Daily Prelims Notes 9 October 2023
- October 9, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
9 October 2023
Table Of Contents
- RBI’s Open Market Operation plan
- Relief to exporters, SEZ as GST Council makes clarifications
- Rail Gauge Debate
- How the Digital India Act will shape the future of the country’s cyber landscape
- IAF Chief unveils new Ensign as the force marks 91st anniversary
- Links between consanguinity and genetic diseases
- Prey, habitat dictate Asiatic wild dog-tiger coexistence, says study
- Phonotaxis: first sound then motion
- Afghanistan earthquake kills 2000: The frequent tremors the country sees
- Book on endemic birds says three species almost extinct
- More climate change variables needed in 16th Finance Commission’s tax distribution formula, say experts
- Manipur BJP leaders have the doubt whether there is Article 355 in state
- The Yom Kippur war
- Israeli forces shell southern Lebanon border village
Section: Monetary Policy
Context: RBI announces OMO plan, leaves markets surprised.
- RBI on October 6th announced its plan to consider the Open Market Operation (OMO) sale of government securities to manage liquidity in the system. (When government securities are sold by the RBI, liquidity is sucked out.)
- The move was not expected given that inflation is in the RBI’s comfort band of 4 ± 2%, and liquidity generally peaks around festival season.
- This in turn caused the yield on the benchmark 10-year government bonds to shoot up by 12 basis points to 7.34 per cent as the market now anticipates an OMO shortly.
- As the market expected bond supply to increase with the OMO, their prices fell (price and rate on a bond are inversely related). Alternatively in view of liquidity reducing after OMO, the interest rate on government bonds increased.
Why was the market surprised?
- The announcement took the bond market by surprise as the central bank did not reveal any specific timeline for the proposal.
- Though the retail inflation was at 6.83 per cent in August, the market was not expecting this measure from the RBI to suck out excess liquidity, adding a hawkish tint to the monetary policy.
- Liquidity is expected to tighten due to cash withdrawal from the banking system due to the forthcoming festival season.
- Historically, the October-May period is observed to have high cash withdrawals due to the festive and wedding seasons.
- With absence of any near term liquidity risk, when will OMO begin is open to speculation in the bond market.
Why is RBI going for OMO?
- RBI’s objective of anchoring inflation at 4 per cent. But after having elevated inflation levels for much of the year, now RBI’s approach is clear: merely keeping inflation below the upper band of the target range (at 6 per cent) is insufficient. RBi will try to bring the rate closer to 4%.
Section: Fiscal Policy
Context: RBI announces OMO plan, leaves markets surprised.
What was the problem with remittances to Vostro A/Cs?
- Under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, exports of goods or services are considered zero-rated supplies, which means they are exempt from GST.
- To qualify for GST refund, the supply of services an entity need to qualify as export of services.
- Exporters who receive payment through VOSTRO accounts were having difficulty in making refund claims, as the transactions were in Rupee and not forex.
Clarification on remittances in Vostro A/Cs:
- Remittances received in Vostro account to now qualify as export of services, ending disputes on GST refunds.
- GST Council clarified the admissibility of export remittances received in the Special INR Vostro account, as permitted by RBI, for the purpose of “consideration of supply of services to qualify as export of services.”
- Now exporters will find getting GST refunds easy due to clarity on the classification of remittances received in special Rupee Vostro Accounts (SRVAs).
Clarification on claiming IGST for SEZ units:
- Till now there was ambiguity on the possibility of claiming a refund of GST paid on supplies made by domestic suppliers to SEZ.
- GST Council has now recommended amending the SEZ notification so as to allow the suppliers to a Special Economic Zone unit to claim the refund of tax payment of integrated tax made by them.
Special Rupee Vostro Account (SRVA)
Subject: Science and tech
While the predominant railway network in India is Broad Gauge (BG) with a width of 1.676 meters, the rapid rail transport system in Delhi, the high speed rail line between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, and more than a score of metro rail systems in parts of the country are coming up on Standard Gauge (SG) of 1.435 m width.
What are Railway Gauges?
- The rail gauge of a railroad track is the minimum clear distance measured between the inside faces of the two rails when they are placed in a straight line.
- A standard gauge is 1,435 mm and is used on about 60% of the railways in the world.
