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Daily Current Affairs

3-April -2024- Top News of the Day

1. Resurgence of Katchatheevu Issue Sparks Political Debates Ahead of Lok Sabha Elections in Tamil Nadu

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Bilateral Relations

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of knowing facts about the Katchatheevu issue which involves bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka, reflecting the complexities of managing territorial disputes and maritime boundaries between neighboring countries.

 

Context:
  • The BJP’s recent focus on the Katchatheevu issue before the Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu has reignited discussions surrounding India’s decision in 1974 to “cede” the island to Sri Lanka.
  • This move by the BJP has sparked questions about the historical background of the agreement and its implications for both countries.
More about the news:

Historical Context of Katchatheevu Island:

  • Katchatheevu, a small island measuring 285 acres, lies within the maritime boundary of Sri Lanka, situated northeast of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and southwest of Sri Lanka’s Delft Island.
  • The island has historical significance, with records indicating its control by the Ramanad Raja kingdom during British rule.
  • Additionally, Anthony’s Church, built over 120 years ago, draws devotees from both India and Sri Lanka for an annual festival.

The 1974 Agreement:

  • In 1974, during Indira Gandhi’s tenure as Prime Minister, India and Sri Lanka signed an agreement that granted sovereignty of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka.
  • However, Indian fishermen were permitted access to the island for rest, drying of nets, and the St. Anthony’s festival.
  • The agreement lacked clarity on the fishing rights of Indian fishermen, prompting scrutiny and controversy.

Subsequent Developments in 1976:

  • Following the 1974 agreement, subsequent negotiations in 1976 resulted in executive orders that delineated the maritime boundary between India and Sri Lanka.
  • This included granting India sovereign rights over the resource-rich Wadge Bank area near Kanyakumari.
  • The Wadge Bank, crucial for fishing activities, was strategically significant and saw India gaining exclusive rights over its resources.

Impact and Post-Agreement Dynamics:

  • While the focus in the 1970s was primarily on territorial disputes and maritime boundaries, the 1990s witnessed increased tensions over fishing activities, exacerbated by the civil war in Sri Lanka.
  • Efforts by Tamil Nadu’s political leaders, including demands for the retrieval of Katchatheevu, gained momentum post the civil war, with the issue reaching the Supreme Court.

Current Scenario and Political Dynamics:

  • The recent resurgence of the Katchatheevu issue by the BJP has stirred political debates, with accusations leveled against the Congress and DMK for allegedly surrendering the island’s sovereignty.
  • However, despite campaign rhetoric, the Indian government has not taken concrete steps to revisit the agreement.
  • Sri Lanka’s response has been firm, emphasizing the legality of the 1974 agreement and dismissing attempts to link the issue with Indian Tamil fishermen’s rights.

Conclusion:

  • The Katchatheevu issue remains contentious, entangled with historical, political, and legal complexities.
  • While it continues to be a point of contention in political discourse, the lack of substantive action from both governments suggests that the status quo is likely to persist unless there are significant shifts in diplomatic strategies or legal interventions.
Importance of Katchatheevu

 

Fishing Rights:

  • The waters around Katchatheevu are rich in marine life, making them highly valuable for fishermen from both countries.
  • The agreement allows Indian fishermen to fish in these waters and dry their nets on the island but does not allow them to practice fishing activities.
  • The island of Katchatheevu is 22 km from the southern coast of India and around 45 km southwest of Jaffna, which would have extended the maritime boundary and the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone by a decent number of nautical miles.
  • This would have given the fishermen an extended fishing area and prevented their arrest by the Lankan Navy.
  • However, there have been numerous reports of arrests and confrontations between Sri Lankan authorities and Indian fishermen, who often accuse the Sri Lankan Navy of harassment and arrest for fishing in what they claim is their traditional waters.
  • Strategic Location:
  • Although uninhabited, Katchatheevu’s strategic location in the Palk Strait makes it significant from a security and navigational perspective.
  • The island’s importance increases as China looks to expand its footprint in the Indian Ocean Region and for thousands of Indian fishermen. 

