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19th January 2023

India and the new Eurasia


The changing scenario of Asia and Europe is important to consider for India, as the world geo-politics is more concerned about the Indo-pacific.

  • Japan was the first to build the geo-political stance of the Indo-pacific with Europe.
  • Together Japan, South Korea and Australia are bridging the divide between Asia and Europe which were once seen as separate geopolitical areas.
  • Moreover, the partnership between Asia and Europe has increased by Russia’s war in Ukraine and due to the alliance between Russia and China. Thus, leading to the emergence of a new Eurasia.

How is the geo-politics between Asia and Europe changing?

  • For Japan –The PM of Japan is determined to build strong military partnerships with Europe. He has also said that the security of Europe and the Indo-Pacific is indivisible.
  • South Korea – It is also joining the party by raising its profile in Europe. For example, it is selling major weapons platforms in Poland.
  • Australia – It has joined the US and UK in the AUKUS arrangement, and is equally eager to bring Europe into the Indo-Pacific.

Eurasia is a geological and geopolitical term that relates in the former sense to the single enormous landmass composed of the continents of Europe and Asia and in the latter sense to the socio-political entity within that landmass whose exact borders are debated by scholars.

The term is a portmanteau of the words Europe and Asia. Although the physical combination of Europe and Asia constitutes geologic Eurasia, the land boundary between those two continents is not universally agreed upon.

  How did the ties between Russia and China help in the emergence of new Eurasia?

  • Russia has signed an agreement with China declaring an alliance “without limits” and no “forbidden areas”.
  • China in the past tried to make an alliance with Europe but was unsuccessful in that. So, it joined Russia by blaming NATO for the crisis in Ukraine.
  • However, their alliance resulted in strengthening the Western alliance in Europe and the emergence of a new kind of Eurasia— an alliance between China’s East Asian neighbours and Russia’s West European neighbours.
  • Further, the US invited key Asian partners to participate in the NATO summit held in June last year.
  • The prime ministers of Australia, Japan and New Zealand as well as the president of South Korea joined the summit. This was the first time that Asian leaders joined NATO deliberations.
  • It is expected that NATO’s engagement with Indo-Pacific issues and East Asia’s engagement with European security will continue to be new features of Eurasian geopolitics.
  • Moreover, the US is eager to encourage its partners, including India, to build their capabilities and strengthen regional balances of power in Europe and Asia.

How did the alliance between Russia and China impact Japan?

  • Japan, which has faced a bilateral maritime territorial dispute with China and looking at China’s expansionary policies, changed its security policy.
  • It has planned to double annual defence spending over the next five years, and build a large missile arsenal to deter China and North Korea.
  • It also wants to revive its domestic defence industry as well as build military capacities on the Chinese border by exporting arms.
  • What are the implications for India due to the emergence of new Eurasia?
  • The emergence of new Eurasia brings challenges for India. Earlier, India had a maritime coalition (the Quad) in the Indo-Pacific and at the same time had continental coalitions led by Russia and China.
  • However, the conflict between the US, Europe, and Japan on the one hand and China and Russia on the other will bring challenges for India in balancing its relationship with these countries.
  • Further, the alliance between Russia and China will bring more challenges to India towards its security policies.
  • However, in presence of these events the relationship between India with the US. Europe, Japan, South Korea and Australia have become stronger.

 India is changing scenario:

  • For India, the rise of Eurasia is making it harder to ride on two boats at the same time.
  • Until now, India could manage with the maritime coalition — the Quad — in the Indo-Pacific and run at the same time with the continental coalitions led by Russia and China.
    • But the conflict between the US, Europe, and Japan on the one hand and China and Russia on the other is now acute and shows no signs of immediate amelioration.
  • India’s mounting security challenges from China on the Himalayan frontier and India’s continental strategy will become tougher in the coming era.
  • On the other side, the possibilities for strengthening India’s strategic capabilities in partnership with the US and Europe as well as Japan, South Korea and Australia have never been that stronger.

Admonishments that endanger the Constitution


The recent issue emerged as the Kesavananda Bharati case was questioned in view of the parliamentary sovereignty against the Constitutional provisions, and has highlighted the concerns surrounding the basic features of the Constitution.

  • Against the Vice president’s criticism of the decision taken by the National Judicial appointments commission (NJAC), the Supreme Court has held that its judicial pronouncements lay down the law. 
  • The Supreme Court has repeatedly been trying to convey to the government and high constitutional authorities in its oral observations and orders recently regarding its authority to decide on judicial appointments and commissions related to it.
  • The Parliament is free to bring a new law on judicial appointments, possibly through a constitutional amendment, but that too would be subject to judicial review.

