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Current Affairs 20 & 21 December 2020 for UPSC Exam


  1. SC stays Andhra HC order on ‘Constitutional Breakdown’
  2. DRDO developed systems for Army, Navy and Air Force
  3. India looks to expand the Coastal Radar Chain Network
  4. Himalayan trillium declared ‘Endangered’ by IUCN
  5. Ethical challenge: Vaccinating people with comorbidities
  6. Why elephants and tigers did not go extinct in India?
  7. Nepal set to face fresh election



  • The Supreme Court stayed an Andhra Pradesh High Court order intending to start a judicial enquiry into whether there is a constitutional breakdown in the State machinery under the current Andhra Pradesh government, requiring a declaration of President’s rule.
  • The government said the High Court’s observation violated the Basic Structure doctrine of the Constitution.
  • The judgements were passed during the hearing of habeas corpus petitions.


GS-II: Polity and Governance – Emergency Provisions, Centre-State Relations, Powers of the President

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. When can State Emergency be imposed?
  2. Impact of Imposition of President’s rule: Present
  3. S. R. Bommai Case Regarding President’s Rule
  4. When is it NOT Okay to impose President’s rule?

When can State Emergency be imposed?

  • When a state government is functioning correctly, it is run by an elected Council of Ministers responsible to the state’s legislative assembly.
  • The council is led by the chief minister, who is the de facto chief executive of the state and the Governor is only a constitutional head.
  • In certain situations- suspension of a state government and the imposition of direct rule of the Centre becomes necessary and such a condition is referred to as “State Emergency” or “Constitutional Emergency”.
  • The Direct rule of the Centre is referred to as “President’s Rule”.

According to Article 356, President’s rule can be imposed when:

The Governor of the State sends a report to the President that he is satisfied that the current situation in the State is such that the government cannot be run in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and President is satisfied that such a condition is present where the State Machinery or the Legislature fails to run according to the Constitution


If the President is satisfied of such a situation existing even without the Governor sending any such report.

  • Hence, it can be understood that when the Government or the State Legislature is not functioning according to the Constitution (in a manner that the A.P. High Court is ordering an enquiry into) the State Government can be suspended and the Centre can take control and have the executive authority be exercised through the Governor under Article 356.
  • However, the expression “Breakdown of Constitutional Machinery” or “State Machinery” has NOT been defined in the Indian Constitution.

Impact of Imposition of President’s rule: Present

  • According to Article 356: when the state government is unable to function according to the Constitutional Provisions, the Union Government can take direct control of the State machinery.

When President’s rule is imposed:

  1. The Council of Ministers is dissolved, vacating the office of Chief Minister.
  2. Executive authority is exercised through the centrally appointed governor, who has the authority to appoint other administrators to assist them.
  3. The State Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) is either prorogued or dissolved, necessitating a new election.
  4. The President gets the power to declare that the State Legislature’s powers can be exercised by the Parliament. When the parliament is not in session, then the President can promulgate ordinances with respect to State Administration.

Following the 1994 landmark judgment in S. R. Bommai v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India restricted arbitrary impositions of President’s rule.

  • President can exercise power only when the proclamation of State Emergency (imposing President’s rule) is approved by both Houses of Parliament.

Extension of the President’s Rule

  • When approved by both houses, President’s rule can continue for 6 months.
  • It can be extended for a maximum of 3 years with the approval of the Parliament done every 6 months.
  • If the Lok Sabha is dissolved during this time, the rule is valid for 30 days from the first sitting of the Lok Sabha provided that this continuance has already been approved by Rajya Sabha.

The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 introduced a new provision according to which the president’s rule can only be extended over a year every 6 months under the following conditions:

  1. There is already a national emergency throughout India, or in the whole or any part of the state.
  2. The Election Commission certifies that elections cannot be conducted in the state.

Until the mid-1990s, President’s rule was often imposed in states through the abuse of authority of Governors who were in collusion with the Union government.

