Topic 1: NEET-PG qualifying percentile reduced to zero
Why in news: The Medical Counselling Committee (MCC), responsible for allotting the post-graduation seats for medical education through NEET-PG exam, said the eligibility for the seats still vacant this year will be zero percentile.
- This is the first time that the eligibility cut-off has been completely done away with since the examination replaced all other medical entrance tests in 2017.
- Removing the eligibility cut-off, in effect, makes anyone who has appeared for the test including those who have scored negative marks eligible for the post-graduation courses.
- It is highly unlikely that candidates scoring zero will get a seat because the allotment will still happen based on the rank they have been assigned.
How is the merit list prepared?
- A rank is assigned to all students automatically at the all-India level based on the marks they have scored on the test.
- This list is used for the allotment of 50% of the PG seats that are available under the all-India quota.
- The list released is expanded when the eligibility criteria changes;
- The cut-off is usually reduced by five or ten percentile towards the end of the counselling process if seats remain vacant.
- A similar merit list is also prepared by each state for the rest of the 50% PG seats for which allotment is done by states.
- The main reason behind the decision is to fill PG seats.
- Usually, the MCC conducts three rounds of counselling and a stray vacancy round of counselling to fill the seats.
- However, despite these efforts, there have been a number of PG seats that have remained vacant over the years.
Impact on seats at private medical colleges
- The increased eligibility is likely to result in the moneyed getting through in private colleges even if they score less than the others.
- Meritorious students who cannot pay the high fees would be left behind while those with fewer marks can get into private colleges if they have money.
- This is like a reverse economic quota.
- There will be trading of seats in private colleges.
Topic 2: Personality rights
Why in news: The Delhi High Court recently allowed Anil Kapoor’s pleas for protection of his personality rights from misuse by third parties.
What is a personality right?
- The name, voice, signature, images or any other feature easily identified by the public are markers of a celebrity’s personality and are referred loosely as “personality rights.”
- These could include a pose, a mannerism or any aspect of their personality.
- Many celebrities even register some aspects as a trademark to use them commercially.
- For example, Usain Bolt’s “bolting” or lightning pose is a registered trademark.
- The idea is that only the owner or creator of these distinct features has the right to derive any commercial benefit from it.
- Exclusivity is a big factor in attracting commercial dividends for celebrities and unauthorised use causes a tangible loss of revenue.
- Celebrities can move the Court and seek an injunction when an unauthorised third party uses their personality rights for commercial purposes.
How does the law protect the right?
- Personality rights or their protection are not expressly mentioned in a statute in India but are traced to fall under the right to privacy and the right to property.
- Many concepts in intellectual property rights used in protection of trademarks such as passing off, deception can be applied while deciding whether a celebrity deserves to be protected through an injunction.
- In the case of Anil Kapoor, the Delhi High Court granted an ex-parte, omnibus injunctionrestraining 16 entities from using Kapoor’s name, likeness, image, using technological tools like Artificial Intelligence, face morphing and even GIFs for monetary gain or commercial purpose.
- An ex-parte injunction is when relief is granted to a party without hearing the other side.
- An omnibus injunction refers to an injunction granted against any unauthorised use- even those that are not mentioned in the plea.
When can the Court grant an injunction?
- In the Titan case, the HC in its order listed out the basic elements comprising the liability for infringement of the right of publicity.
- First, the right has to be valid.
- This means that the Court must be satisfied that the plaintiff owns an enforceable right in the identity or persona of a human being.
- Second, is that the celebrity has to be easily identifiable in the alleged misuse.
- The Celebrity must be identifiable from defendant’s unauthorized use.
- Infringement of right of publicity requires no proof of falsity, confusion, or deception, especially when the celebrity is identifiable.
- First, the right has to be valid.
Topic 3: The Five Eyes Alliance
Why in news: India halted visa services in Canada. Apart from its possible impact on trade and immigration, the issue can also influence the ties these countries share with their close, common allies in the West – which also form the Five Eyes Alliance – an intelligence-sharing grouping.
About the Five Eyes Alliance:
- The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- In spite of continued controversy over its methods, the Five Eyes relationship remains one of the most comprehensive known espionage alliances in human history.
- These partner countries share a broad range of intelligence with one another in one of the world’s most unified multilateral arrangements.
- The alliance’s origins are traced back to the Second World War.
- In 1943, the Britain-USA (BRUSA) agreement laid the foundations for what would become the UK-USA (UKUSA) agreement.
- BRUSA was signed to share intelligence information between the two countries to support US forces in Europe, exchange personnel and develop joint regulations for the handling and distribution of highly sensitive material.
