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Daily Current Affairs

29-March -2024- Top News of the Day

1. Constitutional Crisis: Kerala Government Challenges Presidential Assent Withheld by Governor

Topic: GS2 – Polity – Indian constitution – Significant provisions This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of understanding the roles and powers of Governors, as outlined in Articles 200 and 201 of the Constitution.
 
Context:
  • The Kerala government has approached the Supreme Court, alleging arbitrary withholding of assent by the President and Governor to several Bills passed by the state legislature.
  • This latest development adds a new chapter to the ongoing conflict between opposition-led states and Governors appointed by the President.

More about the news:

Governor’s Role in Lawmaking: Constitutional Provisions:
  • Article 200 of the Constitution delineates the Governor’s powers concerning Bills passed by the state legislature.
  • While the Governor has the authority to either grant assent, withhold assent, or reserve the Bill for the President’s consideration, the lack of a specified timeline has led to prolonged delays in decision-making, leaving Bills and the state legislature in limbo.
President’s Role in the Process: Constitutional Framework:
  • Article 201 outlines the President’s role in the lawmaking process, particularly when a Bill is referred to them for consideration.
  • If the President withholds assent, the Bill must be returned to the state legislature for reconsideration within six months.
  • However, unlike the Governor, the President is not obligated to grant assent upon reconsideration, leaving the final decision with the central authority.
Issues Raised by Kerala: Constitutional Implications:
  • The Kerala government’s petition challenges the arbitrary actions of the Governor and President, alleging a violation of constitutional principles such as the right to equality.
  • The lack of reasoning provided for withholding assent and the prolonged delays in decision-making undermine the functioning of the state legislature, rendering it ineffective.
Situation in Other States: Similar Challenges and Legal Battles:
  • Several other states, including Tamil Nadu and Telangana, have faced similar challenges with Governors withholding assent to Bills passed by the state legislature.
  • These conflicts have led to legal battles and criticism of governor’s overreach, highlighting the need for clarity and accountability in the lawmaking process.
Question of Timeline for Assent: Judicial Interpretation and Legal Precedents:
  • The Supreme Court has previously addressed the issue of Governors withholding assent indefinitely, emphasizing the need for timely decision-making and adherence to constitutional provisions.
  • While the court has outlined the Governor’s obligations, including the requirement to return Bills for reconsideration within a reasonable time frame, a definitive timeline remains elusive.
    Conclusion:
  • The Kerala government’s recourse to the Supreme Court underscores the importance of upholding constitutional principles and ensuring the smooth functioning of democratic institutions.
  • As the legal battle unfolds, clarity on the timeline for assent and the roles of Governors and the President in the lawmaking process will be crucial in preserving the integrity of India’s federal structure and democratic governance.
State Bills and the Power of the Governor
 
  • Ordinary Bills: Article 200 of the Indian Constitution includes the process for a state bill to be presented to the Governor for assent.
  • He may: 
    • Give his assent to the bill; the bill then becomes an act. 
    • Withhold his assent to the bill, the bill then ends and does not become an act. 
    • Return the bill for reconsideration of the House or Houses. 
    • Reserve the bill for the consideration of the President. 
  • If the bill is passed by the House or Houses again with or without amendments and presented to the governor for his assent, the governor must give his assent to the bill. Thus, the Governor enjoys only a ‘suspensive veto’. He may reserve the bill for the consideration of the President.
President Assent to State Bill When an ordinary bill is reserved by the governor for the consideration of the President
  • President has three alternatives
    • He may give his assent to the bill; the bill then becomes an act.
    • He may withhold his assent to the bill, the bill then ends and does not become an Act.
  • He may return the bill to the Governor for the reconsideration of the House or Houses of the state legislature.
      • If the bill is passed by the House or Houses again with or without amendments and presented to the President for his assent, the President is not bound to give his assent to the bill.
    • He may give his assent to such a bill or withhold his assent.
When a Money Bill is reserved by the Governor for the consideration of the President
  • President has two alternatives: 
    • He may give his assent to the bill, the bill then becomes an Act.
    • He may withhold his assent to the bill, the bill then ends and does not become an act. Thus, the President cannot return a money bill for the reconsideration of the state legislature (as in the case of the Parliament).
Conditions for the Reserving the Bills for President Assent by the Governor
  • According to the Constitution, in one case such reservation is obligatory, 
    • where the bill passed by the state legislature endangers the position of the state High Court.
  • The Governor can also reserve the bill if it is of the following nature: 
    • Ultra-vires, that is, against the provisions of the Constitution.
    • Opposed to the Directive Principles of State Policy.
    • Against the larger interest of the country.
    • Of grave national importance.
    • Dealing with compulsory acquisition of property under Article 31A of the Constitution.
 
