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02 Nov, 2022

30 Min Read

World Cities Day & Urbanization

GS-I : Human Geography Urbanisation

World Cities Day & Urbanization

  • Every year on October 31, World Cities Day is observed to raise awareness of the need for international cooperation in advancing global urbanisation and addressing its difficulties.
  • By 2050, seven out of ten people on the planet will reside in cities, according to the UN.

What is the World Cities History Day?

2022's theme is "Act Local to Go Global."


  • World Cities Day was established by a resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on December 27, 2013.
  • 2014 saw the inaugural occasion for the celebration.
  • The UNGA's choice to create World Cities Day was motivated by the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, which took place in 1976.
  • According to SDG 11 objectives, the UN-Habitat initiative encourages the creation of sustainable cities.
  • The United Nations agency responsible for human settlements and environmentally friendly urban development is called UN-Habitat.
  • For this reason, it runs the annual Urban October program, which starts on the first Monday of the month and runs through World Cities Day on October 31.
  • Significance: By bringing together all parties involved in local and international urban development, World Cities Day assists in addressing the issues associated to urbanization.
  • Urbanization is a sign of a country's expanding economy.
  • However, social, economic, demographic, and environmental issues are obstacles to this type of development.
  • The displacement of original residents, the cutting down of trees, the loss of animal habitats, problems with healthcare, food supply, and pollution are some of the most obvious obstacles to rapid urbanisation.

Urban problems in India:

Although India is one of the less urbanized countries of the world with only 30 percent of its population living in urban agglomerations, the country is facing a serious crisis of urban growth at the present time. Although Urbanisation has been an instrument of economic, social, and political progress, it has led to serious socio-economic problems.

Urban Sprawl:

  • The rapid growth of urban population both natural and through migration, has put heavy pressure on public utilities like housing, sanitation, transport, water, electricity, health and education.
  • This is due to the fact that such large cities act as magnets and attract large numbers of immigrants by dint of their employment opportunities and modern way of life.
  • Such hyper-urbanization leads to projected city sizes of which defy imagination. Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, etc. are examples of urban sprawl due to large-scale migration of people from the surrounding areas and rural areas.


  • Overcrowding is a situation in which too many people live in too little space. Overcrowding is a logical consequence of over-population in urban areas. It is naturally expected that cities having a large size of population squeezed into a small space must suffer from overcrowding.
  • Delhi has a population density of 9,340 persons per sq km (Census 2001) which is the highest in India. This leads to tremendous pressure on resources and efforts to decongest Delhi by developing ring towns have not met with the required success.


  • Overcrowding leads to a chronic problem of shortage of houses in urban areas. An Indian Sample Survey in 1959 indicated that 44 per cent of urban households (as compared to 34 per cent of rural families) occupied one room or less.
  • For about a third of urban Indian families, a house does not include a kitchen, a bathroom, a toilet—and in many cases there is no power and water supply.
  • The major factors are shortage of building materials and financial resources, inadequate expansion of public utilities into sub-urban areas, poverty and unemployment of urban immigrants, strong caste and family ties and lack of adequate transportation to sub-urban areas where most of the vacant land for new construction is located.


  • Urban unemployment in India is estimated at 15 to 25 per cent of the labour force. This percentage is even higher among the educated people. One of the major causes of urban unemployment is the large scale migration of people from rural to urban areas. But the growth of economic opportunities fails to keep pace with the quantum of immigration.

Growing of Slums:

  • The natural sequel of unchecked, unplanned, and haphazard growth of urban areas is the growth and spread of slums and squatter settlements in the Indian cities, especially of metropolitan centres.
  • In India Slums have been defined under section 3 of Slum Areas (Improvement and Clearance) Act 1956. As areas where buildings:

(i) Area in any respect unfit for human habitation.

(ii) Area by reason of dilapidation, overcrowding, faulty arrangement and design of such buildings, narrowness or faulty arrangement of streets, lack of ventilation, light, sanitation facilities or any combination of these factors, which are detrimental to safety, health and morals.

  • Due to inherent ‘non-legal’ status, a slum settlement has services and infrastructure below the adequate minimum levels. As such water supply, sanitation, electricity, roads, drainage, schools, health centres, and market places are either absent or arranged informally.
  • The largest slum population of 10.6 million has been reported from Maharashtra; followed by Andhra Pradesh (5.1 million), Uttar Pradesh (4.1 million), West Bengal (3.8 million), Tamil Nadu (2.5 million), Madhya Pradesh (2.4 million) and Delhi (2.0 million).


