Daily Current Affairs 12-02-2024


    Swami Dayanand Saraswati 

    Syllabus: GS1/Modern History, Personalities

    In Context

    • The Prime Minister virtually addressed the 200th birth anniversary celebrations of Swami Dayanand Saraswati.

    Who was Swami Dayanand Saraswati?

    • Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, was born on February 12, 1824 in Tankara, Gujarat.
    • He was a social reformer who founded Arya Samaj in 1875 to counter then prevalent social inequities.  

    Religious and Social Reforms

    • Rejection of Idolatry and Ritualism: He opposed idol worship and ritualistic practices that he believed deviated from the true teachings of the Vedas.
      • He promoted the worship of a formless, attributeless God.
    • Shuddhi Movement: The Shuddhi Movement was introduced to bring back the individuals to Hinduism who were either voluntarily or involuntarily converted to other religions like Islam or Christianity. 
    • Back to Vedas: He highlighted the social reformer’s role in awakening India from the shackles of ignorance and superstition, leading a movement to rediscover the essence of Vedic knowledge. 
    • Women’s Rights: Dayanand Saraswati advocated for the rights and empowerment of women.
      • He encouraged women to receive education and participate in social and religious activities on an equal footing with men.
    • Opposition to Child Marriage and Sati: He opposed practices such as child marriage and sati, considering them detrimental to society and contrary to Vedic principles.

    Educational Reforms

    • He set up a number of Gurukuls to teach his followers the knowledge of the Vedas and for them to spread the knowledge further. 
    • Inspired by his beliefs, teachings and ideas, his disciples established the Dayanand Anglo Vedic College Trust and Management Society, after his death in 1883. 
    • The first DAV High School was established at Lahore on June 1, 1886 with Mahatma Hans Raj as its headmaster. 

    Arya Samaj

    • Dayanand Saraswati formed the Arya Samaj at Bombay in 1875.
    • It was a Hindu reforms movement, meaning “society of the nobles”
    • The purpose of the Samaj was to move the Hindu religion away from the fictitious beliefs. 
    • ‘Krinvanto Vishwam Aryam” was the motto of the Samaj, which means, “Make this world noble”. 
    • The Samaj directs its members to condemn ritualistic practices like idol worship, pilgrimage and bathing in holy rivers, animal sacrifice, offering in temples, sponsoring priesthood etc. 
    • The Samaj launched programs to support widow remarriage in the 1880s.

    Literary Work

    • The philosophy of Dayananda Saraswati can be known from his three famous contributions namely “Satyartha Prakash”, “Veda Bhashya Bhumika” and “Veda Bhashya Bhumika” and Veda Bhashya. 
    • Further the journal “Arya Patrika’ edited by him also reflects his thoughts. 


    • The Arya Samaj is very active not only in India but also in other parts of the world. 
    • Maharishi Dayanand’s life and teachings had considerable influence in several important personalities like Lala Lajpat Rai, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Madam Cama, Ram Prasad Bismil, Mahadev Govind Ranade, Madan Lal Dhingra and Subhash Chandra Bose. 

    Source: IE

    Annual Death Penalty Report, 2023

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions


    • According to the Annual Death Penalty Report 2023, appellate Courts in India – SC and all the HCs together – confirmed only one death sentence in 2023 while the rest were either commuted or saw the prisoners acquitted altogether.
      • The Annual Death Penalty Report, 2023, prepared by Project 39A, a criminal justice programme linked with the National Law University, Delhi.

    Death Penalty

    • The death penalty is the state-sanctioned execution of a person as a punishment for a crime. 
    • It is the highest degree of punishment that can be awarded to an individual under a specified penal law in force. 
    • The legal process for imposing the death penalty in India involves a trial court issuing a death sentence, which can then be appealed in higher courts, including the High Court and the Supreme Court of India. 
    • The President of India has the power to grant pardons or commute sentences.