 

PYQ: India is an age-old friend of Sri Lanka. Discuss India’s role in the recent crisis in Sri Lanka the light of the preceding statement. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2022)
Practice Question:  What are the historical origins and contemporary implications of the Katchatheevu issue between India and Sri Lanka, particularly in the context of recent political rhetoric and the absence of concrete actions from either side? (250 words/15 m)

 

2. Coastal Flooding Ravages Kerala: Understanding the Swell Surge Phenomenon of Kallakkadal

Topic: GS1 – Geography –

GS3 – Disaster Management

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of knowing facts about Kallakkadal which provides insights into coastal processes, including the formation of ocean swells, their propagation, and their impact on coastal regions.

 

Context:
  • Recent reports indicate significant flooding in coastal areas of Kerala due to high sea waves, commonly referred to as swell waves or Kallakkadal in Malayalam.
  • The affected regions include Alappuzha, Kollam, and Thiruvananthapuram districts, prompting authorities to establish relief camps for affected communities.
More about the news:

Understanding Kallakkadal:

  • Kallakkadal refers to coastal flooding during the pre-monsoon season caused by swell waves along the southwest coast of India.
  • The term, originating from Malayalam, translates to “thief ocean,” reflecting the sudden and destructive nature of the phenomenon.
  • UNESCO formally recognized the term in 2012, acknowledging its significance in describing this coastal occurrence.

Causes of Kallakkadal:

  • Kallakkadal results from ocean swells generated by distant storms or fierce gale winds, rather than local wind activity.
  • These swells, originating from the southern Indian Ocean, travel thousands of kilometers before reaching the Indian coast.
  • The recent instance was triggered by a low atmospheric pressure system originating from the South Atlantic Ocean, leading to the formation of waves up to 11 meters in height.

Distinction from Tsunami:

  • Despite its similarities in coastal impact, Kallakkadal differs fundamentally from a tsunami.
  • While both involve high sea waves, a tsunami results from underwater disturbances such as earthquakes, whereas Kallakkadal stems from distant storm activity.
  • This distinction is crucial for accurate understanding and appropriate response measures.

Forecast and Precautionary Measures:

  • The swell surge is expected to persist along Kerala’s coast and other western coastal regions for the next few days before gradually weakening.
  • Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) has issued warnings regarding high waves moving towards the Tamil Nadu coast, urging coastal communities to take precautionary measures against sea erosion and ensure the safety of fishing vessels.
  • Early warning systems like the Swell Surge Forecast System offer valuable forecasts, enabling proactive responses to mitigate potential damage.

Conclusion:

  • The recurrence of Kallakkadal underscores the vulnerability of coastal communities to natural phenomena and emphasizes the importance of effective forecasting and response mechanisms.
  • As Kerala grapples with the aftermath of coastal flooding, concerted efforts in early warning dissemination and community preparedness are essential to minimize the impact on lives and livelihoods.
About Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services

 

  • INCOIS is an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).
  • It is located in Hyderabad & was established in 1999. It is a unit of the Earth System Science Organization (ESSO), New Delhi.
  • The ESSO operates as an executive arm of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) for its policies and programmes.
  • It is mandated to provide the best possible ocean information and advisory services to society, industry, government agencies and the scientific community through sustained ocean observations and constant improvement through systematic and focused research. 

 

PYQ: Major cities of India are becoming more vulnerable to flood conditions. Discuss. (200 words/12.5m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2016)
Practice Question:  What are the causes and implications of Kallakkadal, and how does it differ from a tsunami, particularly in the context of recent flooding in coastal areas of Kerala? (150 words/10 m)

3. India's Manufacturing Sector Surges to 16-Year High in March: HSBC PMI

Topic: GS2 – Indian Economy – Issues relating to growth

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of understanding the dynamics of India’s manufacturing sector.

