19 Jan 2024 : Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs


1. Iran-Pakistan Crisis in Balochistan: Background, and Pakistan’s Response

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Effect of policies and politics of developing countries on India’s interests Indian diaspora

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of the recent escalation in Iran-Pakistan relations

  • Iran has carried out missile strikes on targets in Pakistan and Iraq, prompting strong condemnation from both neighbours.

Iran-Pakistan Military Strikes: Why Iran Attacked Pakistan?

  • Iran has termed the missile attacks as a response to terrorist attacks within its borders, the most recent being the bomb blasts.
  • Iran struck the Kurdistan region in Iraq while the target in Pakistan was the base of Sunni Muslim militant group Jaish al-Adl in Balochistan province, which is adjacent to Iranian border. The strikes were carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
  • Iran has said that the targets were terrorist groups responsible for the suicide bombing that killed 84 people at a memorial procession for Qassim Suleimani.
  • The missile strikes on Pakistani targets were also in response to the attacks on an Iranian police station in the south-eastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.
  • As a response to the attacks, Pakistan has expelled the Iranian ambassador and also recalled its own from Tehran.

Pakistan’s Response to Iran’s Military Strikes in Balochistan:

  • As a response to strikes by Iran, Pakistani fighter jets struck seven targets inside Iran with precision-guided air-to-ground munitions.
  • The targets were the Balochistan-centric terrorist organisation Balochistan Liberation Force, which is fighting for liberation of Balochistan.
  • Pakistan says that Iranian territory is being used by Baloch insurgents to attack targets in Pakistan and despite repeated requests, Iran has not acted upon them.
  • Jaish a-AdlAlso known as “Army of Justice,” Jaish al-Adl is a Sunni militant faction that emerged in 2012 and has a significant presence in Pakistan.
  • The group has been accused of involvement in ambushes, assassinations, assaults, hit-and-runs, kidnappings of civilians and government officials in Iran since 2013.

The Issue of Regional Stability

  • Escalation of Tensions: The central Asian region has remained peaceful since the conclusion of the Afghan civil war. The situation could change soon.
  • Spread of War in central Asia: Global commentators believe that the devastating war in Gaza could become a broader and deadlier regional conflict.
  • Beginning of Proxy war: The strikes by Iran may start a proxy war between Iran on one side and US and its allies on the other.
  • Continuation of American troops: The attack could prompt American troops stationed in Iraq to continue their presence.
  • Resurgence of Kurdish Militia: The attack on Kurdish territory could further fuel tensions between Kurds and Iranians.
  • Instability in Pakistan: Western policymakers would not like to see instability in an already volatile nuclear-armed Pakistan. They would want a stable Pakistan in their own interests.
  • Global Financial Situation: The financial situation in the world may further degrade owing to the clashes between Iran and Pakistan.

Impact on India

  • Affects Chabahar Project: The Chabahar port project located in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province may be affected due to the instability.
  • Spillover Effect: The clashes between Iran and Pakistan may escalate into a war, and may have a spillover effect in the South Asia region.
  • India’s Interests in Afghanistan: The clashes may spread to Afghanistan where India has stakes in developmental projects.
  • Security Crisis in Pakistan: India would not want nuclear weapons to proliferate into the hands of non-state actors in case the state of Pakistan collapses.
  • Increase in Militancy in Jammu and Kashmir: Pakistan may escalate militancy in Jammu and Kashmir in order to divert attention of its citizens during election year.

Border Tensions Between Iran and Pakistan

  • Border: Iran shares a 959-kilometer (596-mile) border with Pakistan, primarily located in the turbulent province of Sistan-Balochistan.
  • Ethnic Composition: The region hosts ethnic Baloch people, who are Sunni Muslims, facing discrimination and repression from the Shiite-dominated regime.
  • Rise in Tensions: Iran has accused Pakistan of protecting and sheltering militant groups responsible for cross-border attacks, leading to previous threats of military action within Pakistan.
  • Despite enjoying warm ties, Iran and Pakistan routinely accuse each other of not doing enough to prevent anti-state armed groups from sheltering on their respective territories.
  • Iran has repeatedly asked Pakistan to crack down on alleged Jaish al-Adl bases in Balochistan while Iran has been asked by Pakistan to act on ethnic Baloch insurgent groups that have established bases on the Iranian side of the border. 


  • The border clashes between Iran and Pakistan must not be allowed to escalate as it will create another war frontier in Asia.
  • Start of war in this region could not only hamper peace, it may further create economic problems for the whole world..

