Topic 1: Matangini Hazra and Kanaklata Barua
Context: During her address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day, President of India paid tributes to women freedom fighters.
- She was born in a village named Hogla, near Tamluk, West Bengal in 1869.
- Matangini was the daughter of a poor farmer who could not afford to provide her a formal education.
- With no means to raise a decent dowry, she found herself married at 12 and was widowed at 18.
- Matangani’s love for Gandhi was so great that she became known in our village as Gandhiburi, the old Gandhian woman.
- At the age of 61, she was arrested for taking part in the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930 and the Salt March led by Gandhi.
- She became an active member of the Indian National Congress and started spinning her own khadi in Gandhi’s footsteps.
- Her involvement with the freedom struggle intensified during the Quit India Movement launched by Gandhi in August 1942.
- In September that year, a 73-year-old Hazra led a large procession of around 6,000 protesters, mostly women.
- The procession marched with the aim to take over the Tamluk police station from British authorities.
- British police personnel shot at her thrice.
- She collapsed and died, chanting ‘Vande Mataram’.
- In 1977, the first statue in the Kolkata Maidan dedicated to a woman revolutionary was that of Matangini Hazra.
- One of the youngest martyrs of the Quit India Movement, Kanaklata Barua has an iconic status in Assam.
- Barua led the Mrityu Bahini, a procession of freedom fighters, to unfurl the Tricolour at Gohpur police station on September 20, 1942.
- When police did not let them move forward, an altercation led to firing, killing Barua at the head of the procession.
- The squad strictly admitted members aged 18 and above but Kanaklata was an exception.
Topic 2: Cloudburst
Context: Following heavy rains in Himachal Pradesh, landslides have occurred in the state.
About a cloudburst
- A cloudburst is a localised but intense rainfall activity.
- While it can also occur in plains, the phenomenon is most common in hilly regions.
- Not all instances of very heavy rainfall, however, are cloudbursts.
- A cloudburst has a very specific definition:
- Rainfall of 10 cm or more in an hour over a roughly 10 km x 10 km area is classified as a cloudburst event.
- By this definition, 5 cm of rainfall in a half-hour period over the same area would also be categorised as a cloudburst.
- Average rainfall in India:
- In a normal year, India, as a whole, receives about 116 cm of rainfall over the entire year.
- This means if the entire rainfall everywhere in India during a year was spread evenly over its area, the total accumulated water would be 116 cm high.
- There are huge geographical variations in rainfall within the country, and some areas receive over 10 times more than that amount in a year.
- But on average, any place in India can be expected to receive about 116 cm of rain in a year.
- Cloudburst vs average rainfall:
- During a cloudburst event, a place receives about 10% of this annual rainfall within an hour.
How common are cloudbursts?
- Cloudbursts are not uncommon events, particularly during the monsoon months.
- Most of these happen in the Himalayan states where the local topology, wind systems, and temperature gradients between the lower and upper atmosphere facilitate the occurrence of such events.
- These events are highly localized.
- They take place in very small areas which are often devoid of rainfall-measuring instruments.
- The consequences of these events, however, are not confined to small areas.
- Because of the nature of the terrain, the heavy rainfall events often trigger landslides and flash floods, causing extensive destruction downstream.
- This is the reason why every sudden downpour that leads to the destruction of life and property in the hilly areas gets described as a “cloudburst”, irrespective of whether the amount of rainfall meets the defining criteria.
Can cloudbursts be forecast?
- The Indian Metrological Department forecasts rainfall events well in advance, but it does not predict the quantum of rainfall.
- The forecasts can be about light, heavy, or very heavy rainfall, but weather scientists do not have the capability to predict exactly how much rain is likely to fall at any given place.
- The forecasts are for a relatively large geographical area, at best at a district level.
- As they zoom in over smaller areas, the forecasts get more and more uncertain.
- Specific cloudburst events cannot be forecast.
Topic 3: Aditya-L1 mission
Context: The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) released images of the Aditya-L1 mission.
About the Aditya-L1 mission
- The Aditya-L1 will observe the Sun from a close distance, and try to obtain information about its atmosphere and magnetic field.
- It’s equipped with seven payloads (instruments) on board to study the Sun’s corona, solar emissions, solar winds and flares, and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), and will carry out round-the-clock imaging of the Sun.
