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Current Affairs October 19, 2023: Orionid and Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower, Regulation of White Phosphorous, Vizhinjam Seaport Project

Table of contents

{GS1 – Geo – Solar System} Orionid and Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

  • Context (IT I WION): The Orionid meteor shower is set to display its maximum number of meteors on October 21 and 22 mornings.

Orionid Meteor Shower

  • This annual meteor shower brightens the night sky every October.
  • The Orionids can be observed in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
  • The Orionids are formed when Earth travels through the remnants left by Halley’s Comet, also known as 1P/Halley.
  • Every year, towards the end of October, Earth crosses this debris trail, leading to the occurrence of the Orionid meteor shower.
  • Halley’s Comet orbits around the sun roughly every 76 years and emits dust particles from its core, leaving a trail of debris.
  • Halley’s Comet, about five by nine miles in size, sheds between three to ten feet of material each time it passes through the inner solar system.

Orionid and Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

Comet, Asteroid, Meteoroid, Meter, Meteorite

Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

  • The Eta Aquarid meteor shower is an annual celestial event that occurs when Earth passes through the debris left behind by Halley’s Comet.
  • This meteor shower is active between April 15 and May 27, peaking on May 5-6.
  • The maximum rate for shooting stars in clear skies during the Eta Aquarids will be about 50 per hour, while Orionids produce 20 meteors per hour at their peak.


  • Comets are icy frozen gases (water, ammonia, methane and carbon dioxide) that hold together small pieces of rocky and metallic minerals.
  • They have highly elliptical orbits, unlike the planets with near-circular orbits.
  • Short-period comets, with an orbital period of a few hundred years, originate in the Kuiper belt.
  • Longer-period comets, with orbits of thousands of years, come from the more distant Oort Cloud.
  • Oort cloud is a giant shell of icy bodies that encircle the solar system, occupying space between 5,000 and 100,000 AU.

Oort Cloud

  • When passing close to the Sun, comets heat up due to the effects of the solar wind upon the nucleus and begin to outgas, displaying a visible atmosphere or coma, and sometimes also a tail.

For more info: CH.2 The Solar System PMF IAS Physical Geography

{GS2 – Governance – Money Laundering} Political Party under Money Laundering

  • Context (IE): The ED is considering including the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in its money laundering probe linked to the Delhi government’s excise policy case.
  • The ED has informed the SC about this consideration.
  • The primary allegation against AAP is that it received the proceeds of crime from the excise scam.
  • ED can include AAP by invoking Section 70 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
  • If ED includes the AAP, it will mark the first instance of a political party facing allegations of money laundering under the PMLA.
  • There’s no provision to deal with a political party accused or convicted under the PMLA.

How a Political Party Can Be Accused of Money Laundering

  • Section 70 of the PMLA deals with offences by companies.
  • It holds individuals in charge of a company responsible for contraventions of the Act.
  • According to Section 70 of the PMLA, a “company may be prosecuted independently,” meaning even if individuals like Sisodia and others are cleared of charges, the political party AAP can still face separate money laundering prosecution.
  • Section 70 defines a company as any corporate body that can encompass individuals’ associations.
  • Political parties are considered associations of individuals registered with the Election Commission (EC) under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951.
  • Political parties aren’t classified as companies under the Companies Act 2013.

Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002

  • It aims to combat money laundering in India.
  • It has three key objectives:
    1. Preventing and controlling money laundering
    2. Confiscating property obtained from laundered money.
    3. Addressing issues related to money laundering.
  • Section 3 of the Act defines money laundering as any process or activity linked to the proceeds of crime, presenting it as untainted property.
  • The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is responsible for enforcing the PMLA by investigating and tracing assets obtained from criminal activities.

Challenges for the Election Commission (EC)

  1. Recognition Suspension: The EC’s powers are limited to suspending or withdrawing a party’s recognition under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order.
    • This only applies if the party violates the Model Code of Conduct or disobeys the EC’s orders.
    • If the AAP is directly accused of money laundering under the PMLA, there is no existing framework or precedent to guide the management of political parties accused of illegality within the electoral system.
  2. De-registration Limitation: The EC can de-register a party, but this option is highly restricted. The RPA, 1951, allows the EC to register a party and review its decision under specific conditions, such as:
    1. Fraud or
    2. A party’s loss of allegiance to constitutional principles or
    3. Being declared unlawful by the government under specific laws

{GS2 – IR – India-Sri Lanka} India – Sri Lanka Ferry Service

  • Context (TH | IE | TP | TH): India – Sri Lanka ferry service restarted after 40 years with the launch of a passenger ferry service across the Palk Strait.
  • This ferry service operates between Nagapattinam (TN) and Kankesanthurai (Jaffna, North SL).
  • The name of the vessel used in the service is ‘Cheriyapani’.