- Canada joined it in 1949, and New Zealand and Australia did so in 1956, forming the alliance.
How does the Five Eyes Alliance work?
- Countries often engage with each other on matters of intelligence gathering and security.
- In recent years, common interests, such as balancing the rise of China, have led to a closer alignment among the Five Eyes countries.
- They exchange views of mutual interest, compare best practices, hold conference calls throughout the year and gather in person annually.
Role of Five Eyes in the current India-Canada issue:
- Countries like the US, the UK and Australia especially are seen as close to India.
- They also have significant Indian and Indian-origin populations within them, similar to Canada.
- Further, they have also seen some instances of pro-Khalistan activities in the last few years.
- But due to their historical closeness to Canada and the alliance on one hand, and India increasingly asserting itself when it comes to global affairs on the other, showcasing outright support for India or Canada is unlikely.
- However, given the state of ties, these countries, particularly the United States, could play a mediating role in the issue once they have clear intelligence and information on the matter.
- Canada could also approach the US and other partners to share information on the investigation, given their wider networks and capabilities.
Topic 4: Why Gandhi opposed caste-based separate electorates
Why in news: In the month of September 1932, at the Yerawada Central Jail in Pune, Gandhi began fasting unto death against the award of separate electorates to harijans.
Gandhi’s views on caste
- Orthodox views:
- In his early days, Gandhi’s views on caste were extremely orthodox.
- He supported prohibitions on inter-dining and inter-marriage, and held caste to be vital to Hinduism.
- However, as he became the central figure in India’s national movement, his views evolved, partially due to the nascent Dalit movement.
- Against untouchability:
- Gandhi began to preach the gospel of unity and shunned untouchability, referring to untouchables as harijans (children of God).
- However, Gandhi’s criticism of untouchability did not lead to him rejecting the institution of caste itself, which, as Ambedkar put it, would require Gandhi to reject the very basis behind caste — the Hindu religion.
Ambedkar’s views on caste
- Ambedkar’s position was far more radical than Gandhi and other upper caste reformers like him.
- He saw this reformism as inadequate to undo millenia of discrimination.
- According to him, any revolt against the caste system would only be possible after the oppressed themselves rejected their condition and oppression as being divinely ordained.
- For Ambedkar, bringing an end to the caste system would only be possible if the divine authority of the shastras (holy scriptures) was rejected first.
- Thus, his political programme emphasised on lower castes obtaining political power.
Ambedkar’s arguments for separate electorates
- According to him, the depressed classes form a group by themselves which is distinct and separate.
- Although they are included among the Hindus, they in no sense form an integral part of that community.
- The Depressed Classes feel that they will get no shred of political power unless the political machinery for the new constitution is of a special make.
- He supported separate electorates with double vote – one for SCs to vote for an SC candidate and the other for SCs to vote for in the general electorate.
- While he had previously rejected communal electorates (i.e. separate electorates for Hindus and Muslims), his position changed over time.
- He realised that while joint electorates might better help integrate lower castes into the Hindu fold, they would do little to challenge their subservient position.
- He felt that the system of unqualified joint electorates enabled the majority to influence the election of the representatives of the dalits community, and thus disabled them for defending the interests of their oppression against the tyranny of the majority.
Gandhi’s opposition to separate electorates:
- Gandhi argued that rather than being restricted to just this measly share of seats, lower castes should aspire to rule the kingdom of the whole world.
- However, the reality of lower castes’ material and social condition was not likely to put them in a position to rule the world.
- Gandhi’s opposition also stemmed from the fear that separate electorates would destroy Hinduism by driving a wedge within the community. This was especially important for two strategic reasons.
- First, Gandhi rightly understood how the British had exploited internal divisions in Indian society for their own purposes.
- Separate electorates, according to him, would only help the British ‘divide and rule’.
- Second, this was also a time when antagonism between Hindus and Muslims was rising.
- If separate electorates for lower castes would be announced in addition to those for Muslims, this would significantly reduce the power that caste Hindu leadership enjoyed by breaking the consolidated Hindu fold.
- First, Gandhi rightly understood how the British had exploited internal divisions in Indian society for their own purposes.
The Yerawada fast and the Poona Pact
- On September 20, 1932, while imprisoned in the Yerawada Jail in Pune, Gandhi began a fast unto death against the British decision to create separate electorates based on caste.
- This put Ambedkar in a tricky situation.
- On one hand, he disagreed with Gandhi’s political alternative (i.e. reservations) as he believed that even with reserved seats, upper castes would numerically dominate lower castes, blunting possibilities for more radical social change by determining which lower caste candidate to vote for.
