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:
GS Paper 2:
- FCRA license of think tank CPR suspended
GS Paper 3:
- The case for open, verifiable forest cover data
- India wants energy transition on its own terms – without phasing out coal and with more grants
- How to make India earthquake prepared
- Why do we get compassion fatigue
Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)
- Phasing out the line, ‘math is not for a girl’
- Cultural Burns
- Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs)
- Climate Justice
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
- What is a whip in a state Assembly or Parliament?
- Delhi excise policy case: how the right against self-incrimination
- News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA)
- BIMSTEC Energy Centre (BEC)
- Understanding the Windsor framework
- VAIBHAV Fellowship’ for NRI researchers
- DNA vaccine against dengue
- Country Reports on Terrorism 2021: India
- Military Exercises in News
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Role of NGOs
Source: Indian Express
Context: The Centre suspended the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) license of the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) following prima facie inputs regarding the violation of funding norms.
- The Government of India recognizes CPR as a not-for-profit society and contributions to the Centre are tax-exempt – according to its website.
- CPR receives grants from the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) and is a Department of Science and Technology-recognized institution.
- CPR receives grants from a variety of domestic and international sources, including foundations, corporate philanthropy, governments, and multilateral agencies.
What is the FCRA?
- The FCRA was enacted during the Emergency in 1976 amid apprehensions that foreign powers were interfering in India’s affairs by pumping money into the country through independent organizations.
- The law sought to regulate foreign donations to individuals and associations.
- An amended FCRA was enacted in 2010 to “consolidate the law” on the utilization of foreign funds, and “to prohibit” their use for “any activities detrimental to the national interest”.
- The law was amended again in 2020, giving the government tighter control and scrutiny over the receipt and utilization of foreign funds by NGOs.
FCRA requires every person or NGO seeking to receive foreign donations to be
- registered under the Act,
- to open a bank account for the receipt of foreign funds in the State Bank of India, Delhi, and
- to utilize those funds only for the purpose for which they have been received and as stipulated in the Act.
The Act prohibits the receipt of foreign funds by candidates for elections, journalists or newspaper and media broadcast companies, judges and government servants, members of the legislature and political parties or their office-bearers, and organizations of a political nature.
How is FCRA registration granted?
- FCRA registrations are granted to individuals or associations that have definite cultural, economic, educational, religious, and social programmes.
For how long is the approval granted and when is it suspended? Click on this link
Mains Link: UPSC 2015
Examine critically the recent changes in the rules governing foreign funding of NGOs under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 1976.
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Conservation-related issues
Context: The article highlights how India mapped its forest cover over four decades and why making the data freely available will improve the quality of this vital policy input.
Forest and tree cover in India:
- While the Forest Survey of India (FSI) started publishing its biennial State of Forest reports in
- Since 19.53% in the early 1980s, India’s forest cover has increased to 21.71% in 2021.
- The country’s total green cover now stands at 24.62%, which was arrived after adding 2.91% tree cover estimated in 2021.
- The forest maps are based on the images purchased from the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), another arm of the government (Dept of Space).
How have these figures arrived?
- All plots of 1 hectare or more, with at least 10% tree canopy density, are counted within forest cover (irrespective of land use/ownership).
- All land areas with tree canopy density of 70% or more are considered very dense forests, 40% and more – dense forests and those between 10-40% – open forests.
- Isolated or small patches of trees (less than 1 hectare) and not counted as forest are assessed for determining tree cover.
Issues with green cover data in India:
- Green cover data in India disregards the UN benchmark that does not include areas predominantly under agricultural and urban land use in forests.
- Recorded forest area vs green cover
- In India, land recorded as forest in revenue records or proclaimed as forest under a forest law is described as a Recorded Forest Area.
- Divided into Reserved, Protected and Unclassed forests, Recorded Forest Areas account for 58% of India.
- The inclusion of commercial plantations, orchards, village homesteads, urban housings, etc., as dense forests.
- The steady replacement of natural forests with plantations is worrisome, as natural forests support a lot more biodiversity and stock a lot more carbon.
- The outcome of the refinement of satellite images was that the forest cover fell within the forest area while it increased outside.
