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Current Affairs 20 September 2023


  1. 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill 2023
  2. India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) Project
  3. Boosting Natural Rubber Cultivation in Northeastern States
  4. Disability Certificate for Sickle Cell Patients
  5. Ayushman Bhav Campaign
  6. Serious Frauds Investigation Office

128th Constitutional Amendment Bill 2023


In a significant development in Indian politics, the Government of India introduced the 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill 2023 during a special session of Parliament. The bill proposes to reserve 33% of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and all state Legislative Assemblies and extends the quota to the seats reserved for SC/STs.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill 2023
  2. Constitutional Amendments for Delimitation
  3. Deciding Currently Reserved Seats for SCs and STs
  4. Reservation for Women in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Urban Local Bodies

Highlights of the 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill 2023:

  • The bill is similar to the 108th Constitutional Amendment Bill 2008 passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010.
  • It proposes to reserve one-third of the total seats filled by direct election in the Lok Sabha for women, including seats reserved for SC/ST women.
  • Similar provisions are proposed for state Legislative Assemblies.
  • The reservation does not apply to the Rajya Sabha or state Legislative Councils.
  • New articles, 330A and 332A, will be introduced in the Constitution for Lok Sabha and Assemblies, respectively.
  • The reservation will be in effect for 15 years from the commencement of the Act, but its implementation is contingent upon the delimitation process.
  • Women’s reservation in the Lok Sabha may not be effectively operationalized before the 2029 general elections due to the delimitation timeline.
  • Delimitation was frozen until the results of the first Census after 2000 and extended for 25 years in the 84th Amendment, meaning it will occur after the first Census after 2026 is published.

Constitutional Amendments for Delimitation:

Amendments to Articles 82 and 170(3) are required to enable delimitation, as these articles pertain to constituency readjustment and Legislative Assembly composition.

Identification of Reserved Seats:
  • The bill does not specify the method for identifying one-third of seats; it suggests a rotation of reserved seats.
  • The proposed constitutional amendment grants the government the authority to enact an implementation law.
  • In the previous attempt (2010), the government proposed obtaining reserved constituencies for women through a draw of lots to prevent repeated reservation in three consecutive elections.

Deciding Currently Reserved Seats for SCs and STs:

  • The Delimitation Act 2002 provides principles for reserving seats.
  • The Delimitation Commission determines the number of reserved seats in Parliament and Assemblies based on population.
  • Seats reserved for SCs are distributed across the state, primarily in areas with a significant SC population.
  • Seats reserved for STs are located in areas with the largest ST population.

Reservation for Women in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Urban Local Bodies:

  • Article 243D (added by the 73rd Amendment Act 1992) reserves seats for SCs, STs, and women in Panchayats.
  • Article 243D mandates that at least one-third of seats reserved for SCs and STs must be reserved for women.
  • Government data shows that over 50% of elected representatives were women in 18 states, including Uttarakhand, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh.
  • The highest proportion of women representatives was in Uttarakhand (56.02%), while the lowest was in Uttar Pradesh (33.34%). Nationwide, there were 45.61% women representatives in PRIs.

-Source: The Hindu

India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) Project


The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) Project, signed at the G20 Summit in New Delhi, is a significant infrastructure initiative with both geopolitical and economic importance for India. It is part of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), which aims to address the infrastructure needs of low and middle-income countries through values-driven and transparent collaboration.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) Project
  2. Geopolitical and Economic Implications of IMEC
  3. Challenges to the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor (IMEC)
  4. Way Forward for IMEC

India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) Project:


  • The IMEC project consists of multiple transportation networks, including rail, ship-to-rail, and road routes.
  • It encompasses two main corridors:
    • East Corridor: Links India to the Arabian Gulf.
    • Northern Corridor: Connects the Gulf to Europe.
  • Additionally, the IMEC corridor includes infrastructure for electricity, hydrogen, and high-speed data cables.


  • Key countries and entities involved in the project include India, the US, Saudi Arabia, UAE, the European Union, Italy, France, and Germany.

