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 ina 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:
- Gandhi’s ideals of non-violence and communal harmony remain relevant 75 years after his assassination
- Ministry of Education releases All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2020-2021
GS Paper 3:
- Coal India Ltd to Launch M-Sand Projects in a Big Way
- In Good Faith: Pranam vs Pramana — why faith and science must co-exist
Facts for Prelims
- Manipur’s traditional theatre form of Shumang Leela
- Migration events that brought genetic diversity among the Nepalese population
- Supreme Court presses the need for reform on tedious bail processes
- XR Startup Program
- Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV)
- Breast cancer: more insights on how hormonal therapy works
- Noble’s Helen
- Veer Guardian 2023
Gandhi’s ideals of non-violence and communal harmony remain relevant 75 years after his assassination
GS Paper 1
Syllabus: Modern India – National Movement, Ethics- Gandhian Ethics
Context: The nation paid homage to the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi on his 75th death anniversary (30th January 1948). The day is also observed as Martyrs’ Day.
Gandhiji’s role in Freedom Struggle:
- Natal protest – Gandhi organized Indian resistance, fought anti-Indian legislation in the courts and led large protests against the colonial government.
- Satyagraha Against registration certificates
- It was in South Africa that Mahatma Gandhi first forged the distinctive techniques of non-violent protest known as Satyagraha.
- Champaran Satyagraha (1917)
- Ahmedabad mill strike (1918)
- Kheda Satyagarha (1918)
- Rowlatt Satyagraha
- Khilafat and Non-cooperation movement
- Civil disobedience movement
- Protest against the Macdonald award
- Quit India Movement
Gandhian Ethics: Follow the link below
Gandhian Ethics and Its Relevance Now
As we celebrate the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, let us also recall how the Gandhian values of non-violence, inclusiveness and communal harmony enabled India to establish a unique democracy achieving momentous economic and social transformation through the ballot box rather than through the barrel of the gun.
World Leprosy Day always takes place on the last Sunday of January. This date was chosen by French humanitarian, Raoul Follereau as a tribute to the life of Mahatma Gandhi, who did much work with persons affected by leprosy and died at the end of January 1948.
Q. Throw light on the significance of the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi in the present times. (UPSC 2018)
Q. Highlight the difference in the approach of Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi in the struggle for freedom. (UPSC 2016)
Ministry of Education releases All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2020-2021
GS Pape 2
Syllabus: Government programmes and policies, Education
Direction: MoE has recently released the AISHE report – don’t get overwhelmed by the huge amount of data. Know the trend: whether it is increasing or decreasing. Note down one or two important data for Mains.
Context: The Union Ministry of Education released data from the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), 2020-2021, which showed a 7.5% increase in student enrolments across the country compared to 2019-20.
About ASIHE Report:
- The All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) was initiated in 2011, during which data for the year 2010-11 was collected.
- The entire survey was conducted through electronic mode and a dedicated portal http://aishe.gov.in was developed for this purpose.
Key findings from the report:
For the first time, the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) of India have filled their data using an entirely online data collection platform through the Web Data Capture Format (Web DCF) developed by the Department of Higher Education and the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
Number of Institutions
- The number of Universities has increased by 70 during 2020-21, to 1,113 in 2020-21 from 1,043 in 2019-20.
- Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Telangana, and Kerala are the top 10 States in terms of the number of colleges.
- Among the districts, the maximum number of colleges (1058) is situated in Bangalore Urban followed by Jaipur (671). About 32% of colleges are situated in 50 districts.
Student Enrolment in Higher Education:
- Total enrolment in higher education: It has increased to nearly 4.13 crore in 2020-21 from 3.85 crore in 2019-20 (an increase of 28.80 Lakh).
- Female enrolment increased from 18.8 million in 2019-20 to 20.1 million in 2020-2021
- SC: There were 2 lakh more SC students who got enrolled in 2020-21 compared to the previous year.
- ST: The year also saw about 3 lakh more ST students and 6 lakh more OBC students getting enrolled for higher education.
