Topic 1: Quote: The process of self-discovery has now been technologically outsourced
Context: Technological developments have long fascinated humans, not just in terms of how they help make our lives more efficient, but also for the vast potential they hold for influencing society beyond their immediate impact.
The idea of self-discovery
- Self-discovery, as the name suggests, refers to the process by which a person is able to gain a deeper understanding about their own self
- Their personality, characteristics, behaviour, values, motivations, flaws, emotions.
- Aristotle on self-discovery:
- “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
- This is because knowing ourselves helps us touch upon larger ideas of emotions and psychological growth, common to all humans, aiding us to develop a sense of empathy in understanding the world at large.
- Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
- Abraham H Maslow devised a famous hierarchy of needs for humans, where only when one set of basic needs are met, can we then effectively work towards achieving other things.
- So when a person’s needs of food and shelter are not met, they may find it difficult to go towards fulfilling higher needs, such as developing a sense of self.
- At the pinnacle of this pyramid of human needs was the need for “self-actualisation”
- It means an ideal stage where people actually live up to their potential and are fulfilled with their lives.
- In this regard, self-discovery can be seen as the first step to self-actualisation.
Different methods of self discovery:
- engaging in religious teachings that champion certain values,
- psychological counselling,
- personality assessments,
- quiet contemplation,
- reflecting on one’s words and actions
- interacting with and helping others.
Role of technology in the process of self-discovery
- Advancement in technology in the form of Artificial Intelligence in contemporary time has become an external source of self-discovery
- It replaced the former internal process of self-discovery through introspection and questioning carried out proactively in solitude.
- The onus of questioning oneself is voluntarily given to artificial intelligence replacing the internal proactive method of introspection.
- In contemporary times individuals are voluntarily feeding AI with their traits and allowing it to study facets of their personality.
- As such AI is permitted to shape and influence individuals to understand their own selves.
- Technology has helped people access tools to move towards self-discovery.
- It has made available information on subjects like psychology
- It has helped connect people through means like the internet, allowing them to discuss these ideas with others.
- The constant use of social media doesn’t let people enter a state of profound boredom, which may open the door to more creative and meaningful activity.
- At the same time, technology in the form of smartphones and the internet, have arguably taken hold of people’s lives in an all-consuming manner at times.
- People might confuse their social media personas with their real selves and feel the pressure to conform.
- They could also self-diagnose themselves with mental health-related or personality-related issues based on unverified information online.
- Instead of putting in the tough work of questioning oneself and analysing our behaviour, people could go by simplistic explanations available easily.
- The negative effects of social media addiction are also well-documented.
- It is important to know what exactly technology has to offer in terms of the tools and information it holds.
- The useful parts here can be taken to aid in the journey towards self-discovery, like mental health services from professionals, tips on how one can develop a balanced outlook in life, etc.
- At the same time, outsourcing our distinctly personal sense of self and the process of evolving our understanding of it is not feasible.
- There are certain elements of society that cannot be completely replaced by technology, and human understanding is one prime example.
- Therefore, no matter how difficult the work of introspection and appraisal of the self may be, it is a task best left to humans, resisting the temptation of technology.
Topic 2: Stray dogs and poor waste management
Context: Frequent reports of dogs attacking people to death have made the management of stray dogs an administrative and legal issue.
Dog bites and poor waste management
- Link between dogs and garbage:
- The carrying capacity, i.e. the ability of a city to support a species, is determined by the availability of food and shelter.
- Free-ranging dogs, in the absence of these facilities, are scavengers that forage around for food, eventually gravitating towards exposed garbage dumping sites.
- Dogs thus congregate around urban dumps, such as landfills, due to feeding opportunities.
- Increasing solid waste:
- A population boom in Indian cities has contributed to a staggering rise in solid waste.
- Indian cities generate more than 1,50,000 metric tonnes of urban solid waste every day.
- According to a United Nations Environment Program 2021 report, an estimated 931 million tonnes of food available to consumers ended up in households, restaurants, vendors and other food service retailers’ dustbins in 2019.
- Indian homes on average generated 50 kg of food waste per person.
- This waste often serves as a source of food for hunger-stricken, free-roaming dogs.
- Urban dogs:
- Urban dogs are believed to have a distinct set of traits as compared to rural dogs.
- They have learnt to develop survival techniques in fast-paced, often hostile motorised urban environments.
- Dogs do not usually pose a threat to human well-being.
