Daily Current Affairs – 05-08-2023


    The French Principle of Secularism (Laïcité)

    Syllabus: GS2/Polity, Secularism


    • Recently, the French government announced that the practice of wearing abaya would be banned in state-run schools as it violated the principle of Laïcité, which is the French idea of secularism.

    The meaning of Laïcité:

    • Laïcité is a complicated and politically charged term, and understood as a formal separation of the State and Church.
    • It involves the complete removal of religious values from the public sphere and their replacement with secular values such as liberty, equality, and fraternity. 
    • The underlying goal of Laïcité is to implant tolerance and assimilate people. As per the principle, religion is to be confined to the private sphere.

    Laïcité and France

    • It enshrines in law the right to believe, or not to believe, while at the same time keeping religion out of public affairs, and it is neither a form of state atheism, nor the outlawing of religion.
    • Secularism is a central part of the country’s legal and sociological model.
    • The first article of the French Constitution explicitly states that the republic shall be ‘indivisible, laïque, democratic and social’.


    • Laïcité, a product of the struggle of anti-clerical Republicans against the power of the Catholic Church, was an abstract idea following the French Revolution in 1789.
    • It took a concrete shape in the form of ‘The Law of 1905’ in the Third Republic when state-run secular schools were established.
      • The Law of 1905 guarantees freedom of conscience and freedom of worship except when it clashes with public order.

    The Western Model of Secularism:

    • In the west, secularism emerged as a protest movement of the ‘oppressed’ against a theocratic state for individual freedom.
    • It interprets freedom and equality in an individualist manner. For example, Liberty is the liberty of individuals, and Equality is equality between individuals.
      • There is no scope for the idea that a community has the liberty to follow practices of its own choosing, having little scope for community-based rights or minority rights.

    Change in demographics:

    • Laïcité was not seen as problematic for the most part of the 20th century because France was largely homogenous.
    • In the 1950s and 1960s, there was large-scale decolonisation in North Africa, which led to an influx of immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries such as Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria.
    • Other factors: The global developments, over the next few decades, such as the 9/11 attack and the invasion of Afghanistan by the USA, the rise of the National Front in France, the shooting of journalists at Charlie Hebdo; and the killing of three people at a church in the city of Nice all these contributed and arguably led to anti-Muslim sentiment.

    French Government response:

    • The Stasi Commission, which was instituted in 2003 to investigate the application of the principle of laïcité principle, France passed a law in 2004 prohibiting the wearing of “ostentatious” symbols that have a clear religious meaning, such as a Catholic dress, a Jewish kippah, or a Muslim headscarf, in public spaces.
    • In 2020, following the beheading of a school teacher for showing cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed, the French President asked Muslim leaders to agree to a ‘charter of republic values’ as part of a broad clampdown on radical Islam.
      • Long garments like abayas have been seen as a grey area so far, since Muslim groups have said that an abaya is not ‘required religious attire’ but a fashionable garment tied to Arab culture.

    Secularism in India: A Brief Note

    • While secularism as a notion denoting the separation of religion and state was accepted by the early Congress moderates in India, this idea of secularism, however, underwent a change with the impact of colonial policies.
    • In colonial India, identity based on religion became essential to secure privileges in a government that was apparently based on liberal political ideas derived from the west.
    • In post-independent India, this has led to secularism acquiring a changed meaning: the idea that all religions shall be treated equal.
    • The Constituent Assembly emphasised the secular foundation of India, and declared that secularism is not an anti-religious concept, instead, it prevented discrimination against the citizens based on religion.
      • The State shall permit freedom of practising any religion;
      • The State shall not associate with any religion; and
      • The State shall honour all faiths of equality (an innovative idea for Indian secularism).
    • The idea of inter-religious equality is crucial to the Indian conception, with key features like ‘inter-religious tolerance’ focusing together on religious freedom of individuals and religious freedom of minority communities, with the idea of state-supported religious reform.

    Way Forward:

    • Broadly, all secular states are neither theocratic nor do they establish a religion, but separation of religion and state is understood as mutual and principled exclusion.
    • State will not intervene in the affairs of religion and, in the same manner, religion will not interfere in the affairs of the state, having a separate sphere of its own with independent jurisdiction.
    • No policy of the state can have an exclusively religious rationale, and no religious classification can be the basis of any public policy.


    Maritime Infrastructure Road Map

    Syllabus: GS3/ Security Challenges and their Management


    • The Minister of State for Defence recently released the Maritime Infrastructure Perspective Plan (MIPP), 2023-37 at the second edition of the biennial Naval Commanders Conference. 


