Daily Mains Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

29 APRIL 2021


Mains Value Addition

Mains Analysis

Topic No

Topic Name



Temples are not fiefdoms of the state

The Hindu


The Dirty Truth

Indian Express

Mains Value Addition

China pushes defence ties with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka

Syllabus– GS 2 IR:

Analysis: –

China’s Minister of Defence Wei Fenghe, visiting Bangladesh and Sri Lanka this week, has called on countries in the neighbourhood to resist “powers from outside the region setting up military alliances in South Asia”.

China on Tuesday also convened a six-country South Asia dialogue on COVID-19 and economic cooperation with the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The senior Chinese official’s visit to Sri Lanka coincides with mounting resistance in Sri Lanka to a Bill envisioning laws to govern the China-backed $1.4 billion Colombo Port City. The Supreme Court recently heard a case on the matter, following some 20 petitions by opposition parties and civil society organisations that challenged the Bill arguing that it “threatened” Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.

Govt leverage in Covid-19 vaccine pricing

Syllabus– GS 2: Health, Government Policy

Analysis: –

During the hearing on issues related to the pandemic on Tuesday, the Supreme Court flagged differential pricing for vaccines, and directed the central government to clarify in its affidavit the basis and rationale for pricing.

How does the government regulate the pricing of drugs?

To ensure accessibility, the pricing of essential drugs is regulated centrally through The Essential Commodities Act, 1955. Under Section 3 of the Act, the government has enacted the Drugs (Prices Control) Order. The DPCO lists over 800 drugs as “essential” in its schedule, and has capped their prices.

The capping of prices is done based on a formula that is worked out in each case by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), which was set up in 1997.

Can the government regulate the price of Covid-19 vaccines through DPCO?

Regulation through DPCO is not applicable for patented drugs or fixed-dose combination (FDC) drugs.

This is why the price of the antiviral drug remdesivir, which is currently in great demand for the treatment of serious cases of Covid-19, is not regulated by the government. Last week, a notification by the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers said that on the intervention of the government, major manufacturers/marketers of the remdesivir injection had reported voluntary reduction in the Maximum Retail Price (MRP).

UK becomes first country to green-light driverless cars on its roads

Syllabus– GS 3: Science and Technology

Analysis: –

  • The UK government on Wednesday became the first country to announce it will regulate the use of self-driving vehicles at slow speeds on motorways, with the first such cars possibly appearing on public roads as soon as this year.
  • Britain’s transport ministry said it was working on specific wording to update the country’s highway code for the safe use of self-driving vehicle systems, starting with Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) — which use sensors and software to keep cars within a lane, allowing them to accelerate and brake without driver input.
  • “Aside from the lack of technical capabilities, by calling ALKS automated our concern also is that the UK government is contributing to the confusion and frequent misuse of assisted driving systems that have unfortunately already led to many tragic deaths,” said Matthew Avery, research director at Thatcham Research, which has tested ALKS systems.
  • The dangers of drivers apparently misunderstanding the limits of technology has been an issue in the US, where regulators are reviewing about 20 crashes involving Tesla’s driver assistance tools.

Mains Analysis

Temples are not fiefdoms of the state

Why in News?

Uttarakhand CM Tirath Singh Rawat on Friday, revoked the Trivendra Singh Rawat govt’s ‘Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act’, freeing 51 temples

Syllabus– GS 1: Indian Culture

  • In a major setback to Hindutva arguments on the state’s control of Hindu temples, the Uttarakhand High Court on July 21 upheld the constitutionality of the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board Act, 2019.
  • All religious reforms are resisted. Thus the Sabrimala judgment (2018) saw huge public protests similar to those after the Shah Bano judgment (1985).
  • From the bogey of ‘minority appeasement’, the nation has now moved to injustices against Hindus.
  • The court held that Article 26 cannot be invoked if the denomination never had the right to manage temple properties. It merely acknowledges the pre-existing right.

Colonial legacy

  • When the British government realised that a secular government should take no part in the management of religious institutions, it enacted the Religious Endowments Act (Act XX of 1863) repealing the pre-existing Bengal and Madras Regulations.
  • Section 8 of the Act provided that the members of the committee to be appointed from persons professing the religion, for purposes of which the religious establishment was founded or maintained and in accordance with the general wishes of those who are interested in the maintenance of the institution.


Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act?