Ports to be Connected:

  • Indian ports: Mundra (Gujarat), Kandla (Gujarat), and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (Navi Mumbai).
  • Middle East ports: Fujairah, Jebel Ali, and Abu Dhabi (UAE), as well as Dammam and Ras Al Khair (Saudi Arabia).
  • The railway line will connect Fujairah port (UAE) to Haifa port (Israel), passing through Saudi Arabia (Ghuwaifat and Haradh) and Jordan.
  • European port destinations: Piraeus (Greece), Messina (South Italy), and Marseille (France).


  • The project aims to establish a comprehensive transportation network, integrating rail, road, and sea routes to connect India, the Middle East, and Europe.
  • Goals include improving transportation efficiency, reducing costs, fostering economic integration, generating employment opportunities, and lowering Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.
  • It is expected to enhance trade and connectivity between Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.


  • The completion of IMEC will provide a reliable and cost-effective cross-border ship-to-rail transit network, complementing existing maritime and road transport options.

Geopolitical and Economic Implications of IMEC:

Geopolitical Implications:
  • Counter to BRI: IMEC is viewed as a potential counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Eurasia. It can help balance China’s expanding economic and political influence, particularly in regions historically aligned with the U.S.
  • Strengthening Ties: The project promotes integration across continents and civilizations, providing an opportunity for the U.S. to maintain influence and bolster relations with traditional partners amid China’s rising regional clout.
  • Bypassing Pakistan: IMEC circumvents Pakistan, eliminating its veto over India’s overland connectivity to the West, a longstanding obstacle.
  • Enhanced Engagement: The corridor deepens India’s strategic involvement with the Arabian Peninsula, fostering enduring connectivity and elevating political and strategic links with regional nations.
  • Reducing Tensions: IMEC can promote intra-regional connectivity, potentially reducing political tensions in the Arabian Peninsula and serving as an “infrastructure for peace.”
  • Trans-African Corridor: The corridor’s model could extend to Africa, aligning with the U.S. and EU’s plans for a Trans-African corridor. This demonstrates India’s commitment to strengthening ties with Africa and contributing to its infrastructure development.
Economic Implications:
  • Trade Growth: IMEC offers India an opportunity to boost economic growth by enhancing trade connectivity with vital regions.
  • Faster Transit: It could reduce transit times, making trade with Europe 40% faster compared to the Suez Canal maritime route.
  • Efficient Transport: The corridor will establish an efficient transport network, facilitating the movement of goods and promoting industrial growth.
  • Job Creation: Increased economic activity will create job opportunities across sectors, addressing employment needs for skilled and unskilled labor.
  • Resource Supply: It can ensure secure energy and resource supplies from the Middle East, stabilizing India’s energy sector.
  • SEZ Development: IMEC can strategically drive the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) along its route, attracting foreign investment, fostering manufacturing, and spurring economic growth within these designated zones.

Challenges to the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor (IMEC):

  • Complex Logistics: Developing a multimodal transport corridor involving rail, road, and sea routes across multiple countries requires intricate logistical planning and coordination among various stakeholders.
  • Route Viability: Selecting the most viable and cost-effective routes, assessing the feasibility of rail and road connections, and ensuring optimal connectivity are significant challenges.
  • Incomplete Rail Links: Substantial portions of rail links, especially in the Middle East, are missing, necessitating considerable construction efforts and investment to complete the rail network.
  • Coordination Among Countries: Coordinating efforts, policies, and regulations among multiple countries with diverse interests, legal systems, and administrative procedures is a major challenge.
  • Competition with Existing Routes: Opposition or competition from existing transport routes, particularly Egypt’s Suez Canal, which may experience reduced traffic and revenue, could pose diplomatic hurdles.
  • Financing: Estimating and securing adequate financing for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the corridor is a significant challenge. Development costs are estimated to be substantial.
  • Cost Estimations: Initial estimates suggest that each IMEC route’s development could cost anywhere between USD 3 billion to USD 8 billion.

Way Forward for IMEC:

  • Technical Compatibility: Achieving technical compatibility and standardization, including gauges, train technologies, container dimensions, and critical operational aspects, is essential for seamless operations.
  • Geopolitical Sensitivities: Balancing the geopolitical interests of participating nations and addressing potential political sensitivities, especially regarding Israel, is crucial for smooth implementation.
  • Environmental Concerns: Addressing environmental impact concerns, ensuring sustainability, and adhering to green and eco-friendly practices in construction and operation are critical aspects.
  • Security Measures: Implementing robust security measures to safeguard cargo and infrastructure from potential threats, theft, piracy, and other security risks is essential for the project’s success.

