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Current Affairs for UPSC Civil Services Exam – July 06, 2024

Table of contents

{GS2 – Governance – Issues} Private Papers of eminent personalities

  • Context (IE): Prime Ministers’ Museum & Library (PMML) has decided that it will not permit future donors of Private Papers of eminent personalities to impose indefinite conditions on declassification.

Prime Ministers’ Museum & Library (PMML)

  • Originally established as Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (NMML) in memory of India’s first PM.
  • It is a museum under the Ministry of Culture.

Recent decision

  • Under normal circumstances, it has decided to permit only a five-year embargo from the date of receipt of any new papers, rarely for up to 10 years.
  • PMML has also decided to allow access to several sets of private papers that have been lying in its custody for decades, including those of the first Speaker of Lok Sabha, G D Mavalankar, and Nehru’s niece, Nayantara Sahgal.

Collection of private papers

  • The Jawaharlal Nehru Papers were the first Private Papers obtained by PMML.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund (JNMF) facilitated the transfer on behalf of Indira Gandhi.
  • PMML collection has the papers of Mahatma Gandhi, B R Ambedkar, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Bhikaji Cama, Chaudhary Charan Singh, and others.
  • Recent acquisitions are the papers of former Himachal Pradesh CM Shanta Kumar, which include letters written by him to the PM on One Nation, One Election, the abrogation of Article 370, etc.
  • Papers of the environmentalist Sundarlal Bahuguna were donated to PMML by his wife, Vimla Bahuguna.

Are Private Papers the same as personal papers?

  • Private correspondences with other personalities are different than the personal papers.
  • However, correspondence and documents held in a personal capacity are excluded from this set.
  • Official Records constitute set of papers held by various government departments and ministries.

National Archives of India

  • The National Archives of India, operating under the Culture Ministry, also acquires only those papers the donors agree to declassify.
  • National Archives has papers of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Dadabhai Naoroji, Purushottam Das Tandon, Maulana Azad, Minoo Masani, Sardar Patel and Keshav Dev Malviya, among others.

Declassification

  • Public Records Rules, 1997, covers declassification of all kinds of records and correspondence in India.
  • The Rules say that the respective organisations are responsible for declassifying official records. Records should ordinarily be declassified every 25 years.
  • The definition of Public Records encompasses any records related to the central government and any ministry, department, or office of the government, including the PMO and the President’s Office.
  • However, the 1997 Rules don’t lay down sweeping powers for papers owned by private individuals and families, access to which is voluntary.
  • Declassification in US
    • The Library of Congress Manuscript Division holds Personal Papers and significant organisational records in American history.
    • National Archives and Records Administration is the official depository for US government records, like the National Archives of India.

{GS2 – Governance – Laws} First Application of BNSS in Indian Courts

  • Section 531 of the BNSS states that pending cases should be handled under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) “as if this Sanhita had not come into force.”
  • The judges had to determine whether a case was truly “pending” before the new laws came into effect.

Trademark Dispute and Accusations of False Evidence, Delhi HC

  • In a trademark infringement case, KG Marketing India sought an injunction against defendants for using a similar logo. The defendants later accused KG Marketing of using false evidence.
  • Delhi HC ruled that since the complaint against KG Marketing was filed before the new laws were enacted, Section 531 of the BNSS applied. The CrPC would continue to be used in this case.
  • The court allowed the complaint to proceed and dismissed KG Marketing’s suit with a penalty.

Revision Petition in Cheque-Bouncing Case

  • Mandeep Singh filed a revision petition against his conviction in a cheque-bouncing case and an application for condonation of delay (his petition exceeded the 90-day time limit).
  • The HC referred to Section 6 of the General Clauses Act, 1897, and Section 531 of the BNSS to resolve this issue. The court decided that the CrPC would continue to apply.
  • General Clauses Act, 1897: Section 6 states that even if a law is repealed, rights, obligations, or ongoing legal proceedings will not be affected.

For More Details: Visit > Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS), 2023

{GS2 – Polity – IC – Emergency} Emergency in India

  • Context (IE): On June 25, 2024, India marked fifty years since the National Emergency (1975-1977), a period of suspended civil liberties, restricted press freedom, widespread arrests, and postponed elections.

The Aftermath of the National Emergency in India (1975)

Political Transformation

  • The 1977 elections saw four major opposition parties merge into the Janata Party, forming a united front against Congress and resulting in India’s first non-Congress government.

