Category Civics

What is the NHRC?

The NHRC India coordinates with the NHRIS of other countries to enhance awareness on human rights.

The International Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10, which is the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The Indian government established the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on October 12 in 1993 to promote and protect human rights. But do you know what NHRC is?

What is NHRC?

The NHRC was established under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993. It was set up in conformity with the Paris Principles, which was adopted at the first international workshop on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights held in Paris in October 1991.

According to Section 2(1)(d) of the PHRA, Human Rights is the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.


One of the responsibilities of the NHRC is to inquire into complaints of violation of human rights or abetment or negligence in the prevention of such violations, by a public servant.

It intervenes in proceedings involving any allegation of violation of human rights pending before a court, with the approval of the court.

The Commission also studies treaties and international instruments on human rights and makes recommendations for their effective implementation to the Government.

It spreads human rights literacy and promotes awareness amongst the masses. It also encourages the efforts of all stakeholders in the field of human rights literacy not only at the national level but at the international level too.

The NHRC India plays an active role in coordinating with the National Human Rights Institutes (NHRIS) of other countries to enhance awareness from the perspective of human rights.

It has hosted delegations from United Nations bodies and other NHRC as well as members of civil society, lawyers, and political and social activists from many countries.


The unique feature of NHRC India is that it is one of the few NHRIS in the world whose Chairperson is the former Chief Justice of the country. The Chairperson and members of the Commission are appointed by the President on the basis of recommendations by a panel headed by the Prime Minister. The current Chairperson is Justice Arun Kumar Mishra.

The Commission has its own investigating staff headed by a Director General of Police for investigation into complaints of human rights violations.

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Who is known as pepper queen of India?

Rani Chennabhairadevi is known as “The Pepper Queen’ (Raina da Pimenta) of India. Her reign lasted 54 years, the longest by an Indian queen. She ruled from Gerusoppa, capital of the Saluva dynasty, between the 15th and 16th centuries. Her kingdom extended from Goa to Bhatkal and Karwar, up to Malabar. This belt was known as pepper country, as the spice grew in the virgin forests. Shiploads of pepper, betel nut, timber and sandalwood were traded with the Portuguese, British, Dutch and Africans in exchange for precious metals and stones. Most of the trade happened through Mirjan port in Uttara Kannada. The queen resided at and controlled the pepper trade from Mirjan Fort on River Aganashini. The Portuguese and the Keladi kings tried to capture Gerusoppa which Chennabhairadevi thwarted twice. The Keladi kings joined with the Bilagi chieftains to defeat her; she was imprisoned and died in captivity at Keladi.

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What is Enforcement Directorate?

The Enforcement Directorate is India’s premier central financial probe agency

The Centre has allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to share information about financial offenders with 15 more agencies, including Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), the Competition Commission of India (CCI), and the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Earlier, the ED used to share its data with 10 agencies.


The Enforcement Directorate’s origins go back to 1956. The Directorate began on May 1, 1956 in New Delhi (headquarters) as ‘Enforcement Unit, as part of the Department of Economic Affairs for handling Exchange Control Laws violations under Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947.

The unit’s name was changed to Enforcement Directorate in 1957. Another branch was opened in Madras (now Chennai).

In 1960, the administrative control of the Directorate was transferred from the Department of Economic Affairs to the Department of Revenue.

What is ED?

The Enforcement Directorate is a multi-disciplinary organisation mandated with the investigation of offences of money laundering and violations of foreign exchange laws.

It is responsible for the enforcement of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) and certain provisions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PML).

The Directorate is under the administrative control of the Department of Revenue for operational purposes; the policy aspects of the FEMA, its legislation and amendments are within the purview of the Department of Economic Affairs. Policy issues pertaining to the PML Act, however, are the responsibility of the Department of Revenue.

Sanjay Kumar Mishra is the current chief of the Enforcement Directorate. The Directorate has 10 zonal offices, each of which is headed by a Deputy Director, and 11 sub-zonal offices, each of which is headed by an Assistant Director.

The Enforcement Directorate, India’s premier central financial probe agency, has always been in the limelight for probing some of the most high profile cases of the country, involving business houses, top politicians, and industrialists.


  • Serious Fraud Investigation Office
  • Competition Commission of India
  • National Investigation Agency
  • State Police Department
  • Special Investigation Team
  • Directorate General of Foreign Trade
  • Ministry of External Affairs
  • National Investigation Agency
  • Central Vigilance Commission
  • Military Intelligence directorate
  • Central Bureau of Investigation
  • National Technical Research Organisation
  • Reserve Bank of India
  • Securities and Exchange Board of India
  • Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India
  • Intelligence Bureau Financial Intelligence Unit
  • Department of Company Affairs
  • Cabinet Secretariat (Research and Analysis Wing)
  • Director (Financial Intelligence Unit)
  • National Intelligence Grid
  • Defence Intelligence Agency

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What is the NIA?