-Source: The Hindu

Boosting Natural Rubber Cultivation in Northeastern States


The Rubber Board, in collaboration with the Central government and the Automotive Tyre Manufacturers’ Association, is leading a project to expand the cultivation of natural rubber in the Northeastern States (excluding Sikkim but including West Bengal). This five-year project, initiated in 2021, has received a commitment of ₹1,000 crore from tire manufacturers, who are the main consumers of rubber.


GS III: Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Natural Rubber
  2. India’s Position
  3. Major Applications of Rubber

Natural Rubber:

  • Derived from latex of plants like rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis).
  • Primary component: polyisoprene.
  • Requires tropical climate with 2000-4500mm annual rainfall.
  • Needs acidic soil (pH 4.5-6.0), deficient in phosphorus.
  • Ideal conditions: 25-34°C, 80% humidity, avoiding heavy winds.
  • Requires about 2000 hours of sunshine per annum.

India’s Position:

  • Fifth-largest natural rubber producer globally.
  • Second-largest consumer globally (40% met through imports).
  • Approximately 8.5 lakh hectares of rubber plantations.
  • Major rubber states: Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Assam.
  • Kerala and Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu host nearly 5 lakh hectares.
  • Tripura contributes around 1 lakh hectares.

Major Applications of Rubber:

  • Key in tire production for grip and wear resistance.
  • Used in vehicle seals, gaskets, hoses, and components.
  • Common in shoe soles for cushioning and slip resistance.
  • Found in conveyor belts, machinery parts, and hoses.
  • Used in medical equipment, gloves, and syringe plungers.
  • Present in balloons, erasers, and household gloves.
  • Utilized in sports equipment like tennis and golf balls, protective gear.

-Source: The Hindu

Disability Certificate for Sickle Cell Patients


A proposal to issue permanent disability certificates for Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) patients aged 5 and above has been mired in a three-year-long bureaucratic impasse involving three Union Ministries: Health, Social Justice and Empowerment, and Tribal Affairs.


GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Causes of Delays in Issuing Permanent Disability Certificates for Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)
  2. Sickle Cell Anaemia
  3. Indian Government Initiatives to reduce Sickle Cell Anaemia

Causes of Delays in Issuing Permanent Disability Certificates for Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)

Change in Disability Criteria:

  • SCD was included as a disability under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act in 2016.
  • The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) increased the validity of SCD disability certificates from one year to three years.
  • However, the certificates still require a minimum of 25% disability for eligibility.

Ministerial Responsibilities:

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is responsible for establishing criteria and rules for disability certificates.
  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is tasked with issuing the certificates.
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs advocates for the rights of SCD patients.

Chronic Nature of SCD:

  • Sickle Cell Disease is a chronic, lifelong illness with no cure except for a blood and bone marrow transplant.
  • Undertaking such transplants is challenging, especially for tribal populations.

Government Action:

  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Empowerment of Women has called for expediting the issuance of permanent or longer-term disability certificates for SCD patients.
  • They highlighted the limited accessibility of the cure, particularly among tribal communities.

Upcoming Report:

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is expected to release a report on this issue by October 2023, which may provide further insights and potential solutions.

Sickle Cell Anaemia

  • Haemoglobin which is tasked with carrying oxygen to all parts of the body, has four protein subunits — two alpha and two beta.
  • In some people, mutations in the gene that creates the beta subunits impact the shape of the blood cell and distorts it to look like a sickle.
  • A round red blood cell can move easily through blood vessels because of its shape but sickle red blood cells end up slowing, and even blocking, the blood flow.
  • Moreover, sickle cells die early, resulting in a shortage of red blood cells that deprive the body of oxygen.
  • These obstructions and shortages may cause chronic anaemia, pain, fatigue, acute chest syndrome, stroke, and a host of other serious health complications.
  • Without treatment, quality of life is compromised and severe cases can become fatal in the initial years of life.

