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23rd March 2024 (10 Topics)

23rd March 2024

QUIZ - 23rd March 2024

5 Questions

5 Minutes

Context

In a significant ruling, the Allahabad High Court has struck down the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madarsa Education Act, 2004 (Madarsa Act, 2004) enacted by the state government.

Key-points highlighted by the High Court

  • Terming the Act unconstitutional, the Allahabad High Court said the Act found to be a violation of secularism. 
  • The court said it was not possible to segregate and save any portion of the Act which would be of any relevance and maintained.
  • The state has no power to create a board for religious education or to establish board for school education only for a particular religion and philosophy associated with it.
  • It was the duty of the state to provide education, which is secular in nature, more particularly for minors, that is children up to the age of 18.
  • It cannot discriminate and provide different types of education to children belonging to different religions.
  • Any such action on the part of state would be violative of secularism.

1: Dimension- Secularism and Education in India:

  • Secularism is part of the basic structure of the Constitution.
  • The value of Secularism is deeply ingrained all through, and particularly in Articles 14, 19, 22, and 25.
  • Education, being a fundamental right under Article 21-A of the Constitution, holds immense significance in fostering a democratic society and promoting social cohesion.
  • Secularism in education implies that the state must provide education that is free from religious bias or affiliation.
  • It entails offering a curriculum that is inclusive of diverse perspectives, cultures, and beliefs, fostering a spirit of tolerance, pluralism, and respect for individual autonomy.

2: Dimension- Impact of Denial

  • Education, as a tool for empowerment and social transformation, must be accessible to all, irrespective of their religious affiliations.
  • Denying certain groups access to quality education based on religious grounds not only perpetuates social inequality but also undermines the foundational principles of democracy and secularism.

3: Dimension- Significance of the Ruling

  • The Allahabad High Court's ruling underscores the importance of upholding secular principles in education.
  • By deeming the Act unconstitutional for its violation of secularism, the court reaffirmed the state's obligation to provide education that transcends religious boundaries and caters to the holistic development of all students.

Mains Practice Question

Q: “The intersection of secularism and education in India highlights the imperative of ensuring that educational institutions uphold secular values and provide equal opportunities for all students”. Comment

UPSC PYQ

  1. Are tolerance, assimilation and pluralism the key elements in the making of an Indian form of secularism? Justify your answer. (UPSC 2022)
  2. What are the challenges to our cultural practices in the name of secularism? (UPSC 2019)

Context

The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia have entered a new agreement to build Australia’s SSN-AUKUS submarines and termed it a significant milestone in the endeavour of defence cooperation.

Key-highlights of the trilateral partnership

  • Under the new trilateral Security partnership, Australia’s ASC and UK-based BAE Systems will build the SSN-AUKUS submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.
  • The SSN-AUKUS will be equipped for intelligence, surveillance, undersea warfare and strike missions.
  • It will provide maximum interoperability among AUKUS partners.

1: Dimension-Why nuclear-powered submarines?

  • Submarines can either be diesel-electric or nuclear-powered and either type can be used to launch nuclear warheads.
  • Diesel-electric submarines involve diesel engines that power electric motors to propel the vessels through the water. But those engines require fuel to operate, which necessitates that the submarines resurface regularly for refuelling.
  • Nuclear-powered submarines generate their own energy source — nuclear propulsion technology — and are not as constrained by the need to refuel as diesel-electric subs. They generate steam using an onboard nuclear reactor which is used to turn the vessel’s turbines.
  • Nuclear-powered submarines can remain hidden at sea without detection — potentially for years — and are limited primarily by their supplies of food and water for crews.

2: Dimension-Why Australia want nuclear-powered submarines?

  • Australia’s submarines face long transits between ports, let alone to potential distant hot spots
  • Acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines has been described as ‘the single biggest leap’ ever in Australia’s defence capabilities.
  • Furthermore, the agreement is seen as a counterweight to China’s growing military presence in the Asia Pacific.
  • Australia does not have the expertise to build its own nuclear submarines so it had to buy or acquire the ability to build its fleet from either the US or the UK.
  • SSN-AUKUS will increase opportunities for industrial base collaboration, strengthen collective industrial base capacity, and generate economic growth in defense and national security sectors in all three countries.
  • The pact will see Australia become the seventh nation to operate nuclear-powered submarines.

3: Dimension-Impacts of the deal:

  • China’s Concern: China has always been concerned with the objectives of AUKUS. Also, the Declaration marks a new decline in Australia-China relations. China is Australia's largest trading partner, with about US $ 200 billion trading in two ways.
  • Impact on India: The partnership is very beneficial to India. As India has been at the forefront of uniting the unity of the Indo-Pacific countries.

