Daily Current Affairs 05-07-2024

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    Syllabus: GS2/Education

    • Recent paper leak incidents and nationwide protests gave the impetus and topic of discussion to bring back Education in India under the State List of the Indian Constitution.
    Historical Background

    – During British rule, the Government of India Act, 1935 established a Federal Structure in our polity, distributing legislative subjects between the Federal Legislature (now the Union) and the Provinces (now the States).
    Education, being an essential public good, was initially placed under the Provincial List.
    – After independence, this arrangement continued, with education falling under the ‘State List’ in the distribution of powers.
    – However, during the Emergency, the Swaran Singh Committee recommended placing ‘Education’ in the Concurrent List to facilitate all-India policies on the subject.
    a. It led to the 42nd Constitutional Amendment (1976), which shifted ‘Education’ from the State list to the Concurrent List.
    44th Constitutional Amendment (1978): The Janata Party government attempted to reverse the 42nd amendment by bringing ‘Education’ back to the State List, but it didn’t pass in the Rajya Sabha.

    Do You Know?

    – The Seventh Schedule (Article 246) of Indian Constitution plays a crucial role in defining the distribution of powers between the Union (Central) government and the State governments.
    – It ensures a clear division of powers between the Union and State governments, and prevents overlapping or conflicting legislation.
    – If there’s a conflict between Union and State laws on a Concurrent subject, the Union law prevails.

    Three Lists

    Union List (List I): It includes subjects on which only the Union government has the authority to legislate. Examples include defence, foreign affairs, and currency etc.
    State List (List II): This list covers subjects on which only the State governments can legislate. Examples include police, public health, and agriculture etc.
    Concurrent List (List III): This list includes subjects on which both the Union and State governments can legislate. Examples include criminal law, marriage, and bankruptcy etc.

    Key Constitutional Provisions Related to Education in India

    Article 15: Prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. It extends to educational institutions as well.
    Right to Education (Article 21A): The Constitution recognizes the right to education as a fundamental right. It guarantees free and compulsory education for children between the ages of 6 and 14 years.

    Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)

    Article 41: It highlights the importance of ensuring equal opportunities for education and minimising inequalities.
    Article 45: The DPSP under Article 45 emphasises that the state shall endeavour to provide free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14.
    Article 46: Promotes the educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other marginalised sections.

    Fundamental Duties (Article 51A)

    Article 51A(j): Citizens are duty-bound to strive for excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity, including education.

    Language and Education

    Article 350A: Ensures the right to instruction in the mother tongue at the primary level.
    Article 29: Protects the cultural and educational rights of minorities, including the right to establish and administer educational institutions.

    Autonomy of Educational Institutions

    Article 30: Grants religious and linguistic minorities the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
    Article 32: Provides the right to move the Supreme Court for the enforcement of fundamental rights, including educational rights.

