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Current Affairs for UPSC Civil Services Exam – June 08, 2024

{GS1 – MIH – Events} 131 years of Pietermaritzburg incident

  • Context (IE): Gandhiji’s life transformed after the Pietermaritzburg incident.

Pietermaritzburg incident

  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi arrived in South Africa on 24 May 1893 to attend to a legal matter of Durban-based merchant Dada Abdullah Jhaveri.
  • The incident occurred in 1893 when a railway official demanded Gandhiji shift from his “whites-only” first-class compartment to a third-class compartment.
  • Despite resistance, he was thrown out at the Pietermaritzburg station. Gandhiji resolved to fight this racial discrimination and injustice.
  • He mentioned the incident as “symptom of the deep disease of colour prejudice” in his autobiography.

Gandhiji in South Africa

Resistance by Natal Indian Congress (NIC)

  • The NIC (Natal Indian Congress) was the first of the Indian Congresses to be formed.
  • It was established in 1894 by Mahatma Gandhi to fight discrimination against Indian traders in Natal.
  • It was formed to resist a bill by the Natal Legislative Assembly to disenfranchise the Indians.
  • Within a month, a monster petition bearing 10,000 signatures was presented to Lord Ripon, Colonial Secretary, and the agitation compelled the British Government to disallow the Bill.
  • However, in 1896, the Bill finally became law. The act did not mention the Indians but merely disqualified those who were not of European origin.
  • First time that the Indian people had not only participated in but organised an agitational campaign.

Support in Boer wars

  • Gandhi founded an Ambulance Corps in support of the British in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902.
  • He thought that support for the British would translate into better conditions for Indians in Transvaal.
  • He founded the Transvaal British Indian Association in 1903 in Johannesburg.
  • The British-Boer understanding after the War led to further restrictions on Indians in Transvaal.

Phoenix farm

  • English artist John Ruskin‘s book Unto This Last inspired Gandhi to set up Phoenix Farm near Durban.
  • Gandhi trained his cadres on non-violent Satyagraha or peaceful restraint here.
  • Phoenix Farm is considered the birthplace of Satyagraha. However, it was at Tolstoy Farm, Gandhi’s second camp in South Africa, that Satyagraha was moulded into a weapon of protest.

Path of Nonviolent Resistance

  • He legally defended Indian traders against discrimination, countering efforts to disenfranchise them.
  • He wrote a ‘guidebook’ for Indian students, reflecting his commitment to personal & professional growth.
  • Gandhi both theorised and practised satyagraha in South Africa, including writing letters, articles and petitions to mass mobilisation and seeking imprisonment.
  • Gandhi was sentenced to four terms imprisonment in South Africa during his Satyagraha campaigns.
  • These methods influenced other movements, from Martin Luther King Jr.’s Civil Rights Movement in the United States to Nelson Mandela’s struggle against apartheid.

Satyagraha

  • The term ‘Satyagraha’ is derived from ‘satya’ (truth) and ‘agraha’ (insistence or truth-force), and its practitioners are called Satyagrahis.
  • It was his newspaper weekly ‘Indian Opinion’ through which the word Satyagraha was coined.
  • A competition was conducted, inviting readers to suggest a name for the passive resistance campaigns.

{GS1 – MIH – Movements} Alwar Peasant Movement & Neemuchana Massacre

  • Context (TH): 100 years of the Alwar peasant movement and the Neemuchana massacre.

Social fabric of Alwar State: Relation between Court and the Rajputs

  • The princely state of Alwar in Rajasthan came into existence shortly before the arrival of the British.
  • Rajput states like Alwar followed a system that fell between absolute monarchy and republic. In this system, the monarch and his fellow clan retainers shared a symbiotic relationship.
  • The monarch was accountable to the clan retainers (were farmer-soldiers), on whose military labour he always depended. The clan brothers, who acted as soldiers, often kept a check on the absolute powers of the monarch.
  • In Alwar, the number of Rajput jagirdars was not much, and the jagirs were also small.
  • The majority of the land holdings (almost 80% as per estimates) were in what was termed the “Khalsa”, which was cultivated by peasants called Biswedars.
  • Most of the Biswedars were Rajputs who were granted Biswedari by the Alwar court in return for their military service. However, the Biswedars were not granted permanent ownership of their lands and they could be easily evicted for the non-payment of taxes.

