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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:

  1. Japan’s New Plan for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)


GS Paper 3:

  1. National Electricity Plan for 2022-27
  2. Microplastic Pollution


Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

  1. ICCR plans to build its brand ambassador programme
  2. People’s manifesto and Datajam
  3. Resolution condemning Hinduphobia


Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Thira
  2. Vaikom Satyagraha
  3. Scheme for refugees from Pakistan
  4. Rare Disease
  5. Plant fungus infecting humans
  6. ‘The hat’: 50-year-old geometry mystery
  7. Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission (RLV LEX)
  8. SNAP-10A
  9. Eravikulam National Park gets a fernarium


Japan’s New Plan for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)

GS Paper 2


Syllabus: International Relations

 Source: TH

 Context: During his visit to India, the Japanese PM unveiled Japan’s New Plan for a FOIP and exchanged views about deepening the Japan-India Special Strategic and Global Partnership.


Japan’s New Plan for the FOIP: It lays stress on the need to uphold the rules-based order and respect each other’s territorial sovereignty, at a time when the international community is at a historical turning point.


Four pillars of cooperation under the new FOIP:

  • Principles for peace and rules for prosperity: Japan wants to engage in economic development programmes such as the G-20 Principles for “Quality Infrastructure Investment”.
  • Addressing challenges in an Indo-Pacific way: Incorporating realistic and practical projects in a wide range of areas, such as climate change, food security, global health and cybersecurity.
  • Multi-layered connectivity: The 3 areas identified for introducing more such projects are Southeast Asia, South Asia and the South Pacific/Pacific Island countries. Japan has made a new commitment of –
    • $100 million towards the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund;
    • It will promote the Bay of Bengal-Northeast India industrial value chain concept in cooperation with India and Bangladesh, etc.
  • Extending efforts for security and safe use of the “sea” to the “air”: Japan will help in strengthening the capabilities of maritime law enforcement agencies in other countries. Towards these objectives,
    • Japan will implement the “strategic use of Official Development Assistance (ODAs)”.
    • Japan also announced to mobilise a total of more than $75 billion in public and private funds by 2030 for infrastructure development.


What does Japan’s New Plan for the FOIP signify?

  • Japan needs to do much more in the region.
  • Japan is preparing itself for any unforeseen threat to its own as well as regional security.
  • To reinforce the idea that Japan has been the
    • The main champion of the FOIP concept
    • Central in the emerging geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific
  • With recent global developments (Russia-Ukraine war, Chinese assertiveness in the SCS, ECS, the Indian LAC, and the Taiwan Straits), there is a need to give a fresh push and momentum to the FOIP concept.
  • It focuses on the numerous challenges facing the Indo-Pacific such as the lack of a united stand on “what the international order should be?”.


Pros of FOIP: Embrace diverse voices and create an atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration (rather than division and confrontation) → rule-making through dialogue.


India and Japan relations:

  • Notwithstanding some differences in the Ukraine conflict, Japan remains one of India’s closest friends in Asia given their shared concerns over the aggressive Chinese activities.
  • Japan deeply invested in Indo-Pacific stability and prosperity is good news indeed for India and the wider region.


India and FOIP:

  • India is an indispensable
  • Japan’s concept of FOIP is like India’s concept of the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI), which has seven pillars:
    • Maritime Security;
    • Maritime Ecology;
    • Maritime Resources;
    • Capacity Building and Resource Sharing;
    • Disaster Risk Reduction and Management;
    • Science, Technology and Academic Cooperation; and
    • Trade Connectivity and Maritime Transport.


Conclusion: Both India and Japan should cooperate to build consensus on the new FOIP during the G-7 and the G-20 (Japan and India hold their presidencies, respectively) summits.


Insta Links:

India-Japan Relations


Mains Links:

‘The time has come for India and Japan to build a strong contemporary relationship, one involving global and strategic partnerships that will have a great significance for Asia and the world as a whole.’ Comment. (UPSC 2019)

National Electricity Plan for 2022-27

GS Paper 3 

Syllabus: Infrastructure (Energy)


Source: IE

 Context: A new blueprint for the country’s power sector planners – the National Electricity Plan for 2022-27 – marks a discernible reversal in the policy.


