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9th April 2024 (13 Topics)

9th April 2024

QUIZ - 9th April 2024

5 Questions

5 Minutes


A division bench of Supreme Court verbally observed that various state governments are directly approaching the top court seeking similar reliefs while there should be no contest between the Centre and states.

1: Dimension-Reason behind increasing tussle
  • Encroaching interesting areas: Areas of governance which are essentially local in nature are being encroached upon by Union as electoral compulsions require greater connect with the people. 
    • Example:Health being a state subject, the recent announcement by the Centre to provide free food grains to nearly 80 crore people is clearly part of this trend.
  • Gradual encroachment by the Centre on the states' domain through direct funding and policy implementation, leading to challenges in service delivery and credit attribution. The Government in India is more involved directly in these state’s subjects.
    • Take education and health, both primarily responsibility of the states and both encroached upon by the Centre.
  • Fiscal centralization: The unequal distribution of financial resources between the Centre and the states, coupled with the Centre's increasing control over tax revenues, has fueled disputes over fiscal autonomy.
    • Example: Goods and Services Tax (GST), leading to tensions between the Centre and the states.
  • Policy conflicts: Divergent political ideologies and policy priorities between the Centre and various states often result in disagreements over the implementation of national policies at the regional level.
2: Dimension-Required Measures
  • Minding one’s work: The Centre must maintain the monopoly of the national agenda. It must though let the States do their own work. The Concurrent List must be dismantled or at least shrunk and a new list that empowers local governments be instituted.
  • Decentralisation: The phraseology of and the need for decentralisation, delegation and devolution have appeared repeatedly in committees and commissions-including the Rajamanar (Centre-State Relations Inquiry) Committee, the Sarkaria Commission, the Administrative Reforms Commission and the 2010 report of the Inter-State Council on centre-state relations.
  • Modern approach: Indian Polity demands a modern approach to transformation-the induction of efficiency, accountability and outcome orientation

Constitutional Provision

  • In a federal structure it is critical that Union government responds to the needs of states and there is complete transparency and accountability in the functioning of both these organs.
  • However, the framers of the Constitution envisioned differences between the Centre and States owing to this quasi-federal structure and dual polity. And so they added the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for the resolution of such issues. 
  • Article 131 deals with the ‘original jurisdiction’ of the Supreme Court of India in any dispute that involves a ‘question of law or fact on which the existence of legal right depends’.
  • The National Development Council set up in 1952 and the Inter-State Council set up in 1990 under Article 263 are the two major arrangements to resolve Centre-State disputes and enhance cooperation.

Schedule VII of the Constitution

  • Central List: The Union government could legislate on items given in the Central List
  • State List: State could legislate for items in the State List.
  • Concurrent List: In the Concurrent List both could legislate but the Central legislation had overriding powers. Increasingly, the powers of the Centre have increased, with restriction on the state’s power to frame laws.
  • Under the 42nd amendment to the Constitution, five subjects including education and forests were transferred to the Concurrent List from the State List, thereby restricting the power of the state.


A recent study ‘Income and Wealth Inequality in India, 1922-2023: The Rise of the Billionaire Raj’ by the World Inequality Lab (WIL), presents facts about ‘inequality’.

Key-highlights of the Report

  • Income inequality:6% of India’s national income in 2022-23 went to the top 1%, the highest proportion in the last 100 years.
  • Wealth inequality: The share of the top 1% in wealth was as high as 40.1% in 2022-23, also its highest level since 1961.
    • The share of wealth among the top 10% increased from 45% in 1961 to 65% in 2022-23.
    • Conversely, the share of the bottom 50% and middle 40% in wealth has declined.
  • Wealth concentration: India’s wealth inequality is not as extreme as Brazil and South Africa, but its wealth concentration has already increased threefold between 1961 and 2023.
  • Additionally, with India’s income inequality being the world’s highest, higher than South Africa, Brazil and the United States of America, it will only add to wealth inequality in times to come.
1: Dimension- Growing inequality and Concerns
  • Negative impact on growth: Income inequality negatively affects growth and its sustainability. Growth is critical to the reduction of poverty; the greater the inequality, the lower the impact of growth on poverty reduction
  • Inverse relationship: There is an inverse relationship between the income share of the rich and economic growth. (IMF Study).
    • If the share of the top 20% of the population increases by 1 percentage point, GDP growth is actually 0.08 percentage points lower in the following five years, suggesting that the benefits do not trickle down.
    • Instead, a similar increase in the income share of the bottom 20% is associated with 0.38 percentage point higher growth.
  • Affected policy-making: The super-rich affect decisions by being in and out of the corridors of power.
  • Cut on public goods: The enhanced power of the elite could result in a more limited provision of public goods that boost productivity and growth, and which disproportionately benefit the poor.
  • Inequality dampens investment, and hence growth, by fuelling economic and political instability.
2: Dimension- Policies to reduce inequality
  • Pro-poor growth: There is need of growth strategies that generate non-farm jobs (and promote structural change). It would lead to pro-poor growth, which would also be inequality-reducing.
  • Absorption of labour: The government needs to work for the absorption of surplus labour from agriculture, but also the rising share of the formal workforce, with access to social insurance.
  • Social security: Employment is key for poverty reduction. But employment should come with old age pension, death/disability insurance and maternity benefits if sudden shocks are not to push informal workers into poverty. 
  • Progressive taxes: Progressive taxes on income, inheritance and property have been most effective in reducing inequality in industrialised countries. India’s Union government barely captures under 8% of the workforce in income tax; it does not have an inheritance tax and has abolished its wealth tax.
  • Property taxation (the responsibility of which lies with local governments) remains grossly inadequate and captures a minuscule portion of potential revenue.