- Lack of manpower limits the FSI’s scope for verifying the quality of remotely sensed data in the field.
- The FSI never made its data freely available for public scrutiny and bars the media from accessing its geo-referenced maps.
Best practice: Brazil maintains an open web platform, TerraBrasilis, for queries, analysis and dissemination of data on deforestation, forest cover change and forest fire.
- India is one of the few countries to have a scientific system of periodic forest cover assessment that provides valuable inputs for planning, policy formulation and evidence-based decision-making.
- Making the field data freely available to the public can enable them to volunteer to verify the country’s forest data on the ground.
Prelims Links: (UPSC 2021)
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Infrastructure (Energy)
Context: India is unlikely to reach an agreement – ‘just energy transition partnership’ (JETP) – with richer nations this year.
- According to the IEA, India is the world’s third-largest power consumer.
- Last year, the country faced one of its worst power crises as a heatwave swept across the nation.
- Coal use will peak in India between 2030 and 2035, meanwhile, the country needs funding to strengthen its renewable grid and infrastructure.
About JETP with India:
- The Ministry of External Affairs is considering JETP proposals as India helms the G20 presidency.
- The G7 industrialised nations, together with Norway, Denmark and the EU, believe a JETP with India will financially empower it to reduce emissions from power production.
- JETPs with South Africa and Indonesia are all about coal phase-out.
- $15.5 billion for Vietnam to help it transition away from coal, with most of the money as loans.
How does a JETP with India seem unlikely?
- International funding rests on India committing to a timeline to phase out coal, which is not viable for the country as it will see an increase in energy demand and the possible increase in coal capacity.
- Hence, India wants a JETP on its own terms – no phase-out of coal and funds for clean energy expansion in the form of grants, not loans.
Coal vs renewable energy debate in India:
- India has recently relaxed environmental consultations on coal mine expansions, boosted its coal production and cited coal as critical for energy security in global climate dialogues.
- But the country still aims to reduce coal from the current 50% of its energy mix to about 30% by 2030, while building 500 GW of new renewable capacity by 2030.
- With renewable energy storage capacity currently weak and expensive, India will phase out coal only when it is sure the transition won’t cause power disruptions.
Challenges for India:
- At least five Indian states depend heavily on the country’s coal economy.
- To ensure clean and affordable energy for all while moving away from fossil fuel.
- To meet its renewable energy targets, India will have to invest an average of $27.9 billion annually up to 2029, but its budget allocations aren’t sufficient.
- India’s transition efforts need to be mindful of people’s energy aspirations and alternate livelihood for workers.
- Even if we cannot cut down on coal, we have to prepare for a phase-down.
India may be able to use its position as G20 leader this year to steer discussions on a deal toward just transition while scaling renewable capacity and investments in new technologies.
Do you think India will meet 50 per cent of its energy needs from renewable energy by 2030? Justify your answer. How will the shift of subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables help achieve the above objective? Explain. (UPSC 2022)
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Disaster Management and Preparedness
Context: The Delhi HC asked the state government to file a status report and action plan on the structural safety of buildings in Delhi.
Background: Nearly 59% of the Indian landmass is vulnerable to earthquakes and the concerns that have been raised by the court need a policy response.
India’s current policy on earthquake preparedness:
- Operates primarily at the scale of structural details
- National Building Codes: Includes specifying dimensions of the structural members – columns, beams, etc.
- National Retrofitting Programme 2014: Under the programme, the RBI directed banks to deny loans for buildings that do not meet the earthquake-resistant design.
Issues with the policy:
- It ignores the buildings that were constructed before such codes were published in 1962
- It assumes infallibility in the processes of enforcement – relying only on penalisation and illegalities
- It treats earthquakes as a problem of individual buildings – in complete isolation from their urban context.
- None of the urban renewal programmes – including the Smart Cities Mission – have devised an urban policy for earthquake preparedness
- Earthquake preparedness needs to act –
- In the realm of policy and not just legal enforcement.
- At the scale of building details as well as that of cities.
- A comprehensive policy to create a system of retrofitting existing structures and enforcing seismic codes with more efficiency. Such a policy should include measures –
- To create a system of tax-based or development rights-based incentives for retrofitting one’s building up to seismic codes.
