Daily Prelims Notes 4 October 2023
- October 4, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
4 October 2023
Table Of Contents
- Oil minister Puri urges OPEC to reduce oil prices
- 2023 Nobel Prize in physics: Seeing electrons in brief flashes of light
- Indian scientists discover active submarine volcano in Andaman sea
- ICMR project to accelerate cancer screening at district level
- We will remain deployed in eastern Ladakh until full disengagement: IAF chief
- Circular migration: looking at both sides of the debate
- Hirakud and 7 other Odisha wetlands show high levels of toxic heavy metals
- United Nations Statistical Commission
- Nobel Prize For Medicine/Physiology 2023
- Caste Census and Survey
- Armenia’s Parliament votes to join International Criminal Court (ICC)
- Media bodies slam NewsClick search, call it attempt to ‘muzzle’ free media
- EWS ruling may help case for breaching 50% quota ceiling
- Change in the Maldives
- The shutdown of the Afghan embassy
- Turkey detains 1000 for Ankara blast
- SEBI extends timeline for verification of market rumors by listed entities
- India and the WTO
In News: Oil minister Puri urges OPEC to be pragmatic, make global crude prices affordable.
- Brent Crude oil prices have jumped from around $72 in June to around $97 per barrel in September 2023
- Oil Minister Hardeep Puri appealed to OPEC to ensure that the global energy market remains balanced by ensuring that crude oil prices do not outstrip the paying ability of the consuming countries.
- Puri has also been cautioning that unreasonably high oil prices could jeopardise the post-pandemic recovery and lead to an economic slowdown in various parts of the world, which could in turn hit global oil demand.
Why is the price rise more worrisome for India?
- India is the world’s third-largest consumer of crude oil and depends on imports to meet over 85 percent of its requirement.
- Given the country’s extremely high import dependency, India’s economy is sensitive to oil price volatility.
- Apart from inflationary pressures, high oil prices could have implications for India’s trade balance, foreign exchange reserves, the rupee, and the overall health of the economy.
What has supported the recent price surge?
- Production cuts by major oil producing countries.
- Signs of improved macroeconomic conditions and easing of inflation in major oil consumers like the US.
- Global oil demand is touching record highs with expectations of further demand expansion.
Production cuts by OPEC plus:
- Saudi Arabia and Russia surprised the world last month by announcing an extension of their voluntary supply cuts–totalling 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd)–till the end of 2023.
- The additional voluntary production cuts by Riyadh and Moscow are over and above the OPEC+ cuts totalling 3.66 million bpd, which shall be in place till the end of 2024.
Economic Impact of high crude prices on India:
- High oil prices negatively impact India’s trade balance and are a drain on the country’s valuable foreign exchange reserves, which also has a bearing on the value of the rupee.
- Elevated oil prices pose a challenge to the Indian rupee, and a sustained increase could push the currency to record lows against the U.S. dollar, the head of global foreign exchange. While there is no direct fixed relationship between oil prices and currency value, generally a sustained rise in crude price is negative for Rupee.
- As with other major importers of oil, a surge in oil prices adds to inflationary pressures for India as well. High oil prices can also potentially hit profitability of key sectors with high energy costs. All of these implications could have a negative impact on economic growth, as high inflation and low profitability in various sectors would hit disposable incomes and discretionary spending.
Global economic impact of high prices:
- High oil prices on a sustained basis could feed into inflation globally, jeopardise global economic recovery, and lead to destruction in oil demand from major consumers.
- High oil prices also incentivise faster transition to cleaner fuels, particularly in the mobility sector.
OPEC+ is a larger group of major oil producing nations and includes members of OPEC along with Russia and a few other producers. OPEC+ produces around 40 per cent of the world’s crude oil, with Saudi Arabia as the top producer and Russia in the second spot.
Market-linked pricing mechanism
Context: The Bihar government has released some details about the state’s caste survey that was conducted this year
- Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR): Simply put, it gives a sense of how many Indians are “demanding” a job.
- The “Labour Force” consists of persons who are of 15 years of age or more and are either of the following two categories:
- are employed
- are unemployed and are willing to work and are actively looking for a job
- The LFPR is expressed as a percentage of the working-age population.
- Unemployment Rate (UER): It is nothing but the number of people in the labour force who are looking for a job but as yet unemployed. The UER is expressed as a percentage of the labour force.
- In India the UER often underestimates the joblessness because the LFPR itself keeps falling.
- Simply put, it has been found that if they do not get a job over time, a lot of unemployed people get discouraged and leave the labour force (that is, stop actively looking for a job).
- With unemployed people leaving the labour force, the ratio of unemployed to total labour force falls. As such, often in India, the UER falls not because more people have got jobs but because the LFPR itself falls (that is, when more people — who failed to get a job — stop looking for a job altogether).
- As such, the best metric to look at is Employment Rate (ER). The ER dispenses with the labour force calculation and simply looks at the total number of people employed as a percentage of the working-age population. By not basing itself on LFPR, the ER avoids the problem of a falling LFPR artificially dragging the unemployment rate.
Caste-wise Employment rate
- The ER has fallen for each and every caste group.
- In other words, the proportion of people belonging to a particular caste in the working-age population who are employed has been coming down for every caste.
- Again, while the upper castes have the lowest employment rate, the biggest drop in ER has been witnessed among OBCs and SCs.
