CURRENT AFFAIRS – 07/06/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS - 07/06/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 07/06/2023

A global order as technology’s much needed pole star

Ever since the Dot-com bubble burst in 2000, the rapid scale and pace of development of technology have, radically and disruptively transformed our societies and daily lives. While there is no denying that this has made life easier, it has also thrown up complex challenges that call for a revisit of some fundamental notions in polity and governance.

Challenges to notion of nation-state

First, as defined by political theorists, a nation-state is a territorially-bounded sovereign polity. However, this fundamental notion of a nation-state of a geographical unit in which citizens live is undergoing a massive change because of technology. While geographical boundaries are still essential to be safeguarded against physical aggression/invasion, there are now several externalities occurring across the borders of nation-states, i.e. cyber-attacks, which have a ripple effect on the physical boundaries to challenge their socio-economic and political existence. The advent of Web3, massive peer-to-peer networks and blockchains has allowed actors, both state and non-state, to influence areas such as trade, commerce, health and education even while remaining outside of financial and judicial scope.

Second, geography-based rules are no longer easily enforceable simply because of the declining significance of conventional geographical borders in the era of high technology. Now, any form of “virtual activity” is not confined to the realms of the borders of a country; data travel on the chain of the world wide web and spread across the world at speed hitherto unimaginable. More importantly, when such activities fall foul of the laws of a particular geographically-determined nation-state, it is extremely difficult in the absence of a globally-accepted norm, to enforce the law in that particular geography and book the recalcitrant actors under the laws of the nation-state. It is difficult to collect incontrovertible evidence without cooperation from other geographies. So, when the national sovereignty of countries is challenged by activities beyond their physical boundaries, their existing constitutionally set-up institutions comprising the executive, legislature and judiciary will prove inadequate in tackling them. Further, it is also difficult to establish applicability of any country-specific legislation due to the universal nature of technology, leading to problems in enforceability.

Third, the emergence of newer technologies has exposed the incapacity and inability of the government of the nation-state to administer and regulate these technologies. No longer is the nation-state the only conduit through which multinational corporations, non-governmental organisations and supranational organisations, both legitimate and illegitimate, state and non-state actors, need to operate. These entities have transcended physical boundaries to collaborate with the rest of the world, independent of traditional administrative and regulatory institutions. For instance, topographical maps, which used to be produced by public and military institutions, are now available entirely by private non-state actors, such as Apple or Google Maps.

Governing complexities and technology

On the economic side, “with a valuation of more than $4,100 billion, the five largest American tech companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft) have symbolically surpassed Germany’s GDP (the world’s fourth largest economy) in terms of valuation”. One of the most important levers of these companies is data and their use.

This means that data “have become the most important raw material of our times, and only a handful of companies now hold unparalleled economic power and influence over it. These are the meta-platforms: their huge size allows them to constantly increase the amount of information they analyse and refine the algorithms they use to influence, if not control, us and our activities”. Thus, as reiterated by India in the past at various international fora, “the borderless nature of technology, and, more importantly, anonymity of actors involved, have challenged the traditionally accepted concepts of sovereignty, jurisdiction/regulation, and privacy”. In such a scenario, a principle-based global order for technology would help in streamlining the enforceability challenges in the adoption and diffusion of technology and providing guidance to emerging economies on how to deal with the evolving definitions of their sovereignty. Further, as we have seen in case of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way forward in managing future global pandemics is probably by the adoption of digital health. But what will the meaning of this digital health framework be if we cannot have a data-sharing ecosystem based on privacy, free flow of data, and a global regulatory system trusted by all countries/nation-states, particularly developing countries? Therefore, India needs a data transfer and data privacy law. But these laws, in isolation, will only be able to do so much unless a global principle-based regulation architecture trusted by all countries facilitates it.

