Topic 1: The Pokhran Tests
Context: On May 11, 1998, India conducted three nuclear bomb test explosions at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range.
- Codenamed Operation Shakti, these tests would display India’s capability to build fission and thermonuclear weapons with yields up to 200 kilotons.
- It helped India enter the highly guarded club of countries with capability to deploy nuclear weapons.
- Setting of research institute and department of atomic energy:
- India’s nuclear programme can be traced to the work of physicist Homi J Bhaba.
- In 1945, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research was opened in Bombay which was India’s first research institution dedicated to the study of nuclear physics.
- In 1954, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was founed, with Bhabha as director.
- While Nehru publicly opposed nuclear weapons, privately, he had given Bhaba a free hand to lay foundations for both civilian and military uses of nuclear technology.
- Under him, the DEA operated with autonomy and away from significant public scrutiny.
- The discriminatory NPT
- In 1968, the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) came into existence.
- The treaty defines nuclear-weapon states as those that have built and tested a nuclear explosive device before January 1, 1967 which were the US, Russia (formerly USSR), the UK, France and China.
- It effectively disallows any other state from acquiring nuclear weapons.
- While the treaty has been signed by almost every country in the world, India is one of the few non-signatories.
- On May 18, 1974, with support from Indira Gandhi, India carried out its first nuclear test at the Pokhran test site.
- Pokhran-I, codenamed Operation Smiling Buddha, would be billed as a “peaceful nuclear explosion”, with few military implications.
- There was near-universal condemnation and countries like the US and Canada imposed significant international sanctions on India.
- In 1983, the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) funding was increased and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was put in charge of India’s missile programme.
- In March 1998, Pakistan launched the Ghauri missile – built with assistance from China.
- Two months later, India responded with Operation Shakti.
- While the 1974 tests were ostensibly done for peaceful purposes, the 1998 tests were the culmination of India’s nuclear weaponisation process.
- Consequently, the Indian Government declared itself as a state possessing nuclear weapons following Pokhran-II.
- In context of India’s fast-growing economy and market potential, India was able to stand its ground and thus cement its status as a dominant nation state.
|India’s nuclear doctrine:Building and maintaining a credible minimum deterrent;A posture of “No First Use“.Nuclear weapons will only be used in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere;Nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage.Nuclear retaliatory attacks can only be authorised by the civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority.The Nuclear Command Authority comprises a Political Council and an Executive Council.The Political Council is chaired by the Prime Minister.It is the sole body which can authorize the use of nuclear weapons.The Executive Council is chaired by the National Security Advisor.It provides inputs for decision making by the Nuclear Command Authority and executes the directives given to it by the Political CouncilNon-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states;In the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons, India will retain the option of retaliating with nuclear weapons;A continuance of strict controls on export of nuclear and missile related materials and technologies, participation in the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty negotiations, and continued observance of the moratorium on nuclear tests.Continued commitment to the goal of a nuclear weapon free world, through global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament.|
Topic 2: National Technology Day
Context: National Technology Day is celebrated in India on May 11 every year.
- This term was coined by former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to recognise the contributions of Indian scientists.
- On May 11, 1998, three very special technological advances were showcased by India’s scientists and engineers:
- Operation Shakti, also known widely as Pokhran-II nuclear tests;
- the successful test firing of Trishul missile; and
- the first test flight of the indigenously developed aircraft Hansa.
- 2023 Theme:
- School to Startups-Igniting Young Minds to Innovate.
Topic 3: Palak Lake
Context: Nature walk organised along the Palak Lake , Aizawl, Mizoram.
- Palak lake is also known as Palak Dil or Palak Tipo.
- It is the largest and biggest lake in Mizoram.
- It is located within the Mara Autonomous District Council.
- It falls under the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot, and is therefore rich in animal and plant species.
- The lake is a major component of the Palak Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Palak Dil and its surrounding area is declared as a protected area under the Palak Wildlife Sanctuary.