    Role of the State

    Article 41: The state shall make effective provisions for securing the right to work, education, and public assistance.
    Article 44: Encourages the state to promote a uniform civil code, which could impact personal laws related to education.
    • Uniform Education Policy: Having ‘education’ in the concurrent list allows for a uniform education policy across the country.
    • Improvement in Standards: Centralised policies can lead to better standards and quality.
    • Synergy Between Centre and States: Collaboration between the central and state governments can enhance educational outcomes.
    • Diversity: India’s vast diversity makes a ‘one size fits all’ approach impractical.
    • Corruption and Professionalism: Some argue that centralization has not necessarily addressed issues like corruption and lack of professionalism.
    • Conflict and Repugnancy: The dual authority can lead to conflicts between central and state laws. When there is inconsistency or repugnancy, Article 254 of the Constitution provides a mechanism to resolve such conflicts.
    • Complexity: Managing concurrent subjects requires coordination and harmonisation. Sometimes, overlapping laws can create confusion for citizens and administrators.
    • Uniformity vs. Diversity: While uniformity is desirable in some areas (e.g., criminal law), India’s diverse cultural, linguistic, and regional contexts may necessitate state-specific approaches. Striking the right balance is challenging.
    • United States: State and local governments set overall educational standards, mandate standardised tests, and supervise colleges and universities.
      • The federal education department focuses on financial aid, key educational issues, and ensuring equal access.
    • Canada: Provinces manage education entirely. Each province has its own policies and systems.
    • Germany: Legislative powers for education are vested in the landers (equivalent to States).
    • South Africa: The country has two national departments — one for schools and another for higher education.
      • Provinces also have their own education departments to implement national policies and address local issues.
    • Balancing centralization and decentralisation is crucial. While uniform policies are desirable, they must account for regional variations. Perhaps a hybrid approach, where certain aspects remain in the concurrent list while others are delegated to the States.
    • There is a need to look on challenges like Access and Equity, Quality of Education, Teacher Training, Dropout Rates, and Skill Development etc ahead of education in India and the National Education Policy (2020) is the right step that focuses on Holistic Development, Multilingualism, Flexible Curriculum, Technology Integration, along with Professional Education.
    • It requires thoughtful consideration of India’s unique context and the need for both national coherence and local flexibility.

    Source: TH

    Syllabus: GS2/ International Groupings

    • The Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia and Thailand wants to join BRICS grouping
    • Earlier, BRICS — an acronym that was originally used to refer to Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — decided to expand its membership, inviting Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to join the bloc.
    • The name for the expanded group has not yet been officially announced, but it could be called “BRICS+.”
    • China is a major trading partner for the region, and maintaining strong trade relationships with China is crucial. Joining BRICS could enhance these economic ties and provide additional trade benefits.
    • Strengthening Trade Ties with China: As China is a significant trading partner for Malaysia and Thailand, joining BRICS could further solidify and possibly expand these trade relationships.
      • The BRICS bloc “can help Malaysia’s digital economy grow faster by allowing it to integrate with countries that have strong digital markets and also take advantage of best practices from other members. And, Thailand would also be able to draw investments in important industries including services, manufacturing, and agriculture.
    • Geopolitical Influence: BRICS promotes a multipolar world order, challenging the dominance of Western powers. Southeast Asian nations can leverage this to enhance their autonomy and negotiate better terms in international relations.
    • South-South Cooperation: BRICS emphasizes South-South cooperation, fostering collaboration among developing countries. Southeast Asian nations can learn from BRICS’ experiences in areas like poverty reduction, infrastructure development, and technological innovation.
    • Diversifying Economic Partnerships: BRICS membership allows countries to engage with a diverse group of emerging economies, reducing over-reliance on traditional Western trade partners and opening new avenues for trade and investment.
      • By diversifying their economic partners, these Southeast Asian nations can increase their economic resilience against global market fluctuations.
    • Aligning with BRICS Principles: BRICS emphasizes principles like respecting sovereignty and accommodating diversity, aligning with the values upheld by ASEAN. This resonance can foster strong international cooperation and policy support.
      • Being part of a collective that shares similar principles can lead to mutual support on international platforms, enhancing the countries’ geopolitical influence.
    • The expansion of BRICS holds significance for India in terms of expanding partnerships and geopolitical influence, while also raising concerns about potential pro-China dominance within the alliance.

    Geopolitical Challenges:

