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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 1:

  1. The Opium Wars


GS Paper 2:

  1. The Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill 2021


GS Paper 3:

  1. India’s Forex reserves


Content for Mains Enrichment

  1. UNESCO endorses banning smartphones from schools
  2. Mangrove Mitra Programme (Odisha)


Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Ancient soil from beneath a mile of ice in Greenland offers warnings for the future
  2. Constitution (STs) Order (5th Amendment) Bill
  3. No Confidence Motion
  4. A mechanism that quietly removes unfit cells before you’re born



  1. Israel


The Opium Wars

GS Paper 1

 Syllabus: World History


Source: IE

 Context: Amitav Ghosh’s new book “Smoke and Ashes” explores the historical significance of opium as a powerful agent that has shaped and continues to shape the world’s history.

  • The book focuses on the Opium Wars (1839-42 and 1856-60), which were waged by European colonial powers on China.


The Opium Wars:

The wars were a result of Britain’s increasing consumption of tea, which led to a trade deficit with China. To address this, the British East India Company promoted the opium trade, leading to a significant increase in opium production in India for export to China.

As opium addiction spread in China, it caused severe socio-economic crises and weakened the Qing dynasty’s governance. The Chinese attempts to crack down on opium smuggling resulted in conflict with the British, leading to two Opium Wars.


About Opium Wars (1839-42 and 1856-60):

AspectFirst Opium War (1839-42)Second Opium War (1856-60)
Parties InvolvedChina vs. British EmpireChina vs. British Empire and France
Primary CauseBritish exporting opium from India to ChinaRenewed tensions and hostilities over the opium trade
TriggerChinese crackdown on the opium tradeSeizure of a British ship by Chinese officials
Major BattlesBattle of CantonBattle of Palikao
OutcomeTreaty of Nanking (1842)Treaty of Tientsin (1858) and Treaty of Peking (1860)
Key ProvisionsChina cedes Hong Kong to BritainLegalization of the opium trade in China
Opening of five Chinese ports to foreign tradeChina pays indemnity to Britain and France
British citizens gain extraterritorial rights in ChinaMore ports opened to foreign trade
Reparations to Britain for war expensesReligious freedom for Christian missionaries in China
Most-favored-nation status for BritainDiplomatic presence in Beijing (Peking) for foreign powers
ImpactWeakened Qing Dynasty, loss of sovereigntyFurther erosion of China’s autonomy and territorial losses
Opening of China to increased foreign influence and its long-term effects on Chinese society and cultureContinued social and economic crises in China


Impacts on India during the 19th century:

  • Increased Opium Cultivation: With the success of the opium trade in China during and after the Opium Wars, there was a significant rise in opium cultivation in India.
    • This led to the exploitation of Indian farmers and increased dependence on opium cultivation, often to the detriment of other crops.
  • Economic Repercussions: As opium production grew, it diverted resources and labour away from other productive activities. The emphasis on opium also had adverse effects on India’s trade and led to a distortion of the Indian economy.
  • Social Consequences: The increased cultivation and trade of opium contributed to the addiction and widespread use of opium within certain regions of India, leading to social problems and health issues.
  • British Control: As Britain emerged victorious in the Opium wars, it further solidified British control over its colonies, including India.
  • Shift in British Policies: The revenue generated from the opium trade played a significant role in financing British colonial activities in India, including the maintenance of their military and administrative apparatus.


Charter Act Regulations:

  • Charter Act of 1813: The Act granted a monopoly of the opium trade to the British East India Company, allowing the Company to control and regulate the opium business in India.
  • Charter Act of 1833: The Company continued to maintain its monopoly on the production and sale of opium in India, particularly for export to China.
  • Charter Act of 1853: It did not address the opium trade directly. The British East India Company still retained control over opium cultivation and trade in India during this period.


Amitav Ghosh’s argument:

Opium played a central role in sustaining colonialism in Asia, bringing immense profits to colonial powers at the expense of Indian labour and the well-being of the Chinese population. The book suggests that opium, with its addictive properties, has had a profound impact on societies across classes and continues to shape history.


