Topic 1 : New Species and New Records 2023
Context: Recently, Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) published Animal Discoveries – New Species and New Records 2023.
- India added 664 animal species to its faunal database in the year 2022.
- Species discovered include:
- Two species of bats — Miniopterus phillipsi, a long-fingered bat, and Glischropus meghalayanus, a bamboo-dwelling bat — both from Meghalaya.
- Sela macaque (Macaca selai), a new macaque species discovered in the western and central Arunachal Pradesh and named after the Sela Pass.
- Macaca leucogenys, a white-cheeked macaque earlier found in Modog, southeastern Tibet, and sighted in India for the first time in 2022 in West Siang, Arunachal Pradesh.
- Ficedula zanthopygia, the yellow-rumped flycatcher, earlier known from Mongolia, Transbaikal, southern China, Korea, western Japan, and found last year in Narcondam Island of the Andaman archipelago.
- Statewise Distribution:
- The maximum new discoveries were recorded from Kerala contributing 14.6% of the new species and new records.
- Karnataka followed accounting for 13.2%.
- Tamil Nadu contributed 12.6%.
- The Andaman and Nicobar Islands contributed to about 8.4%.
- 7.6 % discoveries were from West Bengal
- 5.7% from Arunachal PradeshAbout Zoological Survey of India
- The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) was founded in 1916 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- It is a premier Indian organisation in zoological research and studies to promote the survey, exploration and research of the fauna in the country.Topic 2 : Lord Lansdowne and Jaswant Singh
Context: The Lansdowne Cantonment Board has decided to rename the quaint hill station in Uttarakhand as Jaswantgarh after the 1962 war hero Rifleman Jaswant Singh, Maha Vir Chakra.
About Lord Lansdowne
- Henry Charles Keith Petty-Firzmaurice, the fifth Marquess of Lansdowne, better known as Lord Lansdowne, was a British politician who served as Viceroy of India between 1888 to 1894.
- Lord Lansdowne also later served as Governor General of Canada.
- He also served as Secretary of State for War and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the United Kingdom.
- Lord Lansdowne in better known in India for having put down the Manipur Rebellion of 1891 and for perpetuating Hindu-Muslim divide through the divide and rule policy.
Rifleman Jaswant Singh
- Rifleman Jaswant Singh was awarded Maha Vir Chakra, for his role in the Battle of Nuranang against the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China in the North-East Frontier Agency (now Arunachal Pradesh) on November 17, 1962.
- The post at which Jaswant Singh fought is named Jaswantgarh and a memorial for his bravery has been erected at the spot.Topic 3 : In – Fn Maritime Partnership Exercise
Context: India and France participated in Maritime Partnership Exercise, recently.
- Indian Naval ships INS Rana, a guided missile destroyer, and INS Sumedha, an indigenously built offshore patrol vessel undertook a Maritime Partnership Exercise (MPX) with French Navy in the Bay of Bengal.
Topic 4 : Article 370
Context: The Supreme Court is set to hear a batch of nearly 23 petitions challenging the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution, which had given special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
About Article 370 and its consequences:
- The petitions challenge the Presidential Orders of 2019, as well as The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.
- The order titled Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019, was passed in exercise of the power under Article 370(1)(d) of the Constitution.
- It superseded the 1954 Presidential Order that introduced Article 35A, which empowered the state of J&K to define who is a permanent resident and make special laws for them.
- Additionally, this order said that the provisions of the Indian Constitution shall apply to J&K and that references to the Sadr-i-Riyasat and the Government of J&K will be construed as references to the J&K Governor acting on the advice of his Council of Ministers.
- Any reference to the Constituent Assembly of J&K shall be construed as a reference to its Legislative Assembly.
- The order revoked the special status granted to J&K under Article 370.
- The J&K Reorganisation Act of 2019 reorganized the state of J&K into two different UTs and is also being challenged.
Provisions of Article 370
- Power to Draft Constitution:
- Included in the Constitution in 1949, Article 370 exempts J&K from the Indian Constitution (except Article 1 and Article 370 itself) and permits the state to draft its own Constitution.
- Restrictions on the power of Parliament:
- It restricts Parliament’s legislative powers in respect of J&K.