- Aditya L1 will perform continuous observations looking directly at the Sun.
Significance of studying the Sun
- The solar weather and environment affect the weather of the entire solar system.
- Variations in this weather can change the orbits of satellites or shorten their lives, interfere with or damage onboard electronics, and cause power blackouts and other disturbances on Earth.
- Knowledge of solar events is key to understanding space weather.
- To learn about and track Earth-directed storms, and to predict their impact, continuous solar observations are needed.
- Every storm that emerges from the Sun and heads towards Earth passes through L1, and a satellite placed in the halo orbit around L1 of the Sun-Earth system has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation/eclipses.
- L1 refers to Lagrangian/Lagrange Point 1, one of five points in the orbital plane of the Earth-Sun system.
- Lagrange Points, named after Italian-French mathematician Josephy-Louis Lagrange, are positions in space where the gravitational forces of a two-body system (like the Sun and the Earth) produce enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion.
- These can be used by spacecraft to reduce fuel consumption needed to remain in position.
- The L1 point is home to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Satellite (SOHO), an international collaboration project of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).
- The L1 point is about 1.5 million km from Earth, or about one-hundredth of the way to the Sun.
Topic 4: Nutrition and Tuberculosis
Context: According to recent reports, nutritional support has helped prevent both tuberculosis (TB) among household contacts and mortality among TB patients in a trial in Jharkhand.
- In 2017, the World Health Organization had estimated that undernutrition is responsible for twice the number of TB cases than HIV globally.
- Any attempt to end/eliminate TB in India by 2025 will become possible only if undernutrition among people is addressed.
- As per conservative estimates, 40% of new TB cases annually in India are due to undernutrition.
Key achievements of the trial
- A large field-based trial was undertaken between August 2019 and August 2022 in four districts of Jharkhand in collaboration with the National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP) and the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis-Indian Council of Medical Research (NIRT-ICMR).
- The trial was named the RATIONS (Reducing Activation of Tuberculosis by Improvement of Nutritional Status) trial.
- There was 5% weight gain in the first two months which was associated with 60% lower risk of TB mortality.
- As per a 2022 study undertaken in India, the absence of weight gain during treatment in patients with severe undernutrition was associated with a five-fold higher death rate.
- Among the household contacts, nutritional support led to a 39%-48% reduction in TB disease in the intervention group compared with the control arm.
- There was a 39% reduction in TB incidence — pulmonary and extra-pulmonary — while there was 48% reduction in pulmonary TB.
What was the nutritional support provided?
- Each adult household contact in the intervention arm received 5 kg of rice, 1.5 kg of split pigeon peas (tur dal), and micronutrient pills every month for six months.
- Each child (below 10 years) household contact received 50% of the adult nutrition support.
- For TB patients, monthly nutritional support included 5 kg of rice, 1.5 kg of milk powder, 3 kg of roasted chickpea flour, 500 ml of oil, and micronutrient pills for a period of six months for people with drug-susceptible TB, and 12 months for people with MDR-TB.
Effect of undernutrition
- Many new cases of TB are attributable to five risk factors:
- HIV infection,
- alcohol use disorders,
- smoking (especially among men) and
- In TB-endemic countries such as India, undernutrition is the most widely prevalent risk factor, accounting for the highest population attributable risk for TB in India.
- It is also responsible for increased TB disease severity, higher mortality and poor treatment outcomes.
- A study in India found that severe undernutrition at diagnosis was associated with a two-fold higher risk of death.
- Undernutrition is an important risk factor for progression of latent TB infection to TB disease.
- It increases the risk of drug toxicity, TB relapse and mortality.
- For each unit reduction in BMI, the risk of TB increases by about 14%.
- Undernourished patients also tend to have poor bioavailability of drugs such as rifampicin, leading to treatment failure and development of multidrug resistance.
- Tuberculosis is a disease caused by infection with the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
- The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain.
- Two TB-related conditions exist:
- Latent TB.
- You have a TB infection, but the bacteria in your body are inactive and cause no symptoms.
- Latent TB, also called inactive TB or TB infection, isn’t contagious.
- Latent TB can turn into active TB.
- Active TB.
- Also called TB disease, this condition makes you sick and, in most cases, can spread to others.
- It can occur weeks or years after infection with the TB bacteria.
