InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 1:
1. Sri Aurobindo.
2. Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM).
GS Paper 2:
1. NITI Aayog Health Index.
2. Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.
3. Iran Nuclear Talks.
GS Paper 3:
1. Retrospective taxation.
2. China conducts nuclear fusion experiment for ‘artificial sun’.
Facts for Prelims:
1. E.O. Wilson.
2. What is a zero-day vulnerability and is log4j one of this kind?
GS Paper 1:
Topics Covered: Modern History and important Personalities.
PM Modi has announced that 150 universities across the country will be involved in writing papers on different aspects of spiritual leader Sri Aurobindo’s life and philosophy to commemorate his 150th birth anniversary.
- Sri Aurobindo was born on August 15, 1872, in Kolkata, West Bengal.
About Sri Aurobindo:
- He was a yogi, seer, philosopher, poet, and Indian nationalist who propounded a philosophy of divine life on earth through spiritual evolution.
- From 1902 to 1910 he partook in the struggle to free India from the British.
- In Pondichéry he founded a community of spiritual seekers, which took shape as the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1926.
- He was much influenced by the American Revolution, revolts in Italy and the medieval French revolts against England.
- He attended Congress sessions and at the same time, helped establish the Anushilan Samiti of Calcutta in 1902.
- He and his brother revolutionary Barin Ghose contributed articles to the magazine Jugantar which inspired many young people to take up revolutionary work.
- He was also a journalist, editing newspapers such as Bande Mataram.
- In May 1908, Aurobindo was arrested in connection with the Alipore Conspiracy Case.
- In 1914, he started publishing a magazine Arya.
- He wrote copiously and his greatest literary achievement was ‘Savitri’, an epic poem with about 24000 lines.
- He developed a kind of Yoga called Integral Yoga.
His theory of Nationalism:
Sri Aurobindo Ghosh was considered as a prophet of Indian nationalism. Along with Bankimchandra, Tilak and Dayanand, he developed the theory of nationalism in India.
- Sri Aurobindo’s theory of nationalism was based on Vedanta philosophy which saw unity and oneness in man and God.
- He declared that India was in fact Mother India which represented the united power and Shakti of millions of her children. Mother India represented the infinite energy of her people: He identified Mother India with God and maintained that it was God’s divine mission to set India free.
- He said that the village should retain its autonomy and self-government but at the same time, ‘should seek to promote national cohesion. The ideal of national Swaraj must be modeled on the old village community which was self-sufficient, autonomous and self-governing.
- About Sri Aurobindo.
- His contributions to India’s Freedom Struggle.
- Important literary works.
- Organizations he was associated with.
- Alipore Conspiracy Case.
Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo revolutionized and awakened the Indian philosophical mind. They can be viewed as great masters of philosophy of “unity in diversity.” Elaborate.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 1:
Topics Covered: Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Performance analysis of the scheme as per the latest survey:
- Telangana stood first in the implementation of the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM).
- Tamil Nadu and Gujarat took the second and third positions respectively.
Launched in 2016, the programme is designed to deliver catalytic interventions to rural areas on the threshold of growth.
It is now a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
Funding: Shared between the Centre and the State in a ratio of 60:40 for Plain area States and 90:10 for Himalayan and NE States.
Main objective of the scheme is bridging the rural-urban divide-viz: economic, technological and those related to facilities and services.
Under the mission, the Central government in coordination with the district administration has taken measures to bring about multi-layered phased development of the rural gram panchayats and villages on the lines of urban cities with proper civic amenities keeping the soul of villages intact.
What are Rurban areas? Why develop them?
A ‘Rurban cluster’, would be a cluster of geographically contiguous villages with a population of about 25000 to 50000 in plain and coastal areas and with a population of 5000 to 15000 in desert, hilly or tribal areas. These clusters typically illustrate potential for growth, have economic drivers and derive locational and competitive advantages.
The larger outcomes envisaged under this Mission are:
- Bridging the rural-urban divide-viz: economic, technological and those related to facilities and services.
- Stimulating local economic development with emphasis on reduction of poverty and unemployment in rural areas.