- According to the survey report, at the undergraduate level, enrolment was highest in humanities ( nearly 33%), followed by science ( nearly 15%), commerce, and engineering & technology. At the postgraduate level, the maximum number of students opted for social science followed by science
- Gender Parity Index (GPI) has increased from 1 in 2017-18 to 1.05 in 2020-21. More women enrolled themselves on science courses than men
- The Gender Parity Index is a socioeconomic index usually designed to measure the relative access to education of males and females. This index is released by UNESCO.
- The top 6 States in terms of Student Enrolment are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Rajasthan.
Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff in Higher Education:
- The number of teachers has increased by 47,914 in 2020-21 over 2019-20.
- There are 75 female teachers per 100 male teachers.
- The total number of pass-outs has increased to 95.4 Lakh in 2020-21 as against 94 Lakh in 2019-20.
Significance of Higher Education:
- Atmanirbhar Bharat: Self-reliant India needs a continuous supply of trained, skilled human resources
- Demographic Dividend
- Better Employment opportunities
- Economic development
- Technological advancements
- Solving Societal Issues
- Plurality, Inclusivity & Diversity: To develop the horizons of the mind, it is important to provide a diversified, plural environment.
- Empowerment of Women
Initiatives for Higher Education in India:
- National Education Policy (NEP) 2020
- Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA)
- Project Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP)
- Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF): Attract the talent pool of PhD programmes
- Paramarsh/Mentor-Mentee Relationship:Under this scheme, accredited institutions would help aspiring institutions that want to get accredited.
- Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC):It aims to improve the research ecosystem
- Global Initiative for Academic Network (GIAN):It aims to tap the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs from abroad.
- Formation of Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA): It aims to finance the creation of capital assets in premier educational institutions in India.
- Institutes of Eminence (IoE) Scheme: It aims to provide opportunities for a few chosen institutions to grow in the direction of being renowned globally for their excellence.
- SWAYAM Portal
- There is a need to shift focus from enrolment to attendance.
- Multi-stakeholder approach: Extensive consultation involving parents, local self-governments, and civil society are key.
Q. “Commercialization of higher education in India is bound to create issues of access and exclusion”. Critically comment on the statement and suggest measures to address the related issues. (15M)
Coal India Ltd to Launch M-Sand Projects in a Big Way
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Science and Technology, Environment Conservation
Context: Coal India Ltd (CIL) has envisaged processing the fragmented rock (known as Overburden Rocks (OB) for sand production in mines.
- OB material contains about 60% sandstone by volume which is harnessed through crushing and processing of Overburden.
What is M Sand?
M sand is a form of artificial sand, manufactured by crushing large hard stones, mainly rocks or granite, into fine particles, which are then washed and finely graded. It is widely used as a substitute for river sand for construction purposes, mostly in the production of concrete and mortar mix.
Need for M Sand
- Due to high demand, regulated supply and a complete ban on sand mining during monsoon to protect the river ecosystem, finding an alternative to river sand became necessary.
- The Supreme Court banned illegal mining on riverbeds in 2017
- Sand Mining Framework (2018) prepared by the Ministry of Mines envisages alternative sources of sand in the form of Manufactured Sand (M-Sand) from crushed rock fines (crusher dust), and sand from Overburden (OB) of coal mines.
Why Coal India Ltd?
During Opencast mining of Coal India, the overlying soil and rocks are removed as waste to extract coal and the fragmented rock (Overburden or OB) is heaped in dumps. Most of the waste is disposed of at the surface which occupies a considerable land area and requires extensive planning and control to minimize the environmental impact of mining.
Difference between M Sand and Natural River sand
Process of extraction of M-Sand:
Benefits of Manufactured Sand (M-Sand):
- Cost-effectiveness: As it can be produced in large quantities at a lower cost.
- Consistency: in grain size and shape, which can be beneficial for construction projects that require a specific type of sand.
- Environmental benefits: Helps reduce the need for mining natural sand, which can have negative environmental impacts.
- Additionally, using the overburden from coal mines can help to repurpose materials that would otherwise be considered waste.
- Lesser Sand extraction from the river will reduce erosion of channel beds & banks and protect the water habitat
- Help maintain the water table
- Reduced water consumption: This helps reduce the amount of water required for construction projects, as it does not require washing before use.
