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Current Affairs 25 September 2023


  1. National Higher Education Qualifications Framework
  2. State of the Rhino 2023
  3. National Investigation Agency
  5. Fatehpur Sikri
  6. Pink diamond

National Higher Education Qualifications Framework


University Grants Commission (UGC) has finalised the National Higher Education Qualifications Framework (NHEQF) to standardise qualifications and promote academic mobility. 


GS II: Education

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. National Higher Education Qualifications Framework (NHEQF)
  2. Issues with the NHEQF
  3. Way Forward for NHEQF Improvement

National Higher Education Qualifications Framework (NHEQF)

  • Global Momentum: The idea of creating frameworks for higher education qualifications gained traction worldwide in the late 1990s.
  • India’s Delay: India lacked its own NHEQF until recently.
  • Deliberation: In 2012, the concept was discussed at the 60th meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education, leading to the UGC’s involvement.
  • Transparency and Comparability: NHEQF aims to enhance transparency and comparability of higher education qualifications across all institutions.
  • Aligned with NEP 2020: The framework aligns with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which outlines a visionary approach to India’s higher education system.

Main Features

  • Categorization: Education is divided into eight levels.
  • NSEQF and Higher Education: The first four levels align with the National School Education Qualification Framework (NSEQF), while the subsequent four pertain to higher education qualifications (level 4.5 to level 8).
  • Level Descriptors: Each level comes with descriptors specifying learning outcomes, learning volume, and qualification types and titles.
Guidelines for Program Development
  • Comprehensive Guidelines: NHEQF provides guidance on various aspects of program development, including program and course learning outcomes, curriculum design, pedagogy, assessment, and feedback.
Credit Framework
  • Credit Requirements: UGC’s credit framework mandates a minimum of 20 credits per semester.
  • Credit Breakdown: One credit encompasses 15 hours of direct and 30 hours of indirect teaching.
  • Study Hours: Students are expected to dedicate a minimum of 900 hours per semester, equivalent to nearly 10 hours per day.
Inclusive Qualifications
  • Diverse Qualifications: NHEQF covers a wide range of qualification types, including certificates, diplomas, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and PhDs.
  • Incorporation: The framework encompasses qualifications from technical and vocational education and professional and technical education programs. It excludes medical and legal education, all under a unified framework.
Quality Assurance Mechanism
  • Established Mechanism: NHEQF establishes a quality assurance mechanism.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: It defines the roles and responsibilities of regulators, higher education institutions, and external agencies.
  • Approval and Monitoring: The framework outlines processes and criteria for program and qualification approval, monitoring, and evaluation.

Issues with the NHEQF

Multiple Frameworks
  • Dual Frameworks: The UGC has introduced both the NHEQF and the National Credit Framework separately.
  • Academic Bank of Credits: Institutions must implement the Academic Bank of Credits independently, leading to redundancy.
  • Complexity: The presence of multiple regulations complicates the higher education qualifications system.
  • Lack of Clarity: While NHEQF outlines exit requirements, it lacks clarity regarding eligibility conditions and entry pathways for students.
  • Confusion: This ambiguity can create confusion among students and educational institutions.
Lack of Inclusion
  • Exclusion of Regulated Disciplines: Disciplines like agriculture, law, medicine, and pharmacy, governed by separate regulators, are not included in the NHEQF.
  • Fragmentation: The absence of consensus may fragment the higher education system and hinder academic mobility.
  • Hierarchy Creation: The framework appears to establish a hierarchy, allowing admission to PhD programs for students with four-year undergraduate degrees and a minimum CGPA of 7.5.
  • Potential Elitism: This approach may promote elitism, as academic performance can be influenced by socioeconomic factors.
Complex Equivalences
  • Equating Postgraduate Diplomas: The NHEQF equates postgraduate diplomas with four-year undergraduate programs, leading to confusion.
  • Challenges in Categorization: The attempt to standardize qualifications on a scale of 4.5 to 10 complicates categorizing degrees that do not neatly fit into this scale, making level determination difficult.
European Influence
  • Bologna Process and Dublin Descriptors: The NHEQF draws heavily from the European Bologna process and Dublin descriptors.
  • Complexity of Indian System: India’s higher education system is more diverse and complex than the European model, necessitating broader consultations with Indian states for framework development.

