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UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 8 January 2024

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. Civil society under siege

 

Content for Mains Enrichment:

  1. Initiatives at the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR)

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP) 

  1. Kadamba Dynasty
  2. PRERANA program
  3. PRITHVI VIGYAN scheme
  4. Direct-to-cell
  5. Zosurabalpin
  6. Anti-cancer drug camptothecin
  7. MARCOS

 

Mapping:

  1. Arunachal Pradesh’s Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary

 


 

Civil society under siege

 GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Governance – The role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutions and other stakeholders.

 

Source: TH

 

Context: The article highlights the threat to India’s civic space, emphasizing the impact on progressive organizations.

 

What are CSOs?

These are non-state, not-for-profit, voluntary entities formed by people in the social sphere that are separate from the State and the market. They represent a wide range of interests and ties and can include community-based organisations as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Today, about 1.5 million NGOs work in India (i.e., nonprofit, voluntary citizens’ groups organized on a local, national, or international level).

 

 

Significance of CSO:

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) play a pivotal role in democratic societies, fostering active, diverse, and critical civic engagement. In India, CSOs, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs), have been instrumental in shaping policy, public discourse, and community development.

 

Role of Civil Society Organisations in India

RoleExamples
Advocacy for Social JusticeThe National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) -Eliminates caste-based discrimination and promotes Dalit rights.
Community Empowerment and DevelopmentPratham – Focuses on grassroots education, enhancing literacy levels among underprivileged children.
Monitoring Government AccountabilityAssociation for Democratic Reforms (ADR) – Promotes electoral and political reforms, advocating for transparency in political funding.
Environmental SustainabilityGreenpeace India – Campaigns for ecological sustainability.
Promotion of Civic Education and AwarenessAssociation for Democratic Reforms” (ADR): Raises awareness about democratic values, electoral processes, and citizen rights.
Response to Humanitarian CrisesGoonj – Works on disaster relief.
Promotion of Freedom of ExpressionReporters Without Borders – Advocates for freedom of expression and protects journalists and activists.
InclusivityNaz Foundation – Works towards LGBTQIA+ rights, including anti-discrimination and HIV awareness.
Grassroots Democracy and Participatory GovernanceMazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) – Advocates for the RTI act, encouraging community participation in decision-making processes.

 

Status of CSOs in India (in terms of restrictions)

Degree of regulationsExamples of Organizations
Highly RegulatedCitizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), Amnesty India, Oxfam, Centre for Equity Studies, Lawyers Collective
Moderately RegulatedCentre for Policy Research (CPR), ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy)
Low-Level RegulatedNavsarjan, Save The Children

 

Instruments being used to restrict civil society:

Instruments UsedLaws and ActsExamples
Legal ChargesPrevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002Charges of money laundering, ED attacks NGOs
Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010FCRA made stringent in 2010 and 2020
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)Empowered to investigate NGOs with lethal impact
Restrictions on Domestic FundingIncome-Tax Act, 2020 amendmentsMandatory renewals of 12A and 80G certificates
Income-Tax SurveysCollecting data for filing more cases

 

Various instruments, including legal charges, specific laws and acts, and restrictions on domestic funding, are being used to regulate civil society organizations in India. These regulations include charges of money laundering, amendments to laws governing foreign funding, and mandatory renewals impacting tax exemptions.

 

Impact of these restrictions on CSOs:

  1. Existential threats are faced by civil society actors as their constitutional and civic freedoms are curtailed.
  2. Migrate to safer avenues/ limit the scope of their work/ re-align with the govt.
    1. This is a grave threat to the system’s integrity because civil society is an indispensable safety valve (fixing accountability) for tensions in a polity.
  3. Unable to speak truth/amplify the voicesof the most vulnerable, enrich policies/legislation through constructive feedback.
  4. Unable to further the collective good– not in the national interest.
  5. Young activists could be inducted into political parties → could create an institutionalised moral force within the parties → balance electoral compulsions with ethical/human rights considerations.

