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Current Affairs 09 May 2024


  1. Orangutan diplomacy
  2. Countries contend India’s sugarcane subsidy
  3. Is Union Government through CBI interfering in cases originating within the State’s jurisdiction?
  4. India secures third place in solar power production globally
  5. Birth Anniversary of Maharana Pratap
  6. Impact of LPG price hikes

Orangutan diplomacy


Malaysia has planned to introduce Orangutan diplomacy


GS II- International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Orangutan diplomacy
  2. About Orangutans
  3. How important is palm oil to global supply chains?

What is Orangutan diplomacy:

  • The “Orangutan diplomacy” is a strategy in which Malaysia would gift the endangered great apes to palm oil trading nations, especially major importing territories like the EU and India.
  • The initiative is to showcase the Nation’s commitment towards biodiversirty conservation.
  • Significance:
    • Palm oil is blamed by environmentalists for fuelling the destruction of rainforests in Malaysia and Indonesia, which together produce the majority of global output.
  • This is an initiative similar to China’s panda diplomacy. China has long used panda diplomacy as a form of soft power.

About Orangutans:

  • Orangutans are great apes that are native to the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra.
  • Conservation Status:
    • These animals are classified as critically endangered, according to the WWF.
  • Threat:
    • Habitat loss “due to logging, agricultural expansion, particularly palm oil plantations, and infrastructure development” posing the greatest threat.
  • They are highly intelligent animals that are known for their tool-using abilities.
  • One of the most common tools that orangutans use is a stick, which they use for a variety of purposes, including scraping insects from holes in trees.
  • Orangutans will often break off a small branch from a tree and use it to probe into holes in the bark.
  • Once they have located an insect, they will use the stick to scrape it out and eat it.
  • Orangutans have also been observed using sticks to dig for grubs in the ground and to pry open fruits.
  • In addition to using sticks, orangutans have also been observed using leaves to wipe their faces and to fan themselves on hot days.
  • They have also been known to use stones to crack open nuts and to use branches to build nests.

How important is palm oil to global supply chains?

  • Palm oil is the world’s most widely used vegetable oil with its global production in crop year 2020 exceeding 73 million tonnes (MT), according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
    • Output is estimated to be 77 MT for the current year.
  • Made from the African oil palm, it is used as cooking oil, and in everything from cosmetics to processed food to cleaning products.
  • Indonesia and Malaysia together account for almost 90% of the global palm oil production, with Indonesia producing the largest quantity at over 43 MT in the 2021 crop year.
  • According to Reuters, palm oil makes up 40% of the global supply of the four most widely used edible oils: palm, soybean, rapeseed (canola), and sunflower oil.
  • Indonesia is responsible for 60% of the global supply of palm oil.

Criticism of Oil palm industry:

  • Unsustainable production practices leading to deforestation,
  • Exploitative labour practices carried forward from the colonial era.


  • Palm oil is preferred by many as it is inexpensive
  • Oil palms produce more oil per hectare than other vegetable oil plants.

-Source; The Hindu

Countries contend India’s sugarcane subsidy


Recently, the U.S. and Australia have contended India gave sugarcane subsidy beyond the limits set in the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) which may have impacted global trade.


GS-II: International Relations (Important International Organizations, Foreign Policies and Agreements affecting India’s Interests), GS-III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. World Trade Organization (WTO)
  3. Functions of WTO
  4. About the Agreement on Agriculture at WTO
  5. WTO’s categories Under “Domestic Support” Subsidies
  6. The Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) system
  7. What is Minimum Support Price (MSP)?
  8. Why is there a need for MSP?
  9. What are the issues related to MSP?
  10. Arguments in Favour of the Legal Backing of MSP
  11. Arguments Against the Legal Backing of MSP
  12. WTO’s AMS system and its case with India’s MSP
  13. Peace Clause and the issues related with it


