Topic 1: Khooni Darwaza; Gateway to the past
- The Khooni Darwaza is a key piece of the India’s history, as it has witnessed the events of the revolts of 1857. It was built by Sher Shah in the 16th century.
- Ronald Vivian Smith in his book ‘Delhi: Unknown Tales of a City’ has mentioned “Lal Darwaza” built by Sher Shah in his new city of Delhi.
- The Lal Darwaza is now called ‘Khooni Darwaza‘ and is said to have got its name after Bahadur Shah Zafar’s sons and grandson were shot dead there by Lt. Hudson in 1857.
- The architecture of Khooni Darwaza is a blend of Mughal and Afghan styles.
- It is a three-storeyed gate made of quartzite stone.
- It has three arched entrances, with the central one being the largest.
- The structure is around 50 feet in height and has a large courtyard in front, which historians believed was used as a public gathering space in the past.
Sher Shah also built the Quila Khuna Masjid, within the boundaries of the Old Fort, which was repaired by Lord Curzon. The mosque is a gem of an example of Afghan architecture.
Sher Shah’s architecture technique is said to have been followed by Akbar when he constructed several buildings of the same style in Agra.
Topic 2: Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF)
- India walked out from the trade pact called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in November 2019.
- The RCEP involved China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10-state Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) grouping.
- Now in 2023 India along with many of the RCEP countries, (except China replaced by the United States), is getting into the U.S.-driven Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF):
- The IPEF was launched by the United States in May, 2022 with Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
- Through this initiative, the IPEF partners aim to contribute to cooperation, stability, prosperity, development, and peace within the Indo-Pacific region.
- The 14 IPEF partners represent 40 percent of global GDP and 28 percent of global goods and services trade.
- The IPEF has four pillars: (1) Trade; (2) Supply Chains; (3) Clean Energy, Decarbonization, and Infrastructure; and (4) Tax and Anti-Corruption.
- Fearful of a possible trap, India has joined the other three pillars but not trade.
Implication of India joining the IPEF:
- The clear difference between the RCEP and IPEF of China versus the U.S.
- Developing a strategic partnership with the U.S. is India’s top foreign policy priority. However, a strategic partnership with the U.S. need not come at the cost of economic dependency on it.
- The economic issues with the U.S for e.g., about agriculture, intellectual property, labour and environment standards, and the digital economy are could create troubles for India in future.
- The IPEF can already be seen to have deep implications in agriculture, in terms of genetically modified seeds and food.
- It could lead to surrendering policy space for regulating Big Tech companies, and compromising a comparative advantage in manufacturing because of unfair labour and environment standards.
- It will also seriously affect India’s ability to create a vibrant domestic ecosystem in emerging areas such as a digital economy and green products.
- Although the IPEF will boost India-US partnership but the U.S.-driven Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity could also result in a complete stranglehold over the economic systems of the participating countries including India.Topic 3: The Storm Shadow Missile
Context: The United Kingdom had decided to provide long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine.
Significance of the decision:
- Since Russia invaded Ukraine in Feb, 2022, Ukraine has so far received a wide variety of weapons and ammunition, including anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft systems and artillery from its Western Allies.
- The storm Shadow is the latest addition to it. The use of Storm Shadow will allow Ukraine to push back Russian forces based within Ukrainian sovereign territory.
Capabilities of the Storm Shadow:
- Storm Shadow is a long-ranged, air-launched, conventionally armed, deep-strike cruise missile.
- With a range of more than 250 km, Storm Shadow weighs 1,300 kg and is 5.10m long.
- It is manufactured by the France-based MBDA Missile System.
- It’s capable of being operated day and night in all weathers and designed to destroy high-valued stationary targets such as airbases, radar installations, communications hubs and port facilities.
- Storm Shadow, equipped with the fire and forget technology, also offers high precision deep strike capability as it features a sophisticated navigation system that includes inertial navigation (INS) and global positioning system (GPS).
Topic 4: Mitochondrial Donation Treatment (MDT)
Context: A baby was born using three persons DNA in the UK.
Why did the baby need ‘three parents?
- The Baby technically, has three parents, deriving the mitochondria from a donor apart from the genetic material (DNA) from biological parents.
- The need for using this pioneering technology was aimed to prevent the child inheriting the mother’s mitochondrial disease.
- In this particular case the mother had a mitochondrial disease that did not intent to pass on to her baby. Also, the mother did not want to have a donor egg because the baby would also carry the genetic material of the donor.
What is mitochondrial disease?
- Mitochondria are basically the powerhouses of the cells, they generate the energy, and thus are also responsible for cell function in the human body.
- Certain defects might occur impacting on the way the mitochondria produce energy for the cells and thereby impacting cell function.
- The diseases that arise out of such mitochondrial mutations are called mitochondrial diseases.