- In India, there are four different kinds of rail gauges. These include the Broad gauge, Metre gauge, Narrow gauge, and Standard gauge.
History of Gauge Debate
- The gauge debate originated in the 1870s when the British introduced the Metre Gauge of 1,000 mm in India, later transitioning to BG in 1853.
- In the 1990s, a uni-gauge policy was implemented, leading to the conversion of most routes to BG.
- However, SG gained traction in the metro rail networks, particularly following a resolution allowing individual State governments to decide on the gauge choice based on recommendations from empowered Ministers.
- E. Sreedharan, then Managing Director of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, played a significant role in advocating for SG.
- Despite this, subsequent projects failed to thoroughly analyze the technical and economic aspects of the SG versus BG debate or the advantages of integrating new rail systems with existing networks.
Advantages of SG:
- Proponents of SG argue its universality, citing that many global metro and high-speed rail systems in the last few decades use SG, implying they can function independently without integration with mainline railways.
- However, the reality is more intricate, as several metro rail systems worldwide operate on different gauges.
- Advocates for SG claim it requires less space, both physically on the road and in the aerial structures for elevated portions.
- They also argue for the availability of advanced technology in coach design, assuming it is more prevalent in developed countries.
- However, this argument is countered by India’s capacity to design and manufacture its semi-high-speed trains.
Disadvantages of SG:
While proponents of SG argue for the availability of advanced technology in coach design, assuming it is more prevalent in developed countries, this argument is countered by India’s capacity to design and manufacture its semi-high-speed trains.
Advantages of BG:
The cost argument favors BG, suggesting that despite a slightly higher cost for underground networks, the BG system can offer around 10% lower cost per unit capacity due to the ability to design wider coaches.
Disadvantages of BG:
- Arguments against BG, such as a higher turning radius affecting speed and throughput, are deemed weak.
- The impact of turning radius on commuting time is considered negligible, and throughput is argued to be similar between BG and SG systems.
The critical aspect often overlooked is the integration of new rail networks with existing ones, which carry billions of passengers and millions of tonnes of freight annually. Integrating new rail systems with the extensive existing network is seen as advantageous for seamless passenger and cargo movement, improved patronage, and flexibility in emergencies. Considering these factors, it is suggested that the government reassesses the issue and considers adopting BG for all future rail systems.
Subject: Science and Tech
Section: Awareness in IT
- The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) has introduced the Digital India Act 2023 to regulate and shape the digital future of the nation.
About the DIA 2023:
- It will replace the Information Technology Act of 2000.
- Since 2000 India’s internet user base has exploded from a mere 5.5 million to a staggering 850 million.
- There are the emergence of various intermediaries and the proliferation of new forms of user harm, such as cyberstalking, trolling, and doxing.
- Primary aim: To bring India’s regulatory landscape in sync with the digital revolution of the 21st century.
Key provisions of the Act:
- It places a strong emphasis on online safety and trust, with a commitment to safeguarding citizen’s rights in the digital realm while remaining adaptable to shifting market dynamics and international legal principles.
- Recognising the growing importance of new-age technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, the DIA provides guidelines for their responsible utilization.
- It aims to not only encourage the adoption of these technologies but also to ensure that their deployment is in line with ethical and legal principles.
- It promotes ethical AI practices,data privacy in blockchain applications, and mechanisms for accountability in the use of these technologies.
- It introduces mandatory cybersecurity practices for entities handling sensitive data and sets up mechanisms to respond to cyber threats effectively.
- It upholds the concept of an open internet, striking a balance between accessibility and necessary regulations to maintain order and protect users.
- Open Internet is where consumers and businesses alike have more freedom of action and access to more resources.
- The act seeks to regulate e-commerce activities, addressing issues such as unfair trade practices, counterfeit products, consumer data protection, and dispute resolution. It aims to promote transparency, trust, and consumer confidence in online transactions.
- Additionally, the DIA mandatesstringent Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements for wearable devices, accompanied by criminal law sanctions.
- It contemplates a review of the “safe harbour” principle, which presently shields online platforms from liability related to user-generated content, indicating a potential shift in online accountability standards.
- Potential impact on innovation and the ease of doing business:
- Stricter regulations, particularly in emerging technologies, could inadvertently stifle entrepreneurial initiatives and deter foreign investments.
