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19th March 2024 (14 Topics)

19th March 2024

QUIZ - 19th March 2024

5 Questions

5 Minutes

Context

The anathema of defections has been a prominent feature of Indian political discourse and has become a big farce in the recent years.

1: Dimension- Fundamental factors that create the breeding grounds for defection.

  • According to the 1985 Bill, a ‘defection’ by one-third of the elected members of a political party was considered a ‘merger,’ but as per the 2003 amendment, at least two-thirds of the members of a party have to be in favour of a ‘merger’ for it to have validity in the eyes of the law.
  • In essence, the anti-defection law does not apply if the defectors account for more than two-thirds of the party they are leaving.
  • Furthermore, the decision to disqualify MPs or MLAs lies with the speaker of the house, who customarily belongs to the ruling party or the party benefiting from the defections.

Needless to say, this raises concerns about the impartiality of the speaker. As a result, defections have continued unabated.

2: Dimension-Ethical paradox

  • There are two types of defections:
    • The first that is solely done solely for immediate political gains
    • The other that takes places due to ideational or ideological grounds.
  • However, the mere idea of political defections has always involveda paradoxical ethical question in the practice of democratic politics.
  • The act of sudden abandonment of the party to which the defector belonged and switching to another party (often rival parties) after winning the election under the banner of the earlier party, is largely perceived as an act of political impropriety and opportunism.
  • However, the very act of defection can not only be a product of unethical politics.
    • Moral Protest: Defections might also be perceived as instruments for upholding democratic principles of equality, accommodation and justice.
    • From the defector’s point of view, defection may be treated as a moral protest is aimed at restoring democracy, both within the party in question and in promoting democratic spirit in the polity.
    • Such defectors, in their feat of self-righteousness, may also locate the value of justice in the act of crossing over to other parties. Put differently, such moves of defection are seen as desirable as though they were driven by larger concerns for justice; justice that anticipates the party bosses to treat their leaders with fairness and dignity.

This creates an intractable ethical dilemma in electoral democracies with regard to the act of defection.

3: Dimension-Required Measures

  • Urgent Need for Stricter Anti-Defection Law: The current anti-defection law, outdated since 1985 and amended in 2003, fails to curb defections. Immediate action is required to strengthen the law as defections persist, undermining democracy.
  • Deeper Analysis of Party Dynamics Required: Understanding party structures and leadership styles is crucial to uncover the root causes of defections. A thorough examination beyond surface concerns is necessary.
  • Coherent Reforms Essential for Party Improvement: Positive reforms are vital for enhancing party functioning and addressing defection challenges in the long term. A comprehensive approach is needed to implement these reforms effectively.

Mains Practice Question

Discuss the ethical paradox surrounding political defections in India, highlighting the challenges posed by the existing anti-defection law and the imperative for comprehensive reforms to address this issue.

UPSC PYQ (2019)

Q; On what grounds a people’s representative can be disqualified under the representation of people act 1951? Also, mention the remedies available to such a person against his disqualification.

Context

The flocks of birds are dwindling in numbers as they navigate through regions that are becoming ‘increasingly uninhabitable’ for them. Nearly half of all migratory species are in decline. 

1: Dimension-Factors responsible for decline

  • Loss of natural habitat and overexploitation: These species face shifting landscapes due to urbanisation, farming and climate change among several other challenges.
  • Habitat loss happens when land becomes urbanised, transformed for human use or degraded through pollution. Farming is a primary driver of this sort of fragmentation.
    • Migratory birds have experienced significant declines across certain regions, particularly those using the Afro-Palearctic migratory route. These birds typically travel southwards across Africa from Europe and Asia.
  • Agricultural and industrial activity also release dangerous chemicals into habitats.

2: Dimension-Role of climate change in affecting migratory species

  • Decline: Climate change is the second most significant factor contributing to the decline of migratory species.
  • Changes to natural landscape: The changes in temperature, precipitation and weather patterns can affect the suitability of breeding and stopover sites along migration routes.
  • Direct mortality of species or less breeding: Species may no longer be able to follow their usual migratory patterns.

3: Dimension-Impact of this decline on human and environment

  • Ecological, economic and cultural importance: They help keep ecosystems from degradation and collapse. This can especially support carbon sequestration, the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which mitigates climate change. This occurs through thicker vegetation or healthier coral reefs, for instance.
  • Strong coastal ecosystems: They can also hold back floods and storm surges.
  • Other “ecosystem services”: Pollination, seed dispersal, and pest-control.

