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24th May 2024 (11 Topics)

24th May 2024

QUIZ - 24th May 2024

5 Questions

5 Minutes

Mains Issues

Context

Tropical cyclones, also known as hurricanes, typhoons, or simply cyclones, have been predicted with great precision by national and regional weather agencies globally. However, the unprecedented warming of the oceans and the lack of certain types of data have recently made it challenging to predict the track, wind speeds, and accompanying rainfall for cyclones in all ocean basins and to provide early warnings for the impacted people.

Key-highlights of the Situation

  • Increasing Cyclone Intensity: Rising ocean temperatures contribute to the intensification of cyclones, leading to more frequent and severe storms.
  • Rapid Intensification (RI): Recent cyclones have exhibited rapid intensification, wherein wind speeds increase by more than 55 kilometres per hour within a 24-hour period.
  • Data Gaps: Inadequate monitoring of subsurface ocean temperatures and limited availability of data from exclusive economic zones hinder accurate forecasting.
  • Importance of Early Warnings: Timely warnings are crucial for enabling preparedness measures and minimizing the impact of cyclones on vulnerable coastal communities.

1: Dimension- Factors Influencing Cyclone Prediction

  • Ocean Warming: Unprecedented warming of ocean waters fuels the formation and intensification of cyclones, making them more unpredictable.
  • Rapid Intensification: RI events, characterized by sudden increases in wind speeds, pose challenges for forecasters due to their unpredictability.
  • Data Deficiency: Insufficient monitoring of subsurface temperatures and a lack of data from exclusive economic zones limit the accuracy of cyclone forecasts.

2: Dimension- Impact of Improved Early Warnings

  • Reduced Loss of Life and Property: Early warnings enable authorities and communities to evacuate vulnerable areas and implement disaster preparedness measures, reducing casualties and damage.
  • Enhanced Resilience: Access to timely and accurate forecasts allows communities to better prepare for cyclones, improving their resilience to natural disasters.
  • Socio-economic Stability: Minimizing the impact of cyclones through early warnings helps maintain socio-economic stability by preserving infrastructure and livelihoods.
3: Dimension- Strategies for Enhancing Early Warning Systems
  • Investment in Data Collection: Increased investment in monitoring systems, such as buoys and moorings, is essential for gathering comprehensive data on ocean temperatures and other factors influencing cyclone formation.
  • Regional Collaboration: Collaboration among countries in sharing meteorological data and resources strengthens forecasting capabilities and improves early warning systems.
  • Capacity Building: Building the capacity of meteorological agencies and communities to interpret and respond to cyclone forecasts enhances the effectiveness of early warning systems.
  • Technological Innovation: Leveraging advancements in technology, such as remote sensing and numerical weather prediction models, enhances the accuracy and timeliness of cyclone forecasts.
Mains Practice Question

Q: “How can early warnings for cyclones be improved in the context of climate change? Discuss the challenges and suggest measures.”

Mains Issues

Context

The recent decline in household net financial savings to GDP ratio has sparked debate, with concerns raised about the implications of higher borrowing on household finances. Contrary to claims suggesting a mere shift in savings composition, we argue that structural shifts in the economy underlie this trend, pointing towards challenges in managing household debt.

Key-highlights of the Issue

  • Composition of Savings: Analysis indicates a significant decline in net financial savings to GDP ratio, accompanied by a disproportionate increase in household borrowing to GDP ratio, challenging interpretations of a mere change in savings pattern.
  • Interest Payment Burden: Higher borrowing is attributed to increased interest payment commitments amidst rising interest rates and debt-income ratio, exacerbating financial distress for households.
  • Structural Shifts: The phenomenon reflects qualitative changes in the macroeconomy, necessitating a closer examination of factors influencing household debt dynamics.

1: Dimension- Understanding Household Debt Dynamics

  • Net Financial Savings: Decline in net financial savings to GDP ratio indicates increased reliance on borrowing to meet financial obligations, reflecting heightened financial vulnerability.
  • Interest Payment Burden: Rising debt-income ratio and interest payment burdens underscore challenges faced by households in managing debt amidst economic uncertainties.
  • Fisher Dynamics: Changes in interest rates and nominal income growth rates contribute to shifts in debt-income ratio, highlighting the need to address structural factors influencing borrowing behavior.