    • The MIPP aims to synchronise and enmesh the infrastructure requirements of the Navy, over the next 15 years, through a comprehensive perspective plan model. 
    • The Plan Document is aligned with the government’s vision on creation of sustainable infrastructure, and encompasses salients for compliance with broader policy directives on PM Gati Shakti project, disaster resilience, transition to net zero, among others.
    • Also released were the Indian Register for Shipping (IRS) rules and regulations handbook, family logbook, and electronic service document project
    • The IRS Rules and Regulations Handbook for construction and classification of Naval combatants has been revised since the previous 2015 edition to cater for technological advancements and Aatmanirbharta.

    Significance of Maritime security for India

    • India as a maritime nation: With 12 major and 200+ non-major ports situated along its 7500 km long coastline and a vast network of navigable waterways.
    • Trade: The country’s maritime sector plays a crucial role in its overall trade and growth, with 95% of the country’s trade volume and 65% of the trade value being undertaken through maritime transport.
    • Blue economy: Marine fisheries sector is one major contributor to the economy and livelihood of the fishing community. There are almost three lakh fishing vessels.
    • India’s foreign relations: Maritime security is a prominent feature of India’s relations with Indian Ocean littoral states. 
    • The Indian Ocean, which has been an “ocean of peace”, is now witness to rivalries and competitions.

    Key challenges of maritime sector in India

    • Inadequate infrastructure: India’s maritime infrastructure, including ports and inland waterways, is inadequate and requires significant investment and development.
    • Poor connectivity: The lack of connectivity between ports, as well as ports and hinterland, leads to inefficiencies and increased costs.
    • Skill gaps: There is a shortage of skilled manpower in the maritime sector, including seafarers, engineers, and other professionals.
    • Environmental concerns: The maritime sector can have a significant impact on the environment, and there are concerns around issues such as oil spills, pollution, and the impact of climate change.
    • Security challenges: Terrorism(26/11 attack), arms smuggling, piracy, drug trafficking, illegal migration and natural disasters became the major challenges in the maritime domain.
    • China factor: With the growing Chinese belligerence, efforts to further strengthen maritime security and surveillance of India’s coastline needs to be undertaken.

    Way Ahead

    • As a major stakeholder in the Indian Ocean, India should continue to pursue its interests and tackle maritime security challenges at both macro and micro level in the region.
    • The more we develop, the more assets we create, the more prosperous we get, greater would be the vulnerability and the need for security in the maritime domain.
    • It needs to define initiatives, driving innovation, creating a time-bound action plan, benchmarking, addressing capability building and human resources.
    • Developing world-class Mega Ports, and trans-shipment hubs in Southern India, and infrastructure modernization is the need of the hour to remain relevant in the rapidly changing geoeconomics and geopolitics of the region.

    Source: TH

    Flex-fuel Hybrid Vehicle

    Syllabus: GS3/Developments in Science and Technology


    • Toyota recently unveiled a prototype of the Innova Hycross with a flex-fuel hybrid powertrain, the world’s first BS6 Stage II-compliant flex-fuel vehicle.

    Hycross prototype

    • Toyota claims the prototype can run on petrol with more than 20% ethanol blending that is currently mandated in India.
    • Also, the company says, it will achieve low carbon emissions “on a comprehensive well-to-wheel basis”.(“Well to wheel” is a method to evaluate efficiency and emissions of an energy source by considering its entire life cycle.) 
    • Like the standard strong hybrid variant, the Hycross flex-fuel prototype would run 60% of the time in the electric vehicle mode using energy stored in the battery pack.

    Flex-fuel technology 

    • A flex-fuel vehicle typically has an internal combustion engine (ICE), but unlike a regular petrol vehicle, it can run on more than one type of fuel, or a mixture of these fuels. The most common versions use a blend of petrol and ethanol or methanol
    • Flex-fuel vehicles (prototype Hycross) can run on blends of ethanol that are far higher than the current standard 20% mix (E20).
    • This is made possible by equipping the engine with a fuel mix sensor and an engine control module (ECM) programming that senses and automatically adjusts for any ratio of designated fuels. 
      • The flex engine push can help to cut dependence on imported crude in the medium-to-long run.

    How these cars work?

