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:
- Reconstructing past deep-water circulations of the Indian Ocean
GS Paper 2:
- Law Minister’s suggestion to CJI on the appointment of judges: The context and background
- UNDESA World Social Report 2023
- Acute malnutrition risking 30 million children’s lives: WHO
GS Paper 3:
- MFIs to play a leading role in India’s economic growth: Study
- Cancer in India: A status report
Content for Mains Enrichment (Ethics/Essay/ Governance)
- A gentler Workplace
Facts for Prelims
- Thiruvalluvar Day
- New initiatives at Voice of Global South Summit
- Expected loss-based approach for loan loss provisioning by banks
- Waterways Network
- Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) 2023
- The first evidence of solitary waves near Mars may decode the mystery behind ion loss on the planet
- VARUNA’ – 2023
GS Paper 1
Syllabus: Geography: Ocean Current
Source: The Hindu
Context: New studies have shown that the global overturning circulation controls ocean heat distribution and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, thus playing a critical role in global climate.
What does the new study show?
Studies have indicated that tectonically driven changes in the ocean gateways such as the closure of the Central American Seaway (a body of water that once separated North America from South America), since the late Miocene period, had a dramatic impact on the GOC.
What is Global Overturning Circulation (GOC)?
- It is the equatorward transport of cold, deep waters and the poleward transport of warm, near-surface waters.
- Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is one part of this circulation apart from Pacific Deepwater, Southern Ocean Meridional Overturning Circulation etc.
- AMOC has undergone exceptional weakening in the last 150 years compared to the previous 1500 years. Climate models suggest that the AMOC will weaken over the 21st Century as greenhouse gases increase
- It is a Thermohaline circulation (THC) and distributes heat and nutrients throughout the world’s ocean basins.
GOC carries warm surface waters from the tropics towards the Northern Hemisphere, where it cools and sinks. It then returns to the tropics and then to the South Atlantic as a bottom current. From there it is distributed to all ocean basins via the Antarctic circumpolar current.
Reasons behind the slowing down of AMOC
The slowing down we experience in the last 100-200 years is anthropogenic, and these abrupt changes are destabilizing the AMOC, which could collapse the system. There are various reasons behind the current slowing down
- Global warming – Climate models have long predicted that global warming can cause a weakening of the major ocean systems of the world.
- Melting of Glaciers – In recent years Arctic ice called the “Last Ice Area” has also melted. The freshwater from the melting ice reduces the salinity and density of the water. Now, the water is unable to sink as it used to and weakens the AMOC flow.
- Warming of the Indian Ocean – As the Indian Ocean warms faster and faster, it generates additional precipitation. With so much precipitation in the Indian Ocean, there will be less precipitation in the Atlantic Ocean, leading to higher salinity in the waters of the tropical portion of the Atlantic. This saltier water in the Atlantic, as it comes north via AMOC, will get cold much quicker than usual and sink faster.
Q. What is Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)? Why is it slowing down, and what are its implications? (10M)
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary
Direction: The article attempts to explain the MoP for the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary, as well as the Law Minister’s suggestion to reform the collegium.
Context: The Union Minister for Law and Justice has written to the CJI suggesting that a nominee of the government should be included in the collegium that makes recommendations for the appointment of judges.
Background: The suggestion to the CJI comes in the backdrop of –
- An ongoing tussle between the government and the judiciary on the issue of the appointment of judges.
- A Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) is pending finalisation.
What is the MOP?
- It is the official playbook agreed upon by the government and the judiciary and governs the collegium system of appointing judges.
- Since the collegium system evolved through a series of SC rulings (First (1981), Second (1993) and Third (1998) Judges Cases), the MoP is the bedrock of the process of appointments.
- The MoP was sought to be re-negotiated after the SC struck down (4:1) 2015 the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC).
- Draft MoPs, which include eligibility criteria, a new secretariat and a mechanism to deal with complaints against proposed candidates, were exchanged during 2015-17.
The bone of contention in the MoP and SC’s take on the appointment process:
- The insertion of a “national security” clause that may prevent an appointment was a major point of contention.
- However, before the document could be finalised, the SC in a 2017 judgement (a suo motu contempt proceeding against Justice C S Karnan, then a judge of the Calcutta HC) highlights,
- The need to revisit the process of selection and appointment of judges to the constitutional courts.