- The surrounding forest is extensively exploited due to shifting cultivation.
- It has been designated as a protected Ramsar site since 2021.
Topic 4: SC redraws lines for Constitutional offices
Context: The Supreme Court verdict on the Delhi government’s tussle with the Centre over the national capital’s bureaucracy draw new red lines for Constitutional offices in the face of political compulsions, and underline the sanctity of the elected government.
Verdict on basic structure:
- In the Delhi ruling, the apex court speaks to the Centre in emphasising that principles of democracy and federalism are basic structure of the Constitution.
- The court emphasised on a “triple chain of accountability” to read the Constitutional provisions expansively and allow Delhi government control over services.
- The bench said that the triple chain of accountability flows from bureaucrats to ministers, ministers to the legislature, and the legislature to the electorate.\
|What is the basic structure doctrine?The Doctrine of Basic Structure is a form of judicial review that is used to test the legality of any legislation by the courts.The doctrine was evolved by the Supreme Court in the 1973 landmark ruling in Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala.A 13-judge Constitution Bench ruled that the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution is inviolable, and could not be amended by Parliament.If a law is found to damage or destroy the basic features of the Constitution, the Court declares it unconstitutional.The test is applied to constitutional amendments to ensure the amendment does not dilute the fundamentals of the Constitutional itself.|
Verdict on control over services
- The Supreme Court ruled that the Delhi government has legislative and executive powers over administrative services in the national capital.
- In 2015, a Union Home Ministry notification said that the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi shall exercise control over “services”.
- The Delhi government challenged this before the Delhi High Court, which in 2017 upheld the notification.
- On appeal, a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court referred the issue to a larger constitution Bench.
- In 2018, a five-judge Constitution Bench, in a unanimous verdict laid down the law that governs the relationship between Delhi and the Centre.
- The ruling was in favour of the Delhi government.
The bone of contention
- The court had to decide if it was the Delhi government or the Union government that had legislative and executive control over the capital’s bureaucracy.
- The court had to interpret clause (3)(a) of Article 239AA (Special provisions with respect to Delhi) of the Constitution.
- It reads that the legislative assembly shall have power to make laws for the whole or any part of the National Capital Territory with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the State list or in the Concurrent list.
What is the extent of Delhi’s powers now?
- Article 239AA specifically excludes land, police and public order from the purview of the legislative powers of the Delhi government.
- The court acknowledged that these three issues can also have some overlap with “services”.
Topic 5: Supreme Court’s Maharashtra verdict
Context: Passing a unanimous judgement on the various issues related to the split in Shiv Sena in June 2022, the Supreme Court made strong observations about the role of the then Governor of Maharashtra and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
Key takeaways from the verdict
- ‘Speaker to decide disqualification’
- The SC said the issue of disqualification ought to be decided as per established procedures in law and the Speaker is the appropriate authority for this under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, which lays down the anti-defection law.
- It also clarified that an MLA has the right to participate in proceedings of the House regardless of pendency of any petitions for disqualification.
- ‘Speaker must consider Shiv Sena constitution’
- The SC said that while deciding disqualification pleas, the Speaker must consider the constitution of the Shiv Sena.
- It said that as the Tenth Schedule’s third paragraph has been removed, the ‘split’ in the party will no longer be a defence available to MLAs facing the proceedings.
- Paragraph 3 of the Tenth Schedule protected defectors as long as one-third of the members of a political party formed a separate group.
- It was removed by the Constitution (91st Amendment) Act, 2003.
- ‘Governor didn’t act in accordance with law’
- The court said that then Maharashtra Governor was not justified in calling for a floor test, as he did not have objective material to show that the incumbent government had lost the confidence of the House.
- The court said the Governor had acted upon an inference that a section of the Shiv Sena wished to withdraw their support to the government.
- It said that the power of the Governor to act without the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers is of an extraordinary nature, and must be exercised with circumspection within the limits of law.
