Topic 1: India’s stand on same-sex marriage
Context: A Bench led by Chief Justice of India referred petitions to legally recognise same-sex marriages to a Constitution Bench of five judges of the Supreme Court.
- The Court has been hearing multiple petitioners’ requests for legal recognition of same-sex marriages under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
- The petitioners cited the Special Marriage Act, 1954, which provides a civil marriage for couples who cannot marry under their personal law, and appealed to the Court to extend the right to the LGBTQIA+ community, by making the marriage between any two persons gender neutral.
Why does the community want this right?
- The LGBTQIA+ couples do not enjoy the rights of married couples.
- For example,
- LGBTQIA+ couples cannot adopt children or have a child by surrogacy;
- they do not have automatic rights to inheritance, maintenance and tax benefits;
- after a partner passes away, they cannot avail of benefits like pension or compensation.
- For example,
- In Navtej Singh Johar (2018), homosexuality was decriminalized and section 377 was struck down by the Court.
The Centre’s stand
- The Centre has opposed same-sex marriage.
- The government said that decriminalisation of Section 377 IPC does not give rise to a claim to seek recognition for same-sex marriage.
- After the K.S. Puttaswamy verdict (2017) which upheld the right to privacy and Navtej Singh Johar (2018) that decriminalised homosexuality, there was hope that same-sex marriages would be legalised, but that has not been the case, prompting many couples to move court.
Overall status of same-sex marriage in India:
- India does not recognise registered marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples.
- Though same-sex couples can attain rights and benefits as a live-in couple.
- A single case of legal recognition of a same-sex marriage was granted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2011.
- In 2022 a private member’s bill was introduced to legalize same-sex marriages under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
Topic 2: Raccoon dogs
Context: A new analysis of genetic data collected from the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, has linked coronavirus to raccoon dogs, adding evidence to the belief that the pandemic might have originated from the infected animals sold at the site.
What are raccoon dogs?
- Raccoon dogs are neither dogs nor raccoons.
- They belong to the canid family and are closely related to foxes.
- They are the only canids that hibernate during the winter.
- Two species of raccoon dogs:
- Nyctereutes procyonoides, the common raccoon dog (the species that was in the Wuhan market) and
- Nyctereutes p. viverrinus, the Japanese raccoon dog.
- Raccoon dogs are originally from East Asia and are commonly found in parts of China, Korea and Japan, where they are known as tanuki.
- They are also found in Europe, where they were first brought in by fur traders in the 1920s.
- Today, raccoon dogs are considered to be a threat to the local ecosystem in Europe.
- In Japan, tanuki is revered.
Topic 3: Late-life depression
What is LLD?
- Late-life depression (LLD) is caused by multiple factors working together.
- It has three broad risk factors:
- psychological, and
- Biological risk factors
- Studies have found some evidence for genetic contribution to LLD.
- Stress that accumulates over one’s life leads to a sustained secretion of cortisol, the hormone that regulates the body’s stress response.
- Increased cortisol levels lead to the loss of brain cells in the hippocampus, which is implicated in memory and learning.
- This brain cell loss can be partially mitigated by the use of antidepressants.
- Vascular depression is associated with brain lesions, which appear as bright spots on brain scans that disrupt brain signalling and brain circuits.
- Heart attacks and heart conditions often lead to LLD, as do diabetes and hip fracture
- Psychological risk factors
- Neuroticis (the personality disposition to experience negative emotions, anger, irritability, and emotional instability) is consistently implicated in LLD.
- Depressed individuals may overreact to life events or misinterpret them.
- Social risk factors
- Lower socioeconomic status has been associated with depression across the life cycle.
- Perceived social support is the most robust predictor of LLD symptoms.
How is late-life depression treated?
- Generally a four-pronged approach is used to treat geriatric depression, involving:
- brain stimulation,
- family therapy.
Topic 4: IQAir Report
Context: The findings of a recent report by Swiss technology company IQAir said 39 of the world’s top 50 most polluted cities were in India.
- What is IQAir?
- IQAir is a Swiss air quality technology company that prepares annual world air quality reports based on data from monitoring stations operated by governments and other institutions and organisations across the world.
- The 2022 report is based on PM2.5 data from 7,323 cities and 131 countries.
- There were six Indian cities in the top 10 with the most polluted air globally, 14 in the top 20, 39 in the top 50 and 65 in the top 100 .
- India had the eighth-most polluted air on average.
- The worst-affected cities from India on the list are all from the northern part of the country, especially the densely-populated Indo-Gangetic Plain, stretching from Punjab in the west to West Bengal in the east.
- Causes of such high pollution in northern India:
- Air pollution from:
- power plants,
- open burning of waste,
- use of solid fuels by poor households and
- dust sources.
- Air pollution from:
- A lot of unorganised industry.
Topic 5: Background radiation in Kerala
Context: In parts of Kerala, background radiation levels are nearly three times more than what’s been assumed, a pan-India study by scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has found.
- What is background radiation?
- Background radiation is a measure of the level of ionizing radiation present in the environment which is not due to deliberate introduction of radiation sources.
- Background radiation originates from a variety of sources, both natural and artificial.
- Background radiations are the radioactive radiations such as alpha, beta, and gamma.
- How radiation occurs?
- Radiation results from the disintegrating nucleus of an unstable element and these can be from anywhere, including from inside our bodies to the constituents of matter.
- Gamma rays are a kind of radiation that can pass unobstructed through matter.
- Though extremely energetic, they are harmless unless present in large concentrated doses.