 

Way forward for progressive civil society in India: 

  1. For Government: The government should recognize the importance of a strong civil society for the effectiveness of key laws such as the Right to Information Act, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, and National Food Security Act.
  2. For NGOs:
    1. Alternate Funding: NGOs are exploring local resource mobilization (LRM) and corporate funding through CSR post-new FCRA laws.
    2. Charitable Funding: Encouraging collective giving can pool resources for a more significant impact.
    3. Technology Utilization: Increased use of data and digital technology can enhance the effectiveness of charitable organizations.
  3. For Young Activists: There is a potential for young activists to join political parties, providing an institutionalized moral force to balance electoral and ethical considerations within party organizations.
  4. The National Policy on Voluntary Sector 2007 aims to encourage, enable, and empower an independent and effective voluntary sector in India. It recognizes the sector’s significant contributions to addressing issues like poverty, discrimination, and exclusion through various means such as awareness, mobilization, service delivery, training, research, and advocacy.
  5. Learning from the Gandhian constructive movement, which complemented the Congress system – an electoral and governance machine.
  6. CSOs will need to urgently collaboratewith other progressive stakeholders.
  7. Private philanthropies and companiesneed to realise that they are the only lifeline for progressive CSOs today.

 

Conclusion: 

The inaction today will directly contribute to the extinction of civil society – the fifth pillar of Indian democracy. Therefore, by devising new methods of principled coalition we can safeguard and eventually further the constitutional idea of India.

 

Insta Links:

 

Mains Links:

  1. Can civil society and non-governmental organisations present an alternative model of public service delivery to benefit the common citizen? Discuss the challenges of this alternative method. (UPSC 2021)

Initiatives at the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR)

Content for Mains Enrichment:

 

Source: IE 

Context: The Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR) in India showcases a successful revival of tiger populations through wildlife conservation efforts.

 

Initiatives taken at CTR:

InitiativesDescription
Digital and Intensive PatrollingAdoption of electronic-eye under project E-eye and increased foot patrols to combat poaching and monitor wildlife movement.
Habitat ManagementMeticulous management of grasslands and water resources, including the development of palatable grasses and waterholes for the prey base.
Strategic CorridorsEstablishment of wildlife corridors to facilitate movement, reduce inbreeding, and contribute to healthier tiger populations.
Community InitiativesIntroduction of the “Living with Tigers” initiative and the beehive fencing project “Corbee Honey” to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts.
The “Living with Tigers” initiative focuses on cultivating safe practices and behaviours amidst human-wildlife conflict scenarios.
Cultural ImportanceRecognition of the tiger’s role in India’s religious and mythological iconography led to increased public and political support.

 

About Jim Corbett National Park

Established in 1936 as Hailey National Park, later declared a Tiger Reserve in 1973, Jim Corbett National Park is India’s first national park and the inaugural participant in the Project Tiger initiative. Located in the Shivalik hills of the Himalayas, it spans Pauri Garhwal, Nainital, and Almora districts in Uttarakhand. Recognized for its global prominence, the reserve recorded an impressive increase in tiger density, reaching 260 in 2022 from 231 four years earlier.

Kadamba Dynasty

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context: An inscription believed to be from the 10th century A.D. Kadamba period, written in Kannada and Sanskrit, has been discovered in the Mahadeva temple at Cacoda in southern Goa.

  • The inscription commemorates the death of Gundayya, son of Talara Nevayya, who fought and died fulfilling his father’s desire to capture a gopura of the port of Goa.

  

About Kadambas of Goa:

  • The Kadambas of Goa were originally subordinates of the Chalukyas of Kalyana, a powerful dynasty in medieval India.
  • Kadamba Shasthadeva, a prominent figure among the Kadambas, was appointed as the mahamandaleshwara of Goa by Chalukyan emperor Tailapa II.
  • Kadamba Shasthadeva, in alliance with the Chalukyas, achieved military success by overthrowing the Rashtrakutas.
  • He conquered the city of Chandavara in 960 A.D. and later expanded his conquests to the port of Gopakapattana, which is the present-day Goa.

PRERANA program

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: PIB

 Context: The Ministry of Education, Government of India, has launched the ‘Prerana: An Experiential Learning Program’ with the aim of providing a meaningful, unique, and inspiring experience to selected students from classes IX to XII.

 

Features of the program:

  • It is a week-long residential initiative held at a Vernacular School where students will be guided by mentors from prestigious institutions.
  • The curriculum, rooted in nine value-based themes, includes activities such as yoga, mindfulness, meditation, experiential learning, thematic sessions, and visits to ancient heritage sites.
  • The program encourages participants to embody the spirit of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” and contribute to building a developed India.

PRITHVI VIGYAN scheme

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: Economic Times, Business Today

 Context: The Indian government, has launched “PRITHvi VIgyan” scheme for the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

  • The scheme, to be implemented between 2021-26, aims to study the atmosphere, ocean, weather, and Earth system sciences.
  • The objectives include enhancing long-term observations of the Earth System, developing modelling systems for weather prediction, exploring polar and high seas regions, and developing technology for oceanic resource harnessing.