44th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1978

  • It reversed many constitutional changes enacted by the 42nd Amendment Act 1976.
  • The amendment restricted the President’s power to proclaim a National Emergency under Article 352, requiring written advice from the Cabinet and parliamentary approval within a month.
  • It limited the duration of emergency to 6 months unless approved by a special majority in Parliament.
  • It restored judicial review of emergency proclamations.
  • It limited grounds for an emergency to armed rebellion, war, and external aggression.
  • It limited the period of the President’s Rule (Article 356) in states to one year, extendable by six months with parliamentary approval.

The Shah Commission Report

  • It was established by the Janata government to investigate the emergency’s imposition and its effects.
  • The commission’s report was highly critical, finding the decision to be unilateral and leading to a violation of civil liberties during the emergency period.

During National Emergency

  • Parliament can extend the Lok Sabha’s term by one year at a time.
  • The central government gains power to legislate on state subjects.
  • The President can modify constitutional provisions on financial resource allocation between the centre and states with parliamentary approval.

President’s Rule

  • President’s Rule, also known as State Emergency, is a provision under Article 356 of the Constitution.
  • It allows the central government to take direct control of a state when the state government is unable to function according to constitutional provisions (on receipt of a report from the Governor of a state).
  • The President can assume all or any of the functions of the state government.

Important Provisions

  • President’s Rule can be imposed for six months initially. It can be extended for a maximum of three years with the approval of Parliament every six months.
  • Both Houses of Parliament must approve the imposition of the President’s Rule within two months.
  • The President can revoke the proclamation at any time. If the Lok Sabha rejects the continuation of the President’s Rule, it must be revoked.
  • The state assembly is suspended or dissolved during the President’s Rule.

Judicial Interventions and Commission Recommendations

  • S.R. Bommai Case (1994): The Supreme Court ruled that imposition is subject to judicial review and recommended a floor test for the government majority.
  • 88th Amendment (2003): Inserted a new clause (4) in Article 361, giving immunity to the Governor for the exercise of powers under Article 356.
  • Sarkaria Commission (1988): Use the President’s Rule sparingly and issue a warning before imposition.
  • Punchhi Commission (2010): Recommended a time-bound response from the President and non-dissolution of the state assembly before parliamentary approval.
  • Article 365 provides additional grounds for the President to invoke Article 356.
  • If a state government fails to comply with or implement directions given by the central government under constitutional provisions, it can lead to the imposition of the President’s Rule.

{GS2 – Polity – IC} The idea of Sovereignty

  • Context (IE): Amid problems of the 21st century such as climate change, cybercrime, and financial crises that crisscross borders, the concepts of sovereignty and territorial integrity played out clearly. 

What is Sovereignty?

  • The term sovereignty is derived from the Latin word Superanus, meaning supreme.
  • Sovereignty refers to the supremacy or supreme power of the state. It arms the state with supreme legal authority in both internal and external spheres.
  • Internally, it establishes the state’s supremacy over all individuals and associations under its control. Externally, it upholds state’s independence from control or interference of any other state or agency.

Characteristics of Sovereignty

  • Sovereignty connotes supreme authority that must be identifiable.
  • It can be in the form of an individual such as a monarch in medieval times or in the form of a body of individuals such as parliament that represents the people, in modern times.
  • People in a polity must render habitual obedience to the sovereign as a mark of the latter’s authority.
  • There is no authority higher than the sovereign to which it can become subservient.
    • The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union exemplified the third characteristic, i.e. the British parliament should not accept the superiority of the European Parliament in Brussels.

Sovereignty and territorial integrity

  • The authority of the sovereign must have a clear territorial demarcation.
  • This is usually understood to cover full territorial extent of the sovereign’s jurisdiction, including the air space over the territory and extending to some distance into the sea if the territory has a coastline.
  • The territorial integrity of sovereignty encompasses the idea of safe and secure borders surrounding the territory. It would also incorporate the resources below the surface, such as minerals.
  • The prolonged Israel-Palestine dispute entails problems over identifying the borders between the state of Israel and the proposed state of Palestine and whether such a Palestinian state will have complete control over the air space that covers its territory.

Historical development of sovereignty

  • In the 16th century, Jean Bodin, a French writer, was the 1st to formulate the concept of sovereignty.
  • According to Bodin, the idea of sovereignty primarily entails the absolute and sole competence of law-making within the territorial boundaries of a state.
  • Thomas Hobbes defined sovereignty as the absolute and inalienable power of the ruler.
  • John Locke defined it in terms of the community’s sovereignty and the government’s limited power.
  • Jean Jacques Rousseau advocated the concept of popular sovereignty based on the ambiguous concept of General Will. His idea helped integrate the concept of sovereignty with the theory of democracy.
  • General Will refers to the point of convergence of the real will of all the members of a community. It reflects the true good of each individual and the common good of the whole community.