 

Context:
  • India’s manufacturing sector demonstrated robust performance in March, according to a monthly survey.
  • The seasonally adjusted HSBC India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) surged to a 16-year high of 59.1, marking the 33rd consecutive month of expansion in manufacturing output.
More about the news:

Factors Driving Expansion:

  • The PMI survey attributes the high index to strong increases in output and new orders since October 2020, alongside the second-sharpest upturn in input inventories in the survey’s history.
  • Employment returned to positive territory, and companies scaled up buying levels, indicating optimistic business sentiment.

Cost Pressures and Pricing Dynamics:

  • While the survey highlights a mild pick-up in cost pressures during March, particularly in sectors such as cotton, iron, machinery tools, plastics, and steel, producers raised prices to the least extent in a year, prioritizing customer retention over higher charges.
  • This muted increase in selling prices reflects cautious pricing strategies amid cost pressures.

Outlook and Sentiment:

  • The survey presents a mixed outlook for the manufacturing sector. While new product orders and strong demand provide support, concerns over inflation weigh on sentiment.
  • Despite this, companies remain generally confident, with a notable percentage forecasting output growth in the year ahead.
  • Factors such as planned marketing, new product enquiries, and buoyant demand contribute to this optimism.

Methodology and Sectoral Growth:

  • The HSBC India Manufacturing PMI is compiled from responses to questionnaires sent to purchasing managers in a panel of around 400 manufacturers, stratified by detailed sector and company workforce size.
  • Growth was observed across consumer, intermediate, and investment goods sectors, with investment goods makers experiencing the steepest expansion in production.

Analyst Insights:

  • Economists at HSBC, note that India’s manufacturing PMI in March reached its highest level since 2008, driven by strong demand and a slight tightening in capacity.
  • Growth in new orders was the fastest in nearly three-and-a-half years, supported by buoyant demand conditions and increased export orders, particularly to markets in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the US.
What is the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)?

 

  • The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an economic indicator that comes from monthly surveys of private sector companies, especially in manufacturing and services.
  • The PMI gives an overview of business conditions and economic activity. It measures things like output, new orders, employment, suppliers’ delivery times, and inventories.
  • How is PMI calculated?
  • Manufacturing PMI for India is produced by private organizations, not the government, like the IHS Markit- a London-based global information provider, HSBC India and S&P Global.
  • They calculate the PMI based on the responses that purchasing managers give in these surveys.
  • The survey questions relate to key business variables. Respondents indicate whether each variable has increased, decreased, or stayed the same compared to the previous month.

Then they weight and combine the responses into an index:

  • A reading above 50 means business activity is expanding
  • A reading below 50 suggests business activity is shrinking
  • A PMI of exactly 50 indicates no change in the sector

The survey covers five key business variables

The PMI survey collects data on five key variables:

1.     New orders (30% weight)

2.     Output (25% weight)

3.     Employment (20% weight)

4.     Suppliers’ delivery times (15% weight)

5.     Stocks of purchases (10% weight)

They base it on responses from a panel of around 400 to 500 manufacturers. The survey covers various sectors. They organize it by detailed sector and company workforce size.

 

 

PYQ: Faster economic growth requires increased share of the manufacturing sector in GDP, particularly of MSMEs. Comment on the present policies of the Government in this regard. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2023)
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of the HSBC India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in understanding the performance of India’s manufacturing sector. How does the latest PMI data reflect on the economic growth trajectory and policy implications for the country?  (250 words/15 m)

4. Expedite criminal cases filed against MPs and MLAs: HC

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity – Judiciary

This news highlights judicial oversight and accountability of elected representatives, crucial for transparency and governance, relevant for UPSC aspirants.

Context
●       The news pertains to the Madras High Court’s directive to expedite criminal proceedings against incumbent and former MPs/MLAs in Tamil Nadu, with a focus on corruption cases.