Background of the movement

  • After coming under the British, British agents moulded the culture and administrative system of the Rajput states along the lines of the European aristocracy, ending the court’s dependence on the common Rajput jagirdars and Biswedars.
  • Further, in the new land settlement policy of 1923–24, the Alwar state confiscated the Biswedari rights of Rajput farmers and raised tax rates to 50%. However, the court reserved the right to force the Rajputs for compulsory military service.
  • Additionally, concessions were granted to other non-martial castes, especially Brahmins, without the Alwar court extracting any notable service from them.
  • The policy led to resentment among the Rajput farmers and Biswedars of Thanagaji and Bansur tehsil unitedly decided not to pay tax at the new rates and to agitate against it.
  • The court confiscated the crops of those Biswedars who did not pay the exorbitant taxes, which the Rajputs got rid of by force.
  • The Rajputs, thus, started collecting swords, spears, guns, etc., to fight the injustice done to them.
  • Several meetings under the leadership of Govind Singh and Madho Singh were held under the aegis of Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Mahasabha.

Course of the movement

  • The main center of the movement was Neemuchana village.
  • On 13 May 1925, the Alwar state army surrounded the Neemuchana village from all sides and asked the agitating Rajput farmers to end the movement.
  • On the morning of May 14, the army closed all the roads and started firing indiscriminately with machine guns on the village without any warning. They burnt the village to ashes.
  • According to the official government records, 156 died, while the non-official figures have claimed a horrific death toll of 1500 innocent people.

Consequences

  • The Alwar court was forced to withdraw its decision and had to pay compensation to the families of the deceased.
  • Mahatma Gandhi described this massacre as ‘more vicious than Jallianwala Bagh’ incident and termed it a dual dictatorship.

{GS2 – IR – Groupings} Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity

  • The IPEF members signed various agreements, which are first-of-their-kind approaches to address 21st century challenges and strengthen economic engagement across the Indo-Pacific region. 
  • These agreements will enter into force after at least five IPEF partners complete their internal legal procedures for ratification, acceptance or approval.
  • India did not formally sign these agreements as the formation of the new government is underway.

Agreements signed

IPEF Clean Economy Agreement

  • It intends to accelerate efforts towards energy security and transition, climate resilience and adaptation, GHG emissions mitigation, etc.
  • The activities will be undertaken through joint collaborative actions such as Cooperative Work Programmes and the IPEF Catalytic Capital Fund.

Cooperative Work Programme (CWP)

  • The IPEF partners announced three new CWPs: on emissions intensity accounting, on e-waste urban mining (led by India), and on small modular reactors (SMRs).

IPEF Catalytic Capital Fund

  • It supports the expansion of the pipeline of quality clean economy infrastructure projects.
  • Founding supporters: Australia, Japan, Korea, and the United States.
  • Administered by: Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG).

IPEF Fair Economy Agreement

  • It intends to create a more transparent and predictable business environment, promote a level playing field for businesses and workers, enhance efforts to prevent and combat corruption by strengthening anti-corruption frameworks, etc.

{GS2 – Polity – Inter-State Disputes} Pending Issues between AP and Telangana

  • Context (IE): Since the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh to create Telangana in 2014, both states have grappled with unresolved issues from the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act (APRA).