Mains Links:

1. At the beginning of the 20th century, Chinese nationalism took a more definite shape and centred primarily on two issues – anti-Manchuism and anti-imperialism which became the primary causes of the revolution. Elucidate. (250 words)

The Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill 2021

GS Paper 2/ 3

 Syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation/ Environment and Conservation


Source: HT

 Context: The Lok Sabha passed the contentious Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill 2021.



  • Biodiversity refers to the variety of life forms that exist on the planet.
  • Human activities have created challenges for biodiversity such as loss of habitat, and deterioration of ecological systems, and there have also been concerns around bio-piracy.
    • Bio-piracy involves the unauthorised appropriation of biological resources and related knowledge belonging to indigenous communities.
  • A key multilateral treaty to address these concerns is the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 1992. India became a signatory to CBD in 1994.
    • The CBD recognises sovereign rights over biological resources.
    • It permits countries to regulate access to these resources as per their national legislation.
    • It recognises the contributions of local communities to conservation and sustainable use through traditional knowledge.
    • It provides for equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of these resources with such people.
  • In light of India’s commitments under CBD, the Biological Diversity Act 2002 was passed by Parliament.


About the Biological Diversity Act 2002:

  • It regulates access to biological resources and associated traditional knowledge. It specifies distinct frameworks for regulating access by foreign and domestic entities.
  • It sets up a 3-tier structure for regulation:
    • National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) at the national level,
    • State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) at the state level, and
    • Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) at the local body level.
  • The Act provides for sharing of benefits (through monetary compensation, sharing of IPRs or technology transfer) with conservers of biodiversity and holders and creators of associated knowledge.


Salient provisionsThe Biological Diversity Act 2002The Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill 2021
Access to biological resources and associated knowledgeRequires prior approval or intimation to the regulatory authority based on the origin of the entityAmends the classification of entities, list of activities requiring intimation, and adds exemptions
Approval for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)Approval of NBA is required before applying for IPR involving biological resources obtained from India or sealing of the patentApproval will be required before the grant of IPR instead of before the application itself
Benefit sharingNBA is required to determine terms of benefit sharing while granting approvals for various activitiesSBB will determine benefit sharing while granting approvals to domestic entities as per the regulations by NBA
Offences and PenaltiesOffences include failing to take approval or providing prior intimation for various activities.  These offences are punishable with imprisonment of up to five years/ a fine/ bothThe Bill decriminalises the offences and makes offences punishable with a penalty between one lakh rupees and Rs 50 lakh


Access to biological resources and associated knowledgeThe Biological Diversity Act, 2002Changes made by the Bill
Approval required from NBA (for certain foreign entities)


Entities: foreign individuals, NRIs, companies not registered in India, and companies registered in India and having non-Indian participation in share capital or managementEntities: changes the last category to companies registered in India which are “foreign-controlled” companies as under the Companies Act, 2013
Prior intimation required to SBB (for certain domestic entities)Activities: obtaining biological resources occurring in India for commercial utilisationActivities: access to associated knowledge for commercial utilisation will also require prior intimation
Exemptions: use by local people and communities including growers and cultivators of biodiversityExemptions: adds exemptions for codified traditional knowledge, cultivated medicinal plants and their products, AYUSH practitioners


Significance of the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill 2021: The Bill seeks to amend the 2002 Act to:

  • Simplify compliance requirements for domestic companies.
  • Encourage the Indian system of medicine and cultivation of wild medicinal plants,
  • Facilitate fast-tracking of processes for research, patent application, and transfer of research results,
  • Decriminalise offences, and
  • Encourage foreign investment in the sector.


Key issues:

  • The term codified traditional knowledge has not been defined. A broad interpretation might exempt all local traditional knowledge from benefit-sharing requirements.
  • The Bill removes the direct role of local communities in determining benefit-sharing provisions.
  • The Bill decriminalises offences under the Act and instead provides for a wide range of penalties.
  • The Bill confers discretion to government officials, as they can hold inquiries and determine penalties.
  • A review of the law was necessary, however, the present bill can appear to be limited and selective, especially to favour specific bio resources-based industries.


