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Current Affairs 29 September 2023


  1. Issues Surrounding Aadhaar in India
  2. Controversy Surrounding Women’s Reservation Bill of 2023 and OBC Quota
  3. Alarming Trends in Global Debt
  4. Gujarat bans Conocarpus plants
  5. National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)

Issues Surrounding Aadhaar in India


A recent Moody’s report on “Decentralized Finance and Digital Assets” highlights concerns about India’s large-scale digital identification program, noting that it frequently denies services to users. The report questions the reliability of biometric technology and raises privacy and security risks as well.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Highlights of Moody’s Report on Digital Identification Systems
  2. Government’s Response to Moody’s Report
  3. Challenges Associated with Decentralized ID Systems
  4. Aadhaar

Key Highlights of Moody’s Report on Digital Identification Systems:

Aadhaar and Worldline: Leading but Scrutinized Systems
  • Aadhaar and Worldline recognized as prominent digital ID systems in terms of scale and innovation.
  • Both systems have drawn scrutiny regarding privacy and security concerns.
Concerns About Aadhaar:
  • Aadhaar’s centralized data storage raises the risk of data breaches.
  • Adoption of Aadhaar for welfare program disbursement hampers effective implementation.
  • Biometric hurdles, including authorization and reliability issues, hinder Aadhaar’s effectiveness.
  • Aadhaar allows access to public and private services through fingerprint, iris scans, and OTPs.
  • Administered by UIDAI, Aadhaar aims to enhance welfare access for marginalized groups.
Challenges and Service Denials:
  • Service denials are common in the Aadhaar system.
  • Biometric technology reliability is questionable, particularly in hot, humid climates.
  • Moody’s advocates for decentralized ID systems, like blockchain-based digital wallets, for enhanced privacy control and reduced online fraud risks.

Government’s Response to Moody’s Report:

  • The government highlighted international recognition and praise for Aadhaar from institutions like the IMF and the World Bank. Several countries have also sought to learn from the UIDAI’s Aadhaar system.
  • The government clarified that Aadhaar seeding in the MGNREGS database doesn’t require worker biometric authentication.
  • Payments to workers under the MGNREGS scheme are directly credited to their accounts without biometric authentication.
Decentralized Systems:
  • In a centralized system, a single entity controls and manages a user’s identifying credentials and access to online resources.
  • This managing entity can use the user’s identity data for profiling purposes.
  • Decentralized ID (DID) systems, on the other hand, store personal data in the user’s digital wallet and verify identity on decentralized digital ledgers like blockchains.
  • DID enhances privacy and reduces personal information held by intermediaries.
  • Users manage their identity in portable digital wallets rather than relying on governments or entities.

Challenges Associated with Decentralized ID Systems:

  • Digital IDs, whether centralized or decentralized, can reinforce group identities and political divides, especially if offered by influential tech and social media companies.
  • Concentration of power within these entities could lead to control over individual identities, impacting digital interactions.
  • Such concentration may further polarize group identities and political affiliations, undermining a united and diverse digital space.


  • Aadhaar is a 12-digit individual identification number issued by UIDAI.
  • It serves as proof of identity and address within India.
  • The number is unique for each individual and remains valid for a lifetime.
Usage and Benefits:
  • Aadhaar facilitates access to various services, including banking and mobile phone connections.
  • It is accepted for both government and non-government services.
  • Aadhaar establishes an individual’s identity through demographic and biometric data.
Voluntary Service:
  • Aadhaar is a voluntary service available to all residents, regardless of their existing documentation.
  • It offers a convenient and widely recognized form of identification.