Way Forward for NHEQF Improvement

  • Merge Frameworks: Combine the NHEQF and the National Credit Framework into a single, unified framework to eliminate redundancy and simplify qualification standards.
  • Consultation with States: Engage in extensive and inclusive consultations with Indian states to capture the diversity and complexity of the nation’s higher education landscape.
  • Customized Learning Outcomes: Develop learning outcomes tailored to the unique Indian higher education system, considering socio-cultural and socio-economic factors.
  • Comprehensive Learning: Emphasize holistic personal and societal development in addition to employability in defining learning outcomes.
  • Eligibility Criteria Review: Reevaluate eligibility criteria for admission to Ph.D. programs to prevent the creation of an elitist higher education system.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Establish an ongoing monitoring and evaluation mechanism for the NHEQF to make necessary adjustments as India’s higher education landscape evolves.

-Source: The Hindu

State of the Rhino 2023


The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) has released the “State of the Rhino, 2023” report, which provides population estimates and trends for the five remaining rhino species in Africa and Asia. World Rhino Day is celebrated on September 22nd each year to raise awareness about these rhino species and conservation efforts, with its origins traced back to an announcement by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – South Africa in 2010.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Findings of the Report
  2. Conservation Efforts by India

Key Findings of the Report:

Poaching and Habitat Loss:
  • Poaching remains a significant threat to all five rhino species, with increased activity in previously unaffected regions.
  • South Africa is facing severe losses of its white rhino population due to poaching.
  • Black rhino populations are growing despite ongoing poaching challenges.
  • Climate change-induced drought in Africa is impacting rhino habitats.
Climate Impact in Asia:
  • In Asia, increased precipitation and prolonged monsoons pose threats to rhinos and humans.
  • Changing weather patterns can lead to invasive plant species displacing native rhino food sources and habitat degradation.
Javan Rhinos:
  • The status of 12 out of approximately 76 remaining Javan rhinos is unknown.
  • Sumatran Rhinos:
  • It’s becoming increasingly difficult to detect signs of Sumatran rhinos, raising uncertainty about their population in the wild.
White Rhinos:
  • Approximately 2,000 white rhinos from the “World’s Largest Rhino Farm” will be reintroduced into African wilderness areas.
Greater One-Horned Rhinos:
  • Greater one-horned rhinos in India and Nepal continue to thrive due to strong protection efforts.
Black Rhinos:
  • Black rhinos in Africa have been rebounding with a robust growth rate despite significant poaching losses.
Overall Outlook:
  • With appropriate interventions, all five rhino species can recover and flourish in a changing world.
  • Implement a comprehensive strategy to protect rhinos, addressing poaching, habitat conservation, community engagement, capacity building, demand reduction, advocacy, and wildlife trafficking prevention.

Conservation Efforts by India:

  • Rhino Translocations: The translocation of rhinos to Manas National Park, initially planned for 2023, was postponed to 2024. Security measures were strengthened following the discovery of a poached rhino in January.
  • Orang National Park Expansion: In 2022, the Assam government expanded Orang National Park by approximately 200 sq km in north-central Assam, effectively doubling its size. This expansion connects Orang National Park to Burhachapori Wildlife Sanctuary, creating a linked corridor between multiple protected areas in Assam that are home to rhinos.
  • New Delhi Declaration: India, Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia, and Malaysia signed the New Delhi Declaration, a commitment to conserve and protect rhino species.
  • DNA Profiling: A project aimed at creating DNA profiles for all rhinos to combat poaching and gather evidence for wildlife crime cases involving rhinos.
  • National Rhino Conservation Strategy: Launched in 2019, this strategy is dedicated to conserving the greater one-horned rhinoceros.
  • Indian Rhino Vision 2020: An ambitious initiative to increase the wild population of greater one-horned rhinos to at least 3,000 across seven protected areas in the Indian state of Assam by the year 2020.

-Source: The Hindu

National Investigation Agency


The National Investigation Agency (NIA) confiscated land and part of a house belonging to Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, the US-based founder and lawyer of the banned Sikhs for Justice, in Amritsar and Chandigarh.


GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the NIA?
  2. When did the NIA come into being?
  3. What are the scheduled offences?
  4. How wide is NIA’s jurisdiction?
  5. How wide is NIA’s jurisdiction?

What is the NIA?

  • It is a central agency mandated to investigate all the offences affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, friendly relations with foreign states, and the offences under the statutory laws enacted to implement international treaties, agreements, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies and other international organisations.
  • These include terror acts and their possible links with crimes like smuggling of arms, drugs and fake Indian currency and infiltration from across the borders.
  • The agency has the power to search, seize, arrest and prosecute those involved in such offences.
  • Headquartered in Delhi, the NIA has its branches in Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kochi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Kolkata, Raipur, Jammu, Chandigarh, Ranchi, Chennai, Imphal, Bengaluru and Patna.

When did the NIA come into being?