Shifts in the concept of Sovereignty

  • Since the beginning of the 20th century, the classical approach to sovereignty as absolute and unlimited authority began to be viewed as a threat to international peace and independent nation-states.
  • Thus, important restrictions on states’ freedom of action began to appear.
  • Hague Conventions of 1899 & 1907 established rules governing the conduct of wars on land and at sea.
  • The Covenant of the League of Nations restricted the right to wage war.
  • The Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 condemned recourse to war for the solution of international controversies and its use as an instrument of national policy.
  • The UN Charter obliged member states to “settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered”.
  • More recently, there has been a movement away from identifying sovereignty with an individual such as a monarch and associating it with the popular will of the people.
  • Also, there has been a certain de-mystification of sovereignty at the hands of many political theorists, unlike placing it on an elevated pedestal earlier.
  • Thus, sovereignty ceased to be considered as synonymous with unrestricted power.

Pluralistic view of sovereignty

  • The Pluralistic view denies sovereignty as the state’s absolute and indivisible supreme power.
  • French Philosopher Michel Foucault was of the view that power does not exist in a centralised form, but in far more diffuse, peripheral, capillary and subtle forms.
  • English pluralists such as GDH Cole and Harold Laski argued that associations and groups that existed at an intermediate level between the state and the individual such as trade guilds or trade unions also retained aspects of sovereignty.
  • Thus, rather than maintaining special pre-eminence, state was an association among many other.
  • Just as an association coordinates the activities of its members, the state also coordinates the activities of the other associations in the society.
  • These associations are equally powerful with the state in their own spheres. Hence, the state cannot claim any superior position.
  • The parts of the State are as real as the whole. The State is, therefore, distributive, not collective.
  • The state does not possess unlimited and absolute power. Its powers are limited by the social customs and conventions in the internal sphere and by the international laws and treaties in the external sphere.
  • According to them, laws are obeyed not because of fear of punishment. People obey laws because of the force of public opinion, utility, and social significance.

{GS2 – Social Sector – Health} Ban on chloramphenicol and nitrofurans *

  • Context (DTE): Drugs Consultative Committee (DCC) has recommended a complete ban on importing, distributing, and selling chloramphenicol and nitrofurans for use in food animal production systems.
  • Earlier in 2019, MoHFW banned colistin, a last-resort antibiotic listed as the highest priority critically important antimicrobials by the WHO in food-producing animals, poultry & animal feed supplements.

Chloramphenicol

  • It is a broad-spectrum antibiotic effective against a variety of susceptible and serious bacterial infections.
  • It is used in superficial eye infections, enteric fever, typhoid fever and central nervous system infections such as acute bacterial meningitis.
  • It is recognised by the WHO as a Highly Important Antimicrobial (HIA).

Nitrofuran

  • Nitrofuran derivatives are classified as Important Antimicrobials (IA) by WHO.
  • Nitrofuran antibiotics can kill or inhibit germs and are often used to treat animal diseases such as urinary and intestinal bacterial infections.
  • They are used to promote animal growth and treat poultry, and they are very effective against gastrointestinal tract diseases and skin diseases of aquatic animals due to their bactericidal effect.
  • Many countries, including parts of the EU & USA have banned nitrofurans from food-producing animals.

Colistin

  • Colistin is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections caused by susceptible Gram-negative bacteria.
  • It is used as the last line of defense against serious infections, including those caused by multidrug-resistant organisms.
  • Colistin binds to fatty molecules on the cell membranes of gram-negative bacteria and causes cell contents to leak, leading to cell death.
  • Colistin is toxic to the central nervous system and may cause temporary neurological disturbances such as tingling, numbness, dizziness, vertigo and slurred speech.

{GS2 – Vulnerable Sections – Women} Financing Women Collaborative (FWC)

  • Context (PIB): Mumbai hosted the second convening of the Financing Women Collaborative (FWC), an initiative of the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP).
  • FWC, an initiative of WEP launched in 2023, aims to enhance access to finance for women entrepreneurs.
  • It is chaired by the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and co-chaired by TransUnion CIBIL (TU CIBIL), with MicroSave Consulting (MSC) as its secretariat.
  • The FWC approach involves
    • Fostering collaboration and commitment to strengthening women’s access to finance,
    • Enhancing the credit readiness of women entrepreneurs through mentorship & capacity building
    • Amplifying and sharing research evidence and good practices to support women entrepreneurs.
  • As an aggregator platform, WEP, incubated in NITI Aayog in 2018, transitioned into a public-private partnership in 2022 to strengthen India’s women entrepreneurship ecosystem.