Constitutional Supremacy vs. Parliamentary sovereignty:

  • The Supreme Court of India expressly affirmed constitutional supremacy in the Minerva Mills case, holding that "government, legislature, executive, and the judiciary are all bound by the Constitution, and none is above or beyond the Constitution."
  • Any law passed by the parliament is subject to interpretation by the Supreme Court in light of the constitution's principles and goals, and if it goes above or above those, it can be declared null and void.
  • Although the Indian Constitution does not expressly provide for the division of judicial and parliamentary supremacy, it is not entirely clear.
  • It is the prerogative of the parliament to amend the constitution and make the laws; it is the duty of the judiciary to decide if the basic structures of the constitution are transgressed by such laws.
  • Once the parliament has done its job, its Supreme Court decides its constitutionality through judicial review.
  • There have been conflicts between parliamentary supremacy and judicial supremacy. The best example is of the National Judicial Appointment Commission when Supreme Court pronounced its verdict on the 99th Constitution Amendment Act and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), declaring them to be ultra vires the Constitution.

Basic structure doctrine:

  • The Kesavananda Bharati verdict made it clear that judicial review is not a means to usurp parliamentary sovereignty, but only part of a “system of checks and balances” to ensure constitutional functionaries do not exceed their limits.
  • We are unable to see how the power of judicial review makes the judiciary supreme in any sense of the word. This power is of paramount importance in a federal Constitution.

Checks to parliamentary sovereignty by various provisions of the constitution:

  • Written Constitution: In India Constitution is written which put limitations on all organs of the state. Although Parliament can amend the constitution it cannot supersede the written document. In the UK, as there is no written constitution, the Parliament possesses legislative sovereignty. So, any law passed by it cannot be questioned before any court on such grounds.
  • Independent judiciary and Judicial review: Judiciary is independent and the guardian of the Constitution. It can declare any law or ordinance passed by the legislature void if any of its provisions violate one or more of the constitutional provisions.
  • Federal structure: Although the constitution says India is a union of states, India is a federal polity. Various federal provisions especially some special powers for scheduled areas limit parliament powers where many parliamentary laws are applicable only on presidential and governor consent.
  • Limited amendment power: Parliament can amend most of the parts of the constitution but it cannot amend the ‘basic features of the constitution. Further, some amendments need a special majority and state legislature resolution.
  • Division of powers: Schedule 7 divides law-making power between the centre and the state. Parliament cannot make laws on the state list. Any law in state subject would require the state’s consent through a majority.
  • Limit by Presidential vetoes: A bill cannot become law without presidential assent. President can practice various veto powers like pocket veto that act as a limitation on parliament sovereignty.

Central Govt discusses cyber security measures in financial services sector


The Department of Financial Services (DFS) has organised a half-day Conference on cyber security titled ‘Financial Services Cyber Security (FINSCY)’ in New Delhi.

About the Conference:
  • The event provided an opportunity to share their ideas, practices, and concerns on cyber security measures currently in place in the financial services sector.
  • The experts also discussed the readiness of the sector for future cyber threats and also perspectives on the revised draft Digital Personal Data Protection Bill.
  • Participants: The senior officers from government agencies and departments, and financial services sector regulators, as also senior executives and chief information security officers (CISOs) of banks, insurance companies, and financial institutes (FIs).
Department of Financial Service (DFS):
  • The mandate of the Department of Financial Services covers the functioning of Banks, Financial Institutions, Insurance Companies and the National Pension System.
  • The finance field includes three main subcategories: personal finance, corporate finance, and public (government) finance.
  • Consumers and businesses use financial services to acquire financial goods and achieve financial goals.

Issues of Cyber security in the financial sector:

  • Cyber security refers to the organization of technologies, procedures, and methods designed to prevent networks, devices, programs, and data from attack, damage, malware, viruses, hacking, data thefts or unauthorized access.
  • The main objective of Cyber security in financial services is to safeguard the user’s assets. As individuals go cashless, further actions or transactions are done online.
  • Individuals use their digital money like debit cards and credit cards for transactions that require to be safeguarded under Cyber security.

