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:
- What is India’s stand on same-sex marriage?
GS Paper 3:
- How India’s Digital Payment Revolution is Inspiring the World
- PM inaugurates the Global Millets (Shree Anna) Conference
- Water warning: How ‘vanishing’ rainfall is threatening economic stability
- Coastal crisis: It’s a race against time, and tide, for those living in Odisha’s coastal villages
Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)
- Tamil Nadu Kasanoi Erappila Thittam (TN-KET)
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
- Kalanidhi award for 2023
- Matua Dharma Maha Mela
- Saurashtra Tamil Sangamam festival to be held in Gujarat
- India’s geoheritage sites of Jhamarkotra and Zawar
- Vaikom Satyagraha
- Major Tribes in India
- World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Award 2023
- World’s 1st Sand battery
- Quantum Error Correction
- Horseshoe crabs
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections
Context: A Bench led by CJI referred petitions to legally recognise same-sex marriages to a Constitution Bench of five judges of the SC.
What is the case?
- Even if LGBTQIA+ couples may live together, they do not enjoy the rights married couples do.
- For example,
- They cannot adopt children or have a child by surrogacy;
- They do not have automatic rights to inheritance, maintenance and tax benefits after a partner passes away,
- They cannot avail of benefits like pension or compensation.
- The Court has been hearing multiple petitioners’ requests for legal recognition of same-sex marriages under the Special Marriage Act (SMA) 1954 and making the law gender-neutral.
How has the SC recently viewed LGBTQIA+ rights?
- In Navtej Singh Johar (2018) case [decriminalised homosexuality by reading down Section 377 (IPC)], the SC held that the community is entitled to the benefit of equal citizenship and to the equal protection of the law.
- Article 21 of the Indian constitution (right to life and liberty) guarantees the choice of whom to partner with, the ability to find fulfilment in sexual intimacies, etc.
- In K.S. Puttaswamy’s (2017) case, SC ruled that the fundamental right to privacy (including bodily autonomy, and sexual orientation) is intrinsic to life and liberty and thus integral to Article 21.
- After these judgements, there was hope that same-sex marriages would be legalised, but that has not been the case, prompting many couples to move to court.
What is the Centre’s stand?
- Opposed same-sex marriage and said judicial interference will cause complete havoc with the delicate balance of personal laws.
- This definition of marriage is socially, culturally and legally ingrained into the very idea of the heterogeneous institution (a union between two persons of the opposite sex) of marriage.
- The decriminalisation of Section 377 IPC does not give rise to a claim to seek recognition for same-sex marriage.
- Even if same-sex marriage is claimed under Article 21, the right can be curtailed by the competent legislature on permissible constitutional grounds including legitimate state interest.
- It is clear that the two organs of the state are not in agreement on same-sex marriages.
- Even if the Court rules in its favour, the march towards same-sex marriage in a diverse country with well-entrenched traditions will not be easy.
- Therefore, awareness of sex, gender and constitutional rights from the school level to change things on the ground is the need of the hour.
SC transfers to itself all pleas related to same-sex marriage
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Banking/ Financial Inclusion
Context: In January this year, about eight billion (800 crores) transactions worth nearly $200 billion (Rs. 2 lakh crores approximately) were carried out on the Unified Payment Interface (UPI)
What is Digital Payment System?
A digital payment sometimes called an electronic payment, is the transfer of value from one payment account to another using a digital device such as a mobile phone, POS (Point of Sales) or computer.
Modes of Digital Payments:
- Unified Payments Interface (UPI)
- Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM)
- UPI 123PAY
- UPI Lite
- Cards (including RuPay Debit Cards)
- Immediate Payment Services (IMPS)
- Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AePS)
Status of Digital payments in India:
- 40% of all payments done are digital
- Nearly 50 per cent of them are classified as small or micropayments
- The value of instant digital transactions in 2022 was four times more than the combined transactions in the United States, Britain, Germany, and France together.
Components of Digital Payment Ecosystem:
Tools used for Digital Payment ecosystem:
- JAM trinity
- Jan Dhan Accounts: As of 2022, over 46 crore bank accounts have been opened, with 56% belonging to women and 67% opened in rural and semi-urban areas
- Aadhar: Today 99% of adults have a biometric identification number with more than 1.3 billion IDs issued.
- Mobile: The cost of data dropped by 95% since 2016.