- On the other, Gandhi was the nation’s most loved political leader, and if something were to happen to him, the fledgling Dalit movement might bear heavy consequences – including the possibility of violence against defenceless Dalits by upper castes.
- Thus, Ambedkar succumbed to Gandhi’s pressure, inking what would be known as the Poona Pact.
- The pact secured reservations for lower castes but put the question of separate electorates to bed.
Topic 5: Humans breach most of the planetary boundaries
Why in news: As per a study, six out of nine planetary boundaries, which can be imagined as blood pressure, that make Earth healthy and habitable have been transgressed because of human-induced pollution and destruction of the natural world, according to a new study.
- The broken boundaries show Earth’s life-support systems have been driven far away from the safe operating space for humanity that existed during the Holocene period.
- The period started with the end of the last ice age and the start of the Industrial Revolution.
- It’s characterised by relatively stable and warm planetary conditions.
What are the planetary boundaries?
- Planet boundaries are a framework that identifies guardrails for humanity’s impacts on the Earth system.
- It sets limits on how much humans can be allowed to impact not only the climate but also other global processes that are essential for maintaining conditions on the planet to support modern civilisations.
- Developed in 2009, the framework includes nine planet boundaries that scientists believe capture all of the processes critical for maintaining the Earth’s system state.
- For each of the boundaries, control variables are chosen to capture the most important anthropogenic influence at the planetary level of the boundary in focus.
These boundaries and their control variables are:
- Biosphere integrity:
- The health of ecosystems and rate of extinction of species.
- Climate change:
- Atmospheric CO2 concentration and the change in radiative forcing — a measure of the balance of energy from sunlight that hits Earth, in comparison with thermal energy the planet loses.
- Novel entities:
- Levels of plastic, concrete, synthetic chemicals, gene-modified organisms, etc. that would not be found on Earth if we humans were not here.
- Stratospheric ozone depletion:
- The anthropogenic release of manufactured chemicals that destroy ozone molecules.
- Freshwater change:
- It includes an examination of the human-induced impact on blue water (found in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs) and green water (available in the soil for plants and soil microorganisms)
- Atmospheric aerosol loading:
- Tracking various particles from anthropogenic emissions that affect cloud formation as well as global and regional atmospheric circulation.
- Ocean acidification:
- Reduction in the pH of the ocean over an extended period of time.
- Land system change:
- Changes in land use, especially the conversion of tropical forests to farmland.
- Biogeochemical flow:
- Alteration in the natural flows and the forms of nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, which are essential elements for plant growth.
Findings of the study
- Out of the nine planetary boundaries, humans have breached six:
- climate change,
- biosphere integrity,
- freshwater change,
- land system change,
- biogeochemical flows and
- novel entities.
- While atmospheric aerosol loading and ozone depletion remain within the constraints, ocean acidification is close to being breached.
- Overflow of nitrogen and phosphorusin the environment:
- Although nitrogen and phosphorus are essential for life, their widespread use as crop fertilisers is wreaking havoc by, for instance, triggering algal blooms (it can cause entire fish populations to leave an area or even die) and ocean dead zones (a reduced level of oxygen in the water).
- Biosphere integrity boundary:
- Researchers have also noted that the biosphere integrity boundary was violated in the last 19th century when acceleration in land use caused a strong impact on numerous species.
- In the case of freshwater, the boundary was breached last century, between 1905 and 1929.
- Rising levels of novel entities in the environment:
- Humans have been releasing unprecedented amounts of synthetic chemicals like pesticides and plastic, without adequate safety testing for decades.
- This is destabilising and harming the Earth’s system.
- Land system change:
- Land-use conversion and fires are causing rapid change in forest area, and deforestation of the Amazon tropical forest has increased such that it has now transgressed the planetary boundary.
- Climate change:
- For climate change, the analysis notes that both the atmospheric CO2 concentration and radiative forcing are steadily increasing.
- For instance, CO2 concentration currently stands at 417 parts per million (ppm), whereas it was just 280 ppm before the Industrial Revolution.
- Its safe boundary limit is 350 ppm, which was breached in the 1980s.
- Planetary boundaries aren’t like tipping points.
- Therefore, if humans do away with fossil fuel burning and end destructive farming, the transgressed boundaries can be brought back into space operating space.
- Notably, the one improving boundary, the stratospheric ozone depletion boundary, is recovering owing to the combined international efforts initiated by the Montreal Protocol in 1987.
- This level of coordinated change may help in dealing with other boundaries.
