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:
- Fali S Nariman on Basic Structure Doctrine
- First UN guidance on Children’s Rights and Environment
- Minority Scholarship Schemes
GS Paper 3:
- Air Pollution Shortens Indian Life
Content for Mains Enrichment
- Brain-Computer Interface (BCI)
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
- Increasing Cyclone frequency
- ‘Self-respect’ marriages
- Kampala Declaration
- Mysteries of the Y chromosome
- Flora, Fauna and Funga
- Cybterterms in News
- Hurricane Idalia (Florida)
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Indian Constitution/ Judiciary
Context: Fali S. Nariman discusses the significance of the Basic Structure Doctrine
What is the Basic Structure Doctrine?
The doctrine of basic structure is a judicial innovation that puts a limitation on the amending powers of the Parliament. The doctrine was propounded by the Supreme Court in Keshavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973) and its objective is to ensure that the basic features of the Constitution remain unaltered and to preserve the core identity of the Constitution.
Key Developments of Basic Structure Doctrine:
|1965||German constitutional expert Dietrich Conrad highlights the unchangeable nature of fundamental constitutional principles.|
|1973||Kesavananda Bharati case introduces basic structure doctrine in a bench decision of 13 judges.|
|1975||Union of India seeks reconsideration of the doctrine; a bench of 13 judges convened in November. The bench dissolved without decision, indicating continued adherence to the doctrine.|
|1975||Constitution 39th Amendment passed, including Article 329A(4) attempting to validate Indira Gandhi’s election.|
|1975||Supreme Court declares Article 329A(4) unconstitutional and void, reinforcing the doctrine’s principles.|
|1978||Constitution 44th Amendment Act abolishes remaining clauses of Article 329A, cementing the doctrine’s foundation.|
|1980||Minerva Mills vs. Union of India case reaffirms the basic structure doctrine in a Constitution Bench decision of five judges.|
|2007||IR Coelho vs. State of Tamil Nadu reaffirms the doctrine in a bench decision of nine judges.|
Why did CJI recently call the Basic Structure Doctrine a “North Star”?
The Chief Justice of India D. Y. Chandrachud called Basic Structure Doctrine a North Star. This is because it guides and gives directions to law-makers, implementers and interpreters.
- The doctrine acts as a “North Star” because it provides a fixed reference point or guiding light for constitutional interpretation.
- It helps prevent any arbitrary or excessive exercise of power by the government and ensures that constitutional amendments do not violate or undermine the essential features of the Constitution.
- It maintains constitutional supremacy by preventing lawmakers from undermining the essence of the Constitution.
- Limiting the powers of lawmakers prevents the rise of any authoritarian regime.
- The core values and goals of the Constitution remain intact. For instance, secularism was identified as a ‘basic feature’ in R. Bommai v. State of Karnataka.
- It acts as an effective system of checks and balances and avoids any concentration of power in any one organ of the government.
- The doctrine has been instrumental in safeguarding the fundamental rights of citizens.
- The Doctrine ensures consistency and stability in the interpretation of the Constitution itself.
Significance of Basic Structure:
|Testimony to Constitutionalism||Prevents damage to the Constitution by ruling the majority’s brute majority.|
|Safeguarding Indian Democracy||Limits constituent power to avoid totalitarian regimes.|
|Preserving Constitution’s Tenets||Maintains founders’ meticulously framed principles.|
|Strengthening Democracy||Ensures independent Judiciary, and separation of powers.|
|Dynamic and Progressive||Allows adaptation over time, unlike rigid past judgments.|
Why is the doctrine criticised?
- It is not found in the text of the original Constitution itself and therefore by inventing this test the judiciary is encroaching on the Parliament’s powers.
- Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran: The power of “unelected judges” to strike down amendments to the Constitution on the basis of this doctrine is “anti-democratic and counter-majoritarian.”
However, despite the criticism, by and large, the Basic Structure Doctrine acts as a guiding star that seeks to maintain the sanctity of the Constitution.
The basic structure doctrine prevents the abuse of power by the executive and legislature, preventing it from becoming a majoritarian regime. Examine. (15M)
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Social Justice
Context: The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has issued ground-breaking guidance (first of its kind), General Comment No. 26, recognizing children’s rights to a clean and sustainable environment, with a focus on climate change.
Impact of Climate Change on Children:
- 2020 report by WHO-UNICEF-Lancet warns of threats to children’s well-being due to environmental degradation and climate change.
- 2022 saw 12 million children displaced due to extreme weather events
- Climate change is a key driver of extreme poverty, inequality, and child vulnerability.
- Children are especially vulnerable to climate change impacts because of their unique development needs.