- The necessity to establish an effective legal regime to deal with situations where the conduct of a constitutional court judge necessitates remedial actions (other than impeachment).
- The SC has initiated a contempt case against the government for not adhering to the timelines set out in the MoP and court rulings.
- The MoP is under finalisation by the Government in consultation with the SC Collegium.
- The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice voiced concern, given that the MoP had been pending for more than seven years.
What does the Law Minister’s suggestion imply?
- Government representatives should be a part of the SC (CJI and four senior-most judges of the apex court) and HC (Chief Justice and two senior-most judges of a particular HC) Collegiums.
- A departure from the NJAC
The opposition to the suggestion:
- This remedy is a poison pill for an independent judiciary.
- A representative of the Government alone attacks not only the independence of the judiciary but also the competitive balance between the ruling party and the opposition.
GS Paper 1
Syllabus: Population and Associated Issues
Direction: The article highlights how fast the world’s population is ageing with a SWOT analysis and way ahead, which may be applied to the Indian context as well.
Context: The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) published the World Social Report 2023, with the theme “Leaving No One Behind in an Aging World“.
- Rooted in the UN Charter and guided by the transformative 2030 SDGs, the UN DESA (New York City, 1948) upholds the development pillar of the UN.
- UN DESA helps countries make informed decisions by providing information through publications and databases and international deliberations at the UN General Assembly, ECOSOC, etc.
- The World Social Report (since 1997 and previously Report on the World Social Situation) has served as a background document for policy analysis of socio-economic trends.
- Since 2001, the periodicity of the report has been changed from a four-year cycle to a two-year cycle (biennial).
- In 2022, the world marked the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing.
- To commemorate this landmark, the 2023 Report explores the economic and social implications of the ageing of the human population.
Highlights of the 2023 Report:
- Population ageing is a defining global trend of the time, which has begun or is expected to begin soon in all countries and areas.
- People are living longer (an inevitable result of the demographic transition), and more are older than ever before.
- Spectacular improvements in health and survival and reductions in fertility have driven this momentous shift.
- This change brings both challenges and opportunities as countries strive to achieve the SDGs.
|Population ageing signals the extraordinary collective success of the world in improving living
conditions for billions of people.
|● Decrease in the share of working-age people in the total population.
● Dependency, vast inequalities, diverse needs, the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, and Climate change.
|Demand for long-term care is soaring in many countries||Impose significant social, economic, fiscal, and health-related costs on present and future generations.|
Two policy actions suggested by the report:
- To promote labour market participation and increased productivity, uphold good health and prevent poverty.
- To reduce inequality and promote economic security at older ages in a fiscally sustainable manner, taking into account both pensions and health care.
Conclusion: The national policies aimed at creating equitable, inclusive societies for people of all ages, and prioritising the rights and well-being of older people are the need of the hour.
Q. Critically examine the effects of globalisation on the aged population in India. (UPSC 2013)
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
Direction: The article gives a perspective on the issue of malnutrition in the world along with efforts being made by global agencies. It also briefs about the situation in India.
Context: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), conflict, climate shocks, the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and rising living costs are rendering increasing numbers of children acutely malnourished.
Findings of the WHO:
- The global food crisis is leading to a health crisis, resulting in a vicious cycle – malnutrition leads to disease and disease leads to malnutrition.
- Wasting/acute malnutrition, which is the deadliest form of undernutrition, is a major threat to children’s lives and their long-term health and development.
- Currently, more than 30 million children in the 15 worst-affected countries suffer from this and 8 million of these children are severely wasted.
- Meanwhile, critical health, nutrition and other life-saving services are becoming less accessible.
Efforts taken in this direction:
- Five UN agencies including WHO is calling for accelerated progress on the Global Action Plan on Child Wasting.
- These agencies are Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and WHO.
- The action plan aims to prevent, detect and treat acute malnutrition among children in the worst-affected countries: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, etc.
- There is the need for urgent decisive and timely action to prevent this crisis from becoming a tragedy.
- Greater investment in support of a coordinated UN response is the need of the hour.
Q. Can the vicious cycle of gender inequality. poverty and malnutrition to be broken through microfinancing of women SHGs? Explain with examples. (UPSC 2021)
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Financial Inclusion
Source: Economic Times
Context: As per the study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Association of Microfinance Institutions of India, Microfinance institutions (MFI), will play a leading role in the growth process of India.
