27 Feb 2019: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis


A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
1. ‘What action can you take against political parties?’
2. Nagaland Assembly rejects citizenship Bill
C. GS3 Related
1. India bombs Jaish camp in Pakistan’s Balakot
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
1. The new order in West Asia (Geopolitics of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey)
2. Pushing boundaries (India’s Non-military, Preemptive Strikes on terrorist training camps in Pakistan)
3. Decolonising Chagos (International Court of Justice- decolonisation of Mauritius)
F. Tidbits
1. Declaring 5 year I-T returns a must for poll candidates
2. Assam to cut pay of staff who neglects parents
3. SC pitches for mediation in Ayodhya case
G. Prelims Facts
1. ‘Angkor did not suffer a sudden collapse’
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains practice Questions

A. GS1 Related

B. GS2 Related



1. ‘What action can you take against political parties?’


  • The Delhi High Court has sought the stand of the Election Commission of India (EC) on taking action against political parties, which do not comply with its instructions to disclose funding and expenditure details.

Details of the issue

  • The EC told the Bench that it has been consistently writing to the parties, which have not disclosed their expenditure.
  • “You wrote to them, but they have not complied. What further? When compliance has not been done, tell us what you propose to do? What powers do you have? Your response indicates helplessness on your part,” a Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V.K. Rao said.
  • The High Court directed the EC to file an affidavit indicating what powers or options it has to ensure implementation or enforcement of its guidelines regarding disclosure of expenditure by political parties and what steps it can take when there is violation of its norms.
  • The High Court was hearing a petition by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) seeking implementation of the guidelines as well as the Law Commission’s recommendation that a provision be enacted to monitor and regulate the expenditure by political parties during elections.
  • The NGO has alleged in its plea that since the present political system was being “funded through various illegal means and also by the people and corporate agencies with vested interests, it [political system] does not seem to be inclined to give effect to the recommendations of the Law Commission”.
  • Senior advocate Arvind Nigam and advocate Abhimanue Shrestha, appearing for ADR, said the Supreme Court has held that the EC has the power to give effect to the law panel’s recommendations.

Limitations of Electoral Reforms – 2017

The present government has introduced three major changes in the political funding

  • Cash Donations -The limit on cash donations has been reduced from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000. It is futile without a cap on the ‘total number of donors or total permissible cash donations’. Otherwise more number of entries will be made to the registry by breaking down bigger cash donations.
  • Electoral Bonds- Anonymous electoral bonds, in which a donor can conceal his political preferences were suggested. In the present format this would actually legalize nepotism & corruption to get favours done.
  • Corporate Funding -The cap on corporate funding which was earlier fixed at 7.5% of the average annual profit of a company for the preceeding three years has been removed. This can lead to gross extortions of business houses by political parties. It also will increase the power of big corporations to influence public policy.

Way Forward

  • Political parties need to be recognized as ‘public authorities’ under the RTI Act and be brought under RTI regulations.
  • Cash donations need to be completetly scrapped or a cap on the total amount receivable in cash donations needs to be fixed.
  • The value of electoral bonds that can be bought by a particular person or entity needs to be restricted.
  • Corporate funding of elections needs to be reduced by various caps & other regulations.
  • Public financing of elections is another major area which needs to be explored.

2. Nagaland Assembly rejects citizenship Bill


  • The Nagaland Assembly has passed a resolution rejecting the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, amid a walkout by 26 Opposition MLAs.
  • The resolution denounced the proposed Bill stating that it cannot be implemented in Nagaland as it will impact the “unique history and status of the Nagas under the Constitution”. It was moved by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.
  • The resolution also expressed solidarity with the States and communities of the Northeast in opposing the Bill, as it has the potential of “changing the demographic profile, which will be against the interest of indigenous tribes and can divest them of their constitutionally guaranteed political, cultural and economic rights”.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016

  • The Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 15, 2016, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to provide citizenship to illegal migrants, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian extraction.
  • However, the Act doesn’t have a provision for Muslim sects like Shias and Ahmediyas who also face persecution in Pakistan.
  • The Bill also seeks to reduce the requirement of 11 years of continuous stay in the country to six years to obtain citizenship by naturalisation.
  • According to the Citizenship Act, 1955, an illegal immigrant is one who enters India without a valid passport or with forged documents. Or, a person who stays beyond the visa permit.