India Sri Lanka Ferry Service

History of Ferry Service Between India and Sri Lanka

  • The Indo-Ceylon Express or Boat Mail (a combined train and steamer ferry service) ran between Chennai and Colombo from the early 1900s to 1982.
  • It was discontinued due to the Sri Lankan Civil War.

Benefits of the Revival of India-Sri Lanka Ferry Service

  • Bolster bilateral ties
  • Boosting tourism
  • Increasing people-to-people relations: The people of northern and eastern Sri Lanka are predominantly Tamil. The ferry service will bring the Tamils of India and Sri Lanka closer.

Issue for Lakshadweep

  • Lakshadweep (India’s smallest UT) is already grappling with shortage of passenger vessels.
  • Moreover, islanders have been demanding better connectivity between the islands and the Kochi and Beypore mainland ports in Kerala.
  • In such a situation, GoI diverted Cheriyapani, previously used for inter-island transportation in Lakshadweep, to the India-Sri Lanka ferry service.

Sri Lankan Civil War

  • Sri Lankan Civil War was an armed conflict that lasted for around 26 years (from 1983 to 2009) between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
  • LTTE was a separatist militant organization primarily composed of Tamil nationalists.
  • LTTE (or Tamil Tigers) founded in 1970s wanted to establish an independent Tamil state called Tamil Eelam in the northern and eastern Sri Lanka.
  • Reason: Long-standing ethnic and political tensions between the majority Sinhalese population and the minority Tamil population in Sri Lanka.

India’s Intervention in the Sri Lankan Civil War

  • In 1987, as the civil war escalated, India sent the Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) to Sri Lanka.
  • The IPKF’s mission was to disarm the Tamil militant groups and help restore peace.
  • The Indian peacekeeping force could not end the civil war and was withdrawn in 1990.
  • The armed conflict continued without direct Indian military involvement.
  • However, India continued to play a diplomatic role in attempts to resolve the conflict.

{GS2 – IR – Laws} Issues in Regulation of White Phosphorous

  • Context (IE | TQ | WION | REUTERS): Global human rights organisations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of using white phosphorus munitions in Gaza and Lebanon.

White Phosphorous

  • White phosphorus is a waxy, yellowish-to-clear chemical with a pungent, garlic-like odour.
  • It does not occur naturally as it is manufactured using phosphate rocks.
  • It is pyrophoric that ignites, producing thick smoke and intense 815°C heat.
  • Pyrophoric substances ignite spontaneously (under five minutes) when in contact with oxygen.

White Phosphorous Munitions

  • White phosphorous is used in incendiary weapons by militaries around the world.
  • It is also used by the militaries worldwide as a smoke agent.
  • It also messes with infrared optics and weapons tracking systems.

Other Uses of White Phosphorous

  • Fertilisers, pesticides, fireworks, food additives, and cleaning compounds.

Incendiary Weapons

  • Incendiary weapons are designed to cause fires or inflict burns and respiratory injuries on people through flames, heat, or both.
  • They use chemical reactions of a flammable substance such as napalm or white phosphorus.
  • They are regulated by Protocol III of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Concerns with White Phosphorous Munitions

  • Severe burns: White phosphorus that remain lodged in the body can reignite if in contact with air.
  • Destruction and displacement
  • Toxic: If ingested or inhaled, it can cause respiratory problems and even death.
  • Indiscriminate weapons: Effects are difficult to control and can quickly spread to civilian areas.

White Phosphorus Munitions

  • White phosphorus munitions use is regulated under the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
  • They are not classified as a chemical weapons since their main use is for creating heat and smoke, not for its toxic effects.
  • Thus, its use is governed by the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), specifically Protocol III, which deals with incendiary weapons.

Protocol III of Convention on the Prohibition of Use of Certain Conventional Weapons

  • White phosphorous weapons are considered incendiary weapons under Protocol III of the UN Convention on the Prohibition of Use of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).
  • Protocol III of the CCW (or Incendiary Weapons Protocol) prohibits:
    • Use of incendiary weapon against civilian population.
    • Use of air-delivered incendiary weapons against military targets within a concentration of civilians.
    • Use incendiary weapons to attack forests or plant cover unless it conceals combatants.