I espoused this approach in Parliament (on the need for a global order for the deep Web, crypto, or regulations for cross-border data flow). Even the Finance Minister while addressing a meeting with the International Monetary Fund on the guidelines of a G-20 event on virtual private digital assets, emphasised the need to have a globally-coordinated approach to the regulation of digital assets such as crypto-currencies, given the potential risks they pose to the world’s financial ecosystem.

With India, as the current chair of the G-20, this is the perfect opportunity to take leadership in this as it has done earlier in green initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance or the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

The views expressed are personal

Given the borderless nature of technology and the anonymity of the actors involved, India, as the G-20 chair, can take the lead in shaping this

Facts about News

Data Localisation-

  • Data localisation, in general, refers to the process of physical storage of data within the national boundaries of the country, where its processing is done at the local level, within the country, governed by the laws of the land.
  • The most important aspect of data localisation is having control over our own datawhich makes the country more resistant to issues around privacy, information leaks, identity thefts, security etc.

What are the Advantages of Data Localisation?

  • Protects Privacy and Sovereignty:
  • Monitoring of Laws & Accountability:
  • Ease of Investigation:
  • Jurisdiction & Reduction in Conflicts:
  • Economic Aspect and Increase in Employment:

Seeing India’s energy transition through its States

Bharath Jairaj

is at World Resources Institute India

In the upcoming G20 forum, India is planning to propose a multiple energy pathways approach to accommodate the diverse contexts and development trajectories of countries. The diversity of India’s States, which necessitates multiple pathways, will determine its own domestic energy transition. India’s global climate pledges — 50% non-fossil electricity generation capacity by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2070 — are backed by domestic energy targets at the national level. Can these targets drive actions at the State level? How do we engage with State-level conditions and priorities?

States are critical actors in India’s energy transition as there is a multi-tier governance of energy production and usage. An effective transition will require bridging the ambitions and implementation gaps between the Centre and the States. Simultaneously, national ambitions need to factor the varying incentive structures, processes, and institutional capacities at the State level.

Why States matter

India’s achievements on its 2022 target for 175 GW renewable energy offer some insights into the complexities. While it achieved a significant portion of the target, only Gujarat, Karnataka, and Rajasthan met their individual targets. Moreover, about 80% of the current renewable energy capacity is confined to Six states in the west and south of India.

In a federal setting, States matter for four functions critical to energy transition. First, States as spheres of implementation are critical to the realisation of national targets. While the Centre may set goals, and use carrots and sticks to help achieve them, the realisation of these goals often depends on how they are aligned with State priorities and capabilities. Second, the legacy issues in the electricity sector, such as high losses, unreliable supply and service quality, if left addressed, could be exacerbated by the transition. These are embedded in the State political economy and must be addressed at the State level. Third, States as laboratories of policy innovations have been instrumental to India’s energy transition. For example, early initiatives by Gujarat and Rajasthan on solar, and Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu on wind energy technologies, have contributed significantly to renewable energy uptake at the national level. Similarly, PM KUSUM is an adoption of successful State experiments on the solarisation of agriculture at a national scale. Fourth, States could also be roadblocks to national goals, particularly when the goals are perceived to be misaligned with State priorities.

While India has set laudable goals for its energy transition and has been working towards creating incentives and enforcement mechanisms, a critical next step is to engage with diverse State contexts, capabilities, and priorities. These are shaped by the interplay between multiple drivers, barriers, and enablers, including available techno-economic options, fiscal space, and social and political imperatives. In the context of energy transition, one such factor is cross-sectoral inter-linkages, constraints, and opportunities for transition. These inter-linkages are being recognised in the policy discourse. For example, there are analyses on how electric vehicle penetration and urbanisation will affect energy demand patterns or how promotion of transport modal shifts and green buildings can enable the energy transition.

These are steps in the right direction. However, an effective transition requires multi-scalar planning and execution strategy, consideration of inter-linkages and implications, and cross learning. Examples of such considerations include whether State targets add up to meet national goals, managing renewable energy-enabled load migration, the changing role of institutions, how these will affect legacy issues, and the resources required to deal with these implications.