Major Cyber Security Threats Faced in the financial sector:

  • Phishing: Phishing means to get confidential, classified data such as credit, and debit card details etc. for malicious actions by hiding as a reliable person in electronic interaction. Online banking phishing scams have advanced constantly. They seem real and genuine, but they trick you into providing away your access data.
  • Malware: End-to-end customer appliances like computers and mobile devices are largely used for performing digital transactions therefore, they should be secured.
  • If it is associated with malware, then it may cause a severe risk to the bank’s cyber security whenever they link up with your network. Confidential data goes through this network, and if the user device has malware fitted in it, with no security that malware can create a serious danger to the bank’s network.
  • Unencrypted Data: It is one of the most frequent threats encountered by banks where the data is left unencrypted, and cyber attackers or hackers manipulate the data right away, thus creating serious issues for the banks.
  • All information that is kept on computers in banks or online should be fully encrypted. It will guarantee that even if the data is robbed, hackers may not be able to utilize them.
  • Spoofing: This is one of the latest forms of cyber threats faced by financial institutions. The hackers will pose as a bank website’s URL with a website that is related to the original one and works the same way and when the customer enters his or her login records the login credentials are robbed by these hackers and they use it later.
  • Data Manipulation: Data manipulation attacks take place when a dangerous actor gains entry to an objective system and creates unnoticed changes to data for their own individual gain. An example of this is if a worker modifies customer information data. This will likely go undetected as the transactions will appear genuine, leading to errors in how future data is stored. The longer the manipulation goes unnoticed, the more destruction it will cause.

Suggestive measures:

  • Multi-factor authentication: Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a verification technique in which access is only given once a customer gives two or more login credentials. Login credentials can consist of passwords, opts, or fingerprints.
  • When establishing MFA, make sure that login credentials do not come from a similar resource (two passwords) as this will diminish security. MFA is a need for banks as it includes an extra layer of security when trying to access important information.
  • Consumer Awareness: It is one of the key aspects where the user has to be made aware of not revealing their user credentials to anyone.

Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR)


Recently, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has chosen Hyderabad, Telangana for establishing its Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR).


About the Centre of Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR):

  • C4IR Telangana is the 18th centre to join the World Economic Forum’s Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) Network, which is spread in four continents.
  • It will be an autonomous non-profit organization that will focus on healthcare and life sciences.
  • The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in India (C4IR) was established in October 2018 to focus on the role of emerging technologies across different sectors and to plug the challenges that will emanate from Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • The three pillars on which C4IR work are:
  • 4IR technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, blockchain and others.
  • Public-private cooperation. For example India recently announced drone services, an area where C4IR work with the Centre and several state governments.
  • Multi-stakeholder partnership. C4IR collaborates with various sectors —government, industries, start-ups, civil society, and consumers — for inclusiveness. The overall focus is to bring in greater social good by leveraging technologies.

Some prominent works of C4IR:

  • C4IR have monitored vaccination programmes and built up the digital healthcare ecosystem.
  • The Centre has developed a data ecosystem through a platform approach such as UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and Aadhaar. There are upcoming platforms as well, such as the one on logistics announced in the budget.
What is the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution'?
  • The fourth industrial revolution is conceptualized as an upgrade on the third revolution and is marked by a fusion of technologies straddling the physical, digital and biological worlds.
  • It will mark out as a new phase rather than a prolongation of the current revolution - velocity, scope, and systems impact and lead to the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.
  • In simple words, the new revolution can be said to be the advent of cyber-physical systems which, while being "reliant on the technologies and infrastructure of the third industrial revolution represent entirely new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies and even our human bodies".

How will it be different from the 3rd revolution?

There are 3 reasons why today's transformations represent not merely a prolongation of the 3rd Industrial Revolution but rather the arrival of a 4th and distinct one: velocity, scope, and systems impact. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the 4th is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.

Pros and cons of the Fourth Industrial revolution:


  • World Economic Forum report on FIR concludes that it will have an undeniable impact on job scenarios across the world disrupting erstwhile, well-established businesses, bringing sweeping changes to labour markets, and changing business models on the foundation of emerging economic theories.
  • Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world.
  • In the future, technological innovation will also lead to a supply-side miracle, with long-term gains in efficiency and productivity.
  • Transportation and communication costs will drop, logistics and global supply chains will become more effective, and the cost of trade will diminish, all of which will open new markets and drive economic growth.