C. GS3 Related



1. India bombs Jaish camp in Pakistan’s Balakot


  • Twelve days after the Pulwama attack, the Indian Air Force bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammad’s “biggest” terror training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot early.
  • The operation was carried out by 12 Mirage-2000 fighter jets, which unleashed five one-tonne bombs on the camp, based 70 km inside the Line of Control (LoC), in the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakthunkhwa.

Details of the attack

  • Senior officials citing intelligence inputs said the JeM facility was particularly crowded with 200-325 militants as many had abandoned launch pads and training camps closer to the LoC after the Pulwama attack in the expectation that India would not target Balakot.
  • The aerial attack on a target inside Pakistani territory marks a major shift in India’s counter-terror responses, which have thus far been restricted to ground operations across the LoC in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
  • Announcing the strikes, the government said it was a “non-military, pre-emptive” counter-terror operation against imminent threats from the JeM.
What does a non-military preemptive strike mean?

Why Balakot is a watershed?

  • The first time India has used airpower, and its first venture this deep inside Pakistan. The precedent also raises new challenges before the two countries in responding to each other.
  • First, the recent airstrikes by the Indian Air Force establishes a new threshold between the two nuclear neighbours for an Indian response to a terror attack. So far, India has either chosen to put diplomatic pressure on Pakistan (after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack), mobilise its armed forces (after the 2001 Parliament attack) or conducted limited ground-based operations (after the 2016 Uri attack) but has never used the Air Force, that too inside Pakistan.
  • The use of airpower has been taboo between the two countries, especially after both became declared nuclear powers in 1998, because of the dangers of escalation.
  • While Pakistan has threatened retaliatory action, the fact remains that a major red-line about use of airpower has been crossed by India now.
  • Restrictions around the use of airpower are best illustrated by the Kargil War, when the Vajpayee government allowed the IAF to be used, but did not allow it to cross the LoC. As much as it was about respecting the LoC and highlighting Pakistani incursions, it was also about the escalatory dangers of using airpower.
  • A more important reason making it a watershed is the extent of incursion. Indian operations after the 1971 War have always been limited to the Line of Control and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, never venturing into mainland Pakistan.

D. GS4 Related

 Nothing here today!!

E. Editorials



1. The new order in West Asia (Geopolitics of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey)

Editorial Analysis:

Larger Background:

  • When protests erupted on Arab streets in late 2010 and in 2011, felling deeply entrenched dictators such as Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, it was certain that the changes in government would alter the regional dynamics as well.
  • As a matter of fact, many experts thought the old order rooted in “stability”- a notion created through the decades-long unperturbed rule of single families or dictators, would be swept away by emerging democracies.
  • It is important to note that eight years later, the Arab world has changed, but not in the way many had predicted.
  • The structures of the old Arab world have been either destroyed or shaken, but without fundamentally altering the domestic politics in Arab countries.

Editorial Analysis:

