5 January 2023, Current Affairs



1. The government has formally approved the National Green Hydrogen Mission with an aim of making India a global hub for the production of green hydrogen.


While hydrogen’s potential as a clean fuel source has a history of nearly 150 years, it was only after the oil price shocks of the 1970s that the possibility of hydrogen replacing fossil fuels came to be considered seriously.

Later on, Japan’s Honda and Toyota, and South Korea’s Hyundai have since moved decisively to commercialise this technology.


About the National Green Hydrogen mission:

Objective: It aimed at;

The creation of export opportunities for green hydrogen and its derivatives;

Decarbonisation of the energy sector and use in mobility applications in a bid to lower the dependence on imported fossil fuels; and

The development of indigenous manufacturing capacities.

Significance: It will help to fuel key sectors of the economy using hydrogen that is made by splitting water through an electrical process called electrolysis, using a device called an electrolyser that is powered entirely by renewable energy.

The draft Mission is likely to propose support for the production and deployment of green hydrogen, alongside a major push for hydrogen in the auto sector.

It will also promote R&D for fuel cell development and pilot projects for fuel cell vehicles.

Hydrogen as a fuel:

Hydrogen, the most common element in nature, exists only in combination with other elements and has to be extracted from naturally occurring compounds like water.

Hydrogen is a clean molecule, but the process of extracting it is energy intensive.


It is a clean burning molecule that can decarbonise a range of sectors including iron and steel, chemicals, and transportation.

Renewable energy that cannot be stored or used by the grid can be channelled to produce hydrogen.

Green hydrogen is not commercially viable at present.

What is Green Hydrogen?

The sources and processes by which hydrogen is derived are categorised by colour tabs. Hydrogen produced from fossil fuels is called grey hydrogen, which constitutes the bulk of the hydrogen generated today.

Hydrogen generated from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage options is called blue hydrogen, while hydrogen generated using electrolysers powered by renewable power sources is called green hydrogen.

What India’s Green hydrogen mission aspires to?

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is in the process of formulating guidelines for the scheme that seeks to promote the development of green hydrogen production capacity of at least 5 million metric tonnes (MMT) per annum with an associated renewable energy capacity addition of about 125 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

Making it viable for all: The current cost in India is around Rs.350-400 per kg which is likely to become viable only at a production cost of under Rs.100/ kg.

Providing Subsidy support: With implicit subsidy support and a government-backed R&D push, the plan is to target lower costs of renewable power generation and to bring down the costs of electrolysers to make the production of green hydrogen cost-competitive.

Replace fossil fuels: Green hydrogen could eventually potentially replace fossil fuels and fossil fuel-based feedstock in fertiliser production, petroleum refining, steel production, and transport applications.

Where this Green hydrogen energy be used?

Inclusion of renewable sources of energy: The electricity generation capacity addition over the last 10 years by way of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, can be diverted for green hydrogen production during non-peak hours.

For the steel sector:

The steel sector has been made a stakeholder, and it has been proposed to set up pilot plants with part funding from the government.

It will aim to explore the feasibility of using green hydrogen in Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) production by partly replacing natural gas with hydrogen in gas-based DRI plants.

Based on the success of the pilot projects, the gas-based DRI units are to be encouraged for large-scale adoption of the process.

Recent Government Interventions:

US-based Ohmium International has commissioned India’s first green-hydrogen factory in Karnataka.

Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition Programme: A major part of this is a proposed Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition Programme (SIGHT), under which two financial incentive mechanisms are to be provided.

Also, it is targeting domestic manufacturing of electrolysers and the production of green hydrogen promoted to achieve a reduction in fossil fuel imports and abatement of annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Kerala has set up a high-level working group for its own Hydrogen Economy Mission to devise a strategic roadmap, policy formulations, and implementation plans for facilitating investments in green hydrogen and making the state “a green hydrogen hub”.

Companies such as Reliance Industries Ltd, Adani Enterprises, JSW Energy, and Acme Solar have plans to tap the green hydrogen opportunity.


2.The values of local self-governance

Polity & Governance

Constitutional Provisions


With the 30th Anniversary of the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, debates on federalism should include larger discussions on how power should be divided and shared between governments at the Union, State, and local levels.


In December 1992, Parliament passed the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, which instituted Panchayats and municipalities, respectively.

These amendments mandated that State governments constitute Panchayats (at the village, block and district levels) and municipalities (in the form of municipal corporations, municipal councils and Nagar Panchayats) in every region.

They sought to institute a third tier of governance in the federal framework through the devolution of functions, funds, and functionaries to local governments.

Since local governments seldom derive their authority directly from the Constitution, India’s constitutional reforms for decentralisation are exceptional.

But still, despite these reforms, municipal governments are often seen to be ineffective in addressing even the most basic needs of citizens, such as reliable water supply and walkable footpaths. Urban residents tend to blame “corrupt” local politicians for these civic woes.

What is the basis of Local self-governance in India?