- Latent TB.
- Antibiotics are the mainstay treatment of TB.
- However, the bacteria has been known to become resistant and find a way to beat these antibiotics.
- Drug-resistant strains of TB have become a global concern.
Prevalence in India
- When India gained independence in 1947, there were about half a million TB deaths annually and an estimated 2.5 million Indians suffered from active tuberculosis.
- In 1948, a TB vaccination program commenced.
- The BCG vaccine protects against the most severe forms of TB, such as TB meningitis in children, but it doesn’t protect against TB in adults.
- India’s first national survey of TB, conducted from 1955 to 1958, found on average four of every 1,000 people in India had TB.
- The National Tuberculosis Institute was established in 1959 and an interdisciplinary group conducted a series of research studies that culminated in the National Tuberculosis Programme in 1963.
- The key strategy of the program was to use chemotherapy to treat TB.
Key initiatives by Indian government for elimination of TB:
- Ni-kshay Mitra:
- The President launched the Ni-kshay Mitra initiative to ensure additional diagnostic, nutritional, and vocational support to those on TB treatment.
- The Ni-kshay 2.0 portal will facilitate in providing additional patient support to improve treatment outcome of TB patients
- It will augment community involvement in meeting India’s commitment to end TB by 2025 and leveraging Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) opportunities.
- The National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme
- The National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (NTEP), previously known as Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), aims to strategically reduce TB burden in India by 2025, five years ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- In 2020, the RNTCP was renamed as the National TB Elimination Program (NTEP) to emphasize the aim of the Government of India to eliminate TB in India by 2025.
- It reached over a billion people in 632 districts/reporting units and is responsible for carrying out the Government of India’s five-year National Strategic Plans for TB elimination along with the States/UTs.
- The National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination
- The National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination was launched to achieve the target of ending TB by 2025 in a mission mode.
- It is a multi-pronged approach which aims to detect all TB patients with an emphasis on reaching TB patients seeking care from private providers and undiagnosed TB in high-risk populations.
- Ni-kshay Poshan Yojana:
- Ni-kshay Poshan Yojana (NPY) helped meet the nutritional requirements of TB patients, especially the underserved.
- From 2018 till present, around ₹1,707 crore has been disbursed to more than 65 lakh people on TB treatment across the country.
- Patient Provider Support Agencies
- As part of engaging the private sector, Patient Provider Support Agencies (PPSA) have been rolled out across 250 districts through the domestic setup and JEET initiative, leading to 32% of all TB patients being notified from the private sector.
- Improved diagnostics:
- The pandemic has led to improved access to the more accurate molecular diagnostic tests like CB-NAAT and TureNat that were also used to test for Covid-19.
- The government has also implemented a universal drug susceptibility test, meaning that antibiotic susceptibility of the mycobacterium is determined for all newly diagnosed cases.
- New drugs:
- Newer drugs such as Bedaquiline and Delamanid for the treatment of drug-resistant TB have been included in the government’s basket of drugs provided free TB patients.
- These oral drugs can replace the injectable kanamycin that was associated with serious side effects like kidney problems and deafness.
- These new drugs have also been included in the new National List of Essential Medicines that gives the government power to regulate their market price as well.
- TB continues to be a significant public health issue in our country.
- Therefore, the TB programmes should lay emphasis on detection and treatment of latent tuberculosis to decrease the likelihood of active TB and to achieve the targets of TB elimination.
Topic 5: Cauvery water sharing issue
Context: Recently, the Tamil Nadu government urged the Supreme Court to direct Karnataka to ensure the release of water as per the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT)’s final award of February 2007 that was modified by the SC in 2018.
The dispute over Cauvery water
- The use and development of Cauvery waters were regulated by agreements of 1892 and 1924 between the erstwhile princely state of Mysore and the Madras presidency.
- The 1924 agreement had been necessary because Madras had objected to Mysore building the Krishnarajasagar dam across the Cauvery, and the agreement facilitated it by allowing Madras to build the Mettur dam.
- A significant feature of the agreement was that it put restrictions on the extent of area that could be safely irrigated by the two states by using the Cauvery waters.
- The 802-km-long Cauvery river, which originateas at Talacauvery in Kodagu district in Karnataka, traverses mainly through Karnataka and Tamil Nadu while its basin covers areas in Kerala (which has three of its tributaries), and Karaikal region of Pondicherry, (now Puducherry) as well.