- Better workability: Since it’s more angular and has a rougher surface, which makes it more workable for construction projects.
Concerns regarding M Sand:
- Due to its smooth and angular textures, it leads to more water and cement requirements to achieve the expected workability, thereby increase in overall costs.
- If the M Sand contains a large number of micro fine particles, it can affect the strength and workability of concrete.
Sand is a mixture of small grains of rock and granular materials which is mainly defined by size, being finer than gravel and coarser than silt.
- Sand is classified as a “minor mineral”, under The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act)
- Administrative control over minor minerals vests with the State Governments
Q. Is sand mining illegal in India? Discuss the impacts of sand mining and suggest the way forward. (250 words)
With reference to India, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2022)
1. Monazite is a source of rare earth.
2. Monazite contains thorium.
3. Monazite occurs naturally in the entire Indian coastal sands in India.
4. In India, Government bodies only can process or export monazite.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
(a) 1, 2 and 3 only
(b) 1, 2 and 4 only
(c) 3 and 4 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4
Answer – B
Monazite is an atomic mineral that occurs naturally in the coastal sands of three districts: Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, and Kanyakumari. Hence statement 3 is incorrect.
With reference to the management of minor minerals in India, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2019)
- Sand is a ‘minor mineral’ according to the prevailing law in the country.
- State Governments have the power to grant mining leases of minor minerals, but the powers regarding the formation of rules related to the grant of minor minerals lie with the Central Government.
- State Governments have the power to frame rules to prevent the illegal mining of minor minerals.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 and 3 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Under MMDR Act, the State government have framed their own mining concession rules. So, statement 2 is incorrect.
In Good Faith: Pranam vs Pramana — why faith and science must co-exist
GS Paper 4
Syllabus: Ethics and Human Interface
Source: Indian Express
Direction: The article highlights the difference between science & religion & how they can co-exist for the development of all.
Context: The Covid-19 pandemic saw widespread use of science, but it also provided a fertile ground for promoting faith and questioning science.
Difference between Science and Religion:
- Freedom to Question vs. Blind Acceptance: In a science-based society, unlike in a faith-based society, people have the freedom to question, seek answers and then choose their way forward based on their own understanding & assessment.
- Acceptance of Change: Another important difference pertains to the acceptance of the change. Science thrives on change. Whereas, faith and dogma are constants and don’t accept questioning.
- Constant change in Science vs. Constancy in Tradition: What was scientifically appropriate at a given time and has become a tradition, may change at a later stage. This constant change in scientific thinking is often pointed out as its weakness, and constancy as a strength of tradition.
Etymology of Pranam and Pramana:
- Pranam: derived from Sanskrit- “pra” means “forward, outward, in front, before” while “ānama” means “bending or stretching”. Together, pranama means “bending, bowing in front” or “prostration”. It’s a common Hindu traditional custom of greeting a person.
- Pramana(Sanskrit word), means “proof” and adds “mā” which means measurement to the “pra” and alludes to the concept of objectivity and science. It’s the means that can lead to knowledge. Three of the many pramanas are pratyakṣa (eyewitness/personal experience), anumāna (logical inference), and śabda (expert opinion).
Examples of how faith undermines Science:
- Taboos related to menstruation: Rather than treating it as a biological phenomenon, a lot of semi-religious customs have been built around it, all adversely affecting a girl’s health.
- Health issues around childbirth, breastfeeding, and contraception. New mothers often find it difficult to navigate when caught between a doctor’s scientific advice on breastfeeding (as early as possible, giving of colostrum, exclusivity, no pre-lacteal feed) and traditional customs recommended by the elders(waiting till a family member washes breast, use of ghutti, jaggery water, discarding of colostrum).
- Access to safe abortions: a fight between faith and science.
- Heliocentric vs Geocentric theory: The latter says that the earth is at the centre of the universe, and the planets, the sun, the moon, and the stars circle around it. While, heliocentric models consider the sun as the centre, and the planets revolve around the sun.
- The banned practice of Sati.
- Racism – Aryan theory to be superior.
