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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. Heatwaves in India


GS Paper 2:

1. Counting process after polling is over

2. The impasse over the appointment of judges

3. Reservation for Dalit converts: SC to decide on hearing petitions

4. India Central Asia Security Meet


Content for Mains Enrichment

1. Global North and South

2. Community-driven water conservation and Harvesting initiatives


Facts for Prelims:

1. Conjugal visits for prisoners

2. European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA)

3. SpaceTech Innovation Network (SpIN)

4. Brain fog after COVID-19

5. GRI’s Self-reporting of environmental impact approved

6. Koundinya Sanctuary sees a massive shift

7. Arctic Landscape

8. Nature Positive Fund

9. Mapping



Heatwaves in India

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, tsunamis, Volcanic activity, cyclones, etc.


Source: DTE

 Context: A new report by the World Bank suggests India could soon become one of the first places in the world to experience heatwaves that break the human survivability limit.

India has witnessed a concurrent increase in meteorological droughts and heat waves over the last 60 years.


About Heatwaves:

A Heat Wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that usually occurs during the summer season.

 About Human Survivability Limit:

The Human Survivability Limit refers to the rule of thumb, which states humans can survive three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food.


Heatwave in India

  • In April 2022, India suffered an early spring heat wave that saw temperatures in New Delhi, topping 46 degrees Celsius.
  • The month of March, which witnessed extraordinary spikes in temperatures, was the hottest ever recorded.
  • The heatwaves would be devastating for many poor and marginalized communities across India, who live in inadequately ventilated, hot, and crowded homes without proper access to cooling.
  • Only eight per cent of Indian households own air-conditioning units, according to an analysis presented in the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP), 2019. 


Negative effects of Heatwaves:

On Indian economy

  • By 2030, India may account for 34 million of the projected 80 million global job losses from heat stress-associated productivity decline.
  • Analysis by global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company shows that lost labour from rising heat and humidity could put up to 4.5% of India’s GDP 

On food and public health

  • India’s long-term food security and public health securitywill depend on a reliable cold chain network. A single temperature lapse in the journey can break the cold chain, spoiling fresh produce and weakening the potency of vaccines.

Human Health

  • Heat conditions can alter human behaviour, the transmission of diseases, air quality, and critical social infrastructures such as energy, transport, and water.

Ecological impacts

  • Heatwaves, without concomitant increases in precipitation, can lead to water shortages and increased stress for plants, particularly in arid regions.
  • Animals are also highly impacted because of heat waves.


Way forward to sustainability

  • The most effective way to avoid the negative impacts of heatwaves is to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and minimising the rise in global mean temperatures.
  • New initiatives to create early warning and response systemsand improved communication approaches can help to save lives and build resilience to heat waves.
  • Decision-makers can employ a range of strategies and policies to modify social behaviour and reduce exposure to heat by closing schools or offices, which lack adequate air conditioning, ensuring availability of water, health care, and first aid, and extending access to pools, parks, and public cooling centers
  • Improved urban design and sustainable planning that increases access to green space and other cool environments (pools, air-conditioned spaces) and encourages white roofs.


Insta Links:


Prelims Link:

  • IMD criteria for Heatwaves
  • India Cooling Action Plan


Mains Link:

Q. What is a heatwave? Account for the increasing frequency and unprecedented heatwaves across multiple cities in India. 150Words

Counting process after polling is over

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Appointment to various Constitutional Posts, Powers, Functions and Responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies


Source: IE

 Direction: The article covers the process and apparatus involved during the counting of votes once polling is over.


Context: As Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh wait for the results of their Assembly elections, we will try to understand the process of counting votes.


Background: For a country like India where each individual constituency can have lakhs of voters, counting votes is a complex process that requires both pace and precision.


Process of counting of votes:


  • Ideally, all votes should be counted in one location in the constituency. But during General Elections, many counting centres can be appointed.
  • The location(s) for counting votes is decided by the Returning Officer (RO), with multiple centres being under the supervision of the Assistant Returning Officers (each centre under one ARO).