    • Most components in a flex fuel vehicle are the same as those in petrol-only cars. But some special ethanol-compatible components are required, such as modifications to the fuel pump and fuel injection system.
    • The vehicle’s fuel filter and fuel lines have also been tweaked. According to IHS Markit, as of 2018, there were more than 21 million flex-fuel vehicles in the US, but Brazil was the biggest market and leader in this segment.

    Pros of Flex-fuel technology 

    • The use of ethanol blending sharply lowers harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulphur, and carbon and nitrogen oxides. 
    • Blending will also help cut oil imports to fuel vehicles.
      • The ethanol mix in petrol in India went up from 1.53% in 2013-14 to 11.5% in March 2023, which helped cut the oil import bill by an estimated Rs 41,500 crore in the last eight years. 
      • In 2020-21, ethanol blending enabled a reduction of 26 million barrels of petrol, resulting in savings of Rs 10,000 crore, according to official estimates. 
    • While fuel economy is generally lower with increased levels of ethanol (engines are optimised for petrol), many flex fuel vehicles have improved acceleration performance when operating on higher ethanol blends. 

    Cons of Flex-fuel Technology

    • However, flex-fuel cars typically take a 4-8% hit on fuel efficiency when using ethanol for motive power.
    • Another problem with ethanol blending is that source crops such as sugarcane are usually very water-intensive. According to a NITI Aayog report, in 2019-20, more than 90% of the ethanol produced in the country came from sugarcane.
    • The National Biofuel Policy 2018 envisages a 2025 target of 20% blending. 
      • Countries such as Brazil can be flexible on the degree of the mix depending on crude prices, the precondition being that the vehicular fleet has been equipped to adjust to this varying fuel mix.

    Way Ahead

    • The expected implementation of E20 by April 2025 is estimated to result in annual savings of Rs 35,000 crore in India’s oil import bill. 
    • To overcome the challenges of lower fuel efficiency of flex-fuel vehicles, electrified flex-fuel vehicles are being introduced, which offer the advantages of both a flex-fuel engine and an electric powertrain, as in the case with the Hycross prototype.

    Source: IE

    Hubble Constant

    Syllabus: GS3/ Science & Technology, Space

    In News

    • A group of scientists may have found a way to determine the rate of expansion of the universe also known as the Hubble constant. 

    What is Hubble Constant?

    • The Hubble Constant is the unit of measurement used to describe the expansion of the universe. 
    • The Universe has been getting bigger since the Big Bang kick-started the growth about 13.82 billion years ago.
    • For an astronomical object (e.g. a star or a galaxy) at a known distance from the Earth, the Hubble constant can be used to predict how fast it should be moving away from us.
    • The constant was first proposed by Edwin Hubble, an American astronomer who studied galaxies.

    Value of the Hubble constant

    • Two details are required to calculate the value of the Hubble constant: the distance between the observer and astronomical objects, and the velocity at which these objects are moving away from the observer as a result of the expansion of the universe. 
    • So far, scientists have used three methods to get these details:
      • They compare the observed brightness of a stellar explosion, called a supernova, with its expected brightness to figure how far away it could be. Then they measure how much the wavelength of the light from the star has been stretched by the expansion of the universe – i.e. the redshift – to figure how much it’s moving away.
      • They use changes to the cosmic microwave background (CMB) – radiation leftover from the Big Bang event – to estimate the Hubble constant.
      • They use gravitational waves, ripples in spacetime produced when massive astronomical objects – like neutron stars or black holes – collide with each other.
    • Using the shape of these curves, astronomers can calculate the amount of energy that the collision released. Comparing this with the amount of energy the waves had when they reached earth allows researchers to estimate the distance between these objects and earth. They use the redshift to get the moving-away speed.

    Universe Expansion Dispute

    • These methods of finding Hubble Constant have provided conflicting results, with some measurements reporting higher values than others. 
    • This discrepancy has led to a crisis in space study, as researchers seek to reconcile these differing measurements and understand the correct rate of expansion.

    New Method of Gravitational Lensing

    • Researchers from various institutions have proposed new methods, such as using lensed gravitational waves, to independently estimate the Hubble constant. The researchers believe that upcoming gravitational-wave detectors could be able to identify lensed gravitational waves, which can then be used to calculate the Hubble constant more accurately.

    What are Redshift and Blueshift Phenomenon? 

    • Redshift and blueshift describe the change in the frequency of a light wave depending on whether an object is moving toward or away from us. 
    • When an object is moving away from us, the light from the object is known as redshift, and when an object is moving towards us, the light from the object is known as blueshift. 
    • Astronomers use redshift and blueshift to deduce how far an object is away from Earth, the concept is key to charting the universe’s expansion. 