- Spreading development in the region.
- Attracting investment in rural areas.
According to the 2011 Census, India has more than 6 lakh villages while there are around 7,000 towns and urban centres. Out of a total population the rural population accounts for 69% and urban population 31%.
- About 70% of the population lives in rural areas and about 50% of the overall labour force is still dependent on agriculture that is not productive enough.
- Large parts of rural areas in the country are not stand-alone settlements but part of a cluster of settlements, which are relatively proximate to each other. These clusters typically illustrate potential for growth, have economic drivers and derive locational and competitive advantages. These clusters, once developed, can then be classified as ‘Rurban’.
- Rurban Mission.
- Key features.
- Rurban areas.
- Urban development in India.
Discuss the concerns associated with Urban Development in India.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Issues related to health.
Niti Aayog has released the fourth edition of its state health index for 2019-20.
- The “Health Index” is part of a report commissioned by the NITI Aayog, the World Bank and the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry.
Performance of states in the latest index:
- For the fourth year in a row, Kerala has topped.
- Uttar Pradesh has come in at the bottom.
- Tamil Nadu and Telangana are at 2nd and 3rd places respectively.
- Mizoram topped the health index among smaller states while Nagaland was ranked at the bottom.
- Among union territories, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu was ranked at the top and Andaman & Nicobar was ranked at the bottom.
The Health Index score is prepared based on the States’ performance across a large set of indicators that are divided into three broad domains — health outcomes, governance and information, and key inputs and processes.
- Health outcomes, for instance, include parameters such as neonatal mortality rate, under-5 mortality rate and sex ratio at birth.
- Governance includes institutional deliveries, average occupancy of senior officers in key posts earmarked for health.
- Health Index has been developed as a tool to leverage co-operative and competitive federalism to accelerate the pace of achieving health outcomes.
- It would also serve as an instrument for “nudging” States & Union Territories (UTs) and the Central Ministries to a much greater focus on output and outcome-based measurement of annual performance than is currently the practice.
- With the annual publication of the Index and its availability on public domain on a dynamic basis, it is expected to keep every stakeholder alert to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Goal number 3.
- About the Index.
- Ranking criteria.
- Latest findings.
Analyse the findings of the NITI Aayog’s Health Index report that was released recently.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Government Policies and issues arising out of their implementation.
The Union Home Ministry has refused to renew the FCRA registration of Missionaries of Charity (MoC), a Catholic religious congregation set up by Nobel laureate Mother Teresa, as “some adverse inputs were noticed”.
- The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration is mandatory for any NGO or association to receive foreign funds or donations.
- According to the MHA, between 2016 and 2020, the government cancelled the FCRA licences of more than 6,600 NGOs and suspended those of about 264.
FCRA regulates foreign donations and ensures that such contributions do not adversely affect the internal security of the country. The Act, first enacted in 1976 was amended in the year 2010 and then 2020.
Section 5 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 gives the Union government “unchecked and unbridled powers” to declare an organisation as being one of political nature and deny it access to funds from sources abroad.
- FCRA is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- Prior Reference Category under the Act: It implies that to donate to such an NGO, a foreign donor has to take prior clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Latest Supreme Court observations:
It has asked the government why the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been tasked to keep an eye on the inflow and subsequent outflow of foreign funds to NGOs under the foreign contributions regulations law.
Need for regulation:
- Intelligence Bureau (IB) inputs have shown that foreign funds entering India were used to fund activities that destabilise national peace and security. The inputs even indicated that the money was used to train naxals. There is an element of national security, integrity of the nation involved here.
- According to the CBI, Only about 10 per cent of the over 22 lakh non-government organisations file their annual income and expenditure statements with the authorities they are registered with.
Latest 2020 amendments and criticisms associated:
- The amendments mandated that registered NGOs open a designated account in the main branch of the State Bank of India in the Capital in which the foreign contributions to their various causes would exclusively land.
- The petitioners have argued that this measure would be cumbersome for NGOs operating in rural India and far away from the Capital.
- About FCRA.
- About Foreign Funding of NGOs.
- Mother Teresa.