2: Dimension- Implications for Macroeconomic Stability

  • Debt Servicing Challenges: While India's debt servicing ratio remains comparatively low, there are concerns about maintaining stability amidst rising household debt burdens.
  • Aggregate Demand Impact: High interest payment and debt commitments may lead to reduced consumption expenditure, potentially dampening aggregate demand and economic growth.
  • Policy Imperatives: Addressing these challenges requires a nuanced approach, including policies aimed at stimulating household income growth and enhancing financial resilience.
3: Dimension- Policy Responses and Recommendations
  • Income Growth Stimulus: Policy interventions should prioritize measures to support household income growth, thereby reducing the gap between interest rates and income growth.
  • Debt Management Strategies: Effective debt management strategies are essential to mitigate the adverse effects of rising debt burdens on household finances and macroeconomic stability.
  • Enhanced Financial Literacy: Promoting financial literacy and awareness can empower households to make informed decisions regarding borrowing and debt management.
  • Macroeconomic Stability Measures: Holistic macroeconomic policies should aim to balance debt sustainability with measures to promote economic growth and stability.
Mains Practice Question

Q: “Discuss the impact of rising debt on household savings and suggest measures to mitigate the situation.”

Mains Issues

Context

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is set to convene discussions aimed at formulating a comprehensive framework to safeguard the global workforce in the care economy. This initiative responds to emerging challenges and underscores the critical role of care workers, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key-highlights of the Issue

  • Discussion Agenda: The upcoming annual conference of the ILO will focus on strategies to enhance understanding and recognition of the care economy, aligning it with principles of decent work and social justice.
  • Global Significance: With participation from 187 countries, including India, the conference aims to foster dialogue on policies for the promotion of care workers and the reduction of discrimination within the sector.
  • Scope of Care Economy: Encompassing education, health, social work, and domestic services, the care economy is vital for sustainable economic development and the provision of decent work opportunities.

1: Dimension- Importance of Care Economy

  • Critical Role: Care workers, including healthcare professionals and domestic aides, play a pivotal role in supporting individuals and communities, especially during crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Economic Contribution: The care economy contributes significantly to global employment, with projections indicating substantial growth by 2030, necessitating policy alignment and investment to meet evolving demands.

2: Dimension- Policy Recommendations

  • Recognition of Unpaid Care Work: Policymakers are urged to recognise, reduce, and redistribute unpaid care work, ensuring alignment with international standards and promoting gender equality in workforce participation.
  • Promotion of Decent Work: Emphasising the importance of decent work for care workers, policies should aim to enhance working conditions, provide social protections, and mitigate discrimination within the sector.
3: Dimension- Impact of the Situation
  • Growth in Care Jobs: According to ILO’s own estimates, global employment in care and related jobs could grow to 358 million by 2030 from 206 million in 2015. If sufficient investment is made to meet the SDGs, this figure could grow to 475 million. In India alone, an additional 22.74 million workers need to be recruited to meet the 2030 national health and education policy targets.
  • Women’s Access to Work: Globally, an estimated 606 million working-age women are outside the workforce due to caring responsibilities and social reproduction. The non-availability of paid care services has a significant impact on women’s access to decent work and productive employment, as it compromises their opportunities to engage on an equal basis in paid work or income-generating activities.
4: Dimension- Required Measures
  • Policy Alignment: Countries should focus on aligning their policies to recognize, reduce, and redistribute unpaid care work, while at the same time promoting decent work for the workers.
  • Public Investment in Care: The ILO notes that public investment in care varies by country and by type. It ranges from over 8 per cent of GDP in Denmark and Sweden to less than 1 per cent in South Africa, Mexico, Turkey, India, and Indonesia. There is a need to explore all possible fiscal space options to scale up public investments in care.
Mains Practice Question

Q: “Discuss the importance of developing a comprehensive framework for the protection of the global workforce in the care economy.

Prelims Articles

Context

Venezuela has lost its final glacier in the Sierra Nevada de Mérida mountain range. This loss marks a significant event, making Venezuela likely the first country in modern times to lose all its glaciers.

About

  • At one time, the country was home to six glaciers, but by 2011, five had vanished, leaving only the Humboldt glacier, also called La Corona, near Pico Humboldt.
  • Initially, scientists believed the Humboldt glacier would endure for another decade. However, the glacier had melted much faster than anticipated. Its size had dwindled to less than 2 hectares, prompting its reclassification from a glacier to an ice field.
  • Unfortunately, Venezuela is not alone in facing this crisis. Indonesia's Papua island, Mexico, and Slovenia are among the next countries expected to become glacier-free.