Drawbacks of Protocol III of the CCW (or Incendiary Weapons Protocol)

  • No blanket ban on incendiary weapons often leads to misuse and targeting of civilians.
  • The prohibitions apply only to weapons “primarily designed” to set fires or cause burns. It excludes multipurpose munitions (like white phosphorous).
  • Multipurpose munitions: They are primarily designed for other uses (such as marking, obscuring, or signalling) and have incidental incendiary effects.
  • The distinction between air-dropped and ground-launched incendiary weapons is arbitrary, as both cause similar harm and have been used in recent conflicts.

Convention on the Prohibition of Use of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW)

  • CCW is an international treaty that aims to ban or restrict weapons that cause unjustifiable suffering to combatants or affect civilians indiscriminately.
  • It was adopted in 1980 and entered into force in 1983.
  • As of 2023, 126 states have ratified the Convention.
    • Palestine and Lebanon are signatories.
    • India, Pakistan, the US, and Israel are non-signatories.
  • The CCW has five protocols, each of which deals with a specific type of weapon:
    • Protocol I: Prohibits the use of any weapon, the primary effect of which is to injure by fragments that are not detectable in the human body by X-rays
    • Protocol II: Prohibits or restricts the use of landmines, booby-traps and other devices
    • Protocol III: Prohibits the use of certain incendiary weapons
    • Protocol IV: Prohibits or restricts the use of blinding laser weapons
    • Protocol V: Prohibits or restricts the use of explosive remnants of war

Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC)

  • Convention on Chemical Weapons (CWC) is an international treaty that prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, transfer, and use of chemical weapons.
  • It also requires the destruction of all existing chemical weapons and production facilities.
  • It was adopted in 1993 and entered into force in 1997.
  • As of 2023, 193 states have ratified the Convention.
  • Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (The Hague, Netherlands) implements it.

Drawback of Convention on Chemical Weapons (CWC)

  • It has not listed white phosphorus in any of the three Schedules of Chemical Weapons.

International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

  • IHL (also called Law of War or Law of Armed Conflict) is a set of rules that seek to limit the effects of armed conflict.
  • Primary objectives of IHL are to:
    1. Protection of civilians, prisoners of war, wounded, and sick.
    2. Prohibition of certain weapons and methods of warfare, that cause excessive harm or are indiscriminate in their effects.
    3. Rules of engagement for military forces.
    4. Responsibilities of neutral states.
  • It is part of international law (the body of rules governing relations between States).
  • A major part of IHL is contained in the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
  • It is supplemented by two further agreements:
    1. Additional Protocols of 1977 relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts.
    2. Other agreements that prohibit the use of certain weapons and military tactics and protect certain categories of people and goods
      • 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict
      • 1972 Biological Weapons Convention
      • 1980 Conventional Weapons Convention
      • 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention
      • 1997 Ottawa Convention on Anti-personnel Mines
      • 2000 Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict

{GS2 – MoHFW – Initiatives} National Policy for Rare Diseases

  • Context (TH I TOI): Parents of children suffering from Niemann-Pick disease and Infantile hypophosphatasia have asked the government to include it in the National Policy for Rare Diseases.

Infantile Hypophosphatasia

  • Infantile Hypophosphatasia is a rare genetic disease in which the patient’s bones and teeth demineralise, making her fragile and prone to fractures.
  • While there is no known cure, there’s a chance that a pharma company could begin trials for a drug to cure the disease by the end of 2024.

Niemann-Pick Disease (NPD)

  • Niemann-Pick Disease (NPD) is a lysosomal storage disease (LSD) caused by acid sphingomyelinase deficiency (ASMD).
  • The disease refers to inherited metabolic disorders in which abnormal amounts of lipids (fatty materials such as waxes, oils, and cholesterol) build up in the brain, spleen, liver, lungs, and bone marrow.
  • Treatment: No specific treatment is known, but symptoms are treated.

Niemann-Pick Disease (NPD)

  • Acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) is an enzyme found in lysosomes, which are cellular structures responsible for breaking down various substances in the body

National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021 (NPRD 2021)

  • NPRD, formulated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, was launched in 2021 to treat rare disease patients.

What is a Rare Disease According to NPRD 2021?

  • The average prevalence threshold NPRD defines rare diseases is 1 to 6 in 10,000 people.
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) defines a rare disease as an ‘often debilitating lifelong disease or disorder with a prevalence of 1 or less, per 1000 population’.