- To ensure better enforcement of seismic codes through a similar model.
- Generate earthquake vulnerability maps with the percentage of vulnerable structures in the area, the availability of evacuation routes, the location of nearest relief services, etc.
Best practices (Japan and San Francisco):
- Japan has invested heavily in technological measures (skyscrapers with counterweights, small houses on flexible foundations, public infrastructure with automated triggers) by cultivating an industry around earthquake mitigation and fostering expertise.
- San Francisco is the world’s most famous earthquake-prone city which implemented policy changes similar to Japan.
- The Gujarat government: Immediately adopted (after the 2001 Bhuj earthquake) new town planning schemes that widened roads and created routes for evacuation and relief work.
- Programmes like the ongoing Urban 20 meetings: An excellent opportunity for international knowledge exchange on earthquake preparedness.
Conclusion: A policy on earthquake preparedness will require a visionary, radical and transformative approach. It would be unwise to wait for another earthquake to learn how to be better prepared for one.
GS Paper 4
Syllabus: Human Values: Compassion
Source: Indian Express
Context: Images of traumatic events online, insensitive news, pandemics, etc. have attributed to the rising instances of compassion fatigue in recent years.
About Compassion Fatigue:
- Compassion fatigue is a state of emotional exhaustion and burnout that can result from continuously caring for and empathizing with others who are experiencing pain or suffering.
- It causes us to lose our capacity to react and help those in need.
Instances of how compassion fatigue develops:
- Violence in digital media formats like video games and films can desensitize people’s responses to suffering or violence in real life.
- The consequence of seeing violent images is that you become numb to them and you think violence is no big deal.
- Soldiers: Being in war – develops compassion fatigue.
- Doctors and Nurses
Why Compassion fatigue occurs:
- Compassion fatigue is a form of emotional protection
- The psychological mechanism behind compassion fatigue is desensitization.
- Desensitization to violence and trauma can be an important adaptive strategy for people whose work involves frequent exposure to traumatic events, like soldiers, aid workers, and doctors.
Example: Research shows how the conflict in Israel and Palestine escalates violence in children.
How to reverse compassion fatigue:
- Use social media to create empathy and compassion among people
- Take care of yourself: Self-care is essential to avoid burnout.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation
- Seek support
- Take time off
Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)
Phasing out the line, ‘math is not for a girl’
Source: The Hindu
Direction: This example can be used in the essay/GS2 Social Justice/ Ethics – how to remove biases from society.
Context: Various research has shown that the representation of females in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) or other math-intensive fields and careers remains far from ‘fair’ or desirable.
- In recent research, a paper from the Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER) conducted across rural India findings shows that boys outperform girls in mathematics significantly, which has been persistent over time. The difference in reading scores, on the other hand, is negligible.
- There is a considerable variation though; while in the north Indian States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh, boys outperform girls substantially, in south India, girls outperform boys in mathematics.
More social norms than ‘ability’
- “science and maths are meant for boys and arts and humanities for girls” is reflective of the kind of stereotyping that parents, relatives/neighbours, and even schoolteachers push.
The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP), recognizes the existence of continued disparities across all social groups and the need for developing interventions that enhance attendance and academic performance for girls.
- Targeted behavioural interventions can curb the gender stereotyping of “math is not for a girl” at the household, societal, and school levels.
- References to female mathematicians in textbooks, female names, and characters in word problems, and providing exposure to female role models in STEM fields in the course curriculum are among other simple tweaks that are worth trying and likely to be beneficial.
As per the new research, traditional fire burning practices or ‘cultural burns’ by indigenous Australians can help protect the iconic koala.
The cultural burns were cooler, lower, and slower than hot fires, encouraging the regeneration of suitable native plants while controlling other species (like banksias and wattle) to reduce the risk of fire reaching the canopy where koalas lived.
The United Nations has noted that traditional knowledge of land management, including the use of fire to manage fuel, can be an effective way of reducing wildfire hazards and ensuring that biodiversity and cultural and ecological values are respected.
Usage: It can be used to show the importance of traditional knowledge in environmental conservation as well as the way to mitigate the risk of forest fires.
Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs)
OECMs are areas outside of protected areas that are governed and managed to achieve effective conservation of biodiversity.
- Examples of OECMs: agricultural systems, conserved water catchments, locally managed marine areas, and other high conservation value areas.
- It was recognized by Convention on Biological diversity guidelines in 2018.
- World Database on OECMs: Contains data on OECMs identified by Governments, organizations, Indigenous peoples, and local communities.
- They provide support for effective long-term conservation efforts outside of designated protected areas.
- OECMs promote equitable governance, and positive conservation outcomes, supporting threatened species recovery, supporting sustainable livelihoods, and addressing climate change.
Usage: The example can be used for environment questions as another dimension in conservation
A group of 16 countries, led by Vanuatu, is seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on “What are the legal consequences for states that have caused significant harm to the climate system and vulnerable states”.
Also, The Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law has also sought the advisory opinion of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on the specific obligations of countries about preventing, controlling, and reducing pollution of the marine environment.
Climate justice is a concept that addresses the just division, fair sharing, and equitable distribution of the burdens of climate change and its mitigation and responsibilities to deal with climate change
Usage: These examples can be used as an effort for Climate Justice esp. for small Island states and vulnerable countries.
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
What is a whip in a state Assembly or Parliament?
Source: Indian Express
Context: A five-judge Bench led by the Chief Justice of India is hearing petitions filed in the wake of last year’s political crisis in Maharashtra – raising the importance of whip.
What is a ‘whip’ in the House?
- In parliamentary parlance, a whip may refer to both a written order to members of a party in the House to abide by a certain direction and to a designated official of the party who is authorized to issue such a direction.
- The term is derived from the old British practice of “whipping in” lawmakers to follow the party line.
How serious are whips issued by parties?
The importance of a whip can be inferred from the number of times an order is underlined.
- A one-line whip underlined once, is usually issued to inform party members of a vote, and allows them to abstain in case they decide not to follow the party line.
- A two-line whip directs them to be present during the vote.
- A three-line whip is the strongest, employed on important occasions such as the second reading of a Bill or a no-confidence motion, and places an obligation on members to toe the party line.
What can happen if a whip is defied?
- United Kingdom – an MP can lose membership of the party for defying the whip, but can keep her/ his House seat as an Independent.
- US – the party whip’s role is to gauge how many legislators are in support of a Bill and how many are opposed to it — and the extent possible, persuade them to vote according to the party line on the issue.
- India – rebelling against a three-line whip can put a lawmaker’s membership in the House at risk. The anti-defection law allows the Speaker/ Chairperson to disqualify such a member; the only exception is when there is merger of the party.
Context: Government e-Marketplace (GeM) commemorates the success of “SWAYATT”.
What is SWAYATT?
It is an initiative to promote “Start-ups, Women and Youth Advantage Through eTransactions” (SWAYATT) on GeM.
- It was first launched in February 2019
- To promote the inclusiveness of various categories of sellers and service providers on the GeM portal
- It facilitates training and registrations of women and youth manufacturers and sellers and encourages participation of the MSME sector and startups in public procurement.
Delhi excise policy case: how the right against self-incrimination
Context: Supreme Court refused to hear a plea by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
- Reason: SC disapproved of Sisodia approaching it directly under Article 32 of the Constitution when the remedy of moving the High Court under Section 482 of the CrPC was available to him.
- The court had rejected Sisodia’s arguments that he had a right against self-incrimination
What is right against self-incrimination?
Article 20(3): “No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.”
- Since the onus of proving the case against the accused (in criminal cases) beyond a reasonable doubt is on the state, a person cannot be compelled to testify against himself or share information that might go against him in a trial
News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA)
Context: NBDSA has asked News18 India, TimesNow and Zee News to remove videos of certain programmes after it found them to be in violation of the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards and Specific Guidelines
- NBDSA is an independent body set up by News Broadcasters & Digital Association (NBDA).
News Broadcasters & Digital Association (formed in 2007) formerly known as the News Broadcasters Association is a private association of different current affairs and news television broadcasters in India, which serves as their representative.
Aim: It protects all its members from persons carrying unfair and/or unethical practices.
