30 Dec 2023 : Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs


1. 11th century Jain sculptures discovered in Mysuru district.

Topic: GS1 – Indian Art and Culture.

Revealing ancient Jain sculptures in Varuna village, Mysuru, offers insights into regional history and culture, pertinent for UPSC exams.
  • The news reports the discovery of three 11th-century Jain sculptures in Varuna village, Mysuru district, during drainage work.
  • One sculpture is damaged, and the others, including a Jain Teerthankara, were shifted to an archaeology museum for further examination.

 What is in the news?

  • Three Jain sculptures from the 11th century were discovered in Varuna village, Mysuru district.
  • The sculptures were found during drainage work in a heap of debris.
  • One sculpture was damaged beyond recognition, while the other two were in fairly good condition.
  • S. Rangaraju of INTACH, Mysuru, mentioned that one of the sculptures is of a Jain Teerthankara, but its identity is challenging to ascertain due to effaced or damaged symbols.
  • The discovery was reported by a local person, and a team led by Professor Rangaraju retrieved the idols.
  • Professor Rangaraju highlighted that the Varuna, Varakodu, and Vajamangala region had been thriving Jain centers, suggesting potential for excavations and research to reveal the antiquity of the area.
Jain Sculptures
  • Revered Figures: Jaina sculptures primarily depict the 24 Tirthankaras, enlightened beings and spiritual teachers in Jainism.
  • Symbolism and Serenity: Often carved in meditation postures like Padmasana (lotus seat) and Kayotsarga (standing posture), the sculptures exude peace and spiritual focus.
  • Material Marvels: Carved from diverse materials like sandstone, granite, and black stone, these sculptures showcase exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail.
  • Architectural Gems: Jaina sculptures are often found adorning pilgrimage sites, caves, and temples, adding to their spiritual significance.
  • Across the Ages: Spanning centuries, Jaina sculptures offer a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of Indian art and the rich history of Jainism.
  • Beyond India: Jaina artistic influence extends beyond India, with notable sculptures found in Southeast Asia and Central Asia.
  • Colossal Creations: Jaina sculptures come in various sizes, with some towering monuments like the 57 ft Gommateshwara statue in Shravanabelagola, India.
  • Symbol of Non-Violence: The serene expressions and unassuming postures of Jaina sculptures embody the core Jain principle of Ahimsa (non-violence).
  • Stories in Stone: The intricate carvings and iconography often narrate Jaina mythology and teachings, serving as visual storytelling tools.
PYQ: How will you explain that medieval Indian temple sculptures represent the social life of those days? (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2022)  (150 words/10 m)
Practice Question: Analyze the significance of Jaina sculptures in understanding the evolution of Indian art and the core tenets of Jainism. (150 words/10 m)

2. In SC, Kerala seeks norms for Governors on reserving Bills.

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity – Separation of power – State Legislature

Critical for UPSC as it involves constitutional interpretation, executive actions, and the balance of power between state and central authorities.
  • Kerala has approached the Supreme Court seeking guidelines on Governor actions regarding Bills.
  • The state questions prolonged delays, citing Governor Arif Mohammed Khan holding onto eight Bills for up to three years, later sending seven to the President without detailed examination.

 Governors’ Powers Regarding State Legislatures’ Bills in India:

  • Assent: The Governor holds the power to assent to a bill passed by the state legislature, ultimately making it law. This is the most common outcome.
  • Withholding Assent: In certain cases, the Governor can choose to withhold assent from a bill. This typically happens if the Governor believes the bill is unconstitutional, harmful to public interest, or goes against established policies.
  • Seeking Presidential Advice:If the Governor has doubts about the legality or propriety of a bill, they can refer it to the President for advice. The President’s advice is not binding, but it helps the Governor in making a decision.
  • Returning for Reconsideration:The Governor can also return a bill to the state legislature for reconsideration, recommending specific amendments or clarifications. The legislature can then choose to accept or reject the Governor’s suggestions.

