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27th November – Editorials/Opinions Analyses


  1. Storm warnings
  2. Policing faith
  3. Putting trade ties on a new footing



Cyclone Nivar raised fears of another epic disaster for millions of coastal residents in the south, but its passage overland near Puducherry early on November 26 was less destructive than anticipated. 


GS Paper 3: Disaster Management

Mains Questions:

  1. How important are vulnerability and risk assessment for pre-disaster management. As an administrator ,what are key areas that you would focus in a disaster management. 15 marks
  2. Governments can handle cyclones better by investing in town planning and infrastructure. Discuss. 15 marks

Dimensions of the Article

  • What are Tropical Cyclones?
  • Conditions for cyclone formation.
  • Effects of Cyclones in India
  • Cyclone management in India
  • Problems in Disaster Preparedness and Management
  • NDMA guidelines for the Management of Cyclone
  • Way forward

What are the Tropical Cyclones?

The Tropical Cyclones are violent storms that originate over oceans in tropical areas and move over to coastal areas bringing about large scale destruction caused by violent winds, very heavy rainfall and storm surges.

  • These are low pressure weather systems in which winds equal or exceed speeds of 62kmph.
  • Winds circulate around in anti-clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere and in clockwise direction in the Southern Hemisphere.

Tropical cyclones striking India generally originate in the eastern side of India.

  • Bay of Bengal is more prone to cyclone than Arabian Sea because it gets high sea surface temperature, low vertical shear winds and has enough moisture in middle layers of its atmosphere.
  • The frequency of cyclones in this region is bi-modal, i.e., Cyclones occur in the months of May–June and October–November.
Super Cyclone Amphan and its threats – Civilsdaily

Conditions for cyclone formation:

  • A warm sea surface (temperature in excess of 26o –27o C) and associated warming extending up to a depth of 60m with abundant water vapour.
  • High relative humidity in the atmosphere up to a height of about 5,000 metres.
  • Atmospheric instability that encourages the formation of cumulus clouds.
  • Low vertical wind between the lower and higher levels of the atmosphere that do not allow the heat generated and released by the clouds to get transported from the area.
  • The presence of cyclonic vorticity (rate of rotation of air) that initiates and favours rotation of the air cyclonically.
  • Location over the ocean, at least 4–5 o latitude away from the equator.

Effects of Cyclones

  • Strong winds/Squalls: Through high-speed winds, cyclones cause severe damage to the infrastructure. Installations, dwellings, communication system etc. get destroyed resulting in loss of life and property.
  • Torrential rains and Inland flooding: Continuous rains cause floods resulting in loss of shelter. Also, heavy rains due to cyclone cause landslides, soil erosion and weaken the embankments.
  • Storm surge: An abnormal rise in sea level near the coast due to severe tropical cyclone results in the drowning of low lying areas in the coastal region. It results in loss of lives, destruction of vegetation and the salt content in seawater reduces the soil fertility.

Cyclone Management in India

India is highly vulnerable to natural disasters especially cyclones, earthquakes, floods, landslides, and drought. Natural disasters cause a loss of 2% of GDP every year in India. According to the Home ministry, 8% of total area in India is prone to cyclones. India has a coastline of 7,516 km, of which 5,700 km are prone to cyclones of various degrees.

  • Loss due to cyclones: Loss of lives, livelihood opportunities, damage to public and private property and severe damage to infrastructure are the resultant consequences, which can disrupt the process of development
  • Indian Meteorological Department(IMD) is the nodal agency for early warning of cyclones and floods.
  • Natural Disaster Management Authority is mandated to deal with the disaster management in India. It has prepared National Guidelines on Management of Cyclone.
  • National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) was launched by Home ministry to upgrade the forecasting, tracking and warning about cyclones in states.
  • National Disaster Response Force(NDRF) has done a commendable performance in rescuing and managing relief work.
  • National Disaster Response Reserve (NDRR)– a fund of 250 crores operated by NDRF for maintaining inventory for an emergency situation.
  • In 2016, a blueprint of National Disaster Management Plan was unveiled to tackle disaster. It provides a framework to deal with prevention, mitigation, response and recovery during a disaster. According to the plan, Ministry of earth science will be responsible for disaster management of cyclone. By this plan, India joined the list of countries which follow the Sendai Framework For Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
  • Due to increased awareness and tracking of Cyclone, the death toll has been reduced substantially. For example, Very severe cyclone Hudhud and Phailin claimed lives of around 138 and 45 people respectively, which might have been more. It was reduced due to the early warning and relocation of the population from the cyclone-hit areas. Very severe cyclone Ockhi claimed many lives of people in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. This was due to the unprecedented change in the direction of the cyclone.
  • But the destruction of infrastructure due to cyclonic hit is not been reduced which leads to increase in poverty due to the economic weakening of the affected population.