    Source: TH

    Human mortality costs of carbon emissions

    Syllabus:GS3/ Environment


    • A study has quantified future harms on Human population caused by carbon emissions.

    Findings of the study

    • The study found that if global warming reaches or exceeds two degrees Celsius by 2100, it could lead to deaths of roughly a billion people.
    • Mainly richer humans would be responsible for the deaths of mainly poorer humans over the next century,
    • The oil and gas industry, directly and indirectly emits more than 40 percent of carbon emissions, affecting billions of people in remote and underdeveloped communities.

    1,000-tonne rule

    • The study found the human mortality costs of carbon emissions converged on the “1,000-tonne rule”.
    • The rule is an estimate that a future person is killed prematurely every time 1000 tonnes of fossil fuels are burned.

    Measures needed 

    • Realistic goals: To change and challenge the language and metrics of global warming to make the harsh realities of the world’s reliance on fossil fuels clearer.
    • Improved energy conservation and efficiency: Rational use of energy, supported by government programmes for industrial, agricultural, transportation, residential and household users.
    • Technological development: To develop technologies for carbon waste management, natural capture and storage of carbon dioxide and replacement of carbon subsidies by carbon taxes.


    • There is a need for heightened levels of government, corporate and citizen action to accelerate the decarbonisation of the global economy, aiming to minimize the number of projected human deaths.


    Invasive alien species

    Syllabus:GS3/ Environment and Ecology


    • The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a report on the status of invasive alien species (IAS).

    What are Invasive species?

    • Alien species are animals, plants and microbes that have been introduced by humans to new regions. Of these, invasive alien species have negative impacts on nature.
    • The characteristics of  invasive alien species are: 
      • Rapid reproduction and growth, 
      • High dispersal ability, 
      • Phenotypic plasticity (ability to adapt physiologically to new conditions), and 
      • Ability to survive on various food types and in a wide range of environmental conditions.

    Examples of invasive alien species

    • Diseases such as malaria, Zika and West Nile Fever are spread by invasive alien mosquito species like Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegyptii.
    • Spread of water hyacinth (Pontederia crassipes) in Lake Victoria has affected the population of tilapia fish and affected livelihoods and nutrition of  people in the area.

    Negative impacts of Invasive Alien Species

    • Assessment Report finds that more than 37,000 alien species have been identified across the world out of which 3500 are invasive. 
    • Extinction of species: Invasive alien species have been a major factor in 60 per cent and the only driver in 16 per cent of global animal and plant extinctions that have been recorded, and at least 218 invasive alien species have been responsible for more than 1,200 local extinctions.
    • Economic loss: IAS led to a loss of more than $423 billion in 2019 and the report points out that they are among the five top drivers of biodiversity loss along with changes in land-and sea-use, direct exploitation of species, climate change and pollution.


    • The report found that the measures are not sufficient to control the IAS as of now.The report also shows that 45 percent of all countries do not invest in the management of biological invasions.
    • While 80 percent of countries have targets related to managing invasive alien species in their national biodiversity plans, only 17 percent have national laws or regulations specifically addressing these issues. 

    Way Ahead

    • Future biological invasions, invasive alien species, and their impacts, can be prevented through effective management — preparedness, early detection and rapid response. The reports suggest that when eradication is not possible, efforts should be made to contain and control the IAS.
    • What is needed is a context-specific integrated approach, across and within countries and the various sectors involved in providing biosecurity, including trade and transportation; human and plant health; economic development and more. 

    Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF)

    • It was adopted in the 15th Conference of parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
    • Target 6 of the framework is to eliminate, minimize, reduce and or mitigate the impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity and ecosystem services. 
    • It also states that the world has to prevent and reduce the rate of introduction and establishment of invasive alien species by at least 50 per cent by 2030.


    Carrying capacity of hill stations

    Syllabus: GS3/Conservation


    • A 13-member technical committee was proposed by the Union government to evaluate the ‘carrying capacity’ of 13 Himalayan States, including cities and eco-sensitive zones.


    • The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court for taking steps to assess the carrying capacity of the 13 Himalayan states in a time-bound manner.
      • The guidelines were prepared by G.B Pant National Institute Himalayan Environment — an institute working under the aegis of the MoEF.
    • The affidavit comes in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking for no master plan, area development or zonal plans to ensure a planned growth in the Himalayan region.

    What is carrying capacity?