Power Centres in the Arab Region: A Perspective

  • There have been multiple power centres in the Arab region, at least since the second half of the 19th century when the Ottoman Sultans shifted their focus from the East to the West.
  • The waning influence of the Ottomans in the Arab region created a vacuum which was filled by emerging regional leaders such as Muhammad Ali of Egypt, the Hashemites in central Arabia and the Mediterranean region, and the Al-Saud family in the Arabian peninsula.
  • In post-war West Asia, Egypt remained the most influential Arab country.
  • The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan maintained its influence in the Mediterranean region, while Saudi Arabia was confined to the Arabian peninsula.
  • When Egypt and Jordan were in relative decline, particularly after the 1967 war with Israel, Iraq rose under the leadership of the Baathists.
  • Saddam Hussein, who became Iraq’s President in 1979, was eager to don the mantle of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the former Egyptian leader who called for pan Arabism. Hussein launched a war with revolutionary Iran in 1980 on behalf of most Arab countries.
  • It is important to note that though there were deep divisions between these countries, one point of convergence was “stability”. Neither the monarchs nor the dictators in the Arab world wanted any threats to their grip on power.
  • This order started to age much before the Arab protests.
  • Hussein broke a taboo of non-aggression between Arab countries when he invaded Kuwait in 1990.
  • And in the year 2003, the American invasion of Iraq toppled him and buried his regime.
  • The Arab protests expedited the changes that were already under way.
  • Egypt went through a long period of instability starting in the year 2011. First, a revolution brought down Mr. Mubarak and took the Muslim Brotherhood to power. And then a counter-revolution by military leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took the country back to square one.
  • In the process, Egypt was beaten badly: the government lost moral authority; its regional standing weakened; and with economic problems mounting, a desperate Mr. Sisi went to the Gulf monarchs for help.

The reign of the Saudis: A Perspective

  • Saudi Arabia was generous in helping the Sisi regime.
  • The Saudis were initially shocked by the fall of Mr. Mubarak, a trusted ally, and the rise to power of the Brothers, Islamist republicans and sworn enemies of the Kingdom.
  • Both the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates wanted to get rid of Egypt’s elected government of President Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brother.
  • They backed the 2013 counter-revolution and helped Mr. Sisi tighten his grip on power with aid.
  • In the event, what we have now is a weaker Egypt ruled by a military dictator who’s increasingly dependent on the Saudi-UAE axis.
  • In the Arab world, Saudi Arabia doesn’t face a real challenge to its leadership now. The Saudis have been eager to take this leadership position.
  • They organised a massive Arab summit in May 2017 in Riyadh which was also attended by U.S. President Donald Trump.
  • The U.S. and the Arab nations also announced plans to create a Middle East Strategic Alliance, also referred to as the Arab NATO, which is a transnational Arab security entity under Saudi leadership.
  • The common enemy of this bloc is Saudi Arabia’s main geopolitical and ideological rival in the region, Iran.
  • It is important to note that Riyadh has been aggressive in taking on Iran in recent years, be it the anti-Iran campaign it is spearheading globally (in the U.S., Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman compared the Iranian regime to Hitler’s Nazi rule), the increasingly high military spend, or the desire to take on Iran’s proxies (interference in Lebanon’s politics or the war on Yemen).
  • Within the Arab world, Saudi Arabia has made it clear that it will not allow alternative power centres to rise, and never from its backyard.
  • The decision to blockade Qatar, which is a tiny Gulf country that has disagreements with Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy, could be seen against this backdrop. Besides Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Egypt had also joined the blockade, showing how dependent Cairo is on the Gulf axis.
  • Experts opine that there are no doubts in the fact that Saudi Arabia wants a united Arab front under its leadership that will contain Iran and maximise the Kingdom’s interests in West Asia and North Africa.

The Geopolitical Dynamics in a Multipolar region:

Perspective on Saudi Arabia:

  • In relative terms, Riyadh has consolidated its position among the Arab countries.
  • But its quest to become a major regional power faces serious challenges.
  • The problem begins with its own inexperience.
  • Saudi Arabia has never been an effective executioner of big ideas.
  • All these years, Saudi Arabia lay low, either behind other regional powers or under the wings of the U.S.
  • Now, as it has started taking a leadership position, its policies have gone awry.
  • The Qatar blockade is not reaching anywhere and the war in Yemen has been catastrophic.
  • Besides, the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate has been a public relations disaster.

Iran: A Perspective

  • It is also important to note that Iran is hardly a pushover.
  • Ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iranians have lived under threats and with a huge sense of insecurity, which prompted them to create networks of influence across the region.
  • Also, despite forging strong alliances and having a far stronger economy, Saudi Arabia has been unable to contain Iran’s influence. And it may not be able to do so in the future either, unless the Americans are ready for another major war in the region.

