Topic 1: Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) mission
Context: European Space Agency set to launch Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice)
- It is planned to reach Jupiter in 2031.
- Aim and purpose:
- The mission aims to carry out a detailed exploration of Jupiter and its icy moons – Ganymede, Callisto and Europa, which potentially have habitable environments.
- The main focus will be on Ganymede, as it is the largest moon in the Solar System and the only one to generate its own magnetic field.
- Another primary goal of the mission is to create a comprehensive picture of Jupiter by trying to understand its origin, history and evolution.
- Juice will also analyse the chemistry, structure, dynamics, weather, and climate of Jupiter and its ever-changing atmosphere.
- However, Juice isn’t equipped to detect life.
- What it is capable of is finding out whether there could be places where the necessary conditions, such as water, biological essential elements, energy, and stability, to sustain life are present.
- Other spacecraft to Jupiter:
- Only two other spacecraft have ever examined Jupiter:
- the Galileo probe, which orbited the gas giant between 1995 and 2003, and
- Juno, which has been circling the planet since 2016.
- Europa Clipper:
- By the time Juice reaches Jupiter, another spacecraft, NASA’s Europa Clipper, would already be orbiting the planet.
- It is scheduled to be launched in 2023.
- It would arrive at Jupiter in 2030 and aims to study its Europa moon.
- Only two other spacecraft have ever examined Jupiter:
Topic 2: Teja Singh Sutantar
Context: Punjab CM unveiled a statue of Teja Singh Sutantar, former Sangrur MP and revolutionary leader.
- Born in 1901 as Samund Singh in Aluna village of Gurdaspur district, Teja Singh completed his schooling and joined Khalsa College in Amritsar.
- Joining Akali Dal:
- After the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre, he joined the Akali Dal to participate in the movement of liberating gurdwaras from degenerate mahants.
- Sutantar Jatha:
- In September 1921 , he formed his own squad called ‘sutantar jatha’ (also called as swatantar meaning free/independent).
- In its maiden attempt, the jatha successfully liberated the gurdwara in a village called Teja, in Gurdaspur district, from the mahants.
- This success earned him the moniker of Teja Singh Sutantar from his supporters.
- Contacts with the Ghadarites:
- In early 1923 , Teja Singh went to Kabul as a Sikh missionary.
- There he came in contact with a few leaders of the Ghadar Party, who, at the time, were preparing for their second attempt to overthrow the British government.
- The Ghadhar leaders persuaded Teja Singh to undergo military training – thus, in 1925, he joined the Turkish military academy under the pseudonym Azad Beg.
- However, Teja Singh later moved to Berlin and then to Canada and the United States, where he addressed congregations of Indians, mainly Punjabi Sikh immigrants.
- Return to India:
- In December 1934 , Teja Singh returned to India and became a prominent leader of communist party (CPI).
- He contributed revolutionary articles to the party journal, the Kirti, frequently writing about issues that plagued peasants.
- Teja Singh was elected unopposed to the Punjab Legislative Assembly in May 1937 as a nominee of Indian National Congress, while he was still in prison.
- He continued to remain the member of Punjab Legislative Assembly till 1945.
- He was also secretary of Communist Party ( Punjab) from 1944- 1947
- Post Independence political activities:
- .Post-independence, Teja Singh, who a prominent leader of the Kisan Sabha, led a number of peasant agitations against the government and landlords.
- He was a key leader in the PEPSU Muzara movement, which started in the 1930s and went on till 1952.
- The movement was started by landless peasants (muzaras) in PEPSU (Patiala and East Punjab States Union, which included the districts of Mansa, Sangrur, Barnala, and parts of Bathinda, apart from Patiala) to obtain ownership rights of the land they had been tilling for generations.
- The farmers would finally receive land rights in 1952.
- After independence, Teja Singh formed his Lal (Red) Party with the Kirti group of the Punjab Communist Party as its nucleus.
- He would go on to become a member of the Punjab Legislative Council from 1964-1969.
- He edited Lal Jhanda, a monthly magazine in Urdu, Lal Savera, a Punjabi weekly and contributed to various newspapers.
- In 1971, he was elected to the Lok Sabha.
- On April 12, 1973 he died of a heart attack in the central hall of the Parliament.
Topic 3: The ratna categories of industries
Context: Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) gets ‘Miniratna Category-I’ status
- About SECI:
- It is a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) which was incorporated in the year 2011.
- SECI is the primary implementing agency of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for Renewable Energy schemes/projects towards fulfillment of India’s international commitments.