Fact Box: AUKUS

  • AUKUS is a trilateral security partnership between the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia agreed in 2021.
  • This partnership is designed to create a stronger, more resilient trilateral submarine industrial base, supporting submarine production and maintenance in all three countries.

UPSC PYQ

1. The newly tri-nation partnership AUKUS is aimed at countering China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific regions. Is it going to supersede the existing partnerships in the region? Discuss the strength and impact of AUKUS in the present scenario (UPSC 2021)

Context

During the Holi festival, in some parts of Rajasthan’s Jaipur, an old tradition involved playing out with colors through a unique medium called the “Gulaal Gota”, dating back around 400 years.

What is a Gulaal Gota?

  • A Gulaal Gota is a small ball made of lac, filled with dry gulaal. Weighing around 20 grams when filled with gulaal, these balls are thrown at people on Holi, getting smashed to bits on impact.
  • Making Gulaal Gotas involves first boiling the lac in water to make it flexible.
    • Lac is a resinous substance that is secreted by certain insects. It is also used to make bangles.
  • After shaping the lac, colour is added to it. After the processing is done, artisans heat the lac. It is then blown into a spherical shape with the help of a blower called “phunkni”.
  • Then, gulaal is filled in the balls before they are sealed with lac.

Context

The King of Bhutan conferred the Order of the Druk Gyalpo on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who became the first foreign head of government to receive Bhutan’s highest civilian honour.

About

About the Award

  • The Order of the Druk Gyalpo holds immense significance within Bhutan's honour system, symbolising a lifetime of outstanding achievements and contributions to society.
  • The Order of the Druk Gyalpo takes precedence over all orders, decorations and medals.
  • Since its institution, the award has been conferred upon only four eminent personalities.
    • Queen Grandmother of Bhutan Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck in 2008
    • Je Thrizur Tenzin Dendup (68th Je Khenpo of Bhutan) in 2008
    • Je Khenpo Trulku Ngawang Jigme Choedra in 2018

Context

India is looking to Africa for minerals such as copper, cobalt and other critical minerals, while also engaging with Australia for lithium blocks.

What are Critical Minerals?

  • Critical minerals are elements that are the building blocks of essential modern-day technologies, and are at risk of supply chain disruptions.
  • These minerals are now used everywhere from making mobile phones, computers to batteries, electric vehicles and green technologies like solar panels and wind turbines.
  • Based on their individual needs and strategic considerations, different countries create their own lists.
  • Critical mineral in Africa:
    • Africa is home to 30 percentof the world’s known critical minerals.
    • Africa holds substantial reserves of bauxite, chromium, cobalt, copper, gold, iron, lithium, manganese, platinum, and uraniumto name just a few.

Fact Box: 30 Critical Minerals

  • The Centre has identified ‘30 critical minerals’, which are essential for the country’s economic development and national security:
    • Antimony, Beryllium, Bismuth, Cobalt, Copper, Gallium, Germanium, Graphite, Hafnium, Indium, Lithium, Molybdenum, Niobium, Nickel, PGE, Phosphorous, Potash, REE, Rhenium, Silicon, Strontium, Tantalum, Tellurium, Tin, Titanium, Tungsten, Vanadium, Zirconium, Selenium and Cadmium.
    • Ten minerals on the list are 100 per cent import-dependent. These are lithium cobalt, nickel, vanadium, niobium, germanium, rhenium, beryllium, tantalum, and strontium.

Context

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has reached a significant milestone in reusable launch vehicle technology with the successful landing experiment of the RLV LEX-02. The experiment marks a crucial step forward in the development of reusable launch vehicles (RLVs).

What is Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission (RLV LEX-02)? 

  • Building upon the success of the RLV-LEX-01 mission last year, the RLV-LEX-02 mission demonstrated the autonomous landing capability of the reusable launch vehicle from challenging challenging initial conditions after release from a helicopter.
  • Named Pushpak, the winged vehicle was lifted by an Indian Air Force Chinook helicopter and released from an altitude of 4.5 km.
  • It autonomously approached the runway with cross-range corrections and landed precisely, coming to a halt using its brake parachute, landing gear brakes, and nose wheel steering system.
  • The Pushpak launch vehicle is India's bold attempt to make access to space most affordable.

S.No.

Term

About

1.        

Basic Structure Doctrine

  • The Basic Structure Doctrine is a judicial innovation that emerged to protect the core principles of the Constitution from arbitrary amendments.
  • The Constitution of India defines its 'basic structure' in terms of federalism, secularism, fundamental rights and democracy.

2.        

Indo-Pacific countries

  • The Indo-Pacific comprises 40 countries and economies: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, the Pacific Island Countries (14), Pakistan, People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Philippines, Republic of Korea (ROK), Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam.

3.        