    • The carrying capacity is the maximum population size that an ecosystem can sustain without getting degraded. The population size is limited by environmental factors like adequate food, shelter, water, and mates.
      • If these needs are not met, the population will decrease until the resource rebounds.

    Himalayan states and eco-sensitive zones:

    • The Indian Himalayan Region is spread across 13 Indian States/Union Territories, namely Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Assam and West Bengal, stretching across 2500 km.
    • Nearly 50 million people reside in this region, which is characterised by a diverse demographic, and versatile economic, environmental, social and political systems.
    • In order to manage and conserve biodiversity, the MoEF notified, in the year 2002, Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) around the Protected Areas, and Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) that have unique biological resources to protect the biodiversity in areas having ecological significance.
    • On the basis of proposals and recommendations of the State Government, the MoEF has notified the ESZs under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
      • Section ‘3’ of the ESZ Notification provides the Guidelines for preparation of the Zonal Master Plan (ZMP) by the respective State Government.
    • As far as the 13 States of Indian Himalayan Region are concerned, 2 ESAs and 92 ESZs have been already notified.

    Ecological threats of Himalayan Region


    Facts in News

    Adopt a Heritage 2.0 Programme

    Syllabus: GS-1/Art and Culture


    • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has launched “Adopt a Heritage 2.0: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan” Programme to preserve India’s Cultural Heritage.
      • The ASI also introduced the “Indian Heritage” app. It is meant to serve as a comprehensive guide to India’s heritage monuments.

    Adopt a Heritage Programme

    • The programme was launched under the Ministry of Tourism and recently got shifted to the Ministry of Culture.
    • Under this programme, ASI invites corporate stakeholders to enhance amenities at the monuments (Monument Mitras) by utilising their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds.
      • Under the Section 135 under the Companies Act, 2013 companies with a networth of over Rs 500 crore or turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or net profit of Rs 5 crore during a financial year, are mandated to spare 2 percent of their net profit made during three fiscals towards CSR. 

    Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

    • It is under the Ministry of Culture and is the premier organization for the archaeological research and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation. 
    • The maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance is the prime concern of the ASI.
    • Besides, it regulates all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMASR), 1958. 
    • It maintains a vast  collection of ancient objects, books, and inscriptions, and its studies have greatly enhanced our knowledge of India’s rich cultural legacy. The group is important in promoting and maintaining the variety of Indian customs and culture.

    Source: PIB

    Sanatan Dharma

    Syllabus: GS1/Indian History


    • Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader and Tamil Nadu Minister criticised the Sanatan Dharma.

    About the Sanatan Dharma

    • Sanatana Dharma, often referred to as Hinduism, is one of the oldest religions in the world.
    • It is a Sanskrit term that can be translated variously as ‘eternal religion’ or ‘eternal law’, ‘unshakeable, venerable order’, or ‘ancient and continuing guideline’, and it has been used to evoke a certain homogeneity in Hinduism, since the 19th Century.
    • It is only more recently, particularly since the late 19th century, that Sanatan Dharma has been used to signify Hinduism as a religion, distinct from other religions.
      • It is used to evoke a certain homogeneity in Hinduism, without specifying how exactly that homogeneity is constituted.
    • It was popularly understood as a signifier of Hindu orthodoxy in reaction to the reform movements being carried out by missionaries and reformers such as the Brahmo Samaj and Arya Samaj.
      • Term ‘Sanatan Dharma’ was used by the Hindu Mahasabha to refer to the Hindu religion.

    Core Principles

    • Sanatana Dharma recognizes that there are multiple paths to attain spiritual liberation or moksha, and individuals can choose the path that resonates with them. It emphasises the concepts of karma (action and consequences), dharma (duty and righteousness), and moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death).
    • One of the core principles of it is the belief in the existence of a supreme reality or ultimate truth, known as Brahman, which is considered formless, eternal, and limitless. It is believed that all beings are interconnected and part of this divine reality.


    • These include the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, and Ramayana, which provide philosophical insights, moral teachings, mythical narratives, and guidance for living a righteous and meaningful life.


    Education to Entrepreneurship Partnership

    Syllabus: GS2/Issues Related to Education


    • A 3-year partnership “Education to Entrepreneurship: Empowering a generation of students, educators and entrepreneurs” between the Ministry of Education, Ministry Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Meta was launched recently.