Turkey: A Perspective

  • There is a third pole in today’s West Asia: Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey. Turkey’s ‘Arab Spring’ bet may not have paid off as the political Islamist parties, which are aligned to the ruling Justice and Development Party, failed to consolidate power in the rebellion-hit countries, except Tunisia.
  • However, Turkey, which retreated from West Asia in the second half of the 19th century, is now shifting its focus back from Europe to the region.
  • It is also important to note that Turkey is a major defence and economic partner of Qatar, and has a strong presence in Syria through its proxies.
  • Turkey also used the Khashoggi murder to turn up heat on Saudi Arabia internationally.
  • While Turkey is not aligned with Iran either, it has shown willingness to cooperate with the Iranians on matters of mutual interest — such as the Kurdistan issue and the Syrian conflict — while its ties with Saudi Arabia have steadily deteriorated.

Concluding Remarks:

  • In conclusion, it is important to note that West Asia’s Muslim landscape is now multipolar: Saudi Arabia, as the leader of the Arab world, is trying to expand its influence across the region; Iran is continuing to resist what it sees as attempts to scuttle its natural rise; and Turkey is returning to a shaken region to re-establish its lost glory.
  • Experts opine that this multi-directional competition, if not confrontation, will shape West Asian geopolitics in the coming years.

2. Pushing boundaries (India’s Non-military, Preemptive Strikes on terrorist training camps in Pakistan)

Why in the news?

On 14 February 2019, a suicide terror attack was conducted by a Pak based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad, leading to the martyrdom of 40 brave jawans of the CRPF. JeM has been active in Pakistan for the last two decades, and is led by MASOOD AZHAR with its headquarters in Bahawalpur.

  • This organization, which is proscribed by the UN, has been responsible for a series of terrorist attacks including on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 and the Pathankot airbase in January 2016.
  • Information regarding the location of training camps in Pakistan and PoJK has been provided to Pakistan from time to time. Pakistan, however, denies their existence. The existence of such massive training facilities capable of training hundreds of jihadis could not have functioned without the knowledge of Pakistan authorities.
  • India has been repeatedly urging Pakistan to take action against the JeM to prevent jihadis from being trained and armed inside Pakistan. Pakistan has taken no concrete actions to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on its soil.
  • Credible intelligence was received that JeM was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country, and the fidayeen jihadis were being trained for this purpose.
  • In the face of imminent danger, a preemptive strike became absolutely necessary.
  • In an intelligence led operation in the early hours of the 26th of February, 2019, India struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated. This facility at Balakot was headed by MAULANA YOUSUF AZHAR (alias USTAD GHOURI), the brother-in-law of MASOOD AZHAR, Chief of JeM.
  • The Government of India is firmly and resolutely committed to taking all necessary measures to fight the menace of terrorism. Hence this non-military preemptive action was specifically targeted at the JeM camp. The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties. The facility is located in thick forest on a hilltop far away from any civilian presence.
  • The Government of Pakistan had made a solemn commitment in January 2004 not to allow its soil or territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India. India expects that Pakistan lives up to its public commitment and takes follow up actions to dismantle all JeM and other camps and hold the terrorists accountable for their actions.  

Editorial Analysis:

  • Experts opine that the Indian Air Force’s strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot delivers a robust but calibrated message.
  • The latter is manifest in New Delhi’s diplomatic utterances.
  • While the strikes followed the Pulwama attack by a couple of weeks, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale referred to the action as a “non-military pre-emptive strike”.
  • The phrase, “non-military pre-emptive strike” indicates the action was based on an assessment of an imminent threat, and had ensured that Pakistan’s military personnel and infrastructure were not targeted, and civilian casualties were actively avoided.
  • In effect, New Delhi’s line is that the operation was an intelligence-driven counter-terror strike rather than escalatory military aggression.
  • The government said all other options had been exhausted in making Islamabad keep its commitments since 2004 on curbing the activities of groups like the JeM.
  • There is no denying that the decision to send Mirage jets across the Line of Control (LoC) to fire missiles 70 km inside Pakistan represents a major shift. During the Kargil war in 1999, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had drawn a red line over the IAF crossing the LoC, to avoid international recrimination. This strike was carried out in Pakistani territory, not in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the theatre for retaliatory action in the past.