The Supreme Court of India in March 1994 established a precedent in S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, due to which such abuse has been drastically reduced.

Lapse of the Proclamation

  • If both Houses of Parliament disapprove or do not approve the Proclamation, the Proclamation lapses at the end of the two-month period.
  • In such a case, the government which was dismissed revives.
  • The Legislative Assembly, which may have been kept in suspended animation gets reactivated.

Revocation of the Proclamation

  • President’s rule can be revoked at any time by the President and does not need Parliament’s approval.
  • Since President’s rule is subject to Judicial Review, it can also be said that the Supreme Court can also revoke the Proclamation of President’s rule upon review.

S. R. Bommai Case Regarding President’s Rule

  • S.R. Bommai Case has become one of the cases most referred to whenever there is a ‘hung assembly’ or contention regarding imposition of President’s rule.
  • The S.R. Bommai case is very significant as the verdict concluded that the power of the President to dismiss a State government is not absolute.
  • The case put an end to the arbitrary dismissal of State governments by a hostile Central government.
  • In this case, the Supreme Court also made it very clear that a Presidential Proclamation under Article 356 is subject to judicial review.
  • The verdict ruled that the floor of the Assembly is the only forum that should test the majority of the government of the day, and not the subjective opinion of the Governor.

The Supreme Court in the S.R. Bommai case enlisted the situations where the exercise of power under Article 356 could be used:

  1. When no party secures a majority after elections to the assembly – leading to a situation of a “Hung Assembly” when the government cannot be formed and the legislature is unable to elect a leader as chief minister for a time prescribed by the Governor of that state.
  2. When the party which has majority in the assembly after general elections declines to form a government (ministry) and the governor cannot find a coalition of parties commanding a majority in the assembly and hence being able to form the government.
  3. When the majority party or coalition of parties which have formed the government, lose their majority due to a breakdown of coalition or due to defection – leading to the Chief minister having only minority support in the house and the Chief minister fails / will definitely fail to prove majority, within a time prescribed by the Governor of that state.
  4. When the current government loses majority in the assembly due to a vote of no-confidence in the house, and the governor is unable to form a coalition of parties to prove majority and form the next government.
  5. When Elections are postponed for unavoidable reasons like war, epidemic, pandemic or natural disasters.
  6. When the constitutional direction (instructions) given by the Centre to the State is disregarded by the State Government.

When is it NOT Okay to impose President’s rule?

It is improper to impose President’ rule:

  1. When the Governor recommends imposition of President’s rule (in case of hung assembly, loss of majority or resignation etc.,) WITHOUT probing the possibility of forming an alternative government with coalition.
  2. When the Governor makes his own assessment of support of a ministry in the assembly WITHOUT actually allowing for the government to prove its majority on the Floor of the House.
  3. When the issue is that of Maladministration in the State or allegations of corruption against ministry or Stringent financial exigencies of the state.
  4. When the State government is not given prior warning to rectify itself except in case of extreme urgency leading to disastrous consequences.
  5. When the power is used to sort out intra-party problems of the ruling party.

Recently in news: Rule 12 used to revoke President’s Rule

  • To revoke President’s Rule in Maharashtra – the union government had used a special Section in the Union government’s Transaction of Business Rules (Rule 12) which allowed for revocation of President’s Rule without Cabinet approval if the Prime Minister “deems it necessary”.
  • Rule 12 of the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961, allows the Prime Minister to depart from laid down norms at his discretion.
  • The Cabinet can subsequently give post-facto approval for any decision taken under Rule 12.
  • Rule 12 is usually not used to arrive at major decisions by the government. However, it has been used in matters such as withdrawal of an office memorandum or signing of MoUs in the past.

-Source: The Hindu



Defence Minister Rajnath Singh handed over three indigenously developed Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) systems to Army, Navy and Air Force.


