Topic 1 : Woke: What does the word mean?
Why in news: Rashtriya Swayamsevak chief termed “cultural Marxists or woke” people as deceitful and destructive forces in the country, in his speech.
Origin of the word:
- The word ‘woke’ has its origins in the United States and has become a focus of cultural debate of late.
- Initially, it was used within Black communities, derived from the word ‘awake’.
- The Merriam-Webster Dictionary explains:
- Woke is a slang term that is easing into the mainstream from some varieties of a dialect called African American Vernacular English (sometimes called AAVE).
- In AAVE, awake is often rendered as woke.
- It signalled the need to stay aware or vigilant in the face of threats of violence, with laws still denying basic rights to Black people in many spheres of life, ranging from their free movement to voting.
- Its usage increased as an organised fight for recognition solidified.
The global usage of woke
- Woke was added to the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster in 2017.
- Conservative politicians in Europe and Australia have mocked ideas of inclusivity as ‘woke’, using it to also mean causes of gender equality and environmental conservation.
- On the BBC documentary ‘India: The Modi Question’, a RSS leader wrote that the BBC’s decline was because of the rise of woke culture in British elites.
- For progressive groups, the word’s now-common usage means many are not aware of its activism-heavy history.
- It has gotten divorced from these roots and is now casually used, including by those who already are powerful in society, to sound politically correct without taking any meaningful action.
- Those who are actually facing the reality of having to ‘stay woke’ and are marginalised in society are at times too far away from these debates to even use it as a political slogan.
- Another example of the term’s empty usage is companies who simply put it in ad campaigns to gain traction.
- For conservatives, woke means an identity-driven way of driving change, and particularly in the US this is at odds with ideas of liberalism and capitalism.
- It means that anyone who wants to be successful can make it through hard work alone, and social identities are no longer determining such things.Topic 2 : India-Sri Lanka Vision Document
Why in news: India and Sri Lanka recently adopted a ‘vision document’ for a deeper economic partnership.
The ‘vision document’ of India- Sri Lankan ties
- The ‘vision document’ adopted is based on five pillars:
- maritime connectivity;
- air connectivity;
- energy and power connectivity;
- trade, economic and financial connectivity, and
- people-to-people connectivity.
- Maritime connectivity:
- On maritime connectivity, it outlines cooperation in development of ports and logistics at Colombo, Trincomalee and Kankesanthurai.
- It aims to consolidate regional logistics and shipping.
- It also talks of resumption of passenger ferry services between Nagapattinam in India and Kankesanthurai in Sri Lanka besides working towards early resumption of ferry services between Rameshwaram and Talaimannar.
- Expansion of flight operations:
- The document also mentions expansion of flights between Chennai and Colombo, besides exploring connectivity between Chennai and Trincomalee, Batticaloa and other destinations in Sri Lanka.
- This will encourage and strengthen investment and cooperation in civil aviation, including augmentation of airport infrastructure.
- Energy and power:
- On energy and power connectivity, the two sides plan to establish a high capacity power grid interconnection.
- It will enable bidirectional electricity trade between Sri Lanka and other regional countries, including those of the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) initiative.
- This has the potential to not only bring down the costs of electricity in Sri Lanka but also help create a valuable and dependable source of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka.
- The document also talks of expediting implementation of the Sampur Solar power project and LNG infrastructure, and exploring cooperation in Green Hydrogen and Green Ammonia.
- The two countries will also be working on a multi-product petroleum pipeline from India’s South to Sri Lanka.
- It also talks about undertaking a joint exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Sri Lanka’s offshore basins to develop Sri Lanka’s upstream petroleum sector.
- On energy and power connectivity, the two sides plan to establish a high capacity power grid interconnection.
- The two sides will also undertake discussions on the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement with an aim to comprehensively enhance bilateral trade and investments in new and priority areas.
- The decision to designate Indian Rupee as currency for trade settlements between the two countries has forged stronger and mutually-beneficial commercial linkages.
- It said both sides agreed to operationalise UPI-based digital payments for further enhancing trade and transactions between businesses and common people.
- The two sides also agreed to leverage India’s Digital Public Infrastructure towards effective and efficient delivery of citizen-centric services to the people of Sri Lanka.
- Cultural ties:
- The two countries also plan to promote awareness and popularize India’s Buddhist circuit, and Ramayana trail as well as ancient places of Buddhist, Hindu and other religious worship in Sri Lanka for enhancing tourism
The Cheriyapani ferry service:
- An age-old sea route between India and Sri Lanka has been rejuvenated with the inauguration of a passenger ferry service called Cheriyapani.
- The service will be from Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu to Kankesanthurai in Jaffna, Northern Sri Lanka.
- The initiative is aimed at bolstering bilateral ties, boosting tourism, and increasing people-to-people relations.
- It is expected to benefit local traders on both shores.
Maritime linkage between India and Sri Lanka:
- The Indo-Ceylon Express or Boat Mail ran between Chennai and Colombo via the Thoothukudi port from the early 1900s up until 1982.