The NIA is currently under the spotlight following the October 23 Coimbatore car blast in which one person was killed. Following the incident, explosive materials used to make bombs were seized from the house of the deceased. Investigation points to terror links in the case. But what is NIA and what does its role entail? Come, let’s find out.

Investigate terror-related crimes The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is the central counter-terrorism law enforcement agency which functions under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. It is empowered to investigate terror-related crimes across the country without having to acquire permission from the States. The agency was set up in 2008 to combat terrorism in the country, following the deadly Mumbai terror attack the same year. It came into force with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 by Parliament.

The NIA has its headquarters in New Delhi. Headed by a Director-General (an IPS officer), it maintains the “NIA Most Wanted list”. Dinkar Gupta, a 1987-batch IPS officer and former chief of Punjab Police, is NIA’s current Director-General.

Building ties with foreign counterparts

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, while inaugurating the Raipur branch office of the NIA in August 2022, said that the government wanted it to become a federal crime investigation agency with offices in all States before the 2024 General Election. He further said that the NIA is working towards building ties with its foreign counterparts for better coordination in terror investigations. As of 2022, the NIA has 14 branches across the country in places such as Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kochi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Kolkata, Raipur, Jammu, Chandigarh, Ranchi, Chennai, Imphal, Bengaluru, and Patna.

The NIA aims to act as a deterrent on existing and potential terrorists. Its mission is to investigate terror-related offences using the latest scientific methods and facilitate a speedy, effective trial. One of its stated objectives is to create and share with States and other law enforcement agencies in the country a database of information pertaining to terrorists.

New offences brought under NIA Act

Under the NIA Act, the Central government can hand over cases for investigation to the NIA anywhere in the country. And State governments can request an investigation by the NIA upon the Central government’s approval. The NIA Act of 2008 was amended by Parliament in 2019 when some major changes were introduced. So new offences such as human trafficking, counterfeit currency, sale or manufacture of prohibited arms, and cyber terrorism have been brought under the purview of the Act. The agency’s jurisdiction has been extended outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of the country concerned. Besides, the Act allows for the constitution of special courts by the Centre to conduct trials.

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What was Louisa May Alcott best known for? How Little Women became big?

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is a semi-autobiographical American coming-of-age story about four sisters. A critique of the unrealistic perception of blissful female domesticity, this novel has never once been out of print since it was first published in 1868, and has even been adapted for the big screen seven times to date. Let’s revisit the classic and look at what makes it relevant even today.

About the author

Louisa May Alcott was the second of four daughters born to Amos Bronson Alcott and Abigail May on November 29, 1839. Her father was an autodidact, which means he taught himself how to read and write. He eventually became a progressive educator and founded the temple school, where he introduced subjects such as art music nature studies, and physical education into the curriculum, in the hope of providing holistic education to the students. However, the school was shut down as most parents at the time were neither familiar nor happy with these subjects. Bronson Alcott’s unconventional teaching methods were the reasons why he could never establish a steady source of income and brought his family to the verge of poverty.

Growing up, Louisa’s way of thinking was not only shaped by her father’s teaching but also by close interactions with his friends, American authors Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, whom the family befriended upon moving to Concord.

Distressed by her family’s financial status, 15-year-old Louisa wrote in her diary “I will do something by and by. Don’t care what, teach, sew, act, write anything to help the family and I’ll be rich and famous and happy before I die, see if I won’t. And she was able to fulfil this, thanks to the massive success of her semi-autobiographical novel Little Women, which was initially published in two parts Little Women (1868) and The Good Wives (1869).

Fortunate accidents

Louisa May Alcott never wanted to write Little Women, as it went against all of her impulses to be taken seriously as a writer and an equal to her male contemporaries but ended up penning the iconic story as a consequence of a series of fortunate accidents.

She was 36 years old and had already published a few books under the pen name A.M. Barnard when her publisher Thomas Niles insisted that her next novel should be about the domestic sphere and cater to young women. Enticing her further, Niles suggested that he would willingly Mr Alcott’s philosophy book too if Louisa agreed to this.

Just for the sake of her father, she agreed and wrote what would become her most celebrated book in a 10-week flurry, drawing from her own childhood experiences.

Little Women

The novel chronicles the lives of the Four March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy as they grow up during the American Civil War, wrestling with the limitations placed on women in the 19th Century. It critiques how women are forced to make cruelly imposed compromises between self-fulfilment and economic and social necessity.

What makes it a classic?