    Major findings of the Report

    • As per the report, there has been a 45.71% increase in the population of inmates sent to death row since 2015.
      • Uttar Pradesh had the largest death row population at 119 prisoners.
    • According to the report, in 2023, trial courts awarded death sentences to 120 prisoners.
    • Appellate Courts (Supreme Court and all the High Courts together ) confirmed only one death sentence in 2023 while the rest were either commuted or saw the prisoners acquitted altogether.
    • The total number of death sentences awarded (in trial courts) last year had seen a significant drop — from 167 in 2022 to 120 in 2023.
      • More than half (55%) of these 120 were in homicidal rape cases.
    • The report said that in 2023, the HCs also disposed of fewer cases involving death sentences compared to 2022 (68 cases involving 101 prisoners), meaning the number of prisoners on death row went up.


    • Acquittal and remand by the higher Courts in 2023 indicate significant concerns with the quality of police investigations and appreciation of evidence by lower courts in cases.
    • The trial courts imposed death sentences in 86.96% of its cases in the absence of any information relating to the accused, despite the Supreme Court’s mandate in Manoj v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2022).

    Arguments in favor of Death Penalty

    • Arguments in favor of Death Penalty: In the 35th Report of Law Commission of India (1962), the Law Commission favored retaining the death penalty in the Indian Judicial System.
    • Acting as a deterrent: Supporters argue that the fear of facing capital punishment may deter individuals from committing heinous crimes such as murder or terrorism.
    • Retribution and Justice: Advocates believe that the death penalty provides a form of retribution for the victims and their families.
    • Permanent Incapacitation: Advocates suggest that the death penalty ensures that individuals who have committed heinous crimes will never be able to harm society again.
    • Moral Condemnation: The death penalty reflects society’s moral condemnation of certain acts and reinforces the sanctity of human life by holding individuals accountable for their actions.

    Arguments against Death Penalty

    • Against the global trend: According to the Amnesty Report, at the end of 2021 more than two thirds of the world’s countries had abolished the death penalty in law or practice.
    • The poor are most affected: The numbers of the uneducated and the illiterate sentenced to death outweigh those who are educated and literate.
      • 74.1% of individuals on death row in India come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
    • Life Imprisonment as an Alternative: Some argue that life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is a viable alternative to the death penalty, ensuring public safety without the irreversible consequences of execution.
    • Risk of Wrongful Execution: Critics argue that no justice system is infallible, and the risk of executing an innocent person exists.
      • Cases of wrongful convictions, sometimes based on flawed evidence or legal errors, can lead to irreversible consequences.
    • Psychological Effects: Critics raise concerns about the psychological impact on those involved in the execution process, including prison staff and witnesses, as well as the mental health of the condemned individual.
    • Global Abolition Trend: There is a global trend toward the abolition of the death penalty, with an increasing number of countries choosing to eliminate or suspend capital punishment.
      • In Ghana, the Parliament passed a Bill in 2023 to abolish the death penalty for ordinary crimes.

    Way Forward

    • The death penalty issue in India requires a balanced and inclusive approach that takes into account diverse perspectives, respects human dignity, and promotes the principles of fairness and justice.
    • There is a need to facilitate collaboration among government agencies, civil society organizations, legal experts, and other stakeholders to explore alternative approaches to addressing serious crimes while upholding human rights.

    Sources: TH

    Women in Politics

    Syllabus: GS2/Structure, organisation and functioning of the Legislature


    • Recently, the Women’s Reservation Bill was passed in the Parliament of India. 

    Status of Women in Indian Politics

    • Representation: Despite constitutional guarantees of equality, women remain underrepresented in Indian politics. As of 2023, they hold only 14.3% of Lok Sabha (lower house) and 11.8% of Rajya Sabha (upper house) seats.
    • State level: Representation is even lower in state assemblies, averaging around 8%.
    • Local governance: Although 33% of seats in Panchayats (rural local bodies) are reserved for women, their effective participation and leadership remain concerns.