- JAM Trinity has catapulted verticals such as e-commerce, food delivery, and OTT content to take off in India.
- Unified Payments Interface (UPI) (launched in 2016 by NPCI with 21 member banks): It is a public-private partnership (PPP) that the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) led with an interoperable platform to facilitates direct payments linked to a bank account.
- An advanced version of Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), UPI manages multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood.
- Made daily life more convenient
- Financial Inclusion: Expanded banking services like credit and savings to millions more Indians
- Last mile access: Extended the reach of government programs and tax collection
- Encouraged entrepreneurship: The digital infrastructure is seen as a set of ‘rail tracks’ laid by the government, on top of which innovation can happen at a low cost.
- The significant behavioural shift from a cash-driven economy.
Comparison of the digital evolution of America, China, and India:
|Country||Digital Evolution||Key Approach||Key Companies|
|America||Broad adoption of the internet and digital technologies across industries.||Ecosystem play, focusing on core assets and capabilities and continuously investing in them.||Amazon|
|China||Adoption of mobile-first digital platforms led by payments, resulting in the emergence of super apps.||A focus on core capabilities and the aggregation of multiple services around payments.||Alibaba, Tencent, WeChat, Alipay|
|India||Growth in internet access and smartphone penetration led by public-private partnerships in telecoms.||Ecosystem play, with a focus on developing moats by investing in adjacencies.||Reliance Jio, National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), Aadhar|
Acceptance across the world
- Indian digital payment systems are available in Singapore, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, France, and BENELUX markets – Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg – and Switzerland, among others.
- India has signed MoUs with 13 countriesthat want to adopt the UPI interface for digital payments
- Singapore: UPI-PayNow linkage
India’s progress in payment systems will provide a useful backbone to make a state-of-the-art central bank digital currency (CBDC), but challenges remain. Discuss. (250 Words)
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Issues relating to Poverty and Hunger
Context: At the inaugural edition of the global conference on millets, the PM of India spoke about how millets, considered to be “high-fibre foods”, are effective for health.
- Based on India’s proposal, the year 2023 was declared the International Year of Millets (IYM) by the UNGA.
- In order to make the IYM 2023 a ‘people’s movement’ and position India as the ‘global hub for millets’, all stakeholders are being engaged to spread awareness about the benefits of millets (Shree Anna) for the –
- Consumer and
- The organisation of the Global Millets (Shree Anna) Conference in India is an important programme in this context.
- It was organised by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
PM’s address at the Conference:
- As Shree Anna is linked with Gaon as well as Garib (Village and the poor), it is becoming a medium of holistic development in India.
- Shree Anna –
- A door to prosperity for the small farmers of the country.
- The cornerstone of nutrition for crores of countrymen.
- Felicitation of the Adivasi community.
- Getting more crops for less water.
- A big foundation for chemical-free farming and a huge help in fighting climate change.
Consistent efforts of the Indian government to turn Shree Anna into a global movement:
- Millets were declared nutri-cereals in 2018 → making the farmers aware of its benefits, and generating interest in the market.
- Millets have been selected in 19 districts of the country under the ‘One District, One Product’ scheme.
- The National Food Security Mission (NFSM) as NFSM-Coarse Cereals and implemented in 14 States.
- In 2021, the PM POSHAN (earlier known as the mid-day meal scheme) was approved to include millet to enhance the nutritional outcome.
- India is planning to launch a global initiative – Millet International Initiative for Research and Awareness (MIIRA), to encourage the consumption and production of millets.
Impact of these initiatives:
- Consumption/month/person from 3 to 14 kgs today.
- The sale of millet food products was boosted by roughly 30%.
There is a growing divergence in the relationship between poverty and hunger in India. The shrinking of social expenditure by the government is forcing the poor to spend more on non-food essential items squeezing their food budget – Elucidate. (UPSC 2019)
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation
Context: According to a Global Commission on the Economics of Water report, human activities (from destroying forests to burning gas-oil-coal for energy) are disrupting the rainfall the world depends on.
- The report comes ahead of a key U.N. Water Conference – the first in five decades – aimed at charting a path to shore up declining global water security.
- According to 2021 data from UN-Water, about 3 billion people (almost one in three) live in water-stressed countries and a third of those facing critical pressures.
- According to the UN FAO 2020 report, 2 billion living in agricultural areas face high to very high water scarcity or shortages.
- Behind all the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), there is a volume of freshwater that powers the delivery of services.