States are important entry points to engage with policy visions, plans and actions. Central mandates to update the State Action Plans on Climate Change, recommendations to set up State-level steering committees for energy transitions, and regular meetings of the Central and state energy ministers reinforce the importance of States. Central agencies have also developed multiple indexes that rank States on different aspects of energy transition. While important, these efforts primarily focus on outcomes. We need to complement this with analysis of State-level preparedness for energy transition.

A State-level framework

As a complement to the techno-economic discourse, there is a need for a State-level framework to understand plans, actions, and governance processes towards an energy transition. Applying such a framework will enable an expedited transition in multiple ways. First, it helps to broaden the transition discourse from a narrow set of outcomes and to include the processes that shape the outcomes. Understanding the effects of transitions on transparency and accountability in processes, and affordability and reliability of services, particularly what works under what conditions, is crucial. Second, it leads to greater transparency which could enable participation of stakeholders in the processes and ensure public legitimacy and buy-in to complex decisions. Finally, seeing the energy transition through State preparedness would create a greater sensitivity to State-level diversities on priorities, capacities, and opportunities in the national policy discourse, and thus enable more evidence-based policy choices towards a pragmatic, yet accelerated, scale and pace of energy transition.

Ashwini K. Swain

is at the Centre for Policy Research

Ann Josey

is at Prayas

(Energy Group)

Shantanu Dixit

is at Prayas (Energy Group)

States are critical actors in India’s energy transition as there is a multi-tier governance of energy production and usage

Facts about News


  • Global Status Report (GSR 2022) presents a world map of country shares of renewable energy for the first time and emphasizes development in some of the top nations.
  • A record 135 nations made the commitment to attain net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021.
  • However, only 84 of these nations had targets for renewable energy across the whole economy, and only 36 had targets for 100% renewable energy.
  • REN21 (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century)published the Renewables 2022 Global Status Report (GSR 2022). India was in third place behind China and Russia in terms of renewable energy installations in 2021.
  • India is the world’s 3rdbiggest renewable energy producer (136 GW out of 373 GW) of total installed energy capacity in 2021 coming from renewable sources.
  • India has been ranked 5thfor installed hydroelectric power capacity. As of 31 March 2020, India’s installed utility-scale hydroelectric capacity was 45,699 MW, or 12.35% of its total utility power generation capacity. The following is the breakup of the total installed capacity for Renewables, as of 31 December 2021-
  • Small Hydro Power: 4.83 GW
  • Large Hydro: 46.51 GW
  • Wind power: 40.08 GW
  • Solar Power: 49.34 GW
  • Biopower: 10.61 GW


In 2019 India announced that it would take up its installed capacity of renewable energy to 450 GW by 2030.

  • India was the first nation in the world to establish a ministry of non-conventional energy resources, which is today known as the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), which was founded in 1992. The Solar Energy Corporation of India, one of its public sector enterprises, is in charge of developing the solar energy sector in India.
  • According to the Central Electricity Authority’s strategy framework, the nation wants to generate 57% of its total electricity from renewable sources by 2027. India plans to have 275 GW of renewable energy, 72 GW of hydroelectricity, 15 GW of nuclear energy, and roughly 100 GW from other zero-emission sources by 2027, according to its 2027
  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is a group of 121 nations that was founded by India. The majority of these nations are sun-drenched countries that are entirely or partially located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. In order to lessen reliance on fossil fuels, the alliance’s main goal is to promote efficient solar energy.
  • Biomass-based fuels are more calorie-dense and cleaner than conventional biomass. The government is also aiming for bio-CNG cars with a 20% petrol blend. Biomass energy production is preferable since it will clean up urban areas and lessen our reliance on foreign energy.
  • The Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) schemeis another initiative of the Government of India with respect to enhancing the manufacturing sector for the production of raw materials for renewable energy.
  • PM KUSUM: Farmers in the nation are encouraged to build solar pumps, grid-connected solar power plants, and other renewable energy sources. By 2022, the plan seeks to install 25,750 MW of solar and other renewable energy capacities.
  • SRISTIis a program for sustainable rooftop implementation for solar transformation in India. The country’s beneficiaries will receive a financial incentive from the central government in exchange for establishing solar power plant rooftop.