About Balochistan
  • Balochistan is a region that spans across the countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. The ethnic Baloch people inhabit this region.
  • The region of Balochistan in Pakistan is a vast territory which is known for its untapped mineral wealth, especially oil and gas deposits.
  • Location: The region of Balochistan is located along the Gulf of Oman. Mountains and desert make up the majority of the region’s terrain. Quetta is its capital.
  • Relief: To the east and southeast part of Balochistan lies Sulaiman Range, which joins the Central Brahui Range near Quetta, and to the north and northwest of the region is the Toba Kakar Range.
  • The Central Makran Range and the Makran Coast Range to the south divides the coastal plain from the rest of the plateau.
  • Rivers: Famous rivers in Balochistan include Bolan, Zhob, Hingol, Nari, Porali, Kud, Dasht etc.
  • Mountain Pass: Mountain passes in Balochistan region include Bolan pass, Khojak pass, Lak pass, Harnai pass, Gonshero pass etc. 
Practice Question: Discuss the role of ethnic and separatist movements, with a specific emphasis on the Baloch problem, and assess the implications for regional stability. (150 words/10 m)

2. ISRO Sets Ambitious Timeline for Bharatiya Space Station: Tests in 2023, Targeting Launch by 2028

Topic: GS3 – Science and Technology- Achievements of Indian S&T 

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of India’s Space Endeavours

  • Chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), S Somanath, declared at the India International Science Festival that the organisation would launch the first tests for the Bharatiya Space Station next year.
  • To produce, test, and launch the space station’s first module by 2028, the space agency is now holding talks with the industry.

Targeted Launch of Bharatiya Space Station by 2028:

  • Following the instruction issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) hopes to launch the Bharatiya Space Station by the audacious date of 2035.
  • With intentions to perform testing in the upcoming year, Somanath’s recent remark is a huge step forward in realising this goal.
  • For the space station, the space agency is currently looking into a number of various architectural ideas.

India’s First Mission to Venus in 2028 and Cost Reduction Efforts:

  • Furthermore, Somanath revealed that India’s first expedition to Venus is probably scheduled for 2028.
  • While this is going on, ISRO engineers are developing ways to lower the cost of some of the mission’s most valuable components.
  • This demonstrates ISRO’s dedication to pursuing space exploration projects while optimising resource usage.


  • Plans for the Bharatiya Space Station by ISRO include upcoming testing, talks with industry for module manufacture, and an intended launch date of 2028.
  • These plans are in line with the government of India’s larger objective for developing space exploration capabilities.
  • Furthermore, the potential for India’s maiden journey to Venus in 2028 and initiatives to minimise mission expenses accentuate ISRO’s dedication to promoting its space exploration programme.

What are the Potential Benefits of India’s Growing Involvement in Space Activities?
  • Economic Benefits: India’s space capabilities bring forth substantial economic benefits by generating revenue through commercial satellite launch services, creating jobs, stimulating technological advancements with cross-industry applications.
  • Geopolitical Leverage: India’s space capabilities can serve as a diplomatic tool in resolving international disputes peacefully. It can also provide India a geopolitical leverage in international negotiations, enabling the country to negotiate more favorable terms in trade, climate accords, and global agreements.
  • Enhanced Disaster Management: India could significantly improve disaster management by using space assets for real-time monitoring and response. Satellites can aid in predicting natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods, allowing for timely evacuation and resource allocation.
  • Agricultural Revolution: Space-based technologies, including satellite imagery and weather forecasting, can lead to an agricultural revolution. Farmers could receive precise data on soil conditions, weather patterns, and crop health, enabling them to optimize farming practices and increase yields.
  • Affordable Space Tourism: India’s cost-effective space capabilities could pave the way for affordable space tourism. With advancements in space technology, suborbital and orbital space tourism might become more accessible to Indian citizens and visitors from around the world, which can in turn generate massive revenue for the country. 
PYQ: What is the main task of India’s third moon mission which could not be achieved in its earlier mission? List the countries that have achieved this task. Introduce the subsystems in the spacecraft launched and explain the role of the Virtual Launch Control Centre’ at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre which contributed to the successful launch from Sriharikota.  (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2023)
Practice Question: Analyze the challenges and opportunities in realizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for BSS by 2035, and assess the broader implications of ISRO’s plans on India’s space exploration capabilities. (250 words/15 m)

3. Nehru’s Opposition and the British Role: Unraveling the Complex Narrative of Somnath Temple Reconstruction Post-Independence

Topic: GS1 – History- Modern Indian History

This topic relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of significant events in modern Indian history. 

  • An important Hindu pilgrimage site in Prabhas Patan, Gujarat, Somnath was attacked multiple times in history, most famously in 1026 CE by Mahmud of Ghazni.
  • In the sixteenth century, Akbar allowed worship, and in the seventeenth century, Aurangzeb commanded its demolition, despite times of devastation.
  • A modest temple constructed in 1782 by the Maratha queen Ahilyabai Holkar was eventually abandoned and fell into decay.
  • During British rule, the temple gained prominence as Lord Ellenborough depicted it as a representation of Islam’s atrocities on Hindus.

