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Current Affairs for UPSC Civil Services Exam – July 05, 2024

{GS1 – MIH – Personalities} Karsandas Mulji *

  • Context (IE): Karsandas Mulji was in limelight due to relasese of biopic Maharaj.
  • Born in Bombay in 1832 in a Gujarati Vaishnav family.
  • He was an active member of the Gujarati Gnanprasarak Mandalli (Gujarati Society for the Spread of Knowledge), founded by the Students’ Society of Elphinstone College.
  • As Elphinstone College alumani, he was classmates with prominent Gujarati reformists such as poet Narmad and educationist Mahipatram Neelkanth.
  • He contributed articles to Rast Goftar & co-founded Streebodh, a women’s magazine launched in 1857.
  • He also published a weekly called Mumbainu Bajar (the Bombay Market) for some time.
  • During his tenure as Assistant Superintendent of Rajkot state, he published a monthly journal titled Vignanvilas on science and industry.
  • Rast Goftar, an Anglo-Gujarati newspaper founded by Dadabhai Naoroji in 1851.
  • Due to support to window remarraige he was evicted from family and was excommunicated from caste due to an overseas jouney by him.
  • Later, he was employed at a charitable school founded by Sheth Gokaldas Tejpal.

Fight against exploitation

  • He founded Satyaprakash in 1855 with the support of wealthy reform-minded individuals.
  • A Vaishnav himself, Karsandas began to expose the misdeeds of Vaishnav priests, including their exploitation of women devotees.
  • He died in 1871 and remembered as the social reformer-journalist who won the Maharaj Libel Case.

Background of Jivanlalji Maharaj issue

  • Vaishnav priest Jivanlalji refused to appear in Bombay High Court in a case initiated by Dayal Motiram in 1858. He coerced Vaishnavite followers to agree to three conditions:
    • No Vaishnav could write against the Maharaj;
    • No Vaishnav could take him to court;
    • And if anyone sued him, the followers would bear the cost of the case and ensure that the Maharaj did not have to appear in court.
  • Karsandas criticised this coercive agreement in numerous articles in Satyaprakash, terming it gulamikhat (agreement of slavery). When Jivanlalji Maharaj started losing followers, he fled from Bombay.
  • In response to the growing sentiment against the priests, another young priest Jadunath Maharaj tried to restore the sect’s influence by asthetic liberal views.
  • The Maharaj cleverly shifted the debate to questioning the divine origin of the scriptures, leaving the discussion unresolved.

Maharaj Libel Case 1862

  • Narmad challenged the Vaishnavite priests’ coercive and immoral practices in his article in Satyaprakash.
  • The article titled “Hinduono Asal Dharma ane Haalna Pakhandi Mato” (The Primitive Religion of the Hindus and the Present Heterodox Opinions), accused priests of sexual liaisons with female devotee.
  • It further stated that the book of Gokulnath, the grandson of Vallabhacharya, who founded the Pushtimarg sect of Vaishnavism, endorsed immorality.
  • It led to the Maharaj filing the famous libel case in the Bombay court, “the greatest trial of modern times since the trial of Warren Hastings“.
  • The Maharaj filed the lawsuit against Karsandas and the paper’s publisher, Nanabhai Ranina.
  • Final judgement favoured Karsandas and established that everyone, including priests, is equal under the law. It rejected the State’s traditional role as gaubhrhaman pratipa (Protectors of cows & Brahmins).

{GS2 – IR – Groupings} Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit

  • Context (IE): Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit took place in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana.

Astana - PMF IAS

  • Before the inclusion of Belarus as newest member, it had nine members: India, Iran, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • Afghanistan and Mongolia hold Observer Status.

India at the summit: Focus areas

  • Terrorism: India reiterated that terrorism in any form or manifestation cannot be justified or condoned.
  • Geo-economics: India stressed creation of multiple, reliable and resilient supply chains.
  • Technology: India stressed for transparnecy and trust in digital era, while emphasising its digital public infrastructure and digital financial inclusion.
  • Connectivity: Connectivity projects must be respectful of sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and be built on the foundation of non-discriminatory trade and transit rights to neighbours.
  • Afghanistan: India reiterated its commitment to development projects, humanitarian assistance, capacity building and sports & its sensitivity to the needs and aspirations of the Afghan people.
  • Reforms in international order: India once again demand a committement to UNSC reform.

Know more about SCO > SCO.