Topic 6: Battle of Haifa
Why in news: Recently, diplomats from India’s Embassy in Israel and Israeli government officials representing the municipality of the northern port city of Haifa gather at the Haifa War Cemetery to pay respects to the Indian soldiers who were killed and wounded in battle, on foreign soil.
- Historical background
- The Battle of Haifa was fought during First World War as a part of the Sinai and Palestine campaign.
- The British Empire, the Kingdom of Italy and the French Third Republic, fought alongside the Arab Revolt, in opposition to the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the German Empire.
- It resulted in the Partition of the Ottoman Empire, leading to the eventual creation of:
- the Republic of Turkey in 1923,
- the Kingdom of Iraq in 1932,
- the Lebanese Republic in 1943,
- the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and
- the Syrian Arab Republic in 1946, and
- the State of Israel in 1948.
- The involvement of the Indian lancers
- Just weeks after the start of the First World War in 1914, news reached the princely state of Jodhpur in the Indian subcontinent.
- That prompted Sir Pratap Singh, a British Indian Army officer, also the Maharaja of the princely state of Idar (modern-day Gujarat), and administrator and Regent of Jodhpur, to assure the British that the resources of the princely state to be used for the war.
- In the case of the Battle of Haifa, the princely state of Jodhpur provided at its own expense horses, transport tents, saddlery, clothing and other equipment.
- Both regiments of the Jodhpur Lancers were combined to form one unit for mobilisation for the purposes of the First World War.
- The Battle of Haifa
- Haifa had been held by the Ottoman forces.
- The 5th Cavalry Division comprising the 13, 14 and 15 Cavalry Brigades were tasked with capturing Haifa.
- The 15 Cavalry Brigade comprised the Jodhpur Lancers and the Mysore and Hyderabad Lancers.
- It was really Jodhpur Lancers, supported by Mysore Lancers who secured Haifa.
- Jodhpur lancers’ cavalry just had a lance—a 12 feet long weapon of bamboo with swords.
- The Ottoman Turks were on a height with rifles, machine guns and field artillery.
- Despite the advantages that the Ottoman Turks had with machine guns that could shoot hundreds of bullets rapidly, the regiment of the Jodhpur Lancers killed and captured many, in addition to several arms and ammunition.
- Haifa Day
- After the 5th Cavalry Division secured victory, the achievement has since been celebrated as Haifa Day.
- In 1953, a new cavalry regiment was raised, and Jodhpur, Gwalior, Mysore, Hyderabad were merged into one and it is called the 61st Cavalry regiment, now based in Jaipur.
- Since then, the 61st Cavalry regiment has commemorated Haifa Day and has ‘Haifa’ as its battle honours.
- Jodhpur got the battle honour ‘Haifa’ because of their charge and they gave their battle honour to the 61st Cavalry.
- Teen Murti Chowk
- After the victory in Haifa, the three maharajas who had sent lancers to fight as part of the British Indian Army, decided to erect a monument in Delhi, to commemorate the victory and the contribution of the Indian soldiers.
- The maharajas contributed 3,000 pounds each and made the Teen Murti statues in Delhi for the unknown soldiers of Hyderabad, Mysore and Jodhpur and it was inaugurated by the viceroy in March 1922.
- In 2018, the Teen Murti Chowk was renamed Teen Murti Haifa Chowk to mark the centenary of the Battle of Haifa.
Topic 7: Pterygotrigla intermedica
Why in news: Scientists have discovered a new species of a vibrant orange coloured deep water marine fish from Digha Mohana in West Bengal.
- The new species, commonly known as gurnards or sea-robins, belongs to the family Triglidae.
- Named Pterygotrigla intermedica, it has characters quite similar to species like Pterygotrigla hemisticta.
- It is the fourth species of Pterygotrigla genus reported in India so far and there are a total 178 species of the Triglidae family worldwide.
Topic 8: Maiden India-Indonesia-Australia Trilateral Maritime Exercise
Why in news: Indian Naval Ship Sahyadri Participates In The Maiden India-Indonesia-Australia Trilateral Maritime Exercise
- Indian Navy’s indigenously built warship INS Sahyadri, participated in the maiden trilateral Maritime Partnership Exercise with the ships and aircraft from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Indonesian Navy.
- The trilateral exercise provided an opportunity for the three maritime nations to strengthen their partnership and improve their collective capability to support a stable, peaceful and secure Indo-Pacific region.
- About INS Sahyadri:
- INS Sahyadri, the third ship of the indigenously designed and built Project-17 class multirole stealth frigates was built at Mazagon Dock Ltd.