  • Revolution is likely to increase inequality in the world as the spread of machines increases markets and disrupts labour markets.
  • Inequality represents the greatest societal concern associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • The largest beneficiaries of innovation tend to be the providers of intellectual and physical capital the innovators, shareholders, and investors which explains the rising gap in wealth between those dependent on capital versus labour.
  • As automation substitutes for labour across the entire economy, the net displacement of workers by machines might exacerbate the gap between returns to capital and returns to labour.
  • With this revolution, it is also possible that in the future, talent, more than capital, will represent the critical factor of production. This will give rise to a job market increasingly segregated into low-skill/low-pay and high-skill/high-pay segments, which in turn will lead to an increase in social tensions.
  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution will change not only what we do but also who we are. It will affect our identity and all the issues associated with it: our sense of privacy, our notions of ownership, our consumption patterns, the time we devote to work and leisure, and how we develop our careers, cultivate our skills, meet people, and nurture relationships.

Eco-sensitive zones provoked protests


Farmers in Kerala continue to protest across several high ranges of the state against the Supreme Court’s recent order to establish 1 km Eco-Sensitive Zones around all protected areas, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.

  • The aim of ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ) was to adopt a community-specific conservation approach but the government has adopted one size fit for all approach.
About Eco-sensitive zones:
  • As per the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016), issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, land within 10 km of the boundaries of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries is to be notified as eco-fragile zones or Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ).
  • While the 10-km rule is implemented as a general principle, the extent of its application can vary.
  • Areas beyond 10 km can also be notified by the Union government as ESZs, if they hold larger ecologically important “sensitive corridors.”
  • The Eco-Sensitive Zones are envisaged as a cushion or shock absorbers for ‘protected areas’.
  • They are supposed to act as transition zones from areas of high protection to less protection.
  • They are like an ecotone- the transition between two biological communities or ecosystems, and it is crucial for the protection of protected areas like wildlife sanctuaries and forests.
  • Objective: to reduce the impact of human intervention in the core protected area

Who notifies them?

They are notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.

Recent Supreme Court order on Eco-sensitive zones:
  • Supreme Court directed that every protected forest, national park and wildlife sanctuary across the country should have a mandatory eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of a minimum of one km starting from their demarcated boundaries.

ESZ Guidelines classify activities under three categories:

  • Prohibited: Commercial Mining, Setting of Saw Mills, Setting of industries causing pollution, the establishment of major hydroelectric projects etc.
  • Regulated: Felling of Trees, Establishment of hotels and resorts, erection of electrical cables, drastic change of agricultural systems etc.
  • Permitted: Ongoing agriculture and horticulture practices by local communities, rainwater harvesting, organic farming etc.

Why are people protesting against it?

  • The high density of human population near the notified protected areas.
  • It likely impacts the livelihoods of farmers
  • The total extent of the wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala is eight lakh acres. If one km of ESZ is demarcated from their boundaries, around 4 lakh acres of human settlements, including farmlands, would come within that purview.
  • The aim of ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ) was to adopt a community-specific conservation approach but the government has adopted one size fit for all approach.


Viral nutrition: new study reveals microbes nourished by consuming viruses


Recently, researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have reported that a particular genus of plankton, namely Halteria, can ‘grow and divide given only viruses to eat’. This could be significant for the marine food chain.

  • A new study, published on December 27, 2022 by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that there are microbes that can destroy viruses.
  • A particular genus of plankton can consume viruses as well as “grow and divide given only viruses to eat”.

We already know of other cells that can ‘consume’ viruses in an effort to destroy them — such as the macrophage cells of the human immune system.

  • The difference highlighted in the new findings is that there are microbes that are able to ‘eat’ viruses to fulfil one’s biological imperatives.
  • According to the researchers, Plankton of the genus Halteria can each consume 10,000 to a million virus particles a day, increase their population using the metabolised energy, and provide more food for the zooplanktons that consume the Halteria.

What is Halteria plankton?

  • Plankton is microscopic organisms that can only move with a current. They don’t have any facilities to actively propel themselves.
  • Halter plankton belongs to ciliates, meaning they have hair-like structures called cilia on their surface.
  • Sometimes they can beat some of these cilia to jump short distances, but not often as it they can’t do this often because it requires too much energy.

How does Halteria consume viruses?

  • Halteria plankton is found in large numbers in freshwater bodies.
  • They are heterotrophs meaning they can’t produce their own food. Instead, they are well-known bacterivores — they consume bacteria to power themselves.
  • They infect and kill both bacteria and plankton, releasing organic matter that dissolves in the water.