Discuss the major provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) and the need for such legislation.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Iran nuclear talks set to resume after five months:
The international talks have resumed in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
- The talks are held between the remaining partners to the deal — Iran, China, Russia, Germany, France and the U.K.
- The talks seek to bring back the United States, after it withdrew from the accord in 2018 under then President Donald Trump and began imposing sanctions on Iran.
About the Iran Nuclear Deal:
- Also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
- The JCPOA was the result of prolonged negotiations from 2013 and 2015 between Iran and P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union, or the EU).
- Under the deal, Tehran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy-water, all key components for nuclear weapons.
What’s the concern now?
- Trump pulled the U.S. out of the accord in 2018. Besides, he opted for a “maximum pressure” campaign by imposing sanctions and other tough actions.
- Iran responded by intensifying its enrichment of uranium and building of centrifuges, while maintaining its insistence that its nuclear development was for civilian and not military purposes.
Again, In January 2020, following the drone strike on Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Gen. Qasem Soleiman, Iran announced that it would no longer observe the JCPOA’s restraints.
- The collapse of the JCPOA drags Iran towards nuclear brinkmanship, like North Korea, which has created major geopolitical instability in the region and beyond.
Significance of the deal for India:
- Removing sanctions may revive India’s interest in the Chabahar port, Bandar Abbas port, and other plans for regional connectivity.
- This would further help India to neutralize the Chinese presence in Gwadar port, Pakistan.
- Restoration of ties between the US and Iran will help India to procure cheap Iranian oil and aid in energy security.
Have you heard about the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)? Is India a member to this treaty? Reference: read this.
- What is JCPOA? Signatories.
- Iran and its neighbours.
- What is IAEA? Relation with the UN.
- What is Uranium Enrichment?
Write a note on JCPOA.
Sources: the Hindu
GS Paper 3:
Topics Covered: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
British energy major Cairn Energy Plc has finally withdrawn the lawsuits filed against the Indian government and its entities overseas in a ₹10,247 crore retrospective tax case. The company is in the process of dropping cases filed in France and the Netherland, too.
- These lawsuits were filed to seize assets of Air India to recover the money from the Indian government.
The Cairn’s decision to drop the lawsuits comes after an international arbitration award overturned the levy of ₹10,247 crore retro tax by India and directed it to refund the money to the company.
What’s the issue?
In December 2020, a three-member international arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Netherlands ruled unanimously that the Indian government was “in breach of the guarantee of fair and equitable treatment”, and against the India-UK Bilateral Investment Treaty, and that the breach caused a loss to the British energy company and ordered compensation of $1.2 billion.
- Cairn had challenged the Indian government seeking taxes over an internal business reorganisation using the 2012 retrospective tax law, under the UK-India Bilateral Investment Treaty.
- In 2014, the Indian tax department had demanded Rs 10,247 crore in taxes.
- In 2015, Cairn Energy Plc commenced international arbitration proceedings against the Indian government.
The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, enacted in August scraps the tax rule that gave the tax department power to go 50 years back and slap capital gains levies wherever ownership had changed hands overseas but business assets were in India. This nullifies the tax assessment originally levied against Cairn.
What is retrospective taxation?
- It allows a country to pass a rule on taxing certain products, items or services and deals and charge companies from a time behind the date on which the law is passed.
- Countries use this route to correct any anomalies in their taxation policies that have, in the past, allowed companies to take advantage of such loopholes.
- Retrospective Taxation hurts companies that had knowingly or unknowingly interpreted the tax rules differently.
- It was established in 1899 and is headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands.
- It is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to serve the international community in the field of dispute resolution and to facilitate arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution between States.
- All decisions, called “awards” are binding on all the parties in the dispute and have to be carried out without delay.
How arbitration, mediation and conciliation are different from each other? Reference
- What is Arbitration?
- Recent Amendments.
- About the International Court of Arbitration.
- About the Arbitration Council of India.
- Appointment of arbitrators under the 1996 Act.
- Permanent Court of Arbitration- composition, functions and members.
Discuss the significance of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3:
Topics Covered: Science and technology.