Examples of when science prevails:
- Acceptance of vaccines and modern contraceptive methods
- A scientific theory is that all humans are the same species – everyone has red blood and the same internal organs.
Platforms for dialogue & harmonious coexistence between the 2 critical pillars of society:
- Teachers or parents, should encourage children to ask questions and give them access to resources to enable them to decide for themselves.
- Health professionals must not belittle faith.
- We need to understand the need for both for our societal well-being. & have more faith in science as a solver to our pressing problems.
In today’s society, the 3 forms of pramana are under threat due to the rise of:
- Confirmation Bias
- Echo Chambers & filter bubbles.
- Post-Truth society
Facts for Prelims:
Manipur’s traditional theatre form of Shumang Leela
Source: The Hindu
Context: Shumang Leela is a traditional form of theatre in Manipur where the roles of women are all played by men, called Nupi Shabis.
- In the case of women’s theatre groups, the roles of men are played by women.
About Shumang Leela:
- ‘Shumang’ means ‘open courtyard’and ‘Leela’ means play and the literal meaning of Shumang Leela is “play of the open courtyard”.
- Origin: It started as a comic genrepresented before the kings and noblemen, which ultimately developed into the present form of courtyard-enacted play.
- Values that the theatre form shows: It attempts to preserve and promote humanism, brotherhood, tolerance, confidence, devotion, truth and justice through its performances.
- It is a powerful medium for mass educationbesides giving entertainment and relaxation.
- It has been trying to focus on the issues of moral values, unity and integrity
Migration events that brought genetic diversity among the Nepalese population
Context: Tibeto-Burman communities were pre-historic Himalayan settlers, and their East Asian ancestry can be traced back to Neolithic immigration, mostly from Tibet around 8000 Years Ago, says a genetic study of the population.
Impact of this migration: The migration led to genetic drift, endogamy, admixture, isolation, and natural selection that have contributed to genetic diversity among the Nepalese population
Origin of Modern Human
Modern humans originated in Africa within the past 200,000 years and evolved from their most likely recent common ancestor, Homo erectus (‘upright man’)
Fig: Map showing early human migration
Supreme Court presses the need for reform on tedious bail processes
Context: Judge says that unless the government thinks “out of the box” and refrains from fighting every case of bail, it could take the top court 300 to 700 years to dispose of the current backlog
What is bail?
Bail is the temporary release of a person accused of a crime in exchange for a monetary pledge in exchange for the accused’s appearance in court when the time comes.
- The person who pays the money or undertakes a money bond acts as the surety.
Issues with the Bail processes:
- Almost every case of bail is being challenged all the way to the Supreme Court, forming more than one-third of the cases in the Supreme Court
- A huge number of under-trials: As per NCRB data over 77% of prisoners are under trial in India
- Supreme Court decided to give priority to pending bail petitions by having every Bench of the court hear 10 bail cases every day before normal work.
In July last year (2022), a Supreme Court judgment urged the government to bring a new Act exclusively to simplify and streamline bail.
- The CrPC does not define the word bail but only categorises offences under the Indian Penal Code as ‘bailable’ and ‘non-bailable’.
- It empowers magistrates to grant bail for bailable offences as a matter of right.
- Articles applicable: Article 20 (Protection against indiscriminate arrest); Article 21 (Protection of Life and Personal Liberty); Article 22 (Protection Against Arrest and Detention)
- “In a democracy, there can never be an impression that it is a Police State”
- Rule of “bail, not jail”
With reference to India, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2021)
- Judicial custody means an accused is in the custody of the concerned magistrate and such an accused is locked up in a police station, not in jail.
- During judicial custody, the police officer in charge of the case is not allowed to interrogate the suspect without the approval of the court.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
In Judicial custody, an accused is in the custody of the concerned Magistrate and lodged in jail. Hence, statement 1 is not correct.
XR Startup Program
Context: MeitY Startup Hub ( an initiative of MeitY) and Meta (Parent company of Facebook) shortlist 120 Startups and Innovators for the XR Startup Program
- XR Startup Program (started last year) is a collaboration between MSH and Meta to discover, nurture, and accelerate Extended Reality (XR) technology startups and innovators across India.