Key Points of UN Guidance on Children’s Rights and the Environment:
|Recognition of Rights||UN recognizes children’s right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.|
|Special emphasis on addressing climate change impacts on children.|
|Legal Framework||General Comment No. 26 was adopted on August 28, 2023.|
|Provides the legal foundation to tackle environmental degradation and climate change’s effects on children’s rights.|
|Obligations of Member States||Member states urged to take necessary measures to protect children’s rights from climate change-related harm caused by businesses.|
|Priority on establishing inclusive early warning systems to safeguard children from extreme weather impacts.|
|Developed nations are urged to provide grants instead of loans to prevent negative impacts on children’s rights.|
|Climate Finance Concerns||Highlighted concerns over unequal allocation of finance for adaptation and loss and damage measures.|
|Calls for Emissions Reductions||Insufficient progress in achieving international climate commitments endangers children.|
|Urges rapid and effective emissions reductions to protect children’s rights and prevent irreversible environmental damage.|
To know How climate change contributes to violence against children? Click here
To know How to address violence against children: Click here
UNCRC, adopted in 1989, outlines children’s rights, including life, health, clean drinking water, and survival and development. It is ratified by 196 state parties (including India). CRC is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors the implementation of the UNCRC by its state parties
Analyse the growing impacts of climate change on Indian Society. (10M)
GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Government Policies and Interventions
More about the News:
The scam involved 830 “fake” institutions receiving benefits, causing a loss of more than Rs 144 crore to the Ministry of Minority Affairs between 2017-18 and 2021-22.
The central government provided three different minority scholarship schemes to approximately 65 lakh students every year between 2017-22. The schemes were:
- Pre-Matric Scholarships
- Post-Matric Scholarships
- Merit-cum-Means for the students of Six Minority communities
|Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme||Centrally funded scholarship scheme; Open annually; Provides financial aid for classes 1 to 10; Encourages minority students’ education|
|Eligibility for Pre-Matric Scholarship: Student in Class 1 to 10; From minority community; Parent/guardian income ≤ ₹1 Lakh/year|
|Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme||Centrally Sponsored Scheme; Implemented through State Govt. and UT administration; Covers classes 11, 12, undergraduate, and postgraduate courses; Supports higher education and career growth|
|National Means Cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme (NMMSS)||Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS); Launched in 2008; Assists meritorious minority students with limited finances; Promotes academic excellence and equal opportunities|
Impact of the Scam:
|Financial Impact||Loss of over ₹144 crore to the Ministry of Minority Affairs.|
|Diversion of funds intended for genuine beneficiaries.|
|Scholarship Scheme Undermined||Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme targeted by the scam.|
|Funds meant for deserving minority students were misused.|
|Collusion and Exploitation||Collusion of institutions, applicants, nodal officers, and more.|
|Diversion of scholarship funds through fraudulent means.|
|Impact on Beneficiaries||Genuine students from minority communities are potentially denied rightful aid.|
|Misuse of scholarships affects educational opportunities.|
|Ethical Impact||Betrayal of Trust; Inequity and Injustice; Colluding parties compromise ethical standards for personal gains; Erosion of moral values in education and administration; Exposure of such scams erodes public confidence in government initiatives|
Minority Communities in India:
- Recognized under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992: Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis; and Jains added in 2014.
- 19.3% of the total population as per the 2011 Census.
- Major groups: Muslims (about 14%), Christians (about 2%), Sikhs (1.7%), Buddhists (0.7%), Jains (0.4%), Parsis (0.006%).
- The term “minority” is not defined in the Indian Constitution. However, the Constitution recognizes only religious and linguistic minorities.
- Constitutional Provisions: Article 29 preserves distinct language, script, and culture; Article 30 grants education institution rights.
- Article 350-B: Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities established by the Seventh Constitutional Amendment Act of 1956.
- Parliamentary Provision: The National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 defines minorities as notified by the Central government.
Other schemes for minorities:
- Education Loan Scheme by NMDFC
- Employment and Economic Empowerment Schemes
- Jiyo Parsi
- Qaumi Waqf Board Taraqqiati Scheme (QWBTS)
- Shahari Waqf Sampatti Vikas Yojana (SWSVY)
- Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK)
GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Environment Conservation: Air pollution
Context: The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report by the University of Chicago reveals that fine particulate air pollution (Particulate Matter 2.5) reduces the average Indian’s life expectancy by 5.3 years.
- This figure is based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guideline of 5 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3)
- Particulate pollution is the primary threat to Indian health, reducing life expectancy by 5.3 years on average.
- Cardiovascular diseases diminish life expectancy by about 4.5 years, while malnutrition reduces it by 1.8 years.
- All 1.3 billion Indians live in areas exceeding the WHO guideline for annual average particulate pollution.
- Approximately 67% of the population lives in regions surpassing India’s own air quality standard of 40 µg/m3
- India contributed over 59% of the world’s increase in pollution from 2013 to 2021.