  • In a recent paper submitted to the WTO’s Committee on Agriculture, the U.S. and Australia have argued that India’s sugar subsidies crossed 90% of the value of production during the four year period (2018-19 to 2021-22).
    • The countries claim that this is against the permissible 10%.
  • The report was based on compilation of data on India’s market price support for sugarcane over a four-year period (2018-19 to 2021-22).
  • However, the methodology used to calculate the subsidy was based on the recommendation by a WTO panel that had ruled against Indian sugar subsidies in 2021, which was subsequently rejected by New Delhi in its appeal against the ruling.
  • India, in 2022, has appealed against the WTO panel report and agued that the panel had erred in finding the country’s FRP and SAP constituted market price support under the AoA.
  • The U.S.-Australia report said India’s appeal, prevented the panel report from being adopted by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that is concerned with the regulation of international trade between nations.
  • It is the largest international economic organization in the world.
  • The headquarters of the World Trade Organization is in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The WTO deals with regulation of trade in goods, services and intellectual property between participating countries by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants’ adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments.
  • The WTO prohibits discrimination between trading partners, but provides exceptions for environmental protection, national security, and other important goals.
  • Trade-related disputes are resolved by independent judges at the WTO through a dispute resolution process.
  • The WTO has 164 members (including European Union) and 23 observer governments (like Iran, Iraq, Bhutan, Libya etc.)
  • India is a founder member of the 1947 GATT and its successor, the WTO.

Functions of WTO

  1. Trade negotiations: The WTO agreements cover goods, services and intellectual property. They spell out the principles of liberalization, and the permitted exceptions. They set procedures for settling disputes.
  2. Implementation and monitoring: WTO agreements require governments to make their trade policies transparent by notifying the WTO about laws in force and measures adopted. Various WTO councils and committees seek to ensure that these requirements are being followed and that WTO agreements are being properly implemented.
  3. Dispute settlement: The WTO’s procedure for resolving trade quarrels under the Dispute Settlement Understanding is vital for enforcing the rules and therefore for ensuring that trade flows smoothly.
  4. Building trade capacity: WTO agreements contain special provision for developing countries, including longer time periods to implement agreements and commitments, measures to increase their trading opportunities, and support to help them build their trade capacity, to handle disputes and to implement technical standards.
  5. Outreach: The WTO maintains regular dialogue with non-governmental organizations, parliamentarians, other international organizations, the media and the general public on various aspects of the WTO and the ongoing Doha negotiations, with the aim of enhancing cooperation and increasing awareness of WTO activities.

About the Agreement on Agriculture at WTO

  • The Agreement on Agriculture at the WTO is aimed to remove trade barriers and to promote transparent market access and integration of global markets.
  • The WTO’s Agriculture Committee oversees implementation of the Agreement and provides a forum for members to address related concerns.

Three pillars of Agreement on Agriculture:

  1. WTO calls for reduction in Domestic Support/Domestic Subsidies that distorts free trade and fair price. Under this provision, the Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) is to be reduced by 20% over a period of 6 years by developed countries and 13% over a period of 10 years by developing countries.
  2. Market access for goods in the WTO means the conditions, tariff and non-tariff measures, agreed by members for the entry of specific goods into their markets. According to WTO, Market access requires that tariffs fixed (like custom duties) by individual countries be cut progressively to allow free trade. The WTO also required countries to remove non-tariff barriers and convert them to Tariff duties.
  3. Export Subsidy on inputs of agriculture, making export cheaper or other incentives for exports such as import duty remission etc., are included under “Export Subsidies” by the WTO. According to the WTO Export Subsidies can result in dumping of highly subsidized (and cheap) products in other countries and damage the domestic agriculture sector of other countries.

WTO’s categories Under “Domestic Support” Subsidies

Green Box

  • Subsidies that do not distort trade, or at most cause minimal distortion.
  • They are government-funded and must not involve price support.
  • They also include environmental protection and regional development programmes.
  • “Green box” subsidies are therefore allowed without limits, provided they comply with the policy-specific criteria.

Amber Box

  • All domestic support measures considered to distort production and trade (with some exceptions) fall into the amber box as all domestic supports except those in the blue and green boxes.
  • These include measures to support prices, or subsidies directly related to production quantities.

Blue Box

  • This is the “amber box with conditions”. Such conditions are designed to reduce distortion.
  • Any support that would normally be in the amber box is placed in the blue box if the support also requires farmers to limit production.
  • At present, there are no limits on spending on blue box subsidies

The Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) system

  • To measure ‘amber box’ support, WTO member countries are required to compute AMS. It is the total of product-specific support (price support to a particular crop) and non-product-specific support (fertilizer subsidy).
  • Under Article 6.4(b) of the AoA, developing countries such as India are allowed to provide a minimal level of product and non-product domestic subsidy.
  • This ‘de minimis limit’ is capped at 10% of the total value of production of the product, in case of a product-specific subsidy; and at 10% of the total value of a country’s agricultural production, in case of non-product subsidy.
  • Subsidies breaching the de minimis cap are trade-distorting. Consequently, they have to be accounted for in the AMS.

