1. Residents to fill their NPR details online
  2. Centre reconstitutes panel on mythical Sarasvati river
  3. Residents against legalisation of mining in Aravalis
  4. Draft e-com policy moots safeguards against data misuse


  1. US Becomes India's Second Biggest Oil Supplier.



Residents to fill their NPR details online



  • The Centre will allow residents to fill the National Population Register (NPR) form on their own, through the online mode, a month before the door-to-door enumeration by Census officials starts. 
  • After filling the form online, residents will get a reference code that they can mention to the field enumerator at the time of her or his visit. 
  • The details of the respondent will be displayed on a mobile application developed for conducting the Census exercise but no “biometrics or documents” will be collected. These details will then be stored in the system. 

The decennial Census exercise 

  • The first phase of the decennial Census exercise - the House-listing and Housing Census - along with updating the NPR was scheduled to be held from April 1, 2020
  • It was postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is unlikely to be held this year.
  • The second and main phase of Census - the population enumeration - was to be concluded by March 5 this year. 
  • Residents were to be given an option to self-enumerate only in the second phase. 
  • As per an annual report of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the option will now be made available for updating the NPR also. 
  • The NPR earlier collated in 2010 and 2015 has an electronic database of more than 119 crore residents. 

Three-pronged approach 

  • According to the recently published report for the year 2019-20, there will be a three-pronged approach for updating the NPR database 
    •  Self updating, wherein it is proposed to allow residents to update their own data fields after following some authentication protocols on a web portal; 
    • Updating of NPR data in the paper format; and 
    • The mobile mode. 
  • A “pretest” on updating the NPR had been undertaken in select areas of the States and the Union Territories, except Assam, along with the pre-test of the Census. 
  • The demographic and other particulars of each family and individual are to be collected/ updated during the updation exercise of NPR. 
  • No documents or biometrics would be collected during updation of NPR. 
  • The pretest for the first phase of the Census and the NPR, involving 30 lakh respondents, was conducted from August 12 to September 20, 2019. 
  • The government prepared the NPR of all the “usual residents” in the country in 2010 by collecting specific information of each resident. 
  • The NPR is prepared under various provisions of the Citizenship Rules, 2003, framed under the Citizenship Act, 1955. 
  • In 2015, a few fields such as name, gender, date and place of birth, place of residence and father‟s and mother‟s name were updated and Aadhaar, mobile and ration card numbers were collected. 
  • To incorporate the changes due to birth, death and migration, there is a need to update it again. 

Subsidiary queries 

  • The questions for the fresh NPR have not been made public yet but the pre-test conducted in 2019 included additional questions, such as - 
    • The date and the place of birth of the father and mother, 
    • The last place of residence and mother tongue, 
    •  Aaadhar (optional), 
    •  Voter ID card, and 
    •  Mobile phone and Driver‟s Licence numbers. 
  • States ruled by non-BJP parties have expressed apprehensions regarding the additional questions. 
  • Finance Minister announced on February 1 that ₹3,768 crore had been allocated for the Census in the financial year 2021-22. 
  • Though no separate budget for the NPR has been allocated in this fiscal, ₹3,941.35 crore was approved for 

Additional queries 

  • The questions for the fresh NPR have not been made public yet but the pre-test conducted in 2019 included additional questions, such as - 
    • The date and the place of birth of the father and mother, 
    • The last place of residence and mother tongue, 
    • Aaadhar (optional), 
    •  Voter ID card, and 
    •  Mobile phone and Driver‟s Licence numbers. 
  • States ruled by non-BJP parties have expressed apprehensions regarding the additional questions. 
  • Finance Minister announced on February 1 that ₹3,768 crore had been allocated for the Census in the financial year 2021-22. 
  • Though no separate budget for the NPR has been allocated in this fiscal, ₹3,941.35 crore was approved for updating the NPR in 2019-20. 
  • Around 30 lakh enumerators - government officials and government school teachers - will each be assigned the responsibility of collecting details from about 650-800 people through both the online and offline modes. 
  • The Registrar-General of India (RGI) is presently conducting field trials of the first phase of the Census and the NPR through the mobile application in a block, each comprising 50-60 households, in all the States and Union Territories. 