- Criteria for grant of Maharatna status to CPSEs
- Having Navratna status
- Listed on Indian stock exchange with minimum prescribed public shareholding under SEBI regulations
- An average annual turnover of more than Rs. 25,000 crore during the last 3 years
- An average annual net worth of more than Rs. 15,000 crore during the last 3 years
- An average annual net profit after tax of more than Rs. 5,000 crore during the last 3 years
- Should have significant global presence/international operations.
- Criteria for grant of Navratna status to CPSEs
- The CPSEs which are Miniratna I, Schedule ‘A’ and have obtained ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ MOU rating in three of the last five years are eligible to be considered for grant of Navratna status.
- Criteria for grant of Miniratna status to CPSEs
- Miniratna Category-I status: –
- The CPSEs which have made profit in the last three years continuously, pre-tax profit is Rs.30 crores or more in at least one of the three years and have a positive net worth.
- Miniratna Category-II status: –
- The CPSEs which have made profit for the last three years continuously and have a positive net worth.
- Miniratna CPSEs should have not defaulted in the repayment of loans/interest payment on any loans due to the Government.
- Miniratna CPSEs shall not depend upon budgetary support or Government guarantees.
- Miniratna Category-I status: –
Topic 4: The Kudmis
Context: The Kudmi community, which is demanding Scheduled Tribe (ST) status and the inclusion of their language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, lifted their agitation following assurances from the West Bengal government.
About the Kudmis
- Kudmis are mainly a peasant community.
- Their population is concentrated in the Junglemahal areas or the Chota Nagpur plateau of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha.
- Some Kudmis are also found in Assam and northern West Bengal, who have migrated from the Chota Nagpur plateau region.
- Status during British era:
- During the British rule, they were in the Scheduled Tribe or Aboriginal community list, and were regarded as a primitive tribe, like the Munda, Oraon, Bhumij, Kharia, Santhal, and others.
- When were they excluded from the ST list?
- After 1950, when the Scheduled Tribe list was prepared in independent India, Kudmis did not find a place on it.
- Ever since, they have been fighting for the restoration of their identity as a Scheduled Tribe.
- Why they were excluded?
- During the British rule, some affluent Kudmis wanted to elevate their social status as “kshatriya” in the Hindu caste hierarchy, while other members opposed this “sanskritisation”.
- But a majority of Kudmis still practise their traditional religion and lifestyle.
Topic 5: Parliamentary Committees
Context: During the course of the 17th Lok Sabha, only 14 Bills have been referred for further examination so far. This represents a declining trend of national legislation being subjected to expert scrutiny.
The evolution of committees
- A structured committee system was only established in 199.
- Individual committees were being formed for various reasons as far back as independence.
- The Ad Hoc Committee on the Citizenship Clause was formed to discuss the nature and scope of Indian citizenship.
- The Northeast Frontier (Assam) Tribal and Excluded Areas Sub-Committee and the Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas (Other than Assam) Sub-Committee.
- Then there was the Expert Committee on Financial Provisions of the Union Constitution, which was responsible for giving recommendations on Union and Province (State) tax collection, central excise duty, liquor revenue, divisible pool of income tax, sharing of proceeds among provinces, residuary powers, and the institutions of the Finance Commission and the Auditor General, among other things.
- The Advisory Committee on the Subject of Political Safeguards for Minorities (May 11, 1949), chaired by Sardar Patel, looked at the abolition of reservations for religious minorities.
- Today, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have their own Standing (permanent) Committees and Ad Hoc (need-based) Committees.
- There are also Joint Committees with representation from both Houses.
The role of committees
- Detailed scrutiny:
- Committees go into the details of a specific piece of legislation, analyse the impact it may have on governance indicators, and then make their recommendations.
- Executive control:
- Even though committee reports aren’t binding on the government, it helps the legislature ensure an oversight on the executive.
- Objective assessments:
- Objective assessments are only possible in the confines of a committee room, where partisan divides dissolve to make way for consensus.
- The alternative scenario, that is discussion on the floor of the House, involves glaring cameras that nudge parliamentarians to perform as per their respective party-lines and voter-base.
- Business Advisory Committee:
- There also exists the Business Advisory Committee which prepares the entire schedule of both Houses when Parliament is in session.
- Papers laid on the table of the House have a whole committee dedicated to them.
- Each individual paper is prepared after a careful and long-drawn process of deliberation, writing and screening.
- Discussing topics of nation building:
- Another important mandate of Committees is to go into issues that are crucial from a nation-building standpoint but don’t hold as much political significance.
- Take the example of defence shipyards.
- These shipyards are not a primary poll issue.