In the new study’s paper, the authors wrote that by also consuming viruses for nutrition, Halteria plankton can recover the nutrients lost in the viral shunt and bring them back into the food chain.

  • This flow would depend on virion size and nutritional content, which varies among strains.

Plankton contributes to the food chain:

  • A type of plankton — the phytoplankton — is found nearer the surface of many water bodies. It is an autotroph, which means it can make its own food which it does by consuming carbon dioxide, among other compounds, through photosynthesis. Small fish and larger plankton called zooplankton eat phytoplankton for their nutrition; they are in turn eaten by larger fish, and so forth.
  • When phytoplankton dies, they drift around where they are, becoming part of a coastal nutrient cycle, or they drift down towards the seafloor, where they decompose. Their constituents then become available for microbes or are sequestered into the seafloor.
  • So, phytoplankton brings carbon and other nutrients from the atmosphere and sea surface down to the seafloor and help replenish the food chain (and also ‘trap’ carbon into their own bodies and as sediments). They are joined by bacteria that make their own food by oxidising sulphur, iron or hydrogen, in a process called

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International Relations (GS-II)

Community Development Project (HICDP) scheme of Maldives funded by India

In a bid to strengthen ties, India and Maldives signed pacts on development projects and held talks with the top leadership in the country.

About the pact:

  • The pact included grant assistance of 100 million Rufiyaa (currency of Maldives) for the High Impact Community Development Project (HICDP) scheme
  • A number of socio-economic development projects are planned to be implemented like the development of a sports complex in Gahdhoo, and academic collaboration between Maldives National University and Cochin University of Science and Technology.
  • Two sea ambulances were also granted from India to the Ministry of Defence of Maldives.

Polity and Governance (GS-II)

India’s population has already overtaken China’s


According to estimates from the World Population Review, India may have already surpassed China as the world’s most-populous nation.

About the Report:

  • The South Asian nation’s population stood at 1.417 billion as of end 2022.
  • China has announced the first population decline since the 1960s.
  • The United Nations had expected the milestone to be reached later this year.
  • As of January 18, India’s population had already climbed to 1.428 billion.
  • India’s rapid economic growth pre-Covid and its relatively strong recovery from the pandemic, about 800 million people still rely on free food rations from the government, the largest program of its kind in the world.

Environment (GS-III)

Spot Bellied Eagle Owl spotted in Seshachalam forest of Andhra Pradesh

A wildlife team recently stumbled upon a ‘Spot Bellied Eagle Owl’ for the first time in Seshachalam forest, and for the third time in Andhra Pradesh.

About the species:

  • Scientific Name: Bubo Nipalensis
  • The bird’s habitat, found on large trees in thick forests, is spread across the Indian sub-continent.
  • It is a bold predatory bird, measuring 20-25 inches in length and weighing between 1.5 kg and 2 kg, feeds on small rodents and lizards.
  • The bird makes a strange scream similar to humans and it is hence called the ‘Ghost of the Forest’ in India and ‘Devil Bird’ in Sri Lanka.
  • Protection status: least concern

Science and Technology (GS-III)

Rare dinosaur eggs found in Narmada Valley

A group of Indian researchers found rare cases of fossilised dinosaur eggs —among 256 newly discovered eggs from the Narmada Valley. 

About the study:

  • The findings of the study are published in the journal PLoS One January 18, 2023.
  • The discovery suggests that Titanosaurs — one of the largest dinosaurs to have roamed the Earth — displayed a notable reproductive trait unique to modern-day birds.
  • The egg has two yolks; this feature can be seen in birds, suggesting they share similar reproductive traits.
  • The eggs found measures 15-17 centimetres in diameter.
  • They were found during field investigations in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh between 2017 and 2020.
  • They are found in Lameta exposure (is a sedimentary rock formation known for its dinosaur fossils).
  • The eggs belonged to six species, suggesting a higher diversity of these extinct giants in India.


Check, do not cross


  • The demands of the central government for a say in the appointment of judges and questioning the collegium system remained an issue more than a decade now.

The demands raised by the government:

  • Role of executive: The Union Law Minister has requested that the executive be given a role in the appointment process.
  • Formation of a search-and-evaluation committee: With the Government representatives, to suggest names to the collegiums in the High Courts and the Supreme Court for appointments, there must be a committee for consultation.
  • For a representative of the Union government: The Supreme Court collegium, and a State government’s representative in the High Court collegiums must be included as asked by the central government.
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