    • Guided by the tenets of New Education Policy, META’s partnerships with NIESBUD (Ministry of Skill Development), CBSE & AICTE(Ministry of Education) will catalyse infinite possibilities for equipping the population with critical digital skills and empowering micro entrepreneurs and small businesses.
    • The initiative launched in pursuance of the vision of making India a skill capital of the world and transforming our Amrit Peedhi into new-age problem solvers and entrepreneurs.
    • Under the partnership with NIESBUD, 5 lakh entrepreneurs will get access to digital marketing skills by Meta over the next 3 years. 
    • Budding and existing entrepreneurs will be trained in digital marketing skills using Meta platforms in 7 regional languages to begin with. 
    • The partnership will take Digital Skilling to the grassroots. It will build capacities of students, youth, workforce & micro-entrepreneurs, with futuristic technologies.
    • Thus, it brings the partnership together between the two most important sectors of the workforce, education and skilling.

    Source: PIB

    Gujarat Declaration



    • Recently the two day WHO Traditional Medicine Global Summit 2023 was held at Gandhinagar, Gujarat.


    • The World Health Organization (WHO) has released the outcome document of first WHO Traditional Medicine Global Summit 2023 in the form of “Gujarat Declaration”.
    • The declaration will focus on the integration of traditional medicines in national health systems and help unlock the power of traditional medicine through science.

    Outcome of Gujarat Declaration

    • The declaration reaffirmed global commitments towards indigenous knowledge, biodiversity and traditional,complementary and integrative medicine (TCIM).
    • Accelerate the production, regulation, and formal utilization of scientifically proven TCIM products and practices. 
    • Advance policies that promote standardized TCIM documentation, including through expanded and accelerated use of the WHO International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) to enable integration of evidence and data collection on TCIM in a standardized way within routine health information systems. 
    • Establish a global network of TCIM reference clinical centers that can routinely undertake standardized data collection and monitoring based on WHO ICD-11 coding of the implementation.
    • Appropriate development and application of digital health technologies, and artificial intelligence (AI) to advance digital health resources on TCIM for people’s health and well-being.
    • Actions should be promoted and taken at all levels to safeguard, restore and sustainably manage biodiversity, and to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of biodiversity resources, related genetic material and Indigenous knowledge. 
    • Fully recognize, respect and protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples, as provided in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


    Pulau Semakau

    Syllabus: GS 1/Places in News

    In News

    • the landfill in  Pulau Semakau Island is projected to be filled in just over a decade

    About Pulau Semakau

    •  Located approximately 8 km south of Singapore.
    • It  was once home to a Malay village on the western side of the island and a small Chinese village at the south-western end.
    • Singapore’s only landfill is located here .
    • It is home to coral reefs, mangroves and rare birds like Great-billed Herons.

    Umiam Lake

    Syllabus :GS 1/Places in News

    In News

    The Meghalaya High Court  heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the cleanliness of the Umiam Lake.

    Umiam Lake

    • It is one of the biggest artificial lakes in Meghalaya that is situated about 15 km from Shillong. 
    • It is more easily recognised as Bara Pani, and covers an area of about 220 sq km. 
    • The surrounding Sylvan Hills and green Khasi pines add to the majesty of this vast lake.
    •  It was created by damming the Umiam River in the early 1960s.

    Helmand River

    Syllabus :GS 1/Places in News

    In News

    • Iran and Afghanistan are locked in a long-standing dispute over the sharing of water from the Helmand River.

    About Helmand River

    • It originates near Kabul in the western Hindu Kush mountain range  and flows across Afghanistan before it branches just near the border with Iran. 
    • It flows in a southwesterly direction through desert areas before emptying into Lake Hamun, which straddles the Afghanistan-Iran border.

    Visakhapatnam Port’s International Cruise Terminal

    Syllabus: GS-3/Infrastructure

    In News

    • The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has officially inaugurated the International Cruise Terminal at Visakhapatnam Port.


    • It will serve as a gateway for both domestic and international cruise tourism along the eastern coast of India.
    • Along with the terminal, the inauguration of projects like Covered Storage Shed-2 in Port area, 1 World Class Truck parking terminal as well as 1 Oil refinery berth took place, in order to boost the capacity of the Vizag Port (VPA) towards becoming a regional hub of cruise and cargo traffic in the near future.

    About Visakhapatnam Port

    • It is one of the 12 important ports in India and is situated on the Bay of Bengal.
    • It ranks as the third largest state owned port in terms of the cargo handled in India. 
    • It is dedicated to sustainable development and has taken a variety of steps to lessen its negative effects on the environment.

    Source: PIB