Way ahead: The Joint Parliamentary Committee (to which the Bill was referred) recommended that the penalty structure (should not be too meagre) should be proportionate to the gains obtained by entities using biological resources.

UNESCO endorses banning smartphones from schools

Content for Mains Enrichment


Source: TH

 Context: UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report 2023 warns against the uncritical adoption of digital technology in educational settings, as there is little robust evidence of its added value in education.


Negative impact of mobile devices on children’s learning:

Negative ImpactExamples
DistractionStudents get distracted during lectures or study time due to notifications from social media apps.
Reduced Attention SpanChildren find it difficult to focus on a single task for an extended period due to constant multitasking on devices.
Decreased Reading HabitChildren spend more time on mobile games and videos than reading books or educational material.
Impaired SleepExcessive use of mobile devices before bedtime leads to sleep disturbances and reduced sleep duration.
CyberbullyingChildren experiencing cyberbullying through social media platforms, lead to emotional distress and impact their learning.
Reduced Face-to-Face InteractionOverreliance on virtual communication leads to decreased social skills and communication abilities.
Lack of Physical ActivitySpending excessive time on mobile devices leads to a sedentary lifestyle, affecting overall health and academic performance.
Inaccurate InformationChildren may come across misleading or false information online, impacting their understanding and knowledge.
Privacy ConcernsSharing personal information on social media or other platforms without understanding the potential risks to privacy.
AddictionDeveloping addictive behaviour towards mobile devices leads to withdrawal symptoms when not using them.



  • The report endorses banning smartphones in schools when technology integration does not improve learning or worsens student well-being.
  • Excessive screen time has been linked to poorer well-being, less curiosity, self-control, emotional stability, and higher anxiety and depression diagnoses in children.
  • Advocates for data privacy laws to protect children’s information


Use: The issues and recommendations can be used in question-related to education/learning at school/Screen addiction among children.

Mangrove Mitra Programme (Odisha)


Source: HT

Context: At least 25 families in Odisha’s Kendrapara district have donated over 25 acres of their land near Bhitarkanika National Park (BNP) for mangrove plantation under the Mangrove Mitra Programme. The park has 82 mangrove species, but the expansion of aquaculture and agriculture has degraded the mangrove habitats in the region.

The land donation is aimed at regenerating mangrove forests during the monsoon season. The Bhitarkanika mangrove ecosystem is India’s second-largest, but it has suffered losses due to deforestation caused by resettlement and human activities. Activists emphasize that mangrove forests offer the best insurance against such natural calamities.

The 2021 Forest Survey of India report said the mangrove forest cover in the country increased by 17 square km over the previous two years.

Use: The initiative shows the values of  Environmental stewardship and conservation, Community solidarity and collaboration,  and Recognition of the importance of natural ecosystems for protection against calamities.

Ancient soil from beneath a mile of ice in Greenland offers warnings for the future

Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Source: The Conservation

 Context: Approximately 400,000 years ago, large parts of Greenland were ice-free, and evidence suggests it was covered in spruce trees and scrubby tundra.

  • Scientists have now determined the precise date of this ice-free period to be around 416,000 years ago, lasting for about 14,000 years.
  • Researchers extracted frozen soil from beneath the Greenland ice sheet, collected during the Cold War from Camp Century, a unique nuclear-powered base dug into the ice sheet.


The findings have implications for our understanding of climate change and the consequences of rising carbon dioxide levels. During the interglacial period similar to today’s conditions, CO2 levels were much lower, yet they triggered enough warming to melt a significant portion of Greenland’s ice.