- The Northern Plains are the most polluted region in India and about 39% of residents may lose eight years of life expectancy compared to WHO guidelines.
Reasons Behind Spike in Air Pollution in South Asia
The surge in air pollution in South Asia stems from rapid industrialization, economic growth, and population expansion. These factors have led to increased energy demand and fossil fuel usage in the region. In India and Pakistan, the vehicle count on roads has quadrupled since the early 2000s, while in Bangladesh, it tripled from 2010 to 2020. Electricity generation from fossil fuels also tripled between 1998 and 2017 in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan combined. While this elevated energy consumption improved living standards and economies, the resulting rise in particulate pollution has had severe consequences.
WHO’s New Air Quality Guidelines
The World Health Organization (WHO) has introduced updated air quality guidelines in 2021 to safeguard population health by reducing levels of key air pollutants
These guidelines offer recommended air quality levels for six pollutants: particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and carbon monoxide (CO)
|Suggestions to Improve Air Quality and Health|
|1. Adopt or revise national air quality standards based on the latest WHO guidelines.|
|2. Monitor air quality and identify pollution sources.|
|3. Promote clean household energy for cooking, heating, and lighting.|
|4. Develop safe public transport and pedestrian-friendly networks.|
|5. Enforce stricter vehicle emissions and efficiency standards.|
|6. Invest in energy-efficient housing and power generation.|
|7. Enhance industry and municipal waste management practices.|
|8. Reduce agricultural waste incineration and forest fires.|
|9. Incorporate air pollution in health professional curricula.|
|10. Provide tools for the health sector to address air pollution.|
About the AQLI report:
Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) Annual Update 2023 translates particulate pollution into life expectancy impact and was developed by the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute.
Describe the key points of the revised Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) recently released by the World Health Organisation (WHO). How are these different from its last update in 2005? What changes in India’s National Clean Air Programme are required to achieve revised standards? (2021)
Content for Mains Enrichment
Researchers have created a breakthrough Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) that enables a severely paralyzed woman to communicate using a digital avatar. This marks the first instance of synthesizing speech and facial expressions directly from brain signals.
How do BCIs work?
Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) establish a direct communication pathway between the human brain and external devices. They interpret brain signals using advanced technology, allowing individuals to control devices or computers through their thoughts, bypassing traditional physical inputs or movements.
Importance of the technology:
They hold potential in assistive technology, neurorehabilitation, research, and enhanced control applications like gaming.
Concerns: Concerns include cyberattacks on brain data, unequal access due to costs, and the need for accurate translation of brain signals to speech to avoid unintended consequences.
Usage: The example can be used in S&T/ Social justice questions to show the use of technology to assist disabled individuals.
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
Context: A recent study suggests that a combination of global warming and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), could lead to an increase in the frequency of tropical cyclones originating near the Equator.
- The PDO is a 20–30-year cycle that occurs in the Pacific Ocean, north of 20°N.The PDO is a pattern of ocean-atmosphere climate variability. During a “warm”, or “positive”, phase, the west Pacific becomes cooler and part of the eastern ocean warms. During a “cool”, or “negative”, phase, the opposite pattern occurs.
Global warming has led to an increase in sea surface temperatures, particularly in the Indian Ocean. Warmer sea surface temperatures have contributed to the formation and intensification of tropical cyclones in the region.
About Pacific Decadal Oscillation:
The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is a natural climate pattern that affects the temperature of the Pacific Ocean and the weather patterns around it. The PDO shifts between warm and cool phases, with each phase lasting around 20-30 years
The PDO is often quantified by the use of an index, referred to as the PDO Index. The PDO Index is calculated by spatially averaging the monthly sea surface temperature (SST) of the Pacific Ocean north of 20°N
The PDO has been linked to slower global warming because cold phases of the PDO increase the mixing of colder, deep ocean waters with warmer surface waters. This temporarily reduces the rate of global warming caused by increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
The PDO also has impacts on the weather. A warm phase tends to cause heavy rains in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and droughts in Asia and Australia. A cold phase tends to cause droughts in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and floods in Asia and Australia.
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
Context: The Supreme Court of India recently ruled that “self-respect” marriages are valid under the Hindu Marriage Act
- The court overruled a 2014 Madras High Court ruling that stated that marriages performed by advocates are invalid.
- The court ruled that advocates can solemnize “self-respect” marriages in their personal capacity as friends or relatives of the couple. However, advocates should not solemnize these marriages in their professional capacity. The court also ruled that “self-respect” marriages do not need to be publicly declared or solemnized.
The Self-Respect Marriage Law, or Suyamariyathai, was legalized in 1968 by the state of Tamil Nadu. The law allows two Hindus to marry in the presence of friends or relatives without the need for a Brahmin priest or elaborate rituals. The law requires the consent of both parties, who must meet the minimum age requirement for marriage.