Nuclear-powered submarine

  • A nuclear-powered submarine is powered by a nuclear reactor.
  • But it is not a nuclear weapon. Nuclear-powered submarines can be divided into three broad categories:
    • the nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines or SSNs
    • the nuclear-powered ballistic submarines or SSBNs
    • the nuclear-powered cruise missile submarines or SSGNs

4.        

Re-usable landing vehicle

  • The idea of a re-usable landing vehicle was mooted to regain super expensive rocket boosters that are used for launching spacecraft.
  • It could be later used to refuel and reuse in space flights.

5.        

Secularism

  • Secularism is a belief system that rejects religion, or the belief that religion should not be part of the affairs of the state or part of public education

Context:

Chuck Schumer's speech calling for a new government in Israel and Viktor Orban's remarks after meeting Donald Trump have stirred discussions about the U.S.'s role in global affairs, particularly concerning Israel and Ukraine.

U.S. and Ukraine Dynamics:

  • Key supporter: The U.S. has been a key supporter of Ukraine, providing significant military and civil aid, but additional assistance has been stalled in Congress.
  • Challenges: Despite efforts to support Ukraine, challenges remain on the ground, including military setbacks and supply shortages.
  • Uncertainty: There's uncertainty about future U.S. policy towards Ukraine, especially considering the impending presidential elections and potential changes in leadership.

Israel-Hamas Conflict:

  • Shift: The U.S. has traditionally backed Israel, but recent criticisms from U.S. leaders, including President Biden and Chuck Schumer, indicate a shift in sentiment.
  • Lack of political solution: Israel's military actions in Gaza, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, have raised concerns about civilian casualties and the lack of a political solution.
  • Sustainable path: There's a growing realization that Israel needs to articulate a sustainable path towards peace with Palestine, which could influence U.S.-Israel relations.

Impact of U.S. Election:

  • Further uncertainty: The upcoming U.S. election adds further uncertainty to foreign policy, with potential shifts depending on the outcome.
  • Affected approach: A victory for Trump could lead to a continuation of his policies, affecting U.S. approaches towards Ukraine and Israel.
  • Broader implications: Changes in U.S. policy could have broader implications for international alliances and security dynamics, both in Europe and the Indo-Pacific region.
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Context:

Pakistan's resolution at the United Nations to combat Islamophobia has sparked controversy and raised concerns about discrimination against other religions.

UN Resolution on Islamophobia:

  • Objection: Pakistan's push for an "International Day to Combat Islamophobia" at the UN faced objections from countries like India, who argued against singling out one religion.
  • Approval: Despite objections, the UN declared March 15 as the day to combat Islamophobia and approved the appointment of a special envoy to address the issue.
  • Neglecting discrimination against others: Critics argue that the UN's focus on Islamophobia neglects discrimination faced by followers of other religions and undermines the principle of religious neutrality.

Indian Response and Concerns:

  • Addressing discrimination against all: India emphasized the need to address discrimination against all religions, not just Islam.
  • Religious intolerance: They highlighted instances of religious intolerance and violence targeting Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and other non-Abrahamic communities
  • Inclusive approach: India urged the UN to adopt a more inclusive approach that acknowledges the diversity of religious discrimination and promotes pluralism.

Criticism of Pakistan and Addressing Religiophobia:

  • Condemned resolution: Critics condemned Pakistan's resolution, citing its own record of religious persecution.
  • Undermined credibility: Pakistan's history of discrimination against religious minorities, such as Ahmadis and Baha'is, undermines its credibility in championing the resolution.
  • Rejecting all forms of religiophobia: Calls were made to reject all forms of religiophobia, including anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist, and anti-Sikh sentiments, and to promote tolerance and religious freedom for all.
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Context:

The Ministry of IT and Electronics introduced amendments to the 2021 IT Rules to establish a Fact Checking Unit (FCU) with the authority to censor online content related to government businesses deemed fake or misleading.

Concerns Regarding FCU's Authority:

  • Concerns: The creation of the FCU as a statutory body under the Press Information Bureau (PIB) raised concerns about government overreach and censorship.
  • Assurance: However, there was assurance that the power would not be misused by the government was contradicted by the move to notify the FCU despite ongoing challenges to the constitutionality of the amended Rules.
  • Undermined rights: The FCU's power to judge and censor online content without clear definitions of terms like "fake" and "misleading" undermines freedom of expression and democratic principles.

Need for Judicial Oversight:

  • Power check: While fake news poses legitimate concerns, determining liability and truthfulness should not be solely entrusted to a government body like the FCU.
  • Already established provisions: The judiciary and existing legal frameworks, including criminal and civil laws, provide mechanisms to address harmful fake news without infringing on free speech.
  • No requirement of reasoning: The FCU's lack of requirement to provide detailed reasoning for its decisions raises fears of potential suppression of dissent and legitimate journalism.
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