What is Minimum Support Price (MSP)?

  • Minimum Support Price is the price at which government purchases crops from the farmers, whatever may be the price for the crops.
  • Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) in the Ministry of Agriculture recommends MSPs for 23 crops. These include 14 grown during the kharif/post-monsoon season (see table) and six in rabi/winter (wheat, barley, chana, masur, mustard and safflower), apart from sugarcane, jute and copra
  • CACP consider various factors while recommending the MSP for a commodity like cost of cultivation, supply and demand situation for the commodity; market price trends (domestic and global) and parity vis-à-vis other crops etc.
  • MSP seeks to:
    • Assured Value: To give guaranteed prices and assured market to the farmers and save them from the price fluctuations (National or International).
    • Improving Productivity: By encouraging higher investment and adoption of modern technologies in agricultural activities.
    • Consumer Interest: To safeguard the interests of consumers by making available supplies at reasonable prices.

Why is there a need for MSP?

  • The MSP is a minimum price guarantee that acts as a safety net or insurance for farmers when they sell particular crops.
  • The guaranteed price and assured market are expected to encourage higher investment and in adoption of modern technologies in agricultural activities.
  • With globalization resulting in freer trade in agricultural commodities, it is very important to protect farmers from the unwarranted fluctuation in prices.

What are the issues related to MSP?

  • Low accessibility and awareness of the MSP regime: A survey highlighted that, 81% of the cultivators were aware of MSP fixed by the Government for different crops and out of them only 10% knew about MSP before the sowing season.
  • Arrears in payments: More than 50% of the farmers receive their payments of MSP after one week.
  • Poor marketing arrangements: Almost 67% of the farmers sell their produce at MSP rate through their own arrangement and 21% through brokers.
  • According to NITI Aayog report on MSP, 21% of the farmers of the sample States expressed their satisfaction about MSP declared by the Government whereas 79% expressed their dissatisfaction due to various reasons. Although, majority of the farmers of the sample States were dissatisfied on MSP rates, still 94% of them desired that the MSP rates should be continued.

Arguments in Favour of the Legal Backing of MSP

  • MSP’s legal status will ensure that all farmers are protected against price rise.
  • It will ensure that farmers’ food is purchased at the declared MSP, either directly or through private players.
  • MSP will be required to cover all crops and all producers in order to guarantee the Right to MSP.

Arguments Against the Legal Backing of MSP

  • “Economic theory as well as experience implies that the price level that is not supported by demand and supply cannot be sustained by legal methods,” writes NITI Aayog’s agricultural economist Ramesh Chand in a policy study.
  • If MSP becomes a legal right, procurement will skyrocket in terms of volume.
  • It may result in the formation of a vast black market in which small dealers buy grains from farmers in unofficial ways.
  • Legalizing MSP will have an influence on the country’s macroeconomic prospects by raising the chance of an unexpected surge in inflation.
  • MSP is classified as a bad subsidy by the WTO since it has an impact on the market. India’s subsidising programmes will spark outrage among developed countries.
  • The Centre indicates that states are allowed to guarantee MSP rates if they desire, but it also provides two instances of policies that have failed.
  • One example is the sugar industry, where private mills failed to make full payments to farmers, resulting in thousands of crores in unpaid dues that had been accumulating for years.
  • Another example is a 2018 Maharashtra legislation modification that penalizes traders who buy crops below MSP with severe fines and prison sentences.

WTO’s AMS system and its case with India’s MSP

  • The procurement at MSP, after comparing it with the fixed external reference price (ERP) — an average price based on the base years 1986-88 — has to be included in AMS.
  • Since the fixed ERP has not been revised in the last several decades at the WTO, the difference between the MSP and fixed ERP has widened enormously due to inflation.
  • For instance, according to the Centre for WTO Studies, India’s ERP for rice, in 1986-88, was $262.51/tonne and the MSP was less than this. However, India’s applied administered price for rice in 2015-16 stood at $323.06/tonne, much more than the 1986-88 ERP.
  • When this difference is accounted for in the AMS, the possibility of overshooting the de minimis limit becomes real.
  • Procuring all the 23 crops at MSP, as against the current practice of procuring largely rice and wheat, will result in India breaching the de minimis limit making it vulnerable to a legal challenge at the WTO.
  • Even if the Government does not procure directly but mandates private parties to acquire at a price determined by the Government, as it happens in the case of sugarcane, the de minimis limit of 10% applies.
  • Very recently, a WTO panel in the case, India – Measures Concerning Sugar and Sugarcane, concluded that India breached the de minimis limit in the case of sugarcane by offering guaranteed prices paid by sugar mills to sugarcane farmers.