{GS2 – Vulnerable Sections – Women} SEHER Program

  • Context (PIB): The Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) and TransUnion CIBIL have partnered to launch SEHER, a credit education program to empower women entrepreneurs in India.
  • SEHER aims to increase awareness about finances and management among women entrepreneurs.
  • The program seeks to equip women with the necessary tools to drive economic growth and create employment opportunities by providing financial literacy content and business skills training.
  • It aims to educate women about the importance of building a good credit history and CIBIL score to facilitate easier and faster access to finance.
  • The program is part of WEP’s Financing Women Collaborative (FWC), a first-of-its-kind initiative to accelerate access to finance for women entrepreneurs.

Facts

  • India has 6.3 crore MSMEs, with ~20% owned by women, employing around 2.7 crore people.
  • Rural areas have a higher percentage of women-owned enterprises (22.24%) than urban areas (18.42%).
  • As of March 2024, 38% of the 1.5 crore borrowers with active business loans were women.

{GS3 – Agri – Dairy} Surplus of Skimmed Milk Powder

  • Context (IE | IE): Indian dairy farmers have been hit by a “surplus” problem of skimmed milk powder.

About Skimmed Milk Powder (SMP)

  • Cow milk contains 3.5% fat and 8.5% solids-not-fat (SNF) on average, with the same at 6.5% and 9% for buffalo milk.
  • Being perishable, milk cannot be stocked. Only its solidas (i.e. fat and SNF) are storable after separation of cream and drying of skimmed milk.
  • During the ‘flush;’ season, dairies convert the surplus milk into butter, ghee and skimmed milk powder (SMP) — the first two from cream/fat and the last from SNF.
    • Skimmed milk powder is produced by evaporating most of the water content from milk to remove fat and water-soluble protein.
  • The solids are recombined with water into liquid milk during the “lean” season when animal production falls and may not suffice to meet demand.
  • Indian dairies produce 5.5-6 lt. of SMP annually. Roughly 4 lt. is used for recombining during lean season.
  • The balance gets consumed by makers of ice cream, biscuits, chocolate, sweetmeats, baby formula, and other food and industrial products.

Reasons for surplus SMP in the Indian dairy industry

  • An increasing share of India’s milk comes from cows. Cows — notwithstanding issues relating to the disposal of unproductive cattle — yield more milk and start calving earlier than buffaloes.
  • Secondly, there is a growing demand for milk fat in India. But for every 1 kg of fat, dairies make over 2.4 kg of SMP (1 kg of fat from buffalo milk produces less than 1.4 kg of SMP.)
  • In 2023-24, there was an abundant and continuous milk supply with hardly any lean period. The resultant augmented milk availability resulted in the surplus availability of SMP.
  • The SMP surplus problem may worsen with the new flush season. The surplus problem is, however, less in milk fat, as its annual production by dairies is only 3-3.5 litre.
  • Fat, unlike SMP, has a good market in India, both among households and industrial consumers.

Impact of the surplus

  • Cow SMP realisations for dairies have crashed.
  • India’s SMP shipments have declined, from 1.3 lt in 2013-14 to 4,800 tonnes in 2023-24. Further, the drop in global prices makes commercial exports unviable.

{GS3 – Envi – CC} West Antarctica’s Vulnerability

  • Context (DTE): West Antarctica‘s vulnerability to global warming can be attributed to its delayed glaciation compared to East Antarctica.
  • Due to delayed glaciation, West Antarctica’s ice sheets are younger and potentially less stable than those in the east, making them more vulnerable to recent warming trends.
  • Research shows permanent ice sheets formed in East Antarctica about 34 million years ago, while West Antarctica remained largely ice-free until 7 million years later.
  • Sediment samples from Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers on the Amundsen Sea coast of West Antarctica confirm this finding.
  • This delay suggests West Antarctica had a different climate history, possibly supporting dense broadleaf forests due to milder temperatures.
  • The slow ice advance into West Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea sector was likely due to mild air and surface ocean temperatures.
  • In contrast, East Antarctica’s Northern Victoria Land had early ice formation due to encountering of moist air masses by the Transantarctic Mountains (which now separate East and West Antarctica).