Religion-wise Employment rate
- Reportedly, the Bihar caste survey looked at caste across religious identities as well. In other words, it categorised non-Hindus (such as Muslims) into different castes.
- As such, it might be relevant here to look at the religion-wise employment rates as well.
Subject: Science and Tech
- The 2023 Nobel Prize for Physics was shared by three scientists—Pierre Agostini, Ferenc Krausz and Anne L’Huillier—for their “experimental methods that generate attosecond pulses for the study of electron dynamics in matter.”
- An attosecond (symbol as) is a unit of time in the International System of Units (SI) equal to 1×1018of a second (one quintillionth of a second).
- For comparison, an attosecond is to a second what a second is to about 31.71 billion years.
- An attosecond is equal to 1000 zeptoseconds, or 1⁄1000 of a femtosecond.
- Attosecond physics, also known as attophysics, is a branch of physics that deals with light-matter interaction phenomena wherein attosecond (1018 s) photon pulses are used to unravel dynamical processes in matter with unprecedented time resolution.
- Attosecond physics gives us the opportunity to understand mechanisms that are governed by electrons.
- Their experiments have allowed scientists to produce ultra-short pulses of light, with which they can finally ‘see’ directly into the super-fast world of electrons.
Why electrons weren’t ‘seen’ before:
- Electrons which are negatively charged particles of an atom, move very fast in the nucleus of an atom. To see the sharper and clear movement of electrons we need a camera with exposure time to the order of attoseconds.
How fast is electron dynamics?
- The movement of an atom in a molecule can be studied with the very shortest pulses produced by a laser. These movements and changes in the atoms occur on the order of femtoseconds—a millionth of a billionth of a second. But electrons are lighter and interact faster, in the attosecond realm.
- All light consists of waves of electric and magnetic energy. Each wave has a sinusoidal shape—starting from a point, going up to a peak, dipping into a trough, and finally getting back to the same level as the starting point.
- By the 1980s scientists produced light pulses whose duration was a few femtoseconds. But seeing electrons required an even shorter flash of light and scientists were unable to produce a pulse of light shorter than a femtosecond.
How can even shorter pulse be created?
- In 1987, Anne L’Huillier and her colleagues noticed the ‘overtones’ (waves of light whose wavelength was an integer fraction of the beam) after passing an infrared laser beam through a noble gas.
How is an attosecond pulse created?
- Physicists found that the overtones emitted were in the form of ultraviolet light. As multiple overtones were created in the gas, they began to interact with each other.
- When the peak of one overtone merges with the peak of another, they produce an overtone of greater intensity, through constructive interference. But when the peak of an overtone merges with the trough of another, they cancel each other out, in destructive interference.
- Scientists realized that it should be possible to create intense pulses of light each a few attoseconds long (due to constructive interference), with destructive interference ensuring that they didn’t last for longer.
- In 2001,Pierre Agostini and his research group in France successfully produced and investigated a series of 250-attosecond light pulses, or a pulse train.
- In the same year, Ferenc Krausz and his team in Austria developed a technique to separate an individual 650-attosecond pulse from a pulse train.
- Using that, the researchers were able to measure the energy of some electrons released by some krypton atoms.
What are the applications of attosecond physics?
- It allows scientists to capture ‘images’ of activities that happen in incredibly short time spans.
- Scientists can use such pulses to explore short-lived atomic and molecular processes implicated in fields like materials science, electronics, and catalysis.
- For medical diagnostics,attosecond pulses can be used to check for the presence of certain molecules based on their fleeting signatures.
- These pulses could also be used to develop faster electronic devices, and better telecommunications, imaging, and spectroscopy.
Section: Physical geography
- Two Indian scientists and their team from the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), have discovered an active submarine volcano (Crater Seamount) in the Andaman Sea, which has been at the epicenter of the seismic zone since it was first observed in 2007.
- Crater Seamount has the potential to erupt at any time leading to earthquakes and even tsunamis in the Java-Sumatra region.
- The CSIR-NIO conducted a groundbreaking high-resolution multi-beam echo-sounding (MBES) survey in 2004 over the earthquake swarm region, unveiling the presence of well-developed twin submarine volcanoes.
- A multibeam echo sounder (MBES) is a type of sonar that is used to map the seabed.
- In 2014 they conducted the Ocean Bottom Seismometer (OBS) survey aimed at monitoring the volcanic arc.
- An ocean-bottom seismometer (OBS) is a seismometer that is designed to record the earth motion under oceans and lakes from man-made sources and natural sources.
- They detected the presence of two gas flares on the outer flanks of the cratered seamount that provided the evidence of presence of active volcanism in the region.
- In seismology, an earthquake swarm is a sequence of seismic events occurring in a local area within a relatively short period. The time span used to define a swarm varies, but may be days, months, or years.
- Such an energy release is different from the situation when a major earthquake (main shock) is followed by a series of aftershocks: in earthquake swarms, no single earthquake in the sequence is obviously the main shock. In particular, a cluster of aftershocks occurring after a mainshock is not a swarm.
- A seamount is a large submarine landform that rises from the ocean floor without reaching the water surface (sea level), and thus is not an island, islet, or cliff-rock. Seamounts are typically formed from extinct volcanoes that rise abruptly and are usually found rising from the seafloor to 1,000–4,000 m (3,300–13,100 ft) in height.
Andaman-Nicobar Volcanic arc:
- The Andaman-Nicobar Basin has evolved through a complex history of tectonics associated with the convergent plate boundaries between Indian plate and west Burmese plate.