- For extending a central law on subjects included in the Instrument of Accession (IoA), mere consultation with the state government is needed.
- But for extending it to other matters, concurrence of the state government is mandatory.
- Provisions for Princely states:
- For princely states, the Act provided for three options:
- to remain an independent country,
- join Dominion of India, or
- join Dominion of Pakistan
- This joining with either of the two countries was to be through an IoA.
- For princely states, the Act provided for three options:
Terms included in the IoA for Kashmir
- The Instrument of Accession gave Parliamentthe power to legislate in respect of J&K only on:
- External Affairs and
Enactment of Article 370:
- The original draft was given by the Government of J&K.
- Following modification and negotiations, Article 306A (now 370) was passed in the Constituent Assembly on May 27, 1949.
- It is the first article of Part XXI of the Constitution.
- The heading of this part is ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions’.
- Article 370 could be interpreted as temporary in the sense that the J&K Constituent Assembly had a right to modify/delete/retain it and it decided to retain it.
- Another interpretation was that accession was temporary until a plebiscite.
- Interpretation of Supreme Court:
- The Supreme Court in 2018 said that despite the headnote using the word “temporary’, Article 370 is not temporary.
- In Sampat Prakash (1969) the SC refused to accept Article 370 as temporary.
- A five-judge Bench said that Article 370 has never ceased to be operative.
- Thus, it is a permanent provision.
Deletion of Article 370
- Article 370(3) permits deletion by a Presidential Order.
- Such an order, however, is to be preceded by the concurrence of J&K’s Constituent Assembly.
- Since such an Assembly was dissolved on January 26, 1957, one view is it cannot be deleted anymore.
- The other view is that it can be done, but only with the concurrence of the State Assembly.
Significance for the Indian Union
- Article 370 itself mentions Article 1, which includes J&K in the list of states.
- India has used Article 370 at least 45 times to extend provisions of the Indian Constitution to J&K.
- By the 1954 order, almost the entire Constitution was extended to J&K including most Constitutional amendments.
- Ninety-four of 97 entries in the Union List are applicable to J&K;
- 26 out of 47 items of the Concurrent List have been extended.;
- 260 of 395 Articles have been extended to the state, besides 7 of 12 Schedules.
- Article 356 was extended though a similar provision that was already in Article 92 of the J&K Constitution, which required that President’s Rule could be ordered only with the concurrence of the President.
- To change provisions for the Governor being elected by the Assembly, Article 370 was used to convert it into a nominee of the President.
- Article 35A stems from Article 370, having been introduced through a Presidential Order in 1954.
- Article 35A is unique in the sense that it does not appear in the main body of the Constitution but comes up in Appendix I.
- Article 35A empowers the J&K legislature to define the state’s permanent residents and their special rights and privileges.
Arguments in favour of Abrogation of Article 370
- Better relationship with Indians and Kashmir Population
- There is no distinct constitution for Indians and Kashmiris.
- After Article 370 is repealed, Kashmiris can work in the Indians’ newly established firms
- People of Kashmir will also benefit economically if they sell their lands to the Indians on a leasing basis.
- Private business owners can establish factories in Kashmir, creating jobs for Kashmiris and Indians.
- With the repeal of Article 370, all Kashmiris now have the right to an education.
Arguments against the repeal of Article 370
- Many proclaim it as unconstitutional and it was compared to a dictatorship
- The people of Kashmir believe that their demands are being ignored.
- J&K no longer has the status of a state; instead, it is now considered to be union territory.
- Whether it can be tested for basic structure or not?
- The Supreme Court will examine whether it is unconstitutional or violates the basic structure of the Constitution.
- Article 370 is not only part of the Constitution but also part of federalism, which is basic structure. Accordingly, the court has upheld successive Presidential Orders under Article 370.
- Since Article 35A predates basic structure theory of 1973, as per Waman Rao (1981), it cannot be tested on the touchstone of basic structure.
- Restrictions on land:
- Certain types of restrictions on purchase of land are also in place after the abrogation of Article 370.