Key Disputes

  • Andhra’s demand for Special Category Status to compensate for revenue losses.
  • Legal battles over asset division, including the AP High Court complex, power generation dues, Andhra Pradesh State Financial Corporation assets, AP Mineral Development Corporation, etc.
  • The Ninth and Tenth Schedules of APRA list 245 assets to be divided between them, with 91% located in Hyderabad. AP argues that Telangana’s inaction in dividing these assets has disadvantaged them.
  • Sharing of Krishna and Godavari river waters.
  • Article 131: The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in disputes between the Government of India and one or more states or between two or more states.
  • Article 3: Empowers Parliament to enact legislation for the creation of new states.

{GS2 – Social Sector – Health – Initiatives} Biopharmaceutical Alliance

  • Context (TH): South Korea, India, the United States, Japan, and the European Union (EU) have allied to enhance supply chain resilience in the biopharmaceutical sector collaboratively.
  • It was formed in response to the critical drug shortages experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The first official meeting took place in San Diego during the Bio International Convention 2024.
  • The members committed to collaborating on harmonising their respective countries’ bio policies, regulations, and research and development support initiatives.

Critical Drugs

  • Critical drugs, also known as essential medicines or life-saving drugs, are pharmaceutical products that are considered vital for addressing the priority healthcare needs of a population.
  • Examples include insulin for diabetes, antibiotics for bacterial infections, antiretroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS, anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, etc.

{GS3 – Agri – Crops} New rice varieties

  • Context (TH): The Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU) has released a few varieties of rice for Kharif that are suitable for Andhra Pradesh.
  • MTU 1271, BPT 2846, and NLR-3238 were developed as alternatives to BPT 5204 (Samba Mahsuri).
  • MTU 1271 is a high-yielding variety, non-logging, semi-dwarf; crop duration is 140 days and yields about 2.8 to 3 tonnes per acre.
  • BPT 2846 variety yields about 2.4 tonnes per acre and has a crop duration of 130–135 days.
  • Another new variety, NLR-3238, has a comparatively higher zinc composition (22.5 per cent) in the grain and is sustainable and viable to cultivate in all seasons.

{GS3 – Envi – CC} Evacuation of Panama Island Due to Climate Change

  • Context (DTE): Panama is set to evacuate an entire island community due to climate change.
  • The residents of Gardi Sugdub Island, in the Guna Yala archipelago, are to be relocated to new homes on the mainland of Carti Sugtupu in Panama’s Indigenous Guna Yala Comarca.
  • The Indigenous Guna people have faced disruption for generations due to
    • Rising Sea Water Levels
    • Poisoning of freshwater reserves due to saltwater intrusion
    • Coastal erosion due to frequent floods
  • An estimated 63 communities along Panama’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts are facing similar issues.
  • Carteret Islands of Papua New Guinea, in the South Pacific, was the first place in the world to witness large-scale human evacuation due to climate change.

Guna Yala - PMF IAS

Credits: Human Rights Watch

{GS3 – Envi – Conservation} NaturAfrica Initiative

  • Context (DTE): The European Commission (EC) has removed Tanzania from the list of countries eligible for Euro conservation grant to be launched in East Africa as part of its NaturAfrica initiative.
  • According to Maasai International Solidarity Alliance (MISA) and Survival International, it was removed due to its harsh evictions of the Maasai people.

Kenya & Tanzania Map - PMF IAS

  • The recent call for proposals targets the Eastern Rift Savannahs and Watersheds (ERiSaWa) component of NaturAfrica, and two KLCDs (Key Landscapes for Conservation and Development):
    1. SOKNOT (Southern Kenya Northern Tanzania) ecosystem. Within this, it will include activities only in Southern Kenya.
    2. Northern Kenya ecosystems.
  • Survival International is a human rights organisation that campaigns for the rights of Indigenous and/or tribal peoples and uncontacted peoples.
  • MISA is an international alliance standing in solidarity with the Maasai of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Loliondo.