What are MFIs?
Microfinance institutions (MFIs) are financial companies that provide small loans to people who do not have any access to banking facilities. The definition of “small loans” varies between countries. In India, all loans that are below Rs. 1 lakh can be considered microloans.
Microfinance institutions (MFIs) came into being in the 90s as banks’ reluctance to lend to those without credit history provided an opportunity to those willing to take the risk and organize rural communities.
Significance of microfinance institutions in the economy
- Empowerment of women: About 95 per cent of some loan products extended by microfinance institutions are given to women, as well as those with disabilities
- Access to credit esp. for the poor: It has acted as a financial support system to low-income households by offering credit access to six crore borrowers in the last few years
- Poverty alleviation: Microfinance disrupts the cycle of poverty by making more money available. They provide easy credit and offer small loans to customers, without any collateral.
- Savings in rural households: It helps the poor and marginalized section of society by making them aware of the financial instruments available for their help and also helps in developing a culture of saving.
- Creating employment
- Social benefits: Families benefiting from microloans are more likely to provide better and continued education for their children and quality healthcare facilities for family members.
- Digitization: From 2017 onwards, the Indian MFI industry embraced the digital route by using online delivery channels, mobile banking and e-wallets.
Fig: In 2011, Y H Malegam Committee helped establish MFI as a legitimate asset class.
Issues concerning MFI:
- Minimal or no regulatory structure: The combination of minimal regulation and rapid sector growth led to an environment where customers were increasingly dissatisfied with microfinance services, culminating in the Andhra Pradesh crisis in the fall of 2010.
- Regulatory role of RBI wrt MFIs: RBI more or less caters to commercial and traditional banks more than it helps MFIs.
- Very little regulation exists for NGO-MFIs and Cooperatives
- Delinquency among microfinance borrowers
- Dependence on commercial banks
- Over-indebtedness of MFIs
- MFIs have strayed away from their original purpose of poverty alleviation and social empowerment to short-term profit-making.
- MFIs are harassing their clients who are usually too desperate to turn away from the credit being offered. This is true even when credit comes with the catch of high repayment rates.
- There is a need for MFIs to consider adopting more flexible operating models, providing skills training, and offering services such as the portability of accounts
- RBI’s new regulatory framework for Microfinance institutions: RBI has recently released its Consultative Document on the Regulation of the Microfinance sectoraimed at protecting and empowering borrowers.
- A diversified menu of microloan products linked to sustainable income generation activities via micro-enterprises or the creation of community-based pooled enterprises could make it more attractive and compatible with the requirements of women.
- Linking developmental initiatives to an institution (hand-holding) to nurture, monitor, and handhold those activities in the formative stages is crucial for sustainability.
As per the World Bank estimates, more than 500 million people have improved their economic conditions via microfinance-related entities. Strengthening the credit check and debt collection processes and educating the villagers about products and consequences is important.
Q. By highlighting the significance of microfinance institutions in the economy, analyze if the present regulatory framework can effectively manage these institutions. (15M)
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
Direction: The article tries to find out the reasons behind high cancer incidence and mortality in India despite the progress in cancer treatment.
- Even with improvements in treatment, both the incidence of cancer and mortality continue to rise in India.
- Cancer is a disease in which some of the body’s cells grow uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body.
- According to a report by the American Cancer Society, deaths due to cancer have declined by 33% (translating into 3.8 million fewer deaths) in the United States since 1991.
- This success is mainly due to early detection, lower rates of smoking, and improvements in cancer treatment.
- However, this trend is yet to be reflected in India.
What is the incidence of cancer and mortality in India?
- According to an ICMR study, one in nine Indians will develop cancer during their lifetime. One in 68 men will develop lung cancer and one in 29 women will develop breast cancer.
Why are some cancers declining while others continue to rise?
- The incidence of cervical cancer has dropped in India over the last 50 years from 45 to 10 per 100,000 population.
- The decline is because of late marriages, fewer children, better hygiene, and vaccination (human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV)).
- At the same time, there is an increase in rates of breast cancer, especially in urban centres (45 per 100,000 in Hyderabad).