British Role in Shaping Somnath Narrative:

  • The British claimed to have retaliated against an insult in 1842, after suffering significant losses in Afghanistan, by bringing back two sandalwood gates from Ghazni and faking a connection to Somnath.
  • In his declaration, Lord Ellenborough continued the narrative of the gates’ triumphant return, retaliating against an affront that had been inflicted eight hundred years earlier.
  • The sectarian divide in pre-independence India grew as a result of this narrative’s persistence.

Post-Independence Reconstruction:

  • Following Pakistan’s independence and the Nawab of Junagadh’s accession to the country, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, with backing from the Union Cabinet, declared that the Somnath temple would be rebuilt.
  • Mahatma Gandhi suggested relying on public contributions for project funding, and K.M. Munshi founded a trust to do just that.
  • Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, however, emphasised the necessity of secularism and voiced resistance to the government’s connection with a dramatic opening.

Nehru’s Opposition and Secular Concerns:

  • Nehru expressed reservations to President Rajendra Prasad in a letter, pointing out the costs and the ramifications of the President attending the opening ceremony at a time when the economy was struggling.
  • While anyone could visit a temple, Nehru insisted that taking part in a major function had wider ramifications.
  • He underlined the absence of involvement from the government and voiced caution against acts at odds with the state’s secular character.


  • Political and ideological arguments surrounded the renovation of the Somnath temple after independence, with Nehru voicing concerns about state participation in religious ceremonies and highlighting the significance of secularism in the Indian state.
  • The complex story surrounding the Somnath temple is influenced by a number of factors, including the historical background, British perception-shaping influence, and post-Independence renovation initiatives. 
Practice Question: Examine the historical narrative surrounding the post-Independence reconstruction of the Somnath Temple. (200 words/12.5 m)

4. AI Reveals Kerala’s Landslide Vulnerability: 13% of State’s Landmass at High Risk

Topic: GS3 – Environment- Disaster and disaster management.

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of geographical vulnerability of specific regions in Kerala to landslides.

  • The multilayered problem engulfing the region has become more difficult as an artificial intelligence-based map of Kerala has revealed that roughly 13% of the state’s landmass is particularly prone to landslides.
  • According to the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS), the vulnerable locations highlighted are Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram, Pathanamthitta, and Wayanad.

Scientific Collaboration:

  • Scientists from Michigan Technological University, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune, and Achu A.L., a doctorate researcher at Kufos, collaborated on the mapping project.
  • A key component of the procedure was Deep Learning Technology, which provided an extensive picture of vulnerability by examining data from before 2017 until after 2020.

Confluence of Environmental Stressors:

  • The state’s susceptibility to landslips is increased by a convergence of environmental stresses, according to the AI-driven analysis.
  • The increased sensitivity was found to be significantly influenced by elements including disturbances in first-order streams, slope toe cutting during road building, and inappropriate land use practices.

Significance of the Vulnerability Map:

  • This innovative vulnerability map is the first-ever AI-based landslide susceptibility map for the region and was made possible by Kufos’ application of AI.
  • In order to lessen the risks posed by landslides in Kerala, it not only draws attention to the regions that are at danger but also emphasises how critical it is to manage environmental stresses and implement sustainable land use practices.
PYQ: Disaster preparedness is the first step in any disaster management process. Explain how hazard zonation mapping will help in disaster mitigation in the case of landslides. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2019)
Practice Question: Examine the significance of the recently revealed artificial intelligence-based landslide susceptibility map of Kerala, highlighting the regions identified as highly vulnerable. (150 words/10 m)

5. ISRO’s Advanced Distress Alert Transmitter (DATSG) Revolutionizes Maritime Safety for Fishermen

Topic: GS3 – Science and Technology- Development & their applications

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of technological innovations.

  • With the goal of improving fishermen’s safety at sea, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has unveiled the second-generation Distress Alert Transmitter (DATSG), an upgraded version of the DAT.
  • Since 2010, the first iteration of DAT has been in use, sending emergency alerts from fishing boats via communication satellites.
  • The warnings are sent to Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) under the Indian Coast Guard for prompt search and rescue efforts once the communications are received at the Indian Mission Control Centre, where the identification and location of the fishing boat are deciphered.

Advanced Features of DATSG:

  • Compared to its predecessor, the ISRO-developed DATSG has more sophisticated features and capabilities.
  • Its capability to notify fishermen who have activated distress signals from the sea of approaching rescue efforts by acknowledging their actions is a noteworthy improvement.
  • In addition to sending out distress signals, DATSG can also receive messages from control centres.
  • This allows fisherman to be informed in advance of bad weather, cyclones, tsunamis, and other crises.
  • With the help of this tool, they may decide whether to head back home or look for safer areas.