Issues with’ Powers over State Legislatures’ Bills:

  • Potential for Misuse: The power to withhold assent or recommend dissolution can be misused for political gain,undermining the autonomy of the elected legislature.
  • Subjectivity and Delay:Decisions based on the Governor’s personal interpretation of constitutionality or public interest can lead to delays and inconsistencies.
  • Lack of Transparency:The process of seeking Presidential advice or recommending dissolution often lacks transparency, raising concerns about accountability.
  • Erosion of Democracy:Excessive exercise of these powers can weaken the democratic accountability of state legislatures to the electorate.
  • Political InterferenceConcerns about Governors acting as agents of the Central government,especially when from different parties, can lead to friction and hinder effective governance.

Way Forward:

  • Clear Guidelines:Defining clearer constitutional guidelines and standards for exercising these powers can reduce subjectivity and potential misuse.
  • Judicial Scrutiny:Strengthening judicial review of Governor’s decisions can enforce constitutional limitations and ensure legal validity.
  • Inter-Party Consultations:Establishing mechanisms for transparent consultations between Governors and state legislatures can build trust and foster cooperation.
  • Decentralization of Power:Delegating more legislative power to local bodies and panchayats can reduce dependence on the state legislature and potentially lessen the impact of Governor’s powers.
  • Public Awareness:Promoting public awareness and understanding of these powers and their potential implications can increase citizen engagement and hold political actors accountable.
PYQ: Discuss the essential conditions for exercise of the legislative powers by the Governor. Discuss the legality of re-promulgation of ordinances by the Governor without placing them before the Legislature. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2022) (250 words/15 m)
Practice Question: Critically analyze the role of Governors in assenting to bills passed by State Legislatures in India. Discuss the potential issues arising from this power and suggest ways to ensure a harmonious and effective legislative process while upholding constitutional principles. (250 words/15 m)


3. ISRO all set to launch XPoSat, 10 other payloads on Jan.

Topic: GS3 – Science and technology – Developing new technology – Space

Relevant for UPSC as it reflects ISRO’s space achievements, technological advancements, and scientific contributions, essential for national development. 
  • ISRO plans a New Year launch, deploying PSLV-C58 to launch XPoSat, its first scientific satellite for X-ray polarisation measurements.
  • The mission includes 10 additional payloads, encompassing experiments and innovations from various institutions and start-ups.

Additional information on the news:

  • ISRO plans to launch the PSLV-C58 X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat) on January 1, following a landmark 2023.
  • The PSLV will carry XPoSat and 10 additional payloads, lifting off at 9.10 a.m. from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
  • The mission aims to place XPoSat into a low inclination orbit for orbital experiments and reduce the orbit to 350 km circular orbit after injection.
  • XPoSat is ISRO’s first dedicated scientific satellite for space-based polarisation measurements of X-ray emissions from celestial sources.
  • XPoSat carries two payloads, POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays) and XSPECT (X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing), developed by the Raman Research Institute and URSC Bengaluru, respectively.

4. India closing in on lithium deal with Argentina, tapping Australia, Chile.

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Agreements involving India or affecting India’s interests.

Relevant for UPSC as it reflects India’s strategic mineral exploration, aligning with green energy goals and reducing import dependence. 
  • India’s Mines Ministry, through KABIL, is pursuing lithium acquisition, entering agreements with Argentinian CAMYEN and Chilean ENAMI.
  • The move aligns with India’s quest for critical minerals, essential for green energy transition and reducing imports. 