    • Balancing Act with Existing Alliances: Many Southeast Asian nations have strong ties with the US and other Western powers. Joining BRICS might strain these relationships, requiring a delicate balancing act to maintain existing alliances while pursuing new partnerships.
    • Tensions within BRICS: The diverse geopolitical interests of BRICS members, particularly the rivalry between India and China, could create challenges for Southeast Asian nations in aligning their interests with the group’s broader goals.
    • Over-reliance on China: Joining BRICS could lead to increased economic dependence on China, potentially exposing Southeast Asian economies to vulnerabilities if relations sour or economic conditions in China fluctuate.
    • Differing Economic Priorities: The diverse economic structures and development priorities of BRICS members could lead to conflicts of interest and challenges in coordinating economic policies.
    • Domestic Opposition: Joining BRICS could face domestic political opposition from groups concerned about the potential negative impacts on existing alliances or the loss of policy autonomy.
    • Compromising Values: BRICS’ approach to issues like human rights and democracy might not align with the values of some Southeast Asian nations, creating a potential conflict of principles.
    • Limited Influence: Given the size and economic power of existing BRICS members, Southeast Asian nations might have limited influence within the group, potentially hindering their ability to shape its agenda.
    • Southeast Asian nations need to carefully assess the potential benefits and risks of joining BRICS. They should engage in thorough consultations with all stakeholders, including domestic political actors, civil society groups, and regional partners. 
    About BRICS

    Members: It is an association of five major emerging economies; Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
    Origin: The term was coined by British Economist Jim O’Neill in 2001, representing emerging economies of the world.
    a. The four countries (BRIC) arranged for an annual meeting of Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in 2006. 
    b. The success of the meet led to the crystallisation of an annual summit under the aegis of BRIC.
    c. Initially, the grouping was termed BRIC as South Africa was inducted in 2010 and from there on it has been referred to as BRICS.
    Summits:  The governments of the BRICS states have met annually at formal summits since 2009.
    – BRICS is an important grouping bringing together the major emerging economies from the world, comprising:
    a. 45% of the world’s population, 
    b. 28% of the global economy
    c. over 16% share in world trade. 
    d. Total combined area of 29.3% of the total land surface of the world
    – Over a period of time, BRICS countries have come together to deliberate on important issues under the three pillars of:
    a. political and security, 
    b. economic and financial and 
    c. cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
    New Development Bank: Formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, is a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS states. 
    a. The Bank shall support public or private projects through loans, guarantees, equity participation and other financial instruments.

    Source: IE

    Syllabus: GS2/ International

    • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar represented India at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.
    • Belarus joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), becoming its 10th member state.
    • Belarus became a dialogue partner in the SCO in 2010 and an observer state in 2015. ​​​​​​​
    • The SCO is an intergovernmental organization founded in 2001 with six members.
    • Objective: To enhance regional cooperation for efforts to curb terrorism, separatism, and extremism in the Central Asian region.
    • Members: China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran.
    • Secretariat: Beijing
    • Official languages: Russian and Chinese.
    • Observer status: Afghanistan and Mongolia.
    • The SCO has been an observer in the UN General Assembly since 2005. 
    • Security Focus: The SCO is one of the few international organizations that primarily deals with security issues in Asia. This includes combating terrorism, separatism, and extremism, which are major concerns for its member states.
    • Regional Influence: China and Russia position the SCO as a counterbalance to Western-dominated international organizations. 
    • Expanding Membership: The recent inclusion of Belarus is seen as a move to enhance the organization’s international status and influence. 
    • Strategic Counterbalance: Along with the BRICS, the SCO is part of a broader effort by China and Russia to establish an alternative international order. This positions them against US and Western influence in global affairs.
    • Enhanced Cooperation with Central Asia: SCO membership provides India with a platform to strengthen its ties with Central Asian countries.
    • Security Collaboration: The SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) is crucial for India’s counterterrorism efforts. RATS assists member states in preparing and conducting counterterrorism exercises, analyzing intelligence, and sharing information on terrorist movements and drug trafficking. 
    • Multilateral Engagement: Being part of the SCO allows India to engage in multilateral diplomacy, enhancing its role and influence in regional and global affairs.
    • The relevance of the organization comes into question given the difficulty in managing ties among the partners. India shares strained relationships with China and Pakistan at present. 
    • The New Delhi Declaration issued at the end of the leaders summit, 2023 saw India refuse to sign off on a paragraph supporting the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
      • India’s opposition to the BRI comes from its constituent China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is proposed to pass through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. 
    • The SCO needs more engagements with its observer states, dialogue partners and other regional and international organizations such as the United Nations, to uphold the UN-centered international system and the international order based on international law.
    • To contribute to high-quality and resilient economic growth of the region, there need to be collective efforts to scale up local currency settlement between SCO members, expand cooperation on sovereign digital currency, and promote the establishment of an SCO development bank.