Fact Box: About Glacier

  • A glacier is a large, perennial accumulation of crystalline ice, snow, rock, sediment, and often liquid water that originates on land and moves down slope under the influence of its own weight and gravity.
  • Glaciers are classified by their size (i.e. ice sheet, ice cap, valley glacier, cirque glacier), location, and thermal regime (i.e., polar vs. temperate). 
  • Glaciers form as snow accumulates and compresses into many layers of ice through a process called snow metamorphism.

Prelims Articles

Context

India has climbed to the 39th spot in the World Economic Forum's Travel & Tourism Development Index 2024, marking a significant rise from its 2021 ranking of 54th.

Key-findings:

  • Topic 10 countries: United States, Spain, Japan, France, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Italy and Switzerland.
  • The United States claimed the top position.
  • Among the world’s top 10 economies, India had the sharpest decline (compared to 2019 levels), followed by the UK, which slipped three spots to seventh.
  • China have also seen a significant increase in tourism numbers this year, while the Middle East has seen tourism levels jump to about 20% above pre-pandemic levels.
  • Africa, Europe and the Americas also showed considerably high recovery rates of around 90% last year.

Findings for India

  • Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, India emerged as the highest-ranking country in South Asia and among the lower-middle-income economies.
  • The country demonstrated high price competitiveness (18th) and boasted competitive air transport (26th) and ground and port infrastructure (25th). Particularly noteworthy were India's robust natural (6th), cultural (9th), and non-leisure (9th) resources, which contributed significantly to driving travel.
  • India was among the top three countries scoring in the top 10 for all resource pillars.
  • Despite a slight decline compared to 2019, India still scored well for travel and tourism demand sustainability, with a focus on sustainable long stays among inbound visitors.
  • Challenges: Challenging business environment, inadequate transport, information technology, infrastructure and tourist facilities

Fact Box:

About Travel & Tourism Development Index (TTDI)

  • TTDI is brought out jointly by WEF and the University of Surrey.
  • The index comes out every two years and evaluates 119 countries on a range of tourism development factors.

Government Schemes Promoting Tourism

  • PRASHAD
  • Swadesh Darshan
  • SAATHI
  • Dekho Apna Desh
  • NIDHI

Prelims Articles

Context

The Indian Army is preparing for future conflicts by drawing insights from ancient Indian texts like the Vedas, Puranas, and the Mahabharata.

About Project Udbhav:

  • Launched in: 2023
  • Project Udbhav is a bold initiative aimed at gleaning wisdom from India's rich heritage to enhance its preparedness for future conflicts.
  • This project marks a significant departure from the conventional reliance on Western military strategies.
  • Central to Project Udbhav is a deep dive into ancient Indian texts, including the Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads, and Arthashastra.
  • These texts offer invaluable insights into governance, strategy, and the ethics of warfare, providing a treasure trove of knowledge for contemporary military planning.

Ancient Indian knowledge system

  • The ancient Indian knowledge system is rooted in a 5000 years old civilisational legacy.
  • Among the key works being revisited are Kautilya's Arthashastra, Kamandaka's Nitisara, and Thiruvalluvar's Tirukkural.
  • These texts offer nuanced perspectives on statecraft, diplomacy, and ethical conduct, aligning with modern military codes of ethics and principles such as the Geneva Convention.
  • Inspiring examples: The empires of Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, and the Cholas, Ahom Kingdom.
  • One notable example highlighted by Project Udbhav is the Naval Battle of Saraighat in 1671, led by Lachit Borphukan.
    • This battle illustrates the effective use of diplomatic negotiations, psychological warfare, and military intelligence to secure victory against the Mughals.

Prelims Articles

Context

A five-year-old girl in Malappuram district of Kerala lost her life as she was afflicted by amoebic meningoencephalitis, which is a rare brain infection. The brain infection was caused by a free-living amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, found in contaminated waters.