More on this news:

  • The Mines Ministry, via Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KABIL), has initiated a draft exploration and development agreement with Argentinian miner CAMYEN for potential acquisition of lithium blocks.
  • A non-disclosure agreement with Chilean miner ENAMI has been established for exploration, extraction, processing, and commercialization of lithium.
  • PwC has been appointed for identifying investable lithium projects in Australia.
  • Latin American nations, particularly Chile and Argentina, contribute 30–35% of the world’s lithium supplies.
  • Chile holds 11% of global lithium reserves, supplying 26%, while Argentina, with a fifth of global reserves, supplies about 6%.
  • Talks are underway for advanced-stage acquisition of lithium blocks in Argentina, with an estimated cost in the ‘couple of hundred crore’ range.
  • India’s intensified search for critical minerals, including lithium, aims to support the country’s transition to green energy and reduce its carbon footprint.
  • Currently, India has lithium blocks for auction in J&K and Chhattisgarh, with a significant portion of lithium requirements met through imports, costing around ₹24,000 crore.
Importance of Lithium in Modern Economy
  • Energy Revolution: Lithium fuels rechargeable batteries, powering electric vehicles, mobile devices, and renewable energy storage. This shift from fossil fuels impacts transportation, grids, and climate change.
  • Tech Titan: Laptops, smartphones, tablets, and wearables, all pulse with lithium batteries, driving communication, innovation, and global connectivity.
  • Industrial Force: Power tools, medical equipment, drones, and robots rely on lithium batteries, boosting productivity and transforming industries across the board.
  • Economic Catalyst: Lithium mining and processing creates jobs, drives investment, and fosters economic development in resource-rich regions.
  • Geopolitical Shift: Growing demand for lithium fuels competition for its sources, shaping international relations and influencing energy security strategies.
  • Sustainable Future: Recycling and responsible sourcing are crucial to minimize environmental impact and ensure lithium’s long-term availability for a sustainable future.
PYQ: Discuss the multidimensional implications of uneven distribution of mineral oil in the world.(UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2021)  (250 words/15m)
Practice Question: Analyze the economic, technological, and environmental implications of lithium’s growing importance in the modern world. Discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with its extraction, utilization, and potential for a sustainable future. (250 words/15 m)

5 . ULFA peace accord: history of its 44-year-long insurgency, peace talks

Topic: GS3 – Internal Security- Security challenges and their management in border areas.

This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of challenges posed by insurgent groups.
  • A major turning point in the history of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), an illegal insurgent group founded in 1979, was reached when its pro-talks front inked a historic tripartite peace agreement with the Indian government and the Assamese state government.

Roots in Assamese Anxieties:

  • Because of the Assamese people’s distinct culture, language, and identity, ULFA’s roots can be found in their fears.
  • The 19th century’s economic advancements brought in migrants, which made the native population feel unsafe.
  • The issue of foreigners in Assam was attempted to be addressed by the Assam Accord of 1985.

Four Decades of Bloodshed:

  • The goal of ULFA’s founding fathers was to overthrow the Indian government and create an independent Assamese nation.
  • This conflict has resulted in horrifically high death tolls from bomb blasts, extortion, executions, and kidnappings over the course of 44 years.
  • In response, the Indian government launched operations like Bajrang, which resulted in the designation of Assam as a “disturbed area,” the detention of people, and the implementation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Survival and External Support:

  • ULFA survived despite internal strife and government measures, in part because of outside assistance.
  • The group ran camps in Myanmar and had previously operated locations as training grounds and launchpads for cross-border operations in Bhutan and Bangladesh.
  • ULFA was connected to Islamic terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami, and it also had ties to other rebel groups operating in the Northeast and Myanmar.

Towards Peace and Internal Divisions:

  • Peace efforts started in 2005 when the People’s Consultative Group (PCG) was established.
  • But ULFA’s internal strife resulted in the group leaving negotiations and a fresh wave of violence.
  • Later, a few ULFA commanders, such as Arabinda Rajkhowa, worked to facilitate peace negotiations.
  • A serious rift emerged in 2012 when the pro-talks faction presented the central government with a 12-point charter of demands.

An Incomplete Peace?