    • Socio-cultural barriers: Patriarchal societal norms and discriminatory attitudes restrict women’s entry and advancement in politics.
    • Economic constraints: Financial limitations hinder women’s ability to contest elections and participate effectively.
    • Lack of access to resources: Political networks, funding, and campaign support are often skewed towards men.
    • Violence and harassment: Women face physical and verbal abuse, online trolling, and intimidation, creating a hostile environment.
    • Political party structures: Lack of internal party support and gender-sensitive policies within parties hinder women’s rise.


    • Reservations: Increased reservation of seats in legislatures and local bodies can provide a crucial initial boost to women’s representation.
    • Financial support: Government funding schemes and subsidies can address economic barriers faced by women candidates.
    • Capacity building: Training programs and leadership development initiatives can equip women with necessary skills and confidence.
    • Awareness campaigns: Public awareness campaigns can challenge societal biases and promote gender equality in political participation.
    • Stricter laws: Effective enforcement of laws against electoral violence and harassment can create a safer environment for women in politics.
    • Internal party reforms: Political parties need to adopt gender-sensitive policies, quotas, and mentorship programs to support women candidates and leaders.
    • Empowering women voters: Educating and mobilizing women voters can enhance their political participation and hold parties accountable for fielding women candidates.

    Way Ahead

    • Increased representation of women in politics is crucial for a truly democratic and just society. 
    • Addressing the existing challenges and implementing effective measures, including the prompt implementation of the Women Reservation Bill, will require sustained efforts from individuals, political parties, civil society organizations, and the government. 

    Source: TH

    Darwin Day

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology, Genetics

    In Context

    • February 12 is globally celebrated as Darwin Day to mark the birthday of naturalist Charles Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882). 


    • Darwin Day is an opportunity for scientists to showcase the latest advancements in the comprehension of evolution and promote public understanding of science.
    • Charles Darwin was a British naturalist and biologist whose work laid the foundation for the modern theory of evolution. 
    • He is best known for his groundbreaking book “On the Origin of Species,” published in 1859, which presented evidence for the theory of natural selection as the mechanism driving evolution.
    • He is considered as the Father of Evolution.

    His Work

    • Theory of Evolution: Darwin’s theory of evolution posited that species evolve over time through a process of natural selection, where individuals with advantageous traits are more likely to survive and reproduce, passing those traits to future generations.
      • This idea revolutionized the understanding of the diversity of life on Earth.
    • Natural Selection: Darwin’s concept of natural selection was central to his theory of evolution.
      • He proposed that variations within species occur naturally, and those variations that provide an advantage in the struggle for survival are more likely to be passed onto offspring, leading to changes in the population over time.
      • Over time, this process can lead to the accumulation of adaptations that increase the fitness of individuals within a population.
    • Adaptation: Adaptations are traits or characteristics that enhance an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in its environment.
      • Natural selection favors individuals with advantageous adaptations, allowing them to outcompete others and pass on their genes to offspring. 
      • Over generations, populations may become increasingly adapted to their specific ecological niches.
    • Later Work: Darwin continued to refine and expand upon his ideas throughout his life.
      • He published several other works, including “The Descent of Man” and “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals,” which applied evolutionary principles to human behavior and psychology.
    • Legacy: His theory of evolution by natural selection has had a transformative impact on fields ranging from biology and paleontology to anthropology and psychology.
      • He is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the history of science.

    Source: IE

    Global Warming 

    Syllabus: GS3/Conservation of Environment


    • A new study based on estimates of warming from palaeo-thermometry, have said that the earth’s surface has already warmed by more than 1.5 degrees C on average over pre-industrial levels. 

    Background of 1.5 degrees C threshold

    • The 1.5 degrees C is not a scientific threshold. It became enshrined in the Paris Agreement after negotiations by member-countries of the UNFCCC. 

    Global warming

    • It refers to the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900), primarily due to human activities. 
    • This process releases greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, trapping heat in the atmosphere and causing the planet to warm.