{GS2 – IR – India-Myanmar} Myanmar Crisis and India’s Policy Review

  • Context (TH): The ongoing conflict between ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) and Myanmar’s military junta has sparked a severe humanitarian crisis, prompting discussions at the UN Security Council.
  • Experts in Myanmar are urging India to reassess its policy and establish communication channels with ethnic armed organisations to aid affected civilians.
  • Traditionally, India maintains cordial relations with Myanmar’s military and supports democratic forces.

Escalating Crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

  • The Arakan Army (AA), an ethnic armed group, has been engaged in intense clashes with Myanmar’s military junta, breaking a ceasefire that had largely held since the 2021 military coup.
  • The AA has made significant territorial gains, putting additional pressure on the junta as it faces opposition on multiple fronts. This shift in power dynamics has created a volatile situation in Rakhine State.
  • The conflict has resulted in a dire humanitarian situation for both Rohingya and Rakhine people.
  • In this situation, a UN expert warns of imminent ‘genocidal violence‘ in Myanmar.
  • Genocidal violence refers to acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. This term is derived from the concept of genocide, which was first recognised as a crime under international law by the United Nations in 1948.

The Case for Policy Revision

  • Since 2023, EAOs and the People’s Defence Force (PDF) have coordinated their efforts against the military junta, controlling approximately 45% of Myanmar’s territory.
  • This directly affects India through refugee influx and China’s support for both EAOs and the junta.
  • Also, they now control key trading routes along Myanmar’s borders with India, China, and Thailand.

Potential Course of Action for India

  • India could provide humanitarian aid to civilians in border areas that could address urgent needs such as access to water, medical supplies, and sanitation. To avoid perceived interference in internal affairs, such intervention must be negotiated with Myanmar’s government.
  • India should facilitate dialogue between the junta and the National Unity Government (NUG) on a federal structure that could keep Myanmar united.
  • The progress of the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project (KMTTP) is hindered by security challenges, and local ethnic dynamics in Myanmar need to be addressed.
  • India should convey its deep interest in Myanmar’s stability and prosperity at all levels – from communities to governments, along with safeguarding its interests in the region.

{GS2 – Polity – IC – Parliament} Expunction in Parliamentary Proceedings

  • Context (TH): The first special session of the 18th Lok Sabha ended with controversies over the expunction of Opposition leaders’ remarks in both Houses of Parliament.
  • Expunction is a parliamentary procedure where certain remarks are removed from official records.

Rules Governing Expunction

  • Article 105 grants freedom of speech to MPs, subject to constitutional provisions and House rules.
  • Words deemed defamatory, indecent, unparliamentary, or undignified can be expunged.
  • The Lok Sabha Secretariat maintains a list of ‘unparliamentary‘ words and expressions.
  • Remarks prejudicial to national interest or foreign relations and statements derogatory to dignitaries or likely to offend national sentiments may be expunged.

Process of Expunction

  • The Rajya Sabha Chairman (under Rajya Sabha Rule 261) and Lok Sabha Speaker (under Lok Sabha Rules 380 and 381) have the power to order expunctions.
  • Expunged portions are marked with asterisks in official records.
  • A list of expunged words is circulated to media outlets.

Special Considerations

  • Rule 353 of Lok Sabha outlines procedures for making allegations against colleagues or outsiders. Under this, the MP must provide “adequate advance notice” to the Speaker and the concerned Minister.
  • Allegations against ministers are generally allowed as part of parliamentary accountability.
  • MPs must follow a procedure established by the Speaker when making an allegation against a Minister.
  • MPs must withdraw objectionable remarks upon the Chair’s request or face expunction.

Expunction and Defamation

  • Expunction should only be applied when allegations are truly defamatory or incriminatory in nature.
  • The comments on the conduct of public servants in their official capacity or on their character, as it appears in that conduct, are not considered defamation. Such comments/statements do not necessarily fall under the purview of Rule 353 or Rule 380.

For More Details: Visit > Roles and Powers of the Speaker of Lok Sabha

For More Details: Visit > Freedom of Speech in Parliament

{GS3 – Envi – Conservation} Shape of India’s Climate Agenda**

  • Context (TH): In the next five years, GoI must accelerate and show the world that economic development can be sustainable. India should follow the mantra of ‘go higher, go wider, go deeper’ to align its climate leadership with economic prowess.