A map of the north pole
Description automatically generated

Source: Wikipedia

{GS3 – Envi – Conservation} Biodiversity Intactness Index (BII)

  • Context (DTE): A study shows that strategic planting of energy crops can help achieve bioenergy, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity restoration goals.
  • This was determined by looking into the Biodiversity Intactness Index (BII).
  • BII estimates how the average abundance of native terrestrial species in a region compares with their abundances before pronounced human impacts.
  • It is a metric that assesses ecosystem health by measuring how much natural biodiversity remains despite human development pressures.

Strategic Planting of Energy Crops

  • Energy crops are plants specifically grown for use as renewable bioenergy sources, such as biofuels or biomass for electricity production.
  • The study found that planting low-cost and low-maintenance energy crops on existing agricultural land can reduce biodiversity losses compared to converting natural habitats.
  • Prioritising degraded or abandoned agricultural land for energy crops offers the greatest benefit.
  • However, planting energy crops in areas with high natural vegetation significantly reduces biodiversity, especially in tropical regions.

{GS3 – S&T – BioTech} CAR-T Cell Therapy **

  • Context (TH): CAR-T cell therapy’s risk of causing secondary cancer is small.
  • Secondary cancer, also known as metastatic cancer or secondary malignancy, refers to cancer that has spread from its original site to other parts of the body.
  • It can also describe a new, distinct cancer that arises from treatment for a previous cancer.
  • CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T-cell) therapy is an advanced treatment that reprogrammes a patient’s immune cells to target and fight cancer.
  • Initially used for patients with no other options, CAR-T therapy is now approved as a second-line treatment for certain blood cancers, such as lymphoma and multiple myeloma.
  • Scientists are also exploring its potential for treating solid tumours, brain cancers, autoimmune diseases, ageing, HIV, and other conditions.

How CAR-T Cell Therapy Cause Secondary Cancer

  • CAR-T cell therapy involves extracting T-cells (a type of white blood cell crucial to the immune system) from a patient and modifying them in a lab to recognise better and attack cancer cells.
  • These reengineered T-cells are called CAR-T cells. They are multiplied and infused into the patient.
  • Creating CAR-T cells involves inserting the gene for a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) into T-cells using engineered retroviruses.
  • Although these retroviruses are modified to be safe, there is a risk that the new genetic material could disrupt important genes. This phenomenon is called “insertional mutagenesis”.
  • Insertional mutagenesis can potentially lead to cancer.
  • For details on CAR-T cell therapy, visit > CAR-T Cell Therapy
  • A retrovirus has RNA as its genetic material. It uses the enzyme reverse transcriptase to integrate into the host cell’s DNA, enabling the production of many virus copies within the host. E.g., AIDs virus.

{GS3 – S&T – NanoTech} Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs)

  • Context (PIB): Researchers have attributed Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) crystal flexibility to structural rearrangements driven by vibrations that strongly couple with strain fields.
    • Advantages of MOFs: High surface area (due to the presence of nanopores), tunable pores, tailor-made, and highly porous.
    • Limitations of MOFs: Limited stability and mechanical weakness.

Uses of MOFs

  • Gas storage and separation: MOFs are excellent at storing and separating gases like CO2 due to their high surface area and tunable pores.
  • Catalysis: MOFs can be designed to act as catalysts for chemical reactions, potentially leading to more efficient and environmentally friendly processes.
  • Sensors: MOFs can detect specific molecules by selectively binding them within their pores.
  • Drug delivery: MOFs can be used in transporting medication directly to target sites in the body.
  • Purification: MOFs can be used to remove contaminants from water due to their ability to trap specific molecules. They are also used as filters for crude oil purification.

{Prelims – Bio – Diseases} Brain-eating amoeba *

  • Context (TH): Recently, three deaths have been reported in Kerala due to the rare and fatal infection of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).

Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM)

  • PAM is caused by Naegleria fowleri, an amoeba that thrives in warm freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers and poorly maintained swimming pools.
  • This free-living microorganism primarily feeds on bacteria but can become pathogenic in humans.
  • This one-celled organism can infect the brain and destroy the tissues, also called ‘brain-eating amoeba’.
  • These rare infections are fatal, with 97% mortality. Most people die within one to 18 days.
  • Symptoms: Headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Later symptoms include a stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, and hallucinations.
  • Conditions for infection
    • During summer, swimming in lakes, ponds, or rivers can lead to infection.
    • High atmospheric temperatures and low water levels increase the probability of spread.
  • The amoeba enters the body through the nose and reaches up to the brain to infect it.
  • In recent cases, children are found more vulnerable to it.
  • Treatment: No standard treatment methods.