In Rajasthan’s Shekhawati region, farmers are opting for innovations in traditional practices and adopted new techniques to turn their land into a profitable venture amid the decline in the groundwater level and erratic rainfall. 

Adopted techniques:

  • Solar power panel running pumps, slim polyethylene hoses for drip irrigation, uniformly spaced trees, jets shoot water mixed with fertilizer directly at the roots; climate-controlled greenhouses, rainwater harvesting techniques, establishment of climate-controlled polyhouse for growing vegetables, organic farming with the help of vermicompost
    • Sundaram Verma of Danta village has developed techniques to grow crops with less water and conserve water in the arid regions. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2020 for developing ‘dryland agroforestry’, a method to help tree plantation efforts.
  • Technology in Agriculture: Sensor Data Used for Smart Farming, Climate Smart Agriculture Mechanization Using Robotics, GPS Technology for Climate-Smart Agriculture, Drones for Climate-Smart Agriculture, Precision Agriculture

Benefits for the farmers

  • Increased income: The average income of farmers in the region, which was earlier about Rs 1 lakh per hectare in a year, has touched about Rs 8 lakh a year.
  • Increased sowing area: The expertise at the farmland has led to significant expansion in the sowing area for crops and vegetables, higher yield, and enhanced annual income per hectare of land.

Fact Box

Agriculture Statistics

  • Rajasthan is India’s largest state with 61% arid or semi-arid climate.
  • Rajasthan is India’s largest producer of mustard, with a 48% share in national output.
  • Despite being mostly arid, it is also the country’s largest producer of bajra (pearl millet), guar (cluster beans) and coarse cereals, apart from spices.

Steps taken by the Government in the Direction

  • AgriStack: AgriStack is a government initiative to build an ecosystem that facilitates the delivery of digital agriculture services, including responsible advisories and access to quality inputs. 
  • Digital Agriculture Mission: This has been initiated for 2021 -2025 by the government for projects based on new technologies like artificial intelligence, block chain, remote sensing and GIS technology, use of drones and robots etc.
  • Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM): Under this Scheme, subsidies are provided for purchase of various types of agricultural equipment and machinery.
  • Other Digital Initiatives: Kisan Call Centres, Kisan Suvidha App, Agri Market App, Soil Health Card (SHC) Portal, etc.


Russia and Ukraine have each accused the other of launching kamikaze drones at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.


  • The nuclear plant was captured in the early stages of the two-year-long war, and despite occasional efforts to reconnect to the Russian energy grid its reactors have gradually been put into shutdown.
  • Five out of six are in cold shutdown, where the reactors are running at a temperature below boiling point.
1: Dimension- Risks at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after drone attack
  • Constant threat: Fighting a war around a nuclear plant has put nuclear safety and security in constant jeopardy.
  • Direct risk from crash: The model of containment structure used in Zaporizhzia "exhibits vulnerabilities to the effects of an aircraft crash" and a fighter jet crashing downwards into the dome, where the structure is thinner, could penetrate it, causing concrete chunks and aircraft engine parts to fall inside.
  • Potential target: External power lines essential to cooling nuclear fuel in the reactors are a softer potential target. Cooling fuel even in reactors in cold shutdown is necessary to prevent a nuclear meltdown.
  • Risk of explosion: Pressurised water is used to transfer heat away from the reactors even when they are shut down, and pumped water is also used to cool down removed spent nuclear fuel from the reactors. Without enough water, or power to pump the water, the fuel could melt down and the zirconium cladding could release hydrogen, which can explode.
2: Dimension- Threats to dry spent fuel storage facility
  • Besides the reactors, there is also a dry spent fuel storage facility at the site for used nuclear fuel assemblies, and spent fuel pools at each reactor site that are used to cool down the used nuclear fuel.
  • Release of radioactive isotopes: Without water supply to the pools, the water evaporates and the temperatures increase, risking a fire that could release a number of radioactive isotopes.
    • An emission of hydrogen from a spent fuel pool caused an explosion at reactor 4 in Japan's Fukushima nuclear disasterin 2011.
  • Release of radionuclides: A meltdown of the fuel could trigger a fire or explosion that could release a plume of radionuclides into the air which could then spread over a large area.