Widespread objection

  • The NPR‟s link with the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the yet to be implemented Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, has been opposed by many States and civil society groups.
  • The Citizenship Rules framed in the year 2003 say that the NPR is the first step towards the compilation of the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC), or the NRC.
  • The CAA passed by the Parliament on December 11, 2019, allows citizenship on the basis of religion to six undocumented communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014. 
  • Though the government has denied that the CAA and the NRC are linked, there are apprehensions that the CAA followed by a countrywide NRC, will benefit non-Muslims excluded from the proposed citizens‟ register, while excluded Muslims will have to prove their citizenship. 
  • The Union Home Ministry informed the Lok Sabha on February 4, 2020 that “till now, the government has not taken any decision to prepare the NRIC at the national level”.
  • However, in March 2020, the Ministry filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court that preparation of the NRC is a “necessary exercise for any sovereign country for mere identification of citizens from non-citizens”. 
  • It submitted that it is “the responsibility entrusted on the Central government “to identify/detect illegal migrants and thereafter, follow the due process of law”. 
  • At the peak of anti-CAA/NRC/NPR protest in the country, Prime Minister told a public rally on December 22 in Delhi that “there had been no discussion, no talk on an NRC for India since his government had taken power in 2014”. 
  • On December 9 the same year, Union Home Minister told Parliament that “there is no need to create a background for NRC, we are clear that NRC ought to be done in this country, our manifesto is the background”. 



Centre reconstitutes panel on mythical Sarasvati river


Frame of reference 

Corroborations Out of the myths :The Centre has reconstituted an advisory committee to chalk out a plan for studying the mythical Sarasvati river for the next two years, after the earlier panel’s term ended in 2019. 

 River Sarasvati's study in a multidimensional manner 

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on March 10 issued a notification for “reconstitution of the Advisory Committee for the Multidisciplinary Study of the River Sarasvati”. 
  • The ASI had first set up the committee on December 28, 2017 for a period of two years. 
  • The committee would review the work done by the previous panel and then formulate a plan. 
  • The committee would advise the Government Departments conducting research. 

About Saraswati River 

  • The Sarasvati River is one of the main Rigvedic rivers mentioned in the scripture Rig Veda and later Vedic and post-Vedic texts. 
  • The Sapta Sindhu in Rig Veda refers to the rivers Saraswati, Satadru (Sutlej), Vipasa (Beas), Asikni (Chenab), Purushni (Ravi), Vitasta (Jhelum) and Sindhu (Indus). Among these, the Saraswati and the Sindhu were major rivers that flowed from the mountains right up to the sea. 
  • For 2000 years, between 6000 and 4000 B.C., the Saraswati flowed as a great river. 
  • The river, which had originated from Kapal tirith in the Himalayas in the west of Kailash, was flowing southward to Mansarovar and then taking a turn towards west. 
  • Hydrogeological evidences: Lunkaransar, Didwana and Sambhar, the Ranns of Jaisalmer, Pachpadra, etc. are a few of the notable lakes, formed as a result of the changes. 
  • ○ Some of them are highly saline today, the only proof to their freshwater descent being occurrences of gastropod shells in those lake beds. 
  • Archaeological evidences: Most of the archaeological sites of the-then civilisation are located on the Saraswati river basin. 
  • There are four Harappan and pre-Harappan sites in Punjab, in addition to the sites in Rajasthan and U.P. These sites are located at Rupar (present Ropar), Nihang Khan, Bara and Sirsa valley. 
    •  Harappan culture flourished in the western part of Punjab around 2500 B.C. 
    • It is believed that the Harappans entered through the Indus Valley into Kalibangan valley on the left bank of Ghaggar (erstwhile Saraswati) and spread to Punjab along the Saraswati River. 
    • Carbon dating of the material at Kalibangan suggests that Harappan culture flourished around 2500 B.C. in India and existed for 1000 years. 
    •  So the present day geomorphologic set up did not exist till 1500 B.C. and the Indus, the Sutlej and the Beas followed independent courses to the sea. 
  • Evidences from Remote Sensing and GIS: A remote sensing study of the Indian desert reveals numerous signatures of palaeochannels in the form of curvilinear and meandering courses, which is identified by the tonal variations. 
    •  The Saraswati River could be traced through these palaeochannels as a migratory river. 
    •  Its initial course flowed close to the Aravalli ranges and the successive six stages took west and northwesterly shifts till it coincides with the dry bed of the Ghaggar River.