The Plan Sheet for India

Go Higher

  • ‘Go higher’ relates to India’s global leadership.
  • India could, sooner or later, host important international climate summits. So, India must stitch alliances and allay concerns from now on only to achieve a consensus on contentious issues.
  • India should emphasise equity in international forums and secure leadership roles in global institutions that deliver climate finance.

Go Wider

  • ‘Go wider’ means India must adopt and communicate emission reduction targets beyond the power sector. India has made significant progress in the power sector and will continue to meet international non-fossil share and domestic renewable energy targets.
  • The next step is to target other sectors, such as setting clear targets for zero-carbon two- and four-wheelers in private mobility.
  • This initiative will also benefit rural India by enhancing mobility, creating jobs in clean energy, and promoting economic growth.

Going Deeper

  • ‘Go deeper’ means prioritising sub-national climate action and resilience.
  • The government should establish a Centre-State coordination group, incentivise State-level climate actions, integrate scientific modelling into policymaking, and facilitate a unified data measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) architecture at the State level.

India’s Transformation

Green Development Pact

  • At the 18th G20 (Group of Twenty) Summit, held in 2023 in New Delhi, the Green Development Pact was signed. It is a part of New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, adopted at the 18th G20 summit.
  • The important pillars/features of the pact are:
    • Pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, compared to 2019 levels
    • Nations urged to align their NDCs with Paris Agreement goals
    • Commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by mid-century
    • Lifestyles for Sustainable Development (LiFE) necessary to ensure emission reduction by 2030
    • Climate finance, circular economy, and blue economy
    • Disaster risk reduction

Carbon Credit Trading

  • A single carbon credit represents the removal or avoided emission of one ton of CO2 or another greenhouse gas like methane of equivalent volume.
  • These credits can be sold to entities to claim as reductions in their emissions.

{GS3 – Envi – RE} New Guidelines for Green Hydrogen Testing and Infrastructure

  • It emphasises a robust quality and testing ecosystem for the Green Hydrogen (GH2) sector.
  • Key Objectives:
    • It aims to identify gaps in existing testing facilities for components, technologies, and processes within the Green Hydrogen value chain.
    • Infrastructure Development: It supports the creation of new testing facilities and upgrading existing ones to ensure safe and secure operations.
  • The guidelines focus on developing comprehensive quality and performance testing facilities to ensure:
    • Quality assurance in GH2 production and trade
    • Sustainability of processes
    • Safety standards compliance
  • Implementing Agency: National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE)

{GS3 – S&T – Bodies} Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF)

  • Context (PIB): Results of the 15th round of the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund were released.
  • AISRF is a bilateral collaboration in science, jointly managed and funded by India & Australia.
  • Objectives of the AISRF:
    • Support strategically focused, leading-edge scientific research and technology projects;
    • Strengthening strategic alliances between Australian and Indian researchers;
    • And facilitate India’s and Australia’s access to the global S&T system.
  • In 2023 (15th round), the AISRF has awarded funding to five projects across various disciplines, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, biotechnology, urban mining and electronic waste recycling, ultralow-cost solar and clean hydrogen technologies.
  • Urban mining is the idea of extracting valuable materials from waste, much of which would otherwise go to landfill or incineration.
  • Funding for this year is focused on:
    • Creating an AI-driven platform for monitoring soil carbon sequestration.
    • Eco-friendly recovery of essential metals from obsolete mobile devices.
    • Cost-effective solar thermal desalination by systems design with nanomaterials.
    • Harnessing the immune system’s power to combat antimicrobial resistance.
    • Advanced diagnostics and innovative therapeutics to detect and combat microbial infections.

{GS3 – S&T – ISRO} Aditya-L1*

  • Context (IE): India’s first solar mission, Aditya-L1, completed its first halo orbit around the Sun-Earth Lagrangian 1 (L1) point.
  • The Aditya-L1 mission, an Indian solar observatory at L1 point, was launched in September 2023 and was inserted in its targeted halo orbit in January 2024.
  • Aditya-L1 spacecraft in the halo orbit takes 178 days to complete a revolution around the L1 point.