  • With traffic bottleneck and traffic congestion, almost all cities and towns of India are suffering from acute form of transport problem. Transport problems increase and become more complex as the town grows in size.
  • In most cities the rush hour or peak traffic hour lasts for about two hours and during that period buses and trains are crammed to capacity, roads are overcrowded with vehicles and the movement of traffic becomes very slow.


  • The supply of water started falling short of demand as the cities grew in size and number.
  • Majority of the cities and towns do not get the recommended quantity of water. Gap in demand and supply of water in four metro cities, viz., Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai varies from 10 to 20 per cent. The condition is still worse in small cities and towns.

Sewerage Problems:

  • Urban areas in India are almost invariably plagued with insufficient and inefficient sewage facilities. Not a single city in India is fully sewered. Resource crunch faced by the municipalities and unauthorised growth of the cities are two major causes of this pathetic state of affairs.
  • Most cities do not have proper arrangements for treating the sewerage waste and it is drained into a nearly river (as in Delhi) or in sea (as in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai), thereby polluting the water bodies.

Urban Crimes:

  • Growing materialism, consumerism, competition in everyday life, selfishness, lavishness, appalling socio-economic disparities and rising unemployment and feeling of loneliness in the crowd are some of the primary causes responsible for alarming trends in urban crime.
  • According to study made by Dutt and Venugopal (1983), violent urban crimes like rape, murder, kidnapping, dacoity, robbery, etc. are more pronounced in the northern-central parts of the country.
  • Even the economic crimes (like theft, cheating, breach of trust, etc.) are concentrated in the north- central region.
  • Poverty related crimes are widespread with main concentration in the cities of Patna, Darbhanga, Gaya and Munger. This may be due to widespread poverty prevailing in this region.

Problem of Urban Pollution:

  • With rapid pace of urbanisation, industries and transport systems grow rather out of proportion. These developments are primarily responsible for pollution of environment, particularly the urban environment.


  • The share of urban areas in the total national economic income had been estimated at 60 per cent and the per capita income was about three times higher than rural per capita income.
  • But this is not sufficient partly, due to high cost of living and partly, because of growing economic disparity in urban areas. Rich are becoming richer and poor are becoming poorer.

What are the Related Initiatives?

India’s Initiatives for Urbanisation:

Government Initiatives for Slum Dwellers/Urban Poor

Way Forward:

  • Despite the fact that car-centric expansion has accelerated motorization in Indian cities, there are chances in this country's core strength of extensive use of public transportation, walking, and cycling.
  • The time has come for proactive policies to make sustainable modes work for everyone, including the wealthy and those at all income levels.
  • In India, transportation regulations have evolved to be more egalitarian and progressive. However, the sector's investments and execution are sluggish.
  • In order to cut travel times and encourage transit-oriented development, as well as mixed-use and mixed-income development, India also requires proactive regulations. These measures will help make cities more livable and accessible for everybody.

Source: UN

Social Media Impact on elections

GS-II : Indian Polity Election commission

Social Media Impact on Elections

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) recently sponsored an international conference for Election Management Bodies (EMBs) under the auspices of the United States' "Summit for Democracy." The Chief Election Commissioner spoke at the conference.
  • The commissioner asked social media platforms to use their "algorithm power" to proactively flag bogus news while officially opening the meeting.

What worries exist in regard to the dissemination of false information?

  • Red-Herring: All of the major social media platforms' content moderation-driven strategy to countering misinformation is a red herring meant to draw attention away from the much more serious issue of amplified dissemination of misinformation as a component of revenue models.
  • Social media platforms' opacity Social media platforms, which are largely controlled by a small group of people, are rapidly being used as the main forum for public dialogue.
  • The lack of transparency displayed by social media platforms is one of the largest obstacles to eradicating false information.
  • Inadequate Actions: Different social media platforms have failed to develop a cogent structure to combat false information, instead reacting haphazardly to news stories and public pressure.
  • The information ecology was poisoned by a lack of a consistent baseline strategy, enforcement, and accountability.
  • False Information Weaponization: In order to serve powerful entrenched interests' political and financial objectives, social media platforms have chosen design decisions that have mainstreamed false information.
  • The unrestricted flow of misinformation, hatred, and targeted intimidation that resulted has harmed real people and weakened India's democracy.
  • Vaccine hesitation, entrenched societal polarisation, and physical violence have all been related to misinformation disseminated through social media platforms.
  • The National Education Policy 2020 is a squandered chance to include media literacy in the curriculum due to the prevalence of digital media illiteracy among children.
  • Social media literacy is completely ignored in the document, despite the fact that "digital literacy" is mentioned only once.
  • Given that social media is the main source of kids' literacy, this is a big issue.
  • Threats arising from Anonymity: The most well-known use of anonymity is to avoid having one's opinions associated with a real person in the offline world or to tell the truth against vengeful governments.
  • While this can enable someone express their opinions without feeling insecure on the one hand, it does greater harm because the user can distribute incorrect information to any amount without being held accountable.