- The XR Startup Program includes an Accelerator (for 40 early-age startups) and a Grand Challenge, aimed towards boosting the emerging tech ecosystem in the country
What is XR?
Extended Reality (XR) is the combination of human & computer-generated graphics interaction, which is in reality as well as the virtual environment.
- In basic terms, Extended Reality is a superset of Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) & Mixed Reality (MR)
Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV)
Context: India’s DRDO tested its own hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HSTDV) powered by a scramjet engine.
- There is an ongoing race among China, Russia and the US to manufacture manoeuvrable hypersonic weapons that fly over five times the speed of sound and can negate missile defence systems
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (est. 1958) is the premier agency under the Department of Defence Research and Development in the Ministry of Defence, charged with the military’s research and development, headquartered in Delhi, India
Breast cancer: more insights on how hormonal therapy works
Context: Recent research at Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Centre has shed more light on the molecular mechanism through which progesterone treatment prior to breast cancer surgery is quite likely to increase the survival rates of patients.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer can occur in women and rarely in men. Its treatment may consist of chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy and surgery.
What is Hormone Therapy for Cancer?
Hormone therapy is a cancer treatment that slows or stops the growth of cancer that uses hormones to grow. E.g. some prostate and breast cancers.
What is Progesterone?
Progesterone is an endogenous steroid and progestogen sex hormone involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and embryogenesis of humans and other species.
Context: Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya inaugurates National Summit on Quality of Biologicals
What are Biologicals?
Biologicals are a diverse group of medicines which includes vaccines, growth factors, immune modulators, monoclonal antibodies, as well as products derived from human blood and plasma.
Context: An “extremely rare” swallowtail butterfly Noble’s Helen (Papilio noblei) disappearing from its previously known ranges from Myanmar and southern China to Vietnam has been recorded for the first time in India’s Namdapha National Park of Arunachal Pradesh
Fig: Noble’s Helen (Papilio noblei)
State butterfly of Arunachal Pradesh: Kaiser-I-Hind
About Namdapha National Park:
- Namdapha ( named after a river originating in the park and it meets Noa-Dehing river (a tributary of the Brahmaputra)
- Location: It lies in close proximity to the Indo-Myanmar-China trijunction ( in Arunachal Pradesh)
- It is the fourth largest national park in India after the Hemis National Park (Ladakh), Desert National Park (Rajasthan), and Gangotri National Park (Uttarakhand)
- It is also on the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sitesin India and a biodiversity hotspot
- It is the only park in the World to have the four Feline species of big cat:- Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, and Clouded Leopard
- Famous for: Namdapha flying squirrel (Critically Endangered species) and Hoolock Gibbons (the only ‘ape’ species found in India)
Which one of the following National Parks has a climate that varies from tropical to subtropical, temperate and arctic? ( UPSC 2015)
(a) Khangchendzonga National Park
(b) Nandadevi National Park
(c) Neora Valley National Park
(d) Namdapha National Park
Veer Guardian 2023
Context: Veer Guardian 2023 is the inaugural edition of the 16-day bilateral air exercise between the Indian Air Force and the Japan Air Self-Defence Force has concluded in Japan.
Other exercises with Japan:
- Japan-India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX)
- Malabar Exercise (India – US-Japan - Australia)
Consider the following in respect of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS): ( UPSC 2017)
- The inaugural IONS was held in India in 2015 under the chairmanship of the Indian Navy.
- IONS is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime cooperation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
IONS is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime cooperation among navies of the littoral States of the Indian Ocean Region. The inaugural IONS was held in New Delhi, India in 2008.
Anthropology: PIB: Study explains migration events that brought genetic diversity among the Nepalese population (Also covered in today’s CA)
Anthropology: BBC: Humans and wild apes share a common language
Economy: BS: The case for baby RBIs
Economy: TOI: Becoming The Global Factory: How To Nail It This Time
Law/Polity: TOI: Question From The Homeless In Hills (How has the judiciary failed in preventing natural calamities in Uttarakhand? )
History: Gandhi in Amrit Kaal (by Shyam Saran)- 75 years of Gandhi's death anniversary + IE: Gandhi beyond binaries
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