GS-III: Science and Technology, Internal Security Challenges; Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

Information regarding the DRDO Systems

The Systems that were handed over to the defence forces

  1. Indian Maritime Situational Awareness System (IMSAS) – Indian Navy
  2. Astra Mk-I Missile – Indian Ari Force
  3. Border Surveillance System (BOSS) – Indian Army


  • Indian Maritime Situational Awareness System (IMSAS) is an indigenous, high performance intelligent software system that provides Global Maritime Situational picture and analytical capabilities to the Indian Navy.
  • The system provides maritime operational picture to the ships at sea from Naval Headquarters.
  • It was developed based on Artificial Intelligence by the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) under DRDO.
  • In order to strengthen its surveillance in the Indian Ocean Region, India has been building its own maritime awareness and mission planning measures – like Trigun. Trigun was also developed by CAIR which has the capability to collect all the data about military and civil vessel, aircraft and submarines. The Third and final phase of Trigun is set to be completed in 2024.

Astra Mk-1

  • Astra Mk-1 is the indigenously developed first Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Missile which can be launched from Sukhoi-30, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Mig-29 and Mig-29K.
  • ASTRA weapon system is an all-weather beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile.
  • It is the first air-to-air missile developed by India.


  • The Border Surveillance System (BOSS) is an “all-weather” electronic surveillance system successfully designed and developed by Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE).
  • It monitors Line of Actual Control (LAC) by automatically detecting intrusions in harsh high-altitude sub-zero temperature areas with remote operation capability.

-Source: Indian Express



Efforts are in advanced stages to set up coastal radar stations in Maldives, Myanmar and Bangladesh in order to further expand the coastal radar chain network.


GS-II: International Relations, GS-III Internal Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. India’s Coastal Radar Chain Network
  2. Systems related to Coastal Radar Chain Network
  3. Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and Strategic Importance

India’s Coastal Radar Chain Network

  • Coastal Radar Chain Network aims to create a network of information and maritime domain awareness in the strategic Indian Ocean Region.
  • This will also help in expanding India’s assistance for capacity building to Indian Ocean littoral states.
  • The assistance to these countries comes under India’s programme called SAGAR – Security and Growth for All in the Region.
  • The primary aim of surveillance radar design is to detect and track small fishing vessels for Coastal surveillance application.
  • However, the radar can also be directly used for VTS (Vessel Traffic management Services) application, harbor surveillance and navigational purposes.
  • It will also help in monitoring any illegal activities in the sea.
  • Ultimately, the data collected would feed into the Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR).

Current Status

  • Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka have already been integrated into India’s coastal radar chain network.
  • Similar plans are in the pipeline with Maldives and Myanmar and discussions are ongoing with Bangladesh and Thailand.
  • Under Phase-I of the coastal radar chain network, 46 coastal radar stations have been set up across the country’s coastline.
  • Under Phase-II of the project, which is currently under way, 38 static radar stations and four mobile radar stations are being set up by the Coast Guard.

Other related points regarding Coastal Radar Chain Network

  • The Indian Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) which was set up after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks is the nodal agency for maritime data fusion.
  • As part of information exchange regarding traffic on the high seas, the Navy has been authorised by the government to conclude white shipping agreements with 36 countries and three multilateral constructs.
  • Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) is meant to promote Maritime Domain Awareness.
  • IFC-IOR had established itself as the hub of maritime security information in the IOR through white shipping exchange agreements with 21 countries and 20 maritime security centers.

Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and Strategic Importance

  • The Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean of the world and covers nearly 20% of water surface.
  • Indian Ocean countries have a long history of trade, culture and military interaction with the rest of the world.
  • The region contains 1/3 of the world’s population, 25% of its landmass, 40% of the world’s oil and gas reserves.
  • A secure IOR is key to ensuring security of India’s national interests.
  • The Indian Ocean Region has more than 50 Coastal states and Landlocked states.