- The Andaman-Nicobar basin was initiated with the northward drift of the Indian Plate with respect to Asia. The collision of Indian/Eurasian plates initiated along the irregular boundary and occurred at the same time as the oceanic subduction beneath southern Eurasia.
- The continental collision slowed down the oceanic spreading rates in the Indian Ocean and slowed down the subduction velocity along the Sunda Arc system. It resulted in a phase of extension in the adjacent Fore-Arc and Back-Arc areas.
- Major Tectonic elements of Andaman-Nicobar region are:
- Andaman Trench/Inner slope
- Outer High/Trench slope break
- Fore Arc Basin
- Volcanic Arc
- Back Arc Basin
- Mergui Terrace
Subject: Science and Tech
- Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has invited Expressions of Interest on the implementation of research to accelerate cancer screening, early diagnosis, and treatment.
- ICMR plans to engage non-specialist physicians and other health care workers within a supportive healthcare system for the screening of cancer as well as pre-cancerous conditions.
- This will be a four year project, including six months for preparatory activities and another six months for analysis and interpretation. It will also include formative, implementation, and evaluation phases.
- The involvement of local communities is key to encourage the target population to undergo screening for early diagnosis and treatment.
Key role for ASHA workers:
- Research has indicated that frontline health workers, such as Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), have the potential to play a crucial role in promoting and conducting home-based cancer screening.
- Home screening has resulted in higher compliance rates because it offers the privacy and convenience necessary for individuals to participate actively in the screening process.
Cancer status in India:
- India currently ranks third in cancer incidence after China and the United States.
- According to Global Cancer Observatory projections,India is expected to witness a substantial 57.5% increase in cancer cases between 2020 and 2040.
- The estimated number of incident cases of cancer in India for the year 2022 was found to be 14,61,427(crude rate:100.4 per 100,000).
- In India,one in nine people are likely to develop cancer in his/her lifetime. Lung and breast cancers were the leading sites of cancer in males and females, respectively. Among childhood (0-14 yr) cancers,lymphoid leukaemia (boys: 29.2% and girls: 24.2%) was the leading site.
- The incidence of cancer cases is estimated to increase by 12.8 per cent in 2025 as compared to 2020.
Subject : Science and technology
- The Indian Air Force (IAF) is looking at procuring 97 additional indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Mk1A fighter jets at an estimated cost of ₹1.15 lakh crore, Air Chief Marshal V. R. Chaudhari said.
- The procurement will take the LCA-MK1A fleet strength to 180.
- IAF carried out Operation Kaveri to evacuate Indian citizens from Sudan, Operation Dost to aid Türkiye and Syria.
Disengagement in Ladakh region:
- Since the stand-off in eastern Ladakh, India and China have undertaken disengagement from five friction points, while negotiations are stuck over two points — Depsang Plains and Demchok.
Defenseequipments in news:
|2. Pralay missile|
|3. LCA Tejas|
|4. LCA MK1A|
|5. Long range mountain radar|
|6. JF-17 fighter aircraft|
Subject : Geography
Section :Economic geography
- Circular migration is a repetitive form of migration wherein people move to another place (the destination country) and back (country of origin) according to the availability of employment. It is not a permanent movement and the migration takes place for a brief period of time when work is available.
- It is a phenomenon mostly among low-income groups who migrate to avail of seasonally available jobs in another country, city, place etc.
Defining circular migration:
- According to Philippe Fargues, migration can defined as circular if it meets the following criteria:
- There is a temporary residence in the destination location,
- There is the possibility of multiple entries into the destination country,
- There is freedom of movement between the country of origin and the country of destination during the period of residence,
- There is a legal right to stay in the destination country,
- There is protection of migrants’ rights, and
- If there is a healthy demand for temporary labor in the destination country.
But how many times does a migrant have to move between countries to be called a circular migrant?
- As per the report on measuring circular migration by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Task Force, one is called a circular migrant if you have completed at least ‘two loops’ between two countries.
- In short, if your primary destination is the country of origin and if you move periodically between two countries for purposes of economic advancement such as employment, business etc., you can be considered a circular migrant.
Emergence of circular migration:
- Emerged during the 1960s and 70s with the advent of globalization and development.
- Increased access to modern forms of transport and communication, social networks and the growth of multinational corporations have aided the advent of circular migration.
Impact of migration on policy formation:
- Migration from one country to another creates brain drain for their origin countries and competition for the citizens of the destination countries.
- The flow of people moving from rural areas to more urban areas of the same country, results in the breakdown of infrastructure and agrarian stagnation.
- Therefore, migration of any kind has become a policy hazard.
- Drawbacks: Brain drain, Cultural conflicts
Circular migration- a balanced migration method:
- Through this the needs of development and individual economic advancement can be balanced out.
- In origin countries, it is beneficial due to the flow of remittances which will boost and aid the domestic economy. The flow of foreign capital will enhance the economy ensuring more infrastructure, more jobs and by association, a better standard of living.
- In destination countries, a lesser population and a higher access to education has resulted in a large dearth of low-income low-skill jobs which migrants have been able to fill.
- Through circular migration, the brain drain will reduce and a sort of brain circulation will be encouraged, wherein the individual can use his talents in both countries and still contribute to remittances.
- Circular migration offers a way out to the governments of destination countries as migrants will circulate back to their home areas.