NaturAfrica Initiative

  • NaturAfrica is an initiative to support biodiversity conservation in Africa that takes an innovative, people-centred approach.
  • It was announced in 2019 as part of the ‘European Green Deal‘.
  • Objective: Tackle biodiversity loss through restoring and protecting a network of protected areas and high value ecosystems and promoting the sustainable management of surrounding landscapes whilst creating decent incomes and jobs in green sectors for local populations.

SOKNOT (Southern Kenya Northern Tanzania) ecosystem

  • It is a transboundary conservation programme with the aim of restoring the wildlife migratory corridors and dispersal areas in Kenya and Tanzania.
  • It stretches from Lake Victoria to the Indian Ocean.
  • It aims at establishing a transboundary conservation area of about 134,000 km2, which will be a large wildlife corridor between the Maasai Mara-Serengeti, Amboseli-Kilimanjaro, and Tsavo-Mkomaz.
  • It is famous for:
    • Ngorongoro, Serengeti, Kilimanjaro (UNESCO World Heritage Sites)
    • Lake Natron (Ramsar Site)
    • Amboseli (UNESCO Biosphere Reserve)
    • Lake Natron, Loita, Amboseli, West Kilimanjaro (Four important bird habitats)
    • Three Wildlife Management Areas (Mara-Serengeti; Amboseli-West Kilimanjaro & Tsavo-Mkomazi)
    • Mara-Serengeti (seventh wonder of the world).
  • The landscape is home to many threatened and endangered species, such as elephants, black rhinos, lions, cheetahs, hirola, and African wild dogs.

SOKNOT (Southern Kenya Northern Tanzania) ecosystem - PMF IAS

Credit: WWF.UK

Maasai people

  • The Maasai people of East Africa live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania along the Great Rift Valley on semi-arid and arid lands.
  • They are semi-nomadic pastoralists.

{GS3 – IE – Inclusive Growth} World Wealth Report 2024

  • Context (TH): The Capgemini Research Institute’s World Wealth Report 2024 observed that the number of high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) in India increased by 12.2% in 2023 compared to 2022.
  • Wealth of India’s HNWIs increased by 12.4% in 2023 to $1,445.7 billion ($1,286.7 billion in 2022).
  • Asia-Pacific experienced 4.2% HNWI wealth growth and a 4.8% rise in the HNWI population.
  • The country’s unemployment rate decreased to 3.1% in 2023, down from 7% in 2022, despite the economy growing 7.3% in 2023, higher than the increase of 7% in 2022.
  • India’s country’s market capitalisation increased by 29.0% in 2023, after an increase of 6% in 2022.
  • India’s national savings as a percentage of the increased to 33.4% in 2023 compared to 29.9% in 2022.
  • Resurging the equity market and improving macroeconomics raised the global wealth and population of high-net-worth individuals (HNWI).

{GS3 – IE – Inflation} RBI to keep the Repo Rate Unchanged

  • Context (IE): The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) kept the repo rate unchanged at 6.5% and maintained a ‘withdrawal of accommodation’ stance due to several reasons.
  • RBI has retained the GDP growth forecast at 7% and retail inflation at 4.5% for fiscal year 2024-25.
  • The GDP growth can be affected due to geopolitical tensions, international financial market volatility, and disruptions in global trade.
  • Though the supply-side interventions positively impacted inflation, factors like adverse climate shocks and persistent inflation in non-perishable food items like pulses and spices can pose risks.
  • With unchanged repo rates, loan-equated monthly instalments (EMIs) are unlikely to rise. No immediate changes are expected in lending or deposit rates.
  • Deposit rates may rise in some categories due to competition from mutual funds for customer deposits.

For more details: Visit > Monetary Policy Committee

{GS3 – IE – Securities} SEBI Introduces ‘Unaffected Price’ Framework

  • Context (TH): The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) introduced a new framework to address the impact of market rumours on stock prices.
  • The framework centres around the concept of an “unaffected price,” which aims to establish a more accurate price for a stock by excluding the influence of rumours.
  • Rumours about acquisitions, mergers, and buybacks can inflate stock prices due to information asymmetry. The unaffected price mechanism ensures fair price discovery and protects investors.

