News Snippet

News 1: Centre ‘doubles’ fertilizer subsidy as prices see a surge

News 2: Protests in Leh, Kargil for statehood as Ladakh completes 3 years as U.T.

News 3: India- USA defence ties

News 4: Legislator’s disqualification from Assembly

News 5: Panamaram heronry in Kerala set to get a new lease of life

News 6: Shrinking of rhino horn

News 7: Ethiopian government, Tigray agree to end fighting after 2 years

Other important news:

  1. Accused cannot be compelled to provide computer password

News 1: Centre ‘doubles’ fertilizer subsidy as prices see a surge


Considering the huge increase in the prices of fertilizers in global market, the Centre has “doubled” the fertilizer subsidy for this rabi season. From the budget estimate of ₹21,000 crore of nutrient-based subsidy, the amount has been more than doubled.

Nutrient based subsidy

Ministry: Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers

The Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) Policy is being implemented w.e.f. 1.4.2010 by the Department of Fertilizers and under the said policy, a fixed amount of subsidy decided on annual basis, is provided on each grade of subsidized Phosphatic & Potassic (P&K) fertilizers depending on its Nutrient Content.


  • Total fertilizer subsidy for the rabi season, including ₹80,000 crore for urea, would be ₹1,38,875 crore and for both the rabi and kharif, the subsidy amount would be ₹2.25 lakh crore.
  • This is the highest subsidy so far. Last year it was ₹1.65 lakh crore. Commercial prices had doubled due to the Ukraine-Russia conflict and the logistics issues due to pandemic the Centre decided to double the subsidy component too.
  • While the requirement was 350 lakh tonnes, the production in the country was 250 lakh tonnes. Four new plants were coming up and nano urea would also replace the use of urea slowly.

News 2: Protests in Leh, Kargil for statehood as Ladakh completes 3 years as U.T.


Ladakh’s twin districts of Kargil and Leh witnessed street protests to press for demands of statehood and special status under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, as the region completed three years of Union Territory (UT) status this month.

Hundreds of protesters raised slogans such as “Home Minister pay attention, we are not begging” and “Pay attention, we are demanding our rights” and marched on the streets.

On January 6, 2021, the Union Home Minister constituted a committee under Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy to have a dialogue with the representatives from Ladakh “to find an appropriate solution to the issues related to language, culture and conservation of land in Ladakh”.

Demand for restoration of statehood

The KDA and Apex Body-Leh (ABL) have been jointly fighting for the restoration of statehood and special status on the lines of the rights granted to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to safeguard local culture, language and demography.

The government issued a notification empowering the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) of Ladakh to make rules for recruitment to the Public Services Group-A and Group-B Gazetted posts.

News 3: India- USA defence ties


Recently, a senior U.S. defence official said while stating that America is the best partner when it comes to sharing high-end technology and next-generation equipment while India diversifies its military arsenal ending heavy dependence on Russia. They want to be partner of choice for India.

Defence Technology Trade Initiative

According to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, DTTI came about to expedite the scope of cooperation on defence technology that become narrow due to the presence of differing bureaucratic processes and legal requirements. Essentially, DTTI is an initiative to provide “increased US senior level oversight and engagement to get beyond these obstacles.

What are its aims?

While DTTI is not a treaty or law, it is a flexible mechanism to make sure that senior leaders from both countries are engaged consistently to strengthen the opportunities in the field of defence. Its central aims include strengthening India’s defence industrial base, exploring new areas of technological development and expanding U.S.-India business ties.

News 4: Legislator’s disqualification from Assembly


Two Uttar Pradesh legislators were convicted on criminal charges in recent days, but only one of them has been disqualified and his seat declared vacant by the State’s Legislative Assembly secretariat. Azam Khan, the Samajwadi Party MLA for Rampur, was sentenced to a three-year jail term, for making an inflammatory speech in 2019.

As disqualification upon conviction on a criminal charge, accompanied by a prison sentence of two years and more is immediate, the Assembly secretariat declared his seat vacant.

However, there has been no such response in regard to Vikram Singh Saini, MLA from Khatauli, after he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in connection with the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013.

When does conviction attract disqualification?

Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951, contains provisions aimed at decriminalising electoral politics. There are two categories of criminal cases that attract disqualification upon conviction.

In the first category are offences that entail disqualification for a period of six years upon any conviction. If the punishment is a fine, the six-year period will run from the date of conviction, but if there is a prison sentence, the disqualification will begin on the date of conviction, and will continue up to the completion of six years after the date of release from jail.

Major IPC offences are included under this head:

  1. making speeches that cause enmity between groups (Sec.153A) and
  2. doing so in a place of worship (Sec.505),
  3. bribery and personation during elections and other electoral offences,
  4. offences relating to rape and cruelty to women by husband and latter’s relatives.

Besides, serious provisions of special laws such as the Protection of Civil Rights Act, Customs Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act etc are among the category of offences that entail disqualification regardless of the quantum of punishment. Laws for prevention of Sati, corruption, terrorism and insult to national flag and national anthem etc are also part of this group.

All other criminal provisions form a separate category under which mere conviction will not entail disqualification. A sentence of at least two years in prison is needed to incur such disqualification.

Is there legal protection for legislators against disqualification?

Under Section 8(4) of the RPA, legislators could avoid immediate disqualification until 2013. The provision said that with respect to a Member of Parliament or a State legislator the disqualification will not take effect for three months.