  • In the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in November 2008, which shocked the entire world, the then United Progressive Alliance government decided to establish the NIA.
  • In December 2008, former Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram introduced the National Investigation Agency Bill.
  • The Home Minister had then said the agency would deal with only eight laws mentioned in the schedule and that a balance had been struck between the right of the State and duties of the Central government to investigate the more important cases.
  • The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
  • The agency came into existence on December 31, 2008, and started its functioning in 2009.
  • Till date, the NIA has registered 447 cases.

What are the scheduled offences?

  • The list includes the Explosive Substances Act, Atomic Energy Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Anti-Hijacking Act, Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act, SAARC Convention (Suppression of Terrorism) Act, Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act and relevant offences under the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and the Information Technology Act.
  • In September 2020, the Centre empowered the NIA to also probe offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act that are connected to terror cases.

How wide is NIA’s jurisdiction?

The law under which the agency operates extends to the whole of India and also applies to Indian citizens outside the country; persons in the service of the government wherever they are posted; persons on ships and aircraft registered in India wherever they may be; persons who commit a scheduled offence beyond India against the Indian citizen or affecting the interest of India.

How does the NIA take up a probe?

  • As provided under Section 6 of the Act, State governments can refer the cases pertaining to the scheduled offences registered at any police station to the Central government (Union Home Ministry) for NIA investigation.
  • After assessing the details made available, the Centre can then direct the agency to take over the case.
  • State governments are required to extend all assistance to the NIA.
  • Even when the Central government is of the opinion that a scheduled offence has been committed which is required to be investigated under the Act, it may, suo motu, direct the agency to take up/over the probe.
  • Where the Central government finds that a scheduled offence has been committed at any place outside India to which this Act extends, it can also direct the NIA to register the case and take up investigation.
  • While investigating any scheduled offence, the agency can also investigate any other offence which the accused is alleged to have committed if the offence is connected to the scheduled offence.

-Source: The Hindu



The Madras High Court recently quashed a detention order issued under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA) Act, 1974 against a practising lawyer, ordering his release.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the COFEPOSA Act
  2. Advisory Boards under Preventive Detention Laws
  3. Other Preventive Detention Laws in India

About the COFEPOSA Act:

  • The COFEPOSA Act was passed by the Parliament on December 13, 1974, with the following objectives:
  • To enable preventive detention in specific cases related to the conservation and augmentation of foreign exchange.
  • To prevent smuggling activities and associated matters.
  • Power to Make Detention Orders:
  • The Central Government, State Government, or designated authorities such as a joint secretary of the central government and secretary of a state government can issue detention orders for individuals (including foreigners) in cases of:
    • Smuggling.
    • Assisting in smuggling.
    • Transporting, concealing, or storing smuggled goods.
    • Providing shelter to individuals involved in smuggling.
    • Dealing in smuggled goods.
  • Any detention order issued by the State government must be sent to the Central government within 10 days.
Grounds for Detention:
  • The reasons for detention must be communicated to the detained individual within 5 days. A delay of up to 15 days is permissible if provided in writing.
  • The detaining authority must satisfy both the courts and the detainee that the detention was carried out in accordance with the law and after due consideration.
Review by High Courts:
  • High Courts have the authority to examine detention orders before their execution.
  • Detention orders cannot be challenged at the pre-execution stage on grounds of delay in execution.
Execution Nationwide:
  • Detention orders can be executed anywhere in India, similar to arrest warrants under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Advisory Boards under Preventive Detention Laws:

  • The government is required to refer cases of preventive detention to an Advisory Board within five weeks of the date of detention.
  • The Advisory Board is responsible for reviewing the detention and must provide its report within 11 weeks of receiving the detention order.
  • If the Advisory Board is satisfied with the grounds for detention, the detention period can be extended up to one year.
  • However, if the Advisory Board believes there is insufficient cause for detention, the order is revoked, and the person is released.

Other Preventive Detention Laws in India:

Apart from the COFEPOSA Act, India has several other preventive detention laws designed to address various aspects of national security, illegal activities, and public order. Some of these laws include:

  • National Security Act (NSA), 1980
  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) of 1967
  • Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (PITNDPS) Act, 1988
  • Prevention of Black Marketing and Maintenance of Supplies of Essential Commodities Act, 1980
  • Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA)

-Source: The Indian Express

Fatehpur Sikri


A 61-year-old French tourist recently died inside the Fatehpur Sikri fort after she fell from a nine-feet-high platform following the collapse of a wooden railing.


GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Fatehpur Sikri
  2. Notable Buildings

About Fatehpur Sikri:

  • Fatehpur Sikri is a historic city located 37 km from Agra, Uttar Pradesh, primarily constructed from red sandstone. It holds significant historical and architectural importance.
Foundation and Mughal Capital:
  • Founded in 1569 by the renowned Mughal emperor Akbar.
  • Served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1571 to 1585.
  • The capital was relocated to Delhi in 1586 due to water supply issues in Fatehpur Sikri.
UNESCO World Heritage Site:
  • Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986 for its cultural and historical significance.
Architectural Highlights:
  • The city’s architecture blends elements from Persian, Indian, and Central Asian styles.
  • Predominantly constructed from red sandstone, giving it a distinct appearance.
  • Enclosed by an 11 km long fortification wall with numerous gateways.

Notable Buildings:

  • Jama Masjid: Home to one of India’s largest mosques, known for its imposing structure, graceful arches, and intricately designed prayer hall.
  • Buland Darwaza: A colossal gateway, also called the “Gate of Magnificence,” built to commemorate Akbar’s Gujarat campaign. A grand example of Mughal architecture.
  • Diwan-i-Khas and Diwan-i-Aam: Prominent buildings within the complex. The Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience) was for private meetings, while the Diwan-i-Aam (Hall of Public Audience) was used for public affairs.
  • Panch Mahal: A unique five-storied palace featuring open pavilions on each level, used for relaxation and entertainment.

-Source: Indian Express

Pink Diamond


Recently, Western Australian scientists unearthed a story behind the formation of pink diamonds, connecting it to the ancient supercontinent Nuna, and the mysterious geological activities it experienced over 1.3 billion years ago.


GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Pink diamonds
  2. About Nuna

About Pink diamonds:

  • Pink diamonds, also known as fancy pink diamonds, are among the most sought-after and exceptionally rare gemstones globally.
  • These exquisite diamonds possess unique characteristics and origins that make them highly prized. Here are key points about pink diamonds:
Rarity and Coveted Gemstones:
  • Pink diamonds are renowned for their exceptional rarity and beauty, making them highly coveted in the world of gemstones.
  • They are part of the broader category of colored diamonds, often referred to as fancy colored diamonds.
Unique Crystalline Structures:
  • Pink diamonds exhibit distinctive crystalline structures that set them apart from their colorless counterparts.
  • These unique structures contribute to the diamonds’ pink hues and are a defining feature of these gemstones.
Origin from the Kimberley Region:
  • Remarkably, over 90% of all pink diamonds ever discovered have been sourced from a single mine located in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
  • This mine, known for its pink diamonds, has played a significant role in the global supply of these rare gemstones.
Formation of Pink Diamonds:
  • Pink diamonds trace their origin to geological events that occurred approximately 1.8 billion years ago.
  • The collision of Western Australia and Northern Australia, a cataclysmic event, is believed to have initiated the transformation of colorless diamonds into pink varieties.
  • Scientists have found that diamonds at the Argyle mine in Western Australia crystallized deep within the Earth’s interior and were brought to the surface during the geological process.
  • As continents separate and stretch during the breakup, small pockets of diamond-rich magma ascend to the surface, resulting in the emergence of pink diamonds.
  • These natural processes, coupled with the unique geological history of the Kimberley region, contribute to the formation and extraordinary rarity of pink diamonds, making them one of the most prized gemstones globally.

About Nuna

  • Nuna, an ancient supercontinent, holds a significant place in Earth’s geological history. Here are key details about Nuna:
  • Ancient Supercontinent:
  • Nuna was an enormous landmass that once existed on Earth’s surface.
  • It is estimated to have existed approximately 1.6 to 2.5 billion years ago, making it significantly older than the more well-known supercontinent, Pangea.
Geological Data and Research:
  • Scientists and researchers study Nuna’s formation by analyzing geological and paleomagnetic data from Earth’s distant past.
  • These data sources provide valuable clues about the supercontinent’s existence and evolution.
Assembly of Landmasses:
  • Nuna is believed to have assembled by bringing together landmass fragments that now constitute regions such as North America, northern Europe, and parts of Siberia.
  • The process of Nuna’s formation involved multiple cycles of landmasses coming together and then breaking apart.
Geological Transformations:
  • Each phase of Nuna’s assembly and dispersal led to significant changes in Earth’s surface.
  • These transformations gave rise to new geological formations and laid the groundwork for the development of future continents.
Influence on Earth’s Atmosphere:
  • Nuna’s formation had a profound impact on Earth’s early atmospheric conditions.
  • Increased volcanic activity during Nuna’s existence released substantial amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
  • This volcanic activity played a crucial role in shaping the planet’s early atmospheric composition, potentially influencing the course of life on Earth.

-Source: Indian Express

December 2023