Top scientists from China have claimed to have successfully created a ‘fake Sun’. The artificial Sun created by China is about ten times hotter than the real Sun, around which our planet revolves.
- It is called the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), also known as ‘Artificial Sun’ experiment.
- In June, it set a new record, where it achieved a plasma temperature of 216 million Fahrenheit (120 million C) for 101 seconds.
How was the experiment carried out and what were the results?
- Experts focused their giant array of almost 200 laser beams onto a tiny spot to create a mega blast of energy – eight times more than they had ever done in the past.
- Although the energy only lasted for a very short time – just 100 trillionths of a second – the scientists were able to create more energy than they are using.
- In this experiment, scientists used two isotopes of hydrogen, giving rise to helium.
Why is this significant?
It is believed that the temperature at the core of the Sun is 15 million C, which also means that the temperature produced by (EAST) is nearly seven times that of the Sun.
- It is a significant step in the country’s quest to unlock clean and limitless energy, with minimal waste products.
What is EAST?
The artificial Sun experiment is being developed through a reactor, with the help of nuclear fusion.
- The mission mimics the energy generation process of the sun.
- The reactor consists of an advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device located in Hefei, China.
- It is one of three major domestic tokamaks that are presently being operated across the country.
- The EAST project is part of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) facility, which will become the world’s largest nuclear fusion reactor when it becomes operational in 2035.
The ITER project includes the contributions of several countries, including India, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States.
How does the ‘artificial sun’ EAST work?
It replicates the nuclear fusion process carried out by the sun and stars.
- For nuclear fusion to occur, tremendous heat and pressure are applied on hydrogen atoms so that they fuse together.
- The nuclei of deuterium and tritium — both found in hydrogen — are made to fuse together to create a helium nucleus, a neutron along with a whole lot of energy.
- Here, fuel is heated to temperatures of over 150 million degrees C so that it forms a hot plasma “soup” of subatomic particles.
- With the help of a strong magnetic field, the plasma is kept away from the walls of the reactor to ensure it does not cool down and lose its potential to generate large amounts of energy. The plasma is confined for long durations for fusion to take place.
Why is fusion better than fission?
While fission is an easier process to carry out, it generates far more nuclear waste.
- Unlike fission, fusion also does not emit greenhouse gases and is considered a safer process with lower risk of accidents.
- Once mastered, nuclear fusion could potentially provide unlimited clean energy and very low costs.
Which other countries have achieved this feat?
China is not the only country that has achieved high plasma temperatures. In 2020, South Korea’s KSTAR reactor set a new record by maintaining a plasma temperature of over 100 million degrees Celsius for 20 seconds.
Know about India’s Role In World’s Largest Nuclear Fusion Project Construction In France: Reference.
- What is a Tokamak?
- What is China’s EAST?
- Nuclear fusion vs Fission.
- Byproducts of fusion and fission.
- About sun’s core.
- What is ITER?
Describe the significance of artificial sun being developed by China.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- O. Wilson, the trailblazing U.S. scientist, professor and author whose study of insects and clarion call to protect earth earned him the nickname “Darwin’s natural heir”, has died at age 92.
- He is considered the world’s leading authority on ants and their behaviour.
- While an entomologist early in his career, he broadened his scope immensely, studying not just insects but the social interactions of birds, mammals and humans, and he effectively — and controversially — established a new field of science known as sociobiology.
- He was the author of hundreds of scientific papers and more than 30 books, two of which won him Pulitzer Prizes for non-fiction: 1978’s On Human Nature, and The Ants in 1990.
What is a zero-day vulnerability and is log4j one of this kind?
- A 0day (or zero-day vulnerability) refers to a security flaw which has not been publicly disclosed and for which a software patch or remediation technique is not available.
- Considering that attempts at exploiting Log4Shell were observed at least a week prior to it being publicly disclosed, it could be said that it was a 0day vulnerability, however, only for a very brief period.
Log4j is a widely used software logging library for Java software. Earlier this month, information about a critical security vulnerability in the library was publicly disclosed.
Articles to be covered tomorrow: