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:
- India not on-target in many women-related development goals
GS Paper 3:
- The ideal track to run India’s logistics system
- Artificial intelligence: Comparing the types and their impacts
- Gene-editing in embryos
- Can the cheetahs help India’s grasslands?
Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)
- Zero-dose children
- Inter-Village Tea Garden Cleanliness Competition
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
- Pritzker Prize 2023
- Women Icons Leading Swachhata’ (WINS) Awards 2023
- Freddy Cyclone
- New appointments in the standing committee
- Australia-India education qualification recognition mechanism
- Water on Earth
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Social Justice (Issues related to women)
Context: A recent analysis (in The Lancet) has concluded that India is not on-target to achieve 19 of the 33 SDGs indicators.
- The SDGs were adopted by the UN in 2015 with a vision to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
- India is one of the signatory countries that has committed to achieving these goals by 2030.
Achievements: The 5 indicators with the highest number of districts that have met the target area –
- Adolescent pregnancy
- Multidimensional poverty
- Electricity access
- Bank accounts
- Improved sanitation
- Full vaccination
- Internet use
- Skilled birth attendants
The critical off-target indicators:
- Access to basic services
- Wasting and overweight children
- Child marriage
- Domestic violence
- Tobacco use
- Modern contraceptive use
Worst performer: More than 75% of the 707 districts analysed were off-target, concentrated in the States of MP, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, and Odisha
Focus areas of 2023 International Women’s Day (March 8):
- The 2023 IWD was commemorated under the theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”.
- However, women’s lack of access to technology and digital tools makes them less likely to be a part of the wider domains of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
- Globally, 18% of girls in higher-level education are pursuing STEM studies, compared with 35% of boys.
Case of India – The gender gap in STEM:
- According to the All India Survey of Higher Education (2020-2021), in UG, PG, MPhil and PhD engineering programmes, 71% of enrolled students were males and 29% were females.
- But of all students enrolled in science courses at UG, PG, MPhil and PhD levels, women at 53% of enrolment outnumbered men.
Why does the gap exist?
- Presence of existing resources such as mentors and programmes offering scholarships
- General societal attitudes on women’s education
- Gender bias in curricula. In India, more than 50% of illustrations in math and science textbooks show boys and only 6% show illustrations of girls.
Recent initiatives/achievements by/of the GoI:
- To mark the IWD 2023, the Union Ministry of Science & Technology announced an exclusive women’s portal for research grants and funds under CSIR-ASPIRE.
- 68% of 2 crore PM Awas-Gramin beneficiaries are women and over 23 crore MUDRA loans have been granted to women beneficiaries.
- For the first time, sex ratio in India has improved to 1,020 women per 1,000 men (NFHS-5).
- Permanent Commission for Women in the Armed Forces. Over 10,000 Women Officers are currently serving in the Armed Forces, the majority in the Medical Services.
- Group Captain Shaliza Dhami – the first woman officer to command a missile squadron in the Western sector facing Pakistan.
Discuss the desirability of greater representation to women in the higher judiciary to ensure diversity, equity and inclusiveness. (UPSC 2021)
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc
Context: The Union Budget 2023 has doubled the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan to States to ₹10,000 crores, and has announced an outlay of ₹2.4 lakh crore for the Indian Railways.
Why is the increased adoption of the railways crucial?
- The Railways → pan-India network → offers an efficient and economic mode of logistics movement → enabling a coordinated and integrated logistics system.
- To improve India’s logistics competitiveness.
- In 2020-21, coal constituted 44% of the total freight movement of 1.2 billion tonnes, followed by iron ore (13%), cement, food grains, fertilisers, etc.
- Transportation of non-bulk commodities accounts for a very small share of the rail freight movement.
Challenges faced by Indian railways:
- The national transporter faces several infrastructural, operational and connectivity challenges, in turn leading to a shift of freight traffic to roads (65%).
- The effect is an increased burden on roads, congestion, pollution, and resultant logistics cost escalations (nearly twice the rail cost).
- An increase in containerised traffic (for non-bulk commodities) over the last decade.
- The absence of integrated first and last-mile connectivity by rail increases the chances of damage due to multiple handling and also increases the inventory holding cost.
- Globally, railway systems are heavily investing in advanced rail infrastructure for quick and low-cost container movement.
- For example, China uses special trains to carry containers that connect significant ports to the inland.
Role to be played by the PM Gati Shakti:
- It provides the right platform to address the infrastructural challenges that have hampered the movement of freight by rail.
- Target – Increasing the share of the railways in freight movement from 27% to 45% (from 1.2 to 3.3 billion tonnes) by 2030.
Way ahead to achieve the targets of rail freight movement:
- Continuous monitoring of existing projects (like PM Gati Shakti) along with identification of new priority areas.
- Improve infrastructure that is backed by adequate policy tools and also encourage private participation.
- For example, the upcoming Dedicated Freight Corridors and multimodal logistics parks will ease the oversaturated line capacity and improve the train timings.
