UPSC Daily News: PMP, Art. 371A, SCS, Myanmar & More

GS Paper 1

Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP)

Context: India and Nepal have not managed to make any forward movement on the stalled negotiations over the landmark Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP).


  • The project is stalled because the Indian and the Nepali sides are unable to come to a consensus on sharing of benefits. 
  • While electricity is divided equally, India gets the lion’s share of irrigation and flood control benefits. Nepal feels water is ‘white gold’ and India should pay Nepal for it. 
Details of the Project
    • Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP) is an India-Nepal joint hydropower project to be developed on the Mahakali River (known as Sarada in India), where the river forms the international boundary between Nepal and State of Uttarakhand in India.
    • It is located in the Kumaon hills on the Indo–Nepal border and is a part of the 1996 India–Nepal Mahakali Treaty.
    • It aims at power generation, besides providing irrigation facilities to both India and Nepal.
    • The project would also help regulate and control the free flow of Karnali and Mohana rivers which cause floods in Uttar Pradesh.
    • Through this project, India’s 4C policy — Cooperation, Culture, Connectivity and Constitution — meant to strengthen bilateral ties with Kathmandu, will make significant progress. 
    • The Project also requires wildlife clearance as the distance from the tip of the submergence, in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, is within 300 m from the Askot Musk Deer Wildlife Sanctuary. 
    • In accordance with a December 2006 order of the Supreme Court of India, it is a policy that if any project is located within the eco-sensitive zone around a wildlife sanctuary or a national park or in absence of such a marked zone, within a distance of 10 kms from its boundaries, that project requires clearance from the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife.
    • When built, Pancheshwar will be among the tallest dams in the world. 
    • Currently, the tallest dam is China’s Jinping-I Dam standing at 305 metres (1,001 feet) constructed on the River Yalong. 
    • India’s tallest dam at present is Tehri Dam (on river Bhagirathi), also in Uttarakhand, which stands at a height of 260.5 metre (855 feet).

UPSC Daily News: Rajya Sabha, Viruses, Tigers & More

GS Paper 2

Article 371A of the Constitution 

Context: Article 371A of the Constitution of India has been the major hurdle in the Nagaland government’s efforts to regulate small-scale illegal coal mining activities in the State.


  • Specific to Nagaland, Article 371A has special provisions guaranteeing the protection of land. And its resources apart from the Naga customary law and procedure.
  • The coalition government in Nagaland has been under pressure to regulate coal mining activities. After six miners died in an explosion in a rat-hole mine recently.
Articles Related to Special Provisions for some States
  • Articles 371 to 371-J in Part XXI of the Indian Constitution contain special provisions for twelve states viz., Maharashtra, Gujarat, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Karnataka. 
  • The intention behind them is to meet the aspirations of the people of backward regions of the states or to protect the cultural and economic interests of the tribal people of the states or to deal with the disturbed law and order condition in some parts of the states or to protect the interests of the local people of the states.  
Articles Subject-matter
Article 371 Special provision with respect to the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat
Article 371A Special provision with respect to the state of Nagaland
Article 371B Special provision with respect to the state of Assam
Article 371C Special provision with respect to the state of Manipur
Article 371D Special provisions with respect to the state of Andhra Pradesh or the state of Telangana
Article 371E Establishment of Central University in Andhra Pradesh
Article 371F Special provisions with respect to the state of Sikkim
Article 371G Special provision with respect to the state of Mizoram
Article 371H Special provision with respect to the state of Arunachal Pradesh
Article 371-I Special provision with respect to the state of Goa
Article 371J Special provisions with respect to the state of Karnataka

Special Category Status (SCS) 

Context: The Congress in Andhra Pradesh has decided to adopt a declaration on Special Category Status (SCS) for Andhra Pradesh.


  • The special category status was introduced in 1969 on the recommendations of the Fifth Finance Commission.
  • The idea was to give preferential treatment to certain states that were deemed historically disadvantaged, by allocating more central funds and tax concessions. 
  • The Constitution does not have any provision for categorisation of any State as a Special Category Status (SCS) State.
  • The Fifth Finance Commission considered the following factors to grant Special Category Status: 
  • difficult and hilly terrain; 
  • low population density and/or a sizeable share of tribal population;
  • strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries;
  • economic and infrastructural backwardness, and;
  • non-viable nature of state finances. 
What assistance do states with Special Category Status get? 
  • Preferential treatment in getting central funds assistance. 
  • Concessions in income-tax rates, excise and customs duties to attract industries to the state.
  • SCS states would get 30% of the normal central assistance; with the remaining 70% being split among other states based on their population, per capita income, and fiscal performance. 
  • These states can avail the benefit of debt swapping and debt relief schemes.
  • In the case of centrally sponsored schemes and external aid, special category states get it in the ratio of 90 per cent grants and 10 per cent loans, while other states get 30 per cent of their funds as grants.
  • Tax breaks to attract investment
14th Finance Commission and the SCS states
  • The 14th Finance Commission did away with distinction between general and special category states since it had taken into account the level of backwardness of states in the proposed transfer of funds to states. 
  • The idea was that adequate resources would be allocated through tax devolution and grants to address interstate inequalities. 
  • The special category status was therefore restricted to eleven states namely, Assam, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Uttarakhand, and Telangana.
  • Telangana, the newest state of India, is accorded the status as it was carved out of another state – Andhra Pradesh, which hit the state’s finances.
  • It was also decided that a revenue deficit grant would be provided for certain states for which devolution alone would be insufficient. 
  • Andhra was one of the states that were to be given a revenue deficit grant.
Why does Andhra Pradesh want to get Special Category Status? 
  • When Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated in 2014, it sought Special Category Status on the grounds that it was at a disadvantage, since it would lose a significant amount of revenue as a result of Hyderabad going to Telangana, the new state that came into existence in June 2014.