Findings of the report:
- Impact of losses of forests: Argentina’s soybean and wheat fields are experiencing worsening drought as the Amazon shrinks (water vapour rising from rainforests falls on distant places).
- This is further aggravated by land use change and climate change.
- Huge economic, health and social stability threats:
- Eroding water security poses a risk to everything from food supplies to hydropower production, a key source of low-carbon energy.
- For example, severe water scarcity in the Horn of Africa has the potential to trigger political instability, conflict, displacement and migration.
Recommendations – Rethinking water:
- A deeper understanding of how closely water supplies are linked to climate and nature protection.
- Looking at freshwater as a global rather than just a local or regional issue, and strengthening how limited supplies are managed, shared and valued.
- A desire to capture and store more water is leading to a surge in dam-building around the world, which often results in losses of forests, land rights of local communities, etc.
- Increasing water storage in river dams can lead to growing tensions with neighbours downstream.
- For example, the India-Pakistan conflict over more dam-building on the Indus River system.
- With agriculture responsible for more than 70% of global freshwater use each year, trade in food is also trade in water.
- Improving water security requires a shift towards –
- More precise and sparing irrigation systems,
- Crops that require less water,
- Farming methods that stand up to drought and grow fewer thirsty crops in water-short places.
- In urban areas, boosting freshwater storage, recycling more wastewater and using less water in manufacturing will be key.
- Richer nations should help poor countries in their water conservation efforts (financially, tech transfer).
- Just Water Partnerships, modelled on existing Just Energy Transition Partnerships – designed to speed a global transition to clean energy, should also be considered.
Conclusion: The U.N. Water Conference can be a “Paris moment” [2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change] for water. This will ensure a sustainable and globally equitable future – that’s in every nation’s interest.
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Environment – Coastal Erosion
Context: Data from the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, shows that 74 villages in the state of Odisha are severely affected by shoreline erosion—the highest in the country.
- A study paper published in the journal Spatial Information Research in June 2018 finds that almost half of Odisha’s coast—196 km of shoreline—has undergone erosion between 1990 and 2015.
- A major reason for this is the rising sea level, which is surging along the Odisha coast at a rate faster than the rest of the country.
About Coastal Erosion:
- Coastal erosion is the temporary or permanent loss of land owing to the action of waves, currents, tides, wind-driven water, waterborne ice, or other effects of storms.
- It can also be the long-term removal of soil and rocks along the shoreline.
Reasons for Coastal Erosion:
- Wave energy
- Natural hazards
- El Niño and effects of climate change (e.g., sea level rise).
- Mining activities such as sand and Coral mining.
- Fishing harbours and dams were constructed in the catchment area of rivers and ports.
Impact of Coastal Erosion:
- Green belts and artificial reefs help in the mitigation of coastal erosion.
- Coastal habitats such as Mangroves, Coral Reefs, and lagoons are recognized as the best defence against sea storms and erosion, deflecting and absorbing much of the energy of sea storms.
- Using Geosynthetic tubes: currently being used along the coast in Odisha.
- Union environment ministry prepared an Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (ICZM) to be implemented on a pilot basis in Odisha, along with two other states prone to shoreline erosion—Gujarat and West Bengal.
The extent and severity of the coastal erosion problem are worsening with global sea level rise. It has both ecological and economic costs and needs to be addressed urgently. Analyse. (250 words)
Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)
The government has launched a new platform called ‘herSTART’ to encourage and promote women entrepreneurs.
- herSTART Incubator: Startup incubator for women entrepreneurs and innovators
- herSTART Accelerator: Accelerator programme for high-impact women-led startups.
- A monthly allowance of up to ₹20,000 for one year for women-led start-ups.
Usage: This can be used as an example of the commitment of India to women’s entrepreneurship
Tamil Nadu Kasanoi Erappila Thittam (TN-KET)
The state of Tamil Nadu in India has successfully reduced early tuberculosis (TB) death rate through a new initiative called the Tamil Nadu Kasanoi Erappila Thittam (TN-KET). The initiative was launched in April 2022 and implemented in over 2,500 public healthcare facilities in 30 districts.
Approach: It utilizes a differentiated TB care approach, assessing whether a patient needs ambulatory care or admission to a healthcare facility at the time of diagnosis.
Impact: This approach has helped reduce early TB deaths from over 600 in April 2022 to less than 350 in December 2022.