- Reservation issue:
- The Centre’s recent decision extending to J&K reservation benefits for SCs, STs, OBCs and those living along international borders has created problems in the erstwhile state.
|Arguments in favour of Article 370||Arguments against Article 370|
|1. Special status and autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir||1. Hinders integration of J&K with the rest of India|
|2. Protection of land and property rights of permanent residents||2. Hinders economic development and investment|
|3. Right to enact their own laws and regulations||3. Hinders the application of central laws in J&K|
|4. Control over their own education system||4. Hinders the application of central schemes and programs in J&K|
|5. Exemption from the Right to Education Act||5. Hinders access to quality education for children in J&K|
|6. Exclusive control over their own resources||6. Hinders the application of central policies for resource management|
|7. Right to fly their own flag||7. Hinders the national unity and identity of India|
|8. Protection of their unique cultural identity||8. Hinders social integration and national unity|
|9. Local government control over land and resources||9. Hinders the application of uniform laws in J&K|
|10. Right to determine permanent residency in J&K||10. Hinders free movement of people and opportunities for employment|
- Despite barriers created by Article 370, there were provisions that did exist before for investment from corporates outside the state, including incentives to the industry.
- But any amount of incentives and openness for the industry cannot help bring in investment if there is no peace in the Valley.
- Therefore, there is a primacy to providing a safe and secure environment to foster development.
- There has been a marked improvement in the security situation in the Valley, even if all of it is not a direct result of the repeal.
- The level of recruitment into terrorist organisations has also dropped.Topic 5 : Ashadha Purnima
Context: Under the aegis of Ministry of Culture, the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) to celebrate Ashadha Purnima at National Museum tomorrow
About Ashadha Purnima:
- The day is also celebrated as Guru Purnima and it falls every year on the full moon day of the month of Ashadha as per the Indian lunar calendar.
- The day is also celebrated as in Esala Poya Sri Lanka and Asanha Bucha in Thailand.
- The day is remembered for the first teaching of Gautam Budha after attaining Enlightenment to the first five ascetic disciples (pancavargiya) on at ‘Deer Park’, Risipatana Mrigadaya in the present day Sarnath, near Varanasi.
About International Buddhist Confederation:
- International Buddhist Confederation is the biggest religious Buddhist confederation, based in Delhi.
- It operates under the Ministry of Culture.
- The architect of the International Buddhist Confederation is Lama Lobzang.
- This confederation is named as the first organization which unites Buddhists from the whole world.
Topic 6 : Maize Cultivation in India
Context: The sowing of kharif maize is currently ongoing in Punjab, but no major increase is expected in the area under the crop.
- Maize is one of the most versatile emerging crops having wider adaptability under varied agro-climatic conditions.
- Globally, maize is known as queen of cereals because it has the highest genetic yield potential among the cereals.
- It is cultivated on nearly 150 m ha in about 160 countries having wider diversity of soil, climate, biodiversity and management practices.
- It contributes 36 % in the global grain production.
- The USA has the highest productivity (> 9.6 t ha-1 ) which is double than the global average (4.92 t ha-1).
- The average productivity in India is 2.43 t ha-1
Maize in India:
- In India, maize is the third most important food crops after rice and wheat.
- Maize in India, contributes nearly 9 % in the national food basket.
- Major wheat-growing states in India are:
- Andhra Pradesh (20.9 %),
- Karnataka (16.5 %),
- Rajasthan (9.9 %),
- Maharashtra (9.1 %),
- Bihar (8.9 %),
- Uttar Pradesh (6.1 %),
- Madhya Pradesh (5.7 %),
- Himachal Pradesh (4.4 %).
- Staple food for human being
- Quality feed for animals,
- Basic raw material as an ingredient to thousands of industrial products that includes starch, oil, protein, alcoholic beverages, food sweeteners, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, film, textile, gum, package and paper industries etc.
- Maize can be grown successfully in variety of soils ranging from loamy sand to clay loam.
- Soils with good organic matter content having high water holding capacity with neutral pH are considered good for higher productivity.
- The fields having provision of proper drainage should be selected for cultivation of maize.
- Production of maize is estimated to be 35.91 million tonnes in 2022-23 (3rd Advance Estimate).
- India produces 5.4% of maize in the world.
- The country has exported 3,453,680.58 MT of maize to the world in 2022-23.
- Major Export Destinations (2022-23):
- Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nepal, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
- Major Maize producing states:
- Nutritional value:
- Maize contains protein in range of 10-15%, depending on the variety.