For detailed study on Aditya-L1 mission, Halo Orbit, and Lagrangian 1 (L1) point > Adiyta-L1 Mission

{Prelims – Envi – Species} Gharial*

  • Context (TH): Brahmaputra’s lone female gharial’s long wait for a mate could end soon if the proposal for reintroducing gharials in the Brahmaputra landscape is approved. The reptiles will likely be brought from the Kukrail gharial breeding centre near Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Gharial is believed to have been wiped out from the Brahmaputra river system in the 1950s.
  • This female gharial within Assam’s Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve is key to repopulating the Brahmaputra River with gharials.
  • Gharials were widely distributed in the Brahmaputra, Ganga, Indus, and the Mahanadi-Brahmani-Baitarani river systems of India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan.
  • Today, their major populations occur in three tributaries of the Ganga — the Chambal and Girwa in India and the Rapti-Narayani River in Nepal.
  • Female gharials lack the ghara (pot-like structure) on the tip of the males’ snouts.

For details on gharials, visit > Gharial

{Prelims – Envi – Species} Mainland Serow

  • Context (TH): Mainland serow, a medium-sized goat/antelope-like mammal, was recorded at its lowest elevation (97 m above MSL) in Assam’s Raimona National Park, where it is typically not found.
  • Assam has seven national parks. Dihing Patkai is Assam’s 7th National Park, created shortly after Raimona (6th National Park). Both were created in 2021.
  • Distribution: Mainland serow is native to the Himalayas, NE India, SE Asia, and China.
  • Habitat: Mountain slopes with rugged, steep hills at 200-3,000 metres altitudes.
  • Threats: Over poaching and habitat loss.
  • Conservation Status: IUCN: VU | CITES: Appx I | WPA: Schedule I

Mainland Serow - PMF IAS

  • Species of Serow: There are three species of serow – the Mainland serow (the most widespread species), the Japanese serow, and the Formosan serow (found in Taiwan).

Sub-species of Mainland Serow

  1. Sumatran serow
  • Found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra
  1. Himalayan serow
  • Found in the Eastern Himalayas, from Nepal to Bhutan
  • State animal of Mizoram
  1. Indochinese serow
  • Found in mainland SE Asia, including Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, and China

{Prelims – In News} Indian Army Dress Code

  • Context (IE): The Indian Army has recently reinforced its dress code regulations, emphasising adherence to official rules regarding wearing trinkets and religious symbols while in uniform.
  • It comes after observing personnel wearing unauthorised accessories in social media posts.

General Dress Code Principles

  • No unauthorised ornaments or emblems are permitted with the uniform, but
  • Signet rings are an exception and are allowed.
  • Watch chains and trinkets must not be visible when worn with the uniform.

Religious and Cultural Symbols

  • Chains or sacred threads around the neck are prohibited.
  • If worn for religious reasons, they must be completely concealed.
  • Bracelets are not allowed.
  • A single sacred thread on the wrist is permitted only on days of religious significance.
  • Kada‘ (Sikh religious bracelet) is allowed for Sikh personnel and non-Sikh officers commanding Sikh troops. Tilak, vibhuti, or other religious symbols are prohibited while in uniform.

Regulations for Female Personnel

  • Married women may wear mangalsutra, but it must not be visible.
  • Only small earrings (up to 5mm diameter) are allowed.
  • Nose piercings are permitted, but studs can only be worn with mess dress.
  • Lipstick, coloured nail polish, and bindis are prohibited.
  • Sindoor is allowed only if not visible when headgear is worn.
  • Facial makeup, false eyelashes, and henna on hands are not permitted.

General Jewellery and Accessory Rules

  • Only engagement, wedding, eternity, or signet rings are allowed.
  • Rings are not to be worn during ceremonial parades.
  • Watches are generally not worn during ceremonial parades except by the senior parade controller.
  • Pocket watches with visible chains are prohibited.
  • Deodorants and perfumes are strictly prohibited in uniform. After-shave lotions are permitted.

{Prelims – Sci – Bio – Diseases} Wild Poliovirus Type-1

  • Context (TH): The goal of eradicating wild poliovirus type-1 (WPV1) by 2026 is more challenging now.
  • Reason: WPV1, which is endemic only in Pakistan and Afghanistan, has been showing signs of a resurgence since 2023.
  • Endemic refers to the constant presence and regular occurrence of a disease or condition within a specific geographic area or population group.

Polio (Poliomyelitis)

  • Polio (poliomyelitis) is a disease caused by poliovirus.
  • It causes mild or no symptoms in most people, but in some people, it can cause paralysis or death.
  • There are three variations of poliovirus, called wild poliovirus types 1, 2 and 3 (WPV1, WPV2 and WPV3).

For details on Polio, visit > Polio (Poliomyelitis)

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