Usage: The approach can be used as an example of successful health practices.
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
Kalanidhi award for 2023
Renowned Carnatic vocalist and Padma Shri awardee Bombay Jayashri has been selected for the Sangita Kalanidhi award for 2023 by the Music Academy.
Kalanidhi award is the title awarded yearly to a Carnatic musician by the Madras Music Academy.
Matua Dharma Maha Mela
Context: The Prime Minister has urged people to visit Matua Maha Mela in large numbers and paid tribute to Shri Shri Harichand Thakur Ji for showing the path of kindness and service.
About Matua Maha Mela:
- The Mela is being organised to celebrate the 212th Birth Anniversary of Shri Shri Harichand Thakur ji.
- It highlights the vibrant culture of the Matua community.
- The Matua Community is a subset of lower-class AVARNA Hindus who belong to the Namasudra Scheduled Caste group and are also referred to as “Chandalas,”.
Who is Harishchandra Thakur?
- He began a social and religious movement in 1860 in Orakandi, now in Bangladesh, and this movement eventually led to the creation of the Matua.
- This sect opposed caste oppression and later drew members from other communities, including Malis and Telis, that was ostracised by the upper castes.
- His devotees regard him as God and refer to him as Thakur, a Vishnu or Krishna avatar. As a result, he earned the name Sri Sri Harichand Thakur.
- He passed away in Bangladesh’s Faridpur district.
- His dedication towards raising awareness, spreading education & improving the condition of women in society is a bright beacon of hope for us to remain on the path of righteousness.
Saurashtra Tamil Sangamam festival to be held in Gujarat
Source: The Hindu
Context: The Prime Minister highlighted the bond between Gujarat and Tamil Nadu being celebrated under Saurashtra Tamil Sangamam. The ST Sangamam celebrates ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.’
Relation between Saurashtra and Tamil Nadu:
- Sangamam would showcase the historic link between Somnath and Rameshwaram.
- Tamil gave shelter to thousands of Saurashtrians who migrated down south from Gujarat to the State and have become part of the Tamil culture at the inauguration of the Saurashtra Tamil Sangamam.
- The famous playback singer T.M. Soundararajan belonged to the Saurashtra community remains.
India’s geoheritage sites of Jhamarkotra and Zawar
Source: The Hindu
What is geoheritage?
- Geodiversity is the variety of rocks, fossils, minerals, and natural processes that shape our landscapes while geoheritage refers to sites that offer insights into the evolution of the earth and can be used for research, reference, and awareness.
- The Geological Survey of India has recognised a number of geoheritage sites around the country.
|Jhamarkotra||· It is a stromatolite fossil park: it hosts stromatolites dating back 1.8 billion years, exhibiting a variety of textures and sizes.
· A stromatolite is a layered sedimentary rock created by microorganisms. As such, stromatolite fossils preserve records of cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae – the earliest life on the planet.
· Jhamarkotra’s fossils are phosphate-rich because the trapped sediments were mainly phosphate minerals.
|Zawar||· The world’s oldest known zinc-smelting site – of archaeological and metallurgic importance.
· The landscape around Zawar bears numerous traces of zinc mining and smelting operations in ancient times, including open stopes, trenches, chambers, galleries, shafts, and open-pit mines.
· Before the advent of high-pressure technology, extracting zinc was a considerable challenge. Zinc has low boiling and melting points, so heating it forms a vapour, which readily oxidises in contact with the atmosphere. However, the people of Zawar extracted zinc using a distillation process that required the use of a retort and an external condenser.
Context: Kerala Government will organise the centenary celebrations of the Vaikom Satyagraha
Vaikom Satyagraha (1924-25) was a movement in Travancore (modern-day Kerala) for temple entry of the depressed classes. It took place near the Shiva Temple at Vaikom, Kottayam district, Kerala.
Issue: The protest was against the caste-based discrimination prevalent in Kerala and the rest of India, where lower-caste Hindus were not allowed to enter temples, and roads leading to temples were banned from them.
Leaders: K. Kelappan, T K Madhavan, Velayudha Menon, K Neelakantan Namboothiri, and T R Krishnaswami Iyer
- Sree Narayana Guru also extended the Satyagraha his support and cooperation
- M Gandhi: On Gandhi’s guidance, a march of ‘upper caste’ Hindus who supported the Vaikom Satyagraha began in Vaikom
Impact: It led to the Temple Entry Proclamation in 1936.