PYQ: Which of the following are the discretionary powers given to the Governor of a State? (2014) 1) Sending a report to the President of India for imposing the President’s rule 2) Appointing the Ministers 3) Reserving certain bills passed by the State Legislature for consideration of the President of India 4) Making the rules to conduct the business of the State Government Select the correct answer using the code given below: (a) 1 and 2 only (b) 1 and 3 only (c) 2, 3 and 4 only (d) 1, 2, 3 and 4 Ans: (b)
Practice Question:  Examine the constitutional provisions regarding the role of Governors in the legislative process and the recent conflicts between state governments and Governors over the withholding of assent to Bills. (250 words/15 m)

2. Unprecedented Spread: Avian Influenza Detected in Dairy Cattle and Wildlife, Raises Global Concerns

Topic: Important Facts for Prelims
Context:
  • The recent confirmation by the United States Department of Agriculture about the detection of avian influenza in dairy cattle in Texas and Kansas marks a significant development, signaling the spread of the virus to new hosts.
  • This follows earlier detections in domestic ruminants such as goats in Minnesota, indicative of the virus’s expanding reach beyond its traditional hosts.
More about the news:

Nature of Bird Flu Infection: Understanding the Virus:

  • Avian influenza, or bird flu, is an infectious viral illness primarily affecting poultry and wild birds.
  • While many strains of the virus circulate harmlessly among wild bird populations, certain highly pathogenic forms, such as H5N1, can cause widespread illness and death, particularly among domestic poultry.

Global Spread and Impact: Magnitude of the Outbreak:

  • The currently circulating highly pathogenic H5N1 strain has caused significant devastation since its emergence in China in 1996.
  • By February 2024, the virus had spread to more than 80 countries, resulting in the culling of millions of poultry birds and significant mortality among wild bird species.
  • Experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society has described the ongoing outbreak as the worst globally and in US history, with hundreds of millions of birds dead since 1996.

Affected Animal Species: Diverse Impacts on Wildlife:

  • Apart from poultry and wild birds, the H5N1 virus has been reported in various animal species, including foxes, pumas, skunks, and marine mammals such as sea lions and dolphins.
  • Particularly alarming is the mass mortality observed among Southern elephant seal pups along the Patagonian coastline, highlighting the severity of the outbreak’s impact on marine mammals.

Human Health Risks: Limited Transmission to Humans:

  • While humans theoretically face a risk of contracting bird flu, actual cases are rare and often associated with close contact with infected birds, such as at poultry farms.
  • The recent case in Cambodia, involving the death of a 9-year-old boy, underscores the potential for human infection, albeit uncommon.

Factors Driving Spread: Exploring Possible Causes:

  • The precise factors behind the large-scale spread of the virus remain unclear, although some scientists suggest climate change as a contributing factor.
  • Rising global temperatures and altered bird behavior may facilitate the spread of the virus by forcing birds into new territories and facilitating interactions with other species, thereby increasing the chances of transmission.

Conclusion:

  • The emergence of avian influenza in new hosts and its widespread impact underscore the urgent need for enhanced surveillance, prevention, and control measures.
  • Addressing the underlying environmental and ecological factors driving the spread of the virus, alongside concerted efforts to monitor and manage wildlife populations, is crucial in mitigating the risks posed by future outbreaks.
About the Avian Influenza virus (H9N2):

 

  • H9N2 is a subtype of influenza, a virus that causes human influenza as well as bird flu.
  • This virus is found worldwide in wild birds and is endemic to poultry in many areas.
  • Poultry is considered a genetic incubator for the origin of the H9N2 novel avian influenza virus that infects humans.
  • Symptoms
  • Infections range from mild, flu-like symptoms or eye inflammation to severe, acute respiratory disease or death.
  • The severity of the disease depends on the virus causing the infection and the characteristics of the infected individual.
  • Prevention: Maintaining personal and hand hygiene, including washing hands with soap, before and after contact with animals is essential to avoid being infected by the virus.
  • Classification of Influenza:
  • The influenza virus, which causes illness, is classified by WHO into four types: A, B, C, and D.
  • According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only the influenza A and B viruses are known to cause epidemics.
  • The C-type virus usually causes mild respiratory illnesses, while the D-type virus typically affects cattle and is not known to infect humans.
  • Only the influenza A virus is divided into subtypes, and the subtype is based on two proteins on the surface of the virus, hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N).

 

PYQ: H1N1 virus is sometimes mentioned in the news with reference to which one of the following diseases? (2015)

 

(a) AIDS

(b) Bird flu

(c) Dengue

(d) Swine flu

 

Ans: (d)

3. Arunachal, Assam told to ready elephant corridor plan

Topic: GS3 – Environment – Conservations

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains as this analysis provides insights into the government’s efforts to safeguard critical elephant habitats and corridors, which are integral components of India’s ecological landscape.

 

Context:
  • The Wildlife division of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has instructed the forest departments of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam to collaborate and draft a proposal for the notification of the Dulung-Subansiri elephant corridor downstream of the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project.
  • This directive aims to address the pressing need to safeguard the crucial habitat for elephants in the region.
More about the news:

Proposal for Corridor Notification:

  • The proposed demarcation of the elephant corridor is slated to be presented during the upcoming meeting of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), the apex government body overseeing wildlife conservation and the regulation of development projects in wildlife areas.
  • Notification of the corridor would entail physically marking the relevant areas used by elephants and potentially designating parts of the corridor as wildlife sanctuaries or conservation reserves, thereby providing legal protection to the habitat.