Why is there trouble in Kosovo again?

Where do the roots of tensions between Kosovo and Serbia lie? What happened after Kosovo declared independence in 2008? What triggered the recent clashes? Where do the EU-brokered resolution talks stand? What role does Russia, NATO and the EU play in the conflict?


The story so far:

In the aftermath of one of the worst escalation of tensions between Kosovo and Serbia in at least a decade, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) last week sent 700 more of its peacekeeping troops to Kosovo. Clashes broke out on May 29 between Serbs protesting in North Kosovo and the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFor), leaving about 30 NATO soldiers and 50 Serbs injured. Since then, the Presidents of Serbia and Kosovo have met once on June 1 under pressure from the European Union (EU) in the presence of French and German leaders. However, a resolution to the long-standing conflict remains uncertain.

What are the roots of the conflict?

Both Kosovo and Serbia lie in the Balkans, a region of Europe made up of countries that were once a part of the erstwhile Republic of Yugoslavia. Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, unilaterally declared Independence in 2008 and is recognised as a country by about 100 nations including the U.S. and a number of EU-member countries.

Serbia, however, does not recognise Kosovo’s sovereignty and continues to consider it as a part of itself despite having no administrative control over it. Serbia sees historic significance in Kosovo. The Serbian Empire had gained control of Kosovo in the 12th century, and the latter went on to become the heart of the kingdom with several Serb Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries of significance being built in Kosovo.

Serbia lost Kosovo for 500 years to the Ottoman Empire in the 1389 Battle of Kosovo. During the Ottoman Rule, the ethnic and religious balance shifted in Kosovo, leading it to become a majority ethnic Albanian region with Muslims. After five centuries of Ottoman rule, Kosovo became part of Serbia in the early 20th century and post the Second World War, it was eventually made a province (with autonomy) of Serbia, which was then one of the six republics of Yugoslavia. Serbia considered this the rightful return of Kosovo, but the ethnic Albanians, who currently make up 90% of Kosovo’s population considered it unfair. In the 1980s, Kosovo Albanians increasingly mobilised and sought separation from Serbia. In 1989, Serbia’s autocratic leader Slobodan Milošević leveraged Serbian nationalism to consolidate power and stripped Kosovo of its autonomy.

In the late 1990s, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), consisting mainly Kosovo Albanians, led an insurgency against the Serbian rule of Kosovo. Serbia responded by cracking down on the rebellion by deploying heavy forces in 1998 and 1999. Nearly 13,000 lives, mainly of ethnic Albanians, were lost during this period. However, in 1999, NATO intervened by carrying out air raids and bombardment of Serb targets, forcing Serbia to end hostilities and pull out of Kosovo. Subsequently, NATO deployed 50,000 peacekeepers and through the UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1244, a transitional UN-led administration began to head Kosovo. In 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. While Serbia challenged Kosovo’s actions before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the ICJ was of the opinion that Kosovo’s declaration was not against international law.

What has happened since 2008?

Currently, an ethnic Serb minority of more than 50,000 resides in multiple municipalities in the northern part of Kosovo bordering Serbia, making up about 5.3% of the country’s population. The Kosovo Serbs do not recognise Kosovo state institutions, receive pay and benefits from Serbia’s budget, and pay no taxes either to Pristina, the capital of Kosovo or Belgrade, the Serbian Capital.

Since 2008, clashes have broken out on and off in Kosovo’s northern region, either when Serbs have clashed with Kosovo’s police or due to the larger issue of Serbia not recognising Kosovo’s independent status. Meanwhile, Kosovo cannot become a member country of the UN without Serbia’s approval as it has its diplomatic allies in Russia and China who would veto such a decision.