    Source: IE

    Syllabus:GS3/Agriculture

    • The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare plans to unveil a framework to promote climate-resilient agriculture located in climatically-vulnerable districts in India.
    • Climate change poses significant challenges to agriculture worldwide by affecting food production, crop yields, and overall agricultural sustainability. 
    • In India, where agriculture is a crucial sector supporting millions of livelihoods, building resilience against climate variability is essential.
    • Vulnerability: Indian agriculture is highly vulnerable to climate-related disasters. Extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, and cyclones, disrupt crop cycles and lead to economic losses.
      • Between 1998 and 2017, disaster-hit countries experienced direct economic losses of approximately US$ 2908 billion, with 77% of these losses attributed to climate-related disasters.
    • Temperature and Rainfall Patterns: India has witnessed an increase in temperatures by 0.6°C to 2.5°C between 1901 and 2018. These rising temperatures, coupled with shifts in monsoon patterns, directly impact crop productivity.
      • Seasonal changes significantly affect ecosystems and human livelihoods, making adaptation crucial.
    • Projected Crop Yield Reduction: By 2100, productivity of most crops in India is projected to decrease by 10-40% due to increased temperatures, rainfall variability, and reduced irrigation water availability.
      • Major crops like rice, wheat, sorghum, barley, and maize are at risk.
    • It aims to enhance the resilience of Indian agriculture to climate change and vulnerability.
    • Targeted Villages: The government plans to select 50,000 villages from 310 districts that have already been identified as climatically vulnerable. These districts span 27 states, with Uttar Pradesh having the highest number of districts (48), followed by Rajasthan (27).
    • Promoting Resilient Crop Varieties:NPCRA aims to focus on promoting climate-resilient crop varieties.
      • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has developed over 2,000 such varieties that can improve food production, which include both abiotic stress-tolerant and biotic stress-tolerant varieties.
    • Water Conservation: Encouraging crops that are less water-intensive and implementing water conservation practices in the respective areas.
    • Monitoring Fertiliser Inputs: Ensuring efficient use of fertilisers to minimise environmental impact.
    • Duration and Funding: The program is expected to run for five years, with funding primarily coming from convergence with existing schemes.
    • ICAR plays a pivotal role in climate-resilient agriculture. It has developed innovative technologies and practices to cope with abiotic stresses induced by climate variability. These efforts contribute to building resilience at both policy and farmer levels.
    • It aims to address the challenges posed by climate change while ensuring sustainable food production.
    • Increase Productivity and Incomes: CSA focuses on sustainable practices that enhance agricultural productivity and improve farmers’ livelihoods.
    • Adaptation and Resilience: CSA helps farmers adapt to changing climate conditions by promoting resilient crop varieties, efficient water management, and soil health improvement.
    • Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Emissions: CSA aims to reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture, contributing to climate change mitigation.
    • Tolerant Breeds: Introducing drought-tolerant and early-maturing crop varieties can mitigate yield losses due to climate stress.
    • Conservation Agricultural Practices: Practices like soil organic carbon building and manure management improve soil health and create a favourable environment for plant growth.
    • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY): It aims to improve water-use efficiency in agriculture through efficient irrigation practices.
    • Soil Health Card Scheme: It encourages farmers to adopt soil-friendly practices, enhancing soil fertility and resilience.
    • Promotion of Climate-Resilient Crop Varieties: The government supports research and adoption of climate-resilient seeds.
    • National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA): A network project by ICAR aims to enhance Indian agriculture’s resilience to climate change through research and technology demonstration.
    • Achieving sustainable agriculture and food systems requires an integrated approach that addresses climate change challenges. Climate-smart practices, including millets and other coarse grains, can help withstand climate variability.
    • By promoting resilient crop varieties, conserving water, and adopting smart practices, we can mitigate the impact of climate change on our farms, and by adopting sustainable techniques, improving soil health, and promoting resilient crops, we can build a more resilient and productive agricultural sector.