- Corn contains a sufficient quantity of fiber.
- Enough quantity of ubiquinone, Vitamin E and phytosterols are available in maize.
- Maize is suitable for humid and warm weather, as it is a tropical plant.
- Maize requires 21°C of temperature for germination.
- 500-750 mm of rainfall is quite appropriate for its ideal growth.
- Maize is grown in all three seasons in India.
- Best result of cultivation can be seen in Rabi and spring season.
- It lacks nutrients such as:
- Potassium oxide
- Variety of Maize grown in India:
- Ganga Safed-2
How will cultivating maize during the kharif season improve the current situation?
- This is because maize is considered one of the best alternatives to the water-guzzling paddy crop.
- Maize is cultivated twice a year in Punjab:
- the spring season crop is harvested in June and early July, and
- the kharif crop — which is considered the main maize crop in the state — is sown along with paddy, and has a similar duration to paddy.
- Compared to the spring maize, which requires large amounts of water during May-June when the days are long, hot, and dry, kharif maize requires much less water, because it is sown during the rainy season.
Challenges in expanding maize area under cultivation:
- The lower yield of maize per unit area of crop compared with paddy.
- Lower price realisation for farmers compared with paddy.
- There is no attractive incentive for farmers to increase the area under maize, as it cannot compete in terms of yield, price, and procurement with paddy.
- During the summer season, sunflower and summer moong can be cultivated, if the government supports the initiative.
- Punjab needs both pulses and oilseeds, and summer moong and sunflower are the best alternatives to spring maize as the third crop.
- These crops consume less water and contribute to improving soil health, and should be encouraged.
- During the kharif season, the area under maize should be increased by:
- developing good quality seeds,
- providing higher MSP than paddy, and
- by encouraging Punjab-based maize industries to procure maize from the state.
- Even if the government procures maize for one year, the area under the crop would increase automatically, because farmers themselves want to move away from paddy.Topic 7 : Scheme for critical care and support for minor rape victims
Context: Govt launches scheme for shelter, aid to pregnant minor rape victims
- The “Scheme for critical care and support for accessing justice to rape/gang-rape survivors and minor girls who get pregnant” was announced under the Nirbhaya fund.
- to provide integrated support and assistance to girl child victims under one roof;
- to facilitate immediate, emergency and non-emergency access to a range of services including access to education, police assistance, medical (also comprising maternity, neo-natal and infant care), psychological and mental counselling legal support,
- insurance cover for the girl child victim and her new-born under one roof to enable access to justice and rehabilitation of such girl child victims.
- providing shelter, food, daily needs, and safe transportation for attending court hearings and legal aid to the minor girls who have been abandoned by their families.
- Assistance to POCSO victim:
- If she doesn’t want to keep the child, she can give the child up for adoption.
- Medical assistance can be provided as desired by the victim.
- The person in charge of the Home shall provide a separate safe space for the girl child as her needs are different from other children residing in the Home.
- Four thousand rupees monthly will be given to those victims who have been abandoned by their families.
- Any girl below the age of 18 years, who is a victim of Penetrative Sexual Assault.
Any girl who becomes pregnant due to such assault or rape is covered under the Scheme.
- Such a girl child victim should be:
- an orphan,
- abandoned by the family, or
- does not wish to live with the family.
- It is not mandatory for the girl child victim to have a copy of the FIR for availing of the benefits under the scheme.Topic 8 : Sagar Nidhi
- Any girl below the age of 18 years, who is a victim of Penetrative Sexual Assault.
Context: Scientists from Bangladesh and Mauritius embarked onboard India’s research vessel ‘Sagar Nidhi’ to participate in the joint ocean expedition spanning nearly 35 days.
- SAGAR NIDHI is a Research/Survey Vessel that was built in 2006.
- It is an ice-strengthened multidisciplinary vessel operated by the National Institute of Ocean Technology, India.
- The vessel is capable of carrying out geo-scientific, meteorological and oceanographic research, and is designed with blue-water capability.
- Its range is up to 10,000 nautical miles for voyages lasting up to 45 days.
- Sagar Nidhi will be utilized for deep sea mining, launching of manned and unmanned submersibles and exploration of gas hydrates.