Expert Committee Recommendation:

  • The ministry’s directive follows the recommendation of an expert committee of the NBWL, which had assessed the compliance of conditions imposed on the Arunachal Pradesh government regarding the hydroelectric project.
  • The committee had advocated for the notification of the elephant corridor last year, emphasizing its significance in facilitating the movement of elephants across the Subansiri River.

Emphasis on Corridor Protection:

  • Against the backdrop of the NBWL meeting in January, discussions centered on strategies to safeguard critical elephant corridors.
  • Members of the wildlife board highlighted the importance of the Dulung-Subansiri corridor in enabling east-west movement of elephants and underscored the urgency of its demarcation and notification on the ground.

Rapid Assessment by Wildlife Institute of India:

  • The recommendation to notify the elephant corridor was informed by a rapid assessment conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), which evaluated the functionality of the corridor for elephants and assessed the potential impacts of hydroelectric projects and related developments.
  • The assessment aimed to ensure connectivity between Panir reserve forest and Dulung reserve forest.

Concerns Over Hydroelectric Project:

  • The 2000 MW Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project, executed by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), has been under construction since 2003.
  • Located in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, the project’s potential impacts on the elephant corridor underscore the urgency of conservation efforts to mitigate disruptions to wildlife habitats and corridors.
What are Elephant Corridors?

 

About:

  • Elephant corridors are strips of land that enable elephant movement between two or more friendly habitats.
  • Major Takeaways from Elephant Corridors of India, 2023 Report:
  • The report highlighted a surge of 62 new corridors, marking a 40% increase since 2010, now totalling 150 corridors across the nation.
  • West Bengal has the highest number of elephant corridors, totaling 26, constituting 17% of the total corridors.
  • The East central region contributes 35% (52 corridors), and the North East region follows as the second-largest with 32% (48 corridors).
  • Southern India registered 32 elephant corridors, representing 21% of the total, while northern India has the lowest count of 18 corridors, amounting to 12%.
  • Elephants have expanded their ranges in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra and southern Maharashtra bordering Karnataka.
  • Their presence has also increased in areas such as Madhya Pradesh within the Sanjay Tiger Reserves and Bandhavgarh, along with expanded ranges in northern Andhra Pradesh, allowing movement from Odisha 

 

PYQ: With reference to Indian elephants, consider the following statements: (2020)

1) The leader of an elephant group is a female.

2) The maximum gestation period can be 22 months.

3) An elephant can normally go on calving till the age of 40 years only.

4) Among the States in India, the highest elephant population is in Kerala.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 4 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 3 and 4 only

Ans: (a)

Practice Question:  Examine the challenges and opportunities associated with demarcating and notifying the elephant corridor, and suggest measures to effectively address them. (150 words/10 m)

4. Skyroot Aerospace Achieves Milestone with Successful Test Firing of Vikram-1 Rocket's Second Stage"

Topic: GS3 – Science & Technology – Achievements of Indian S&T; Space

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of knowing facts about the development and testing of rockets by private space-tech companies like Skyroot Aerospace which are significant advancements in the field of science and technology.

 

Context:
  • Skyroot Aerospace, a space-tech company, achieved a significant milestone by successfully test-firing the second stage of its rocket Vikram-1.
  • This development marks a crucial step towards India’s first private orbital rocket launch, which is anticipated to occur in mid-2024.
  • Vikram-1, a three-stage rocket powered by solid fuel, is poised to propel satellites from Earth’s dense atmosphere into the vast vacuum of outer space.

More about the news:

Implications for the Indian Space Industry:

  • According to Pawan Chandana, the co-founder and CEO of Skyroot Aerospace, this achievement is a landmark for the Indian space industry.
  • It represents the successful testing of the largest propulsion system ever designed and manufactured by the Indian private sector.
  • Additionally, it marks the maiden test of a carbon-composite-built motor at ISRO, underscoring the growing capabilities of domestic space technology enterprises.

Progress Towards Orbital Launch:

  • Chandana revealed plans to launch Vikram-1 in the middle of the current year, with the company already securing customers for the inaugural orbital launch.
  • This announcement indicates the company’s readiness to enter the commercial space launch market and underscores its confidence in the reliability and performance of its rocket technology.

Test Details and Performance:

  • The test of the second stage was conducted at the propulsion testbed of ISRO’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
  • Lasting 85 seconds, the test recorded a peak thrust of 186 kilonewtons (kN) at sea-level, with an expected increase to approximately 235 kN during flight in vacuum conditions.
  • These parameters align with the anticipated performance of the rocket during actual orbital missions.

Previous Achievements and Future Prospects:

  • Skyroot Aerospace had previously conducted a sub-orbital launch in 2022, demonstrating its capability to transport payloads to the edge of outer space.
  • The successful test firing of the second stage of Vikram-1 reaffirms the company’s progress in advancing its rocket technology and positions it closer to achieving full-scale orbital launches in the near future.
About Vikram-1 Rocket:

 

  • Vikram-1, named after the father of India’s space programme, Vikram Sarabhai, is a multi-stage launch vehicle with a capacity to place around 300 kg of payloads in low-earth orbit.
  • It has been built by Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace, a space startup.
  • It is an all-carbon-fibre-bodied rocket that can place multiple satellites into orbit.
  • Being a solid-fuel rocket and using relatively simpler technologies would mean that launching this vehicle would require minimal infrastructure and that the rocket could be assembled and launched within 24 hours from any site.
  • What is Low Earth Orbit (LEO)?
  • A low Earth orbit (LEO) is, as the name suggests, an orbit that is relatively close to Earth’s surface.
  • It is normally at an altitude of less than 1000 km but could be as low as 160 km above Earth, which is low compared to other orbits but still very far above Earth’s surface.
  • By comparison, most commercial aeroplanes do not fly at altitudes much greater than approximately 14 km, so even the lowest LEO is more than ten times higher than that.
  • The majority of satellites are to be found in LEO, as is the International Space Station (ISS).
  • In order to remain in this orbit, a satellite has to travel at around 17,500 miles per hour (7.8 kilometres per second), at which speed it takes around 90 minutes to complete an orbit of the planet.
  • LEO’s close proximity to Earth makes it useful for several reasons. For example, it is the orbit most commonly used for satellite imaging, as being near the surface allows it to take images of higher resolution

 

PYQ: With reference to India’s satellite launch vehicles, consider the following statements: (2018)

1) PSLVs launch the satellites useful for Earth resources monitoring whereas GSLVs are designed mainly to launch communication satellites.

2) Satellites launched by PSLV appear to remain permanently fixed in the same position in the sky, as viewed from a particular location on Earth.

3) GSLV Mk III is a four-staged launch vehicle with the first and third stages using solid rocket motors; and the second and fourth stages using liquid rocket engines.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3

(c) 1 and 2

(d) 3 only

Ans: (a)

Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of the recent test firing of the second stage of the Vikram-1 rocket by Skyroot Aerospace for India’s space industry and its aspirations for private sector participation in space exploration. Critically evaluate the role of government policies and initiatives in facilitating the growth of the private space industry in India. (250 words/15 m)

5. Uncertain Future for Hundreds of Students as CBSE Discontinues Exams at Patrachar Vidyalayas: Government Intervention Urged"

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Education

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains as this analysis highlights the socio-economic factors influencing students’ access to education and the role of institutions like Patrachar Vidyalayas in catering to marginalized communities.

 

Context:
  • The discontinuation of exams at CBSE’s Patrachar Vidyalayas, which cater to students through weekend classes and distance learning, has left hundreds of students uncertain about their future.
  • This decision, made late last year by the board, has significant implications for students, particularly those from low-income families and those who have struggled academically.
More about the news:

Reasons for Discontinuation:

  • The decision to discontinue exams at Patrachar Vidyalayas stems from the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
  • According to official documents, under NEP, internal assessment, projects, and practical exams have been integrated into all subjects.
  • As Patrachar Vidyalaya students do not follow the same curriculum, they cannot be assessed for these components, rendering their results inaccurate.

Challenges Faced by Students:

  • Students at Patrachar Vidyalayas, primarily comprising those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and academic strugglers, face unique challenges.
  • For instance, in Delhi, students who fail classes IX-XII for two consecutive years are not readmitted to regular schools and are encouraged to join Patrachar Vidyalayas.
  • This underscores the vital role these institutions play in providing education to marginalized groups.

Government Intervention and Response:

  • The Delhi government has intervened, urging the CBSE to reconsider its decision and continue affiliating with Patrachar Vidyalayas beyond 2025.
  • They emphasize the importance of catering to students unable to pursue regular schooling due to socio-economic reasons.
  • Additionally, Patrachar Vidyalaya has offered to withdraw special concessions granted by CBSE to continue operating.

Performance and Enrollment Statistics:

  • Data reveals that the performance of Patrachar Vidyalaya students in Class X exams has remained below 50% in recent years, indicating ongoing challenges.
  • However, enrollment numbers from Delhi government schools suggest a consistent flow of students into the Patrachar system.
  • This suggests both the ongoing need for alternative educational pathways and the potential for improvement within the Patrachar system.

Alternatives and Future Directions:

  • As the debate over the future of Patrachar Vidyalayas continues, there’s a need for broader discussions on alternative educational pathways and support systems for marginalized students.
  • The response from the CBSE to the Delhi government’s representation will likely shape the future trajectory of Patrachar Vidyalayas and the educational landscape for underserved students in India.
History and Purpose of Patrachar Vidyalayas
  • Established in 1968, Patrachar Vidyalaya serves as a pioneer institution in non-formal education at the school level, aiming to provide educational opportunities for dropouts and those from weaker sections of society.
  • Despite its longstanding presence and mission, the CBSE is inclined towards shifting focus to other government initiatives like Delhi Model Virtual Schools and the Delhi Board of School Education.

What is National Education Policy 2020?

  • The new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is the first education policy of the 21st century in India, which replaces the previous National Policy on Education (NPE) 1986.
  • The Ministry of Education formed a committee under Dr. K Kasturirangan, which outlined this new policy.
  • The National Education Policy 2020 proposes various reforms in school and higher education, including technical education, that are suited to 21st-century needs.
  • 5 foundational pillars of NEP 2020:
  • Access,
  • Equity,
  • Quality,
  • Affordability, and
  • Accountability.
  • This policy is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • It aims to transform India into a vibrant knowledge society and global knowledge superpower by making both school and college education more holistic, flexible, and multidisciplinary and aimed at bringing out the unique capabilities of each student.

 

PYQ:  National Education Policy 2020 is in conformity with the Sustainable Development Goal-4 (2030). It intends to restructure and reorient education system in India. Critically examine the statement. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2020)
Practice Question:  Discuss the challenges faced by alternative education systems like CBSE’s Patrachar Vidyalayas in India and evaluate the implications of discontinuing exams for students from marginalized communities. (150 words/10 m)

6. Skyroot Aerospace successfully test fires stage-2 of Vikram-1 launch vehicle in A.P.

Topic: GS3 – Science and Technology – Space Sector

Understanding advancements in India’s private space sector is vital for UPSC aspirants in comprehending India’s space capabilities.

Context
●     The news is about Skyroot Aerospace’s successful test firing of stage-2 (Kalam-250) of its Vikram-1 launch vehicle, a crucial milestone for India’s first private orbital rocket launch.

 

Additional information on this news:

  • Skyroot Aerospace successfully test-fired stage-2 (Kalam-250) of its Vikram-1 launch vehicle at ISRO’s propulsion testbed in Sriharikota.
  • Stage-2 is crucial for propelling the rocket through Earth’s atmosphere into space during the launch.
  • This launch marks India’s first private orbital rocket launch, following the suborbital launch of Vikram-S in November 2022.
  • The test recorded a peak sea-level thrust of 186 kN, translating to around 235 kN fully expanded vacuum thrust in flight.
  • Kalam-250 utilizes solid fuel and a high-performance EPDM Thermal Protection System, housed in a high-strength carbon composite rocket motor.
  • It features a carbon ablative flex nozzle and high-precision electro-mechanical actuators for thrust vector control.
  • The solid propellant for Kalam-250 was processed by Solar Industries at their Nagpur facility.
Private participation in Indian space Sector:

Significance of Private Participation:

● Innovation: Private companies bring innovation and agility, fostering advancements in space technology.

Cost Efficiency: Competition drives cost efficiency, potentially reducing the financial burden on the government.

●  Job Creation: Encourages job creation and economic growth through the development of a robust space industry.

Diversification: Diversifies India’s space capabilities, enhancing resilience and competitiveness in the global market.

Challenges:

●  Regulatory Framework: Lack of clear regulations and policies governing private space activities.

● Infrastructure: Limited access to testing facilities and launch infrastructure for private players.

●  Investment: Challenges in attracting sufficient investment due to perceived risks and uncertainties.

● Technology Barriers: Access to advanced technology and expertise may be limited for emerging private companies.

Steps Taken by Indian Government:

●  Policy Reforms: Introduction of policies like the Space Activities Bill and the New Space India Limited (NSIL) to facilitate private sector participation.

● Infrastructure Development: Initiatives to expand launch infrastructure and testing facilities, such as the establishment of private spaceports.

●  Partnerships: Collaboration between ISRO and private companies through initiatives like the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe).

●   Incentives: Providing incentives such as tax breaks, grants, and subsidies to encourage private investment in the space sector.

● Skill Development: Investing in skill development programs to nurture a skilled workforce for the private space industry.

●  Promoting Investments & Startups: Creating a supportive ecosystem for private space ventures.

Conclusion:

●Private participation in the Indian space sector holds immense potential to drive innovation, cost efficiency, and economic growth.

● However, addressing regulatory challenges and infrastructure limitations is crucial to realise the full benefits of private sector involvement.

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:  What are the significance and challenges of private participation in the Indian space sector, and what steps has the government taken to address them?” (150 Words /10 marks)

7. Households across the world waste 1 billion meals a day, says UN report

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice.

Understanding global food waste is crucial for UPSC aspirants to address sustainability and food security challenges effectively.

Context
●     The news highlights the alarming scale of global food waste, with over one billion meals wasted daily in 2022, as revealed by the Food Waste Index Report 2024 authored by the UNEP and WRAP.

 Additional information on this news:

  • Food Waste Index Report 2024 reveals over one billion meals wasted daily globally in 2022.
  • The Food Waste Index Report 2024 was jointly authored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), a U.K.-based non-profit organization.
  • 05 billion tonnes of food waste generated, accounting for 132 kg per capita and almost one-fifth of available food.
  • 60% of food waste occurred at the household level, with food services and retail responsible for 28% and 12%, respectively.
  • Importance stressed on strengthening data infrastructure to track progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 of halving food waste by 2030.
  • Only four G-20 countries and the European Union have suitable food waste estimates for tracking progress.
  • Food waste not solely a “rich country problem”; observed average levels of household food waste similar across income groups.
  • Food waste linked to climate change, generating 8%-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and significant biodiversity loss.
  • Rural areas generally waste less food due to greater diversion of food scraps for livestock and composting.
  • Governments urged to integrate food loss and waste into Nationally Determined Contributions to raise climate ambition.
Issue of food wastage:

How to reduce food wastage:

●  Awareness Campaigns: Implement comprehensive awareness campaigns to educate individuals about the impacts of food waste on the environment and society.

● Food Redistribution Programs: Establish programs to redistribute surplus food from restaurants, supermarkets, and households to those in need.

●  Improved Storage and Preservation Techniques: Encourage the adoption of improved storage and preservation techniques to extend the shelf life of perishable foods.

●  Portion Control: Encourage restaurants and food establishments to offer smaller portion sizes to reduce plate waste.

Food Labelling Regulations: Implement clear and standardised food labelling regulations to reduce confusion and prevent premature disposal of food.

●  Community Initiatives: Foster community-based initiatives such as community fridges or food sharing networks to minimise food waste at the local level.

●   Composting Programs: Promote composting programs for organic waste to divert food scraps from landfills and create nutrient-rich soil.

●  Policy Interventions: Enact policies and regulations to incentivize food waste reduction practices and penalise wasteful behaviour.

● Collaboration with Industry: Collaborate with food industry stakeholders to develop innovative solutions for reducing food waste throughout the supply chain.

● Research and Innovation: Invest in research and innovation to develop new technologies and strategies for preventing and managing food waste effectively.

Practice Question:  What are the key challenges and implications of global food waste, and how can governments address this issue effectively. (150 Words /10 marks)

8. Advisory boards have to consider if detention is needed in eyes of law: SC

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity

Understanding the role of advisory boards in preventive detention laws is crucial for safeguarding personal liberty and upholding constitutional rights.

Context
●  The news highlights a Supreme Court judgment emphasizing that advisory boards in preventive detention laws must not merely endorse government decisions but ensure robust scrutiny to safeguard personal liberty.

 Additional information on this news:

  • Supreme Court emphasises advisory boards under preventive detention laws shouldn’t act as rubber stamps for the government.
  • Boards must scrutinise detention orders to safeguard personal liberty, not just endorse state’s view.
  • Article 22 mandates advisory boards to consist of individuals qualified to be High Court judges.
  • Boards must review detention orders every three months, considering material, hearing the detenu, and justifying or rejecting detention.
  • Judgement relates to a case under the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act, where the appellant was detained as a ‘goonda’.
  • Court highlights the distinction between ‘public order’ and ‘law and order’, emphasising the need for proper justification for preventive detention.
  • It criticised the State for not providing sufficient evidence to prove the appellant’s threat to public order.
  • Emphasises that inability to handle law and order situations shouldn’t justify preventive detention.
 Preventive detention and concerns around it in India:

● Preventive detention is a legal measure allowing authorities to detain individuals without trial to prevent future crimes or threats to public order.

●  In India, preventive detention is permitted under various laws including the National Security Act (NSA), 1980, and the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), 1971.

● The Constitution of India allows for preventive detention under Article 22, subject to certain safeguards.

●  Concerns surrounding preventive detention include the potential for abuse of power by authorities, leading to violations of human rights and civil liberties.

●  Critics argue that preventive detention bypasses the normal judicial process, depriving individuals of their right to fair trial and due process.

● There have been instances where preventive detention has been misused for political purposes or to suppress dissent.

Lack of transparency and accountability in the preventive detention process exacerbates concerns about its misuse.

● Despite constitutional safeguards, there have been cases of prolonged detention without proper legal recourse.

●  Balancing national security concerns with the protection of individual rights remains a challenge in the implementation of preventive detention laws in India.

●  Continuous monitoring and review of preventive detention mechanisms are essential to safeguard against potential abuses of power and ensure adherence to constitutional principles.

Practice Question:  Examine the constitutional and human rights implications of preventive detention in India. (150 Words /10 marks)

8. Advisory boards have to consider if detention is needed in eyes of law: SC

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity

Understanding the role of advisory boards in preventive detention laws is crucial for safeguarding personal liberty and upholding constitutional rights.

Context
●  The news highlights a Supreme Court judgment emphasizing that advisory boards in preventive detention laws must not merely endorse government decisions but ensure robust scrutiny to safeguard personal liberty.

 Additional information on this news:

  • Supreme Court emphasises advisory boards under preventive detention laws shouldn’t act as rubber stamps for the government.
  • Boards must scrutinise detention orders to safeguard personal liberty, not just endorse state’s view.
  • Article 22 mandates advisory boards to consist of individuals qualified to be High Court judges.
  • Boards must review detention orders every three months, considering material, hearing the detenu, and justifying or rejecting detention.
  • Judgement relates to a case under the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act, where the appellant was detained as a ‘goonda’.
  • Court highlights the distinction between ‘public order’ and ‘law and order’, emphasising the need for proper justification for preventive detention.
  • It criticised the State for not providing sufficient evidence to prove the appellant’s threat to public order.
  • Emphasises that inability to handle law and order situations shouldn’t justify preventive detention.
 Preventive detention and concerns around it in India:

● Preventive detention is a legal measure allowing authorities to detain individuals without trial to prevent future crimes or threats to public order.

● In India, preventive detention is permitted under various laws including the National Security Act (NSA), 1980, and the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), 1971.

● The Constitution of India allows for preventive detention under Article 22, subject to certain safeguards.

●  Concerns surrounding preventive detention include the potential for abuse of power by authorities, leading to violations of human rights and civil liberties.

●  Critics argue that preventive detention bypasses the normal judicial process, depriving individuals of their right to fair trial and due process.

● There have been instances where preventive detention has been misused for political purposes or to suppress dissent.

Lack of transparency and accountability in the preventive detention process exacerbates concerns about its misuse.

● Despite constitutional safeguards, there have been cases of prolonged detention without proper legal recourse.

●  Balancing national security concerns with the protection of individual rights remains a challenge in the implementation of preventive detention laws in India.

●   Continuous monitoring and review of preventive detention mechanisms are essential to safeguard against potential abuses of power and ensure adherence to constitutional principles.

Practice Question:  Examine the constitutional and human rights implications of preventive detention in India. (150 Words /10 marks)

9. Eradication of TB remains a distant goal as systemic challenges persist

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Health

The topic is vital for UPSC as it assesses public health challenges, government initiatives, and socioeconomic determinants in combating tuberculosis.

Context
●  The news highlights India’s ongoing tuberculosis (TB) crisis despite government commitments, emphasizing challenges such as inadequate diagnosis and treatment access, stigma, socioeconomic barriers, and the crucial role of nutrition in TB management.

 Overview of TB Crisis and Advocacy

  • Survivors Against TB wrote a letter to the Prime Minister addressing India’s TB crisis despite the government’s commitment to eliminate high-burden TB by 2025.
  • Key challenges highlighted include TB diagnosis and access, treatment quality, nutrition, mental health support, stigma, gender-responsive care, and economic support.

Biopsychosocial Approach to TB

  • The Lancet commentary emphasizes TB as a biosocial problem necessitating comprehensive solutions.
  • Socioeconomic conditions contribute to vulnerability to TB and its severe outcomes.

India’s Role in TB Elimination

  • India’s efforts in TB elimination are recognized globally, yet challenges persist.
  • World TB Report 2023 shows 199 new infections per 100,000 people in 2022, with a significant burden of drug-resistant TB and annual deaths of nearly 400,000.

Biomedical Strategies and Challenges

  • Biomedical strategies include BCG vaccination, tuberculosis preventive treatment (TPT), and newer rifamycin-based regimes.
  • Insufficient diagnosis, stigma, and socioeconomic barriers hinder TB control efforts.

Role of Nutrition in TB Management

  • Undernutrition exacerbates TB incidence and severity, impacting treatment outcomes and mortality.
  • Nutritional support, including government schemes like direct benefit transfer and food-basket initiatives, has shown positive impacts in reducing mortality.

Integrated Care Approach

  • TB management should address social factors like undernutrition alongside biomedical interventions.
  • Delayed diagnosis, lack of access to quality care, and multi-drug resistance pose significant challenges.

Childhood TB and Comprehensive Care

  • Childhood TB remains a significant burden, comprising about 31% of global cases.
  • Comprehensive care strategies, including nutritional support and differentiated care models, are essential for TB control.

Tackling Undernutrition

  • Doubling monthly rations for TB patients with severe undernutrition and providing therapeutic nutrition for severely malnourished patients are suggested strategies.
  • Differentiated care models like TN-KET in Tamil Nadu show promise in reducing TB deaths through comprehensive care and triaging.

Conclusion

  • Addressing India’s TB crisis requires a multifaceted approach, including biomedical interventions, nutrition support, and comprehensive care models.
  • Efforts should focus on addressing socioeconomic determinants, ensuring early diagnosis, and providing integrated care for TB patients, particularly those with severe undernutrition.
Practice Question:  Discuss the multifaceted challenges and government initiatives in combating tuberculosis in India. (20 words) (150 Words /10 marks)

10. Core sector output growth spurts to 6.7% in Feb.

Topic: GS3 –  Indian Economy

Relevant for UPSC as it assesses India’s industrial growth, key sectors’ performance, and economic implications for policymaking.

Context
●  The news reports a 6.7% increase in the Index of Eight Core Industries in February 2024, with positive growth recorded in Coal, Natural Gas, Cement, Steel, Crude Oil, Electricity, and Refinery Products production.

 Additional information on this news:

  • The Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) increased by 6.7% in February 2024 compared to February 2023.
  • Coal production surged by 11.6%, while Natural Gas production increased by 11.3% in February 2024.
  • Cement production witnessed a substantial growth of 10.2%, while Steel production saw an 8.4% increase.
  • Crude Oil production recorded a growth rate of 7.9% in February 2024.
  • Electricity generation rose by 6.3% during the same period.
  • However, Fertilizers production declined by 9.5% in February 2024.
  • Cumulatively, from April to February 2023-24, the ICI showed a provisional growth rate of 7.7%.
  • Key sectors like Coal and Steel exhibited impressive cumulative growth rates of 12.1% and 12.9% respectively during this period.
  • Petroleum Refinery Products increased by 2.6% in February 2024, contributing to a cumulative index growth of 3.8%.
  • Overall, the positive growth in these core industries indicates a favourable industrial performance, albeit with some sectors experiencing fluctuations.
 Index of Industrial Production (IIP)

●   The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is a key economic indicator that measures the performance of various industrial sectors in a country.

● It reflects changes in the production levels of the industrial sector over a specific period, providing insights into the overall economic activity.