- The basic dispute has always been about the sharing of waters in the Cauvery Basin.
- As per the 1892 and 1924 agreements the approximate river water allotments were as follows:
- 75% to Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry,
- 23% to Karnataka, and
- the rest to Kerala .
Cauvery Fact Finding Committee:
- In 1976, a final draft was prepared based on findings of the a Cauvery Fact Finding Committee (CFFC) .
- This draft was accepted by all states and the union government also made an announcement to that effect in Parliament.
- However, Tamil Nadu came under President’s rule soon after that and the agreement was put on the backburner.
- The successive AIADMK governmentrejected the draft agreement and insisted that the 1924 agreement had only provided for an extension and not a review.
- It demanded that a status quo should be restored and everyone should go back to the agreements of 1892 and 1924.
The Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal
- In 1986, a farmer’s association from Tanjavur in Tamil Nadu moved the Supreme Court demanding the constitution of a tribunal for adjudication for the Cauvery water dispute.
- In 1990, the Supreme Court, while hearing the petition, directed the two states to complete negotiations.
- Following the failure of negotiations between the two states, the Supreme Court directed the union government to constitute a tribunal to adjudicate the dispute and pass an award and allocate water among the four states.
- In accordance with the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956, the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal was constituted on June 2, 1990 with Chittatosh Mookerjee, retired chief justice of the Bombay High Court, as Chairman.
- Justice Mookerjee resigned in 1999 and N.P. Singh was appointed in his place.
- Thereafter, the four parties to the dispute—Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Pondicherry — presented their demands to the Tribunal as under:
- Karnataka: 465 TMC
- Kerala: 99.8 TMC
- Pondicherry : 9.3 TMC
- Tamil Nadu – the flow of the water should be in accordance with the terms of the agreements of 1892 and 1924; that is:
- 566 TMC for Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry;
- 177 TMC for Karnataka and
- 5 TMC for Kerala.
Final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal
- In 2007, the three-member Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal delivered its final award on.
- While considering that the total availability of water the Cauvery basin spread across the 4 states is 740 TMC in a “normal year” the Tribunal has allocated the water as follows:
- Tamil Nadu: 419 TMC (which had demanded 512 TMC),
- Karnataka: 270 TMC (which had demanded 465 TMC),
- Kerala: 30 TMC, and
- Pondicherry: 7 TMC
- Besides allocating 726 TMC for the four states, the award reserves 10 TMC for environmental purposes and 4 TMC for inevitable outlets into the sea.
How is the water being shared?
- A monthly schedule is in place for Karnataka, the upper riparian State of the Cauvery basin, to release water to Tamil Nadu.
- As per the schedule, Karnataka is to make available to Tamil Nadu at Biligundlu a total quantity of 177.25 TMC in a normal water year (June to May).
- Of this quantity, 123.14 TMC is to be given during the period from June to September, also marking the season of the southwest monsoon.
- It is during this period that the Cauvery issue gets flared up, when the monsoon yields lower rainfall than anticipated.
- After the SC gave its judgment in 2018 on the CWDT’s 2007 award, the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) were established to ensure the implementation of the judgment.
The current issue:
- Karnataka would have to provide 0.86 TMC a day or 12.9 TMC totally in the 15 days.
- The Authority also decided that based on future rainfall, there would be a re-evaluation of the quantity to be released.
- But, what apparently irked Tamil Nadu was the refusal of Karnataka to abide by the quantity that was agreed upon at the meeting.
Arguments of Karnataka:
- Karnataka has contended that lower rainfall in the Cauvery catchment including in Kerala has led to the poor inflow to its own reservoirs.
- According to data of the Meteorological Department, Kodagu, received 44% less rainfall during June 1-August 15 than what it was expected to experience.
- Karnataka had refused to accept the demand of Tamil Nadu for following a distress-sharing formula.
- Tamil Nadu, especially its farmers in the Cauvery delta, is eagerly awaiting to see whether Karnataka will go at least by the decision of the Authority.
- The present storage of the Mettur reservoir in Tamil Nadu is precariously low with about 20 TMC, which will last only 10 days after giving allowance for dead storage and drinking water requirements, even though water will be required at least for one more month for the standing short-term crop, kuruvai.