Role played by the Returning Officer (RO):

  • The RO is appointed for each constituency by the Election Commission and is the highest authority (during the course of the election) in the constituency to peacefully and impartially conduct elections.
  • Generally, the District Magistrate is the ex-officio RO in Lok Sabha elections while the Sub-Divisional Magistrate is the RO in state assembly elections.
  • With respect to the counting of votes, the RO has the following duties:
    • To designate the counting centres and get them approved by the Commission well in advance;
    • To send notice to the candidates about the place, date and time of counting of votes;
    • To appoint and train counting staff;
    • To count the votes and declare the result. However, ROs themselves do not count all votes but verify the counting at multiple stages.
  • They are the final authority in the matter of vote counting in an election. The EC also appoints AROs to assist the RO in carrying out all the duties.


Other participants in the counting apparatus:

  • Counting Supervisors and Assistants: They should be gazetted officers and are appointed by the RO.
  • Observers:
    • The EC appoints observers (generally employees of the Govt of India) at each counting room, who are supposed to record the proceedings and file a report.
    • They are the eyes and ears of the EC on the ground, who ensure that all procedures are being followed and are also supposed to randomly verify votes counted for some EVMs in each round of counting.
  • Candidates and Counting Agents: Candidates who were on the ballot are also allowed in the counting room along with their representatives.
  • Security:
  • While armed forces are typically not supposed to enter counting rooms, they are in charge of maintaining multiple layers of security, both at the
    • Counting room
    • Path through which EVMs are brought to the counting rooms from their strong rooms (where they are stored after polling).
  • The security forces, including CRPF and local police, are under the authority of the RO of the constituency.


Insta Links:

Election Commission


Mains Links:

Q. In the light of recent controversy regarding the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), what are the challenges before the Election Commission of India to ensure the trustworthiness of elections in India? (2018)

/ Dec 8 CA, election, Polity, Today's Article

The impasse over the appointment of judges

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary


Source: TH

 Direction: The article discusses the issue of the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary in the context of the 2015 SC’s verdict which struck down NJAC.

 Context: The Vice ­President of India recently commented on the ongoing heated debate between the Central government and the Supreme Court over the matter of judicial appointments.


Background: The VP questioned the SC’s 2015 decision, which struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) and the 99th Constitutional Amendment, 2014, on the grounds of endangering judicial independence.


Changes brought by the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act, 2014:

  • In order to replace the collegium system, it introduced 3 primary Articles.
  • Article 124A, created a constitutional body – NJAC to replace the collegium system.
  • Article 124B, which conferred the NJAC powers to make appointments.
  • Article 124C, empowering Parliament to regulate the NJAC’s functioning.


Appointment procedure provided under the NJAC Act:

  • The NJAC was to recommend the Chief Justice of India and Chief Justices of the HCs based on seniority, while SC and HC judges were to be recommended based on ability, merit and other criteria.
  • Unlike the collegium system, the Act enables both executive and judicial members to serve on the NJAC and empowered any 2 members of the NJAC to veto a recommendation.


Why was the NJAC challenged?

  • In 2015, the Supreme Court Advocates­on­Record Association (SCAORA) filed a plea arguing that –
    • The NJAC took away the primacy of the judiciary’s collective opinion as it could be vetoed.
    • The amendment “severely” damaged the basic structure (independence of the judiciary) of the Constitution.


The Centre’s argument:

  • The collegium that worked on an “intra­dependence” structure has “no transparency.”
  • The Act did not deprive the judiciary of its primacy but rather diminished the executive’s power because the NJAC had only 1 member (Law Minister), as compared to 3 SC judges.
  • The amendment was “perfectly consonant” with the basic structure as it strengthened the independence of the judiciary, checks and balances and democracy.


The SC’s 2015 ruling (4:1 majority) (4th Judge Case):

  • The NJAC was unconstitutional and violated the basic structure of the constitution.
  • The Bench admitted that all was not well even with the collegium system and that the time was ripe to improve the system of judicial appointments.

Criticism of the ruling: The NJAC came through a unanimously passed constitutional provision that reflected “the will of the people,” as both the bills were ratified by the required number of State Legislatures.


Current arrangement of judicial appointments:

  • The collegium system was restored.
  • The Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) – an agreement between the judiciary and the government (which came into existence after NJAC) that outlines the criteria for appointing judges to the SC and HCs.