BIMSTEC Energy Centre (BEC)
Context: India hosted the first meeting of the Governing Board of BIMSTEC Energy Centre (BEC)
- India’s “Neighbourhood first” and “Act East” Policies were highlighted
- India will establish the BIMSTEC Energy Centre (BEC) at the premises of Central Power Research Institute (CPRI), Bengaluru
Understanding the Windsor framework
Context: UK and EU recently announced the Windsor Framework (a proposed post-Brexit legal agreement).
- It will address the problem of the movement of goodsbetween the European Single Market and the United Kingdom in the current Northern Ireland Protocol.
- Northern Ireland Protocol allows EU customs rules to apply across Northern Ireland.
The framework will allow free trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland through the use of green and red lanes for goods flowing into Northern Ireland (Green: for goods that will stay in Northern Ireland and Red: for those that will go to the EU)
VAIBHAV Fellowship’ for NRI researchers
Context: Ministry of Science and Technology unveiled a fellowship to bring Indian-origin researchers to higher educational institutions in India for a maximum period of two months per year
Aim of the fellowship: It aims to improve the research ecosystem of India’s higher educational institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations with the best institutions in the world through the mobility of researchers from overseas institutions to India.
Criteria: Applicant should be NRI or PIO or OCI and must have obtained a Ph.D./M. D/M. S degree from a recognized University.
Other schemes for improving the research ecosystem in India:
- A 3-tiered graded autonomy regulatory system has been initiated
- Global Initiative for Academics Network (GIAN) (to invite distinguished academicians, and experts from across the world to teach in India)
- National Institutional Ranking Frameworkwas developed in 2015
- Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022 (To upgrade the research and academic infrastructure in India to global best standards by 2022)
- Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP) (To position at least 50 Indian institutions among the top 1,000 global universities.
India’s investment in R&D has remained constant at around 0.6% to 0.7% of India’s GDP. This is below the expenditure of countries like the US (2.8), China (2.1), Israel (4.3) and Korea (4.2).
DNA vaccine against dengue
Context: In a significant development in DNA vaccination research, India’s first and only DNA vaccine candidate for dengue has shown promising results.
About DNA Vaccines:
- A DNA vaccine is a vaccine that puts a specific DNA sequence that codes for an antigen into an organism’s cells to trigger an immune response.
- The world’s first DNA vaccine—ZyCoV-D, developed by Zydus Cadila—was approved in 2021 for emergency use against COVID-19.
Why developing an effective DNA vaccine for dengue is tough?
- Because it is caused by four closely related viruses—DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4—called serotypes.
- Each one interacts differently with antibodies in human blood. A person infected with DEN-1 is then protected against it for life, but not against the other three serotypes. An ideal vaccine must target all serotypes.
Country Reports on Terrorism 2021: India
Context: “Country Reports on Terrorism 2021: India,” prepared by the US Bureau of Counterterrorism has acknowledged India’s significant effort to scale up counterterrorism infrastructure
- Law enforcement agencies in India, including at the border, “face budgetary, staffing, and equipment constraints”
- India lacks new counter-radicalisation strategies
- Counter-radicalization strategies piloted by states are “uneven and based on local interests and contexts”.
Military Exercises in News
- Exercise Shinyuu Maitri: Indian Air Force (IAF) with the Japan Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF).
- It has been organized on the sidelines of the Indo-Japan Joint Army Exercise, Dharma Guardian.
Multi-nation Exercise that India is participating:
- Exercise Desert Flag VIII in UAE: It is an annual air exercise in which Air Forces from UAE, France, Kuwait, Australia, etc. participate
- Exercise Cobra Warrior in the UK: Exercise Cobra Warrior is run twice a year and is the largest air exercise run by the Royal Air Force (UK)
- TH: Phasing out the line, ‘math is not for a girl’s: India not on-target in many women-related development goals (Also covered in Today’s CA)
- TH: Nagaland hopes to end long wait for first woman MLA+ TH: India not on-target in many women-related development goals
Pub Ad/Governance/ Disaster Management
- IE: Cities that stand (Turkey earthquake, tremors in Joshimath, carry a warning for Indian cities. Earthquake preparedness is not just about buildings—Cities as a whole need to be reimagined (Also covered in Today’s CA)
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