- Criticism of the review of ‘Safe harbour’ principle:
- The review of the “safe harbour” principle, which shields online platforms from liability for user-generated content, could lead to a more cautious approach among these platforms, possibly impinging on freedom of expression.
- Effective enforcement:
- It will require substantial resources, expertise, and infrastructure.
- Balancing the interests of various stakeholders, including tech giants, while ensuring the protection of citizen rights.
- Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Vivek Ram Chaudhari unveiled a new Ensign for the force, as it marked its 91st anniversary, by the inclusion of the Air Force Crest in the top right corner of the Ensign, towards the fly side.
- This year, the Air Force Day (8 October) parade was held at Air Force Station Bamrauli in Prayagraj.
- Theme for this year’s Air Force Day was ‘IAF – Air Power Beyond Boundaries’.
- Earlier, the Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) Ensign comprised of the Union Jack in the upper left canton and the RIAF roundel (Red, White & Blue) on the fly side.
- Post-Independence, the IAF ensign was created by replacing the Union Jack with the Indian tricolor and the Royal Air Force roundels with the IAF tricolore roundel.
- A new lAF ensign has now been created to better reflect the values of the Force.
- Details of the new ensign:
- The IAF Crest has the national symbol, the Ashoka lion on the top with the words ‘Satyameva Jayate’ in Devanagari below it.
- Below the Ashoka lion is a Himalayan eagle with its wings spread, denoting the fighting qualities of the IAF.
- A ring in light blue color encircles the Himalayan eagle with the words ‘Bharatiya Vayu Sena’ and the motto of the IAF is inscribed below Himalayan eagle in golden Devanagari.
- Last September, the Indian Navy too had adopted a new naval ensign as part of measures to move to do away with colonial practices.
IAF’s first woman officer:
- This is the first Air Force Day Parade to be commanded by a woman officer, GP Capt. Shaliza Dhami.
- She is also the first woman officer of the IAF to command a combat unit.
- For the first time, the parade had an all women contingent composed of the newly inducted Agniveer Vayu women.
- The parade also included a flight of Garud Commandos of the IAF for the first time, as they recently completed 20 years of service.
Subject: Science and tech
- Consanguinity, the practice of marrying close relatives, is a widespread tradition still practiced in many human societies, particularly in Asia and West Africa.
- An estimated 15-20% of the world’s population practices consanguinity, with India having numerous endogamous groups (people marrying within the same caste or tribe).
What Is Consanguineous Mating?
- Consanguineous mating, often referred to as “incestuous” or “close-kin” mating, involves individuals who share a significant portion of their genetic makeup engaging in sexual relations or marriage.
- These individuals are more closely related than the average couple in a given population. In simple terms, it’s when cousins, siblings, or other close relatives form romantic or sexual partnerships.
Features of Consanguineous Mating
- Genetic Overlap: Consanguineous couples share a larger portion of their DNA than unrelated couples. This genetic overlap can lead to an increased likelihood of inherited genetic disorders.
- Cultural Significance: In many societies, consanguineous mating is rooted in tradition and cultural values, often seen as a means to strengthen familial ties and preserve social structures.
- Population Impact: In regions where consanguineous mating is prevalent, it can have a significant impact on the gene pool, potentially leading to a higher prevalence of certain genetic conditions.
Example of Consanguineous Mating
- Middle Eastern and North African Cultures: In a traditional Egyptian family, it is not uncommon for cousins to marry each other. This practice is seen as a way to strengthen family ties and maintain inherited wealth and property within the clan. While there are risks associated with such unions, they remain a deeply ingrained part of Egyptian culture.
- South Asian Cultures: In rural parts of Pakistan, it’s common for first cousins to marry each other. Families believe that such marriages ensure compatibility and trust between the couple, as they come from the same social and cultural background. Despite growing awareness of the potential genetic risks, the practice persists due to cultural and social pressures.
- Amish Communities in the United States: In Amish communities, it’s not unusual for second cousins to marry. These communities prioritize preserving their unique cultural and religious heritage, and this practice helps ensure a homogeneous society. However, it can lead to an increased risk of genetic disorders due to the limited genetic diversity.