    Source: IE

    Syllabus: GS1/Personalities in News

    Context

    • Recently, the Prime Minister of India paid homage to Swami Vivekananda on his Punya Tithi.

    About Swami Vivekananda

    • Birth: He was born on 12th January (celebrated as National Youth Day) of 1863 in Calcutta as Narendranath Datta, and attained Mahasamadhi on 4th July 1902.
    • From a young age, he nurtured an interest in Western philosophy, history, religion, spirituality and theology.
    • He met the religious leader Ramakrishna Paramhansa, who later became his Guru and he remained devoted to him until the latter’s death in 1886.
    • In 1893, he took the name ‘Vivekananda’ after Maharaja Ajit Singh of the Khetri State requested him to do so, changing from ‘Sachidananda’ that he used before.
    • Literary Works: Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Karma Yoga.

    Contributions and Significance

    • Focus on Indian Philosophies: He played an important role in introducing the philosophies of Yoga and Vedanta to the West.
    • Vedanta is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy and is based on Upanishads and their interpretation. Its aim was to enquire about ‘Brahman’ (ultimate Reality). It sees Veda as the ultimate source of information and whose authority could not be questioned.
      • He preached ‘Neo-Vedanta’, an interpretation of Hinduism through a Western lens and believed in combining spirituality with material progress.
      • It reconciles dualism and non-dualism and rejects the ‘universal illusionism’ of Shankara.

    Tour and Lectures

    • He is best known for his speech at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.
    • He started the speech with the opening remarks, ‘My brothers and sisters of America’ and covered topics including universal acceptance, tolerance and religion.
    • He began delivering lectures at various places in the US and UK and became popular as the ‘Messenger of Indian Wisdom to the Western World’.

    Establishments

    • Ramakrishna Mission in 1897
    • Belur Math in 1899

    Legacy

    • Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had called him the ‘Maker of Modern India’.
    • Quote: ‘Arise, awake, and stop not until the goal is reached’ remains etched in our collective consciousness.

    Source: PIB

    Syllabus: GS1/History 

    Context

    • The US celebrates Independence Day on July 4 every year, commemorating the country’s declaration of Independence from Great Britain.

    About

    • In 1775, the American Revolutionary War started after thirteen American colonies revolted to gain independence from British rule under King George III. 
    • On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress secretly voted to end the British rule in America – this marked the start of an independent state. 
    • After the decisive vote of the Congress, on July 4, 1776, the final wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved and published. 
    • The adoption of the Declaration of Independence established the United States as a sovereign and independent nation.

    Source: TOI

    Syllabus: GS1/Society

    Context

    • The president of Sierra Leone signed a law that banned marriage for children ages 18 and younger.

    About

    • In 2020 UNICEF reported, there were about 800,000 girls younger than 18 in Sierra Leone  who were married, which is about a third of the girls in the country. 

    Global Scenario

    • Every year, at least 12 million girls are married before they reach the age of 18. 
    • The practice is particularly widespread in conflict-affected countries and humanitarian settings. 
    • There are 12 nations with high-burden of Child marriages in the World: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.

    Indian Scenario

    • Under India’s Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006, the legal age of marriage for girls is 18 years and for boys it is 21 years.
    • However, estimates suggest that each year, at least 1.5 million girls under 18 get married in India. 
    • Over half of the girls and women in India who married in childhood live in five states: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
      • Uttar Pradesh is home to the largest number.