Free Movement Regime (FMR) between India and Myanmar

  • Context: The 60-member Mizoram Assembly adopted a resolution against the Centre’s decision to fence the India-Myanmar border and scrap the Free Movement Regime (FMR) agreement with the civil war-torn neighbouring country.


What is Free Movement (FMR) Regime between India and Myanmar?
  • The FMR came into existence in 2018 as a part of India’s Act East policy. Under the FMR, any member of a hill tribe, who is a citizen of either India or Myanmar, and who resides within 16 km of the border on either side, can cross on the production of a border pass, usually valid for a year, and can stay up to two weeks per visit.
  • The agreement was brought to facilitate local border trade, improve access to education and healthcare for border residents, and strengthen diplomatic ties. 
Why does the Union Government want to scrap it?
  • The Centre has attributed the move to the ethnic clashes between the dominant Meiteis and Kuki-Zomi people broke out in May 2023 in Manipur, and to maintain the country’s internal security and demographic structure of the northeastern states. 
  • The announcement is also an attempt to avoid the spillover effect of the ongoing Myanmar crisis on India.
  • As Myanmar, currently under military dictatorship, is facing the rebellion of ethnic armed groups and pro-democracy forces, there has been a significant influx of people from Myanmar to bordering Indian states.
Why does the Mizoram Government against it?
  • The dominant Mizos of Mizoram, the Kuki-Zomis of Manipur, the Chins of Myanmar and the Kuki-Chins of Bangladesh belong to the Zo ethnic group.
  • In the resolution, the Centre was urged by Mizoram to reconsider its decision and take steps instead to ensure the Zo ethnic people can live together without a fence dividing their ancestral land.
What are the Indian states that share a border with Myanmar?
  • India and Myanmar share a 1,643-km-long porous border which passes through the States of Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Mizoram (510 km), Manipur (398 km) and Nagaland (215 km). Currently, all these states come under FMR.

GS Paper 3

Science behind the need for Leap Year 

Context: In 2024, there’s an extra day at the end of February because it’s a leap year. So, instead of just 28 days, February will have 29 days this year.


  • Almost every four years, an extra day gets tagged on to the month of February.
  • Leap Year exists because of the time it takes the Earth to orbit the Sun.
  • There are 365 days in most calendar years, but in the time it takes for the Earth to go around the sun once, our planet actually spins 365 and nearly a quarter times. 
  • The reason we care about that extra quarter is because the Earth has seasons.
  • If we don’t reset our calendar periodically, start dates of seasons would gradually drift by 6 hours every year. 
  • After hundreds of years, summer could be starting in November. 
A Leap Year does not necessarily happen every four years
  • We add a leap day every four years except if it is a year that is divisible by 100, except for those divisible by 400.
  • So that means 1800 was not a leap year. Nor was it a leap year in 1900, nor will it be in 2100. But 2000 was a leap year because it was divisible by 400. We will skip it in 2100, 2200 and 2300 but we will not skip it in 2400.
  • We do this because a year is not exactly 365.25 days long. It’s actually closer to 365.24 days long. 
  • Even having Leap Year doesn’t get our calendars exactly right. So periodically the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service adds leap seconds to our daily lives we don’t notice.
Leap Year doesn’t necessarily have to occur in February
  • The particular mish-mash of 28-30-31 days that we have in our calendar. It is a question for a historian more than an astronomer.
  • February gets it because it is shorter than the other months. But it really doesn’t matter. You could put it anywhere.

Daily News: Science, Defense, Agriculture, Economy & World

Facts for Prelims

Vietnam’s ‘rice bowl’ cracks in extreme heatwave

  • Southern Vietnam, including business hub Ho Chi Minh City and its “rice bowl” Mekong Delta region, suffered an unusually long heatwave in February. 
  • Globally, 2023 was the warmest year on record, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). 
  • The WMO also warned that this year could be even hotter because the naturally occurring El Nino climate pattern, which emerged in mid-2023, usually increases global temperatures for one year afterwards.
  • El Nino is an abnormal warming of water in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Every three to five years and can last up to 18 months. 
  • An El Nino year creates a miniature global-warming crisis, since the warm water spreading across the tropical Pacific releases a large amount of heat into the atmosphere.

Jacaranda Trees and Climate Change

  • Every spring, the streets of Mexico’s capital are painted purple with the flowering of thousands of jacaranda trees. 
  • But this year, some jacarandas began blooming in early January (winter time in Mexico), when they normally awaken in spring. The early onset bloom has set off alarm bells among residents and scientists in Mexico City.
  • Local scientists have begun investigating how widespread the early-bloom phenomenon is. But they point to climate change as the first culprit.

Operation Sagar Manthan

  • 3,300 kg of narcotic drugs from a dhow in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Gujarat were seized by the security forces.
  • It is the largest-ever offshore drug seizure in the country. The breakthrough was a result of months of surveillance under operation code-named “Sagar Manthan“.
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