The National Electricity Plan:

  • The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) must create a National Electricity Plan in line with the National Electricity Policy, according to the Electricity Act 2003, to –
    • Create short-term (every 5-year) and perspective plans (15 years)
    • Analyse the need for planning capacity expansion
    • Coordinate the efforts of different planning agencies to ensure that resources are used optimally
    • Support the needs of the country’s economy.
  • The 1st National Electricity Plan was published in 2007, the 2nd in 2013, and the third (2018) includes the detailed Plan for 2017–22 and the perspective Plan for 2022–27.


Key takeaways from the National Electricity Plan for 2022-27:

  • The fresh draft notes the need for an additional coal-based capacity of 28 GW by 2031-32, in addition to the 25 GW of coal-based capacity that is currently being built.
    • A rise in the coal-fired power plants’ plant load factor (PLF), from 55% in 2026-27 to 62% in 2031-32.
    • This is an obvious admission of the ground realities.
  • A predicted 51 GW to 84 GW battery storage need with a daily usage rate of 5 hours in a push for renewable energy by 2031-32.
    • Estimated at Rs. 10 crores per MW, this could equate to between Rs. 5 to 8 lakh crore in battery storage investments.


What marks a discernible reversal? The focus earlier was almost entirely on renewable energy for incremental capacity addition and fresh coal-fired capacity was virtually ruled out.



  • Continued reliance on old technology, and inflexible coalfired plants for base load capacity → do not promise robust reliability. For example, coal-fired thermal power plants of 200 MW series in India are more than 25 years old.
  • Uncertainty regarding the management of the renewables-dominated grid infrastructure. For example, due to hydropower’s and zero-inertia solar generators’ slow development, the inertia that provides stability to the grid has been decreasing.
  • There is no evaluation of the ramping rate for thermal plants under different solar generation scenarios.
  • There is inadequate funding for the development of battery storage.


Way ahead (as per the National Electricity Plan for 2022-27):

  • Battery Energy Storage systems (BESS) based on Lithium-ion batteries:
  • Advantages → cost-effective, balance the grid against load fluctuations/intermittency in generation → energy storage can provide energy time-shifting.
  • The hybrid generation models: This will enable a shift to solar energy and provide backup power.
  • The water-based systems: In these systems water is raised to the reservoir during charging, and when it is discharged, it produces energy.
    • The closed water cycle has a 70% water cycle efficacy and 6% evaporation loss.
    • They are economical as no barrage on the river is required.


Insta Links:

What is missing in the draft national electricity policy

Microplastic Pollution

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Environment – Pollution

Indian Express

 Context: According to a new study, an estimated 170 trillion plastic particles weighing about 2 million metric tons are currently afloat in the oceans across the world, and if no urgent action is taken then this number could nearly triple by 2040.


About Microplastics:

  • Microplastics are defined as synthetic solid particles sized ranging from 1 micrometre to 5 millimetres (mm), which are insoluble in water.
  • They are particularly harmful to the oceans as they don’t readily break down into harmless molecules and adversely affect the health of marine organisms, which mistake plastic for food.


Key findings of the new study:

  • They found that from 1990 to 2005, the number of plastic particles more or less fluctuated due to the effective implementation of important policy measures like MARPOL Annex 5 which enforced laws against dumping trash at sea.
  • The concentration of plastic particles including microplastics in the ocean has skyrocketed in the oceans since the mid-2000s, and it continues to increase.
  • If the world fails to take any drastic action about the issue, there will be a 2.6-fold increase in plastic flowing into aquatic environments by 2040.


How do microplastics impact the oceans and marine life?

  • Mechanical problems, such as lacerations and blockages to internal systems of organisms.
  • Ingested plastics can cause chemical problems by leaching absorb chemicals into organisms.
  • Microplastics absorb many hydrophobic compounds, like DDT, PCBs and other industrial chemicals, and evidence shows they can be released when ingested.
  • Microplastics can also disrupt the carbon cycle of the oceans.


What can be done to limit plastic pollution in oceans?

  • There is an urgent need to implement a global resolution to limit the production of single-use, throwaway plastic.
  • Need to reduce the number of chemical additives in new plastic products.