Ancient River Unearthed in Uttar Pradesh 

  • In 2019, the Union Jal Shakti Ministry had excavated an old, dried-up river in the Prayagraj during geophysical survey covering the Prayagraj and Kaushambi region in Uttar Pradesh. 
  • An excavated river linked the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. 
  • The “Ancient Buried River” is around 4 km wide, 45 km long and consisted of a 15-meter-thick layer buried under the soil. 
  • The newly discovered river was a buried paleochannel that joins the Yamuna river at Durgapur village, about 26 km south of the current Ganga-Yamuna confluence at Prayagraj. 
  • The genesis of these buried rivers followed a Report on PaleoChannel on North-West India. 
  • The knowledge on subsurface connectivity between Ganga and Yamuna rivers will play a very crucial role in the planning of Ganga cleaning and protecting safe groundwater resources. 


  • A channel that is no longer part of an active river system and has ceased to be a conduit of water is commonly referred to as a palaeochannel. 
  • It occurs when rivers change their course either due to the movement of tectonic plates or severe floods and cut new ones. 
  • Some of the palaeochannels lie buried under younger sediments. 
  • Palaeochannels are commonly occurring landforms in alluvial landscapes, and have an economic significance because of their use in the exploration for freshwater resources, artificial recharge and storage of groundwater. 
  • Additionally, they are of importance in the location and assessment of mineral deposits such as uraniferous ores, gold, silver and other placer deposits hosted in them. 

Report on PaleoChannel on North-West India 

  • The report had been prepared by the K.S. Valdiya Committee under the Ministry of Jal Shakti. 
  • The report was based on the study of the land texture, piles of sediments, shapes, and features of states of North-West India including- Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab. 
  • The found sediments are reminiscent of ones found in present-day Ghaggar, Ganga, and the Yamuna. 
  • The report was an assertion of the assumption that River Saraswati originated from Adibadri in Himalaya to culminate in the Arabian Sea through the Runn of Kutch. 
  • The report also stated that the river once upon a time was the lifeline of the North-Western states of India. 


Residents against legalisation of mining in Aravalis


 Recently in news 

Ahead of the hearing of a petition by Haryana government seeking permission for mining in Aravalis in Gurugram and Faridabad in the Supreme Court, environmentalists and the residents are strongly opposed to mining being legalised and demand that forest cover be increased in the State.

Objections incurred on the mining and real estate  

  • In an email campaign to the Chief Justice of India, the residents have been demanding that no mining and real estate be allowed in the Aravalis. 
  • Instead, the government should come out with a three-year roadmap to take the legal native forest cover in the State to 20%, as per the Haryana Forest Department policy target and an all-India average. 
  • The other demands include 

○ Demolition of all illegal construction in the Aravalis, 

○ Planting of native sablings, 

○ Notifying 50,000 acre of the Aravalis as deemed forest and retaining the Aravalis in South Haryana as Natural Conservation Zone. 