- Labour can be introduced to undertake essential functions but it will not remain and become a permanent part of the population. This way circular migration can be “sold” to the populations of the host countries with the claim that these laborers will eventually go home.
Circular migration within India:
- In India, internal migration has almost always been circular.
- Between 2004–2005 and 2011–2012, the construction sector witnessed one of the largest net increases in employment for all workers, specifically for rural males.
- In India, the uneven development post-liberalisation, has led to a lot of inter-State migration, with States like West Bengal, Odisha and Bihar having some of the highest rates of out-migration.
- Initially, while most of the migration was to Delhi, nowadays it has increased to southern States as well.
- Positive outcomes: Increased access to higher paying jobs when compared to origin States, better household welfare due to remittances, ease of mobility and women get more autonomy and decision-making power in the family due to the absence of men who migrate.
- Negative outcomes: Middlemen or brokers, work in unhygienic and unsafe conditions with little to no protective equipment, seasonal or irregular work, loss of livelihood due to pandemic (for example- Covid-19 virus pandemic), indigenous wage groups and unions resent these migrants as they are seen as taking away their jobs by agreeing to work for lower wages.
- It is considered as subsistence migration– a bare minimum.
Awaz health scheme:
- Kerala has announced health insurance schemes for migrant workers (Awaz Health scheme).
- Aim: to provide health insurance (upto 15000) and accidental death coverage (upto 2 lakh) for migrant workers living in the state.
- This is a first of its kind scheme intended for migrant laborers working in a state in India.
- Announced by the Kerala government in November 2017.
- Eligibility: between the age of 18 years and 60 years.
Subject : Geography
Section :Places in news
- High levels of cancer-causing heavy metals such as lead and chromium have been found in eight wetlands in Odisha, including Hirakud.
- Heavy metal pollutants that commonly accumulate in wetlands as a result of human activity include lead, chromium, cadmium, copper, mercury, nickel, zinc, manganese and arsenic. These metals can enter crops through the soil, which are then consumed by humans.
- The heavy metals can also enter the environment indirectly through the food chain.
- Eight wetlands (of Odisha) are being selected for the study: Natural ones such as Chandaneswar, Chilika, Daringbadiand Koraput as well as constructed ones like Bhadrak, Hirakud, Talcher and Titlagarh.
- Highest concentrations of lead (51.25 micrograms per gram) and chromium (266 micrograms per gram) were recorded in Hirakud.
- Highest concentration of copper at the Bhadrak site.
- The highest Ecological Risk Index (RI) was found in Hirakud, followed by Talcher, Bhadrak, Titlagarh, Chilika, Chandaneswar, Koraput andDaringbadi.
- The health of the local community is at risk if they consume rice contaminated with heavy metals.
About Hirakud reservoir:
- One of the largest human-made reservoirs and a ramsar site in India.
- Built across the Mahanadi River by a combination of earth and modern dams of a total length of almost 26 kilometers.
- The reservoir helps regulate the water level of the river and moderates the impact of floods in the Mahanadi Delta.
- Daringbadi is a hill station in Kandhmal district of Odisha state in eastern India. Widely known as “Kashmir of Odisha”, (for its climatic similarity), it is situated at a height of 915 metres and is a popular tourist destination.
- Talcher coalfield is one of the largest storehouses of power grade coal in India.
- There is a Heavy Water Nuclear Power Plant in talcher.
- The Mahanadi River is a major river in East Central India.
- Mahanadi is also known for the Hirakud Dam which was the first major multipurpose river valley project after India’s independence in 1947.
- The river flows through the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha and before finally ending in the Bay of Bengal.
- Origin: Nagri-Sihawa, Dhamtari, Dandakaranya, Chhattisgarh, India.
- Mouth: False Point, Jagatsinghpur, Delta, Odisha, India
- Left- Seonath, Mand, Ib, Hasdeo, Kelo
- Right- Ong, parry, Jonk, Telen
Source of this article: DownToEarth
Subject: International Relations
Section: International Organisation
Context: India’s official statistical system is under UNSC’s scrutiny.
- The United Nations Statistical Commission, established in 1946, is the highest body of the global statistical system bringing together the Chief Statisticians from member states from around the world.
- It is the highest decision making body for international statistical activities, responsible for setting of statistical standards and the development of concepts and methods, including their implementation at the national and international level.
- The Statistical Commission oversees the work of the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), and it is a Functional Commission of the UN Economic and Social Council.
- The term of office of members is four years.
The Commission consists of 24 member countries of the United Nations elected by the United Nations Economic and Social Council based on an equitable geographical distribution according to the following pattern:
- Five members from African States
- Four members from Asia-Pacific States
- Four members from Eastern European States
- Four members from Latin American and Caribbean States
- Seven members from Western European and other States.
- India’s ranking was 67 among 174 countries in 2019.
- India has been elected to the highest statistical body of the United Nations for a four-year term beginning January 1, 2024.
- India was a member of the Statistical Commission last in 2004 and the country is returning to the UN agency after a gap of two decades.
- The World Bank compiles Statistical Performance Indicators(SPIs) to assess the performance of national statistical systems across 174 countries.
- The SPIs is based on the assessment of five dimensions of performance, commonly referred to as the five pillars of a national statistical system.
- Five Pillars of SPI are: Data use, Data services, Data products, Data sources, Data infrastructure.
Subject: Science and Tech
The 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has gone to scientists Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman, whose work enabled the development of mRNA vaccines against Covid-19 in record time.