About

  • Naegleria fowleri, often referred to as the “brain-eating amoeba”, is a species of the genus Naegleria.
  • It belongs to the phylum Percolozoa and is technically classified as an amoeboflagellate excavate, rather than a true amoeba.
  • This free-living microorganism primarily feeds on bacteria but can become pathogenic in humans, causing an extremely rare, sudden, severe, and usually fatal brain infection known as naegleriasis or primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
  • Naegleria fowleri is a thermophilic and free-living amoeba, primarily found in warm and hot freshwater environments such as ponds, lakes, rivers, hot springs, and poorly maintained swimming pools.
  • fowleri exists in three forms: cyst, trophozoite (ameboid), and biflagellate.
  • The most common way of being infected by this type of amoeba happens when infected water goes into your nose. From there, the amoeba goes to your brain.
  • Infection with Naegleria causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis which causes inflammation in the brain and destruction of brain tissue.
  • Symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, seizures, altered mental state, sleepiness or drowsiness, loss of balance, severe and sudden headache, stiff neck, photophobia - sensitivity to light, and hallucinations.

Prelims Articles

S.No.

Term

About

1.        

Dopamine

Dopamine is a chemical messenger and hormone that's released by nerve cells in the brain and plays a role in many body functions. It's sometimes called the "feel-good" hormone because it can create a sense of pleasure and motivation.

2.        

Levant

The Levant (/l??vænt/ l?-VANT) is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of West Asia and core territory of the political term Middle East.

3.        

Diplomatic passport

Diplomatic and Official passports are issued to people holding diplomatic status or deputed by the Government of India for official duty abroad.

4.        

Extradition

It the act of making someone return for trial to another country or state where they have been accused of doing something illegal.

5.        

Windfall gain

A windfall gain is an unexpected, sudden, or unearned advantage or income. Some examples of windfall gains include: Winning the lottery, An inheritance

6.        

Personality rights

Personality rights, sometimes referred to as the right of publicity, are rights for an individual to control the commercial use of their identity, such as name, image, likeness, or other unequivocal identifiers. They are generally considered as property rights, rather than personal rights

7.        

Preservation Bias

Preservation bias refers to the phenomenon where certain kinds of objects or organisms are more likely to be preserved and discovered than others due to their material, location, or time period.

Editorials

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Context

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Europe, focusing on France, Serbia, and Hungary, aimed to safeguard China's strategic and economic interests amid rising geopolitical tensions and economic challenges.

World Events and Visit’s Goals:

  • Geopolitical and Economic Context: The visit took place in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the escalating U.S.-China trade and technology war. These factors have significantly altered global dynamics and impacted China's foreign policy.
  • Goals of the Visit: President Xi aimed to prevent the EU from aligning too closely with the U.S., avoid a trade standoff with the EU, and bolster China’s standing in Europe. This is crucial against the backdrop of the EU's growing scepticism towards China's trade practices.
  • Impact of Russian Invasion of Ukraine: The invasion has strained China's relations with Europe, as the EU’s negative perception of China’s trade policy has intensified due to China's perceived support for Russia.

Strategic Engagements in France:

  • Bilateral Discussions: President Xi met with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss trade interests and China's role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Macron urged China to stop supplying weapons components to Russia.
  • Meeting with EU Leaders: In Paris, Xi also met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who advocated for "de-risking" from China. Both Macron and von der Leyen emphasized the need for balanced trade relations.
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Market Competition: France and the EU expressed concerns about the competitive edge of Chinese EVs over European manufacturers, reflecting broader economic tensions.

Focus on Hungary and Serbia:

  • Warm Reception in Hungary and Serbia: Xi received a warm welcome in both countries, which have significant Chinese investments. Hungary, in particular, has become China's closest ally within the EU, providing access to the European market.
  • Strategic Investments: China has invested heavily in infrastructure projects in Serbia and Hungary, including the Belgrade-Budapest high-speed railway and factories for EV batteries. These investments are part of China's broader Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Eastern vs. Western Europe Relations: While Hungary and Serbia are key allies, the Ukraine war has strained China's relations with other Eastern European countries, limiting the effectiveness of the 17+1 cooperation framework.
UPSC Mains Questions:

Q. Discuss the role of economic factors, such as the electric vehicle market, in shaping the geopolitical relationships between China and European countries. How do these factors influence the EU's stance on China?

Editorials

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Context

The recent Madhya Pradesh High Court ruling on marital rape has reignited the debate over its criminalization in India, highlighting inconsistencies and contradictions within the legal framework regarding women's autonomy and rights.