The Self-Respect Marriage Law is considered an alternative to conventional marriages. It disregards Brahminical rituals, caste endogamy, religious restrictions, and gender norms.
The Self-Respect Movement was a social movement that began in 1925 in Tamil Nadu, India. The movement’s goal was to create a new society without caste, religion, or god. The movement’s founder, E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker, also known as Periyar, wanted to reject the Brahmanical religion and culture.
The Self-Respect Movement was also called the Dravidian Movement. The movement demanded equal rights for the backward castes, with a focus on women’s rights.
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
Context: A total of 48 African countries have agreed to adopt the Kampala Ministerial Declaration on Migration, Environment, and Climate Change (KDMECC) in order to tackle the connection between human movement and climate change on the continent.
- This initiative aims to provide African states with a unified position for the upcoming Africa Climate Summit and the Conference of Parties (COP 28).
- Originally signed by 15 African nations in July 2022, the KDMECC has evolved into KDMECC-AFRICA and is anticipated to be formally adopted during the Africa Climate Summit.
Africa is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, which directly influence migration due to more frequent and severe extreme weather events.
According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, over 7.5 million people faced internal displacement due to disasters in the past year alone.
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
Context: For the first time, scientists have successfully sequenced the Y chromosome, providing insights that could impact the understanding of male infertility and various health issues.
- Y chromosome sequence will aid the study of conditions and disorders linked to this chromosome, including male infertility.
- Significance for health and longevity, as it contains genes related to cancer and cardiovascular disease prevention.
- Y chromosome’s role in age-associated diseases, men’s shorter lifespans, and cellular ageing could be further explored with this complete sequence.
The Y chromosome presented challenges due to its repetitive nature. Unlike other chromosomes, a significant portion of the Y chromosome consists of repetitive sequences and palindromes.
Chromosomes are thread-like structures that carry genetic information from cell to cell. They are made of DNA and proteins. DNA is the material that holds genes, which are the building blocks of the human body.
Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. The first 22 pairs are called autosomes. These code for most of the genetic traits in the body. The 23rd pair are known as the sex chromosomes. These chromosomes decide if a person will be born male or female. Females have two copies of the X chromosome, while males have one X and one Y chromosome.
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
Origin of the term: The term “funga” was established five years ago by mycologists, mostly from Latin America. It refers to the kingdom fungi, which is one of the six kingdoms of biology.
Significance: The term “fungi” should be added to discussions of biodiversity to raise awareness of the importance of these organisms and conserve them on equal footing with flora and fauna.
The six kingdoms of biology are:
- Animalia: Animals – multicellular, eukaryotic organisms that can move.
- Plantae: Plants – multicellular, eukaryotic organisms that photosynthesize.
- Fungi: Fungi – eukaryotic organisms that absorb nutrients from their surroundings.
- Protista: Protists – a diverse group of mostly unicellular eukaryotic organisms.
- Eubacteria: True bacteria – single-celled prokaryotic organisms.
- Archaebacteria: Archaea – single-celled prokaryotic organisms that often live in extreme environments.
Facts for Prelims (FFP)
Context: Recently various cyber terms have been in the news. We have tried to cover them briefly
- Spamouflage is a Chinese influence campaign that has been active on over 50 platforms and forums, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and X (formerly Twitter).
- The accounts in the campaign have a tendency to intersperse political posts.
- The campaign has pushed positive narratives about China and negative commentary about the United States, Western foreign policies, and critics of the Chinese government.
Smishing Scam: The Indian government has warned against a new scam called ‘Smishing’.
- Smishing is a phishing cybersecurity attack carried out over mobile text messaging, also known as SMS phishing.
- As a variant of phishing, victims are deceived into giving sensitive information to a disguised attacke SMS phishing can be assisted by malware or fraudulent websites.
Context: Hurricane Idalia hit Florida. The storm is a Category 3 hurricane.
Florida is prone to hurricanes because of its location and climate. Florida’s long coastline and location between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico make it vulnerable to hurricanes from either side.
Warm ocean waters can fuel hurricanes. Florida’s low-lying coastline and shallow waters provide little protection from water being pushed inland by winds.
India and Kenya signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for shipbuilding collaboration. The agreement focuses on capacity building and collaboration in ship design and construction. The partnership aims to enhance Kenya’s maritime capabilities along the Indian Ocean.
The MoU was signed between India’s state-owned Goa Shipyard Limited and Kenya Shipyard Limited, a government-backed company. The agreement will allow Kenya Shipyard Limited to become one of the anchor companies in shipbuilding technology in Africa.
India is the 16th largest maritime country in the world. India has 12 major ports and about 200 non-major ports.
Kenya is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the southeast. Its neighbouring countries are Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
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