- Establishing a special entity under the railways to handle intermodal logistics will help in addressing the first and last-mile issues faced by the railways.
Conclusion: An integrated logistics infrastructure with first and last-mile connectivity is essential to make rail movement competitive with roads, and facilitate exports by rail to neighbouring countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh.
GS Paper 3
Context: A new study published in the journal Nature Communications has warned of the potential consequences of gene editing technology, which is still not fully understood.
- Using Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) to delete harmful disease-causing mutations could create more problems
- CRISPR could lead to extensive gene copying from one parent to another, potentially increasing the risk of diseases
- The extent of the DNA damage induced by CRISPR and how cells respond to it is still not fully known
- The technology used to test gene-edited embryos could reduce the accuracy of genetic testing, leading to the misdiagnosis of embryos.
- The researchers concluded that such limitations must be addressed before gene editing technology can be used.
Previously, a Chinese scientist who announced the birth of gene-edited twins in 2018, had used CRISPR to make the embryos resistant to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Genome editing (also called gene editing) is a group of technologies that allow genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome.
- Three technology mostly used for gene-editing are CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9), transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs), and zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs).
Discuss the CRISPR gene-editing technology and the concerns raised by it. (250 words)
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life
Context: AI can traditionally be divided into Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI).
AGI and ANI: The difference lies in their scope of intelligence and their ability to generalise knowledge across different contexts.
|● Flexible and adaptable
● Designed to perform a wide variety of intellectual tasks without human intervention
● Unsupervised learning means that the AI system can learn from data without being explicitly programmed to do so
● Lack of control continues to learn and make decisions (based on incomplete or uncertain information) that even its creators cannot possibly predict.
● In the realm of theoretical research and development.
|● Designed to perform a single or a narrow set of related tasks.
● Not necessarily capable of reasoning or learning in the way that humans do.
● Typically trained using machine learning algorithms such as supervised learning, unsupervised learning, or reinforcement learning.
● Widespread use in a variety of industries and applications
● For example, ChatGPT – is a chatbot which allows users to engage in a conversation about a variety of topics.
Advantages of AI:
- Disruptive technology creates new jobs and skill sets by creating demand for expertise in machine learning, data science and natural language processing.
- It will transform industries by creating new opportunities for growth and innovation.
- In industries like healthcare, AI can optimise transportation networks, develop new materials, and even simplify manufacturing processes.
Threats: ChatGPT/similar solutions are proficient at automating routine and repetitive tasks (data entry, customer service) which could perhaps replace low-skill level workers.
Conclusion: The impact of AI on jobs and industries is likely to be uneven. Hence, significant investment in education and training programs and proactive policies is the need of the hour.
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Environment, Conservation
Context: Since September 2022, India has translocated eight African cheetahs from Namibia and 12 from South Africa.
- This is part of a long-term conservation plan to re-introduce the wild cat into the country after it became extinct in the 1950s, primarily due to hunting.
- The aim is to build a self-sustaining population, centred at MP’s Kuno National Park, which will also contribute to the global survival of the cheetah as a species.
What are Grasslands?
Grasslands (e.g. prairies or savannas) are biomes characterized by vast expanses of grasses and a few scattered trees. They are found in regions where there is not enough rain to support forests but where there is enough rainfall to prevent the land from becoming a desert.
- Grasslands are typically located in the interior regions of continents, away from the moderating influence of oceans.
- Approximately 24 per centof total vegetation cover is grassland in India
Can the cheetahs help India’s grasslands?
|● Cheetahs have been found in woodlands, but they largely prefer running.
● They do indicate the overall wellness of –
○ open areas, meadows and grasslands and the
○ ungulate populations (deer and chinkara)/cheetahs’ usual prey
● So, the health of the cheetah population does count as a surrogate marker of the health of the grasslands.
● The success story (The Project Tiger 1973) – India now has 53 tiger reserves making up 2.3% of the country’s geographical area.
|● Cheetahs may not help in restoring grasslands until India addresses other issues.
● For example,
○ The Wasteland Atlas of India still categorises large stretches of open natural ecosystems as wasteland.
○ Renewable energy projects are granted large tracts of open natural ecosystems, to establish solar panels.
○ The level of human presence is high in these grasslands
Conclusion: African cheetah is a species which has never been to India. Yet, its very introduction will enable India ‘if not wholly but in some measure’ revive its magnificent grasslands.
Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)
Children, esp. in developing and poor countries, miss out on important vaccine shots, also known as zero-dose (one in eight children was zero-dose — not received a vaccine of any kind )
Strategies to address this problem:
- Involving Communities in immunization and awareness: E.g. Using traditional systems such as community leaders, and local people from communities as immunisation vanguards and religious structures.
- Using technology:g. Zipline, a service that uses drones to deliver vaccines in flooded and hard-to-reach areas
- Mobile vaccination clinics: This strategy can help increase access to vaccines and reduce the burden of travel on families.
- School-based vaccination programs: This strategy can be particularly useful for adolescents who may be less likely to visit a healthcare provider regularly.