Salient Features of NPRD 2021

Categoristion of Rare Diseases
  • The rare diseases have been identified and categorised into three groups, namely:
    1. Group 1: Disorders amenable to one-time curative treatment.
    2. Group-2: Diseases requiring long-term/lifelong treatment but relatively lower cost of treatment.
    3. Group 3: Diseases for which definitive treatment is available but have challenges like making optimal patient selection for benefit, very high cost and lifelong therapy.
Centre of Excellence and Nidan Kendras
  • Eight Centres of Excellence have been identified to diagnose, prevent, and treat rare diseases.
  • Five Nidan Kendras have been set up for genetic testing and counselling services.
Financial Support
  • Up to Rs. Fifty lakhs will be provided to patients suffering from rare diseases and for treatment in any CoEs outside the Umbrella Scheme of Rashtriya Arogaya Nidhi.
  • To receive financial assistance, the patient may approach the nearest CoE.

Umbrella scheme of Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN)

  • The Umbrella scheme of Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi is launched to provide financial assistance to poor patients below the poverty threshold.
  • It has three components, namely
    1. Rashtriya Arorya Nidhi: To provide financial assistance to BPL patients suffering from life-threatening diseases relating to heart, kidney, liver, etc., for their treatment at Government hospitals/institutes having super speciality facilities.
    2. Health Minister’s Cancer Patient Fund: To provide financial assistance to BPL patients suffering from cancer for treatment at Regional/Tertiary or state Care Cancer centres.
    3. Financial Assistance Scheme for Poor Patients Suffering from Rare Diseases: To provide financial assistance for treatment at government hospitals/Institutes with super speciality facilities.

{GS2 – MoR – Initiatives} Nanhe Faristey

  • Context (PIB): The Railway Protection Force rescued 895 children under Operation ‘Nanhe Faristey’.
  • Under operation Nanhe Faristey, RPF finds and rescues children who are lost or separated from their families for various reasons.
  • It was launched in 2021 under the Ministry of Railways (MoR).

Other Special Drives of Railway Protection Force (RPF)

Operation “AAHT”

  • Operation AAHT stands for “Anti-Human Trafficking.”
  • Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) have been established at the post-level for this operation.
  • AHTUs collaborate with agencies and NGOs dedicated to preventing human trafficking.

Operation “Jeevan Raksha”

  • It aims to prevent accidents and save lives at railway stations.
  • It focuses on incidents like passengers trying to board moving trains and people attempting suicide by getting in front of trains.

Operation “Mahila Suraksha” (Women’s Safety)

  • It focuses on enhancing the security of women passengers on Indian Railways.
  • Dedicated teams of female RPF personnel are formed across all zonal railways.
  • The “Meri Saheli” initiative is launched to ensure the safety of women travelling alone or with minors on long-distance trains for the entire journey.

Operation “Uplabdh”

  • It focuses on improving ticket availability and enhancing passenger security.
  • It addresses difficulties ordinary people face in getting railway tickets due to bulk purchasing by touts.

Operation “NARCOS”

  • It aims to combat the smuggling of narcotics through railways.
  • RPF has been authorised to perform searches, seizures, and narcotics-related arrests under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, since 2019.
  • It also concentrates on preventing narcotics-related activities within the railway system.

Operation “Yatri Suraksha” (Passenger Safety)

  • It aims to ensure safe and secure travel for railway passengers.
  • RPF is accessible through various channels, including Toll-Free 139 and social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • Passengers can contact RPF for assistance and resolution of security and other concerns.

Operation “SEWA”

  • It is RPF’s initiative to assist specific groups during train travel.
  • It aims to make train travel more accessible and comfortable for those in need.
  • It focuses on helping elderly citizens, women, physically disabled individuals, and sick/injured persons.
  • It provides wheelchairs, stretchers, medical aid, ambulances, medicines, and infant food.

Railway Protection Force (RPF)

  • The Railway Protection Force (RPF) is a specialised law enforcement agency in India responsible for ensuring the safety and security of passengers, passenger areas, and railway property.
  • It comes under the ownership of the Indian Railways, Ministry of Railways.
  • It also plays a crucial role in preventing and investigating crimes on the railways, including theft, vandalism, and acts of terrorism.
  • Parliament declared it a statutory force in 1957 under the RPF Act of 1957. Later, it was declared as an Armed Force of the Union of India in 1985.