- Proper management of refuse and a tolerant attitude towards dogs can ensure their peaceful co-existence with us.
Role of urbanisation
- Their population and disease connection:
- Cities have witnessed a sharp increase in the stray dog population.
- As per the official 2019 livestock census it stood at 1.5 crore.
- Independent estimates peg the number to be around 6.2 crore.
- The number of dog bites has simultaneously doubled between 2012 and 2020.
- India also shoulders the highest rabies burden in the world, accounting for a third of global deaths caused due to the disease.
- In 2015, a study conducted in 10 Indian metro cities found a strong link between human population, the amount of municipal and food waste generated, and the number of stray dogs in the cities.
- The unconfined and unmanaged leftovers end up aiding the proliferation of stray dogs.
- Tepid animal birth control programmes and insufficient rescue centres, in conjunction with poor waste management, result in a proliferation of street animals in India.
- Most landfills and dumping sites are located on the peripheries of cities, next to slums and settlement colonies.
- Thus, the disproportionate burden of dog bites may also fall on people in urban slums.
- A study published in 2016 found that the prevalence of dog bites was higher in urban slums than rural slums.
- India’s response to the stray dog menace has relied upon the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme, through which municipal bodies trap, sterilise and release dogs to slow down the dog population.
- The second anchor was rabies control measures, including vaccination drives.
- Implementation lacunae:
- low awareness around the health implications of dog bites
- irregular supply of vaccines
- delay in seeking treatments
- lack of national policy
Topic 3: Neurotoxins
Context: 11 people died due to a gas leak in the Giaspura area of Ludhiana, Punjab, while four people fell ill and were hospitalised.
What are neurotoxins?
- Neurotoxins are poisonous substances which can directly affect the nervous system.
- Neurotoxicity occurs when exposure to natural or man-made toxic substances alters the normal activity of the nervous system.
- These substances can eventually disrupt or even kill neurons or nerve cells, which are important for transmitting and processing signals in the brain and other parts of the nervous system.
- They directly attack the respiratory tract of the body, thereby overpowering the oxygen concentration of the body and then the nervous system as well.
- Methane, hydrogen sulphide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide are common neurotoxic gases.
- While methane and carbon monoxide are odourless gases, hydrogen sulphide has a pungent odour and in higher concentration it can be fatal for humans.
- How these gases are removed?
- To remove gases such as hydrogen sulphide from wastewater, chemical oxidation is done, where oxidants such as hydrogen peroxide are added to the wastewater.
Topic 4: Shilabhattarika
Context: Researchers recently embarked on a mission after which they claim to have shed new light on Shilabhattarika.
- The celebrated Sanskrit poetess of ancient India was established as the daughter of the famed Chalukyan emperor Pulakeshin II of Badami (in modern Karnataka).
- Shila-bhattarika was a Sanskrit poet.
- One of her poems mentions the Narmada River (Reva) and the Vindhya mountains.
- The Sanskrit poet-critic Rajashekhara who was the court poet of the Gurjara-Pratiharas, had praised Shilabhattarika for her elegant and beautiful compositions.
Topic 5: Thrissur Pooram
Context: Revellers packed the streets of Thrissur to soak in the festival spirit of Thrissur Pooram.
- The Thrissur Pooram is an annual Hindu temple festival held in Thrissur, Kerala.
- Celebrated in the Malayalam month of Medam (April-May), Thrissur Pooram signifies the symbolic meeting of 10 temples.
- It is held at the Vadakkunnathan (Shiva) Temple in Thrissur every year.
- Despite being a Hindu festival, the Thrissur Pooram is attended by different sections of Kerala society.
- Thrissur Pooram is considered one of the greatest gatherings in Asia.
- Thrissur Pooram was the brainchild of Rama Varma Kunhjippilla Thampuran, the Maharaja of Cochin.
- He unified the 10 temples situated around Vadakkunnathan Temple and organized the celebration of Thrissur Pooram as a mass festival.
Topic 6: Barsu Refinery project
Context: The Maharashtra government started conducting soil testing at Rajapur tehsil’s Barsu village in the coastal Ratnagiri district.
- Aim of the test:
- To know if the site was suitable for the proposed multi-billion dollar Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited project which is touted as the world’s largest single location refinery complex.
- India’s oil refining capacity stood at 251.2 million metric tonnes per annum, making it the second-largest refiner in Asia and the fourth largest in the world.