Local self-governance is linked to the idea of subsidiarity and is typically grounded on two broad arguments.

First, it provides for the efficient provision of public goods since governments with smaller jurisdictions can provide services as per the preferences of their residents.

Second, it promotes deeper democracy since governments that are closer to the people allow citizens to engage with public affairs more easily.

The democratic decentralization through the 73rd and 74th CAA has entrusted the Local self-government with the main task of local governance, while the district administration plays an enabling and coordinating role.

However, in several cases bureaucratic inertia and lack of empowerment of LSG (local self-government) have hindered the objective of decentralized local governance (enshrined in Art 40 of the DPSP), needing immediate reform in this regard.

However, India is undergoing a centralising shift in its politics, economy, and culture.

Constitutional Provision:

The Constitution (73RD and 74TH Amendment) Act, 1992 provided for the establishment of urban local bodies (ULBs) (including municipal corporations) as institutions of local self-government.

It also empowered state governments to devolve certain functions, authority, and power to collect revenue from these bodies and made periodic elections for them compulsory.

Urban governance and Panchayats are part of the state list under the Constitution.

Thus, the administrative framework and regulation of ULBs vary across states.

Levels: The Act stipulated three levels of municipal bodies to be set up in the country:

Nagar Panchayat: Nagar Panchayat for a transitional area (an area in transition from a rural area to an urban area).

Municipality: It is constituted of a smaller urban area

Municipal Corporation: It is constituted of a larger urban area exceeding 3 lakhs population.

What do they mandate?

The 73rd and 74th amendments require States to vest Panchayats and municipalities with the authority to enable them to function as institutions of self-government, including the powers to prepare and implement plans and schemes for economic development and social justice.

They also mandate the regular conduct of local elections, provide for the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Schedules Tribes and women in local councils, and institute participative forums like gram sabhas in Panchayats and ward committees in municipal corporations.

Hence, the core values that the amendments sought to entrench are that of deepening local democracy and devolving functions for meeting the ends of economic development and social justice.

What are the loopholes in the local governance structure?

Limited autonomy and authority: Despite the constitutional promise of local self-governance, local governments, especially municipalities, operate with limited autonomy and authority.

Limitations include the discretion given to the States regarding the devolution of powers and levying of local taxes.

State governments are reluctant to implement the 74th amendment as cities are economic powerhouses and controlling urban land is important for financing State governments and political parties.

Narrowing the scope of Municipalities: The courts have also mostly interpreted the 74th amendment narrowly, allowing State governments to retain their control over cities.

The 2021 amendment transferred the powers of appointment of Grade C and D employees of municipalities from the Empowered Standing Committee of the municipality to the State government-controlled Directorate of Municipal Administration.


3. Why has a high-power Ladakh committee been formed?

Polity & Governance

Acts and Amendments


The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) constituted a high-powered committee for the Union Territory of Ladakh in order to conserve the region’s unique culture and language.


In 2020, the Peoples Movement for Constitutional safeguard under the sixth schedule or the Apex Body, Leh was formed.

Separation from J&K: On August 5, 2019, the former State of Jammu & Kashmir was bifurcated into two Union Territories — Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh, the latter without a Legislative Assembly.

The demand for UT: Buddhist-dominated Leh district had long demanded UT status because it felt neglected by the erstwhile state government, which was dominated by politicians from Kashmir and Jammu.

Demand for inclusion in the Sixth Schedule: Since then, the civil society and political groups in Ladakh have been demanding inclusion under the sixth schedule of the Constitution to protect the land, employment, and cultural identity of Ladakh.

Details of the committee:

Chaired by: Minister of State for Home, Nityanand Rai.

It is a 17-member committee that includes Ladakh Lieutenant Governor.

Objective: The committee will discuss;

Measures to protect the region’s unique culture and language taking into consideration its geographical location and strategic importance;

Ensure protection of land and employment for the people of Ladakh;

Strategize inclusive development and discuss issues related to the empowerment of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill District Councils of Leh and Kargil.

Why was the committee formed?

Civil society groups in Ladakh have been demanding protection of land, resources and employment for the past three years after the special status of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution.

The fear of big businesses and conglomerates taking away land and jobs from the local people has contributed to this demand.


4. What is the sixth schedule?

The sixth schedule under Article 244 of the Constitution protects the autonomy of tribal populations through the creation of autonomous development councils which can frame laws on land, public health and agriculture.

As of now, ten autonomous councils exist in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

As per the 2011 Census, the total population of Ladakh was 2, 74,289, and nearly 80% of them are tribals.

What is the government’s stand?

Government is against the call to give any special status to Ladakh, as the MHA informed a parliamentary standing committee recently that the objective for inclusion of the tribal population under the sixth schedule is to ensure their overall socio-economic development, which, the UT administration has already been taking care of and that sufficient funds are being provided to Ladakh to meet its overall developmental requirements.