{GS2 – Polity – IC – Parliament} Ethics Committee in Parliament

  • Context (IE I TH): The Ethics Committee in Parliament was established following a resolution passed at the Presiding Officers Conference in New Delhi in 1996.
  • Both houses of parliament have their own respective Ethics Committees.
  • Lok Sabha’s Ethics Committee: It was formed in 2000 and comprises up to fifteen members nominated by the Speaker. The term of these members does not exceed one year.
  • Rajya Sabha’s Ethics Committee was constituted earlier, in 1997. It comprises ten members whom the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha nominates and serves for a term not exceeding one year.

Function of Ethics Committee

  • The primary functions of these committees are to monitor and investigate cases (Any member can make complaints) of the member’s moral and ethical conduct.
  • However, only a Member of Parliament can be examined for misconduct by the Ethics Committee.

Limitations of the Ethics Committee

  • The work of the Ethics Committee sometimes overlaps with the Committee on Privileges, as both committees may handle matters related to the conduct of MPs.
  • More serious complaints, such as corruption or severe breaches of privilege, may be referred to the Committee on Privileges or special purpose panels.
  • Committee of Privileges: This committee consists of 15 members in Lok Sabha (10 in the case of Rajya Sabha) nominated by the Speaker (Chairman in the case of Rajya Sabha).
  • In the Rajya Sabha, the deputy chairperson heads the committee of privileges.

{GS2 – Vulnerable Sections – Women} Divorce by Muslim Women

  • Context (IE): The SC will examine a 2021 ruling of the Kerala HC, which said that a Muslim woman’s divorce by way of “khula” is “absolute” and “does not depend upon the consent of the husband”.
  • Kerala HC affirmed a Muslim woman’s right to pronounce extrajudicial divorce through “khula”.

What is Khula?

  • Khula refers to the right of a Muslim woman to divorce her husband unilaterally.
  • This is one of the forms of extrajudicial divorce available to Muslim women.
  • Other forms of extrajudicial divorce available to Muslim women are:
    1. Talaq-e-tafwiz
    2. Mubara’at
    3. Faskh
  • Extrajudicial divorces are those that take place without the court’s intervention.
  • Khula is similar to the right of Muslim men to divorce, known as talaq.
  • However, scholars differ on the way khula has to take place.
    • While some believe that the husband’s consent is a prerequisite for a valid khula.
    • Others believe that a wife’s right to khula is analogous to the husband’s right to pronounce talaq and doesn’t need the husband’s consent.

What does the Shariat Act say?

  • The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, recognises judicial/extrajudicial divorce.
  • However, despite the existence of the Sharia Act, the Hanafi school did not allow women to obtain a decree from the court to dissolve their marriage.
  • To resolve this situation, the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939 was enacted.

Muslim Marriages Act 1939

  • It was passed to clarify and consolidate the provisions of the law relating to the dissolution of marriage by Muslim women.
  • The Act extended the right to extrajudicial divorce to all Muslim women, regardless of the school of Islamic jurisprudence they followed.

Background of the Recent Case

  • In 1972, the Kerala HC, in ‘K C Mohyin vs Nafeesa and Others,’ denied Muslim women the right to seek extrajudicial divorce under the 1939 Act.
  • This ruling prevented the women of Kerala from invoking their right to extrajudicial divorce by way of khula, permitted under personal law.
  • In 2021, the Kerala HC rejected the 1972 verdict as bad in law and said that the 1939 Act’s objective is to enlarge Muslim women’s rights, and the courts must give effect to that.

{GS3 – IE – Taxation} Telcos Licence Fee Tax

  • Context (IE I HBL): SC has determined that the telecom company’s payments of entry and variable annual license fees should be classified as capital expenditures (not revenue expenditures).
  • Therefore, this capital expenditure can be taxed as per Section 35ABB of the Income Tax Act.
  • This ruling was a setback to telecom firms operating and may lead to additional tax obligations, estimated at approximately $1 billion in the current fiscal year.

Telcos Licence Fee Tax

National Telecom Policy of 1999

  • According to the National Telecom Policy 1999, telecom operators were obligated to for one-time license fee payment to commence their operations, in addition to the variable annual license fee.
  • This marked a departure from the previous policy (1994), where they were required to pay a lump-sum license fee, which came under capital expenditure.
  • The SC observed that the transition from the 1994 telecom policy to the 1999 policy and the variable nature of these payments do not alter the fundamental character of the license fee.

What Will Impact Telcos as a Result of the SC Ruling?