Initiatives Taken to tackle microplastics:

Global Initiatives:

India-Specific Initiatives:


Insta Links:

Microplastics in Ganga

ICCR plans to build its brand ambassador programme

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

Source: TH


The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) aims to promote India’s cultural and creative heritage globally by using the experiences of over 48,000 foreign students studying in India as brand ambassadors.


ICCR will organize Exit Engagement Evenings (E-3) with foreign students in various Central and State universities, institutes, and agricultural colleges of the country, three or four months before they finish their courses.


In April 2022, ICCR launched the India Alumni Portal, a platform to connect with foreign students worldwide who have studied in India.


Values shown: Cultural Diplomacy, Soft Diplomacy, Brand Ambassadorship, International Education, Networking, and Alumni Engagement.

About ICCR:

 The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (est. 1950; Under the Ministry of External Affairs), is an autonomous organisation of the Government of India, involved in India’s global cultural relations, through cultural exchange with other countries and their people.

People’s manifesto, Datajam,, The Civil Society Forum, Janaagraha, Governance

People’s manifesto and Datajam

 Source: TH

Various civil society groups (The Civil Society Forum, Janaagraha and in Karnataka have released a “people’s manifesto” in the hope that political parties will include the issues in their manifestos for the upcoming assembly elections.


Demands: Curbing corruption, urban governance, housing, slums, panchayat raj, agriculture, right to food, health, education, labour issues, women’s rights, rights of the differently abled, environment, denouncement and immediate action to halt hate politics, etc.


Additionally,, along with Janaagraha and WRI India, conducted a “datajam” to analyze the data of Bengaluru constituencies in the context of gaps in areas such as medical facilities and sanitation in public schools, public transport access in certain constituencies, and voter participation. The analysis can be useful for the MLAs who will be elected next month to know where the gaps are that need to be addressed.


Usage: These are examples of people’s participation in Governance with the help of Civil society.

Resolution condemning Hinduphobia

Source: IE


The Georgia Assembly (USA) passed a resolution condemning Hinduphobia, becoming the first state in the US to do so. The legislation acknowledges the contributions of the American Hindu community and condemns the “antagonistic, destructive, and derogatory attitudes and behaviours” towards Hindus that may manifest as prejudice, fear or hatred.


What is Hinduphobia?

 Hinduphobia is a term used to describe a set of attitudes and behaviours characterized by prejudice, fear, hatred, or antagonism towards Hinduism and Hindus. It can manifest in many forms, such as discrimination, stereotyping, and violence against individuals or communities of Hindu origin.


Usage: The example can be used in Indian society/ethics/essay paper to show discriminatory societal attitudes and stereotyping esp. in developed countries.


Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: TH


Context: Recently, ‘Nagaraja Thira’ was celebrated at the Sree Muchilottu temple at Kuthiravattom in Kozhikode.

About ThiraDescription
RegionMalabar region of Kerala
PerformersArtists from the Malaya community, who are recognized as Perumalayans (Peruvannan caste)
DeitiesBhagavathi and Shiva
Difference between Thira and TheyyamThira is a sub-division of Theyyam, with the difference being that in Thira, the performer is considered possessed by the deity, while in Theyyam, the performer is considered to be the god he represents.
CostumePerformers wear ceremonial paint and clothing and represent specific deities
SponsorshipDevotees sponsor the performers as a prayer offering
PurposeViewed as a way to bring the gods to life, with performers seen as possessed by the gods during the dance
 About TheyyamRevere form of dance worship in Kerala and Karnataka. Each Theyyam is a man or woman who has achieved divine status through their heroic deeds or virtuous life. Most Theyyams are considered incarnations of Shiva or Shakti or have strong associations with them

Vaikom Satyagraha

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 Source: IE


Context: Tamil Nadu and Kerala are together celebrating 2024: the centenary year of the Vaikom Satyagraha