In 2011, EU, backed by the U.S, initiated talks to resolve the conflict between the two countries, offering the prospect that the two could only become a part of the EU if they bilaterally normalised relations. In 2013, the two reached the Brussels Agreement brokered by the EU, which included measures to dismantle Serbia-backed parallel structures in Kosovo’s north and the creation of the Association of Serb Municipalities to administratively link Kosovo’s 10 Serb-majority municipalities. While the agreement was not fully implemented on the ground, the participation of Serbs in elections was facilitated.

In July 2022, violent clashes broke out in the northern region over the issue of Kosovo asking Serbians drivers to use temporary Kosovo number plates for their vehicles when in the country, just like Serbia requires Kosovo vehicles to change number plates when they pass through or travel in Serbia. The ethnic Serbs in the north then staged protests and put up blockades at the two border entry points between Serbia and Kosovo. These are the only points through which Kosovo citizens can travel to Western Europe and engage in trade. Clashes once again escalated in December last year with the Kosovo Serbs putting up more barricades and Serbia warning that it was ready near the border with its combat troops.

What prompted the recent clashes?

In April this year, Kosovo held mayoral elections in municipalities. These elections were boycotted by ethnic Serbs in the northern municipalities and saw only about a 3% turnout, as a result of which ethnic Albanian mayors got elected in these municipalities. Notably, protesting the July 2023 move by Kosovo asking for a change of number plates, ethnic Serb mayors in northern municipalities, along with local judges and 600 police officers had resigned in November and opposed fresh elections to their posts.

Over a week ago, with the support of the Kosovo police, ethnic Albanian mayors took office in northern Kosovo’s Serb-majority area and faced protests by Serbs. The move by Kosovo to install Albanian members led the U.S. and its allies to rebuke Pristina, as it triggered clashes. Then on May 29, violent clashes took place between NATO soldiers and Serb protesters.

Where do the resolution talks stand?

So far, the dialogue has produced over 30 mostly technical and some political agreements, between Serbia and Kosovo. Since late 2015, there has been little progress in reaching new agreements or implementing existing ones. In 2018, former Kosovo President Thaçi and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić had proposed redrawing borders and swapping some territories between the two countries as a way of normalising ties but the EU rejected it saying it would open the Pandora’s box of territorial claims in parts of Europe.

The talks were suspended in 2018 due to Kosovo’s imposition of 100% tariffs on Serbian goods in response to the latter’s campaign to block Kosovo’s Interpol membership bid.

In March this year, both Serbia and Kosovo tentatively agreed to EU’s plan which proposed that Belgrade should stop lobbying against Kosovo’s candidature in international organisations including the United Nations. In turn, Kosovo was to form an association of Serb-majority municipalities. Additionally, both sides were to also open representative offices in each other’s capital to help resolve outstanding disputes. However, the two parties eventually walked out of singing the deal as Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti faced nationalist opposition for not being assertive enough while Serbia’s populist leader Mr.Vučić was criticised back home for engaging in a compromise. Talks have also stalled because both sides now doubt the EU’s seriousness about granting them membership as many of the EU countries, including France, are against the bloc’s further expansion.

What about Serbia’s ties with Russia?

Kosovo’s current leader and the West are also concerned about Serbia’s strong historic and military ties with Moscow and its political closeness with President Vladimir Putin who has maintained support for the Serbian claim. The concerns have intensified after the start of the Ukraine conflict and Mr. Kurti has warned of a spillover in the Balkans backed by Russia. Besides, Serbia’s dependence on Russia for diplomatic support to counter Kosovo’s bids at the UN puts Moscow in a position of influence. The Carnegie Endowment paper on the issue points out that Kremlin also “fears that ending the conflict between Serbia and Kosovo will diminish Russia’s stature in Serbia and severely undermine its clout in the Balkans”.

What next?

Since the Presidents of both sides met on June 1, Kosovo has indicated that a solution for de-escalation is close and it is open to holding fresh elections in Serb dominant municipalities, provided they are held in a free and fair manner, without Belgrade pressuring ethnic Serbs to boycott the vote.