  • Telecom companies classify license fees as operational expenses, allowing them to make deductions based on variable license fees for year-to-date tax liability calculations.
  • Following the court’s decision, license fees as a capital investment require a provision to spread the expenses over the license’s duration.
  • At first glance, this accounting adjustment is expected to increase EBITDA/PBT and result in a higher initial tax outflow, potentially impacting cash flow.
  • However, these effects are anticipated to level out over the course of the license term.
  • EBITDA stands for Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization.
  • PBT is an abbreviation for Profit Before Tax.
  • These financial metrics typically reveal how a company’s net profit is affected by expenses related to Interest, Depreciation, and Taxes.

{GS3 – Infra – Ports} Vizhinjam International Seaport Project

  • Context (IE | TH | HT): Zhen Hua 15 (a Hong Kong vessel) became the first ship to be docked at the Vizhinjam International Seaport.
  • Located near Thiruvananthapuram, Vizhinjam Port is India’s first deepwater trans-shipment port.
  • Adani Ports and SEZ Private Ltd (India’s largest commercial ports operator) is building this multipurpose seaport on a DBFOT model.
  • The port is expected to compete with Colombo, Singapore, and Dubai.
  • Its capacity in the first phase is 1 million TEU, which can be increased to 6.2 million TEU.

Main Maritime Shipping Routes WorldwideVizhinjam International Seaport as Trans-shipment Port

  • Trans-shipment port: It is a port where cargo is transferred from one ship to another.
  • DBFOT model: A PPP model where a private company designs, builds, finances, operates, and maintains a public infrastructure project for a specific time, then transfers it back to the public sector.
  • TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units): It is a unit of measurement used to measure the capacity of container ships and ports. 1 TEU = Volume of a standard 20-foot shipping container.

Advantages of Vizhinjam International Seaport as Trans-shipment Port

  • Natural depth: The port has a natural depth of 18 m which means it can accommodate large container ships without dredging.
  • Strategic location: It is on the southern tip of the Indian Peninsula, near the international shipping route connecting Europe, the Persian Gulf, and the Far East, facilitating efficient global trade.
  • Good connectivity: The port is well-connected to the rest of India by road and rail.

Why India Needs a Trans-shipment Port

  • India has 13 major ports but lacks a mega-port for ultra-large container ships. Hence, 75% of India’s trans-shipment cargo is managed at foreign ports like Colombo, Singapore, and Klang.
  • The benefits of the development of an Indian trans-shipment port are:
    • Forex savings
    • Foreign direct investment
    • Increased economic activity at other Indian Ports

{Prelims – A&C – Culture} Kati Bihu

  • Context (PIB): Kati Bihu is celebrated in Assam, also called Kongali Bihu (Kongali: poor).
  • “Kati” means to cut, marking the time of rice sapling relocation.
  • There are two other Bihu festivals in Assam:
    • Bhogali or Magh Bihu in January
    • Rongali or Bohag Bihu in April
  • Kati Bihu, celebrated amidst food scarcity season, symbolises hope and faith, marked by the glow of lit earthen lamps near the Tulsi plant and illuminated houses.
  • A special lamp called Akash Banti (Sky candle) is lit in the paddy fields, believed to guide ancestors towards heaven.

{Prelims – Envi – Species} Amur Falcon

  • Context (HT): The migration of Amur falcons usually arrives in Northeast India in mid-October and roosts till the end of November.
  • Amur falcon is the world’s longest-distance migrating raptor.
  • Distribution: East, South and Southeast Asia.
  • Nagaland is known as the “Falcon Capital of the World”.
  • Habitat: Open woods and marshes.
  • Threats: Illegal trapping and killing during migration and habitat loss.
  • Conservation Status: IUCN: LC | CITES: Appendix II | CMS: Appendix II | WPA: Schedule IV

Amur Falcon

{Prelims – In News} Conscription

  • Context (IE): Several Israeli citizens are returning to their homeland with the intention of helping the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).
  • Conscription is compulsory enrolment in the country’s military services.
  • Israel has a provision for mandatory military services.
  • Except for North Korea and Israel, mandatory service worldwide is restricted to men only.
  • Because of Israel’s history with its neighbours and the relatively small population, it trains all its citizens and keeps a large military. Citizens are expected to be in the military for 24-48 months.
  • While provisions for conscription exist in many other countries, including major military powers like the US, Russia and China, they are either meant only for times of emergency or are not enforced.
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