Topic 6: Permanent security units for all courts
Context: The Supreme Court has proposed “permanent security units” to guard court complexes across the country, recalling incidents of gunfire and violence on court premises.
Need for permanent security units:
- In the past year, courts in India have witnessed at least three major incidents of gunfire.
- Hence it is critical that judicial institutions take comprehensive steps to safeguard the well-being of all stakeholders.
- The Supreme court has asked the High Courts to prepare security plans in consultation with the Principal Home Secretaries, Directors-General of Police and Police Commissioners to protect the courts.
- The security plan may include a proposal for setting up of permanent court security unit(s) in each complex.
- The security plan ought to indicate the:
- strength and source of drawing of manpower for these security units, including armed and unarmed personnel and supervisory officers for each unit,
- the minimum term and mode of deployment of manpower,
- their list of duties
- additional financial benefits,
- special modules for training and
- sensitising personnel in matters of court security.
Topic 7: Rajasthan’s Annapurna scheme
Context: The Annapurna food packet scheme, launched by the Rajasthan government in is set to benefit about 1.10 crore people.
- The beneficiaries will include poor and destitute families covered in a survey during the pandemic among others.
- The scheme is primarily meant for the families covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
- Free food packets would be supplied to the poor families, which had received an assistance of ₹5,500 each during the pandemic, in addition to the NFSA families.
- The State government will spend ₹4,500 crore annually on the scheme’s implementation.
- Eligible beneficiaries will get the Annapurna food packets every month from the fair price shops (FPS) for free, for which the FPS will get a commission of ₹10 per packet.
- Each packet will contain:
- one kg each of gram pulses,
- sugar and iodised salt,
- one litre soybean refined edible oil,
- 100 gram each of chilli powder and coriander powder, and
- 50 gram turmeric powder.
Topic 8: Vishwakarma Yojana
Context: Prime Minister of India recently announced a scheme for artisans — Vishwakarma Yojana.
About the scheme:
- This scheme will provide empowerment and support to the traditional industries coming under the MSME sector.
- It will have an allocation of up to ₹15,000 crore to help skill development among the youth.
- The scheme was announced in this year’s budget for traditional artisans and craftspeople to enable them to improve the quality, scale and reach of their products to integrate them with the MSME value chain.
- The components of the scheme will include:
- financial support
- access to advanced skill training,
- knowledge of modern digital techniques and efficient green technologies,
- brand promotion,
- linkage with local and global markets,
- digital payments, and
- social security.
Topic 9: California’s Redwoods
Context: A mission to undo decades of damage to the redwoods of California caused by unchecked logging involves even more logging and chain saws.
- California is home to the world’s only native coast redwood forest, which extends more than 450 miles from central California north to southern Oregon.
- A recent study found that the forest is drying as temperatures increase.
- Average summer temperatures in California have risen 3 degrees since the end of the 19th century.
- About the redwood tree:
- It is also known as Sequoia sempervirens.
- It is the sole living species of the genus Sequoia in the cypress family Cupressaceae.
- It is an evergreen, long-lived, monoecious tree living 1,200–2,200 years or more.
- This species includes the tallest living trees on Earth.
- These trees are also among the longest-living organisms on Earth.
- Before commercial logging and clearing began by the 1850s, this massive tree occurred naturally..
- Because of their height, many redwoods are at risk since they have to pump water hundreds of feet against gravity and friction.
- Hotter droughts in particular, like those that occurred here between 2012 and 2016, can stress trees to their breaking point.
- Wildfires also pose greater risks as conditions become warmer.
- Redwood logging of second- and third-generation redwoods still poses environmental problems.
- Possible solutions
- Identifying “potential elder trees,” or second-growth redwoods, that have the best characteristics to become sky-scraping titans which can provide a home for large fern mats.
- These small ecosystems that can weigh hundreds of pounds and hold up to 5,000 gallons of water.
- Ferns, lichen and moss grow in them, and salamanders, spotted owls and bats reside in the trees.
- We can identify these exceptional trees and promote them by removing the competition.
- It’s about creating a tree that’s going to last for a thousand years, allowing a tree to reach its potential.
- Identifying “potential elder trees,” or second-growth redwoods, that have the best characteristics to become sky-scraping titans which can provide a home for large fern mats.