- Limitations on radiation exposure:
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) specifies maximum radiation exposure levels and this has also been adopted by India’s atomic energy establishment.
- Public exposure should not exceed 1 milli-Sievert every year.
- Those who work in plants shouldn’t be exposed to over 30 milli-Sievert every year.
- Current levels in Kerala:
- The present study found that average natural background levels of gamma radiation in India was roughly 0.8 milli sievert/year.
- This doesn’t mean that those at Kollam are being exposed to higher, dangerous levels of radiation.
- Causes of background radiation in India:
- The higher radiation levels in Kollam (Kerala) are attributed to monazite sands that are high in thorium.
- In southern India, because of the presence of granite and basaltic, volcanic rock has higher levels of radiation from uranium deposits.
|About IAEAThe International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an intergovernmental organization.It seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy.It was established in 1957 as an autonomous organization within the United Nations system.Headquarters : Vienna, Austria.Following the ratification of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1968, all non-nuclear powers are required to negotiate a safeguards agreement with the IAEA.Through this the IAEA is given the authority to monitor nuclear programs and to inspect nuclear facilities.In 2005, the IAEA and its administrative head were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.|
Topic 6: Shree Anna Conference
Context: APEDA organizes Global Millets (Shree Anna) Conference
- Aim of the Conference:
- To stimulate the exports of millets from India and provide market linkage to the producers.
- The Conference organised by APEDA provided a platform for B2B meetings between International and National Buyers, Exporters, Progressive Growers, FPOs of millets to explore direct marketing and export opportunities for millets and its value-added products.
- India’s exports:
- India’s export of Millets is 64 million USD in the year 2021-22.
- There is an increase in export of Millets by 12.5 % as compared to last year.
- The major importing countries were Nepal, UAE and Saudi Arabia in 2021-22.
- Kenya, Pakistan, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, UK, Yemen, Oman and Algeria were also among the potential and top import destinations of India in the last decade.
- India’s production:
- India is the largest producer of millets.
- Major millet-growing states:
- Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh.
- Millet grown in India are:
- Pearl Millet,
- Finger Millet and
- Minor Millets like:
- Proso Millet, Kodo Millet, Little Millet, Foxtail Millet, Browntop Millet, Barnyard Millet, Amaranthus and Buckwheat.
- The Indian government has also been promoting Millet production as part of its National Food Security Mission.
- The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) is an Apex-Export Trade Promotion body of India.
- It functions under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act passed in 1985.
- Administrative set up
- Chairman – Appointed by the Central Government
- Director – Appointed by APEDA
- Secretary – Appointed by the Central Government
- Other Officers and Staff – Appointed by the Authority
- Development of industries relating to the scheduled products for export by way of providing financial assistance or otherwise;
- Registration of persons as exporters of the scheduled products on payment of such fees as may be prescribed;
- Fixing of standards and specifications for the scheduled products for the purpose of exports;
- Carrying out inspection of meat and meat products in slaughter houses or where such products are kept or handled for the purpose of ensuring the quality of such products;
- Improving of packaging of the Scheduled products;
- Improving of marketing of the Scheduled products outside India;
- Promotion of export oriented production and development of the Scheduled products;
- Collection of statistics from the owners of factories or establishments;
- Training in various aspects of the industries connected with the scheduled products;
- Products monitored
- Fruits, Vegetables and their Products.
- Meat and Meat Products.
- Poultry and Poultry Products.
- Dairy Products.
- Confectionery, Biscuits and Bakery Products.
- Honey, Jaggery and Sugar Products.
- Cocoa and its products, chocolates of all kinds.
- Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Beverages.
- Cereal and Cereal Products.
- Groundnuts, Peanuts and Walnuts.
- Pickles, Papads and Chutneys.
- Guar Gum.
- Floriculture and Floriculture Products.
- Herbal and Medicinal Plants.
- De –oiled rice bran.
- Green pepper in brine.
- Cashew Nuts and Its Products.
- Basmati Rice has been included in the Second Schedule of APEDA Act.
- APEDA has been entrusted with the responsibility of monitoring the import of sugar
- Cashew Kernels, Cashewnut Shell Liquid, Cardanol are now under the jurisdiction of APEDA.
Topic 7: India-Bangladesh friendship pipeline
Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline (IBFPL).
- The entire pipeline is 131.5-km long and will be used to supply diesel from India to Bangladesh.
- The construction of the project started in 2018 with the help of India’s grant funding.
- The pipeline will transport 1 million metric ton of high-speed dieselevery year to seven districts of North Bangladesh.
- High speed diesel means any hydrocarbon oil (excluding mineral colza oil and turpentine substitute), which conforms to such specifications for use as fuel in compression ignition engines.
- The pipeline runs from the Siliguri in India to the Parbatipur of Bangladesh.
- The fuel transport deal will be effective for 15 years with an option for further extension.
- India and Bangladesh share 4096.7 Km. of border which passes through Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and West Bengal.
- Bilateral and multilateral relations:
- Diplomatic relations between the two countries formally began in 1971.
- Bangladesh and India are common members of SAARC, BIMSTEC, IORA and the Commonwealth.
- Historical ties:
- Rabindranath Tagore created the national anthems of both Bangladesh and India in 1905 and 1911 respectively.
- River water sharing agreements:
- The Ganga Waters Treaty was signed in 1996 for sharing of waters of river Ganga during lean season.
- The Kushiyara Pact was signed which will benefit people in Southern Assam and the Sylhet region in Bangladesh.
- Defence Exercises:
- Exercise Sampriti
- Bongo Sagar