  • In 2019, the Trivendra Singh Rawat government had passed the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Act in the Assembly taking over control of major Hindu religious institutions.
  • The Act allowed the government to nominate MPs, MLAs, and representatives as the chairman and members to the temple’s boards for its management.
  • The Act was heavily criticised by the Opposition and aggrieved priests who reportedly claim that they were ‘kept in the dark’ regarding the law.
  • BJP’s Subramanian Swamy had filed a PIL challenging the constitutional validity claiming that it violates Articles 31 A(1) (b), Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution.

Various aspects of State and Religion:

  • A myth is trotted out to justify sovereign control of temples: that Hindu temples were supervised and managed by kings, who “habitually employed ministries to supervise temples and charitable bodies”.
  • Like many myths the colonials perpetuated, this too must be disabused: there is not a shred of historical source to support this claim.
  • On the contrary there are inscriptions, cast in stone, that attest that temples were managed wholly and entirely by local communities.

State in religion

  • The state has assumed the role of religious functionaries to determine who will be heads of Mutts and the authority to conduct poojas.
  • For example, The Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1954 entrusted the committee appointed by the state with the task of ensuring the performance of seva pooja.
  • When the Act was questioned by the Raja of Puri before the Supreme Court, in Raja Birakishore vs The State Of Orissa, the Court made a revelation: the performance of a puja is in fact a secular act and, therefore, the state is justified in its regulation.


State Regulation of Religion and Supreme Court: –

  • The exercise of state regulation of secular aspects of religion was taken to extreme lengths when the Court ruled that the state, by appointing temple priests, was exercising a secular function (Seshammal&Ors, Etc. Etc vs State Of Tamil Nadu).
  • Whatever style of secularism we subscribe to, surely the Indian state is not to tell the believer how he/she is to offer worship to the deity nor is it to tell the custodian of the deity how she will be appointed.
  • Constituent Assembly framed the religious liberty clauses keeping in mind the historical prohibition of entry to certain classes and sections of Hindu society.

Constitutional Obligation: –

  • Article 25(2) grants power to the State to enact law on two distinct aspects.
  • Article 25(2)(a) empowers the state to regulate “economic, financial, political or other secular activities which may be associated with religious practice”.
  • Article 25(2)(b) enables the state to enact law to prohibit the exclusion of ‘classes and sections’ of Hindu society to enter into Hindu temples of a public character and also make law for social welfare and reform.
  • Thus, the control of secular aspects associated with religion and the power to throw open Hindu temples to all classes and sections of society are distinct.

Secular aspects and social reform.

  • Viewed from this standpoint, the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department is not a “tribune for social justice” as argued in the article nor has it ever guaranteed equal access to worship.
  • Nowhere does the text of the Constitution permit the state to assume ownership of properties belonging to religious institutions and treat them as state largesse to be siphoned off.
  • The only vestige of authority under the Constitution empowering the state to take over property of religious institutions is under Article 31A (b).
  • The history of legislative practice of endowment laws reveals the state prerogative in ensuring regulation of only secular activities.
  • As a matter of fact, the Shirur Mutt case, while upholding certain provisions of the 1951 Act, struck down a major portion of the Act characterising the provisions as a “disastrous invasion” of religious liberty.
  • In 1959, the Legislature ‘cured’ the defects pointed out by the Supreme Court, by inserting verbatim the very provisions that the Supreme Court had stuck down in 1954.

Applicable to charities

  • The Waqf Act justification for the legitimacy of control of Hindu religious endowments is misleading.
  • A reading of the Act reveals that it applies to charities and specifically excludes places of worship such as mosques.
  • In fact the scheme of the Waqf Act supports the argument that the government should not regulate places of worship.
  • The most fundamental criticism against the release of Hindu temples from government control to the society is two-fold.

Solutions ahead: –

  • What is being asserted by the community is the right of representation in the affairs of the management of temples.
  • This right of representation can be effectuated by the creation of boards representative of religious heads, priests and responsible members from the dharmik sampradaya.
  • The logic is simple. Members who profess a particular dharmik sampradaya will have its due interest in mind.