Indian Ocean has Four critically important waterways that improve accessibility:

  1. Suez Canal (Egypt)
  2. Bab el Mandeb (Djibouti-Yemen)
  3. Strait of Hormuz (Iran-Oman)
  4. Strait of Malacca (Indonesia-Malaysia)

Major Seaports are:

  1. Chennai
  2. Kolkata
  1. Mumbai
  2. Colombo (Sri Lanka)
  1. Durban (South Africa)
  2. Richards Bay (South Africa)
  3. Jakarta (Indonesia)
  4. Melbourne (Australia)

A secure IOR is key to ensuring security of India’s national interests.

The importance attached to sea lines of communication (SLOCs) security was first seen in India’s stated aspiration to become a net security provider in the region.

Energy security

  • Nearly 80% of India’s crude oil requirement is imported, which are mostly routed through the sea.
  • Taking into account the total oil imports by sea, offshore oil production and petroleum exports, the country’s cumulative sea dependence for oil is estimated to be about 93%.
  • Thus, IOR is very important to keep India’s oil route safe.

Trade security

  • Almost 95% of India’s trade by volume and 68 per cent of trade by value are routed via the Indian Ocean.
  • Any impediment to flow of commercial traffic would have disastrous ramifications on her economic objectives.


  • India depends heavily on Indian Ocean resources for resources.
  • Fishing and aquaculture industries are a major source of export as well as providing employment to more than 14 million people.
  • Thus, securing presence in IOR is important for India.


Security threats

  • Militarily, the presence of a long coastline makes India vulnerable to potential threats emerging from the sea.
  • One of the worst terrorist attacks in Mumbai was perpetrated by terrorists arriving by sea. India’s nuclear installations, coastal cities are at continuous threat from state and non-state actors. Thus, keeping an eye on the sea is important.


  • The presence of non-traditional threats like piracy, smuggling, illegal fishing and human trafficking also present major challenges and hence, a secure Indian Ocean is key to securing India’s national interests.
  • Multiple cases are reported in the past of drug smuggling near Gujarat coast, Mumbai coast etc.

-Source: The Hindu



The Himalayan trillium (Trillium govanianum), a common herb of the Himalayas was declared ‘endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).



Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Information regarding Himalayan trillium
  2. About IUCN Red List

About Himalayan trillium

  • In recent years Himalayan trillium (Locally referred to as Nagchatri) has become one of the most traded commercial plants of the Himalayan region, due to its high medicinal quality.
  • It has been used in traditional medicine to cure diseases like dysentery, wounds, skin boils, inflammation, sepsis, as well as menstrual and sexual disorders.
  • Recent experiments have shown that the rhizome of the herb is a source of steroidal saponins and can be used as an anti-cancer and anti-aging agent.
  • This increased its market value and has now become an easy target for poachers.
  • Found in temperate and sub-alpine zones of the Himalayas, at an altitude from 2,400-4,000 metres above sea level, the existence of the plant has been traced across India, Bhutan, Nepal, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • In India, it is found in four states only- Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, and Uttarakhand.
  • There are several factors threatening the survival of the plant such as over-exploitation, long life cycle, slow to reach reproductive maturity, poor capacity for seed dispersal, highly specific habitat requirement, high trade value, and increasing market demand.
  • Educational efforts including elevation of public awareness surrounding the threats to the species, and dissemination of best practices for harvest are also needed.

IUCN Red List

  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations.
  • IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.
  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.

IUCN Red List

  • The IUCN Red List uses a set of quantitative criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of species. These criteria are relevant to most species and all regions of the world.
  • The IUCN Red List Categories define the extinction risk of species assessed.
  • Nine categories extend from NE (Not Evaluated) to EX (Extinct). Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) and Vulnerable (VU) species are considered to be threatened with extinction.

-Source: The Hindu



  • The operational guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination issued recently by the union health ministry has identified the four high-risk groups that would receive COVID vaccine on priority.
  • The ethical challenge of providing vaccines on priority now revolves around the type of comorbidities, multiple comorbidities, poverty, gender etc.