    • Greenhouse gases: These gases absorb and re-emit infrared radiation from the sun, trapping heat in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main culprit, followed by methane, nitrous oxide, and others.
    • Fossil fuel burning: Burning coal, oil, and natural gas releases large amounts of CO2, the primary driver of global warming.
    • Deforestation: Trees absorb CO2, so their removal contributes to higher atmospheric levels.
    • Other human activities: Industrial processes, agriculture, and land-use changes also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.


    • Rising global temperatures: The average global temperature has already risen by about 1 degree Celsius since the pre-industrial era, with further warming expected in the future.
    • Climate change: More extreme weather events like heat waves, droughts, floods, wildfires, and intense storms are becoming more frequent and severe.
    • Sea level rise: Melting glaciers and thermal expansion of oceans are causing sea levels to rise, threatening coastal communities and ecosystems.
    • Ocean acidification: Increased CO2 absorption by oceans makes them more acidic, harming marine life.
    • Changes in plant and animal life: Species are being forced to adapt or migrate due to changing temperatures and ecosystems.

    Measures to address global warming


    • Energy transition: Rapidly shift to renewable energy sources like solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro power. 
    • Sustainable land management: Protect forests, restore degraded land, and adopt sustainable agricultural practices that reduce emissions and store carbon.
    • Circular economy: Transition to a circular economy where resources are reused and recycled, minimizing waste and associated emissions.
    • Technological innovation: Invest in research and development of clean technologies for various sectors, like carbon capture and storage, advanced biofuels, and green hydrogen.


    • Early warning systems: Develop and implement effective early warning systems for extreme weather events to enable timely preparedness and response.
    • Climate-resilient infrastructure: Build and manage infrastructure like dams, water management systems, and coastal defenses to withstand the impacts of rising sea levels, floods, and storms.
    • Climate-smart agriculture: Develop and adopt agricultural practices that are resilient to climate change and drought, ensuring food security.
    • Disaster risk reduction: Invest in programs that reduce vulnerability to disasters and enable communities to recover quickly and effectively.
    • Social safety nets: Implement social protection programs to support vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by climate change impacts.

    International cooperation:

    • Global agreements: Strengthen international agreements like the Paris Agreement, ensuring ambitious emissions reduction targets and effective implementation mechanisms.
    • Technology transfer and financial support: Developed countries should support developing countries in their mitigation and adaptation efforts through technology transfer, financial assistance, and capacity building.

    Individual action:

    • Reduce carbon footprint: Make conscious choices to reduce energy consumption in your daily life, opt for sustainable transportation, and consume less.
    • Support climate-friendly businesses: Choose products and services from companies committed to sustainability and reducing their environmental impact.
    • Advocate for action: Raise awareness about climate change and advocate for policies that support mitigation and adaptation efforts.

    Way Ahead:

    • The urgency of addressing climate change is widely recognized, but the pace of action remains insufficient to meet international targets for emissions reductions.
    • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned of severe consequences if we fail to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

    Source: TH

    News in Short

    Chaudhary Charan Singh

    Syllabus: Miscellaneous

    In Context

    • Former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh (1902-87) has been conferred the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award.

    Who was Chaudhary Charan Singh?

    • Chaudhary Charan Singh, born in 1902 into a middle-class farming family in Meerut, was a prominent figure in Indian politics. 
    • He became Prime Minister of India in 1979.
    • Renowned as the chief architect of land reforms in Uttar Pradesh, he spearheaded significant legislative initiatives aimed at agricultural reform. 
    • His efforts led to the enactment of the Land Holding Act of 1960, which aimed to address issues of land distribution and agricultural sustainability.

    About Bharat Ratna

    • It is the highest civilian Award of the country instituted in 1954.
    • Any person without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex is eligible for these awards.
    • It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour.
    • The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister himself to the President. 
    • The Award does not carry any monetary grant.
    • The award cannot be used as a prefix or suffix to the recipient’s name.

