and China, India-led efforts ensured the resolution echoed India’s core concerns regarding the Afghan situation.
  • Role and Composition of the UNSC
    • The UNSC, one of the six main organs established by the UN Charter, shoulders primary responsibility for preserving international peace and security.
    • Comprising fifteen members, including five permanent and ten non-permanent members, the Security Council holds unique authority to issue binding resolutions to member states, underscoring its pivotal role in global governance.


  • United Nations resolutions, particularly those formulated by the Security Council, serve as indispensable instruments for addressing international challenges and upholding collective security, as mandated by the UN Charter.


Syllabus: Prelims Exclusive: Important Days in News

  • Significance:
    • Recognized annually by UNESCO since 1999, this day emphasizes the importance of linguistic and cultural diversity, promoting inclusivity and multilingualism for sustainable development.
  • Theme:
    • The theme for 2024, ‘Multilingual Education: A Pillar of Intergenerational Learning,’ underscores languages’ critical role in inclusive education and indigenous language preservation.
  • Historical Context:
    • Originating from the 1952 protest in Bangladesh against Urdu being declared the sole official language by Pakistan, this day commemorates the sacrifice of five students, highlighting the significance of native languages in early education and promoting linguistic diversity.
  • India’s Linguistic Diversity:
    • With over 2,000 languages spoken within its borders, India showcases remarkable linguistic variety, recognizing 22 official languages in its Constitution, including Bengali, Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil, and Marathi.

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