-Source: The Hindu

Controversy Surrounding Women’s Reservation Bill of 2023 and OBC Quota


The Women’s Reservation Bill of 2023 has sparked controversy because it does not include a reservation quota for Other Backward Classes (OBC) women. Critics are concerned about the underrepresentation of OBC individuals in important government roles.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Concerns Regarding OBC Representation
  2. Arguments in Favor of Reservation for Women from OBCs
  3. Arguments Against Reservation for Women from OBCs

Concerns Regarding OBC Representation:

  • The Women’s Reservation Bill of 2023, reserving 33% of seats for women in legislatures, excludes a quota for Other Backward Classes (OBC) women.
  • Unlike Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), the Constitution doesn’t provide political reservation for OBCs in the Lok Sabha or state assemblies.
  • Critics highlight the underrepresentation of OBCs, constituting 41% of the population, in legislative bodies at various levels.
  • OBCs have been demanding a separate reservation similar to SCs and STs, but legal and constitutional hurdles have hindered its implementation.
  • Some state governments like Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have provided OBC representation in local elections, but the Supreme Court’s 50% cap on reservations limits OBC reservation to 27%, which is seen as inadequate.
  • The 17th Lok Sabha has around 120 MPs from the OBC community, accounting for approximately 22% of the total strength.
Geeta Mukherjee Report:
  • The Geeta Mukherjee report was a comprehensive review of the Women’s Reservation Bill aimed at providing 33% reservation for women in legislatures.
  • It included several recommendations to improve the bill, such as reservation for a 15-year period, sub-reservation for Anglo Indians, inclusion of reservation where states have fewer seats, reservation for the Delhi assembly, and seats in Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils.
  • The report also proposed sub-reservation for OBC women after the Constitution extends reservation to OBCs.

Arguments in Favor of Reservation for Women from OBCs:

  • They face multiple forms of discrimination and oppression based on their caste, class, and gender, often being denied access to education, health, employment, political representation, and social justice.
  • OBC women constitute a large and diverse section of the population with different cultures, languages, religions, and regions, and having their representation can better address their unique needs and aspirations.
  • They have been historically underrepresented and marginalized in the political sphere at national and state levels, facing barriers like patriarchal norms, caste prejudices, violence, lack of resources, and low self-confidence.

Arguments Against Reservation for Women from OBCs:

  • The Women’s Reservation Bill already provides for the reservation of seats for SC/ST women, who are the most disadvantaged groups. Adding another quota for OBC women would reduce the seats available for general category women, who also face discrimination.
  • Having a separate reservation for OBC women might create divisions and conflicts within the women’s movement and undermine the solidarity and unity of women as a collective force.
  • Separate reservation may not address the root causes of their problems, such as poverty, illiteracy, violence, patriarchy, casteism, and corruption. It might not guarantee their effective participation and representation due to potential obstacles like tokenism and manipulation by male leaders.

-Source: The Hindu

Alarming Trends in Global Debt


Global debt has reached a historic high of $307 trillion in the second quarter of 2023, marking a significant increase of approximately $100 trillion over the past decade. Additionally, global debt as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is on the rise again, reaching 336%, following a previous decline that spanned seven consecutive quarters, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF).


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Global Debt?
  2. Reasons Behind Rising Global Debt:
  3. Concerns Regarding Growing Global Debt
  4. Addressing Debt Growth: Strategies and Actions

What is Global Debt?

  • Global debt encompasses the borrowing activities of governments, private businesses, and individuals on a worldwide scale.
  • Governments resort to borrowing to cover various expenditures that exceed their tax and revenue collections. This includes funding current expenses and servicing interest on existing debt.
  • The private sector primarily borrows to finance investments and expansion initiatives.
Regional Contributors to Debt Growth:
  • In the first half of 2023, advanced economies, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, and France, were responsible for over 80% of the increase in global debt.
  • Emerging market economies like China, India, and Brazil also experienced significant debt growth during this period.

Reasons Behind Rising Global Debt:

  • The growth in global debt can be attributed to factors like economic expansion, population growth, and increased government expenditure. During economic downturns, governments often increase borrowing to stimulate economic activity and provide financial support.
  • Despite expectations of reduced loan demand due to rising interest rates, total global debt increased by $10 trillion in the first half of 2023.
  • Over time, a gradual increase in debt levels is a common occurrence since the overall money supply typically expands each year across countries worldwide.