- This is because of the same reasons (which resulted in cervical cancer decline) – late marriages, having the first child at a later age, not breastfeeding, and a high protein diet.
- Unlike cervical cancer, there is no specific intervention for breast cancer other than screening because what causes it is unknown.
- The rates of tobacco-related cancers (oral, oesophageal) are also coming down, largely due to tobacco laws that have brought down smoking in public places.
- Lung cancers, however, remain a cause for concern. It is caused not only by smoking but also by pollution. For example, lung cancer rates are high in Arunachal Pradesh because they light fires indoors in winter.
- The survival rate for lung cancer is not very high and it is mostly diagnosed in the late stages.
Has there been progress in cancer treatment?
Yes, as the cure rate for various cancers is rising. For example,
- The cure rate for pancreatic cancer has doubled from 3% to 6% in the last 50 years.
- Prostate cancer has gone up from 60% to 100%.
- Breast cancer has improved from 50% to 90% with newer treatments.
- The infrastructure for the seven pillars of cancer care – prevention, surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, imaging, laboratory diagnostics, and palliation – is inadequate in India.
- For example, there should be 1 radiotherapy machine per million population in developing countries (as per WHO standards). So, for 1.4 billion people in India, 1,400 machines are required, and we have only 700.
- In order to reduce mortality, the need is to ensure that people get diagnosed early and receive timely treatment.
- The first intervention has to be screening. For the three most common types of cancer (34% of cancers in India – breast, cervical and oral), this has already started through the government’s upgraded health and wellness centres.
- Screening should lead to treatment (in hospitals), which has to be accessible and affordable.
- The number of cancer care facilities must be increased (currently, one for every 5-crore population in India).
Conclusion: There are several programmes of the government that are working independently and in silos. In order to reduce incidence and mortality, there is a need to coordinate existing efforts.
In order to enhance the prospects of social development, sound and adequate healthcare policies are needed particularly in the fields of geriatric and maternal healthcare. Discuss. (UPSC 2020)
Content for Mains Enrichment
A gentler Workplace
Source: Indian Express
Context: Recently Chief Justice of India (CJI) Chandrachud brought his daughters to Supreme Court.
Other examples of children in the workplace:
Fig: Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand’s prime minister) just became the first world leader to give birth in office in almost 30 years
Fig: Australian Politician Larissa Waters became 1st in the world to breastfeed her baby in Parliament.
Facts for Prelims
Context: The Prime Minister, has paid homage to Thiruvalluvar on Thiruvalluvar Day and recalled his noble thoughts. He also urged the youth to read the Kural.
- Thiruvalluvar, also called Valluvar, was a Tamil poet-saint.
- He contributed the Tirukkural or ‘Kural’ to the Sangam literature.
- Tirukkural is comprised of 133 sections of 10 couplets each divided into three books: Aram (virtue), Porul (government and society), and Kamam (love).
New initiatives at Voice of Global South Summit
Context: At the concluding session of the virtual Voice of Global South Summit, India unveiled three initiatives to assist the Global South in areas ranging from technology to health
- Aarogya Maitri project for providing medical supplies to any disaster-hit country
- Global-South Scholarships for students from developing countries to pursue higher education in India
- Global-South young diplomats forum to connect officers of foreign ministries with other countries
- Global-South Centre of excellence for R&D
- Global-South Science and Technology for space and nuclear energy initiatives sharing
What is the global south?
The concept of Global North and Global South is used to describe a grouping of countries along socio-economic and political characteristics. The Global South is a term often used to identify regions within Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.
- The global south consists of the poorest and least industrialized countries, which are mainly in the southern part of the world.
Expected loss-based approach for loan loss provisioning by banks
Source: The Hindu
Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released the Discussion Paper that proposed a framework for the adoption of an expected loss-based approach for provisioning against loan loss by banks in India.
About the proposed framework:
- RBI proposes to use an Expected loss-based approach for provisioning against loan loss by banks (This approach is in line with International Financial reporting standards guidelines)
- Banks would be allowed to design and implement their own models for measuring expected credit losses (although RBI will provide broader guidelines) for the purpose of estimating loss provisions in line with the proposed principles.
- To enable a seamless transition, as permitted under the Basel guidelines, banks will be provided with an option to phase out the effect of increased provisions on Common Equity Tier I capital, over a maximum period of five years.