Insta Links:

Collegium system of appointments of judges to the HCs and the SC


Mains Links:

Q. Critically examine the Supreme Court’s judgment on ‘The National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014’ with reference to the appointment of judges of the higher judiciary in India. (UPSC 2017)


Prelims Links:

Consider the following statements:

    1. The Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) governs the appointment of members of the higher judiciary in India.
    2. The MoP says that the Union Minister of Law and Justice would seek the recommendation of the outgoing Chief Justice of India for the appointment of the next Chief Justice of India.
    3. Article 124 of the Constitution contains the provisions related to MoP.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 1 and 3 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. All of the above


Solution: 1)

The MoP is the playbook agreed upon by the government and the judiciary on the appointment of judges. It is a crucial document – because the Collegium system of appointing judges is a judicial innovation that is not mandated through legislation or the text of the Constitution.


Reservation for Dalit converts: SC to decide on hearing petitions

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Parliament-Structure, functioning and conduct of business, institutions and bodies for the protection of vulnerable sections of society


Source: TH

 Direction: The article highlights the issues related to the inclusion/exclusion of communities in the SC list.


Context: The SC stated it would consider whether to wait for the Justice K.G. Balakrishnan Commission’s report or hear a series of petitions seeking Scheduled Castes quota benefits for Dalit converts to other religions, notably Christianity.


Article 341 of the Indian Constitution:

  • Clause (1): The President may with respect to any State/UT and where it is a State after consultation with the Governor, may notify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes to be SCs in relation to that State/UT.
  • Clause (2): Parliament may by law include or exclude from the list of SCs specified in a notification issued.



  • Earlier, the SC had sought the Union government’s position on petitions challenging the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950.
  • The Order allows only members of Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religions to be recognised as SCs.
  • A group seeking inclusion under the Order, is required to show extreme social, educational and economic backwardness arising out of the practice of untouchability.
  • The Union government rejected the possibility of including Dalit Christians and Muslims and recently constituted a new Commission (under former CJI K.G. Balakrishnan) under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952 to re-examine their inclusion.


A case for inclusion:

  • The existence of caste and caste inequalities among Indian Christians and Indian Muslims.
  • The caste-based discrimination continues even after conversion.
  • The 1st Backward Classes Commission’s report (1953), the Mandal Commission Report, the Ranganath Misra Commission Report, etc., highlight the same fact.
  • In Sikhism and Buddhism, though casteism is not present, they have been included as SCs.


Arguments against inclusion:

  • Christianity is an egalitarian religion which did not adhere to any caste system. As a result, a 1936 Imperial Order, specifically excluded “Indian Christians” from the Depressed Classes list.
  • The Union government refuses to accept the reports as they lack empirical evidence to support their claims.
  • The government said that Dalits who converted to Christianity or Islam to escape caste discrimination could no longer claim the reservation benefits enjoyed by those who remained in the Hindu religious system.
  • SC members had converted to Buddhism at the call of B.R. Ambedkar in 1956 on account of “some innate socio-political imperatives”.


Insta Links:

The criterion for SC status


Mains Links:

Q. Whether the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) can enforce the implementation of constitutional reservation for the Scheduled Castes in religious minority institutions. Examine. (UPSC 2018)

India Central Asia Security Meet

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: India and its neighbourhood- relations.


Source: The Hindu

 Context: India hosted a conclave of top security officials from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan with a focus on the evolving security situation in Afghanistan.

  • This year was the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between India and Central Asian countries


About Central Asia:

It is a diverse region with a mix of upper-middle and low-income countries with major strategic importance.



Key highlights of the meeting:

  • Support for a peaceful, stable, and secure Afghanistan, emphasizing respect for its sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity and urging non-interference in its internal affairs.
  • The participants supported India’s proposal to include the Chabahar port within the framework of the International North-South Transport Corridor.
  • The communique also called for the early adoption of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), which India had first proposed in 1996.


Why Central Asia is important for India:

  • Historical reasons: Central Asia was a transit route “the silk route” for the continent.
  • By acting as a bridge between Asia and Europe.
  • As a bulwark against fundamentalism: Peace and stability in the Central Asian region and adjoining Afghanistan are important in the fight against religious fundamentalism and terrorism.
  • Against Non-State Actors
  • Counterbalancing China’s belligerent attitude
  • As a consumer market
  • For Energy Security
    • Kazakhstan has so far supplied a total of 9,000 tons of uranium
    • The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and Iran -Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline projects ensure energy security for India.
  • For connectivity and trade:
    • Development of the International North-South Transport Corridor(INSTC)
  • Becoming a member of the Ashgabat Agreement
  • War on Drugs: Drug trafficking poses a great challenge to the region, hence it is of utmost importance to check the drug menace by engaging with the stakehol
  • Soft power – sports, music, art, culture, and cinema to have a philosophical and moral high ground in the region.