 

Additional information on this news:

  • Madras High Court instructed the prosecution to expedite criminal cases against current and former MPs/MLAs in Tamil Nadu.
  • The directive followed a suo motu writ petition initiated by the court upon request from the Supreme Court in 2020.
  • A total of 561 cases were registered against legislators under various laws, excluding the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), 1988.
  • Specifically, 20 corruption cases were identified, with nine at the trial stage and nine under investigation.
  • Among the ongoing corruption cases, nine were reported to be at an advanced stage of trial.
  • The court mandated a status report on the progress of these cases to be filed by June 20.
Criminalisation of Indian politics:

Reasons for Criminalisation of Indian Politics:

Weak Electoral System: Lack of stringent regulations allows individuals with criminal backgrounds to contest elections.

●  Money Power: Candidates with criminal records often have significant financial resources to influence voters and parties.

● Vote Bank Politics: Parties may field candidates with criminal backgrounds to secure votes from particular communities.

● Legal Loopholes: Delays in the judicial process and low conviction rates enable criminals to enter politics without facing consequences.

●  Lack of Public Awareness: Voters may not have access to candidates’ criminal records or prioritize other factors over criminal history.

Implications of Criminalisation:

●  Erosion of Democracy: Criminal elements in politics undermine democratic principles and governance.

● Corruption and Nepotism: Criminal politicians may engage in corrupt practices and abuse power for personal gain.

●  Violence and Intimidation: Presence of criminals in politics leads to violence, intimidation, and erosion of law and order.

● Diminished Public Trust: Voters lose confidence in the political system and institutions, leading to apathy and disillusionment.

Stifled Development: Criminalisation hampers development efforts as resources are diverted for personal interests rather than public welfare.

Way Forward:

Electoral Reforms: Implement stricter laws to disqualify candidates with criminal backgrounds from contesting elections.

● Transparency and Accountability: Enhance transparency in political funding and ensure accountability for criminal activities.

Judicial Reforms: Expedite legal proceedings and increase conviction rates to deter criminals from entering politics.

● Public Awareness: Educate voters about the criminal records of candidates and empower them to make informed choices.

Political Culture: Promote ethical leadership and discourage parties from fielding candidates with criminal backgrounds.

● Grassroots Mobilisation: Encourage civil society initiatives to raise awareness and demand clean politics at the grassroots level.

Practice Question:  Discuss the reasons behind the criminalisation of Indian politics, its implications on governance and democracy, and suggest measures to address this issue effectively. (250 Words /15 marks)

5. How has Kahneman’s work in psychology withstood the test of time?

Topic: GS3 – Economy

The topic is important for UPSC as it covers influential figures, behavioural economics, decision-making theory, and interdisciplinary insights.

Context
●  The news reports the passing of Daniel Kahneman, a pioneering figure in psychology and economics research, known for his collaboration with Amos Tversky and contributions to decision-making theory.

 

Introduction:

  • Daniel Kahneman, a pioneer in psychology and economics research, passed away on March 27.
  • Kahneman, along with Amos Tversky, contributed significantly to the understanding of human decision-making.
  • Their work laid the foundation for the field of behavioral economics, integrating insights from psychology and economics.

Early Career and Contributions:

  • Before his groundbreaking work with Tversky, Kahneman’s research focused on attention and perception.
  • His book “Attention and Effort” (1973) summarised literature on divided attention, focused attention, and selective attention.
  • Kahneman’s early work laid the groundwork for his later contributions to decision-making research.

Judgement Under Uncertainty:

  • “Judgement Under Uncertainty” (1982) connected Kahneman’s early work on mental effort with decision-making.
  • Their seminal 1974 paper in Science, with nearly 50,000 citations, explored prospect theory, including loss aversion.
  • Loss aversion posits that individuals are more sensitive to losses than equivalent gains, impacting decision-making.

Limits on Loss Aversion:

  • Subsequent studies questioned the universality of loss aversion, showing its sensitivity to decision stakes and context.
  • Research suggested loss aversion primarily manifests with large losses and in specific decision contexts, such as financial decisions.

Recognition and Legacy:

  • Kahneman’s contributions to economics were recognized with the Nobel Prize in 2002, shared with Vernon L. Smith.
  • Despite limitations, Kahneman’s work highlighted the role of psychological insights in economics and decision-making.
  • His legacy extends beyond academia, influencing fields like public policy and behavioural science.