Karikó and Weissman’s Contribution:
Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman made significant contributions to the development of mRNA vaccines:
- They recognized that lab-grown genetically engineered mRNA was seen as foreign by the body’s dendritic cells, leading to an unwanted inflammatory response.
- To address this, they introduced chemical modifications to the mRNA bases to mimic the altered bases found in RNA from mammalian cells. This greatly reduced the inflammatory response.
- Their findings, published in 2005, paved the way for mRNA vaccine development.
- Moderna and Pfizer used this technology to develop Covid-19 vaccines.
About mRNA Vaccines and their Working:
- mRNA stands for messenger RNA, a molecule that carries genetic information from DNA to the protein-making machinery of the cell.
- mRNA vaccines use synthetic mRNA that encodes a specific protein from a pathogen, such as the spike protein of the coronavirus.
- When the mRNA vaccine is injected into the body, some of the cells take up the mRNA and use it to produce the protein. The protein then triggers an immune response that produces antibodies and memory cells that can recognize and fight the pathogen in the future.
- mRNA vaccines are faster and cheaper to produce, as they do not require cell culture or complex purification processes.
- mRNA vaccines are also more flexible and adaptable, as they can be easily modified to target new variants or strains of pathogens.
|Corbevax is a RBD-protein subunit vaccine. This vaccine uses a recombinant protein platform that targets spike protein on the virus. The vaccine injects a volume of cloned spike proteins, instead of instructing cells to replicate it. It reduces the virus’ ability to cause any serious diseases|
The Bihar government has released the results of its recently concluded survey of castes in the state, which reveals that Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) constitute more than 63% of the population of Bihar.
Census vs Survey
- Census is the total process of collecting, compiling, analysing and disseminating demographic, economic and social data of all persons in a country at a specific period of time. Census in India is conducted at regular intervals of 10 years.
- Caste Survey- Since only the Union govt has the power to conduct census, several state governments like Bihar and Odisha have been conducting socio economic caste surveys to ascertain the social and economic status of different castes for better policy making.
History of Caste Census
- Every Census in independent India from 1951 to 2011 has published data on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, but not on other castes. Before that, every Census until 1931 had data on caste.
- Socio Economic caste census for OBCs was conducted for the first time in Independent India in 2011. However the findings were never made public. The last published data for all castes was done in the 1931 census.
Significance of Caste Census
- A caste census, which will generate exhaustive data will allow policymakers to develop better policies, implementation strategies, and will also enable a more rational debate on sensitive issues.
- Unequal distribution of wealth, resources and education has meant an acute shortage of purchasing power among the majority of Indians.Hence, the caste census helps to address these issues in a democratic, scientific and objective manner.
- Our Constitution too favours conducting a caste census. Article 340 mandates the appointment of a commission to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes.
- To burst the myths which actually deprive a large number of people, particularly on the margins. For instance, In Karnataka, there were claims that among the castes, the Lingayats are the most numerous.
- In reducing inclusion and exclusion errors with accurate data of castes, most backward castes can be identified.
Challenges with Caste Census
- The data can be used by the political parties for their narrow political gains. This will encourage caste based mobilisations in the country.
- There have been concerns that counting caste may help solidify or harden identities. Due to these repercussions, nearly a decade after the SECC, a sizable amount of its data remains unreleased or released only in parts.
- Caste census may increase demand for larger or separate quotas. For instance, Patels, Gujjars, Jats and other castes are demanding reservations. The caste census might induce more such demands in future.
- Enumerating the caste numbers in India is a complex task as the same caste is spelt in different ways in different states.
- Disclosure of caste identities could lead to individuals being stigmatized or discriminated against based on preconceived notions associated with certain castes.
- Need for sub categorisation of Backward classes-This will provide the benefit to intended beneficiaries.Since the government has already appointed Justice G Rohini Panel on Sub-categorisation of OBCs. The Panel has to fast pace the sub-classification process.
- Use technologies to assess the caste date on SECC– The government can use technologies like Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to assess the SECC data and condense them into meaningful categories.
Thus, a caste census may not sit well with the goal of a casteless society, but it may serve as a means of addressing inequities in society. However the census must aim at gradual elimination of castes by uplifiting the socio-economically marginalised sections of the society.
Section: International organisation
Context: Armenia’s Parliament voted to join the International Criminal Court,
More about the news:
- Armenia’s Parliament has voted to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has strained its relationship with Russia.
- Russia had called Armenia’s move an “unfriendly step” after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin.
- Armenia reassured Russia that Putin wouldn’t be arrested if he entered the country.
- The decision comes amid tensions between Armenia and Russia due to a 2020 war with Azerbaijan, and Armenia’s alignment with the West. It remains unclear how this move will affect their relationship and Armenia’s involvement in Russia-led alliances.
Some facts about International Criminal Court (ICC):
- The International Criminal Court is a permanent court to prosecute serious international crimes committed by individuals.
- It tries crimes such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression.
- The court was established to fight global impunity and bring to justice criminals under international law, regardless of their rank or stature.
- It is different from the United Nations’ International Court of Justice, also at The Hague.
- The Head Quarter of ICC is in The Hague, The Netherlands
- Statute :Before the ICC became functional in 2002, its founding treaty was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1998 in Rome, Italy, thereby making it the Rome Statute.
How one can become member of ICC:
- To become a member of the ICC or State party to the Rome Statute, countries have to sign the statute and ratify it under their respective legislatures.
- 123 countries are currently members of the ICC, with African countries making up the largest bloc.
- Notably, countries including India, China, Iraq, North Korea and Turkey never signed the Rome Statute.
- Others including the US, Russia, Israel and Syria signed, but never ratified
Context: Delhi Police has arrested NewsClick founder and its editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakravarty
More about the news:
- Delhi Police’s Special Cell arrested Prabir Purkayastha, founder of news portal NewsClick, and Amit Chakravarty, the HR head, following searches at over 50 locations linked to the portal.
- The arrest is based on an FIR filed due to alleged illegal funding from China via the United States.
- Numerous individuals associated with NewsClick were questioned and had digital devices seized.
- The case involves several sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, raising concerns about press freedom and freedom of expression.
- The police registered the case under Sections 13, 16, 17, 18 and 22 of the UAPA.
- Section 13 – Punishment for unlawful activities
- Section 16 – Punishment for terrorist act
- Section 17 – Punishment for raising funds for terrorist act
- Section 18 – Punishment for organizing of terrorist camps
- Section 22 – Punishment for threatening witness
- Cases were also registered under Sections 153A and 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- Section 153A – imposes criminal liability upon those who spread enmity and disharmony between different groups.
- Section 120B – being part of a criminal conspiracy to commit a serious offense punishable
What is Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:
- The UAPA was enacted in 1967.
- It lays down the definitions and rules for designating an organization as an “unlawful association” if it is engaged in certain types of activities.
- ‘Unlawful activity’ is defined as any action taken by an individual or association through an act, words, spoken or written, or by signs or visible representation which is intended to, or supports a claim to, bring about the cession of a part of the territory of India, or the secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union, or which incites any individual or group of individuals to bring about such cession or secession.
- It covers activities which disclaim, question, disrupt or are intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, and which cause or intend to cause disaffection against India.
- In 2004, the UAPA was amended, and ‘terrorist activities’ were brought within its fold,
- Under the Act, the central government may designate an organization as a terrorist organization if it:
- Commits or participates in acts of terrorism;
- Prepares for terrorism;
- Promotes terrorism;
- Is otherwise involved in terrorism;
- The 2019 Amendment gave the Home Ministry the power to designate individuals as terrorists.
- The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.
- It has the death penalty and life imprisonment as the highest punishments.
- Under UAPA, both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged.
- It will be applicable to the offenders in the same manner, even if crime is committed on a foreign land, outside India.
- Under the UAPA, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet in maximum 180 days after the arrests and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.
- The Act empowers the Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the said agency.
- The Act empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism in addition to those conducted by the DSP or ACP or above rank officer in the state.
Context: Arguments in EWS verdict may serve as a shot in the arm for seeking more quota post Bihar caste survey.
More about news:
- The Supreme Court’s majority decision to uphold the 10% economically weaker sections (EWS) quota for forward castes may encourage backward classes to seek reservation beyond the 50% limit.
- The EWS ruling argued that the 50% cap wasn’t rigid, allowing flexibility based on special circumstances, and reservations shouldn’t be reduced to a mathematical formula.
- The Bihar caste-based survey data revealed that the Other Backward Classes and Extremely Backward Classes make up 63% of the state’s population.
- This could lead to challenges against the 50% limit in reservation cases, citing special circumstances and social diversity.
What is the issue all about:
- The Bihar survey data could reignite the debate about the 50% cap on reservations set by the Supreme Court in 1992.
- This limit was imposed to maintain administrative efficiency.
- In 2021, a five judge Constitution bench of the SC unanimously struck down a Maharashtra law which provides reservation to the Maratha community as unconstitutional, holding the total quota limit would exceed 50%.
- However, a five-judge bench (in a 3:2 majority) of the SC upheld the 10% EWS quota, which also breached the 50% ceiling. The court held that the ceiling was for backward classes.
- The survey’s findings are likely to intensify calls for increasing the OBC (Other Backward Classes) reservation in India beyond the current 27%
What is Economically Weaker Section (EWS) Quota:
- The 10% EWS quota was introduced under the 103rd Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2019 by amending Articles 15 and 16.
- It inserted Article 15 (6) and Article 16 (6).
- It is for economic reservation in jobs and admissions in educational institutes for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).
- It was enacted to promote the welfare of the poor not covered by the 50% reservation policy for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC).
- It enables both the Centre and the States to provide reservations to the EWS of society
What are the Related provisions in the Constitution:
- Article 16(1) and 16(2) assure citizens equality of opportunity in employment or appointment to any government office.
- Articles 15(4) and 16(4) state that the equality provisions do not prevent the government from making special provisions in matters of admission to educational institutions or jobs in favor of backward classes, particularly the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs).
- Article 16(4A) allows reservations to SCs and STs in promotions, as long as the government believes that they are not adequately represented in government services.
- Article 15(6): Up to 10% of seats may be reserved for EWS for admission in educational institutions. Such reservations will not apply to minority educational institutions.
- Article 16(6): It permits the government to reserve up to 10% of all government posts for the EWS
Subject: International Relations
Section: Places in news
Context: Opposition candidate Mohamed Muizzu was elected President of the Maldives.
More about the news:
- The Maldives has elected Mohamed Muizzuas its new leader, replacing President Ibu Solih.
- Muizzu’s victory in the presidential run-off is attributed to anti-incumbency sentiment, economic concerns post-COVID-19, party rifts, and sovereignty issues.
- The contest was seen as India versus China, with India extending congratulations but needing to maintain impartiality.
- Muizzufaces economic challenges, potential release of former President Yameen, and decisions on governance structure and foreign relations.
What is the Electoral System in Maldives:
- Maldives Parliament is called Majlis/People’s Majlis.
- The structure of Parliament is Unicameral.
- In the Maldives, Parliament and Council elections run under the first-past-the-post majority system. Voters vote for only one candidate.
- The Assembly (Majlis) has 87 members. All members are elected directly for a term of five years from 87 single-member constituencies.
- The President of the Maldives is elected using the two-round system.
- If no candidate wins more than 50% of the votes, then a second round, or run-off, is held.
What are India’s recent projects in Maldives:
- Water and sanitation in 34 islands,
- Roads and land reclamation under the Addu development project,
- A cancer hospital, a port project, a cricket stadium, two airport development projects,
- the Greater Male connectivity project with bridges,
What is Greater Male Connectivity Project
- Afcons, an Indian company, has signed a contract for the largest-ever infrastructure project in Maldives-Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP)
- The Project will consist of a 6.74 km-long bridge and causeway link between Male and nearby islands of Villingli, Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi. It will use renewable energy.
- The project is funded by a grant of USD 100 million and a Line of Credit (LOC) of USD 400 million from India.
- It is not only the biggest project India undertakes in the Maldives but also the biggest infrastructure project in the Maldives.
Subject: International Relations
Section: Places in news
Context: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan announced the closure of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Delhi.
More about the news:
- On September 30, a statement carrying the seal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan announced the closure of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Delhi.
- In its official communication, the Embassy of Afghanistan blamed multiple factors including lack of cooperation from the Government of India and a lack of resources to operate any further.
- Furthermore, the embassy has urged the Indian government to fly the flag of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan over embassy premises. It has also asked New Delhi to hand over the mission to a “legitimate government” of Afghanistan sometime in the future.
What does the shutdown of the embassy mean:
- Despite the closure of the embassy in Delhi, India and Afghanistan are continuing engagement with each other in a curious way.
- India has been maintaining a “technical team” in Kabul where the staff provides visas to Afghan traders and travellers to India.
- There are two weekly flights that carry Afghan citizens and items to India.
- India uses the flights while sending humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people. That apart, some Indian goods are also entering Afghanistan through other countries like Iran and the UAE
Will the move affect travel and trade between Afghanistan and India:
- Despite Afghanistan’s embassy in Delhi announcing its closure, the consulates in Hyderabad and Mumbai remain operational, with Consul General Zakia Wardak affirming their commitment to Afghan students, refugees, and traders, offering support amidst potential confusion.
Subject: International Relations
Section: Places in news
Context: Turkish police have launched a wide security crackdown following a suicide bomb attack in Turkey’s capital, Ankara.
More about the news:
- The PKK, designated as a terrorist organization by the US and EU, has waged a decades-long rebellion in Turkey, causing tens of thousands of deaths since 1984.
- On Sunday, a suicide bomber targeted the Turkish Ministry of Interior, coinciding with President Erdogan’s parliamentary address.
- A second attacker was killed in a police shootout, injuring two officers. The suspects used a stolen vehicle and were linked to the PKK.
- Subsequently, Turkey launched airstrikes on suspected PKK locations in northern Iraq.
Who are Kurds:
- Kurds are an Iranian ethnic group native to the mountainous region of Kurdistan in Western Asia, which spans southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, and northern Syria.
- They make up the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East after Arabs, Persians, and Turks.
What religion is followed by Kurds:
- Most Kurds are Sunni Muslims who adhere to the Shafiʽi school, while a significant minority adhere to the Hanafi school and also Alevism.
- Moreover, many Shafi’i Kurds adhere to either one of the two Sufi orders Naqshbandi and Qadiriyya.
- Other religions with significant Kurdish adherents are Yarsanism and Yazidism.
What is the History of Kurds Nationalism:
- Kurdish nationalism stirred in the 1890s when the Ottoman Empire was on its last legs.
- The 1920 Treaty of Sevres,imposed a settlement and colonial carve-up of Turkey after World War One, promised Kurds independence. But the accord was broken by Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk.
- The Treaty of Lausanne, ratified in 1924, divided the Kurds among the new nations of the Middle East.
- With the 1946 Republic of Mahabad, a Soviet-backed state stretching over Iran’s border with Turkey and Iraq Kurdish separatism in Iran first bubbled to the surface.
- The 1979 Iran’s Islamic Revolution touched off bloodshed in its Kurdistan region with heavy clashes between the Shiite revolutionaries and the Kurdish Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) which fought for independence.
What are the demands of Kurds:
- The Kurds have never achieved nation-state status,except in Iraq, where they have a regional government called Iraqi Kurdistan.
- The Kurds want to establish their independent nation-station Kurdistan which comprises five different regions: southeastern Turkey, northeastern Syria, northern Iraq, northwestern Iran and southwestern Armenia.
What is the PKK and its armed movement:
- The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was founded by the Marxist revolutionary Abdullah Öcalan in 1978 to create an independent Kurdistan.
- Its guerrilla forces fought against the Turkish army from 1984 until Öcalan was captured in 1999, when 40,000 Kurdish civilians were killed.
- The PPK declared a ceasefire in 2013. However, this ceasefire collapsed after Turkey joined the war against the Islamic State in 2015 and started bombing PKK targets in Iraq.