To prevent a future of largely ice-free Greenland, it is crucial to take immediate and significant action to reduce carbon emissions and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

Constitution (STs) Order (5th Amendment) Bill


Source: NewsOnAir

 Context: The Parliament has passed the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Fifth Amendment)

Bill, 2022, with the Rajya Sabha giving its approval after the Lok Sabha had already passed the Bill.

The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order of 1950. It aims to make several changes:

  • Inclusion of Communities: The Bill includes the Dhanuhar, Dhanuwar, Kisan, Saunra, Saonra, and Binjhia communities in the list of Scheduled Tribes in Chhattisgarh.
  • Synonyms Inclusion: The Bill adds Bhuinya, Bhuiyan, and Bhuyan communities as synonyms for the Bharia Bhumia community.
  • Devanagari Versions: Three Devanagari versions of the name of the Pando community are also included.

No Confidence Motion


Source: IE

 Context: The current No-Confidence Motion (NCM) against the Indian government was brought by the opposition to demand a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the situation in Manipur. However, given the government’s significant majority in the Lok Sabha, the motion is unlikely to succeed.


About NCMDescription
What is NCM?A No Confidence Motion is a parliamentary procedure used to test the government’s support and majority in the legislature. In India, it is introduced in the Lok Sabha, and if accepted, it leads to a discussion on the government’s performance. If the motion is passed, the government must resign from office.
Floor TestThe government can retain power by demonstrating its strength through a floor test.
Principle of Collective ResponsibilityAccording to Article 75 of the Constitution (and Article 164 for states), the council of ministers is collectively responsible to Lok Sabha. The ministry remains in office as long as the majority of Lok Sabha members trust it. Lok Sabha Rule 198 specifies the procedure for a motion of no-confidence.
Procedure for Moving MotionThe member must submit a written notice before 10 AM, supported by at least 50 members. The Speaker sets a date for discussion within 10 days.
Examples27 no-confidence motions have been introduced in Lok Sabha since independence.
Difference from Censure MotionThe no-confidence motion seeks to ascertain the confidence of the Lok Sabha in the Council of Ministers, while a censure motion censures specific policies and actions of the Council of Ministers.


If a no-confidence motion is passed, the council of ministers must resign, while a censure motion does not require resignation.

SignificanceThe no-confidence motion is a crucial legislative tool used to hold the government accountable, although it is rare for the opposition to defeat the ruling party with greater numbers.

A mechanism that quietly removes unfit cells before you’re born


Source: TH

 Context: Research on the early stages of human embryonic development and the role of specific cells known as the inner cell mass has gained importance recently.

  • The inner cell mass contains pluripotent cells, meaning they have the potential to differentiate into all the different cell types that make up the human body. These cells are of great interest to scientists as they are responsible for shaping the entire human body.
  • In a study conducted in 2016, researchers discovered a subset of non-committed cells within the inner cell mass. Unlike the majority of cells in the inner cell mass that go on to contribute to the developing embryo, these non-committed cells seem to die off early in the development process.
  • Further investigation revealed that the non-committed cells lack the expression of a gene called HERVH, which is critical for maintaining pluripotency in human embryonic stem cells.
  • Instead, these cells express transposons, also known as “jumping genes,” which can insert themselves into different parts of the genome, potentially causing DNA damage and leading to cell death.


HERVH, despite being a type of transposon itself, appears to protect the pluripotent cells from the harmful effects of other transposons. By the end of this early developmental stage, the cells that express HERVH survive and become the “good” cells that will form the embryo, while the non-committed cells that lack HERVH expression die through cell death.

The study refers to the early human embryo as a “selection arena,” where cells compete to survive based on their gene expression patterns.



 Source: IE

 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has succeeded in pushing through a judicial reform bill that curtails the judiciary’s power to check his far-right coalition government. The victory, however, has deepened divisions in Israeli society. Critics fear that the reform may lead to a religious autocracy, erode democracy, and pose risks to Israel’s alliance with the United States.

Israel, a Middle Eastern country on the Mediterranean Sea, is regarded by Jews, Christians and Muslims as the biblical Holy Land. Its most sacred sites are in Jerusalem.


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