Measuring Happiness:

  • Kahneman made significant contributions to measuring happiness and well-being, emphasizing experiences over economic indicators.
  • His day reconstruction method and hedonic psychology theory provided new insights into subjective well-being.
  • Kahneman’s research demonstrated the limited impact of high income on happiness, challenging traditional economic views.

Rethinking Thinking:

  • Kahneman’s dichotomy between System 1 and System 2 thinking revolutionised psychology and decision-making research.
  • However, subsequent studies questioned the applicability of this dichotomy across cultures, especially non-WEIRD contexts.
  • Despite challenges, Kahneman’s work continues to shape how we understand human cognition and behaviour.

Conclusion:

  • Daniel Kahneman’s passing marks the loss of a pioneering figure in psychology and economics research.
  • His collaborative work with Amos Tversky laid the foundation for behavioural economics and reshaped our understanding of decision-making.
  • While his contributions faced challenges and limitations, Kahneman’s legacy endures, leaving a lasting impact on multiple disciplines.
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of Daniel Kahneman’s contributions to the field of behavioural economics and their implications for decision-making theory. (150 Words /10 marks)

6. Is the Katchatheevu islet disputed?

Topic: GS2 – International relations

The Katchatheevu dispute is significant for UPSC as it involves India-Sri Lanka relations, historical claims, and political implications.

Context
●  The news concerns Prime Minister Modi’s revival of the Katchatheevu dispute ahead of Tamil Nadu’s elections, sparking political tensions over its sovereignty.

 Prime Minister’s Statement:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently resurrected the contentious issue of Katchatheevu ahead of Tamil Nadu’s Lok Sabha elections.
  • Modi cited a report alleging Congress’ negligence in ceding Katchatheevu, intensifying attacks between political parties.

Historical Background:

  • In 1974, Indira Gandhi and Sirima R.D. Bandaranaike signed an agreement, delineating the India-Sri Lanka boundary, including Katchatheevu.
  • The agreement marked the end of negotiations that began in 1921 between Madras and Ceylon governments.

Significance for Fisherfolk:

  • Katchatheevu has traditionally been utilized by fishermen from both nations.
  • Despite acknowledgment in the 1974 agreement, a subsequent pact restricted fishing activities without express permission.

Origins of Dispute:

  • Sri Lanka claimed sovereignty over Katchatheevu based on Portuguese occupation.
  • India argued historical possession by the Raja of Ramnad, leading to negotiations and the 1974 agreement.

Reaction to the 1974 Agreement:

  • Opposition parties, including DMK, AIADMK, and Jan Sangh, opposed the transfer of Katchatheevu.
  • Critics accused the government of neglecting public sentiment and parliamentary consensus.

Revival of the Issue:

  • The dispute resurfaced in 1991 when Chief Minister Jayalalithaa demanded the retrieval of Katchatheevu.
  • Both Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi pursued legal avenues, engaging in debates and court battles.

Union Government’s Stance:

  • In 2013, the Union government informed the Supreme Court that no Indian territory was ceded to Sri Lanka.
  • The government reiterated this stance in 2022, stating Katchatheevu lies within Sri Lanka’s maritime boundary.

Conclusion:

  • The Katchatheevu dispute remains a political flashpoint, exploited by parties for electoral gains.
  • Historical claims, fishing rights, and political maneuvers shape the ongoing debate over the islet’s sovereignty.
 Issue over Katchatheevu Island between India and Sri Lanka:

●  Background: Katchatheevu Island, located in the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka, has been a contentious issue between the two countries.

● Historical Context: Under the 1974 and 1976 agreements, India ceded administrative control of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka, sparking disputes over fishing rights and sovereignty.

Fishermen Disputes: Indian fishermen regularly venture into Sri Lankan waters near Katchatheevu for fishing, leading to arrests and tensions between the two countries.

Legal Challenges: Indian fishermen argue that the transfer of Katchatheevu was unconstitutional and challenge it in Indian courts, seeking restoration of fishing rights.