    Impact of Child Marriage

    • It violates the rights of girls, limits their school attainment, learning, and future earnings.
    • Girls pressed into child marriage often become pregnant while still adolescents, increasing the risk of complications in pregnancy or childbirth.

    Source: IE

    Syllabus: GS2/International Relations

    Context

    • Recently, India unveiled the results of the 15th round of the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF).

    About the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF)

    • It is jointly administered and funded by the governments of Australia and India. Its primary objective is to facilitate collaborative research projects between Australian and Indian partners.
    • It provides grants for collaborative research projects with Indian partners.
      • the minimum grant amount is $500,000;
      • the maximum grant amount is $1,000,000;
      • one must complete its project within 3 years.
    • For Round 15 of the AISRF, your project must involve research in a focused priority area and must be mutually beneficial for Australia and India.

    Priority Areas (Round 15)

    • Indo-Australian Science and Technology Fund (administered by the Department of Science and Technology in India)
      • Artificial intelligence and machine learning;
      • New and renewable energy technologies (particularly ultra-low-cost solar and clean hydrogen);
      • Urban mining and electronic waste recycling.
    • Indo-Australian Biotechnology Fund (administered by the Department of Biotechnology in India)
      • Antimicrobial resistance
      • RNA vaccines and therapies.

    Funding for this year focused on:

    • Creating an AI-driven platform for monitoring soil carbon sequestration.
    • Eco-friendly recovery of essential metals from obsolete mobile devices.
    • Cost-effective solar thermal desalination by systems design with nanomaterials.
    • Harnessing the immune system’s power to combat antimicrobial resistance.
    • Advanced diagnostics and innovative therapeutics to detect and combat microbial infections.

    Source: PIB

    Syllabus: GS3/ Economy

    Context

    • India imported 2.60 million tonnes (mt) of LNG in June, the highest in the last 44 months.

    About

    • As per data from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), power generation from gas-based units in June 2024, was 4.60 billion units, nearly 52 percent higher than 3.03 billion units in the corresponding month of last year. 
    •  India’s gas-based power generation capacity accounts for 5.6 percent of the country’s overall installed generation capacity.

    What is Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)?

    • Natural gas is a fossil fuel composed almost entirely of methane although it does contain small amounts of other gasses like ethane, propane, butane, and pentane.
    • The gas is reduced to a liquid state (liquefaction) through intense cooling to around -161 degrees Celsius (-259 Fahrenheit). 
    • This liquid gas is 600 times smaller than the original volume and is half the weight of water.

    Source: IE

    Syllabus: GS3/ S&T

    In News

    • Japan has introduced redesigned yen banknotes incorporating advanced 3D hologram technology to enhance security measures against counterfeiting. 

    About Hologram Technology

    • Hologram technology involves creating photographic patterns that project a three-dimensional image when exposed to coherent light. 
    • Holograms change their appearance and colors depending on the viewing angle. 
    • The creation of holograms relies on the principles of interference and diffraction of light waves. Beyond currency, holograms find applications in diverse fields such as medical imaging, weather forecasting, and security measures like credit card holograms.

    Source: AP News

    Syllabus: GS3/Environment

    Context

    • A lone female Gharial has been spotted for more than three years in a stretch of the river within the Kaziranga National Park.

    About

    • The Gharial derives its name from a bulbous knob-like protuberance on the snout of breeding males that resembles a ghara, which in Hindi means an earthen pot.
    • They are found mainly in the Chambal, Girwa Ghagra, and Gandak rivers.
    • IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
    • It is listed under Schedule 1 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

    Kaziranga National Park

    • Location: Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Nagaon districts of the state of Assam.
    • It was declared a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1950 and notified as Kaziranga National Park in 1974 under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, of 1972. It was also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. 
    • The Park is the abode of more than 70% of One Horned Rhinoceros in the world.

    Source: TH