Has the JeM been set back?

  • It is still to be determined how far the JeM has been set back, but the strikes mark a new chapter with New Delhi’s willingness to push the war against terror into Pakistan territory.
  • The government has judged, perhaps correctly, that global opinion has shifted and there is little tolerance today for terror groups that continue to find shelter on Pakistan soil.
  • Significantly, with the exception of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, there has been no global criticism of India’s statement on the strikes, and most have just counselled restraint to both countries.

Reaction in Pakistan:

  • In Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for a joint session of Parliament and for its diplomats to raise the matter at international fora.
  • He has convened a meeting of the National Command Authority that oversees Pakistan’s nuclear policy.
  • However, Pakistan’s options are limited.
  • It could continue to deny that the Indian strike caused any damage on the ground, and obviate the need for retaliatory strikes; or it could escalate the situation with a military response.
  • It could also make a break from its past, and begin to shut down the terror camps on its soil, which would win friends internationally and ensure peace in the region.

Concluding Remarks:

  • Experts opine that the Modi government would do well to continue the restrained approach it has adopted after the latest operation, and avoid the triumphalism that clouded the ‘surgical strikes’ of September 2016.
  • With a response to Pulwama duly executed, it must reach out to residents of J&K who have borne the brunt of the jingoism unleashed after Pulwama.
  • In the long term, building strong counter-terror defences, partnering with its own citizens to gather intelligence, and creating deterrents will be key.

3. Decolonising Chagos (International Court of Justice- decolonisation of Mauritius)

Editorial Analysis:

  • Recently, the International Court of Justice in The Hague expressed that Britain’s continued administration of the Chagos archipelago is unlawful.
  • Experts opine that this development is a landmark event in the effort to decolonise the Indian Ocean and return the islands to Mauritius.
  • Britain’s reaction, however, was predictable and disappointing.
  • It said the ICJ’s is an advisory opinion it will examine, and stressed the security significance of the islands.
  • Since the late-1960s, the U.S. has maintained a military base on one of them, Diego Garcia.
  • In 2016, Britain extended the lease to the U.S. till 2036 even as it said it would return the islands to Mauritius when no longer needed for defence purposes.

Certain Specifics:

  • The court in a majority opinion, which included Judge Dalveer Bhandari of India, said decolonisation of Mauritius “was not lawfully complete” when it attained independence because Britain carved away the Chagos Archipelago from it and retained control over it.
  • The opinion, which is non-binding, handed down by the majority of 13 judges said Britain “is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible”.
  • The sole dissenter was American Judge Joan E. Donoghue.
  • It is important to note that Britain is not represented on the ICJ Bench after it withdrew the nomination of Judge Christopher Greenwood for re-election in 2017 when he could not get majority votes in the General Assembly against Bhandari.
  • The court gave the opinion at the request by the UN General Assembly made in a 2017 resolution. Vehemently opposed by the US and Britain, the resolution received the vote of 94 countries while 15 voted against it and 65
  • Britain opposed the referral to the court saying it was a bilateral matter with Mauritius and indicated it would reject it. There is unlikely to be any challenge to the US Diego Garcia base from Mauritius, either.