A report tabled in Rajya Sabha on December 13, 2022, quoted MHA officials, that the Ladakh administration recently increased the reservation for the Scheduled Tribes in direct recruitment from 10% to 45% which will significantly help the tribal population in their development.

The difficulty behind Ladakh’s Inclusion:

Ladakh’s inclusion in the Sixth Schedule would be difficult. The Constitution is very clear; the Sixth Schedule is for the Northeast.

For tribal areas in the rest of the country, there is the Fifth Schedule.

Notably, no region outside the Northeast has been included in the Sixth Schedule.

In fact, even in Manipur, which has predominantly tribal populations in some places, the autonomous councils are not included in the Sixth Schedule.

Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, which are totally tribal, are also not in the Sixth Schedule.

However, it remains the prerogative of the government; it can, if it so decides, brings a Bill to amend the Constitution for this purpose.

5. Supreme Court expands Article 19 ambit

Polity & Governance

The Judiciary


The Supreme Court has supported a case on question of whether “a fundamental right under Article 19 or 21 of the Constitution of India be claimed other than against the ‘State’ or its ‘instrumentalities’.


About the Judgement:

The court ruled that a citizen can seek enforcement of the fundamental rights to freedom of speech not just against the state but extended the ground for seeking these rights against other citizens.

As said under the 4-1 majority ruled by the Constitution Bench:

A fundamental right under Article 19 and Art.21 can be enforced even against persons other than the State or its instrumentalities.

The case heard in view that the right of free speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) cannot be curbed by any additional grounds other than those already laid down in Article 19(2).

Constitutional Backing:

Article 19 which guarantees freedom of speech and expression is a right invoked against the state.

Some fundamental rights such as those prohibiting untouchability, trafficking and bonded labour are explicitly against both the state and other individuals.


The court, extending free speech against private citizens, opens up a range of possibilities in Constitutional law.

This interpretation could also bring an obligation on the state to ensure private entities also abide by Constitutional norms.

These questions could hypothetically range from seeking enforcement of privacy rights against a private doctor to seeking the right to free speech against a private social media entity.

Basis of the judgement:

The Court relied on the 2017 verdict in Puttaswamy where a nine-judge bench unanimously upheld privacy as a fundamental right.

One of the key arguments by the government was that privacy is right enforceable against other citizens and, therefore, cannot be elevated to the status of a fundamental right against the state.

The Court also referred to several foreign jurisdictions, contrasting the American approach with the European Courts.

Referring to the landmark New York Times vs. Sullivan, in which the US Supreme Court found that defamation law, as applied by the state against The New York Times, was inconsistent with the Constitutional guarantee of the freedom of speech and expression, the SC noted a shift in US law from a “purely vertical approach” to a “horizontal approach”.

For example, a horizontal application of the right to life would enable a citizen to bring a case against a private entity for causing pollution, which would be a violation of the right to a clean environment.

6. Science Congress: Why its glory days are over

Polity & Governance

Government Interventions and Policies


The Prime minister addressing the 108th Indian Science Congress, the country’s largest gathering of scientists and students, has mentioned an urgent need for reforms in the scientific research and development of the country.


About the Science Congress:


With a history dating back to 1914, the Science Congress is a one-of-its-kind event in the country, bringing together scientists and researchers not just from the premier institutions and laboratories but also science teachers and professors from colleges and universities participate.

Edition: It was the 108th edition of the Indian Science Congress held after two years of COVID.

Location: It took place in

Organised by: The event is organized by the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA), an independent body functioning with the support of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in the central government.

Fund allocation for the event: For organising the Science Congress, the government provides an annual grant, which has been increased to Rs.5 crore from this year, it used to be Rs.3 crore earlier.

Several other government agencies, like the Science and Education Research Board, also make financial contributions because the event is seen as an effort to promote science.

Additional resources are raised through sponsorship and fees for renting out exhibition spaces.

Held on: It is an annual five-day event from January 3 to 7, 2023.

Inaugurated by: Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He reiterated his call for harnessing scientific knowledge for societal needs and making India self-reliant.

Significance: It offers a platform for their interaction with students and the general public on matters related to science.

Points discussed:

Areas of priority: The priority areas like disease control, management of natural disasters, space applications, waste management, new materials, and semiconductor research have been considered.

Declining glory of congress: In more recent times, the event has attracted attention for all the wrong reasons — lack of serious discussion, the promotion of pseudoscience, outlandish claims by random speakers, and the absence of useful outcomes.

Reasons highlighted: Leading scientific institutions and laboratories only have a token presence, if at all. Most attendees are from colleges and universities with limited scientific credentials.

Highlights of the event:

A special programme to showcase the contribution of women in science and technology will also be held with lectures by renowned women scientists.

The event will also see a Children’s Science Congress, organised to help stimulate scientific interest and temperament amongst children.

The Tribal Science Congress will showcase as a platform for the scientific display of indigenous ancient knowledge systems and practices and will focus on the empowerment of tribal women.