- However, it is extremely important to develop these capabilities for safeguarding the security of the nation.
- Digital Data Protection Bill:
- Perhaps the most salient work done by a committee in recent years is on the Digital Data Protection Bill.
- Beginning in 2017 in the wake of the Puttaswamy judgment that recognised privacy as a fundamental right, the Justice Srikrishna Committee was formed and tasked with preparing a data protection framework for India.
- It presented the final report in 2018, covering everything from data processing and storage to rights and enforcement on the basis of which the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 was tabled in the Lok Sabha.
- It was referred to another committee, this time a Joint Parliamentary Committee chaired by P.P. Chaudhary, whose report came out in December 2021, following which the bill was withdrawn and a new Draft Digital Data Protection Bill was introduced for public consultation in November 2022.
- The committees’ insights have not only been invaluable but also formed the very basis of what is possibly the single most crucial legislation for a growing economy in the digital age.
- Other bills referred to committees:
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill that seeks to raise the legal marriageable age of women to 21,
- The Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill that brings into enactment the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea for combating piracy in the high seas,
- The Jan Vishwas Bill that amends 42 laws across sectors like agriculture and media,
- The Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Bill that extends the scope of protected species,
- The Competition (Amendment) Bill,
- The Electricity (Amendment) Bill,
- The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, and
- The Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill
- The Parliament could consider a compulsory referral, for the Bills that are tabled on the floor, to the appropriate committees.
- Arming them with more powers will help them ensure accountability from the executive instead of making them toothless tigers.
- It is essential for the parliamentary ecosystem in India to institutionalise such procedures and not allow political considerations to hasten law-making.
Topic 6: Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission
Context: The Supreme Court said that a 2007 report of the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, which recommended Scheduled Caste reservation for Dalit converts to Christianity and Islam, is not all that “perfunctory”, adding that the government may need to “re-check” its stance on the report.
- The Centre recently constituted a new commission headed by former Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, giving it two years to prepare a report.
- The court rekindled interest in the Mishra report, asking whether its empirical data could be used to determine if the exclusion of Dalit converts to Christianity and Islam from the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 was discriminatory and unconstitutional.
- The Court was hearing a series of petitions filed 19 years ago, which had challenged the exclusion of Dalit converts to Islam and Christianity from the 1950 Order.
About the Commission:
- National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, also called Ranganath Misra Commission, was constituted in 2004 to look into various issues related to Linguistic and Religious minorities in India.
- It was chaired by former Chief Justice of India Justice Ranganath Misra.
- The commission submitted the report in 2007.
- Terms of reference
- To suggest criteria for identification of socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities;
- To recommend measures for welfare of socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities, including reservation in education and government employment; and
- To suggest the constitutional, legal and administrative modalities required for the implementation of its recommendations.
- To give its recommendations on the issues raised relating to the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 in the context of the ceiling of 50 percent on reservations, as also the modalities for inclusion in the list of Scheduled Castes.
- Main recommendations
- Give 10% quotas for Muslims and 5% for other minorities in government jobs and in seats in all the higher educational institutions
- Reserve 8.4% quota out of the existing OBC quota of 27% for religious minorities, mainly Muslims
- Permit Dalits who convert to Islam or Christianity to avail of reservation benefits under the Scheduled Caste reservation quota.
Topic 7: Large Hadron Collider
Context: The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is on the energy frontier of physics research, conducting experiments with highly energised subatomic particles.
- Who built it?
- The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
- It is the world’s largest science experiment.
- It is a collider. It accelerates two beams of particles in opposite directions and smashes them head on.
- These particles are hadrons.
- A hadron is a subatomic particle made up of smaller particles.
- The functioning of the LHC
- The LHC typically uses protons, which are made up of quarks and gluons.
- It energises the protons by accelerating them through a narrow circular pipe that is 27 km long.
- This pipe encircles two D-shaped magnetic fields, created by almost 9,600 magnets.
- By switching the direction of the magnetic field more and more rapidly, protons can be accelerated through the beam pipe.
- In the process they accrue a tremendous amount of energy according to the special theory of relativity.
- The effects of collision
- When two antiparallel beams of energised particles collide head on, the energy at the point of collision is equal to the sum of the energy carried by the two beams.
- There is a lot of energy available, and parts of it coalesce into different subatomic particles under the guidance of the fundamental forces of nature.
- The findings of the LHC
- The LHC consists of nine detectors.
- Located over different points on the beam pipe, they study particle interactions in different ways.
- The LHC specialises in accelerating a beam of hadronic particles to certain specifications and delivering it.