The symptoms of sickle cell anaemia can vary from person to person, but common symptoms include:

  • Painful episodes (sickle cell crisis)
  • Anaemia
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Delays in growth and development
  • Joint pain
  • frequent infections

Currently, there is no cure for sickle cell anaemia, but treatments are available to manage the symptoms and prevent complications.

  • Pain management
  • Blood transfusions
  • Antibiotics to prevent infections
  • Hydoxyurea, a medication to reduce the frequency of sickle cell crises
  • Stem cell transplantation in some cases
Indian Government Initiatives to reduce Sickle Cell Anaemia
  • The Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Rural Health Mission in different States are undertaking outreach programmes for better management and control of the disease.
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs launched a portal wherein people can register themselves if they have the disease or the trait, in order to collate all information related to SCA among tribal groups.
  • In the Budget, the Union Health Minister said the government plans to distribute “special cards” across tribal areas to people below the age of 40.
    • The cards will be divided into different categories based on the screening results.
    • The mission will receive funding under the National Health Mission.

-Source: The Hindu

Ayushman Bhav Campaign


The President of India has inaugurated the Ayushman Bhav campaign and the Ayushman Bhava portal, signaling a step towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and providing healthcare for all.


GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Transforming India’s Healthcare Landscape through Ayushman Bhava
  2. Three Key Components of Ayushman Bhava

Transforming India’s Healthcare Landscape through Ayushman Bhava

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Goal
  • The initiative aims to deliver healthcare services to underserved populations.
  • It raises awareness about health schemes and diseases.
  • The campaign aligns with the motto of “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” (Together with All, Development for All).
Three Key Components of Ayushman Bhava

Ayushman – Apke Dwar (AAD) 3.0

  • Eligible beneficiaries can create Ayushman cards for themselves or family members.
  • Streamlines healthcare access and benefits.

Ayushman Melas at HWCs and CHCs

  • Weekly Health Melas and Medical Camps at Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) and Community Health Clinics (CHCs).
  • Prioritize super-specialty healthcare services, screenings, tele-consultations, free medicines, and diagnostics.

Ayushman Sabhas

  • Community-level assemblies led by Village Health and Sanitation Committees (VHSNC) in rural areas or Ward Committees/Municipal Advisory Committees (MAS) in urban wards.
  • Ensure comprehensive health coverage and optimal healthcare service delivery.

Ayushman Gram Panchayats

  • Gram Panchayats achieving healthcare objectives attain the status of Ayushman Gram Panchayats.
  • Encourages local participation and dedication.

Implementation during ‘Seva Pakhwada’

  • A whole-of-nation and whole-of-society approach to healthcare access and affordability.

-Source: The Hindu

Serious Frauds Investigation Office


The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) recently arrested a chartered accountant in Hyderabad in connection with his role during the demonetisation period.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Serious Fraud Investigation Office
  2. Objectives
  3. What are the Shell Companies?

About Serious Fraud Investigation Office

  • SFIO is a multi-disciplinary organization under Ministry of Corporate Affairs, consisting of experts in the field of accountancy, forensic auditing, law, information technology, investigation, company law, capital market and taxation for detecting and prosecuting or recommending for prosecution white-collar crimes/frauds. 
  • It has its head office in New Delhi.
  • The Computer Forensic and Data Mining Laboratory (CFDML) was set up in 2013 to provide support and service to the officers of SFIO in their investigations.
  • SFIO is headed by a Director as Head of Department in the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India.


  • Take up for investigation cases characterized by –
    • complexity and having inter-departmental and multi- disciplinary ramifications.       
    • substantial involvement of public interest to be judged by size, either in terms of monetary        
    • the possibility of investigation leading to or contributing towards a clear improvement in systems, laws or procedures
  •    Investigate serious cases of fraud received from Department of Company Affairs.
  • Investigate into the affairs of a company on: –
    • on receipt of a report of the Registrar or inspector under section 208 of the Companies Act, 2013.          
    • on intimation of a special resolution passed by a company that its affairs are required to be  investigated          
    • on the public interest          
    • on request from any department of the Central Government or a State Government

-Source: Deccan Hearld

December 2023