●   IIP is calculated based on the volume of production in sectors manufacturing, mining, and electricity.

Eight core industries of IIP:

1.    Crude Oil: Weight: 8.98%

2.    Coal: Weight: 10.33%

3.    Natural Gas: Weight: 6.88%

4.    Petroleum Refinery Products: Weight: 28.04%

5.    Fertilizers: Weight: 2.63%

6.    Steel: Weight: 17.92%

7.    Cement: Weight: 5.37%

8.    Electricity: Weight: 19.85%

● The base year for the IIP is typically chosen to serve as a reference point for comparing production changes over time – the current base year for IIP is 2011-12

●The index helps in assessing the growth or contraction of industrial output, aiding policymakers and investors in making informed decisions.

● It plays a crucial role in economic planning, policy formulation, and monitoring of industrial performance.

●  A higher IIP indicates industrial growth, while a lower IIP suggests a decline in production.

● The IIP is often used by the government, researchers, and analysts to analyze trends and formulate strategies for economic development.

PYQ: Industrial growth rate has lagged behind in the overall growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the post-reform period” Give reasons. How far the recent changes in Industrial Policy are capable of increasing the industrial growth rate? (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2017)
Practice Question:  How does the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) contribute to economic policymaking and industrial development? Discuss its role and impact in shaping strategies for economic growth.  (150 Words /10 marks)

11. Measuring internet freedom in Indiain the last 10 years

Topic: GS2 – Governance.

The topic is crucial for UPSC as it assesses governmental authority, civil liberties, and constitutional rights in India.

Context

●     The news highlights India’s significant issue of frequent internet shutdowns, topping global lists for five years.

●     The primary reasons being national security or public order concerns, despite criticisms and legal challenges regarding violations of fundamental rights.

 

Additional information on this news:

  • India has consistently topped global internet shutdown lists for five consecutive years, with about 60% of global shutdowns recorded between 2016 and 2022 occurring in India.
  • Shutdowns, often cited for national security or public order concerns, have violated court directives and been condemned by rights groups.
  • The Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC) recorded 780 shutdowns in India between 2014 and 2023, spiking during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, Article 370 abrogation, and Farm Bills.
  • Internet disruptions in India accounted for over 70% of the global economic loss in 2020, with shutdowns exceeding 7,000 hours in 2023.
  • Indian states and union territories can impose shutdowns under the Indian Telegraph Act during “public emergencies” or for “public safety,” yet lack clear definitions for these terms.
  • The Supreme Court, in Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India, ruled that internet shutdowns violate freedom of expression and indefinite shutdowns are unconstitutional.
  • However, compliance with court orders to make shutdown orders public remains inadequate.
  • Jammu and Kashmir witnessed the highest number of shutdowns, with Manipur experiencing the longest blackout in 2023.
  • Internet shutdowns were active in Haryana amid farmers’ protests, invoking British-era laws, and failing to meet international standards.
  • Globally, internet shutdowns are often associated with protests, information control, and political instability.
  • India has blocked over 55,000 websites, primarily under section 69A of the IT Act, citing national security concerns and links to banned organizations.
  • Social media URLs, including accounts and posts, were blocked, with cybercrime threats cited as a common reason.
  • India’s declining internet freedom, highlighted by Freedom House reports, indicates a worsening environment for online human rights, despite global trends.
Internet shutdowns:

Issues with Internet Shutdowns:

Disruption of communication: Internet shutdowns impede access to vital communication channels, hindering emergency services, business operations, and personal communications.

● Economic impact: Shutdowns result in significant economic losses, affecting businesses, freelancers, and the digital economy.

●  Violation of human rights: Restricting access to the internet violates the fundamental right to freedom of expression and access to information.

● Impacts on education and healthcare: Shutdowns disrupt online education and telemedicine services, affecting access to essential services, especially in remote areas.

● Undermining democracy: Internet shutdowns can be used to suppress dissent, stifle protests, and restrict democratic participation.

Supreme Court Observation in Anuradha Bhasin Case:

● In 2020, the Supreme Court of India, in the Anuradha Bhasin case, declared that indefinite internet shutdowns are unconstitutional.

● The court emphasized that any restrictions on internet access must adhere to the principles of necessity and proportionality.

●  It ruled that orders for internet shutdowns must be subject to periodic review and be backed by specific reasons and a time limit.

Way Forward:

● Legislative safeguards: Implement clear and specific legislation governing internet shutdowns, ensuring accountability and judicial oversight.

●  Transparency: Mandate transparent reporting of internet shutdowns, including reasons, duration, and impact assessments.

●  Alternative measures: Explore alternative measures for maintaining law and order or addressing security concerns without resorting to blanket internet shutdowns.

● Public awareness: Raise awareness about the impact of internet shutdowns on fundamental rights, democracy, and socio-economic development.

● International cooperation: Engage in international dialogue and cooperation to develop norms and standards for managing internet shutdowns in line with human rights principles.

● Judicial activism: Encourage proactive judicial intervention to protect citizens’ rights and challenge arbitrary internet shutdowns.

Practice Question:  Discuss the implications of frequent internet shutdowns in India on civil liberties and governmental authority. (250 Words /15 marks)

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