If within that period, the convicted legislator files an appeal or revision application, it will not take effect until the disposal of the appeal or application. In other words, the mere filing of an appeal against conviction will operate as a stay against disqualification.

In Lily Thomas vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court struck down clause (4) as unconstitutional, thus removing the protection enjoyed by lawmakers.

Can the disqualification be removed?

The Supreme Court has the power to stay not only the sentence, but also the conviction of a person. In some rare cases, conviction has been stayed to enable the appellant to contest an election.

However, the SC has made it clear that such a stay should be very rare and for special reasons. The RPA itself provides a remedy through the Election Commission. Under Sec. 11 of the Act, the EC may record reasons and either remove, or reduce the period of, a person’s disqualification.

The EC exercised this power for Sikkim Chief Minister P.S. Tamang, who served a one-year sentence for corruption, and reduced his disqualification so as to contest a byelection and remain in office.

UPSC Prelims 2020 question

Consider the following statements:

  1. According to the Constitution of India, a person who is eligible to vote can be made a minister in a state for six months even if he/she is not a member of that state.
  2. According to the Representation of People Act,1951, a person convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment for five years is permanently disqualified from contesting an election even after his release from prison.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer – Option d (Official UPSC Answerkey)

News 5: Panamaram heronry in Kerala set to get a new lease of life


The Panamaram heronry, the largest breeding ground of herons in Kerala’s Malabar region, is set to get a fresh lease of life, thanks to the intervention of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) and the Panamaram grama panchayat.

Panamaram heronry

The heronry, formed on a sandbank on the Panamaram river, is a breeding ground for nine species of waterbirds.

The site is also the only location in State where the cattle egret breeds. A few years ago birds like lesser whistling duck, jacanas, and moore bred on the wetlands near the site. However, human intervention has left a negative impact on the avian habitat.

News 6: Shrinking of rhino horn


The horns of rhinoceroses may have become smaller over time from the impact of hunting, according to a recent study which analysed artwork and photographs of the animal spanning more than five centuries.


We found evidence for declining horn length over time across species, perhaps related to selective pressure of hunting, and indicating a utility for image-based approaches in understanding societal perceptions of large vertebrates and trait evolution,” said the study, authored by scientists from the Universities of Helsinki and Cambridge, as well as the RRC.

Five species face threat

Rhinos have long been hunted for their horns. The five surviving rhino species are threatened by habitat loss and hunting.

The study found that the rate of decline in horn length was highest in the critically endangered Sumatran rhino and lowest in the white rhino of Africa, the most commonly found species in the wild and in captivity.

This observation follows patterns seen in other animals, such as tusk size in elephants and horn length in wild sheep, which have been driven down by directional selection due to trophy hunting, the study said.


Rhinos once roamed many places throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa and were known to early Europeans who depicted them in cave paintings. At the beginning of the 20th century, 500,000 rhinos roamed Africa and Asia.

By 1970, rhino numbers dropped to 70,000, and today, around 27,000 rhinos remain in the wild. Very few rhinos survive outside national parks and reserves due to persistent poaching and habitat loss over many decades. Three species of rhino—black, Javan, and Sumatran—are critically endangered. 

Habitat Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannahs and shrublands, tropical moist forests, deserts and shrublands

Role of Rhinos

Rhinos share their habitat with a multitude of other plant and animal species. The protection of rhinos also helps protect the ecosystems on which they depend, as well as other species, including elephants, buffalo, large carnivores, and antelopes that share their habitat.


Poaching: Poaching, driven by consumer demand for rhino horn primarily in Asia, poses the biggest threat to rhinos.


Although international trade in rhino horn has been banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES)—a global agreement between governments to follow rules to monitor, regulate, or ban international trade in species under threat—since 1977, demand has remained high and continues to fuel rhino poaching in both Africa and Asia. 

News 7: Ethiopian government, Tigray agree to end fighting after 2 years


Ethiopia’s warring sides agreed to a permanent cessation of hostilities in a 2-year conflict, but enormous challenges lie ahead, including getting all parties to lay down arms or withdraw. The African Union envoy said that both parties have agreed on “orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament.”


The parties in the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray have agreed to cease hostilities, a conflict which has displaced millions and left hundreds of thousands facing famine.

The war which broke out in 2020, pits regional forces from Tigray against Ethiopia’s army and its allies, who include forces from other regions and from neighbouring Eritrea.


It is a landlocked country in Horn of Africa. It is the 2nd most populous country in African continent after Nigeria.

Capital – Addis Ababa

Currency – Birr

Other important news

Accused cannot be compelled to provide computer password

A Delhi court has said that an investigating officer in a CBI case has no right to be provided with the computer password of the accused without his consent since it may interfere with his right to privacy.

Special Judge Naresh Kumar Laka dismissed the CBI application seeking password and user ID of the computer of the accused, observing that he “cannot be compelled to give such information and in this regard he is protected by Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India as well as Section 161(2) of CrPC.”

Article 20(3)

  • Article 20(3) of the Constitution provides that no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself, while Section 161 (2) of the CrPC stipulates that no person shall answer questions which “would have a tendency to expose him to a criminal charge or to a penalty or forfeiture”.
  • The court said that the said computer system may contain private data of the accused and if it is revealed to the investigating agency, it may interfere with his right of privacy.
  • “But the power of the IO to get opened/decrypted/accessed the data of the said computer system with the help of specialised agency or person has not been denied,” the court said.


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