Stand taken by Mauritius:

  • Mauritius has made it clear that it does not intend to jeopardise the future of the military base.
  • The agreement to allow Britain to administer the Chagos islands came in 1965, three years before Mauritius gained independence.
  • Mauritius says Britain had made it a pre-condition for independence.
  • This was endorsed by the ICJ, which noted that given the imbalance between the two, the agreement did not amount to “freely expressed and genuine will”.
  • It is a damning assessment of colonial legacies and the attempt by former colonial powers to justify or ignore the indefensible on the basis of ‘agreements’.
  • Britain has tried to block Mauritius’s claim to the islands at every stage, first by attempting to defeat a UN General Assembly vote in 2017 calling on the ICJ to deliver its opinion.
  • When it lost this, London questioned the court’s jurisdiction and Mauritius’s version of how the deal had been thrashed out.
  • However, Mauritius has had many countries on its side, including India.
  • It is important to note that in written and oral submissions before the court, India has insisted that historical facts were not with Britain’s interpretation and that its continued administration of the islands meant the process of decolonisation had not been completed.
  • In an ideal world, Britain would be compelled to hand the islands to Mauritius. However, as the opinion against the construction of the separation wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2003 demonstrates, ICJ advisories are not always acted on.

Concluding Remarks:

  • Experts opine that at the very least, Britain should show it respects the court’s view and Mauritius’s sovereignty, and make significant concessions — starting with matters ranging from fishing rights to compensation for the Chagossians, who have suffered through all of this.
  • The ICJ ‘opinion’ draws the line on what is expected from Britain for it to be a global nation in tune with the new world order. It announces that the world has moved on from passive acceptance of the injustices of empire.

F. Tidbits


1. Declaring 5 year I-T returns a must for poll candidates

  • The Central government has issued a notification making it mandatory for candidates to declare total income as shown in their Income-Tax Returns (ITR) for the last five years, and that of their spouses, dependents and the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), as recommended by the Election Commission.
  • The notification states that changes have been made to the Form-26 affidavit, which is submitted with the nomination paper, in consultation with the Election Commission. From now on, candidates will also have to provide their Permanent Account Number (PAN).
  • Details to be shared should also include the interest in or ownership of offshore assets, including all deposits or investments in foreign banks and any other body or institution abroad, and details of all assets and liabilities in foreign countries, held by the candidates, their spouses, dependents and HUFs.
  • The Commission had suggested the changes following a recent meeting with the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on various issues, including the recommendation for making public the income verification report of the candidates. After the ITR papers become part of the affidavit, the information will be in the public domain.

2. Assam to cut pay of staff who neglects parents

  • The Assam government formed a three-member commission for hearing cases under a pay-cut policy envisaged to make its employees take care of their dependent elderly parents and physically challenged siblings.
  • The three-member PRANAM (Parents Responsibility and Norms for Accountability and Monitoring) Commission is headed by Chief Commissioner V.B. Pyarelal. Former MLA Alaka Desai Sarma and social worker Jugabala Buragohain are the two Commissioners.
  • “We hope the policy acts as a deterrent for employees who have been ignoring their parents and physically challenged siblings,” Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said at a programme to announce the panel.
  • Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had in 2017 said that such a law would be introduced to ensure parents are cared for.
  • Geriatric care was linked to the State government employees’ pay from the 2018-2019 fiscal. The policy, enforced on October 2 last year, said an employee would be liable to part with 10-15% of his or her pay if found guilty of ignoring their dependent parents and physically challenged siblings.
  • The deducted money would then be transferred to the bank account of a parent or sibling.
  • A few employees do turn a blind eye to the sufferings of their parents. The PRANAM Act was thus a welcome piece of law requiring a neglected parent to lodge a complaint in order to receive sustenance money from the pay of his or her ward.
  • The Commission’s job would be to weigh each complaint, hear both parties and decide whether or not an employee deserves to be penalised.

3. SC pitches for mediation in Ayodhya case

  • A five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, has proposed a court-monitored mediation process between the Hindu and Muslim parties litigating the Ayodhya dispute, asserting that both sides ought to give it a try even if there was only a “1% chance of success.”
  • Adopting a two-pronged approach, the Bench pitched the healing touch that an out-of-court settlement could provide, even as it went ahead with the preparations to finally hear the Ayodhya title suit appeals that have been pending in the court for almost nine years.
  • Justice S.A. Bobde explained that the mediation, if undertaken, would be confidential and court-monitored and would last eight weeks.
  • Observing that the dispute was “much more” than a mere property dispute and had dragged on for decades, the Bench said mediation might result in a permanent resolution.
  • The CJI also expressed the hope that mediation may help give a peaceful end to the volatile dispute between two faiths over the land where the Babri Masjid had once stood before it was demolished by kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.