Way Forward: –

  • The founding fathers of the Indian Constitution always had secularism as a foundation of a democratic India.
  • Secularism means the acceptance and respect of all the religions in a country without any coercion and minimal interference of state in the religious matters.
  • A country is considered secular only when the state without any discrimination, considers the value of each religion and empathize towards the people to profess any religion of their choice.
  • In a country as diverse as India, there are several religions and communal groups with various interests, belief and faith. There is a possibility of religious conflicts in India, since the interest of one religious group may be violating other groups faith.
  • In such a situation the state plays an important role in regulating the acts of the people, protecting the religious beliefs and preventing the destruction of lives and property.
  • For this purpose the local government caused an election.
  • In the spirit of equality of all religions, this scheme should be applicable to all religious institutions which would guarantee adequate community representation in the management of their places of worship.

Question: –

The 42nd amendment to the Constitution of India inserted the word “secular” into the preamble thus making India a “secular” Republic. Critically evaluate the statement with suitable arguments.

The Dirty Truth

Why in News?

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the dire state of rural sanitation infra (Toilet) & manifold increase in open defecation in rural India.

Syllabus– GS2: Issues related to Sanitation (Health)

  • In India’s context, where more than 74 million are homeless or live in slums, controlling this infectious disease requires targeted policies to provide access to sanitation facilities, soap, and water in addition to social distancing.
  • India is also unique because it has recently transitioned millions who previously defecated in the open to using a toilet.
  • Shared sanitation facilities are prone to unhygienic conditions due to poor maintenance.
  • The COVID-19 crisis may intensify these specific challenges because use by multiple households can increase the risk of contact and formite exposures.
  • As social distancing measures restrict movement, it may limit access to public or communal toilets.
  • It is therefore important to understand whether such barriers have increased open defecation practices to avoid potential perceived risks of using shared toilet facilities.

Sanitation in times of Pandemic:

  • Sanitary toilet usage has declined because of the COVID-19 scare where more than 6lakh toilets have an acute water shortage.
  • Nearly 1.2lakh toilets have no water supply & completely abandoned.
  • Despite the strict ban under Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers & their Rehabilitation Act 2013, due to lockdowns of 2020-21, there is a surge in Newly-built “dry latrines” & “hanging toilets”.
  • There is a stark contrast between urban & rural water & sanitation coverage in India.
  • The dependence on unimproved water sources in rural areas even within sanitary toilets increases the need to re-evaluate the obsession with toilet construction in India.

Challenges and Concerns:

  • Forfeited bills & corruption by contractors keep toilets from having long-lasting infrastructure.
  • Long queues in the semi-urban & rural areas changed sanitation behavior.
  • In rural India, long power cuts with no water coverage amidst the pandemic have again put the burden of maintaining sanitary toilets on sanitation workers.

As sanitary toilets have become hotbeds of disease that made people to construct illegal toilets.


  • The usage of both dry latrines & hanging toilets puts the communities at high risk of illness beyond COVID-19.
  • As toilet usage becomes a problem, another trend is the four-fold increase in open defecation in rural India.
  • The defecation sites are close to garbage & water bodies which further aggravate the situation.
  • The biggest curse for India’s sanitation workers is “dry latrines”, now with the increase of new “dry latrines”, the burden on them increased manifold that is beyond their carrying capacity.

State of sanitation crisis across “Indian States”:

  • In UP, re-emergence of Small pits filled with human excrement near construction sites has been found.
  • In Bengal, more & more hanging toilets are built by families who do not want to use sanitary toilets as they are always filled with sludge.
  • In Delhi, a pattern of small segregated pits & dry latrines are found at landfills.
  • In Tamil Nadu & Goa, unused toilets became playgrounds for wild animals & snakes.
  • In MP& Rajasthan, toilets became “death traps” because of the usage of substandard material for construction.
  • In Mizoram, there is a prevalence of unique “tree-house” toilets similar to hanging toilets but 3 times higher.

Way Forward:­

  • Both construction & usage of dry latrines & hanging toilets needs to be eradicated.
  • Both “value of service” & maintenance systems need to be tackled immediately by re-surveying the state of the toilets that were built 3-5 years ago.
  • At every single step, the sanitation system needs to go hand in hand with the water system combined with an assessment of sanitation behavior& sanitation labour reforms in India.
  • The leakage & corruption free in marinating & construction of toilets has to be strictly implemented.
  • The need of the hour is instead of focusing so heavily on building new toilets, India needs to address the problems of acute toilet usage in rural India.

Question: –

With no escape from COVID-19, the toilet traditions have highlighted major loopholes in India’s Sanitation system where the focus is majorly on building new infrastructure. Discuss.

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