Concerns Regarding Growing Global Debt

Debt Sustainability Concerns

  • Rising debt can raise doubts about its sustainability when a country’s debt outpaces its economic growth.
  • This situation can make servicing the debt in the long term increasingly challenging, possibly necessitating extreme measures.

Fiscal Strain

  • High debt levels can strain a nation’s fiscal health as a significant portion of revenue goes toward servicing interest payments.
  • This reduces the available funds for crucial public services, infrastructure, and social welfare programs.

Limiting Effective Response

  • Elevated debt levels can limit a government’s ability to effectively respond to economic downturns.
  • It constrains fiscal policy options, making it difficult to implement stimulus measures during recessions.

Potential for Recession

  • Excessive debt may lead to a recession if the government’s debt burden becomes unmanageable.
  • This could result in reduced consumer spending, business investments, and overall economic growth.

Systemic Risks

  • A high concentration of debt in the financial system can pose systemic risks, especially if held by a few major institutions.
  • Defaults by significant borrowers could trigger a chain reaction affecting the stability of the entire financial system.

Global Interconnectedness

  • Global financial markets are interconnected, and a debt crisis in one region can swiftly spread to others.
  • This interconnectedness increases the potential for a global financial crisis if a major economy faces a severe debt issue.

Learnings from the 2008 Crisis

  • The 2008 global financial crisis followed an economic boom fueled by easy credit policies.
  • Excessive private debt levels often precede economic crises, emphasizing the importance of prudent borrowing practices and genuine savings to prevent future crises.

Impact of Rising Debt Levels

  • As debt levels rise, governments may encounter higher interest rates on new borrowings, exacerbating debt burdens.
  • Elevated interest rates can also lead to increased borrowing costs for businesses and individuals, hindering investment and consumption.

Potential for Government Defaults

  • In extreme cases, a government burdened by high debt levels may default on its obligations.
  • This can erode confidence in financial markets and impact global economic stability.

Inflationary Measures

  • To manage debt, governments may resort to inflationary measures, devaluing their currencies.
  • This approach can erode the real value of debt but may lead to higher prices for goods and services, negatively impacting consumers and businesses.

Addressing Debt Growth: Strategies and Actions

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Initiatives

  • The IMF, during the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meetings, discusses potential measures to enhance the Global Debt Architecture.

Comprehensive Debt Analysis

  • Conducting a thorough, impartial analysis of global debt issues is imperative.
  • This analysis should serve as a guide for debt restructuring decisions, including considering debt haircuts or loan losses to ensure sustainability and fairness.

Urgent Reforms for Financial Architecture

  • Implementing immediate reforms to bolster the international financial system, particularly in debt resolution.
  • Enhancing frameworks for debt restructuring, promoting transparency in debt-related transactions, and improving the efficiency of debt resolution mechanisms.

Support for Vulnerable Countries

  • Prioritize support for developing and low-income nations experiencing severe economic stress and limited policy flexibility.
  • Offer targeted financial assistance, debt relief, or customized restructuring solutions tailored to their unique circumstances.

Strengthening the Global Financial Safety Net

  • Enhance the global financial safety net’s capabilities to respond effectively to economic shocks and crises.
  • Optimize lending mechanisms, ensure swift fund disbursement, and increase accessibility to financial aid for countries in need.

Promoting International Collaboration

  • Encourage collaboration and cooperation among nations, international organizations, and financial institutions to develop comprehensive solutions.
  • Multilateral efforts can facilitate coordinated action, knowledge sharing, and resource pooling to effectively address debt challenges.

-Source: The Hindu

Gujarat bans Conocarpus plants


The Gujarat govt has banned the planting of ornamental Conocarpus trees in forest or non-forest areas, citing their adverse impacts on environment and human health. Earlier, Telangana too had banned the plant species.


GS III: Species in News

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Conocarpus plants
  2. Gujarat Bans Conocarpus Plants: Reasons and Similar Cases
  3. Similar Cases of Unfavorable Plant Species

Conocarpus Plants:

  • Conocarpus is a genus consisting of two species of flowering plants within the Combretaceae family.
  • These plants are commonly found in tropical regions across the world.
Two Distinct Species
  • Conocarpus erectus (Buttonwood or Button Mangrove)
    • A mangrove shrub that thrives along tropical and subtropical shorelines globally.
    • Popularly used in landscaping for gardens, parks, and indoor settings.
    • Exhibits rapid growth and minimal leaf shedding, making it suitable for creating natural green walls when pruned skillfully.
  • Conocarpus lancifolius
    • A tree species native to coastal and riverine areas in Somalia, Djibouti, and Yemen.
    • Found in various regions, including the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and South Asia.

Gujarat Bans Conocarpus Plants: Reasons and Similar Cases

Ban on Conocarpus Planting

  • The Gujarat government has imposed a ban on planting ornamental Conocarpus trees in both forest and non-forest areas.
  • Conocarpus, a fast-growing exotic mangrove species, had gained popularity in Gujarat for enhancing greenery.

Reasons for the Ban

  • Research reports have revealed adverse environmental and health impacts associated with Conocarpus.
  • The species blooms in winter, releasing pollen that leads to health issues like colds, coughs, asthma, and allergies in nearby areas.
  • The extensive root system of Conocarpus damages telecommunication lines, drainage systems, and freshwater networks.
  • The leaves of Conocarpus are unappetizing to plant-eating animals, affecting local ecosystems.

Similar Cases of Unfavorable Plant Species

  • Vilayati Kikar in Delhi
    • In 2018, the Delhi government initiated the removal of Vilayati Kikar from the Central Ridge, Delhi’s green lung.
    • This non-native tree was introduced in the 1930s by the British and quickly overtook native species, harming local biodiversity and water tables.
  • Eucalyptus in Kerala
    • British introduction of Eucalyptus to Munnar, Kerala, for use as fuel in tea plantation boilers had detrimental effects.
    • In 2018, Kerala’s forest department ceased acacia and eucalyptus cultivation in forests due to their negative impact on fodder availability and forest habitats.

-Source: Indian Express

National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)


The Central Government recently extended the tenure of senior bureaucrat Piyush Goyal as the chief executive officer of National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID).


GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Various Agencies and other interventions regarding Internal Security and their mandate), GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Policies and Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)
  2. Other Measure for tracking: Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS)

National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)

  • NATGRID initially started in 2009 is an online database for collating scattered pieces of information and putting them together on one platform.
  • It links at least 10 Central government Intelligence and investigation agencies, such as the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing and others have access to the data on a secured platform.
  • NATGRID is exempted from the Right to Information Act, 2005 under sub-section (2) of Section 24.
  • The NATGRID enables multiple security and intelligence agencies to access a database related to immigration entry and exit, banking and telephone details, among others, from a common platform.
  • The 10 user agencies will be linked independently with certain databases which will be procured from 21 providing organisations including telecom, tax records, bank, immigration etc. to generate intelligence inputs.

Other Measure for tracking: Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS)

  • Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) is a project initiated in June 2009 which aims at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing at the Police Station level. This will be done through adoption of principles of e-Governance, and creation of a nationwide networked infrastructure for evolution of IT-enabled state-of-the-art tracking system around “investigation of crime and detection of criminals”. CCTNS is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) under the National e-Governance Plan of Govt. of India.
  • The Full implementation of the Project with all the new components would lead to a Central citizen portal having linkages with State level citizen portals that will provide a number of citizen friendly services like Police Verification for various purposes including passport verification, reporting a crime including cyber-crime and online tracking of the case progress etc.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023