Major Tribes in India
Source: Tribal faces in India (by Ministry of Tribal Affairs)
|Bhil||Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan||Farmers, agricultural labourers, Trained as Sculpture||Toranmal festival||Skilled archers, traditional medical specialists|
|Kattunayakan tribe.||Tamil Nadu and Kerala (Nilgiris and surrounding region).||Hunting and collecting forest produce||They worship animals, birds, trees, rocks and snakes (nature worship)||One of the 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
Recently, seen in the Oscar-winning documentary Elephant Whisperers
|Santhal tribes||West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and Assam||Cultivation of rice||Karam festival, Maghe, Baba Bonga, Sahrai||Droupadi Murmu from the Santhal community was elected President of the country.
They Speak Santhali and have a Script called Olchiki.
|Tiwa Tribe||Living in Assam and Meghalaya||Cultivation of the land||Sogra, Wan Shuwa, Yangli, Khel Chawa||Two groups: Hill Tiwas (speak Tibeto Burman language) and Plains Tiwas (speak Assamese)|
|Gond Tribe||Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and also in parts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, UP||Mostly peasants and nature worshippers||Keslapur Jathra’ and Madai festival||Rajya Sabha recently cleared the bill to move the Gond community from the Scheduled Castes list to the Scheduled Tribes list in four districts of Uttar Pradesh (UP)|
|Munda||Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tripura, West Bengal||Cultivators, hunters||Magha or Ba festival, Nupur dance form||A surname based on natural elements|
|Baiga||Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh||Dependent on minor forest produce||N/A||Semi-nomadic, tattooing is an integral part of the culture|
|Kokna||Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Dadra and Nagar Haveli||Craftsmen (masks, bamboo, wooden, brass, copper)||Bohada Festival||Celebrate the Bohada festival of masks|
|Madia||Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha||Hunting-gathering||N/A||Skilled in bamboo, have ghotul (youth dormitory)|
World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Award 2023
Context: AuditOnline – Facilitating Online audits across Panchayati Raj Institutions – awarded the WSIS Prizes 2023 at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Geneva
About Audit Online:
It facilitates financial audit of accounts at all three levels of Panchayats, Urban Local Bodies (ULB) and Line departments by Auditors.
- Developed by: National informatics Center (NIC) as part of Panchayat Enterprise Suite under the ePanchayat Mission Mode Project (Ministry of Panchayati Raj)
About WSIS: WSIS is an annual award event coordinated by International Telecommunication Union to promote ICTs for achieving SDGs.
World’s 1st Sand battery
Context: Finland has installed the world’s first sand battery that can store heat from renewable energy sources for months.
Sand can be heated up to 600 degrees Celsius, and it has low heat conductivity, reducing energy loss.
Capacity: The installed battery can store 8 megawatt-hours of energy and release heat at 0.1 MW.
Quantum Error Correction
Context: Google makes a breakthrough in quantum computing, much bigger than AI—Quantum error correction
What are the current issues in Quantum Computing?
Currently, Quantum computers use qubits, to encode information as 0’s, 1’s, or both at the same time. However, qubits are very sensitive and even a stray light can cause calculation errors.
Quantum error correction protects information by encoding it across multiple physical qubits (instead of relying on individual physical qubits) to form a “logical qubit”
Significance: It would go on to make quantum computing more accurate.
Quantum Supremacy: Four years ago, Google said it completed a test in 200 seconds for a task that would take conventional supercomputers thousands of years.
The principles behind quantum technology:
Context: Horseshoe crabs are disappearing from spawning grounds along Odisha’s Chandipur and Balaramgadi coasts.
About Horseshoe crabs:
- They are marine and brackish water arthropods of the family Limulidae
- Despite their name, they are not true crabs or crustaceans
- They are considered living fossils meaning they have existed nearly unchanged for at least 445 million years (before even dinosaurs existed)
- Odisha is their largest habitat in India
- Threats: Overharvesting for use as food, bait and biomedical testing
- Use: Blood of Horseshoe crab is very important for the preparation of rapid diagnostic reagents (used in chemical reactions)
- Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972
- IUCN Status: American horseshoe crab: Vulnerable and Tri-spine horseshoe crab: Endangered.
IE: Not with a rate hike (RBI should desist from further rate hikes) by Ashok Gulati
IE: Renewing a pledge (India-Japan are pivotal to peace (By the PM of Japan)
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