What is the Barsu refinery project?
- The project is expected to have a capacity of 60 million tonnes per annum.
- It is a joint venture between Saudi Aramco, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited.
- Besides fuel, the project also proposes to develop various downstream petrochemicals to meet India’s fast-growing petrochemical demand.
- Initially, the project was supposed to come up at Nanar, about 20 kilometres from Barsu but due to strong opposition from the locals, environmental activists the project was denotified in 2019.
Topic 7: Article 142
Context: A constitution or five-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that it can exercise its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to directly grant a decree of divorce to consenting parties, in cases of irretrievable breakdown of marriage, without referring the parties to a family court.
Current procedure under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA)
- Under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 both parties can file a petition for dissolution of their marriage by presenting a decree of divorce to the district court.
- They have been living separately for a year or more or
- They have not been able to live together or
- Have mutually agreed to dissolve their marriage.
- Both parties seeking divorce have to wait between 6 to 18 months from the date on which they presented their petition to obtain the divorce decree.
- The six-month period is given so that the parties have ample time to withdraw their plea.
- These provisions apply when at least one year has elapsed since the marriage took place.
- Additionaly, divorce can be sought by either spouse on grounds like:
- adultery, cruelty, desertion, religious conversion, insanity, leprosy, venereal disease, renunciation, and presumption of death.
- The parties can approach the family courts for initiation of divorce proceedings, this process is often time-consuming and lengthy.
- If the parties wish to opt for a divorce more expeditiously, they can approach the Supreme Court under Article 142 for the dissolution of their marriage.
- This provision gives the country’s top court wide powers to do complete justice in a case before it.
What is Article 142 of the Constitution?
- Article 142 has two clauses.
- Article 142(1):
- The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or order for doing complete justice.
- Article 142(2):
- The Supreme Court shall have all and every power to make any order for the purpose of:
- securing the attendance of any person,
- the discovery or production of any documents, or
- the investigation or punishment of any contempt of itself
- The Supreme Court shall have all and every power to make any order for the purpose of:
- Article 142(1):
Important instances when Article 142 was invoked
- Bhopal Gas tragedy case:
- The Supreme Court awarded a compensation of $470 million to the victims and held that prohibitions or limitations or provisions contained in ordinary laws cannot, act as prohibitions or limitations on the constitutional powers under Article 142.
- Babri Masjid demolition case:
- The Supreme Court ordered framing of a scheme by the Centre for formation of trust to construct Ram Mandir at the Masjid demolition site in Ayodhya.
- Liquor sale ban case:
- The Supreme Court banned liquor shops within a distance of 500 metres from National as well as State highways in order to prevent drunken driving.
History of Article 142
- When a draft Constitution was prepared by the drafting committee and placed before the Constituent Assembly, Article 142 was actually numbered as Article 118.
- It was placed before the Constituent Assembly on May 27, 1949 for debate and got adopted on the same day without any debate.
Topic 8: International Labour Day
Context: May Day 2023 marks a hundred years since it was first commemorated in India on May 1, 1923, in the city of Madras.
- M Singaravelu Chettiar, a nationalist figure, and an early cobmmunist associated with the anti-caste movement introduced May Day in India.
- By introducing May Day in India, Singaravelu sought to connect the struggles of Indian workers with the global-level resistance of labour against brutal exploitation and dehumanisation.
About International Labour Day:
- May Day is also known as International Workers’ Day and as Labour Day in different parts of the world.
- It is an occasion that commemorates the contributions of workers and the historic labour movement.
- While observed as an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival, May 1 became associated with the labour movement in the late 19th century, after trade unions and socialist groups designated it as a day in support of workers.
- It was decided to do so in memory of the Haymarket affair of 1886, in Chicago in the United States.
- The US recognised Labor Day as a federal holiday in 1894, where it continues to be celebrated every year on the first Monday of September.
- In 1889, The Second International, an organisation created by socialist and labour parties, declared that May 1 would be commemorated as International Workers’ Day from then on.
- In 1916, the US began to recognise eight-hour work timings after years of protests and uprisings.
- After the Russian Revolution in 1917, the celebration was embraced by the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc nations during the Cold War.
May Day in India:
- In India, May Day was first celebrated on May 1, 1923, after the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan initiated and Comrade Singaravelar (Singaravelu Chettiar) helmed the celebrations.
- The Comrade passed a resolution stating the government should allow everybody a national holiday on Labour Day.