Risks of Consanguineous Mating
While consanguineous mating is practiced in many cultures, it is not without risks. Some of the primary concerns associated with this practice include:
- Increased Risk of Genetic Disorders: The most significant risk is the higher likelihood of offspring inheriting two copies of a harmful recessive gene, leading to genetic disorders.
- Limited Genetic Diversity: Repeated consanguineous mating can reduce genetic diversity within a population, making it more vulnerable to certain diseases and conditions.
- Social Stigma: In some societies, consanguineous mating can lead to social ostracism and discrimination.
- Cultural and Legal Consequences: In certain regions, consanguineous marriages may be illegal or face societal sanctions.
Consanguineous mating is a complex phenomenon with deep-rooted cultural and genetic implications. Understanding its nature, features, pedigree, and associated risks is essential for informed decision-making and healthcare practices. While it remains a part of various cultures, it is crucial to weigh the potential genetic consequences and make choices that prioritize the well-being of future generations.
Section: Species in news
- Overlapping prey availability or habitat suitability could dictate a positive association between dholes and tigers, facilitating co-existence or even cooperative behaviours between the two species of carnivores, a new study has found.
Details about the study:
- Study conducted in: Western Assam’s Manas National Park
- Study title: ‘Do dholes segregate themselves from their sympatrids? Habitat use and carnivore co‑existence in the tropical forest’
- Sympatric refers to animals, plant species, and populations within the same or overlapping geographical areas.
- The diurnal activity of the dholes had the highest temporal overlap with leopards and the lowest with clouded leopards.
- The global population of adult dholes is estimated to be between 949 and 2,215 individuals, scattered in localized areas of India and Thailand.
- The findings revealed a surprising positive relationship between dhole habitat use and tiger, rejecting the habitat exclusivity hypothesis.
- The positive association could be attributed to factors such as overlapping prey availability or habitat suitability, which may facilitate co-existence or even cooperative behaviors between dholes and tigers.
About Dhole (Asiatic wild dog):
- The dhole or Asiatic wild dog (Cuon alpinus) is the only endangered wild pack-living canid in the tropical Indian forests and is considered at high risk of extinction.
- They are native to Central, South, East and Southeast Asia.
- Dholes were once widespread across southern and eastern Asia.
- During the Pleistocene, the dhole ranged throughout Asia, Europe and North America but became restricted to its historical range 12,000–18,000 years ago.
- Other English names for the species include Asian wild dog, Asiatic wild dog, Indian wild dog, whistling dog, red dog, red wolf, and mountain wolf.
- The dhole is a highly social animal. It is a diurnal pack hunter which preferentially targets large and medium-sized ungulates.
- In tropical forests, the dhole competes with the tiger (Panthera tigris) and the leopard (Panthera pardus), targeting somewhat different prey species, but still with substantial dietary overlap.
- IUCN Red list: Endangered
- Factors such as habitat loss, declining prey availability, persecution, disease, and interspecific competition have contributed to the ongoing fragmentation of its populations.
Section: Species in news
What is Phonotaxis?
- Phonotaxis is the movement by an animal in response to a sound. It has mostly been observed among crickets, moths, frogs, toads, and a few other creatures.
- There are two types of phonotaxis: positive and negative.
- Positive phonotaxis:
- The purpose of positive phonotaxis is attraction.
- It usually happens when the females of a particular species are attracted to the sounds made by the males.
- Negative phonotaxis
- It serves to repel or warn, such as when the sound of a predator nearby signals to an animal that it needs to move away.
- In 1984, scientists found that Mediterranean house geckos (Hemidactylus turcicus) use positive phonotaxis to their advantage. The fields that these geckos inhabited were also home to male decorated crickets (Gryllodessupplicans), which used species-specific sounds to attract the females from their burrows. The geckos recognised and followed this call until they reached the burrow, where they consumed the female crickets.
Section: Physical geography
- Powerful earthquakes in Afghanistan with magnitude 6.3 have killed more than 2,000 people and injured more than 9,000.
- Affected regions:Herat province, which borders Iran. The quake also was felt in the nearby Afghan provinces of Farah and Badghis
Earthquakes in Afghanistan:
- Afghanistan, hemmed in by mountains, has a long history of strong earthquakes, many in the rugged Hindu Kush region bordering Pakistan.