  • The recent tripartite peace accord is thought to be a positive move for Assamese development and peace.
  • Nonetheless, uncertainties persist regarding the comprehensiveness and efficacy of the agreement.
  • Assam’s chief minister indicates a desire to interact with the group opposed to negotiations, but Paresh Baruah is unwavering in his demand for Assam’s independence.
  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah is optimistic that a comprehensive solution has been achieved, ushering in a new era of peace for Assam, notwithstanding divergent views.
  • The government’s commitment is essential to the peace agreement’s success.
What are the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA)?

  • The AFSPA was established as a set of four ordinances in 1947, and it was a reincarnation of the British-era law that had been passed to put an end to the protests during the Quit India campaign.
  • The 1948 Act superseded the ordinances, and in 1958, G.B. Pant, the home minister at the time, presented the current legislation that is in effect in the Northeast into Parliament.
  • The Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Act, 1958 was its original name.
  • Following the formation of the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland, the Act was modified to encompass their jurisdiction as well.


  • The AFSPA grants the armed forces and Central armed police forces stationed in “disturbed areas” unrestricted authority to execute anyone breaking the law, make arrests without a warrant, inspect any property without a search warrant, and provide protection from legal action and punishment.
  • The law was initially implemented in 1958 in response to the Naga revolt.
  • The Act was changed in 1972, and the Central government and the States were given the authority to declare a region to be “disturbed” at the same time.
  • Meghalaya was subject to the AFSPA for 27 years till the MHA repealed it on April 1, 2018, after Tripura had abrogated the Act in 2015.
  • AFSFA is currently present in a few areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Assam.
PYQ: Cross-border movement of insurgents is only one of the several security challenges facing the policing of the border in North-East India. Examine the various challenges currently emanating across the India-Myanmar border. Also, discuss the steps to counter the challenges. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2019)
Practice Question: Discuss the historical roots and socio-political context that led to the emergence of insurgent outfits like the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in the northeastern region of India. (200 words/12.5 m)

6. AI, Khalistani groups on agenda for DGPs’ meet

Topic: GS3 – Internal Security 

This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of different challenges posed to India’s internal security.
  • A number of important topics will be covered at the next All-India Conference of Director/Inspector Generals of Police in Jaipur, including concerns about outlawed Khalistani formations, difficulties faced by ChatGPT and other AI technologies, and increasing cyber risks from national state actors.
  • Amit Shah, the union home minister, and Ajit Doval, the national security advisor, are anticipated to attend the conference, which is slated to take place at the Rajasthan International Centre from January 5 to 7. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to be in attendance.

Agenda Highlights: Cyber Threats and Nuclear Exigencies:

  • The conference’s preliminary schedule calls for talks on a variety of subjects.
  • The worldwide C-Rad effort for nuclear and radiological emergencies, border management difficulties, the role of law enforcement and interstate cooperation, and advancements in jail infrastructure are a few of these.
  • President Droupadi Murmu recently enacted new criminal law bills, which will receive special attention with an emphasis on their unique features and future development.

Focus Areas: Counterterrorism, Militancy, and Hybrid Threats:

  • Officers have been assigned to give presentations on a range of important topics as part of the event preparations that are currently underway.
  • These include tactics for combating terrorism, new developments in militancy and hybrid militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, and networks for communications and supplies within Khalistan.
  • A review of Left Wing Extremism (LWE), counterterrorism synergy, rising threats and terror, emergency preparedness for nuclear and radiological exigencies, tribal affairs, and countermeasures against false Indian identity documents are just a few of the themes that will be covered throughout the conference.
What is the Khalistan Movement?
  • The goal of the Khalistan movement is to create an independent, sovereign Sikh state in what is now Punjab, which includes both Pakistan and India.
  • Operation Blue Star (1984) and Operation Black Thunder (1986 and 1988) resulted in the movement’s defeat in India, although Sikhs, particularly those living abroad in Canada, the UK, and Australia, continue to show sympathy and support for it.
PYQ: Analyse the multidimensional challenges posed by external state and non-state actors, to the internal security of India. Also discuss measures required to take to be taken to combat the threats. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2021)
Practice Question: Analyze the complexities associated with addressing activities of banned Khalistani outfits, considering both legal and security perspectives. (150 words/10 m)

7. India’s total exports to Australia remain little changed after trade pact: Govt data

Topic: GS2– International Relations-International Treaties and agreements

This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of Indo- Australia trade relations.
  • India’s total value of exports to Australia fell slightly year over year between January and November, coming in at $7.23 billion as opposed to $7.62 billion during the same period last year.
  • Since petroleum products account for more than half of India’s exports to Australia, the decline is mostly attributable to lower petroleum product shipments.