Peace Clause and the issues related with it

  • High subsidies are seen to be distorting global trade. The peace clause protects a developing country’s food procurement programmes against action from WTO members in case subsidy ceilings are breached.
  • In the month of April 2020, India informed the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that the value of India’s rice production was $ 43.67 billion in 2018-19 and India had given subsidies worth $ 5 billion.
  • India was the first country to invoke the peace clause for breaching the subsidy limit for rice for the marketing year 2018-19. The limit is pegged at 10% of the value of food production (called de minimis) in the case of India and other developing countries.
  • European Union (E.U.), United States of America (USA), Japan, Canada, Brazil and Paraguay have questioned India for invoking the World Trade Organization (WTO) peace clause for exceeding the ceiling on the support it can offer its farmers for rice. The European Union has asked India for all the information on the products covered by the public stockholding programme to assure that only rice support exceeded the limits.

-Source; The Hindu

Is Union Government through CBI interfering in cases originating within the State’s jurisdiction?


Recently, the Supreme Court refused the Centre’s claim that it has no control over the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).


GS-II: Polity and Constitution, Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
  3. Functions of CBI
  4. Challenges of CBI


  • The Supreme court, was recently hearing an original suit filed by the State of West Bengal under Article 131 of the Constitution.
  • The State of West Bengal accused the Union government of “interfering” in cases originating within the State’s jurisdiction by unilaterally authorising the CBI to probe them.
  • The state claimed that the Centre continues to employ the CBI, though the State had withdrawn its general consent to the agency for investigations within its territory.
  • The Centre, in response argued that it has no control over the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was set up in 1963 after the recommendation of Santhanam committee under Ministry of Home affairs and was later transferred to the Ministry of Personnel and now it enjoys the status of an attached office.
  • Now, the CBI comes under the administrative control of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
  • The CBI derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, however, it is NOT a Statutory Body.
  • CBI is the apex anti-corruption body in the country – Along with being the main investigating agency of the Central Government it also provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal.
  • The CBI is required to obtain the prior approval of the Central Government before conducting any inquiry or investigation.
  • The CBI is also the nodal police agency in India which coordinates investigations on behalf of Interpol Member countries.
  • The CBI’s conviction rate is as high as 65 to 70% and it is comparable to the best investigation agencies in the world.
  • The CBI is headed by a Director and he is assisted by a special director or an additional director. It has joint directors, deputy inspector generals, superintendents of police.

CBI has following divisions

  • Anti-Corruption Division
  • Economic Offences Division
  • Special Crimes Division
  • Policy and International Police Cooperation Division
  • Administration Division
  • Directorate of Prosecution
  • Central Forensic Science Laboratory

How does the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) function in India?

Provision of Prior Permission:

  • The CBI is required to obtain prior approval from the Central Government before conducting an inquiry or investigation into an offense committed by officers of the rank of joint secretary and above in the Central Government and its authorities.
  • The Supreme Court, in 2014, declared Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, which provided protection to joint secretary and above officers from facing preliminary inquiries by the CBI in corruption cases, as invalid and violative of Article 14.

General Consent Principle for CBI:

  • The state government can grant consent to the CBI on a case-specific basis or through a “general” consent.
  • General consent is usually given by states to facilitate seamless investigation of corruption cases involving central government employees within their states.
  • This consent is considered implicit, allowing the CBI to initiate investigations assuming consent has already been given.
  • Without general consent, the CBI would need to seek permission from the state government for each individual case, even for minor actions.