- Regional rural banks and smaller cooperative banks (based on a threshold to be decided based on comments) are proposed to be kept out of the framework.
What is Provisioning?
Under provisioning, banks have to set aside or provide funds to a prescribed percentage of their bad assets. The percentage of bad asset that has to be ‘provided for’ is called the provisioning coverage ratio.
- It helps the bank balance the income and survive during bad times and is recorded in the income statement as a non-cash expense.
What is CET 1 Capital?
Common Equity Tier 1 capital (CET1) is the highest quality of regulatory capital, as it absorbs losses immediately when they occur.
Source: Economic Times
Context: India’s eyes ₹35kcr investments by 2047 to create a waterways network
What is a waterway?
Waterways include linear water features such as rivers, canals and streams, as well as water areas such as lakes, reservoirs and docks.
Initiatives for the waterway network:
- 111 waterways have been declared as National Waterways (NW) under the national waterways act 2016. Of this 13 are currently operational.
- CAR-D (Cargo Data) Portal for tracking all cargo and cruise movement on National Waterways
- PANI (Portal for Asset and navigation Information) for information regarding waterways
MV Ganga Vilas is the first river cruise to connect Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam. It begins in Varanasi (UP) and concludes in Dibrugarh (Assam). This cruise will cover a distance of more than 3,200 km across NW1 (Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly), Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) Route 1 and NW2 (Brahmaputra).
Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) 2023
Source: Hindustan Times
Context: Wetlands International’s largest annual water bird census named “Asian Water Bird Census” (AWC) 2023” began on January 7, 2023, across Asia and Australasia simultaneously and will conclude on January 22, 2023
- AWC (started in 1987) is part of the International Waterbird census coordinated by Wetland International
- In India, AWC is coordinated by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) (founded in 1883, an NGO) and Wetland International (NGO).
Significance: AWC supports the conservation of wetlands and water birds worldwide. AWC data is used to promote national water bird and wetland conservation and for other initiatives such as:
- Waterbird Population Estimates Programme (WI)
- Global Species Programme (Red List, by IUCN)
- Important Bird Area Programme (BirdLife international)
- Bonn Convention (for Migratory Species)
- Central Asian flyway Action plan
Source: The Hindu
Context: Professor at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and advisor to its space science program, said that the organization is yet to receive approval from the Indian government for the Venus mission and that the mission could as a result be postponed to 2031.
Other countries’ mission to Venus:
- Both the S. and the European space agencies have Venus missions planned for 2031 —VERITAS and EnVision, respectively.
ISRO had originally hoped to launch Shukrayaan I in mid-2023 but cited the pandemic when it pushed the date to December 2024. Other ISRO missions, including Aditya L1 and Chandrayaan III, have also been affected by manufacturing delays and commercial launch commitments.
The first evidence of solitary waves near Mars may decode the mystery behind ion loss on the planet
Context: Scientists have reported the first evidence of the presence of solitary waves or distinct electric field fluctuations in the Martian magnetosphere.
The study of these waves is crucial as they directly control particle energization, plasma loss, transport, etc., through wave-particle interactions.
About Solitary Waves:
- Solitary waves are distinct electric field fluctuations (bipolar or monopolar) that follow constant amplitude-phase relations. Their shape and size are less affected during their propagation.
- These pulses are dominantly seen in the dawn and afternoon dusk sectors at an altitude of 1000–3500 km around Mars. The dominant occurrence of solitary waves in the dawn and dusk sector is still a mystery and needs further investigation.
- As these waves are known to be responsible for the plasma energization and its transport in Earth’s magnetosphere, the team is further exploring their role in the particle dynamics in the Martian magnetosphere and whether such waves play any role in the loss of atmospheric ions on Mars.
VARUNA’ – 2023
Context: The 21st Edition of the Bilateral Naval Exercise between India and France – Exercise Varuna commenced on the Western Seaboard
While the bilateral exercise between the two navies was initiated in 1993, it was christened as ‘VARUNA’ in 2001 and has become a hallmark of the India – France strategic bilateral relationship.
The exercise facilitates operational-level interaction between the two navies to foster mutual cooperation for good order at sea, underscoring the shared commitment of both nations to security, safety, and freedom of the global maritime commons.
List of exercises between India and France:
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