List of Afghan quakes over the past three decades:
- BADAKHSHAN, 2023
- A magnitude5 earthquake struck the sparsely populated northeastern province of Badakhshan, 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Jurm village, killing at least 13 people in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.
- KUNAR, September 2022
- Strong tremors hit Kunar province of Afghanistan in September, killing eight.
- PAKTIKA, June 2022
- A magnitude 1 earthquake killed 1,036 people in the eastern province of Paktika, causing widespread damage and forcing Afghanistan to appeal for international aid.
- HINDU KUSH, 2015
- A quake of magnitude 7.5, one of the largest in Afghanistan’s recorded history, killed 399 people in Afghanistan and neighbours Pakistan and India.
- HINDU KUSH, 1991 and 2002
- Twin earthquakes in the Hindu Kush (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Soviet Union) in March 2002 killed a total of 1,100.
- QAYEN, 1997
- A magnitude 7.2 quake on the border of Afghanistan and Iran killed more than 1,500 in both countries and destroyed more than 10,000 homes.
- TAKHAR, February-May 1998- magnitude 6.6
Section: Species in news
- A new book, 75 Endemic Birds of India, was launched by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI). Authored by Dhriti Banerjee, Amitava Majumder and Anindya Naskar, the book commemorates 75 years of Indian independence.
About the book:
- The book contains details, including the etymology of bird names and their historical relevance along with vital facts such as subspecies differences, distinguishing traits, preferred habitats, breeding habits and food preferences.
- The book also comes with maps indicating species distribution.
- The book outlines the endemicity of Western Ghats which is home to species such as Malabar grey hornbill (Ocyceros griseus), Malabar parakeet (Psittaculacolumboides), Ashambu laughingthrush (Montecinclameridionalis), white-bellied sholakili (Sholicolaalbiventris), Nilgiri pipit (Anthusnilghiriensis) and more.
- Some birdsendemic to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, include Nicobar megapode (Megapodius nicobariensis); Nicobar serpent eagle (Spilornisklossi) and Andaman crake (Rallinacanningi).
Bird diversity in India:
- India is home to 12.40% of the global bird diversity; 1,353 bird species out of 10,906 documented globally are from India.
- The country has 78 endemic bird species. Of the bird species existing in the country, 28 are found only in the Western Ghats, 25 in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, four in the Eastern Himalayas, and one each in the Southern Deccan Plateau and Central Indian Forest.
Special conservation efforts needed to protect endemicity:
- Among the 78 endemic bird species, 25 are classified as threatened as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categorisation.
- Specifically, three species are listed as critically endangered, five as endangered, and 17 as vulnerable.
- Additionally, 11 endemic species are categorized as near threatened.
- Three endemic species — Manipur bush quail (Perdiculamanipurensis), Himalayan quail (Ophrysiasuperciliosa) and Jerdon’s courser (Rhinoptilusbitorquatus) — have not been sighted in several decades and feared of extinction.
Causes of decline:
- Climate change, habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation.
- The book specifically highlights four bird species– Bugunliocichla (Liocichlabugunorum), white-bellied sholakili, Ashambu laughingthrush (Montecinclameridionalis) and the Wayanad laughingthrush (Garrulaxdelesserti)- which are very much habitat specific and found in very small pockets of India.
- The 16th Finance Commission which will be constituted in November will give a formula for tax distribution among states for the period 2026 to 2031.
- The formula-based finance commission transfers are unconditional and are not tied to the department of Forest or Ecology.
- The last two Finance Commissions (14 & 15th) focused solely on forest cover within the climate change criterion that was incorporated into the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the 13th FC.
- Some of the other variables that may be considered are: Biodiversity, Ecosystem services etc. among others.
Need for including more variables:
- It could increase the incentive to protect and restore forests or direct conservation toward certain types of forests.
- Global practices of environmental fund allocation:
- The Brazilian state of Para allocates funds based on deforestation reduction.
- The Brazilian state of Tocantins and the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan allocate funds based on forest fire control.
Concerns in including more variables:
- Adding other factors may make the formula complex and tough to measure.
- There is a possibility that monoculture is promoted as forest.
- Whether ecological variables, such as forest cover, in the tax distribution formula under the Finance Commissions, have any impact on the environment and its conservation in the states, is, as yet, unclear.
- The environmental funds allocation from FC is unconditional meaning it is not clear whether they are being used for environmental purposes or not.