Legal Landscape and Judicial Interpretations:

  • Madhya Pradesh High Court Ruling: The court held that non-consensual sexual acts by a husband with his wife aged 15 and above do not constitute rape, sparking controversy and debate on the issue.
  • Inconsistent High Court Judgments: Contradictory judgments from different high courts, such as the Gujarat High Court's progressive stance recognizing women's autonomy in marriage, contrast with the Chhattisgarh High Court's reinforcement of marital rape exemption.
  • Supreme Court's Observations: In Independent Thought vs Union of India (2017), the Supreme Court raised the marital exemption age to 18. However, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, replacing the Indian Penal Code, fails to address marital rape.

Constitutional and Human Rights Perspectives:

  • Violation of Women's Rights: The marital rape exemption in Section 375 of the IPC undermines women's individual agency and bodily autonomy, violating the constitutional guarantees of right to life and non-discrimination.
  • Split Verdict in Delhi High Court: In 2022, a split verdict on the constitutionality of the marital rape exception reflected the ongoing legal and societal debate, with differing opinions on the role of consent within marriage.
  • Justice Verma Committee Recommendations: The 2012 committee advocated for the deletion of the marital rape exemption, emphasizing that consent should not be presumed in marriage, but the recommendations were not adopted by Parliament.

Societal and Policy Implications:

  • Legislative Reluctance: Despite recommendations and proposed bills, such as Shashi Tharoor's 2018 bill aiming to criminalize marital rape, the Union government has shown reluctance, citing potential destabilization of the institution of marriage.
  • Changing Notions of Marriage: Modern perspectives on marriage emphasize equality and individual rights, challenging traditional patriarchal norms that view women as subservient within the marital relationship.
  • Intimate Partner Violence Recognition: The Supreme Court in X vs The Principal Secretary (2022) recognized intimate partner violence, including marital rape, for purposes of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, highlighting the need for a rights-based legal approach.
UPSC Mains Questions:

Q. Discuss the constitutional and human rights implications of the marital rape exemption in Indian law. How does it conflict with the principles of gender equality and women's autonomy?

Editorials

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Context

The historical decline of major Asian empires, including the Gupta and Chola empires, underscores the profound impact of climate disasters, pandemics, and migration. These factors collectively contributed to the weakening and eventual fall of these once-thriving civilizations.

Climate-Induced Collapse:

  • Angkor Wat and Hydraulic Failures: Angkor, once the world's largest city, boasted an extensive hydraulic system to support agriculture. However, 14th-century droughts and subsequent torrential monsoons severely damaged the water infrastructure, leading to the city's abandonment.
  • Indus Valley Civilization: Environmental stress, particularly increasing aridity, played a significant role in the de-urbanization of the Indus Valley Civilization. The collapse of their sophisticated urban centers highlights the vulnerability of human settlements to climatic changes.
  • Chola Empire's Floods: The Chola Empire faced repeated floods in the Kaveri and Cheyyar river systems from the 12th century onwards. Poor management and opportunistic behavior by landlords exacerbated the crisis, leading to social and economic distress.

Pandemics and Migration:

  • Roman and Kushan Empires: The Antonine Plague, which likely originated from the east, decimated the Roman Empire. Simultaneously, evidence suggests a similar pandemic affected the Kushan Empire, highlighting the interconnected nature of ancient pandemics.
  • Gupta Empire's Downfall: Volcanic eruptions in 536 CE caused global cooling, leading to failed harvests and weakened immunity. This environmental crisis, coupled with Hun invasions, precipitated the Gupta Empire's collapse.

Lessons from History:

  • Resilient Systems: The failure of Angkor’s hydraulic systems teaches the importance of building and maintaining resilient infrastructure, supported by accurate climate models.
  • Public Health: The Roman and Kushan experiences underscore the necessity of robust public health systems to mitigate the impact of pandemics.
  • Sustainable Urbanization: The Harappan civilization's decline suggests that smaller, more adaptable urban centers may better withstand environmental stresses.
  • Equitable Crisis Management: The Chola aristocracy’s mishandling of floods warns against exacerbating inequalities during crises, emphasizing the need for fair and effective disaster response.
UPSC Mains Questions:

Q. Discuss the role of climate change in the collapse of ancient civilizations, with specific reference to the Gupta and Chola empires. How can modern societies learn from these historical events?

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