 Issue Related to pollutions 

  • The residents argued that the destruction of the Aravalis would worsen the air pollution situation in the NCR and the mountain range is the only natural barrier against desertification. 
  • The Aravalis, with their natural cracks and fissures, have the potential to put two million litres of water per hectare in the ground every year. 
  • Besides, the mountain range is a biodiversity hotspot with - 

○ 400-odd species of native trees, shrubs and herbs; 

○ 200-odd native and migratory bird species;100-odd butterfly species; 

○ 20-odd reptile species and 20-odd mammal species, including leopards. 

  • As per the Economic Survey of Haryana 2020-21, as many as 58 mines out of the total 119 have been allocated. 
  • More than 26,000 cases of illegal mining, including 1,358 till September 2020 for the current financial year, have been reported. 
  • Besides, the collection from mining for 2020-21, till January, is 770.00 crore - the highest since 2005-06. 

Mining activities in Aravalli Hills 

  • Recently, the Haryana government has appealed to the Supreme Court to permit it to resume mining in the Aravalli Hills on the grounds that the pandemic had grounded the State‟s economy to a halt. 
  • Mining in the Aravalli region has been banned since 2002 under the Supreme Court orders, unless expressly permitted by the Union Environment Ministry. However, mining continues illegally. 
  • The green wall is being planned from Porbandar to Panipat which will help in restoring degraded land through afforestation along the Aravali hill range. 
  • Residents along with volunteers from iamgurgaon, a citizen action group involved in the conservation of the Aravallis, were assisted by ecologists to create a self-sustaining Aravalli. 
  • This society driven model could be more effective to combat the degradation. 

Threats posed out of it 

  • The Aravalli hills are an ecologically sensitive zone but have for years borne the brunt of quarrying and environmental degradation. 
  • A 2018 report by a Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) found out that 25% of the Aravalli range has been lost due to illegal mining in Rajasthan since 1967-68. 
  • The consequences of the mining has been a destruction of aquifers and deforestation. Many rivers originating in the Aravalli like Banas, Luni, Sahibi and Sakhi, are now dead. 

About the Aravalli Range 

  • They stretch for a distance of about 720 km from Himmatnagar in Gujarat to Delhi, spanning Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Delhi. 
  • The Aravallis date back to millions of years when a pre-Indian subcontinent collided with the mainland Eurasian Plate. 
  • Carbon dating has shown that copper and other metals mined in the ranges date back to at least the 5th century BC. 
  • The Aravallis of Northwestern India, one of the oldest fold mountains of the world, now form residual mountains with an elevation of 300m to 900m. 
  • Guru Shikhar Peak on Mount Abu is the highest peak in the Aravalli Range (1,722 m). 
  • It has been formed primarily of folded crust, when two convergent plates move towards each other by the process called orogenic movement. 

The mountains are divided into two main ranges – the Sambhar Sirohi Range and the Sambhar Khetri Range in Rajasthan, where their extension is about 560 km. 

● The hidden limb of the Aravallis that extends from Delhi to Haridwar creates a divide between the drainage of rivers of the Ganga and the Indus. 

Significance of the Aravallis 

  • The Aravallis act as a barrier between the fertile plains in the east and the sandy desert in the west. 
  • Historically, it is said that the Aravalli range checked the spread of the Thar desert towards the Indo-Gangetic plains, serving as a catchment of rivers and plains. 
  • Provides habitat to 300 native plant species, 120 bird species and many exclusive animals like the jackal and mongoose. 
  • Aravallis have an impact upon the climate of northwest India and beyond. 
  • During monsoons, it provides a barrier and monsoon clouds move eastwards towards Shimla and Nainital, thus helping nurture the sub-Himalayan rivers and feeding the north Indian plains. 
  • In the winter months, it protects the fertile alluvial river valleys from the cold westerly winds from Central Asia. 
  • Aravallis also functions as a groundwater recharge zone for the regions around that absorb rainwater and revive the groundwater level. 
  • This range is considered the “lungs” for the polluted air of Delhi–National Capital Region (NCR). 
  • For Haryana, having the lowest forest cover at around 3.59% of the total forest cover in India, the Aravalli range is the only saving grace, providing the major portion of its forest cover (2017 Report). 