- When the mitochondria are impaired and do not produce sufficient energy, it could lead to lead to brain damage, organ failure and muscle wastage.
- The symptoms get more and more debilitating as a child grows, and have no cure, but can be treated.
The scientific process to treat Mitochondrial disease?
- Mitochondrial diseases are only passed on by the mother, and research has been attempting to find a way out of protecting the infant from inheriting the disease.
- Through an advanced ‘In Vitro Fertilization technique’, the baby’s biological father’s sperm was used to fertilize the eggs from the biological mother, who has a mitochondrial disease, and a third female donor with clear mitochondria, separately.
- Then, the nuclear genetic material from the donor’s egg is removed and replaced with the genetic material from the biological parents.
- The final product i.e. the egg – which has the genetic material (DNA) from the parents, and the mitochondria from the female donor, is implanted in the uterus, and carried to full term to yield a baby.
- Such a baby when born will be free from the mother’s mitochondrial disease. This process is termed Mitochondrial Donation Treatment (MDT).
Side effects to the procedure?
In the Mitochondrial Donation Treatment there is a possibility that a small amount of the maternal mitochondria with errors may get passed on during the procedure. However more ore published data is needed to establish consensus.
Topic 5: Late Bail orders and Right to Personal Liberty
Context: The Supreme Court has recently held that bail orders should neither be too long and elaborate nor come too late as both violate the constitutional mandate of personal liberty.
- The supreme court highlighted that, while rejecting or granting bail to accused persons, Judges should not slip into extensive deliberations on the merits of the case or evidence involved. As such long debates at the stage of bail may prejudice the case itself for the accused.
- Also, that once a case for bail is reserved for orders, the pronouncement of the decision should not take too long as further waiting is a dent on the personal liberty of an undertrial.
- Therefore, the Supreme Court has deprecated the practice of detailed elaboration of evidence in the orders granting/rejecting bail/anticipatory bail and the practice of long delay between reserving the matter for order and pronouncing the order.Topic 6: Age of the Saturn’s rings
Context: Recently scientists have pegged the age of Saturn’s ring at no more than 400 million years.
The Recent Research:
- US scientists have delivered the strongest evidence yet that the Saturn’s rings are remarkably young i.e., much younger than the Saturn itself, which is about 4.5 billion years old.
- The researchers arrived at this conclusion by studying the tiny grains of rocky material washing through the Earth’s solar system on an almost constant basis.
- The Cosmic Dust Analyzer aboard NASA’s late Cassini spacecraft was used to analyze specks of dust flying around Saturn.
- The spacecraft Cassini first arrived at Saturn in 2004 and collected data until it purpose- fully crashed into the planet’s atmosphere in 2017.
- Based on calculations on the 163 grains collected over those 13 years, it was concluded that Saturn’s rings have likely been gathering dust for only a few hundred million years.
The planet; Saturn:
- Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun, notable for having an intricate dazzling ring system.
- It is the second-largest planet in the Solar System, and with 96% of the planet is made out of lightweight hydrogen.
- Saturn is also the least dense planet in the Solar System.
- Saturn hosts seven rings comprising countless chunks of ice, most no bigger than a boulder on Earth.
- This ice weighs about half as much as Saturn’s moon ‘Mimas’ and stretches nearly 2.8 lakh kilometres from the planet’s surface.
Topic 7: Paralakhemundi, demand for Heritage Tag
Context: The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural heritage (INTACH) has objected to the demolition of the Paralakhemundi railway station built in 1899 and has sought heritage status for it.
The Paralakhemundi railway station:
- Located in the Gajapati district, Paralakhemundi railway station, is one of the oldest stations of Odisha.
- The Maharajas of (Parlakimedi) Paralakhemundi, Goura Chandra Gajapati Narayan Deo II, decided to connect his capital with Naupada and started the Parlakimedi Light Railway in the year 1899-1900.
- In 1902, the British government took Over the Parlakimedi Light Railway.
- The INTACH has demanded that many of the wayside stations of the PLR, including the bridges culverts and other facilities should be preserved as heritage and the existing station should not be demolished or restructured in any way.
Paralakhemundi Royal Estate:
- Paralakhemundi was the largest royal state in the Ganjam district of the madras Presidency.
- The Paralakhemundi kings are believed to be the descended from the Gajapati Kings of Odisha’s Eastern Ganga Dynasty.Topic 8: Cyclone Mocha
- According to experts Mocha is the strongest cyclone on earth so far in this year.
- It has been categorized as an Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and as a ‘Super Cyclone’ by global weather website Zoom Earth.
- Mocha became the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the North Indian Ocean, including for all seasons and in both Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal, since 1982.
- The centre of the Cyclone Mocha made landfall in Myanmar’s Rakhine state near Sittwe.