- Scientists have used the LHC to energise and collide lead ions with each other and protons with lead ions.
- Using the data from all these collisions, they have:
- tested the predictions of the Standard Model of particle physics, the reigning theory of subatomic particles;
- observed exotic particles like pentaquarks and tetraquarks and checked if their properties are in line with theoretical expectations; and
- pieced together information about extreme natural conditions, like those that existed right after the Big Bang.
- The LHC consists of nine detectors.
- Improving luminosity:
- The scientists should improve the LHC’s luminosity (a measure of the machine’s ability to produce particle interactions of interest) by 10x by 2027 through upgrades.
- A bigger version:
- A more controversial idea is to build a bigger version of the LHC, based on the hypothesis that such a machine will be able to find ‘new physics’ at even higher energies.
Topic 8: Jallianwala Bagh massacre
Context: On April 13, 1919, what was planned as a protest gathering of Indians in a compound called Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab, witnessed violence that would become one of the most lasting memories of the barbarity of colonial rule.
What happened at Jallianwala Bagh?
- April 13 saw celebrations for the Sikh festival of Baisakhi, which marks the onset of Spring and the harvest of winter crops.
- Simultaneously, the movement for independence from British rule had been steadily gaining ground at that point, and an event was held at Jallianwala Bagh to defy colonial orders and protest against the recently passed Rowlatt Bills.
- These Bills curtailed the civil liberties of Indians and let colonial forces arrest people without any warrant or trial.
- Sir Michael O’ Dwyer imposed martial rule in Lahore and Amritsar on April 11, but the order reached Amritsar only on April 14.
- He also sent Colonel Dyer, who was then holding the temporary rank of Brigadier General, from the Jalandhar cantonment to Amritsar.
- Many gathered for a public meeting against the arrest of Dr Satyapal and Dr Saifuddin Kitchlew for opposing the Rowlatt Act.
- Dyer saw the assembly as a violation of government orders.
- Without giving the crowd any warning to disperse, he ordered his troops to fire and the firing continued for about ten minutes.
- No one in the crowd was carrying firearms though some may have been carrying sticks.
- Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore gave up his knighthood.
Who was General Dyer?
- Dyer was born in Murree in 1854, in present-day Pakistan, and was commissioned in the West Surrey Regiment in 1885 and then transferred to the Indian Army.
- He campaigned in Myanmar in 1886–87 and took part in World War I (1914–18).
The Hunter Committee
- A Committee named Hunter Committee was set up to investigate the Jallianwala bagh incident.
- It was originally known as the Disorders Inquiry Committee, but it was later shortened to the Hunter Commission.
- It was named after the chairman, Lord William Hunter, a former Solicitor-General for Scotland and Senator of the Scottish College of Justice.
- The Hunter Committee condemned the incident but did not impose any punishment on Dyer.
- Ultimately, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army directed Brig Gen Dyer to resign his appointment as Brigade Commander and informed him that he will receive no further employment in India.
- Michael O’ Dwyer, the officer to order martial law, was later assassinated in 1940 in his retirement by Sardar Udham Singh, an Indian man who was present at Jallianwala Bagh and escaped the atrocities.
Topic 9: Body positivity
Context: Singer Ariana Grande spoke out about body positivity.
- Body positivity refers to the assertion that all people deserve to have a positive body image, regardless of how society and popular culture view ideal shape, size, and appearance.
- Goals of the body positivity movement:
- Challenging how society views the body
- Promoting the acceptance of all bodies
- Helping people build confidence and acceptance of their own bodies
- Addressing unrealistic body standards
- Body positivity also aims to help people understand how popular media messages contribute to the relationship that people have with their bodies, including how they feel about food, exercise, clothing, health, identity, and self-care.
- By better understanding the effect that such influences have, the hope is that people can develop a healthier and more realistic relationship with their bodies.
- Encouraging wrong habits:
- The body positivity movement has been criticized for encouraging lifestyle habits that negatively affect one’s health.
- Excessive approval of overweight and obese individuals could dissuade them from desiring to improve their health, leading to lifestyle disease.
- Cultural bias:
- The movement puts too much emphasis on the role of the individual to improve their own body image, and not enough attention on identifying and eliminating the cultural forces, messages, beliefs, and advertising campaigns accountable for causing widespread body dissatisfaction.
- Too much emphasis on positivity:
- An undue emphasis on body positivity can stifle and diminish important negative feelings.
- Negative feelings are a natural part of the human experience and that such feelings can be important and informational.
- This expectation to have only positive feelings is sometimes called “toxic body positivity.”