Effect of India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA):

  • Certain categories of commodities that benefited from tariff exemptions under the India-Australia ECTA saw a spike in exports notwithstanding the overall decline.
  • Products in the engineering, electronics, clothing, and pharmaceutical industries all saw significant growth, demonstrating the first benefits of the trade agreement that went into effect on December 29, 2022.

Export Performance of Key Sectors:

  • Engineering Goods: This category’s exports increased to $1,280.06 million from $1,257.39 million during the same time last year.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Exports from the pharmaceutical industry increased to $422.28 million from $372.39 million.
  • Textiles: Exports of ready-made textiles increased to $289.73 million from $275.85 million the year before.

Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and Future Negotiations:

  • Australia’s foreign direct investment (FDI) in India has increased significantly, rising from an average of $30–40 million to $300 million this year.
  • Future negotiations will focus on origin regulations as part of the continuing discussions about broadening the current trade agreement.

Australian Perspective and Agricultural Exports:

  • Since the pact’s adoption, Australia has claimed a 50% increase in agricultural exports to India, including goods like shellfish, broad beans, citrus, almonds, and sheep meat.
  • Australia’s Minister of Trade and Tourism, expressed hope for improving the current trade deal and forging new bilateral ties.


  • The analysis highlights the complex effects of the trade agreement between Australia and India, with some industries growing even as India’s international exports confront difficulties.
  • The necessity for ongoing cooperation and talks to fully utilise the agreement is indicated by the changing dynamics in important categories and the upward trajectory in FDI.
What is Ind-Aus ECTA?
  • This marks the first Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that India has inked with a significant developed nation in more than ten years.
  • The Agreement covers areas including collaboration in all facets of bilateral economic and commercial relations between the two friendly nations:
  • Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin
  • Trade in Services
  • Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
  • Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures
  • Dispute Settlement, Movement of Natural Persons
  • Telecom, Customs Procedures
  • Pharmaceutical products, and Cooperation in other Areas

An institutional framework to promote and enhance trade between the two nations is provided by ECTA.
Nearly all of the tariff lines that Australia and India, respectively, deal in are covered by the ECTA.

  • Australia is providing India with privileged market access on all of its tariff lines.
  • This covers all of the labor-intensive export industries that are of interest to India, including furniture, textiles, leather goods, jewellery, and gemstones.
  • Conversely, India will grant Australia preferential access to more than 70% of its tariff lines, including export-interesting lines that are mainly composed of raw commodities and intermediaries like coal, mineral ores, wine, etc.

Extended post-study work visas will be given to Indian STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) graduates under the terms of the agreement.

  • Additionally, Australia is going to launch a system to provide visas to young Indians who want to come to Australia for work vacations.
  • A quota of 1800 visas per year is going to be implemented for Indian yoga instructors and chefs.

Additionally, it is predicted that ECTA will result in the creation of 10 lakh new jobs.

PYQ: Consider the following countries: (2018)
Which of the above are among the ‘free-trade partners’ of ASEAN?
(a) 1, 2, 4 and 5
(b) 3, 4, 5 and 6
(c) 1, 3, 4 and 5
(d) 2, 3, 4 and 6
Ans: (c)
Practice Question: India’s exports to Australia witnessed a marginal decline despite the implementation of the India-Australia ECTA. Analyze the key factors contributing to the overall export trends and assess the effectiveness of the ECTA in specific sectors. (250 words/15 m)

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