G. Prelims Facts


1. ‘Angkor did not suffer a sudden collapse’


  • Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer empire, appears to have suffered a gradual decline rather than a catastrophic collapse, according to a study.
  • Archaeologists and historians have long sought to explain the 15th-century abandonment of Angkor, with many attributing it to the 1431 invasion by Thai forces from Ayutthaya.
  • “The historical record is effectively blank for the 15th century at Angkor,” said Dan Penny, a member of a team of Australian and Cambodian archaeologists and geographers who took part in the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


  • Angkor was the capital city of the Khmer Empire, which also recognized as Yasodharapura and flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries.
  • Angkor was a megacity, supporting at least 0.1% of the global population during 1010–1220. The city houses the magnificent Angkor Wat, one of Cambodia’s popular tourist attractions.
  • The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara, meaning “city”.
  • The Angkorian period began in AD 802, when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself a “universal monarch” and “god-king”, and lasted until the late 14th century, first falling under Ayutthayan suzerainty in 1351.
  • A Khmer rebellion against Siamese authority resulted in the 1431 sacking of Angkor by Ayutthaya, causing its population to migrate south to Longvek.
  • The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the Angkor Wat, said to be the world’s largest single religious monument.
  • Many of the temples at Angkor have been restored, and together, they comprise the most significant site of Khmer architecture.
  • Visitors approach two million annually, and the entire expanse, including Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom is collectively protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The popularity of the site among tourists presents multiple challenges to the preservation of the ruins.

  • In 2007, an international team of researchers using satellite photographs and other modern techniques concluded that Angkor had been the largest pre-industrial city in the world, with an elaborate infrastructure system connecting an urban sprawl of at least 1,000 square kilometres (390 sq mi) to the well-known temples at its core.
  • Angkor is considered to be a “hydraulic city” because it had a complicated water management network, which was used for systematically stabilizing, storing, and dispersing water throughout the area.
  • This network is believed to have been used for irrigation in order to offset the unpredictable monsoon season and to also support the increasing population.

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Question 1.With reference to Sukanya Samriddhi Scheme, consider the following statements:
  1. It is a scheme under Beti Bachao Beti Padhao initiative.
  2. The scheme allows deposit accounts only for girls above the age of 10 years.
  3. The account can also be opened in any post office.

Which of the above statement(s) is/ are correct?

  1. Only 1 and 3
  2. Only 2 and 3
  3. Only 1 and 2
  4. All of the above


Question 2. With reference to Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme, consider 
the following statements:
  1. It aims to improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years.
  2. Pregnant and lactating mothers also form a target group of the scheme.
  3. All components of ICDS are financed through a 60:40 ratio (central : state)

Which of the above statement(s) is/ are correct?

  1. All of the above
  2. Only 1 and 2
  3. Only 1 and 3
  4. Only 2 and 3


Question 3.With reference to Janani Suraksha Yojana, consider the following statements.
  1. It aims to reduce maternal mortality by promoting institutional delivery.
  2. It is a safe motherhood intervention under the Nationa Health Mission (NHM)

Which of the above statement(s) is/ are correct?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above



I. UPSC Mains practice Questions

  1. As countries around the world face the challenges of designing systems and delivering services that result in good health and well-being for their citizens, digital technologies can provide potential solutions. Explain the statement with relevant examples (12.5 Marks; 200 words)
  2. Electronic trading of medicines via online platforms, with appropriate regulatory safeguards, can bring in transparency and spur price competition among platforms and among retailers, as has been witnessed in other product segments. Examine the statement (12.5 Marks; 200 words)

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