Ensuring Timely Information and Safety:

  • In addition to aiding in the transmission of distress signals, ISRO’s DATSG periodically broadcasts information on possible fishing zones.
  • Through the use of technology advancements in satellite communication and navigation, ISRO hopes to offer fisherman all-encompassing assistance, guaranteeing their safety and facilitating preemptive steps to reduce dangers related to unfavourable marine conditions.
  • The implementation of DATSG, which currently has over 20,000 DATs in operation, is a major advancement in using space technology for maritime safety and efficient communication with fisherman at sea.
PYQ: Discuss India’s achievements in the field of Space Science and Technology. How the application of this technology has helped India in its socio-economic development? (200 words/12.5m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2016)
Practice Question: Discuss how technological innovations in space technology, particularly by ISRO, contribute to disaster management and the welfare of coastal communities in India. (150 words/10 m)

6. Government Forms Committee to Explore Equitable Distribution Among Scheduled Castes Amid Supreme Court Scrutiny

Topic: GS2 – Governance- Govt. policies and interventions 

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of demand for subcategorization within Scheduled Castes.

  • The Union government has formed a five-member committee of Secretaries, led by the Cabinet Secretary, to examine and develop a plan for the fair distribution of benefits, schemes, and initiatives among the more than 1,200 Scheduled Castes (SCs) in India in response to the demand for subcategorization of SCs.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the matter after the Madiga community in Telangana brought up the demand for subcategorization.

What is Sub-Categorisation Within Castes?

  • Sub-categorisation within castes refers to the process of creating sub-groups within the existing categories of Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) for reservation and affirmative action.
  • Sub-categorisation aims to address the intra-category inequalities and ensure a more equitable distribution of benefits and opportunities among the most deprived and marginalized sections of society.

Why is Sub-Categorisation within Castes Needed?

  • There is a significant diversity and heterogeneity within the SC, ST, and OBC categories, based on factors such as occupation, education, income, social status, and regional variations.
  • There is evidence of disproportionate and skewed representation of certain dominant and influential sub-groups within the SC, ST, and OBC categories, who have cornered the lion’s share of the reservation benefits, leaving behind the weaker and more backward sub-groups.
  • There is a demand from various sub-groups within the SC, ST, and OBC categories, such as the Madigas in Telangana, the Paswans in Bihar, and the Jatavs in Uttar Pradesh, for sub-categorisation and separate quotas to ensure fair and adequate representation.

What are the Challenges of Sub-Categorisation within Castes?

  • There is a lack of reliable and updated data on the population and socio-economic status of various sub-groups within the SC, ST, and OBC categories, which hampers the objective and scientific basis for sub-categorisation.
  • There is a possibility of legal and political backlash from the dominant and influential sub-groups within the SC, ST, and OBC categories, who may resist and oppose the sub-categorisation and the reduction of their share of reservation benefits.
  • There is a risk of further fragmentation and division within the SC, ST, and OBC categories, which may weaken their collective identity and solidarity and undermine their political and social empowerment.

Supreme Court’s Involvement:

  • Concurrently, the Supreme Court’s seven-judge Constitution Bench is getting ready to consider whether subcategorization of Scheduled Tribes (STs) and SCs is constitutional.
  • The court will consider whether subcategorization can be used to break up reservations in employment and educational opportunities intended for certain communities.
  • On the other hand, the government panel is required to look into methods other than reservation quotas for resolving these communities’ grievances.

Madiga Community’s Demand:

  • Since 1994, the Madiga community has been a proponent of SC subcategorization.
  • As a result of this demand, the Justice P. Ramachandra Raju Commission was established in 1996, and a National Commission was established in 2007.
  • Both commissions came to the conclusion that subcategorization might be possible.

Legal Perspectives:

  • While other governments have tried to subcategorize through state-level reservation laws, such as Punjab, Bihar, and Tamil Nadu, these attempts have run into legal issues.
  • Legal experts argue that in order to validate subcategorization among SCs, the government would need to conduct a thorough caste census that includes socioeconomic data for each community and subcommunity.
  • This empirical foundation is essential for figuring out the extra portion of benefits that every community needs to receive.


  • The Supreme Court’s discussions and the government committee’s evaluation of other strategies indicate a major advancement in resolving the grievances of different SCs and guaranteeing the just distribution of advantages and possibilities.
PYQ: Caste system is assuming new identities and associational forms. Hence, caste system cannot be eradicated in India.” Comment. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2018)
Practice Question: Analyzing the government’s initiative to form a committee for subcategorization within Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Supreme Court’s scrutiny, discuss the challenges, legal perspectives, and potential impacts of subcategorization on the equitable distribution of benefits and opportunities among various SC sub-groups in India. (250 words/15 m)

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