It encompasses five ongoing sub-schemes: ACROSS, O-SMART, PACER, SAGE, and REACHOUT

 

ProgramDescription
Atmosphere & Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems & Services (ACROSS)For Research and Development (R&D) of dynamical models and providing forecast services.
Ocean Services, Modelling Application, Resources and Technology (O-SMART)For technology development for oceanic applications, services (forecast and advisories), and R&D activities in the marine and coastal environment.
Polar Science and Cryosphere Research (PACER)Comprising the Antarctic program, Indian Arctic program, Southern Ocean program, and Cryosphere and Climate program.
Seismology and Geosciences (SAGE)Encompasses 6 activities including Seismological monitoring and microzonation, and Setting up a facility for geochronology.
Research, Education, Training and Outreach (REACHOUT)Incorporating R&D in Earth System Science (RDESS), developing Skilled manpower in Earth System Sciences, etc.

Direct-to-cell

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: Economic Times

 Context: SpaceX successfully launched the first set of Starlink satellites equipped with direct-to-cell capabilities.  Top of Form

 

About Direct to cell:

  • Direct-to-cell refers to a technology that enables communication signals, such as text messages, voice, and data, to be transmitted directly from space-based satellites to mobile devices (cell phones) without the need for traditional ground-based infrastructure.
  • In the context of SpaceX’s Starlink project, direct-to-cell capabilities allow the delivery of wireless services, including network access and communication services, to mobile users in specific geographical areas using satellite connectivity.
  • This technology is particularly useful in remote or underserved regions where establishing traditional terrestrial networks may be challenging or economically unfeasible.

Zosurabalpin

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 

Context: Researchers have identified a new class of antibiotics, specifically zosurabalpin, with the potential to combat drug-resistant bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii.

  • This antibiotic was found to be effective against CRAB (carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii)-induced pneumonia and sepsis in mouse models.
  • Zosurabalpin, a drug candidate, was developed through the optimization of a tethered macrocyclic peptide (MCP) that selectively kills A. baumannii.
  • The antibiotic’s unique mode of action involves inhibiting the transport of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), an essential process for creating the outer-membrane structure of Gram-negative bacteria.
  • Zosurabalpin blocks LPS transport, leading to the abnormal build-up of LPS in the cell and the subsequent death of the bacterium.

Anti-cancer drug camptothecin

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 

Context: Researchers at the Indian Institutes of Technology Madras and Mandi have successfully metabolically engineered plant cells to increase the production of the anti-cancer drug camptothecin (CPT).

  • Traditionally extracted from Nathapodytes nimmoniana, an endangered plant native to India, the process involves a large quantity of plant material.
  • The decline in the plant’s population has led researchers to explore alternative sources.
  • In a previous study, a microbe was identified as a high-yielding alternative.

Now, the researchers have developed a genome-scale metabolic model for N. nimmoniana plant cells, paving the way for sustainable and efficient commercial production of the drug and reducing the need to harvest endangered plants.

MARCOS

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: India Today

 Context: Indian Navy Marine Commandos (MARCOS) successfully thwarted a pirate hijacking attempt on a Liberian-flagged vessel in the North Arabian Sea.

 

About MARCOS:

MARCOS, formally the Marine Commando Force (MCF), is the Indian Navy’s elite special forces unit formed in 1987.

It is modelled on the US Navy SEALS and has its Motto: ‘The few, The fearless’. MARCOS operates by sea, air, and land, collaborating with the Indian Army, especially in Kashmir. Notable operations include Cactus, Leech, Pawan, and Cyclone, with a significant role in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

 

Arunachal Pradesh’s Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary

Mapping:

 

Source: TH

 

Context: An IISc study conducted in Arunachal Pradesh’s Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary reveals the threat posed to montane birds by logging and climate change.

 

Tropical montane forests, crucial biodiversity hotspots, are impacted by rising temperatures, prompting bird species to shift to higher elevations. The study emphasizes the importance of safeguarding primary forests to mitigate climate change effects.

 

About Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary

It is situated in the Himalayan foothills of West Kameng District, Arunachal Pradesh, and is a protected area in India. It borders the Sessa Orchid Sanctuary to the northeast and the Pakhui Tiger Reserve across the Kameng River to the east, also being part of the Kameng Elephant Reserve. Named after the Red Eagle Division of the Indian army, the sanctuary is renowned for its rich birdlife, offering diverse species in significant numbers. Notably, Eaglenest is where the Bugun liocichla (IUCN: CR), a passerine bird species, was first discovered in 1995 and further observed and described in 2006.

 

 

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