Vaikom Satyagraha (March 30, 1924 to November 23, 1925)It was a historic non-violent movement against untouchability and caste discrimination in the country. It marked the start of temple entry movements across India.
IssueThe Kingdom of Travancore had a rigid and oppressive caste system, and the people belonging to the oppressed classes, especially the Ezhavas, had no right to walk on the four roads surrounding the Vaikom Mahadeva temple (District: Kottayam, Kerala)
LeadersSpearheaded by Congress leader T.K. Madhavan; K.P. Kesava Menon (then secretary of Kerala Congress) and Congress leader and educationist K. Kelappan (also known as Kerala Gandhi)
The course of the MovementThe Congress Untouchability Committee decided to start the movement at the Mahadeva temple in Vaikom. On March 30, 1924, volunteers from three different communities were sent to walk on the prohibited roads each day.
Support to the Movement·        ‘Periyar’ E.V. Ramasamy was requested to lead the campaign

·        Members of forward castes marched from Travancore to the royal palace at Thiruvananthapuram, in a show of solidarity for the social reform

·        Akalis (Sikhs) from Punjab gave their support by opening a community kitchen (langar) for the volunteers

·        Chattampi Swamikal and Sree Narayana Guru gave support to the movement.

·        Mahatma Gandhi arrived at Vaikom in March 1925 to arrive at a compromise and settle the issue once and for all.

The success of the Movement·        Oppressed castes were given the right to move on public roads in the vicinity of all temples in Travancore.

·        The movement paved the way for the historic Temple Entry Proclamation (1936) by the Maharaja of Travancore, which lifted the age-old ban on the entry of marginalized castes into Travancore temples.

·        It was one of the most non-violent struggles against caste oppression and discrimination.

Scheme for refugees from Pakistan

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: TH


Context: The Indian government’s scheme to provide financial assistance to over 5,000 Hindu and Sikh families who migrated to India from Pakistan’s West Punjab after the 1947 partition has hit several issues.

About the SchemeInformation
Ministry involvedMinistry of Home Affairs (MHA) disburses the fund while the J&K government selects beneficiary
Type100% assistance from the central government
Launched in2018 (now extended till March 31, 2024.
AimTo provide financial assistance of ₹5.5 lakhs per family to over 5,000 Hindu and Sikh families who migrated to India from Pakistan’s West Punjab after the 1947 partition.
Beneficiaries5,764 eligible families (70% of them are Dalits)
Issues: ·        Claims have been settled for only 903 families so far

·        Several claims could not be processed, as the individuals were not able to produce original documents such as refugee cards

·        The entire scheme was mired in corruption and the revenue officials were demanding bribes before clearing the files

Rare Disease

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: IE

Context: The Indian government has exempted all imported medicines and foods for personal use related to the management of 51 rare diseases (as listed in NPRD 2021) from basic customs duty.

  • The government has also fully exempted Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) used in the treatment of various types of cancer
About Rare diseasesInformation
DefinitionA rare disease (also called “Orphan” disease) is a condition that affects a small number of people compared to the general population— one or less than one per 1000 people (WHO); one or less than one in 2500 (India definition). There are 7,000 known rare diseases ( over 72% of them are genetic) with an estimated 300 million patients in the world.
Exampleslysosomal storage disorder, maple syrup urine disease, Severe food protein allergy, Wilson’s disease
Benefits of exemptionThe exemption will lead to substantial savings for patients with rare diseases, who are often unable to afford life-saving medicines due to prohibitive costs
ProcessPeople importing them have to obtain a certificate from the central or state director general of health services or district medical officer or civil surgeon. These certificates have to be provided to the customs officers at the time of clearance.
Challenges of rare diseasesPatients with rare diseases are disadvantaged by the lack of volumes that usually spur pharmacological companies into producing life-saving medicines
The magnitude of rare diseases in IndiaAn estimated 100 million people in India have some form of rare diseases
National Policy for Rare Diseases (NPRD), 2021Group 1: Disorders amenable to one-time curative treatment (financial support of up to Rs. 20 lakh under the umbrella scheme of Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi)

Group 2: Those requiring long-term or lifelong treatment.

Group 3: Diseases for which definitive treatment is available but challenges are to make an optimal patient selection for benefit, very high cost and lifelong therapy.

Plant fungus infecting humans

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: DTE

 Context: The first case of a plant fungus called Chondrostereum purpureum infecting human beings has been reported from Kolkata.