How Does the Unaffected Price Work?

  • The unaffected price represents the stock’s price before a rumour became public.
  • It’s only triggered if a company confirms the rumour within 24 hours of a significant price movement.
  • It acts as a shield, but only for companies that are transparent and timely in their communication.
  • The unaffected price is determined by considering the difference in the Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP) before the rumour, during the rumour’s impact, and after the company’s confirmation.
  • The framework considers the daily WAP preceding the rumour as the baseline until the company confirms the rumour. This provides a temporary cushion against immediate price fluctuations.
  • The unaffected price is valid for 60 or 180 days, depending on the transaction stage.
  • Adjusted VWAP = Difference between pre-rumour VWAP and post-confirmation VWAP.

Benefits of the Unaffected Price Framework

  • Creates a level playing field for buybacks, mergers, and other transactions.
  • Reduces speculative activity in the market.
  • Improves market integrity by encouraging faster and more transparent communication from companies.
  • Leads to a better distribution of information among investors.

{Prelims – Envi – Species} Origin of Baobab trees

  • Context (DTE): The study reveals that seeds and seedlings of Baobab trees floated to mainland Africa and Australia from Madagascar.

    Baobab trees - PMF IAS

    Credits: Baobab trees

  • Out of eight species, six are found in Madagascar, one in Africa (Adansonia digitata) and one in Australia (Adansonia gregorii).
  • They started evolving to form a distinct species around 21 million years ago in Madagascar. Two of these species travelled to Africa and Australia before those lineages went extinct in Madagascar.
  • The role of elephants in spreading their seeds is also noteworthy.
  • Elephants eat baobab seeds. Many baobab seeds pass through elephants undamaged and are deposited in piles of dung at distant sites.

Role of polyploidy

  • Polyploidy is a process that genetically isolates the plant from its parents. Unlike most animals, plants can self-pollinate to increase their numbers. A rare genetic mistake can generate a new species.
  • The new polyploid baobab is then likely to have become the dominant species of Africa, replacing its parent lineages across the continent.

About the Baobab trees

  • Baobabs are a keystone species capable of supporting a wide diversity of animals for food and shelter.
  • They can reach huge dimensions (depending on the species) in both height and diameter.
  • The largest species can tower above the understorey vegetation.
  • African baobabs are like “Home Tree” in the movie Avatar, not only because of their size but also because they support such a huge variety of life.
  • The massive trunks are hollow cylinders of low-quality wood containing many water-filled living cells.
  • The water-filled cells of the trunk generate a hydrostatic pressure that gives the tree strength.
  • In dry seasons, trees are damaged or destroyed as elephants strip the bark to extract water.
  • Baobab flowers are large and have evolved alongside large nocturnal, sugar-eating animals like hawk moths, fruit bats and the lemurs of Madagascar.

To know more, visit > Baobab trees.

 

{Prelims – Envi – Species} Pseudoformicaleo nubecula | Creoleon cinnamomeus

  • Context (TH): Researchers have found two antlion species, Pseudoformicaleo nubecula and Creoleon cinnamomeus, of the Myrmeleontidae family from India, Thailand, and Vietnam.

A close-up of a bug on a stick
Description automatically generatedA close-up of a bug on a plant
Description automatically generated

(Left) Pseudoformicaleo nubecula (Right) Creoleon cinnamomeus

Credit: TH

  • Antlions are insects found in most parts of the world, with the greatest diversity being in warmer areas.
  • They are commonly known for their pit-building habit. Larval stages of only some of the antlion genera construct the conical pits in loose, dry soil as their predation strategy.
  • Larvae of Pseudoformicaleo and Creoleon do not build pits and live under the surface in loose soils protected from direct sunlight, wind and rain.
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