The vast scope for cooperation is evident from the fact that there is a huge level of unrealized potential that needs to be tapped. We need to revisit the Connect Central Asia Policy, which is based on – the 4Cs:


International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) is a multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road routes for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia, and Europe.

The Ashgabat agreement is a multimodal transport agreement between India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Oman, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan for creating an international transport and transit corridor facilitating the transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.


Insta Links:

India Central Asia

Prelims Link:

  • Central Asian Countries
  • TAPI

Mains Link:

Q. India’s carefully calibrated strategy in the Central Asian region is guided by mutual reciprocal interests both in economic and strategic terms. However, recent events have brought up new challenges to India’s interests. Analyze. 250 Words


Content for Mains Enrichment



Global North and South 

India recently assumed the presidency of the G20 (for 2022 to 2023). It said that India would be the “voice of the Global South, that is otherwise under-represented in such forums”.


The term global north and global south was developed by Emmanuel Wallerstein to describe a global capitalist system that separates countries into the core (the North), semiperiphery, and periphery (the South) based primarily on their economic participation


·         Global North: It encompasses rich and powerful regions such as North America, Europe, and Australia.

·         Global South refers to the countries of the rest of the world, most of which are in the Southern Hemisphere but also include countries from the Nothern Hemisphere such as India.


The commonality between Global South countries:

·         Measuring similarly in terms of wealth, indicators of education and healthcare, etc.

·         Most have a history of colonisation, largely at the hands of European powers

·         The region has been historically excluded from prominent international organisations – such as UNSC, IMF etc.


Other classifications:

·         First World, Second World and Third World countries, referring to countries associated with the Cold war-era alliances of the US, the USSR, and non-aligned countries, respectively.


Community-driven water conservation and Harvesting initiatives: (Case studies)

 Context: Delhi-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment documented some success stories of participatory resource management from two districts in Gujarat.


Rajkot and Amreli districts in Gujarat have semi-arid climates and low water availability.


Initiatives taken:

·         Cement Nala bund (CNB) constructed to harvest run-off water: This facilitated the percolation of the run-off into the sub-surface zones, augmenting groundwater levels and soil moisture

·         The community took ownership right from planning and implementation to operation and maintenance: The villagers also regularly monitored the progress

·         All structures were constructed by Shram Daan (voluntary labour): Over the course of six months, several households contributed daily for Shram Daan.



·         It improved agriculture by increasing cultivable land

·         Improved moisture-holding capacities and groundwater levels

·         Improved crop intensity


 Facts for Prelims

Conjugal visits for prisoners

Source: The Hindu

Conjugal rights refer to the concept of allowing a prisoner to spend some time in privacy with his spouse within the precincts of a jail.


Positive impacts:

  • Psychological health benefits for prisoners
  • Preservation of marital ties
  • Reduction in the rates of homosexuality and sexual aggression within prisons



  • Conjugal visits are considered a fundamental right of the spouses of the prisoners
  • Recognized as prisoner rights ( by UN and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights)
  • Part of a prisoner’s right to life and inherent dignity
  • The right to maintain family and social relations for prisoners


Different Interpretations:

  • Supreme Court on Conjugal Visits: “Visit prisoners by family and friends are solace in isolation”
  • Madras HC (in Meharaj vs State (2022)): There have to be differential standards in the enforcement of Article 21 for law abiders and law violators.
  • Punjab model: The State guidelines clarify that conjugal visits are a matter of privilege rather than a right. As such, such rights will be restricted in time and will be denied for high-risk prisoners.


European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA)

Context: ESMA and UK derecognised 6 major Indian clearing houses from 1st April 2023


What are Clearing Houses?

They are intermediaries between buyers and sellers of financial instruments


Why derecognised?

Due to ‘No cooperation arrangements’ between ESMA and Indian regulators (RBI, SEBI and IFSCA). Indian regulators don’t allow ESMA to regulate Indian Clearing houses as they feel the Indian regulatory system is robust enough


Impact of such derecognition: Indian clearing houses can’t provide clearing services to European clients

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) is an independent European Union (EU) Authority that contributes to safeguarding the stability of the EU’s financial system by enhancing the protection of investors and promoting stable and orderly financial markets.



SpaceTech Innovation Network (SpIN)

Source: The Hindu

 Context: ISRO signed MoU with Social Alpha to establish SpIN

What is SpIN?