Clashes broke out on May 29 between Serbs protesting in North Kosovo and the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFor), leaving about 30 NATO soldiers and 50 Serbs injured.

Both Kosovo and Serbia lie in the Balkans, a region of Europe made up of countries that were once a part of the erstwhile Republic of Yugoslavia. Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, unilaterally declared Independence in 2008. Serbia, however, does not recognise Kosovo’s sovereignty.

Kosovo’s current leader and the West are also concerned about Serbia’s strong historic and military ties with Moscow and its political closeness with President Vladimir Putin who has maintained support for the Serbian claim.

Submarine deal can be a flagship project, says German Minister

Boris Pistorius

India and Germany discussed the progress of a deal for the procurement of six advanced conventional submarines by the Indian Navy under Project-75I, visiting German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on his talks with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh while making a strong pitch for German company Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (TKMS).

Seeking concrete cooperation projects, he said the submarine deal could become a “flagship project” while stating they wanted to intensify military cooperation with other branches of the Navy and the Air Force.

On Tuesday, the two Ministers held talks during which Mr. Singh called for German investments in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu defence corridors. This is the first visit of a German Defence Minister to India since 2015.

Six submarines

“We are talking about a deal by TKMS, about six submarines, but of course the procedure is not finished yet but I think the German industry is at a good place in the race,” Mr. Pistorius said speaking to accompanying German media in Delhi. “The German defence industry, especially manufacturers, have an excellent reputation. But, of course, there are competitors, and that’s no secret. And it will be a question of who will prevail? It’s the same with us. And the armaments companies too.”

He said they supported the “Make in India” initiative and it has to be organised between companies on both sides. “Of course, my role is not that I sign contracts or bring them with me, but that I say that we, as the federal government, support the work of our defence industry and we will continue to do so in the future,” he stated adding that his impression is that their position can be rated as quite promising.

Facts about News 

Project 75

  • This project envisages indigenous construction of submarines equipped with the state-of-the-art Air Independent Propulsion systemat an estimated cost of Rs. 43,000 crore.
  • Project 75 (I),approved in 2007, is part of the Indian Navy’s 30 year Plan for indigenous submarine construction.
  • It will be the first under the strategic partnership modelwhich was promulgated in 2017 to boost indigenous defence manufacturing.

Project 75 – 6 Submarine Names List

  • Project 75 was aimed at building six conventional Scorpene-class attack submarines. The current status of the six submarines is as follows-
  • The first submarine under Project 75 was INS Kalvari. It was delivered in 2015 and joined the service in December 2017.
  • Within only two years, in September 2019, INS Khanderi, the 2nd submarine under Project 75, was deployed.
  • The third submarine, INS Karanj, was inducted in March 2021.
  • INS Vela, the fourth submarine under Project 75, joined the fleet in November 2021.
  • The fifth submarine, INS Vagir, commenced in November 2020 and is anticipated to be appointed by the latter quarter of 2022.
  • The sixth submarine completed under the project is INS Vagsheer. It is a reincarnation of the first Vagsheer, withdrawn from service in April 1997. The vessel is titled after the name of a fatal deep sea hunter in the Indian Ocean and was launched in April 2022.
  • Despite all the progress that has been made, Project 75 is still a long overdue project that should have been finished by now.

508 districts in country are free of manual scavenging: Ministry report

Centre has maintained in recent Parliament sessions that there are no manual scavenging deaths and attributed those to ‘hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks’; Budget makes no allocation for manual scavengers rehabilitation scheme

Despite stating over the past few years that manual scavenging had been eliminated in the country and the only remaining threat was the hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks, the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry has now said that only 508 of the 766 districts in the country have been declared free of manual scavenging.

The data were revealed in a booklet the Ministry has prepared to outline its achievements in the nine years of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. In almost every Parliament session in the past two years, the Ministry had denied manual scavenging deaths in the country. These deaths have been attributed to “hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks”.