GS-IV: Ethics, GS-III Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Priority of vaccination based on comorbidities
  2. Handling the lack of Data on Comorbidities
  3. Role of poverty in Priority
  4. Role of gender in Priority
  5. More about NPCDCS

Priority of vaccination based on comorbidities

  • The evidence available is insufficient to indicate the degree of severity amongst the comorbidities.
  • As per the evidence elsewhere, diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease and chronic kidney disease increase the risk of COVID-19.
  • Considering that Indians often have many risk factors, question arises regarding if people with two or more comorbidities be prioritised over those with just one comorbidity.
  • In general, elderly people with multimorbidity, elderly with any comorbidity, elderly, young with multimorbidity, and young with any comorbidity seems to be a sensible order of priority.

Handling the lack of Data on Comorbidities

  • Unlike in other groups, national databases of people with comorbidities are not available.
  • However, though not comprehensive, since 2010, State governments have been conducting population-based district level screening to detect non-communicable diseases under the National Program for the Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) guidelines.
  • As a part of the Ayushman Bharat initiative, States have been carrying out universal screening of people aged over 30 years.
  • State governments have been asked to refer to the screening data for non-communicable diseases to identify individuals with comorbidities for COVID vaccination.

Role of poverty in Priority

  • Poor people and those living in rural areas very often are unaware of their disease status.
  • Any policy that excludes people with newly diagnosed disease will inevitably affect the poor.
  • One of the possible way forwards is: in addition to using the NCD database, States should allow people with comorbidities to self-report and also conduct a quick survey to screen, enroll and schedule the vulnerable for vaccination in the entire country.

Role of gender in Priority

  • Another ethical challenge revolves around gender – as Males have been found to be at a greater risk of progressing to severe disease and even dying compared with females.
  • However, there is a possibility that prioritising males with comorbidities over females will result in inducing and worsening inequities.

National Program for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS)

  • In India, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD), Cancer, Chronic Respiratory Diseases, Diabetes are estimated to account for around 60% of all deaths.
  • The Government of India has been implementing National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) since 2010 up to District level under the National Health Mission.
  • NPCDCS has a focus on awareness generation for behaviour and life-style changes, screening and early diagnosis of persons with high level of risk factors and their referral to appropriate treatment facilities i.e., Community Health Centres and District Hospital for management of non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular diseases.

The strategies for prevention, control and treatment of NCDs would have following components:

  1. Health promotion awareness generation and promotion of healthy lifestyle
  2. Screening and early detection
  3. Timely affordable and accurate diagnosis
  4. Access to affordable treatment
  5. Rehabilitation

-Source: The Hindu



A team of researchers are investigating why big mammals like elephants, tigers and rhinos are still seen in India when they disappeared from the Americas.


GS-III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Trend of extinction of big mammals
  2. Big Mammal Extinctions in India
  3. Case of Ostriches
  4. Current Scenario of Extinction risks
  5. What is coevolution?

Trend of extinction of big mammals

  • Over the last 100,000 years, several land-dwelling mammals including big carnivores have gone extinct across the globe.
  • North America lost its saber-toothed cat, North American lion, scimitar-tooth cat, American cheetah, and the only big cats left now are the Puma and the Jaguar.
  • But most of the megafauna of South Asia and Africa were resilient to the arrival of modern humans and the region still has large land mammals such as elephants, tigers, and rhinos.
  • However, big mammals such as elephant, Tiger, Rhino etc., are still present in India.

A research paper shows that co-evolution – the fact that native animals learn to adapt to a new predator played an important role in big mammals continuing to survive in India.

Big Mammal Extinctions in India

  • There were mammalian extinctions in India: two massive elephant relatives (Palaeoloxodon namadicus and Stegodon namadicus), a hippo (Hexaprotodon sp), and a horse relative (Equus namadicus) were lost.
  • All the extinct species were large, slow reproducing species, and they go extinct when the climate is fluctuating.
  • Environmental change can stress populations out, especially populations of animals that don’t reproduce quickly.
  • But based on the fossil record, we know that these animals have survived multiple periods of similar environmental change in the past.
  • They only go extinct when human beings show up and introduce changes that the species are unable to adapt to.

Case of Ostriches

  • India was also home to ostriches (Struthio camelus) and some researchers believe that humans may have been the reason for their local extinction.
  • India has ostriches in cave art and there is also a lot of evidence of people using ostrich eggshells for ornamentation by making beads.
  • Humans probably used eggs for food and that might have been the reason for crash in Ostrich population.

Current Scenario of Extinction risks

  • Today, these animals are being restricted to small pockets and in fragmented populations, a lot of interbreeding happens making the populations weaker.
  • With increased human pressure it seems to be just a matter of time before they start going extinct.
  • Climate change cannot be the sole reason as: if we compare species like Hippo and Ostrich which have different adaptations (hippos are used to water environments and ostriches are used to dry environments) it becomes evident that we cannot assign climate climatic factors to both of the species equally across India.

What is Coevolution?

  • In biology, coevolution occurs when two or more species reciprocally affect each other’s evolution through the process of natural selection.
  • The term sometimes is used for two traits in the same species affecting each other’s evolution, as well as gene-culture coevolution.
  • Each party in a coevolutionary relationship exerts selective pressures on the other, thereby affecting each other’s evolution.
  • Coevolution includes many forms of mutualism, host-parasite, and predator-prey relationships between species, as well as competition within or between species.
  • In many cases, the selective pressures drive an evolutionary arms race between the species involved.

-Source: The Hindu



  • The Nepali Prime Minister has recommended the dissolution of Parliament of Nepal and called for general election.
  • This has been opposed by the opposition parties in Nepal citing that there is no provision in the Nepali Constitution to dissolve the Parliament when it is functioning well, hence the move in unconstitutional.


GS-II: Comparison of the Constitution, Polity

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Constitutional Provision regarding dissolution of Lok Sabha
  2. Extension of the term of Lok Sabha
  3. Collective responsibility in dissolution
  4. How does the advice to dissolve the government work in India?

Constitutional Provision regarding dissolution of Lok Sabha

  • Article 83 of the Constitution Contains the provisions regarding the term (duration) of both the houses of the Parliament.
  • The Lower house or House of people or Lok Sabha has a term of five-years, hence at the end of five years from the first day of its meeting – the Lok Sabha is dissolved.
  • However, the Lok Sabha can be dissolved earlier as well by the President ON THE ADVICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER.
  • It can also be dissolved if the President feels that no viable government can be formed after the resignation or fall of the ruling government.

Extension of the term of Lok Sabha

During National Emergency, the life of Lok Sabha can be extended any number of times (but 1 year at a time).

Collective responsibility in dissolution

  • The principle of collective responsibility finds a place in Art. 75(3) where it is stated that the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha.
  • In other words, this provision means that a Ministry which loses confidence in the Lok Sabha is obliged to resign.
  • The loss of confidence is expressed by rejecting a Money Bill or Finance Bill or any other important policy measure or by passing a motion of no-confidence or rejecting a motion expressing confidence in the Ministry.
  • When a Ministry loses the confidence of the Lok Sabha the whole of the Ministry has to resign including those Ministers who are from the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Ministers fall and stand together.

How does the advice to dissolve the government work in India?

  • In certain cases, the Ministry may advise the President to dissolve Lok Sabha and call for fresh elections.
  • It is for the president to decide if he should dissolve Lok Sabha or not when CoM loses the majority in Lok Sabha.
  • It is for the president to decide if he should dissolve CoM or not when CoM loses the majority in Lok Sabha.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023