- Under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Türkiye cracked down PKK militants as well as Kurdish civilians, including lawmakers and activists.
- According to the government of Türkiye, the PKK mainly targets police, military, economic and social assets of the country. The terrorist organization is also involved in attacks against civilians and diplomatic and consular facilities as well as in extortion, arms smuggling and drug trafficking.
Section: Capital Market
Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has extended the timeline for verification of market rumors by listed companies. The new dates are February 1, 2024 for the top 100 listed entities by market capitalization, and August 1, 2024, for the top 250 listed entities by market capitalization. The earlier dates were October 1, 2023, and April 1, 2024, respectively.
SEBI introduced these changes earlier this year in order to avoid the establishment of false market sentiment or impact on the securities of the entity. The new rules require listed companies to verify and confirm, deny, or clarify any market rumour concerning them within two business days of becoming aware of it.
A positive step by SEBI to protect investors and ensure the integrity of the stock market. Market rumors can often be inaccurate and misleading, and they can lead to volatility and uncertainty in the market. By requiring listed companies to verify and clarify market rumors, SEBI is helping to reduce the risk of market manipulation and protect investors from making uninformed investment decisions.
“The amendments to Regulation 30(11) of SEBI (LODR) Regulations, 2015 are in line with global regulations. The introduction of the requirement for top-listed companies is only a precursor to widening its applicability in the course of time,” states the note, indicating that SEBI’s decision aligns with global practices.
It’s worth noting that this principle can be traced back several decades to a 1981 edition of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Manual, which has consistently demanded a “frank and explicit” response from listed companies. These regulations have remained fundamental to both the NYSE and NASDAQ rulebooks throughout the years.
In summary, SEBI’s decision to extend the timeline for verifying market rumors marks a significant juncture in India’s financial regulatory landscape, ushering in an era characterized by increased transparency and accountability among listed companies. With parallels in global regulations and a potential expansion of its scope down the road, India’s securities market is poised for a new chapter.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) introduced the SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015, commonly known as LODR Regulations, with the aim of enhancing transparency, corporate governance, and investor protection in the Indian securities market
In summary, the SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015, play a pivotal role in regulating the behaviour of listed companies in India, promoting transparency, and safeguarding the interests of investors in the country’s stock markets. Companies that are listed on Indian stock exchanges must adhere to these regulations to maintain their listing status.
Section: External Sector
Why in news?
- India wanted public stockholding to be moved to the ‘green box’ (subsidies that are permissible). At the outset, there was a compromise that there would be a peace clause. India and others who avail of public stockholding will not be dragged to dispute settlement until a permanent solution is found.
- As of now, US opposed this and EU is ready for negotiations.
Why EU and US are against it and developing countries favours it?
The issue of finding a permanent solution to the public stockholding programmes for food security purposes is important for developing countries like India as it provides support measures and procures rice from farmers at MSP (minimum support price) and sells at cheaper rates to poor populations for food security.
Developed countries term these support measures as trade distorting subsidies and they are against these programmes of public stockholding of food.
About World Trade Organization (WTO)
- The WTO is an intergovernmental organization that is concerned with the regulation of international trade between nations.
- The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 123 nations on 15 April 1994.
- It replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948.
- It is the largest international economic organization in the world.
Functions of WTO
- The WTO deals with the regulation of trade in goods, services and intellectual property between participating countries.
- It provides a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants’ adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments and ratified by their parliaments.
Working Principles of the WTO
The WTO establishes a framework for trade policies; it does not define or specify outcomes. That is, it is concerned with setting the rules of “trade policy.” Five principles are of particular importance in understanding both the pre-1994 GATT and the WTO:
- Non-discrimination:It has two major components: the most favored nation (MFN) rule and the national treatment policy. The MFN rule requires that a WTO member must apply the same conditions on all trade with other WTO members. National treatment means that imported goods should be treated no less favorably than domestically produced goods.
- Reciprocity:It reflects both a desire to limit the scope of free-riding that may arise because of the MFN rule and a desire to obtain better access to foreign markets.
- Binding and enforceable commitments:The tariff commitments made by WTO members in multilateral trade negotiation and on accession are enumerated in a schedule (list) of concessions. These schedules establish “ceiling bindings”: a country can change its bindings, but only after negotiating with its trading partners.
- Transparency:The WTO members are required to publish their trade regulations, to maintain institutions allowing for the review of administrative decisions affecting trade, to respond to requests for information by other members, and to notify changes in trade policies to the WTO.
- Safety values:In specific circumstances, governments are able to restrict trade. The WTO’s agreements permit members to take measures to protect not only the environment but also public health, animal health and plant health.
The Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) came into effect with the establishment of the WTO at the beginning of 1995. The AoA has three central concepts, or “pillars”: domestic support, market access and export subsidies
Domestic Support – It refers to subsidies such guaranteed Minimum Price or Input subsidies which are direct and product specific. Under this, Subsidies are categorized into 3 boxes
- Green Box– Subsidies which are no or least market distorting includes measures decoupled from output such as income-support payments (decoupled income support), safety – net programs, payments under environmental programs, and agricultural research and-development subsidies
- Blue Box– Only ‘Production limiting Subsidies’ under this are allowed. They cover payments based on acreage, yield, or number of livestock in a base year
- Amber Box– These include subsidies which are trade distorting and need to be curbed.