Challenges of CBI

  • The CBI has been dubbed a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice” by the Supreme Court of India due to excessive political influence in its operations. It has frequently been utilised by the government to conceal misdeeds, keep coalition allies in line, and keep political opponents at away. It has been accused of massive delays in concluding investigations, such as in its investigation into high-ranking Jain dignitaries in the Jain hawala diaries case [in the 1990s].
  • Loss of Credibility: Improving the agency’s image has been one of the most difficult challenges so far, as the agency has been chastised for its mishandling of several high-profile cases, including the Bofors scandal, the Hawala scandal, the Sant Singh Chatwal case, the Bhopal gas tragedy, and the 2008 Noida double murder case (Aarushi Talwar).
  • Lack of Accountability: CBI is exempt from the Right to Information Act, which means it is not accountable to the public.
  • Acute staff shortage: One of the key causes of the shortfall is the government’s mishandling of the CBI’s employees, which includes an inefficient and inexplicably biassed recruitment policy that was utilised to bring in favoured officials, possibly to the organization’s damage.
  • Limited Authority: Members of the CBI’s investigative powers and jurisdiction are subject to the consent of the State Government, restricting the scope of the CBI’s inquiry.
  • Restricted Access: Obtaining prior authorisation from the Central Government to initiate an inquiry or probe into Central Government workers at the level of Joint Secretary and above is a major impediment to tackling corruption at the highest levels of government.

-Source; The Hindu

India secures third place in solar power production globally


India, in 2023 overtook Japan to become the world’s third-highest producer of solar power.


GS II: Government policies and Intervention

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. India’s solar policy
  3. How critical is solar power to India’s commitment to mitigate climate change?
  4. About Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana
  5. Rooftop Solar Panels


  • As per the latest report by international energy analytics agency Ember, India is the third largest producer of solar power.
    • China being the leading producer of solar power in the world.
      • It produced 584 BU of solar power in 2024, which is more than the next four countries combined — the United States, Japan, Germany and India.
  • India generated 113 billion units (BU) of solar power in 2023 compared to Japan’s 110 BU.
  • As per the data by Niti Aayog. as of May 2024, the solar power makes up to 18% of India’s total installed electricity of 442 GW, made up only 6.66% of the power actually produced.
    • The report also reflected the existence of gap between installed capacity and actual power produced.

India’s solar policy:

  • Since 2011, India’s solar sector has grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 59% from 0.5GW in 2011 to 55GW in 2021.

National Solar Mission (NSM):

  • The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM), also known as the National Solar Mission (NSM), which commenced in January 2010, marked the first time the government focussed on promoting and developing solar power in India.
  • Under the scheme, the total installed capacity target was set as 20GW by 2022.
  • In 2015, the target was revised to 100GW and in August 2021, the government set a solar target of 300GW by 2030.
  • India currently ranks fifth after China, U.S., Japan and Germany in terms of installed solar power capacity.
  • As of December 2021, the cumulative solar installed capacity of India is 55GW, which is roughly half the renewable energy (RE) capacity (excluding large hydro power) and 14% of the overall power generation capacity of India.
  • Within the 55GW, grid-connected utility-scale projects contribute 77% and the rest comes from grid-connected rooftop and off-grid projects.

Grid-Connected Rooftop Solar Scheme (Phase II):

  • In a rooftop or small solar photovoltaic (SPV) system that is connected to the grid, the power conditioning unit converts the DC power generated by the SPV panel to AC electricity, which is then delivered to the grid.
  • The scheme aimed to achieve a cumulative installed capacity of 40,000 megawatts (MW) or  40 gigawatts (GW) by 2022.
  • However, this target couldn’t be achieved. As a result, the government extended the deadline from 2022 to 2026. 

Major objective of the programme includes:

  • To promote the grid-connected SPV rooftop and small SPV power generating plants among the residential, community, institutional, industrial and commercial establishments.
  • To mitigate the dependence on fossil fuel based electricity generation and encourage environment-friendly Solar electricity generation.
  • To create an enabling environment for investment in the solar energy sector by the private sector, state government and the individuals.
  • To create an enabling environment for the supply of solar power from rooftop and small plants to the grid.
  • This scheme is being implemented in the state by distribution companies (DISCOMs).
  • Under this scheme the Ministry is providing a 40% subsidy for the first 3 kW and 20% subsidy beyond 3 kW and upto 10 kW of solar panel capacity.
  • The residential consumer has to pay the cost of rooftop solar plant by reducing the subsidy amount given by the Ministry as per the prescribed rate to the vendor.

How critical is solar power to India’s commitment to mitigate climate change?