Senior Ministry officials have differentiated manual scavenging from the hazardous cleaning of sewers, maintaining that the surveys conducted in 2013 and 2018 identified all existing manual scavengers (nearly 58,000) and hence, manual scavenging no longer existed in the country.

However, while releasing the booklet, the Ministry listed this as one of the achievements: “508 districts have reported themselves as manual scavenging-free.”

Responding to a direct question on why the other districts had not reported themselves as manual scavenging-free, Social Justice Minister Virendra Kumar said: “Whatever information has been received from the States, municipal bodies — all have said manual scavenging does not take place any more. They have all identified collectively over 58,000 manual scavengers… whoever has decided to do something else on their own, we are connecting them to skills training centres.”

According to the scheme for rehabilitation of manual scavengers, the 58,000 identified sewer workers have been given a one-time cash payout of ₹40,000 each. In addition, around 22,000 of them have been connected to skills training programmes. Subsidies and loans are available to any of them wishing to set up their own business, Dr. Kumar said. “We want to make manual scavenging deaths zero,” he said.

However, the scheme for rehabilitation of manual scavengers has now been merged with the NAMASTE scheme for 100% mechanisation of sewer work. The Union Budget for 2023-24 showed ₹100-crore allocation for the NAMASTE scheme and no allocation for the rehabilitation scheme.

On the scheme for mechanisation, Dr. Kumar said that collaboration was ongoing with other Ministries, and that the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry was doing the bulk of work in the current phase. The guidelines for this scheme are yet to be finalised, according to the Ministry. The scheme will require over 4,800 urban local bodies across the country to identify and profile all septic tank/sewer workers in their respective areas, provide them occupational training and safety equipment, and sign them up for health insurance under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, among other interventions.

To incentivise mechanisation, the scheme also provides for capital subsidies for workers willing to mechanise their work and become empanelled with the local body concerned.

Facts about News



  • It was launched in 2022 as a Central Sector Scheme.
  • The scheme is being undertakenjointly by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MoSJE)and aims to eradicate unsafe sewer and septic tank cleaning practices.


  • Zero fatalities in sanitation work in India.
  • All sanitation work is performed by skilled workers.
  • No sanitation workers come in direct contact with human faecal matter.
  • Sanitation workers are collectivised into Self Help Groups (SHGs) and are empowered to run sanitation enterprises.
  • Strengthened supervisory and monitoring systems at National, State and Urban Local Body (ULB) levels to ensure enforcement and monitoring of safe sanitation work.
  • Increased awareness among sanitation services seekers (individuals and institutions) to seek services from registered and skilled sanitation workers.

Unfazed by sanctions, Iran unveils new ‘hypersonic missile’ that can cover 1,400 km

Lethal weapon: The new hypersonic ballistic missile called ‘Fattah’ unveiled by Iran in Tehran on Tuesday.REUTERS

Iran claimed on Tuesday that it had created a hypersonic missile capable of travelling at 15 times the speed of sound, adding a new weapon to its arsenal as tensions remain high with the United States over it nuclear programme.

The new missile — called ‘Fattah,’ or ‘Conqueror’ in Farsi — was unveiled even as Iran said it would reopen its diplomatic posts on Tuesday in Saudi Arabia after reaching a détente with Riyadh following years of conflict.

“Today we feel that the deterrent power has been formed,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said at the event.

“This power is an anchor of lasting security and peace for the regional countries,” he said.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace programme, unveiled what appeared to be a model of the missile. Mr. Hajizadeh claimed the missile had a range of up to 1,400 km.

“There exists no system that can rival or counter this missile,” Gen. Hajizadeh claimed.

Missile’s trajectory

That claim, however, depends on how maneuverable the missile is. Ballistic missiles fly on a trajectory in which anti-missile systems like the Patriot can anticipate their path and intercept them.

Tuesday’s event showed what appeared to be a moveable nozzle for the ‘Fattah,’ which could allow it to change trajectories in flight. The more irregular the missile’s flight path, the more difficult it becomes to intercept.