- Since 2005, the central government has been sharing annual forest grants to states which are intended both as compensation mechanisms and incentive mechanisms, it remains unclear how much the grants for forests have contributed to increased forest cover in the states.
Some studies indicates:
- No significant change in the state’s forestry budget despite the fact that they received incentives (through EFT) for maintaining land under forest.
- States with high forest cover experienced a loss of forested acreage, while states with lower initial cover gained forested land.
- States receiving a larger share of compensatory funds through CAMPA had a higher percentage of forest land diverted to non-forest lands.
- The Finance Commission is a Constitutionally mandated body that is at the center of fiscal federalism. Set up under Article 280 of the Constitution, its core responsibility is to evaluate the state of finances of the Union and State Governments, recommend the sharing of taxes between them, lay down the principles determining the distribution of these taxes among States.
Finance commission’s tax devolution formula:
- The Finance Commission’s formulae for tax sharing have evolved since the first one, constituted in 1951, for the period 1952-1957.
- Since then, FCs have been constituted at intervals of every five years with the 15th one currently being implemented and the 16th FC, to be constituted in November and applicable starting next year.
- States’ share at 41 percent of the divisible pool comes to 42.2 lakh crore for 2021-26 period.
- Based on principles of need, equity and performance, the overall devolution formula is as follows:
|Forest & ecology||10.0|
|Tax & fiscal efforts||2.5|
Changes in horizontal devolution:
- The formula for distributing tax among states respectively is known as horizontal devolution.
- 7th FC drastically reduced the weightage of ‘Population’ criteria from 80-90% to 25%, and increased the weightage of other indicators related to equity, in which income, land area, and sometimes infrastructure and fiscal discipline are also considered.
- Changes in determining the funds allocation for environmental initiatives:
- The 12th and 13th FCs (covered the period from 2005 to 2015) gave specific-purpose grants to states, for forestry, amounting to Rs. 10 billion and Rs. 50 billion, respectively but these grants comprised less than 0.05% of the total funds transferred from the central government to the states.
- Ecological Fiscal Transfers (EFT):
- Introduced in 2015.
- Under the EFT public revenue is shared based on ecological indicators.
- The 14th FC incorporated forest cover as a criterion for tax devolution, allocating it a weightage of 7.5% in the distribution formula for the tax transfer during the period 2015-16 to 2019-2020.
- The 15th FC retained the variable of forest cover for tax distribution, increasing the weightage to 10%.
- EFT has significantly increased globally, from $0.35 billion in 2007 to $23 billion in 2020, spanning countries like Brazil, Portugal, France, China, and India.
- EFT had not led to a noticeable increase in forest cover or state forestry budgets
Context: Manipur BJP leaders have the doubt whether there is Art 355 in state
More about the news:
- The Chief Minister of Manipur, N. Biren Singh, faced public outrage as mobs tried to storm his residence.
- Senior Manipur BJP members wrote to the national BJP president, expressing concern over public anger and the government’s perceived failure and called for the revocation of Article 355 and restoration of Unified Command control to regain public trust.
- Despite denials by the Union government, the situation hints at external interference in the state’s affairs, exacerbating the divide between the valley and hill districts.
- The opposition and civil society organizations also question the state government’s efficacy.
What is Article 355:
- It is a part of emergency provisions contained in Part XVIII of the Constitution of India, from Article 352 to 360.
- It empowers the central government to take all necessary steps to protect a state against internal disturbances and external aggression.
- This article empowers the Centre to take necessary steps to protect a state from any kind of threat, be it internal or external.
- The provision is designed to ensure that the government can act swiftly and decisively in the event of any disturbance or threat to the peace and security of the country.
- The exact definition of Article 355 is “It shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”
- Article 355, as it currently exists, was not in the 1948 draft constitution, and was only added in September 1949 as draft Article 277A.
- It was inserted with the objective of providing a legitimate ground for the application of Article 356 of the constitution, which allows the Union government to issue a proclamation of President’s Rule in a specific state.
What is the difference between Article 356 and Article 355
- Article 356 empowers the President to impose President’s Rule in a state in case of a failure or breakdown of constitutional machinery, while Article 355 empowers the Union government to protect every state in India against external aggression and internal disturbances and issue directions to any state to ensure compliance with the Union’s laws and regulations.