  • The fungus is known to cause Silver leaf disease in plants, especially in species of rose families.
  • However, there were no reported instances of this fungus infecting human beings from any part of the world.


Possible reason:

Rising temperature due to global warming is thought of as one of the major reasons for this new threat to human beings. Most fungi thrive in the range of 12°C to 30°C.


‘The hat’: 50-year-old geometry mystery

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: TH


Context: A group of scientists have discovered a new shape with 13 sides, named ‘the hat’, It is the first ‘einstein’ tile (‘ no relation to Albert Einstein’ ) to have been found: a shape that can cover a plane without overlapping, leaving gaps, or repeating patterns.



Shape: polykite with the edges of eight kites to make it



Fig: The grey area shows the polykite shape of ‘the hat’



The discovery has answered a long-standing question in the field of plane geometry and generated excitement in the scientific community. It is the first time a single aperiodic tile has been found to cover a plane, which has been long-awaited as the number of shapes in a tile has decreased over the years.

Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission (RLV LEX)

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: ISRO


Context: The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has successfully conducted the Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission (RLV LEX).

About Reusable Launch VehicleDescription
MeaningA launch system that allows for the reuse of some or all of the component stages. The vehicle returns to earth intact after a mission.
ExperimentRLV-LEX involves taking an unmanned, winged prototype to an altitude of about 4.5km on a helicopter and releasing it to land. It must travel the distance autonomously, gain velocity, maintain control and land on the runway.
PhasesHypersonic flight experiment (HEX, conducted in 2016)à Landing experiment (LEX)à Return flight experiment (REX)àand Scramjet propulsion experiment (SPEX).
BenefitsCheaper access to space, resource reuse
ChallengesLack of landing technology; Reusable stages weigh more than equivalent expendable stages; Refurbishment after landing may be lengthy and expensive.
SignificanceThe success of the mission shows that ISRO has achieved the autonomous landing of a space vehicle.
RLV Orbital re-entry Experiment (ORE)ISRO is working on ORE. In ORE, a wing body called an Orbital Reentry vehicle (ORV) will be taken to an orbit by an ascent vehicle derived from the existing GSLV and PSLV stages and stay in orbit for a stipulated period, re-enter and land in a runway autonomously with the landing gear.
Other reusable vehicles USA (SpaceX Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Starship); Blue Origin’s Space Shepard; Virgin galactic’s SpaceShipTwo


Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 Source: The Hindu

 Context: Launched on April 3, 1965, SNAP-10A was the world’s first operational nuclear reactor in space. While it still remains in orbit, it was operational for just 43 days. 


About nuclear reactors:

A class of devices that contain and control sustained nuclear chain reactions, these systems are at the heart of any nuclear power plant.


Nuclear Reactor in Earth orbit:

  • The U.S.’ first and only known space nuclear reactor, the SNAP-10A was the result of the government-sponsored System for Nuclear Auxiliary Power (SNAP) programme, also known as SNAPSHOT for Space Nuclear Auxiliary Power Shot.
  • The SNAP reactors had liquid sodium-potassium alloy as the coolant. A thermoelectric enriched uranium fuel with zirconium hydride as a moderator converter was used to directly convert heat from the reactor into electricity.
  • Russia has sent quite a few of them, including one that crashed and scattered radioactive debris over Canada in 1978.


Eravikulam National Park gets a fernarium

Source: The Hindu


Context: Eravikulam National Park (ENP), the natural habitat of Nilgiri tahr in Munnar, has a new attraction — a Fernarium set up inside the park.



  • A fernarium is a type of botanical garden or greenhouse that specializes in cultivating and displaying various species of ferns.
  • Ferns are part of the Epiphytic family. They grow naturally in a soilless condition. The plants obtain water and nutrients through leaching from trees.
  • Ferns are a diverse group of plants that do not produce flowers or seeds but instead reproduce through spores.


About Eravikulam National Park:

  • Declared a Sanctuary in 1975 and later a National Park (1978) with the intention of protecting the indigenous population of Nilgiri Tahr (highly endangered mountain goat).
  • “Neelakurinji”, the flower that blooms once in twelve years grows here.
  • The highest peak south of the Himalayas – the Anamudi is located here.



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