{Prelims – Envi – Species} Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe)

A map of a large island
Description automatically generated

  • Eurema hecabe, the common grass yellow, is a small pierid butterfly species.

A yellow butterfly on a leaf
Description automatically generated

Credit: iNaturalist

  • Physical characteristics: Its body is yellow in colour. There is a black, broad, irregular outer marking on the forewing. The underside of the wing has various black marks with a yellow centre.
  • Distribution: It is found in Asia, Africa and Australia.
  • Habitat: They fly close to the ground and in open grass and scrub habitats.
  • IUCN Status: Least Concern.

{Prelims – PIN} Fakir Shah Hussain and Madho Lal

  • Context (IE): The story of Sufi saint Fakir Shah Hussain, who fell in love with a Brahmin boy named Madho Lal, is celebrated during Pride month.
  • Hussain (1538-1599) faithfully followed Orthodox Islam but later shifted to believing that the world is an ephemeral playground.
  • Their name is taken as “Madho Lal Hussein“, inspired by the Sufi principle of fana.
  • The Sufi principle of fana involves a profound love for God, which merges the individual self with the Divine so that the lover and the Beloved become one.
  • Naved Alam (penned the Verses of “Madho Lal Hussein”) refers to them as “the Donysius of Punjab”.
  • However, scholars disagree on whether the relationship between the two was a spiritual bond of a Murshid (spiritual guide) and Murid (novice seeking enlightenment) or “transgressed” beyond it.
  • Hussain supported Rai Abdullah Khan Bhatti (Dulla Bhatti), who fought the oppressive tax imposed on peasants and was hanged by Emperor Akbar.
  • Many versions claim that Hussain’s sayings were compiled in a secret book, “Baharia,” which is now lost.
  • Some scholars suggest he encouraged scandalous rumours because he followed the Malamati tradition of seeking opprobrium.
  • In ancient Greek religion and myth, Dionysus is the god of wine-making, orchards and fruit, vegetation, fertility, festivity, insanity, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theatre.
  • Practitioners of Malamati tradition of opprobrium go out of their way to become disreputable and eschew the hubris that accompanies fame & acclaim and serves as a barrier between them & the Divine.

Love and folklore

  • Hussain’s poems, which remain popular in eastern and western Punjab, use a feminine voice, Heer.
  • He identifies as Heer, one-half of the star-crossed lovers of Heer-Ranjha.
  • His mention of Ranjhan referring to the Divine or Madho is open to interpretation.

Mela Chiraghan: The festival of lamps

  • Mela Chiraghan is an annual Urs (death anniversary) celebrated in March at the Saint’s shrine near the Shalimar Gardens of Lahore.
  • Mela Chiraghan was patronised by the Mughals, the British, and even the Sikh emperor Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who famously merged the saint’s Urs with the festival of Basant.
  • The festival was said to be celebrated by people coming from Amritsar to Lahore, singing some vulgar verses called ‘Sakhnia’. Traditionally, the final day of the three-day festival was reserved for women.
  • The three-day festival attracts large crowds where devotees sing and dance (called dhamaal) around a fire in red robes, evoking the image of a Sufi saint as a moth attracted to a Candle’s flame.
  • The popularity of the festival declined after Pakistan’s former president Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq banned the playing of dhol and the use of phallic symbols during the celebration.

{Prelims – Sci – Bio} Chimeroids

  • Context (TOI): Scientists have successfully grown 3D brain models, known as chimeroids, for the first time, using cells from multiple individuals.
  • The aim is to replicate human brain biology more accurately than traditional 2D cellular or animal models like lab mice.
    • Advantage: Brain organoids, typically derived from a single donor’s cells, lack genetic diversity (which affects brain development and drug responses). Chimeroids overcome this limitation.
  • Chimeroids exposed to neurotoxic chemicals like ethanol and valproic acid showed varied responses in growth inhibition among cells from different donors.
  • To create the chimeroids, researchers collected stem cells from individuals and formed brain organoids from each person’s cells using growth-inducing chemicals. Then, the cells were disassembled and recombined to ensure each chimeroid contained an equal number of cells from each donor.
  • Uses of chimeroids: Disease modelling, drug testing, neural development studies, etc.
  • Stem cells are cells with the potential to develop into many different types of cells in the body. They serve as a repair system for the body. Two main types of stem cells: embryonic and adult stem cells.
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