What Benefits and Drawbacks Does Social Media Have for Elections?


  • Manifestos for planning
  • In recent years, the organisation of political rallies and party manifestos has placed an increasing emphasis on digital techniques.
  • And so far, a tweet survey has taken the place of the pre-election survey for those interested in learning about public attitude.
  • Influence Public Opinion: Social media aids political parties in swaying the opinions of unsure voters and motivating the electorate's passive middle class.
  • It also aids in mobilising the base of supporters to cast many ballots and persuade others to do the same.
  • Information Sharing: Politicians are using the new social media more and more for campaigning, sharing or retrieving information, or participating in logical and critical debate.
  • Taking Care of Individuals Issues: Social media makes it simple for people to be informed about future occasions, party plans, and election agendas.
  • A tech-savvy candidate should be chosen to handle social media and use it to connect with people and learn about their issues.


  • Polarization: Social media has developed into a tool used by politicians to make more noise and even as a means of fostering polarisation.
  • Growing Misrepresentation: The opposition parties are frequently blamed and criticised on social media, and the material is misrepresented by false and inaccurate facts.
  • Political minorities are becoming more prevalent, and they are using social media to block political progress.
  • Influence Voters' Opinion: Maintaining a social media presence and engaging in advertising costs money. Only wealthy parties can spend that much money and have an impact on the majority of voters.
  • The dissemination of false information on social media sites affects voter preferences during elections.

How are elections regulated in the media?

  • The media are not governed by the Election Commission. However, it is responsible for upholding any legal requirements or court orders that may be related to the media or how certain media outlets operate. The following laws are listed:
  • According to Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act of 1951, no election-related material may be shown on a cinematograph, television, or other similar device for 48 hours following the hour set for polling to close.
  • Section 126A of the Representation of the People Act of 1951 forbids the conduct of exit polls and the dissemination of their findings between the hours set for the start of the first phase of voting and the half-hour following the time set for the end of voting in the final phase in all States and Union Territories.
  • The Representation of the People Act, 1951, Section 127A: Its regulations control the printing and publication of election pamphlets, posters, etc., and require that they bear the names and addresses of the printer and publisher on their front faces.

Way Forward

  • Social media platforms, political parties, civil society and election authorities should put more effort into how social media platforms are used by politicians during elections and frame a comprehensive guideline that benefits the voter.
  • Social media, if used properly will certainly add to the vote bank but the other side of the picture will always stay. Hence, there is a need to take some measures for the effective use of social media in elections without any violation of individual rights.
  • It is high time that to ensure that the voting is not influenced but is done with People’s Own Choices and Preferences and ensure Free and Fair Election in the country.

Source: The Hindu

Decentralising MGNREGS

GS-II : Governance Decentralized governance

Decentralising MGNREGS

The decentralisation of MGNREGS has recently been recommended by an internal study that the Ministry of Rural Development had commissioned.

Significant findings of the study

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) should be decentralised, according to the study, as this will give local officials more "flexibility."

•It was the sixth Common Review Mission's report.

•The report examined Jammu and Kashmir's Union Territory as well as seven States, including Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Nagaland, Gujarat, Jharkhand, and Himachal Pradesh.

•The goal of the report was to evaluate how well all rural development programmes, including the MGNREGS, were being implemented.


Centralised fund management: In recent years, instead of paying gramme sabhas an advance, fund management has been centralised.

Delays in fund disbursement: The internal study also identified frequent delays in fund disbursement.

Wages below market rate: According to the study, MGNREGS wages were far below the market rate in many states, defeating the purpose of acting as a safety net. As an example,

A farm laborer's minimum wage in Gujarat is currently Rs324.20, but the MGNREGS wage is Rs229.

In Nagaland, the daily wage is Rs 212, which does not account for the difficult terrain conditions.


Diversification of permissible works: According to the study, rather than listing the types of permissible works, there should be a greater diversity of permissible works.

The broad categories of works may be listed, and flexibility at the ground level should be provided to select the type of works based on the broad categories.

Advance payments to gram sabhas:

•Paying the gram sabhas in advance allows them to choose the work they want to do.

•Instead of chasing a target set for them, gram sabhas can take into account local conditions and community needs.

•To address the frequent delays in fund disbursement, the report proposed a"revolving fund that can be used whenever there is a delay in the Central funds."

Non-Purposive Spending:

While MGNREGA has increased rural people's earning capacity, their spending habits are important because there is little savings from their wages.