DATA BOX

IUCN Report

  • Migratory Birds: About 14 percent of migratory birds around the world are threatened, which amounts to 134 of the 960 species listed by the UN.
  • Fish species: Ninety-seven percent of the 58 fish species (monitored by UN) are threatened with extinction. They include several species of sturgeon, shark, ray and sawfish.
  • An additional 399 species that are not currently listed in the CMS are also threatened or are at risk of coming under threat, which means they could also benefit from protective measures.
    • Examples: Indus River dolphin and albatross.
  • About 44 percent of migratory species across the world are in decline while one in five faces the threat of all-out extinction.
  • Some of the most critically endangered migratory birds include the Amsterdam Island albatross and Balearic shearwater

Migratory Flyways

Migratory birds use flyways, a term for their established routes across geographical regions. There are five flyways covering Asia:

  • The Asian–East African Flyway starts from the northern breeding grounds of waterbirds in Siberia and leads across Asia to East Africa.
  • The Central Asian Flyway starts from the northern breeding grounds of water birds in Siberia and leads across Asia to the Indian subcontinent.
  • The East Asian–Australasian Flyway starts at the Taymyr Peninsula in Russia and Alaska and extends southwards to southeastern Asia, Australia and New Zealand. About 60 species of shorebird use this route.
  • The West Pacific Flyway links New Zealand and the east coast of Australia, through the central Pacific Ocean and the east coast of northern Asia, including Japan and the Korean Peninsula, ending up in eastern Siberia, including the Chukchi and Kamchatka Peninsulas, and Alaska. This flyway overlaps with the East Asian–Australasian Flyway.
  • The African-Eurasian Flyway covers the whole of Europe, Africa and the Middle East as well as the Canadian Archipelago and parts of Central Asia. 

Mains Practice Question

Q: Migratory species globally are facing critical challenges, with nearly half in decline. Analyse the impact of climate change as an “amplifier” of other such threats as overexploitation and habitat loss along the Central Asian Flyway, citing specific examples.

Context

The average global sea surface temperature (SST) — the temperature of the water at the ocean surface — for February 2024 stood at 21.06 degree Celsius, the highest ever in a dataset that goes back to 1979. The previous record of 20.98 degree Celsius was set in August 2023.

1: Dimension- Reason behind the warming oceans

  • Trapped heat: Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution a few hundred years ago, humans have burned massive amounts of fossil fuels; cut down huge swaths of forest; and undertaken many other activities that pump heat-trapping carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere. Most of the rest of the trapped heat has been absorbed into the planets’ vast oceans.
  • El Nino: The climate crisis is being compounded by the natural El Niño climate pattern.
  • Marine heat waves—defined as periods of persistent anomalously warm ocean temperatures (warmer than 90 percent of the previous observations for a given time of year)—have occurred recently in several areas.
  • Weaker-than-average windshave reduced the amount of Saharan dust in the atmosphere, which usually reduces sea temperatures by blocking some of the sun’s energy.

2: Dimension-Impact of Warm Oceans

  • Marine life: Hotter marine temperatures can have a devastating effect on marine life, and there have been multiple mass mortalities of marine animals and plants due to ocean heatwaves.
  • Displacement of species: Heatwaves can also cause damaging algal blooms, coral bleaching, the displacement of marine species – as they search for colder water – and the disruption of food chains.
  • Extreme climatic events: Increased marine temperatures can be harmful on land too, causing extreme weather, such as storms and hurricanes.
  • Vicious cycle of warming events: Less sea ice not only means possible future sea level rises, it means that there’s less ice to reflect the sun’s energy, resulting in higher sea temperatures and more frequent marine heatwaves, a vicious cycle that could have global ramifications.

There needs to be a reduction in emissions, but also more investment in nature-based solutions as well as more research into monitoring marine heatwaves. Furthermore, to ensure a stable climate and make real on the commitment of the Paris Agreement, UNEP has identified six sectors with the potential to reduce emissions enough to keep the world below the 1.5°C mark. They are: energy; industry; agriculture and food; forests and land use; transport; and buildings and cities.

Mains Practice Question

Q: What are the consequences of ocean warming? Discuss UNEP’s six-sector approach to reduce emissions enough to keep the world below the 1.5°C mark.

Context

For nearly a week now, forest fires have been raging in the Coonoor forest range in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu.

1: Dimension-Causes of Forest Fire

  • According to the Forest Survey of India, nearly 36 per cent of India’s forests are prone to frequent fires.
  • Several factors like temperatures, precipitation, vegetation, and moisture contribute to the scale and frequency of these fires.
  • Higher fire incidents are reported in March, April and May due to ample availability of dry biomass (fuel load) following the end of winter and the on-going summer season.
  • Most forest fires are man-made due to changes in agriculture and unchecked land-use patterns.