Section: Places in news
Context: The surprise attack by Hamas on Israel has brought back memories of the Yom Kippur war
What was Yom Kippur war:
- The Yom Kippur War, also known as the October War or Ramadan War, occurred from October 6 to 25, 1973, pitting Israel against Egypt and Syria.
- Following Israel’s dominant Six-Day War victory in 1967, the conflict marked the Fourth Arab-Israeli War.
- Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated surprise attack during the Holy Islamic month of Ramadan, initially gaining ground.
- Israel eventually counterattacked, leading to a ceasefire mediated by the UN, but not before the superpowers, the US and the Soviet Union, got involved, and Israel’s invincibility image was challenged.
What is Yom Kippur:
- Yom Kippur is the holiest day in Judaism and Samaritanism.
- It is also known as the Day of Atonement.
- It is observed on the 10th day of the lunar month of Tishri, which falls in September or early October.
Why was the significance of the Yom Kippur war:
- The Yom Kippur War was significant because it revealed Israel’s vulnerability, despite eventual victory.
- Egypt’s goal was to bruise Israel, not defeat it outright.
- The war prompted negotiations, leading to the 1978 Camp David Accords, with Israel returning the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and establishing the first Arab-Israeli peace treaty in 1979.
- However, Syria gained no benefits and saw Israel expand its occupation of the Golan Heights.
Why is the current violence being compared with the Yom Kippur war:
- First it marks the deadliest assault on Israel since the Yom Kippur war, where over 2,500 Israeli soldiers lost their lives.
- The second similarity is the criticism within Israel for the state being found unprepared.The recent attack came as a surprise, despite Israel’s advanced intelligence and interception systems.
- This attack came when many Israelis were preparing to observe Simchat Torah, which marks the end of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new one.
- The Torah constitutes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.
Section: Places in news
Context: Israeli forces shell southern Lebanese village amid border tensions near Syria-Lebanon-Israel junction
More about the news:
- On Thursday, Israeli forces shelled a southern Lebanese border village following explosions in a disputed area where Syria, Lebanon, and Israel borders converge.
- Tensions persist in this region due to Hezbollah’s tents and Israel’s wall construction around a captured village from the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.
- An anonymous Lebanese military official reported a rocket fired toward Israel, met with Israeli retaliation.
- Hezbollah raised concerns about Israel’s wall in Ghajar, a village divided between Lebanon and Israel. Lebanon claims the area belongs to them.
- Recent incidents include a standoff involving an Israeli bulldozer removing plants from the Lebanese side, and protests near the disputed territory.
Who are Hezbollah and how was the group founded:
- Hezbollah means ‘Party of God’,is a Shiite Islamic militant organization in Lebanon, and is known as one of the world’s most heavily armed non-state actors.
- Emerging during the Lebanese Civil War, it formed partly in response to the Palestinian presence and Israeli invasions in southern Lebanon.
- Inspired by Iran’s theocratic government, Hezbollah received financial support and training from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
- This underscores the regional rivalry between Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia and Shia-dominated Iran.
- The group is estimated to receive significant funding from Iran and possesses a diverse arsenal of weaponry, including rockets and missiles.
What are Hezbollah’s aims:
- Hezbollah opposes Israel and Western influence in West Asia.
- It supports the Syrian government and holds political influence in Lebanon.
Why is there worry over Hezbollah potentially escalating the conflict:
- Hezbollah has a history of targeted attacks, including the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing.
- Western governments and Gulf Cooperation Council countries label it as a terrorist organization.
- Moreover,Hezbollah, has an arsenal of unguided rockets, fought Israel in 2006 and has expanded its rocket force.
- The recent conflict in Israel is influenced by regional dynamics, including Israel’s engagement with West Asian governments and normalization agreements.
- Hamas, which shares similar goals with Hezbollah, opposes these developments.
- Iran supports Palestinian fighters, and Hamas vows to continue its actions against Israel.
Some facts about Lebanon:
- It is a Western Asian nation, sharing borders with Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south, with Cyprus situated to its west across the Mediterranean Sea.
- Its location is at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland.
- Beirut is the capital of Lebanon.
- The border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights is disputed by Lebanon in a small area called Shebaa Farms.