- However, the civil war in Sri Lanka resulted in the halting of these services.
- Before the civil war erupted, one of the most popular routes was from Dhanushkodi to Talaimannar.
- The resumption of ferry services has been on the cards for quite some time, especially after the war ended in 2009.
Significance of the ferry service:
- Boost to religious tourism:
- By providing a transportation option, the ferry can amplify religious tourism in the coastal regions of both countries.
- From India, travellers can access significant religious sites in Colombo and the southern parts of Sri Lanka.
- Indian pilgrim centres such as Nagapattinam, Nagore, Velankanni, Thirunallar, and temple towns such as Thanjavur, Madurai, and Tiruchi are expected to see an influx of Lankan tourists.
- Trade and commerce:
- Beyond religious tourism, the services would boost regional commerce and trade.
- Development of ports:
- The Nagapattinam port, under the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board, was upgraded recently with funds worth Rs 8 crore from the Union Ministry of External Affairs.
Topic 3 : Preventive Detention
Why in news: As Telangana gears up for Assembly polls next month, its stringent preventive detention law is under the spotlight.
What is preventive detention?
- Preventive detention means detention of a person by the state without trial and conviction by court, but merely on suspicion.
- The detention could be up to a year unless extended.
- Pre-trial detention vs preventive detention.
- The former is an undertrial accused of a crime, a detainee can be taken into custody just as a preventive measure even if he has not committed a crime.
- In countries such as Britain, United States and Canada, preventive detention is a wartime measure.
- In India, the Constitution itself makes space for preventive detention under Part III, which deals with fundamental rights.
- It also gives the state the power to suspend these rights for preventive detention.
- Despite its emphasis on individual liberty, Part III, which forms the basic structure of the Constitution that cannot be amended, also contains provisions for preventive detention under Article 22.
Under what laws can the state order preventive detention?
- Central laws:
- Among central legislations, the National Security Act, the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 (COFEPOSA) are examples of laws under which preventive detention can be ordered.
- State laws:
- As many as 25 states also have preventive detention legislations, like:
- The Telangana law of1986.
- These are expansive laws specifically addressed to local law and order issues.
- The Tamil Nadu law of 1982
- The Gujarat Prevention of Antisocial Activities Act, 1985;
- The Bihar Control of Crimes Act, 1981, etc.
Powers of the State:
- Article 22 prescribes protection against arrest and detention but has a major exception.
- It says in Article 22 (3) (b) that none of those safeguards apply to any person who is arrested or detained under any law providing for preventive detention.
- The remaining clauses, Article 22(4)-(7) deal with how preventive detention operationalises.
- Issue of order for detention:
- The state, which would be the district magistrate, would issue an order to detain a person when it is necessary to maintain “public order.”
- The state can delegate this power to the police as well.
- If the detention ordered is for more than three months, under Article 22(4), such a detention requires the approval of an Advisory Board.
- These Boards are set up by states and normally consist of retired judges and bureaucrats.
- A detainee is generally not allowed legal representation before the Board.
- If the Board confirms the detention, the detainee can move Court challenging the detention order.
- Communication of grounds of detention:
- Article 22(5) of the Constitution mandates that the state is required to communicate to the detainee the grounds of detention and shall afford him the earliest opportunity of making a representation against the order.
- The grounds for detention are required to be communicated in one instalment, and the state cannot then add fresh, new or additional grounds to strengthen its original detention order.
- The grounds have to be read in a language that the detainee understands.
- This safeguard is diluted to a certain extent by Article 22(6), which says that nothing in clause 5 shall require the state to disclose facts that the state considers to be against the public interest to disclose.
How do courts assess the detention orders?
- There are very narrow grounds of judicial review because the Constitution emphasises the state’s subjective satisfaction when ordering a detention.
- The touchstone on which the order is examined is this subjective opinion of the state rather than the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.
- When the Court cannot substitute the subjective satisfaction of the state with its own satisfaction, it essentially means that it cannot check the veracity of the facts mentioned in the grounds of detention.
- A judicial review is limited to whether the Advisory Board applied its mind, considered all material facts and whether the state showed obvious malafide in ordering detention.
- Because judicial review is limited, courts often strike down detention orders on technical grounds, such as:
- delay in the decision of the advisory board,
- communication of grounds in a timely fashion and in a language that the detainee understands, etc.Topic 4 : How Olympic cities are selected
Why in news: Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly declared India’s intention to host the Olympic Games, preferably in 2036, during the opening ceremony of the 141st International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Mumbai.
- The Prime Minister also mentioned India’s ambition to host the Youth Olympics in 2029 although the quadrennial event is currently scheduled for 2030.
- Only three Asian countries have ever hosted the Olympics:
- South Korea and
- Japan hosted the games twice in 1964 and 2020.
- With India throwing its hat into the ring, there are at least five confirmed countries interested in hosting the 2036 Games and nine others reportedly in various stages of preparations and discussions internally and with the IOC.