Suggestions and future plans

Social audits: There is a need to conduct social audits in accordance with the rules and to effectively implement the delay compensation system.

Fund utilisation: The reasons for poor fund utilisation should be investigated, and steps should be taken to improve them. In addition, actions should be taken against officers who are found to have misappropriated funds.

Raising awareness: Women's and lower-income people's participation must be increased by raising awareness and making it more inclusive.


The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (Mahatma Gandhi NREGS) is a wage employment scheme based on demand.

Aim: To provide at least 100 days of unskilled manual labour as guaranteed employment to every rural household in a fiscal year, resulting in the creation of productive assets of prescribed quality and durability.


Legal Work Permit: Adult members of rural households have a legal right to work under the Act.

Women: At least one-third of the beneficiaries must be female.

Time-Bound Work Guarantee: Work must be provided within 15 days of being demanded, failing which a 'unemployment allowance' must be provided.

Decentralized Planning: Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) are primarily responsible for work planning, implementation, and monitoring.

Gram Sabhas must recommend the projects to be undertaken and must carry out at least 50% of the work.

Transparency and accountability are addressed through provisions such as wall writings, Citizen Information Boards, Management Information Systems, and social audits (conducted by Gram Sabhas)

Source: The Hindu

Digital Rupee

GS-III : Economic Issues Digital currency

Digital Rupee

  • The first pilot in the Digital Rupee, Wholesale segment according to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), will start on November 1st, 2022.
  • The first trial in the Digital Rupee - Retail category will debut in a month in a few key areas with closed user groups made up of consumers and retailers.

Describe Digital Rupee.

  • A digital version of currency notes produced by a central bank is known as a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) or Digital Rupee.
  • It is a digital method of payment that supports contactless exchanges.
  • It is characterized as the Reserve Bank of India's legal tender.
  • Background: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would shortly launch its digital currency when presenting the Union Budget 2022.


There are two different types of CBDC.

  • Retail (CBDC-R): Retail CBDC might be accessible to everyone.
  • Wholesale (CBDC-W) is intended for specialised financial institutions with limited access.
  • Benefits include "supporting India's digital economy, enhancing financial inclusion, and improving the efficiency of the monetary and payment systems."
  • A digitised currency will lower transaction costs and make it simpler for governments to access all transactions taking place inside authorised networks.
  • In contrast to actual notes, a digital currency will have an infinite lifecycle. According to the CBDC, "CBDC is intended to supplement, rather than replace, present forms of money and is envisaged to provide an extra payment pathway to users, not to replace the existing payment systems."

Adoption of digital currency has risks

  • cyberthreats and hacks
  • invasion of privacy

Bitcoin versus digital currency: differences

  • A decentralized digital asset and medium of exchange based on blockchain technology is known as a cryptocurrency. It has, however, mostly generated controversy because of its decentralised character, which refers to its operation without the use of any middlemen like banks, financial organisations, or central governments.
  • On the other hand, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will issue Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) that would be accepted as legal cash online.
  • In that it would be backed by the government, the digital rupee will vary from Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies.
  • Second, the digital rupee will be similar to holding a physical rupee equivalent since it has intrinsic value due to government backing.

Future Possibilities

  • Future pilots will concentrate on other wholesale transactions and cross-border payments as a result of the lessons learned from this trial.
  • In order to create a CBDC ecosystem and ensure its sustainability, it is crucial to solve the current challenges and for CBDC to operate as an inclusionary tool by resolving the concerns through innovation

Source: The Hindu

Deinococcus Radiodurans: Mars

GS-III : S&T Space

Deinococcus Radiodurans: Mars

  • In a recent study, scientists imitated the intense ionising radiation on Mars and discovered that ancient bacteria may be able to endure considerably longer than previously thought near to the planet's surface.
  • The robust bacterium could live for 280 million years if it were buried, according to a new study, shattering the previous record. This implies that signs of life may still be dormant and hidden beneath Mars' surface.

With regards to Deinococcus radiodurans

  • Numerous terrestrial microbes demonstrated that they could be able to thrive on Mars, but one in particular, Deinococcus radiodurans, appeared to be especially well-suited to residing there.

  • The microbe was given the moniker "Conan the bacterium" by the researchers because it could withstand extremely high radiation levels while being frozen.
  • This implies that when the first samples from Mars return to Earth, researchers may even uncover microbes and their byproducts.
  • The research team exposed six distinct terrestrial bacteria and fungi under conditions resembling life on the red planet in order to determine whether any life forms might survive the extreme environmental conditions there.
  • They accomplished this by freezing the germs and bombarding them with protons and gamma rays.

Read Also: Social Media Impact on Elections

Source: The Indian Express

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