    Source: IE

    Nazool Land

    Syllabus: GS2/Governance


    • Violence has erupted in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani district at the site of a mosque and madrasa, allegedly on Nazool land.

    What is Nazool land?

    • Nazool land is owned by the government but most often not directly administered as state property. 
    • The state generally allots such land to any entity on lease for a fixed period, generally between 15 and 99 years.
    • In case the lease term is expiring, one can approach the authority to renew the lease by submitting a written application to the Revenue Department of the local development authority. 
    • The government is free to either renew the lease or cancel it — taking back Nazool land.

    How did Nazool land emerge?

    • During British rule, lands of  several kings and kingdoms were taken, who lost in  battles with britishers.
    • After India got Independence, the British vacated these lands. But with kings and royals often lacking proper documentation to prove prior ownership, these lands were marked as Nazool land — to be owned by the respective state governments.

    How does the government use Nazool land?

    • The government generally uses Nazool land for public purposes like building schools, hospitals, Gram Panchayat buildings, etc. Several cities in India have also seen large tracts of land denoted as Nazool land used for housing societies, generally on lease.
    • It is governed by The Nazool Lands (Transfer) Rules, 1956.

    Source: IE

    Impact of PM-SVANidhi Scheme

    Syllabus:GS2/ Welfare Schemes


    • A study commissioned by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs evaluated the impact of the PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi).

    PM-SVANidhi Scheme

    • The PM SVANidhi is a micro-credit scheme which was launched by the government in 2020.
    • The scheme is funded by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
    • The scheme aims to provide credit for working capital to street vendors who have been affected due to the Covid-19 crisis.
    • The scheme facilitates collateral-free loans of  INR 10,000/-, with subsequent loans of  INR 20,000/- and  INR 50,000/- with 7% interest subsidy for vendors, and rewards digital transactions.
    • Eligible criteria: Street vendors in possession of Certificate of Vending/Identity Card issued by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).
    Street vendors in India
    – Anyone who doesn’t have a permanent shop is considered a street vendor. 
    – There are an estimated 50-60 lakh street vendors in India, with the largest concentrations in the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Ahmedabad.
    –  Street-vending accounts for 14 percent of the total (non-agricultural) urban informal employment in the country.

    Findings of the study

    • Nearly 60.65 lakh first-term loans, 16.95 lakh second-term loans and 2.43 lakh third-term loans have been disbursed so far under the scheme.
    • The debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of the beneficiaries (9%) was lower than what was expected of small businesses, reflecting the “high creditworthiness” of the vendors.
    • After the launch of PM SVANidhi, there had been no significant improvement in the street vendors getting formal credit from other sources — only 9% of the beneficiaries had loans from other financial institutions.
    • The study found 13.9% of all the loans disbursed had been classified as non-performing assets (NPAs).

    Source: IE

    Lymphatic Filariasis

    Syllabus: GS2/Health/GS 3/S&T

    In News

    The first phase of the Bi-annual Nationwide Mass Drug Administration (MDA) campaign for Lymphatic Filariasis elimination was launched recently.

    • The campaign aims to check disease transmission by providing free preventive medications to the residents in areas affected by the disease.

    About Lymphatic filariasis

    • It is a Vector Borne Disease which is caused mainly by Wuchereria Bancrofti and spread by Culex mosquito.
      • This mosquito grows in dirty accumulated water.
    • It is a neglected tropical disease that is commonly known as elephantiasis.
    • Infection occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes.
      • Infection is usually acquired in childhood and causes hidden damage to the lymphatic system.
    • Prevalence: It affects over 120 million people in 72 countries throughout the tropics and sub-tropics of Asia, Africa, the Western Pacific, and parts of the Caribbean and South America.
    • Impact:  The disease affects the poorest population in society, particularly those living in areas with poor water, sanitation and hygiene.
      •  LF does not kill the affected people, but may cause permanent disfigurement, reduced productivity and social stigma.
    • Treatment: It can be eliminated by stopping the spread of infection through preventive chemotherapy with safe medicine combinations repeated annually.
    • India’s Efforts: India is committed to eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis by 2027, three years ahead of the global target through mission mode, multi partner, multi sector, targeted drive for which we have drawn up the roadmap”

    Source :PIB

    Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Lending 

    Syllabus: GS3/Indian Economy 


    • Deputy governor of RBI recently cautioned NBFCs against peer-to-peer (P2P) lending practices, which are not in line with regulatory guidelines.

    Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending 

    • P2P is a financial system that connects borrowers and lenders directly, bypassing traditional financial institutions like banks. 
    • Platforms: Online platforms act as intermediaries, matching borrowers with potential lenders based on factors like creditworthiness and desired loan amount.
      • Platforms typically charge borrowers and lenders fees for facilitating the transaction.
    • Rates and terms: Interest rates and loan terms are determined by the platform based on borrower risk and market conditions.
    • Funding: Lenders can contribute to individual loans or diversify by investing in parts of multiple loans.

    Source: LM

    Ayushman Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY)

    Syllabus :GS 2/Health 

    In News

    • Government is preparing to include ASHA and anganwadi workers/helpers in its Ayushman Bharat scheme as announced in Intereim Budget 2024.

    AboutAB PM-JAY

    • Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri – Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) is the largest publicly funded health assurance scheme in the world .
    • It provides health cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.
    • The households included are based on the deprivation and occupational criteria of Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 (SECC 2011) for rural and urban areas respectively.
    Do you know ?
    Ayushman Bharat is a flagship scheme of Government of India 
    – It was recommended by the National Health Policy 2017, to achieve the vision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
    – It has been designed to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its underlying commitment, which is to “leave no one behind.”It adopts a continuum of care approach, comprising of two interrelated components, which are –
    A. Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs)
    B. Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)



    Syllabus: GS3/Environmental Adaptation


    • Researchers have observed instances of brumation in various reptilian species across habitats.

    About Brumation

    • It’s a state of sluggishness, inactivity, or torpor exhibited by reptiles during winter or extended periods of low temperature because of scarcity of food.
      • It is a period of dormancy in reptiles, similar to hibernation in mammals, to conserve energy and survive the adverse environmental conditions.
    • During brumation, reptiles may retreat to underground burrows, rock crevices or other sheltered areas where temperatures are relatively more stable.

    Brumating Species

    • Turtles (box and painted), Tortoises, Snakes, Lizards and some amphibians like frogs.
      • The Bearded Dragon is the most brumating of all the known reptiles.

    Significance of Brumation

    • It allows reptiles to go weeks or even months without eating, and to conserve energy and minimise their resource requirements.
    • It is crucial for reptiles to survive cold climes and endure challenging environmental conditions, until they can reemerge to feed and reproduce in more favourable climes.
    • It is a survival strategy hardwired into these animals over thousands of years to adapt to sudden climatic changes.

    Source: TH

    Hastsal Minar

    Syllabus: GS1/Art and Culture


    • Recently, efforts are being made to unravel the mysteries surrounding the Hastsal Minar, a Mughal-era symbol of glory.

    About the Hastsal Minar:

    • It is known as the Mini Qutub Minar, is a minaret tower located in Hastsal village in West Delhi, India.
    • Construction: The minar was built in 1650 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.
      • It was constructed using lakhori bricks and clad with red sandstone.
    • Design: The tower stands tall at 17 metres tall on a raised platform, with a reducing diameter. It stands on a square platform with an octagonal body.
      • It was originally a five-storey tower, topped with a domed Chhatri pavilion.
      • The design of the tower resembles the Qutub Minar of Delhi.
    • Current State: The minar is currently endangered and has been opened for tourists after renovation.
      • It has three floors at present, compared to five earlier.
    • Historical Significance: The minar was used by Emperor Shah Jahan for his entertainment after hunting in the encompassing wilderness that used to surround this colossal Hastsal minaret and royal hunting lodge.

    Source: IE