Draft e-com policy moots safeguards against data misuse



  • The government plans to lay down principles for usage of data for the development of any industry, where such norms do not already exist, and put in place adequate safeguards to prevent misuse and access of data by unauthorised persons, according to a draft national e-commerce policy. 
  • The government is in the process of developing regulations for personal and non-personal data, the policy, which is under discussion, said. 

Regulations for data 

  • The draft stated that sharing of data for industrial development would be encouraged and regulations for data would be provided for the sharing mechanism. 
  • According to the draft, the government acknowledges the importance of data as an asset and needs to use data emanating from India for „Indian entities first‟. 
  • An inter-ministerial meeting, under the chairmanship of a top official of the department for promotion of industry and internal trade, was held recently to deliberate upon this draft. 
  • For free and informed choice, it said that e-commerce operators would have to ensure that algorithms used by them were not biased and that no discrimination due to digitally induced biases was prevalent. 
  • Consumers have a right to be made aware of all relevant details about the goods and services offered for sale including country of origin, value addition in India, and any other such information which may be necessary for making an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage.


Draft e-Commerce Policy 

 In 2019, the Department of Industry and Internal Trade had released the draft National e-commerce Policy that sends a clear message that India and its citizens have a sovereign right to their data.

Key highlights 

  • Data 
  • Infrastructure development. 
  • Ecommerce marketplaces. 
  • Regulatory issues. 
  • Stimulating domestic digital economy. 
  • Export promotion.

Key features of the draft 

  • Indian control over data: Govt to be given access to source code, algorithms of AI systems Impose custom duties on electronic transmissions to reduce revenue loss. It bars sharing of sensitive data of Indian users with third party entities, even with consent. 
  • A data authority to look at community data. 
  • Local presences for Apps and websites: All e-commerce websites, apps available for downloading in India to have a registered business entity here. Non-compliant ecommerce app/website to be denied access here. 
  • Incentives for data localisation: Location of the computing facilities like data centres, server farms within India. Firms to get 3 years to comply with local data storage requirements. 
  • Data storage facilities to get „infrastructure status‟. 
  • FDI in e-com: FDI only in marketplace model. No FDI in inventory model. 
  • E-com trade: Curbs on Chinese ecommerce exports. Gifting route, often used by Chinese apps, websites, banned for all parcels except life-saving drugs. Integrating Customs, RBI and India Post to improve tacking of imports through ecommerce. 
  • Incentives & e-commerce export promotions. 
  • Ecommerce startups may get „infant industry‟ status raising limit for courier shipments from Rs 25,000 to boost ecommerce export. 
  • Regulation: No separate regulator for ecommerce sector. 
  • E-consumer courts to be developed. 



US Becomes India's Second Biggest Oil Supplier

#prelims fact 

The United States has become the second-biggest oil supplier of India last month. The US has surpassed Saudi Arabia to become the country’s 2nd biggest oil supplier.

Key Points

  • As per the data from trade sources, refiners boosted cheaper US crude purchases to record levels and to offset supply cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+).
  • India’s imports from the United States increased by 48% to a record 545,300 barrels per day (bpd) in February from the prior month.
  • This accounted for 14% of India’s overall imports last month.
  • Contrary to this, February imports from Saudi Arabia fell by 42% from the previous month to a decade-low of 445,200 bpd, the data showed.
  • Saudi Arabia, which has consistently been one of India’s top two suppliers, has slipped to No. 4 for the first time since at least January 2006.
  • Iraq is the top oil seller to India despite a 23% decline in purchases to a five-month low of 867,500 bpd.

World’s Top Oil Producer

The United States is at present the world’s top oil producer. As per the available data of 2019, the oil production of the US is 12,248,020 bbl/day. The US is followed by Russia and Saudi Arabia.




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