● Diplomatic Efforts: Both India and Sri Lanka engage in diplomatic dialogues to address fishing disputes and territorial claims over Katchatheevu.

●  Impact on Fishermen: Arrests and detention of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan authorities strain bilateral relations and impact livelihoods.

●  International Arbitration: Calls for international arbitration or intervention to resolve the Katchatheevu issue have been made by various stakeholders.

● Humanitarian Concerns: Issues of humanitarianism arise concerning the treatment of fishermen and their families affected by the disputes.

● Need for Resolution: There is a pressing need for a mutually acceptable solution to the Katchatheevu issue to ensure peace and stability in the region.

PYQ: In respect of India — Sri Lanka relations, discuss how domestic factors influence foreign policy. (200 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2013)
Practice Question:  Discuss the historical background and contemporary significance of the Katchatheevu dispute between India and Sri Lanka. (150 Words /10 marks)

7. Will India experience more heat wave days this summer?

Topic: GS1 – Geography, GS3 –  Environment – Environmental pollution and degradation

This news holds significance for UPSC due to its implications on climate change, energy security, public health, and disaster management.

Context
●       The news highlights India’s IMD forecast of above-average heat wave days, exacerbating power demand challenges and impacting various sectors amid climate change concerns.

 

Additional information on this news:

  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts above-average heat wave days, affecting southern, central, east, and northwestern regions.
  • India faces challenges meeting power demand, with hydroelectricity output declining significantly, prompting increased reliance on coal.
  • Despite weakening, El Niño conditions persist, impacting global weather patterns and potentially intensifying heat waves.
  • January 2024 marked the warmest month in 175 years, with rising global land and ocean surface temperatures.
  • Heat waves are defined by abnormally high temperatures, posing health risks and typically occurring between March and June, peaking in May.
  • Climate change contributes to more frequent and severe heat waves, impacting livelihoods, food production, and public health.
  • The Election Commission advises measures to manage heat wave impact during upcoming general elections, coinciding with India’s summer.
  • Heat waves can be deadly, especially if wet bulb temperatures exceed 30-35 degrees Celsius, necessitating precautionary measures.

 

Increasing instances of Heatwave situation:

What is the heatwave?

● Heatwave days occur when temperatures are at least 4.5 degrees Celsius above normal or exceed 45 degrees Celsius for two consecutive days.

Reasons for Increasing Heatwave Situations:

● Climate Change: Rising global temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions intensify heatwaves.

● Urbanization: Urban heat island effect exacerbates heatwaves in densely populated areas with concrete and asphalt.

Deforestation: Reduced vegetation leads to higher temperatures and less moisture, amplifying heatwave impacts.

Air Pollution: Particulate matter and pollutants trap heat, exacerbating heatwave conditions.

● Weather Patterns: Changes in atmospheric circulation patterns contribute to prolonged heatwave events.

Tackling Increasing Heatwave Situations:

● Climate Action: Mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through renewable energy adoption and carbon reduction measures.

● Urban Planning: Implement green infrastructure, such as parks and green roofs, to mitigate urban heat island effects.

●  Reforestation: Promote afforestation and reforestation efforts to increase green cover and reduce temperatures.

Pollution Control: Implement strict regulations to reduce air pollution and improve air quality.

Early Warning Systems: Develop robust heatwave early warning systems to alert vulnerable populations.

● Public Awareness: Educate communities about heatwave risks and promote adaptive measures, such as staying hydrated and seeking shade.

Urban Design: Design buildings with heat-resilient materials and incorporate natural cooling strategies.

Emergency Response: Establish cooling centres and provide assistance to vulnerable populations during heatwave events.

Addressing the increasing frequency and intensity of heatwaves requires a multi-faceted approach encompassing climate mitigation, urban planning, environmental conservation, and community resilience measures.

PYQ: Bring out the causes for the formation of heat islands in the urban habitat of the world. (100 words/5m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2013)
Practice Question:  Discuss the impact of climate change-induced heat waves on India’s energy security, public health, and disaster management strategies. (150 Words /10 marks)

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