  • Solar power is a major prong of India’s commitment to address global warming according to the terms of the Paris Agreement, as well as achieving net zero, or no net carbon emissions, by 2070.
  • Prime Minister at the United Nations Conference of Parties meeting in Glasgow, in November 2021, said India would be reaching a non-fossil fuel energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030 and meet half its energy requirements via renewable energy by 2030.
  • To boost the renewable energy installation drive in the long term, the Centre in 2020 set a target of 450GW of RE-based installed capacity to be achieved by 2030, within which the target for solar was 300GW.
  • Given the challenge of integrating variable renewable energy into the grid, most of the RE capacity installed in the latter half of this decade is likely to be based on wind solar hybrid (WSH), RE-plus-storage and round-the-clock RE projects rather than traditional solar/wind projects, according to the report.
  • On the current trajectory, the report finds, India’s solar target of 300GW by 2030 will be off the mark by about 86GW, or nearly a third.

About Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana


  • To provide electricity to low and middle-income individuals through solar rooftop installations, along with offering additional income for surplus electricity generation.
  • The scheme seems to be a new attempt to help reach the target of 40 GW rooftop solar capacity.


  • Under the scheme, around 1 crore households will get rooftop solar.

Energy Self-reliance:

  • By installing rooftop solar systems, the scheme aims to decrease India’s dependency on traditional energy sources and move towards sustainable energy practices.
  • The scheme is in line with Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Market Implications:

  • The initiative is expected to benefit companies involved in solar panel installation and related infrastructure, potentially leading to long-term investment opportunities.

Implementation of the scheme:

  • Awareness Campaigns: To educate potential beneficiaries about the scheme and its benefits.
  • Collaboration with Local Bodies: Involving panchayats, municipalities, or local NGOs for effective reach.
  • Monitoring and Feedback: Ensuring the scheme’s effectiveness and making necessary adjustments.

Rooftop Solar Panels:

  • Definition: Rooftop solar panels are photovoltaic panels installed on a building’s roof, integrated into the main power supply system.


  • Energy Consumption Reduction: Significantly reduces reliance on grid-connected electricity, leading to lower electricity costs for consumers.
  • Surplus Power Export: Excess solar power generated can be exported to the grid, providing monetary benefits to consumers based on prevailing regulations.

Government Initiatives

  • Rooftop Solar Programme (2014): Launched with the goal of achieving 40 GW cumulative installed capacity by 2022.
  • Deadline Extension: Due to unmet targets, the government extended the deadline to 2026.
  • Pradhan Mantri Suryodaya Yojana: Aimed at supporting the achievement of the 40 GW rooftop solar capacity target.

-Source; The Hindu, The Indian Express       

Birth Anniversary of Maharana Pratap


The Prime Minister of India paid tribute to Maharana Pratap on his birth anniversary celebrated on May 9th..


GS I- Personalities in news, History

About Maharana Pratap:

  • Pratap Singh popularly known as Maharana Pratap, was a king of Mewar, a region in the present day state of Rajasthan.
  • He was the eldest son of Udai Singh II (founder of city of Udaipur).
  • He is known for his bravery in the Battle of Haldighati. It was fought in 1576 between Maharana and the forces of Akbar led by Man Singh of Amber.
  • Rana’s forces were defeated in 6 hours. But the Mughals failed to capture him. Maharana re-gathered his forces, fought and won against the Mughals after six years in 1582. Having faced a terrible defeat, Akbar stopped his military campaigns against Mewar after the battle.
  • Chetak is the name given in traditional literature to the horse ridden by Maharana Pratap at the Battle of Haldighati. However, some Historians debate it. According to tradition, Chetak, although wounded, carried Pratap safely away from the battle, but then died of his wounds. The story is recounted in court poems of Mewar from the 17th century onwards.
  • Pratap Gaurav Kendra: It is a tourist spot at Tiger Hill in Udaipur city, Rajasthan. It aims at providing information about Maharana Pratap and the historical heritage of the area with the help of modern technology.

–  All India Radio 

Impact of LPG price hikes


Recent data shows that LPG price hike being the foremost barrier to its adoption and continued use in rural poor households.


GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Environmental Pollution and degradation, Conservation of Environment and Ecology), GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Welfare Schemes, Government Policies & Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About CEEW’s ACCESS survey
  2. About the Increasing burden of LPG prices
  3. Clean Energy Drive & Concerns
  4. About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)
  5. Way Forward

About CEEW’s ACCESS survey:

  • As per the data from the 2014-2015 ACCESS survey, conducted by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, found LPG’s cost to be the foremost barrier to its adoption and continued use in rural poor households.
  • In India, around 750 million people primarily use solid cooking fuels — wood, dung, agricultural residues, coal, and charcoal — every day.
    • The use of solid cooking fuels are associated with innumerable health hazards and socio-economic and environmental impacts.
  • The report findings suggest that the LPG price rise, especially over the last decade, could cause socio-ecological crises in places where there are no viable alternatives to fuel wood. This in-turn leads to socio-economic deprivation.

About the Increasing burden of LPG prices

  • The price of LPG refills has risen by more than 50% over the past year. Also, the government has discontinued the refill subsidies since May 2020.
  • At the current refill prices, an average Indian household would have to spend around 10% of its monthly expense on LPG to meet all its cooking energy needs.
  • Due to the loss of incomes and livelihoods during the novel coronavirus pandemic, the ability of households to afford LPG on a regular basis has taken a further hit.
  • The use of solid fuels for cooking comes with a major environmental cost. It is a leading contributor to air pollution and related premature deaths in India. Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 estimated around 600,000 premature deaths every year in India.

Clean Energy Drive & Concerns

  • LPG has become the primary cooking fuel in around 70% households in India with many efforts like Ujjwala Scheme, consumption-linked subsidies and gradual strengthening of the LPG distributorship.
  • However, the prevalent use of biomass as a primary cooking fuel is still continuing.
  • The practice of biomass usage is observed in both rural and urban areas. States such as Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal are major contributors in biomass use.
  • Free biomass, high LPG prices and lack of home delivery of LPG refills reduce the efficacy of LPG as a reliable and affordable proposition.
  • The timely availability of LPG for all consumers is an added area of concern in both rural and urban areas.

About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) – 1

  • The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) is a government scheme launched in 2016 which envisages the distribution of 50 million LPG connections to women below the poverty line.
  • PMUY is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.
  • There are 27.87 Crore active LPG consumers in the country, with the PMUY beneficiaries accounting for over 8 crores.
  • Advantages of PMUY:
    • Providing LPG connections to BPL households will ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country.
    • This measure will empower women and protect their health.
    • It will reduce drudgery and the time spent on cooking.
    • It will also provide employment for rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.

Why was PMUY Necessary?

  • As per the estimates of the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 5 lakh deaths in India occurred due to unclean cooking fuel.
  • These deaths were caused mostly due to non-communicable diseases including heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.
  • Providing LPG connections to families below the poverty line will ensure universal coverage of cooking gas in the country.
  • The scheme can be a tool for women empowerment in that LPG connections and clean cooking fuel can reduce cooking time and effort, and in most of India, cooking is a responsibility shouldered solely by women.
  • The scheme also provides employment to the rural youth in the supply chain of cooking gas.


  • The PMUY-II is aimed to provide maximum benefit to the migrants who live in other states and find it difficult to submit address proof.
  • Now they will only have to give “Self Declaration” to avail the benefit.
  • The scheme provides a financial support of Rs 1600 for each LPG connection to the BPL households.
  • Along with a deposit-free LPG connection, Ujjwala 2.0 will provide the first refill and a hotplate free of cost to the beneficiaries.
  • Under Ujjwala 2.0, an additional 10 million LPG connections will be provided to the beneficiaries. Government has also fixed a target of providing piped gas to 21 lakh homes in 50 districts.

Way Forward

  • The income-based exclusion limit for LPG subsidy could be reduced to bring deserving beneficiaries under the umbrella.
  • Households owning a non-commercial four-wheeler vehicle can be excluded in order to ensure eligible beneficiaries.
  • At the earliest, the subsidy must be resumed for the households granted LPG connections under the Ujjwala scheme.
  • LPG supply chain, especially in states with a large number of Ujjwala connections and slum population should be strengthened on a priority basis. Higher incentives for rural distributors could play a crucial role in improving the LPG supply chain.
  • The Government can encourage and incentivise households to supply locally available biomass to Compressed Biogas production plants being set up under the Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation scheme.
  • The government could diversify local income and livelihood opportunities through such incentives and also encourage the use of LPG on a regular basis.

-Source; The Hindu, The Indian Express       

May 2024