2: Dimension-Impact of Forest Fire

  • Loss and displacement of species:The impact of recurrent forest fires leads to the direct loss of trees and wildlife.
  • Pushing towards extinction:Forest fires can meddle with the life cycle of species and push many of the threatened and endemic species closer to extinction.
    • Affecting growth:By destroying the leaves and foliage, a forest fire can significantly reduce the photosynthetic activity of surviving trees and thereby affect their growth.
    • Affected seedlings:It can also damage the seed bank, both above and below the ground, and wipe out the seedlings and saplings growing on the forest floor.
  • Impact on recovery rate:The loss of keystone organisms in forest ecosystems, such as invertebrates, pollinators, and decomposers, can significantly slow the recovery rate of the forest.
  • Serious impact of reproduction:Forest fires can also interfere with the reproduction and propagation of certain plants and animals. Such recurrent events can be deadly to the species that are native or endemic to the region.

Fact Box: India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021

  • 35.46% of India's forest cover is susceptible to forest fires.
  • Of this, 2.81% are extremely prone, 7.85% are very highly prone, and 11.51% are highly prone.
  • India's 45–64% of forests will be impacted by changing climate and rising temperatures by 2030.

Mains Practice Question

The frequency of forest fire incidents in India has increased by more than 50 percent in the last two decades. Discussing the reason for forest fires, highlight the mechanism for controlling forest fires.

Context

India and the US are carrying out a bilateral tri-service Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise, Tiger Triumph-24, on the Eastern Seaboard, US.

About

  • 'Tiger Triumph - 24' is in line with the established India-US partnership.
  • It is a bilateral tri-service Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) military exercise between the two countries.
  • Objective: To develop interoperability for conducting HADR operations.

Context

The Model Code of Conduct becomes active as soon as the dates for elections are announced and stays in place until the results are declared.

About

About Model Code of Conduct (MCC)

  • The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is like a rulebook for political parties and leaders during elections in India.
  • It has guidelines to make sure that elections are fair and free from unfair influence.
  • The MCC covers many things like what politicians can say in their speeches, how they should behave on voting day, and even what they can promise in their election manifestos.
  • Legal enforceability: The MCC does not have legal enforceability on its own. Nevertheless, specific provisions within it may find enforcement through corresponding clauses in other statutes, including the Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973, and the Representation of the People Act of 1951.
    • Additionally, the ECI holds authority under paragraph 16A of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order of 1968 to suspend or withdraw a party's recognition.

Key rules in the MCC include:

  • Fair Play: Political parties in power can't use their position to gain an advantage in the elections. They can't announce new policies, projects, or schemes that could sway voters.
  • Equal Opportunities: The ruling party has to treat opposition parties fairly. They can't use government resources or facilities for their own campaigns.
  • No Discrimination: Campaigns should focus on the work of political parties and candidates, not on stirring up caste or religious sentiments.
  • Respect for Silence: There's a 48-hour period before voting starts called "election silence." During this time, no campaigning is allowed to give voters a chance to think calmly before casting their votes.

Context

The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has developed SAKHI, a multi-purpose app to help astronauts on the Gaganyaan space flight mission.

What is SAKHI App?

  • The Space-borne Assistant and Knowledge Hub for Crew Interaction (SAKHI) will help astronauts on the Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight Mission carry out a range of tasks such as looking up vital technical information or communicating with one another.
  • The app will, among other things, monitor the health of the astronauts, help them stay connected with Earth and even alert them about their dietary schedules.

Context

Indian Immunologicals Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Dairy Development Board has finished the first phase of clinical trials of dengue vaccine to determine the safety of the vaccine. The vaccine could be available commercially as early as mid-2026.

About

About Dengue

  • Dengue (break-bone fever) is a viral infection that spreads from mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti mosquito) to people. It is more common in tropical and subtropical climates.
  • Symptoms: High fever, headache, body aches, nausea and rash.
  • Treatment: There is no specific treatment for dengue. In severe cases, dengue can be fatal. 
  • Global burden: There are around 100–400 million infections per year and nearly half the world's population is at risk.

Context

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has notified new rules for the transfer of captive elephants.

The new Rules

  • For initiating transfer of elephants from one state to another, the chief wildlife warden (CWW) of the state, where the elephant is being transferred, has to be notified.
  • S/he, would, in turn, forward the application to the CWW of the state from where the animal is being transferred.
  • The transfer, according to the new rules, would be permitted if the donor is no longer capable of taking care of the captive elephant. For a transfer to be allowed, the genetic profile of the elephant has to be entered into an MoEFCC application, electronically.

Context

Russia has taken the townlet of Mirnoye in Zaporizhzhia from Ukrainian forces.

About

  • Mirnoye, which translates into English as ‘peaceful,’ had a population of about 500 before the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
  • The village is located 14 kilometers southwest of the town of Guliaipole and 77 kilometers southeast of the city of Zaporozhye.
  • Both Guliaipole and Zaporozhye remain under Ukrainian control.

S.No.

Term

About

1.        