- Text message reminders: This strategy can help reduce missed appointments and increase vaccine uptake.
- Social media campaigns: Social media campaigns can help reach a wide audience and engage parents and caregivers in the vaccination process.
Usage: The strategies can be used as solutions in questions related to Health, Low Immunization, Vaccine resistance
Inter-Village Tea Garden Cleanliness Competition
148 villages and 24 tea gardens in Assam’s Khumtai Assembly constituency are taking part in an “Inter-Village Tea Garden Cleanliness Competition.” ( an initiative by Local MLA)
- Objective: Participating villages have to clear the plastic waste and improve cleanliness throughout the villages.
- Reward: The winning gets a one-km concrete road and other cash prizes worth lakhs for developmental activities from the MLA fund. CM of Assam will announce the winner.
The idea behind the competition is to promote rural tourism in the region, as tourist footfall is an essential part of promoting economic growth in the area.
Usage: The example can be used to show incentives (nudging) can be a great motivator for community improvement, cleanliness and sustainability.
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
Pritzker Prize 2023
Women Icons Leading Swachhata’ (WINS) Awards 2023
Context: To highlight the impact of women in sanitation and waste management, the Union Ministry for Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) announced the ‘Women Icons Leading Swachhata’ (WINS) Awards 2023 on the eve of International Women’s Day.
Aim: It aims to recognize celebrate and disseminate inspiring and exemplary initiatives in urban sanitation and waste management by women-led organizations and individual women.
- It aims to make make a transformational shift from ‘Women in Swachhata’ to ‘Women led Swachhata’
Swachhatam Portal will be used for the selection of entries. In 2021, the integrated Swatchh Bharat Mission-Urban MIS portal Swachhatam and the state-of-art GIS platform were launched under SBM-U 2.0
Factors behind the long sustenance of Cyclone Freddy:
- Global warming: Absorption of human-induced greenhouse gases by the oceans, which increases their heat content, thus helping to strengthen cyclones.
- Low horizontal wind shear favoured its rapid intensification: Horizontal wind shear is the horizontal winds around a cyclone.
- When these winds have lower speeds they help a cyclone grow in strength and when they have higher speeds they make it dissipate.
- Warm sub-surface waters helped the cyclone rapidly intensify multiple times
- Usually, the sub-surface water is colder and when it gets pushed towards the surface due to mixing as a result of cyclonic winds, it creates conditions that don’t favour the intensification of cyclones
New appointments in the standing committee
Context: Eight officers from the Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman’s personal staff have been attached to 12 standing committees and eight department-related standing committees of Parliament, with the aim of assisting the committees in their work.
Why is it being criticised?
- The order is violative of established parliamentary procedures: Only MPs and staff of either the Rajya Sabha or Lok Sabha secretariats can offer such roles of assistance.
- The personal staff of the Speaker or the Chairman are not part of parliamentary secretariats.
- Not all the members were consulted about the appointments
RS Chairman’s defence:
- The decision was made after multi-layered consultations with members and Chairmen of Committees to improve productivity.
- The appointed staff will not function as members and the appointments were made to provide research-oriented, knowledgeable support to optimize output and performance.
Australia-India education qualification recognition mechanism
Context: The Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, announced an “Australia-India education qualification recognition mechanism” during a visit to India.
What does it mean?
This new mechanism means that degrees obtained in Australia (including online degrees) will now be recognised in India, and similarly, Indian degrees will be recognized by Australian colleges and authorities.
- Significance: The agreement is expected to make it easier for Indians to go to Australia for both education and work, and vice-versa.
- Exceptions: Professional registrations of engineering, medicine and law graduates will remain outside the ambit of this agreement.
Other similar agreement: India has other agreements with countries like the US, however, the agreement with the US doesn’t include online courses
Note: We will cover India-Australia relations in detail after the visit of the Australian PM gets over.
Water on Earth
Context: Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered gaseous water in the planet-forming disc around the star V883 Orionis.
Significance of the discovery:
- The study confirms the idea that the water in planetary systems formed billions of years ago, before the Sun, in interstellar space, and has been inherited by both comets and Earth, relatively unchanged.
- The discovery supports the idea that the water on earth is even older than the Sun.
How did the Earth get its water?
Nearly 4 billion years ago, during the Late Heavy Bombardment, countless meteors rained down on the Earth and the Moon. Over time, these icy asteroids and comets delivered oceans to Earth, depositing the water directly to the surface.
The Indian Navy’s major Operational level exercise TROPEX for the year 2023, conducted across the expanse of the Indian Ocean, over a duration of four months from November 2022 to March 2023, culminated this week in the Arabian Sea.
- The exercise included the coastal defence exercise Sea Vigil and the amphibious exercise AMPHEX
Follow us on our Official TELEGRAM Channel HERE
Subscribe to Our Official YouTube Channel HERE
Please subscribe to Our podcast channel HERE
Official Facebook Page HERE
Follow our Twitter Account HERE
Follow our Instagram Account HERE
Follow us on LinkedIn: HERE