  • India’s first dedicated platform for innovation, curation and venture development for the blooming space entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • It is a one-of-a-kind PPP for start-ups and SMEs in the space industry.
  • Provide a level playing field for all stakeholders to contribute and collaborate.
  • Also, the 1st SpIN innovation challenge was launched to develop solutions in areas like urbanisation, mapping, natural resources management etc. Selected start-ups can access ISRO and Social Alpha’s infrastructure and resources


Brain fog after COVID-19

Source: DTE

Context: As per the new study changes in the gene activity in the brain of people with severe COVID-19 were found to be similar to that seen in old age neurological conditions such as ‘brain fog’.


What is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is characterized by confusion, forgetfulness, and a lack of focus and mental clarity. This can be caused by Old Age, overworking, lack of sleep, stress, and spending too much time on the computer.


What have been the reasons cited?

As per the research, Genes that are linked to inflammation and stress were expressed more in the brains of people with severe COVID-19 than in others. Conversely, genes linked to cognition and the formation of connections between brain cells were less active.


GRI’s Self-reporting of  environmental impact approved

Source: DTE

Context: The Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) has approved the exposure draft of the revised Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Biodiversity Standard which will allow organisations to self-report their major impacts on biodiversity and its management


What role will these standards play?

These standards will play a major role in the COP15 ( currently being held in Montreal) in deciding collective commitments for the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.


What is GRI?

The GRI is an independent global entity that helps businesses take responsibility for their impacts on biodiversity. GRI Standards ( last revised in 2006) are designed to be used by organisations to report on their impacts on the economy, the environment and society.


What is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity or biological diversity is the variety and variability of life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem levels.



Koundinya Sanctuary sees a massive shift

Source: The Hindu

Context: An 18-member herd of all female elephants from the forests of Gudiyattam and Pernambattu of Tamil Nadu are currently on the move in the Koundinya wildlife sanctuary zone in Chittoor district, apparently “in search of mates”.


Arctic Landscape

Source: NYTimes, DTE

Context: Two-million-year-old genetic material discovered in Greenland’s Permafrost. Also, there is research regarding the freeze and melt cycle of sea ice.


Scientists have found the oldest (at least 2 million years old) known fragments of DNA, just 600 miles from the North Pole that reveals that the region was once covered by a forest of poplar and birch trees inhabited by mastodons, caribou and Arctic hares


Another new study on the freezing and melting cycles of the Arctic sea ice has found:

  • Arctic Ice and Climate change:
    • The Arctic sea ice is seasonal
    • It forms in the winter when seawater freezes into massive floating ice blocks and thaws during the summer.
    • When sea ice is present, it insulates the ocean against heat loss
    • The sea ice reflects sunlight into space, regulating ocean and air temperature and maintaining habitats above and below the water.
    • Understanding the timings of thawing and freezing is crucial in knowing the heat budget of the ‘Atmospheric-ice-ocean’ system
    • The Arctic sea ice extent or cover has been on a decline, especially in late summer.
    • The surface and bottom of the Arctic sea ice often do not melt and freeze simultaneously
  • Beaufort Gyre – Ocean current in the Arctic Ocean

Importance of the study: This is crucial to study the impact of climate change on the Arctic Ocean, as past reports show us temperatures in the Arctic are rising four times as fast as in the rest of the world.


Nature Positive Fund

Source: DTE

Context: More than 100 experts have rejected the idea of this fund at the CoP15 on Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal, Canada.


Directions: The concept might be important for prelims. But negatives can be used as value addition in mains under climate finance.


What is Nature Positive?

Nature-positive is the term used to describe a world where nature – species and ecosystems – is being restored and is regenerating rather than declining

  • It gives a Monetary valuation of nature’s ecological functions.
  • If the total monetary value remains constant, it means that nature remains stable.
  • Ex – Carbon Trading was introduced in Kyoto to monetise carbon emissions, thus making efforts to reduce them.


Countries have rejected this Nature positive fund:

  • Misleading figures from the nature-positive fund could lead to wrong policy decisions and thus result in irreversible
  • State companies and countries can’t destroy nature in one place and restore it elsewhere.
  • The money from the fund may lead to land-grabbing of indigenous land in poor countries, causing human right abuse (Green Neo colonialism)
  • Concerns about irrational changes in the financial markets

Way forward: Tighter environmental regulations



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