Problems in Disaster Preparedness and Management

  • Historically from the British period onwards disaster management in India is largely confined to post-disaster relief works. It is more about management than prevention.
  • One-third of the population in India lives in the coastal area. Most of them are marginalized people who are ill-prepared and unable to cope up with disaster.
  • India considers post-disaster response as an important activity. Hence institutional system, manuals, policy, programs are designed to address this concerns. Redefining this is not yet complete.
  • There is lack of proper coordination between the central and state government and its agencies.
  • The warning of a cyclone is not properly communicated between the concerned agencies. In many cases, the warning is not taken seriously by the agencies which cause delayed effort for prevention of a disaster. This was evident in the recent Ockhi cyclone disaster.
  • Lack of awareness of people about the impact and magnitude of the disaster.
  • Mining and other industries in the ecologically sensitive area, lack of compliance with zoning and building regulation codes is increasing the death toll.
  • Indian laws follow the international norms which make it illegal for small fishing vessels to carry communication equipment that could help in saving lives during a disaster.
  • There is also a lack of coordination between the local communities for search and rescue missions.

Measures to reduce the negative impact of cyclones

  • There is a need of harmonizing the national and local level disaster resilient bylaws, land use zoning, resource planning, early warning system establishments and technical competence.
  • The government should take commonalities from success stories and institutionalize it. For example, Built Back Better Program of Gujarat government after 2001 earthquake.
  • Disaster Risk Reduction should be an important aspect of global poverty reduction initiatives.
  • Moving from a risk blind approach to a risk-informed decision when it comes to investments.
  • There should be a Disaster Risk Audit for the future developmental project for both public and private entities.
  • Disaster Risk Reduction program should be more people-centric.
  • There is a need for private sector participation in designing and implementing policies, plans, and standards.
  • Need of Disaster Management program to be inclusive including women, civil society, and academia.
  • State governments should increase their engagements in scientific research institution for a better formulation of policies.

NDMA guidelines for the Management of Cyclones

Non – Structural Measures

  • Early Warning Systems: It consists of Automatic Weather Stations, Doppler radars, High Wind Speed Recorders, Ocean buoys, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles etc. They provide critical information for tracking and forecasting intensity of cyclones.
  • Communication and Dissemination Systems: They are a pre-requisite for the proper functioning of cyclone warning. It consists of cellular telephone network, Disaster Warning System (DWS) terminals, etc.
  • Management of Coastal Zones: A holistic approach to Coastal Zone Management (CZM), like proper planning of the coastal areas for locating communities and infrastructure in safer areas, protecting and restoring natural bio-shields etc., can minimise loss of life and damage to property to a considerable extent.
  • Mangrove forests and shelterbelts constitute Bio-shields in coastal areas and provide ecological security. Their preservation is to be done by effective implementation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Rules.
  • Awareness Generation: Awareness encompasses a wide range of modes of sensitising communities, neighbourhoods and various functionaries from the local to the national level.

Structural Measures

  • Ensure availability of adequate numbers of shelters, community centres/school buildings, places of worship, etc., which can be utilised for moving people from vulnerable areas to safety.
  • To provide at least one all-weather link road for each village that is accessible during cyclone or flooding periods.
  • Construction of ‘saline embankments’ is carried out to protect habitation, agriculture crop and important installations along the coast.

National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP):

Government has drawn up NCRMP to be implemented with World Bank assistance of $300 million.

  • Its objective is to strengthen the structural and non-structural cyclone mitigation efforts and reduce the risk and vulnerability of the coastal districts which are prone to cyclones.
  • NCRMP consists of the following four components
    • Component A: Improvement of early warning dissemination system of cyclone warnings.
    • Component B: Cyclone risk mitigation investment like construction of cyclone shelters.
    • Component C: Technical assistance for hazard risk management and capacity building.
    • Component D: Project management and institutional support.

Disaster Risk Management and Capacity Development

  • Establishment of a comprehensive Cyclone Disaster Management Information System covering all phases of disaster management to provide online services to the states.
  • Community Based Disaster Management (CBDM) to building the capacity of communities to assess their vulnerability to both human induced and natural hazards and develop strategies and resources necessary to prevent and/or mitigate the impact

Way Forward

Nature is unpredictable. Nothing in the world can withstand its fury. Natural disaster comes without warning. India should prepare to mitigate and deflect the destruction caused by Cyclones. For this India need to employ more technology, strict following of command structure and most importantly the participation and cooperation of local communities in the affected area.



The proposed Uttar Pradesh ordinance seeking to prohibit “unlawful” religious conversions represents a regressive march towards unacceptable medievalism and a reprehensible zeal to police the private lives and beliefs of citizens.


GS Paper 2: Historical underpinnings & evolution; Features, amendments, significant provisions, basic structure; Comparison of Indian constitutional scheme with other countries’

Mains Questions:

  1. Anti-conversion laws that bar intermarriages will lead to the path of social regression. Critically comment. 15 marks

Dimensions of the Article

  • What is Religious Conversion?
  • Reasons of Religious Conversion?
  • Anti-Religious conversion laws in India?
  • Issues related to Anti-Religious conversion laws
  • Freedom of Religion and Anti Conversion Laws
  • The Supreme Court’s stand on religious conversion
  • Way Forward

What is Religious Conversion?

Religious conversion has always been a very sensitive social issue not only because of the reasons that it has psychological concerns of religious faith but also because it has wider socio-legal and socio-political implications.

Religious conversion means adopting a new religion, a religion that is different from his previous religion or religion by his birth. There are various reasons for which people convert to different religion:

  • Conversion by free will or free choice
  • Conversion due to change of beliefs
  • Conversion for convenience
  • Conversion due to marriage
  • Conversion by force

Reasons of Religious Conversions?

Religious Conversion is multifaceted and multi-dimensional phenomenon. Indian society is a pluralist and heterogeneous society with multiplicity of races, religious cultural, castes and languages etc. Religious Conversion has always been a problematic issue in India. The factors behind the religious conversion are–

  • Rigid Hindu caste system
  • Polygamy prevailing in Islam
  • To get rid of matrimonial ties.
  • To get reservation benefits.

Anti-Religious Conversion Laws in India

The legislative history relating to the issue of conversion in India underscores the point that the authorities concerned were never favorable disposed towards conversion. While British India had no anti-conversion laws, many Princely States enacted anti-conversion legislation:

  • The Raigarh State Conversion Act 1936,
  • The Patna Freedom of Religion Act of 1942,
  • The Sarguja State Apostasy Act 1945
  • The Udaipur State Anti-Conversion Act 1946.

Some states also enacted anti-conversion laws time to time. These anti-conversion laws made forced conversion a cognizable offence under sections 295 A and 298 of the Indian Penal Code that stipulate that malice and deliberate intention to hurt the sentiments of others is a penal offence punishable by varying durations of imprisonment and fines.

  •  In 1967-68, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh enacted local laws called the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act 1967 and the Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantra Adhiniyam 1968. Chhattisgarh inherited the law when it was carved out of Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1978 was enacted to prohibit the conversion from one religious faith to any other by use of force or inducement. As the state has not formulated rules, the law is yet to be implemented in the State.
  • The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Ordinance was promulgated by the Governor on October 5, 2002 and subsequently adopted by the State Assembly. However, this law was repealed in 2004.
  • The Rajasthan Assembly passed an Act in 2006, however, the Presidential assent is still awaited.
  • The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020: The law makes conversion non-bailable with up to 10 years of jail time if undertaken unlawfully and requires that religious conversions for marriage in Uttar Pradesh to be approved by a district magistrate. The proposed law does not include any restriction on interfaith marriage.

Issue of Religious Conversion in India

  • Indian constitution in its Part III (Articles 25 to 28) endorses the freedom of religion in India (for Indian citizens and anyone who resides in India) along with specified limitations. However, the term religion is nowhere defined in the Indian Constitution but it has been given expansive content by way of judicial pronouncements.
  • Although Indian position on the freedom of religion entails limited & permissible interference of the state in religious matters, various state governments (Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, MP, Odisha etc.) have enacted anti-conversion laws with the purported aim of preventing conversions brought about by coercion or inducements. Such laws have been a subject of intense criticism and have been alleged as infringing on one’s right to freedom of religion.
  • What further compounds the issue is the absence of any explicit right to convert in the provisions relating to the concerned fundamental right in the Constitution. Court judgements in various cases have brought a certain crucial understanding on the matter of conversion in the country in light of freedom of religion and the individual’s right to choice.

Freedom of Religion and Anti Conversion

Right to freedom of faith is not a conferred right but a natural entitlement of every human being. In fact law does not assign it but it asserts, protect and insurers its entitlement. Religious conversions have been a subject of debate since independence and it has surfaced again and again in the political realm, in the media and in the courts.

Universal Acceptance of Freedom of Religion

  • Religion is s system of faith and worship of supernatural force, which ordains, regulates and controls the destiny of human kinds. Every individual has a natural entitlement of religious faith and freedom of conscience, a right to adopt or abandoned any faith of his own choice. In this sense freedom of religion and freedom of conscience is fundamental right both constitutionally and conventionally.
  • The freedom of religion and freedom of conscience has also been recognized under the international law. On 10th December 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights recognizing fact that the entire humanity enjoys certain alienable rights which constitute the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
  • In order to give effect to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations also adopted the two conventions in 1966. They are:
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  • International covenant on Civil and Political rights.

India, on 10 April 1979, accepted Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the two international covenants.  Apart from this the Constitution of India also enshrines the freedom of religion and freedom of conscience as fundamental rights under Article 25, Article 26, Article 27, Article 28, and Article 30.

Constitutional Basis of Religion

Right to freedom of faith is not a conferred right but a natural entitlement of every human being. In fact law does not assign it but it asserts, protect and insurers its entitlement. Indian Society has nourished and nurtured almost all the established religion of the world like Hinduism , Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism etc. from its time immemorial.

  • Article 25: All persons are equally entitled to “freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.” subject to public order, morality and health, and to the other fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution.
  • Article 26: gives every religious group a right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, manage its affairs, properties as per the law. This guarantee is available to only Citizens of India and not to aliens.
  • Article 27: This Article mandates that no citizen would be compelled by the state to pay any taxes for promotion or maintenance of particular religion or religious denomination.
  • Article 28: This Article mandates that No religious instruction would be imparted in the state funded educational institutions.

The Supreme Court’s stand on religious conversion

The Supreme Court in Case of Hadiya gave a judgement regarding a person’s right to choose a religion.

  • Right to Choice: Freedom of faith is essential to individual’s autonomy. Choosing a faith is the substratum of individuality without which the right of choice becomes a shadow.
  • Liberty: Matters of belief and faith, including whether to believe, are at the core of constitutional liberty and the Constitution exists for believers as well as for agnostics.
  • Identity: Matters of dress and of food, of ideas and ideologies, of love and partnership are within the central aspects of identity. Society has no role to play in determining our choice of partners
  • Constitutional Protection: Constitution protects the ability of each individual to pursue a way of life or faith to which she or he seeks to adhere.
  • Further SC held that Right to choose religion and marry is an intrinsic part of meaningful existence. Neither the State nor “patriarchal supremacy” can interfere in person’s decision.

This is a change from SC’s earlier interpretation of the word “propagate,” to mean “to transmit or spread one’s religion by an exposition of its tenets,” but to not include the right to convert another person to one’s own religion. The judgement reinvigorates freedom of religion and freedom of conscience which has been recognized under the international law under the Universal Declaration on Human Rights recognizing fact that the entire humanity enjoys certain alienable rights. India is also a signatory of the same.

Way forward

It is important to understand that right to freedom of religion would be illusory if one were not permitted to change it, of course without any coercion or allurement. All the major international instruments explicitly mention the right to conversion as implicit in the right to freedom of religion. Even solicitation has been held lawful in USA and any ordinances or orders passed to ban such soliciting have been quashed by the courts. The Indian Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of religion but it does not explicitly mention right to conversion. There may not be a fundamental right to religious conversion (as held in Stanislaus case) but it certainly is a right to convert one’s religion if there are no elements of fraud, coercion and allurement.



During Joe Biden administration; there will be a more constructive stance on multilateral issues in the World Trade Organization (WTO).


GS Paper 2: Important International institutions, agencies, for a (structure, mandate)

Mains Questions:

  1. What are the key areas of reform if the WTO has to survive in the present context of ‘Trade War’, especially keeping in mind the interest of India? 15 marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • WTO and its evolution
  • Issues related to WTO
  • India and WTO
  • Relevance of WTO in contemporary time
  • Way Forward

WTO and its evolution

  • World Trade Organization was set up under Marrakesh Treaty (1994) as a result of Uruguay Round (1986- 1994).
  • WTO as an organization was expected to play larger role for improved living standards, employment generation, trade expansion with increasing share for developing countries and overall sustainable development. Trade liberalization was seen as means for achieving the above-mentioned objectives.
  • Basic principles of trade liberalizations that were to be followed were:
    • Non-discrimination–Countries will not discriminate one from another. It had be achieved through Most Favoured Nations status i.e. neutral trading relations and National treatment to non-domestic producers.
    • Reciprocity– The concessions conferred by countries had to be mutual.
  • These principles are implemented through Ministerial Conferences, taking consensus-based decisions based on ‘one country one vote which demonstrates democratic structure and processes of WTO.
  • Also, a dispute resolutions mechanism provides protection against arbitrariness. The raison d’être of WTO lies in its rule based binding commitment, retreating from which poses greater risks, a scenario unfavorable to member states.
What is the WTO? - Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus

Issues related to WTO

  • Changing world order: The unipolar world under US was represented through institutions like WTO. Trade during this phase became rule based in nature which favoured the west. But the world order is now witnessing structural changes with rise of developing countries and their increasing share in world trade.
  • Process Loopholes: The negotiation process prime facie seems democratic but Ministerial Conferences are accused of being opaque and overly technical. Moreover, consensus-based rule making has become a root cause in stagnation in reforms.
  • Dispute Resolution: The dispute resolution mechanism is costly and lengthy. It is majorly resorted to by developed countries and developing countries are victims to the mechanism. There is politicization of the Appellate Body appointment and reappointment process.
  • Increasing usage of Non-tariff Barriers: According to recently published “The Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2019”, non-tariff measures (NTMs) have increased in the past two decades.
  • Nature of agreements: Agreements signed under WTO are alleged to be discriminatory and exclusionary in functioning. DDA (Doha Development Agenda) has still not been able to provide permanent solution to subsidies under domestic support. WTO do not have any agreement to deal with digital enabled trade i.e. e-commerce.
  • Allegations are levelled by developed countries against developing of flouting TRIPS. They oppose generic medicines, compulsory license and import substitution. On the other hand, developing countries cite public health concerns and level allegations of ever-greening against pharmaceutical companies.

India and WTO

India has invoked the peace clause of WTO for exceeding the ceiling on support it can offer farmers for rice, marking the first time any country that has used this clause.

  • Peace clause: The peace clause protects a developing country’s food procurement programmes against action from WTO members in case subsidy ceilings are breached. It also provides that Green Box domestic support measures cannot be the subject of countervailing duty action or other subsidy action under the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures. India has asked the G20 members to work on an agreement that would enable countries to use the flexibilities under TRIPs.
  • India called for an agreement to enable the use of TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) flexibilities to ensure access to essential medicines, treatments and vaccines at affordable prices.
  • About TRIPS Flexibilities:
    • TRIPS flexibilities are ‘policy spaces’ for countries to mitigate the impact of patents (i.e., the excessively high price of patented medicines due to lack of competition).
    • Some major flexibilities under TRIPs are include Compulsory Licensing, Parallel Importation (importation without the consent of the patent holder), Exemptions from patentability, Limits on Data Protection (vis-à-vis patents) and Extension of transition period for Least-Developed Countries (LDCs).

Relevance of WTO in contemporary time

  • WTO regulates 98% of global trade flows. The average value of tariffs has reduced by 85% since 1942. Tariff reduction along with technological advances have driven extra-ordinary expansion of global trade.
  • Trade as a share of GDP has grown from 24% in 1960 to 60% in 2015. Expansion of trade has fuelled economic growth, created jobs and increased household incomes around the world.
  • An ever-deepening rules-based system—notably under the GATT and WTO—brought more openness, transparency, and stability.
  • As nations’ economies have become more and more inter-dependent, breakdown of a trade organization will be major blow to international trade order.

Way Forward

  • Plurilateral trade negotiations- As WTO is a member led organization, all countries i.e. developing and developed have to join hands to improve its structure and processes. WTO should move to Plurilateral negotiations where like-minded countries can come forward to discuss issues specific to them and form rules with respect to the common issue.
  • Services today form a bulk of trade i.e., two third of global GDP, yet global trade policy lags behind in services facing higher barriers than goods. To rectify these, GATS has to become more open and transparent. It has to address monopolistic practices, financial regulations and irregular immigration.
  • Trade related policies for inclusiveness-
    • The agreements on agriculture should be restructured to address concerns of developing countries and Least developed countries.
    • Social security laws, skill upgradation, flexible mobility of workers within the international agreements will impart more stability and sustainability to the multilateral trading system.
  • Collective Bargain Like Minded Groups like G-33, African community has to increase their collective bargain in order to demand favorable provision in agreements on agriculture, services, intellectual property etc. The dispute mechanism should become more powerful and member driven.
December 2023