Coral bleaching

Coral bleaching is the process when corals become white due to various stressors, such as changes in temperature, light, or nutrients. 

2.        

Defection

In political scenario, it is a situation when a member of a political party leaves his party and joins hands with other parties.

3.        

Disqualified

A person is disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament. A person can be disqualified on grounds of defection under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. This includes changing party affiliation before or after an election.

4.        

El Niño

El Niño is a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. El Niño is the “warm phase” of a larger phenomenon called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

5.        

Saharan dust

Saharan dust is a type of particulate matter (PM) that originates in the Sahara Desert (largest hot desert in the world.) in Northern Africa.  The desert spans just over 9 million square kilometers, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, from the Mediterranean sea to the Niger River valley and the Sudan region in the south. 

Context:

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) reveals alarming rates of violence against women in India, highlighting its intersection with mental health conditions and homelessness.

Findings of Relevance:

  • Interplay of Violence, Mental Health, and Homelessness: A significant proportion of women in India experience physical and sexual violence, with subsequent mental health conditions often leading to homelessness. Studies corroborate the complex relationship between violence against women, mental health issues, and homelessness.
  • Personal Narratives and Impact: The conditions of homelessness, often stems from traumatic experiences of violence within familial or intimate relationships. These narratives shed light on the profound impact of childhood trauma, intimate partner violence, and societal marginalization on individual mental health and housing stability.
  • Madness as Resistance and Coping Mechanism: Some women perceive their experiences of madness as a form of resistance against societal norms and violence, providing a means of escape or empowerment.

Comprehensive Solutions and Policy Implications:

  • Addressing Structural Barriers: Solutions to combat violence against women necessitate a multifaceted approach, including recognition of unpaid labor, creation of supportive networks, and economic empowerment through access to basic income and housing.
  • Educational Interventions: Embedding gender-sensitive curriculum in education systems can challenge harmful gender norms and foster egalitarian values.
  • Inclusive Research and Policy Development: A holistic approach to addressing homelessness, mental health, and violence against women requires diverse perspectives, innovative research, and meaningful involvement of individuals with lived experiences.
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Context:

India's policy focus shifts back to the Indian Ocean amid escalating tensions in the region, marking a departure from its previous emphasis on the Indo-Pacific.

Policy Shift:

  • Maldives-China Relations: Maldives shows signs of aligning with China despite India's efforts. In contrast, Sri Lanka demonstrates sensitivity to India's security concerns by imposing restrictions on foreign research ships in its ports. India's SAGAR policy yields positive outcomes, strengthening ties with Mauritius through infrastructure development in the Agaléga Islands.
  • Geostrategic Significance: Both the Western Indian Ocean and the Northern Indian Ocean witness increased activity, impacting regional dynamics. The Israel-Hamas conflict regionalizes, affecting international shipping through the Suez Canal.
  • China-India Strategic Contestation: China's efforts to expand its naval bases and influence in the Indian Ocean pose a direct challenge to India's security interests. India, alongside the U.S., emphasizes cooperation in addressing strategic competition with China, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region.

India's Response and Options:

  • Strategic Partnerships: India asserts its commitment to prioritizing the Indian Ocean region while acknowledging its Indo-Pacific responsibilities.
  • Regional Mechanisms: India advocates for a critical evaluation of existing regional frameworks like IORA and the Colombo Security Conclave.
  • Strengthening Naval Power: India aims to bolster its naval capabilities to counter emerging security challenges.
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Context:

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted a successful test of the Agni-5 ballistic missile, equipped with Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs), marking a significant development in India's nuclear deterrent capabilities.

Strategic Significance of Agni-5 MIRV Test:

  • Enhanced Nuclear Deterrent: The Agni-5 missile, with integrated MIRVs, represents a significant advancement in India's nuclear deterrent. MIRVs allow for multiple warheads to be delivered simultaneously, increasing the potency and effectiveness of India's nuclear arsenal.
  • Comparison with China: India's development of MIRV technology places it among a select group of nations possessing such capabilities. China has invested in ballistic missile defense systems, but India's MIRV-equipped Agni-5 provides a counterbalance by enhancing India's nuclear striking power and resilience against potential missile defenses.
  • Technical Challenges and Achievements: Developing MIRV-capable ballistic missiles entails meeting demanding technical criteria, including warhead miniaturization, precise re-entry vehicle configuration, and guidance accuracy.

Implications and Future Prospects:

  • Strategic Deterrence against China: The successful test of Agni-5 MIRV missile signals India's readiness to counter China's advancements in missile and missile defense capabilities.
  • Continued Advancements: India's success opens avenues for further advancements in its nuclear arsenal, including the testing of long-range Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs).
  • Regional Security Dynamics: The Agni-5 MIRV test underscores India's commitment to maintaining regional stability and safeguarding its national security interests.
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