- ‘Legislature party, political party distinct’
- The court said that as per provisions of the Representation of the People Act, an association of individuals calling itself a political party has to be registered with the EC.
- The court said that Parliament had recognised the independent existence of a legislature party to the limited extent of providing a defence to actions of legislators of the political party.
- It held that it is the political party and not the legislature party which appoints the Whip and the Leader of the party in the House.
- Therefore, it said the Speaker must recognise only the whip and leader who are duly recognised by the political party.
- ‘Speaker and EC can adjudicate issues concurrently’
- The court said it could not accept the contention that the EC was barred from deciding on the party symbol dispute until the Speaker decided the disqualification pleas before him.
- This would amount to indefinitely staying proceedings before the ECI, as the Speaker’s decision would attain finality only after the appeals against his decision were disposed of.
- Referral of Nabam Rebia case to larger bench
- The five-judge Bench referred certain issues related to its 2016 judgment in the Nabam Rebia case to a larger Bench.
- One of the issues is whether a notice for removal of a Speaker would restrict the powers of the Speaker to issue disqualification notices to MLAs.
Topic 6: Govt’s new GST compliance measures
Context: The government has decided to lower the threshold for businesses to generate e-invoice for business-to-business (B2B) transactions, from Rs 10 crore to Rs 5 crore, and has rolled out the automated return scrutiny module for GST returns in a backend application for central tax officers.
The automated return scrutiny module
- This will enable the officers to scrutinise GST returns of centre-administered taxpayers selected on the basis of data analytics and risks identified by the system.
- Discrepancies on account of risks associated with a return will be displayed to the tax officers.
- They will interact with the taxpayers through the GSTN common portal for communication of discrepancies.
- The automated return scrutiny module has already commenced with the scrutiny of GST returns for FY 2019-20, with the requisite data already with the tax officers.
Changes for e-invoicing
- The government has also lowered the threshold for businesses to generate e-invoice for business-to-business (B2B) transactions to Rs 5 crore from Rs 10 crore under GST.
- At present, businesses with turnover of Rs 10 crore and above are required to generate e-invoice for all B2B transactions.
What does the e-invoicing envisage?
- The GST Council had approved the standard of e-invoice with the primary objective to enable interoperability across the entire GST ecosystem.
- Under this, a phased implementation was proposed to ensure a common standard for allinvoices.
- An e-invoice generated by one software should be capable of being read by any other software and through machine readability, an invoice can then be uniformly interpreted.
- With a uniform invoicing system, the tax authorities are able to pre-populate the return and reduce the reconciliation issues.
- With a high number of cases involving fake invoices and fraud availment of input tax credit, GST authorities have pushed for implementation of this e-invoicing system which is expected to help to curb the actions of tax evaders.
Topic 7: Integrative medicine
Context: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Ministry of AYUSH signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) to enhance collaboration and cooperation in health research in the field of integrated medicine.
What is integrative medicine?
- Integrative medicine focuses on you as a whole person and not just your illness or disease.
- It seeks to understand the underlying cause of symptoms or condition.
- Integrative medicine uses an evidence-based approach to improve your health and wellness.
- Integrative medicine aims for well-coordinated care among different providers and specialists.
- It brings together conventional healthcare approaches (like medication and psychotherapy) and complementary therapies (like acupuncture and yoga).
- In this way, integrative medicine integrates all aspects of your well-being to achieve optimal health and healing.
- Integrative medicine should be used together with regular medical treatments.
Types of providers
- Chiropractic doctors.
- Holistic mind-body psychotherapists.
- Chinese herbal therapists.
- Tai chi practitioners.
- Yoga practitioners.
- Massage therapists.
- Chefs (culinary medicine).
- Integrative medicine techniques support the body’s natural ability to heal.
- It helps to reduce stress and promotes a state of relaxation that leads to better health.
- It can help achieve optimal health when you engage in your own healing and feel empowered to make lifestyle changes.
- Adding integrative medicine to your healthcare routine can help regain control of your well-being.