The blueprint of a family

This work of children’s fiction has a didactic tone that sets it apart from most of the literature that appeared before it. Louisa’s realistic characters and sentimental themes explore how social reform must start at home. Little Women functions as a blueprint of what it takes to have a healthy relationship with your family. Although the story is set in the tumultuous background of the civil war and the scarlet fever outbreak, the connection that the flawed and vulnerable March sisters have and share with the people that surround them is what makes them more life-like, relatable, and relevant. The book celebrates their diverse takes on difficult situations, individual struggles with poverty, and different aspirations in life, highlighting how no two individuals can be the same even if they are raised under the same roof with the same resources.

The matriarch

Through the strong and self-reliant character of Marmee, the author challenges the prevailing assumptions of 19th Century society that saw women as domestic goddesses that were best kept indoors tending to every need of the family.

Marmee is a source of awe and inspiration to her children, who have witnessed her single-handedly manage the household and make a living while their father is away at war. Her unconventional way of thinking, which suggests self-respect, peace, and true love must hold more importance than money and even marriage, motivates her daughters to dream big and accomplish more in their lives.

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What are some ways a citizen can participate in the political process?

Children demonstrate an interest, but stay away from engaging in socio-political affairs. Here’s how they can address the gaps, become active citizens and prepare to participate in future democratic processes…

Knowledge of politics

Education is the building block of a progressive society. Besides shaping your personality, it helps you bring about change in society. Wondering how? If you become aware of your rights and responsibilities, you will be better equipped to face society and take an active part in shaping it. Continue to follow politics in your state and country from a young age. An early awareness of politics is essential to awaken your sense of social responsibility in a democracy. To start with, familiarise yourself with local governance and democratic values. Get to know about political developments, leaders and their accomplishments. Are they good at their work? Are the policies framed by them effective? Find out from the newspapers and other media. Discuss themes ranging from fundamental rights to voting and elections. This will help you make informed choices when you turn 18, the age to exercise your right to franchise. What’s more, if you are cut out for politics, you too can enter the field at the right time and make a difference.

Start small

Are you indifferent towards the pot holed road in your locality? Or uncleared dustbins in the neighbourhood? Have you ignored the govemment’s call to end the use of certain plastic items? Well, if your answer is ‘Yes’, it’s time to act. Change starts with you! You can be the change you would like to see in society. Find out how you can contribute to change in your community. You can start by volunteering with organisations working for civic issues during the weekends. As you commit yourself to such work, you will inspire others too to follow suit. Start small, start local, and then expand your areas of work.

Read autobiographies and biographies of leaders

Every leader had to overcome great obstacles during their lifetime. Today we may not even have an idea of the struggles they had to undergo to attain freedom for our country. Read up on the history of India and world, the wars, the biographies of great leaders and the works written by them. You will get to know about their qualities, what made them stand out, their credibility, statesmanship and their effective policies towards disadvantages sections of society. You will also learn about the futility of war. Books serve as great teachers and reading biographies will shape you into a better leader.


Care for the environment

With a warming world staring us in the face, what can we do to minimise its impact on us and the future generations? Remember the 3Rs – Reduce, Recycle and Reuse. Conserve energy by unplugging appliances when not in use. Conserve water by fixing the leaky taps in the kitchen and around your house. Plant saplings, and remember to water them regularly. They will surely provide the much-needed green cover in a few years’ time. Cycle or walk to places in the vicinity instead of taking out your fuel-guzzling two-wheelers to buy things needed for home or to visit friends. In this way, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thereby cut your carbon footprint. Instead of going on accumulating new things, try recycling what you already have and reuse. Cardboards can be converted into penholders and made attractive with a coat of vibrant paint, CD discs can be converted into adornments, and doormats can be fashioned out of old clothes. The options are many, if you only put your heart to it.

Be a responsible citizen

Do not wait for something big to happen. Start where you are with whatever you have, said People’s President A.PJ. Abdul Kalam. He believed in the power of the young minds to bring about change. Youngsters are a dynamic force. These days they are often exposed to issues such as economic inequities, religious discrimination and environmental challenges. If young people aged below 20, who constitute over 40% of the country’s population, develop skills such as empathy, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving, it will not only enable them to take responsibility for their actions but also help build a better future along with others.

Develop a mindset that will push you to question what is undesirable around you and resolve the problems efficiently and amicably. By being a responsible citizen, you can play an active part in society, be the changemaker and also inspire others to bring about change in various walks of life.

Think positive

A positive perception towards politics is essential as today’s children are going to be tomorrow’s leaders and policy makers. Many youngsters tend to get cynical about politics when they come across or read about corrupt leaders and those with criminal antecedents. But instead of losing heart, they can try to set good examples. Knowledge of and early exposure to politics lead to increased interest in politics. Try to participate in democratic processes such as elections in schools and colleges. This will eventually help evolve an avid interest in the country’s electoral process, governance, development, etc. Gaining knowledge about economy, healthcare, social justice and the Constitution is essential. When you are well informed about the situations prevalent in the country and other countries, you will be able to bring about systemic change that will benefit society.

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