- If India does manage to outbid the competition, it will be the first big-ticket multi-discipline sporting event in the country since the controversy-marred Commonwealth Games (CWG) in 2010.
How was a host country initially selected?
- In the older system of electing an Olympic host, cities, through their respective national Olympic committees, would submit a letter of interest to the IOC to start a multi-year, multi-step evaluation process.
- The second step of the process involved scrutiny from the IOC Evaluation Commission and a series of inspections of all venues before the final bids are put to vote at an IOC session.
- It ends in a host being decided seven years in advance as per the Olympic Charter.
- It often led to excessive spending among the bidders, to secure rights, often ending in huge debts, corruptions and scandals.
The Olympic movement:
- Thomas Bach took over as the IOC president in 2013.
- He put in place the Olympic Agenda 2020, as a roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, approved by the 2014 IOC session.
- One part of the agenda dealt with a new process for host city selection, called the ‘new norm’, that was officially adopted during the 2019 IOC session in Lausanne.
The new approach
- The new process placed emphasis on three main aspects:
- sustainability and
How has the process become more flexible?
- Seven year rule relaxed:
- The seven-year rule was done away with and there has been greater flexibility in deciding the hosts.
- The IOC has said that the 2036 edition could be decided even as late as after 2030.
- Joint hosting:
- Unlike the past, the Games can be planned to be held across cities or even in conjunction with another country.
- Provision for continuous dialogue after rejection:
- However, unlike in the past when a party, once rejected, would be discouraged from bidding again, now the other interested parties can continue continuous dialogue for future events.
- Sustainability of infrastructure:
- In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the infrastructure and to avoid any public backlash, hosts are encouraged as far as possible to use existing and temporary venues.
- Any new venues built must be in line with existing developmental plans and have a long-term justification irrespective of the Games.
- All editions of the summer/winter/youth Olympic Games from 2030 onwards must also adhere to the IOC’s climate positive commitment.
- As per the IOC’s claims, the focus on using existing and temporary venues has led to an 80% decrease in the bid budgets for the 2026 Winter Games compared to the 2018 and 2022 editions.
- Other potential bidders apart from India for the 2036 Games
- Besides India, the other confirmed nations interested are:
- Mexico (spread across the four cities of Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey and Tijuana),
- Indonesia (at the new capital of Nusantara which is still under construction),
- Turkey (Istanbul) and
- Poland (Warsaw).
- Besides India, the other confirmed nations interested are:
- India is yet to decide the city/cities where the Games will be organised.
- Of these, Mexico is the only one to have previously hosted the Games in 1968.Topic 5 : China to build the world’s largest ‘ghost particle’ detector
Why in news: China is building an enormous telescope in the western Pacific Ocean to detect “ghost particles”, also known as neutrinos.
What is a ghost particle?
- What are atoms?
- In order to understand what a ghost particle or neutrino is, one need to understand the importance of atoms.
- Atoms make up our universe.
- Anything that has mass is made up of atoms.
- Neutrinos/ghost particle:
- For a long time, scientists thought atoms were the smallest particle in existence.
- Then they discovered that they are themselves comprised of even tinier subatomic particles:
- protons (which have a positive charge),
- electrons (negative charge) and
- protons (no charge).
- Neutrinos are a type of electron but, like neutrons, they do not have any charge.
- They are among the most abundant particles in our universe, with trillions of neutrinos passing through you at any given second and also among the tiniest.
- Neutrinos were long believed to be massless, until scientists found evidence that they do have a very small mass.
- Neutrinos’ weak charge and almost nonexistent mass have made them notoriously difficult for scientists to observe.
- They can only been seen when they interact with other particles.
- The rarity of interactions with other particles makes them almost impossible to track.
- That’s why they’re called ghost particles — the vast majority skirt around undetected.
How do scientists detect ghost particles?
- Ghost particles rarely interact with other particles.
- Sometimes they interact with water molecules.
- This is why China is building its ghost molecule telescope underwater.
- Scientists have observed ghost particles in fleeting instances when the particles create byproducts after traveling through water or ice.
- These “muons” create flashes of light that can be detected by sophisticated underwater telescopes and offer one of the fews ways to study the energy and source of neutrinos.
- Right now, the largest neutrino-detecting telescope is the University of Madison-Wisconson’s “IceCube” telescope.
- Situated deep in the Antarctic, the telescope’s sensors span around 1 cubic kilometer.
- China says its new telescope, called “Trident”, will span 7.5 cubic kilometers in the South China Sea.
- Scientists say that its size will allow it to detect more neutrinos and make it 10,000 times more sensitive than existing underwater telescopes.
Significance of ghost particles:
- A sound understanding of neutrinos will help solve a number of scientific mysteries like:
- the origin of the mysterious cosmic rays, which are known to contain neutrinos.
- There’s evidence that neutrinos are essential for understanding the origins of our universe.