Fact Box: Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

  • Location: Energodar, Ukraine
  • River: Dnieper River
  • Located on reservoir bank: Kakhovka reservoir
  • The Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant is located near the town of Enerhodar in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Ukraine.
  • It is situated on the Dnieper River, approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of the city of Zaporizhzhia.
  • Type: The Plant consists of six power units, and each unit is equipped with a specific type of reactor. The reactors at Zaporizhzhya are of the VVER (Water-Water Energetic Reactor) type, which is a pressurized water reactor (PWR) design.
  • The plant is just 500 km (300 miles) from the site of the world's worst nuclear accident, the 1986 Chornobyl disaster.
    • The Chornobyl accident spread Iodine-131, Caesium-134, Strontium-90 and Caesium-137 across parts of northern Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, northern and central Europe.


The main water supply to South Africa’s economic hub, greater Johannesburg in the Gauteng province, and to the country’s breadbasket in the Free State, is scheduled to be cut off for six months.

What is the Lesotho Highlands Water Project?

  • It is a large-scale water supply scheme in which water is diverted from the highlands of Lesotho to South Africa’s Free State and the greater Johannesburg area.
  • The project is designed to transfer over 1.27 billion cubic metres of water annually from Lesotho to South Africa, providing a vital water supply to the Gauteng region’s cities and industries.
  • Launched in 1998, it was developed in partnership with the governments of Lesotho and South Africa. It involved the construction of a series of dams, reservoirs and tunnels throughout Lesotho.
  • These all deliver water to the Vaal River system in South Africa.
  • The Lesotho Highlands Water Project is a lifeline to millions of South Africans. For example, it:
    • satisfies 60% of Gauteng’s water demand
    • supplies the irrigation water for commercial farms
    • supplies water to regions with irregular rainfall patterns and frequent drought
    • plays a role in public health by delivering clean water to millions of people
    • contributes to environmental conservation
  • The influx of fresh water helps reduce the acidity of the Vaal River reservoir, which has long been pollutedby industrial activity, sewage and gold mines.


Efforts are being made at global level to formalise AI regulations.

AI Regulation:

  • United Nations Resolution on Artificial Intelligence: It is the first global resolution on artificial intelligence to encourage the protection of personal data, the monitoring of AI for risks, and the safeguarding of human rights.
  • EU’s AI Act: TheEU recently passed the AI Act, the foremost law establishing rules and regulations governing AI systems. With its risk-based approach, the Act categorises systems into four categories, namely unacceptable, high, limited, and minimal risks, prescribing guidelines for each. The Act prescribes an absolute ban on applications that risk citizens’ rights, including manipulation of human behaviour, emotion recognition, mass surveillance etc. 
  • China’s AI Approach: China focuses on prompting AI tools and innovation with safeguards against any future harm to the nation’s social and economic goals. The country released, in phases, a regulatory framework addressing the following three issues —
    • content moderation
    • personal data protection
    • algorithmic governance
  • K.’s framework: The UK has adopted a principled and context-based approach in its ongoing efforts to regulate AI systems. The approach requires mandatory consultations with regulatory bodies, expanding its technical know-how and expertise in better regulating complex technologies while bridging regulatory gaps, if any.

India’s position

  • India AI mission: A Rs. 10,300 crore allocation was approved for the India AI mission to further its AI ecosystem through enhanced public-private partnerships and promote the start-up ecosystem.
  • Amongst other initiatives, the allocation would be used to deploy 10,000 Graphic Processing Units, Large Multi-Models (LMMs) and other AI-based research collaboration and efficient and innovative projects.

Fact Box

  • India currently caters to one of the largest consumer bases and labour forces for technology companies.
  • India will be home to over 10,000 deep tech start-ups by 2030. In this direction,


The findings of an international study suggest that consuming low glycaemic index and low glycaemic load diets might prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. They also found a strong association between glycaemic index (GI) and the risk of type 2 diabetes among individuals with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI).

What is the glycaemic index (GI)?

  • GI ranks carbohydrate-containing foods based on the blood glucose response, post-prandial or after a meal. The higher the blood sugar reading, the higher will be the GI. 
  • Glycaemic load (GL), on the other hand, is both the quality and quantity of carbohydrate in a specific food, and is the product of the GI and the amount of carbohydrate available in a serving.
    • High GI foods: sugar and sugary foods, sugary soft drinks, white bread, potatoes, white rice
    • Low and medium GI foods: some fruit and vegetables, pulses, wholegrain foods, such as porridge oats

Fact Box: Diabetes

  • Diabetes is a Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar, or glucose), or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin, it produces.
  • Insulin is a peptide hormone produced by beta cells of the pancreatic islets;
  • It is considered to be the main anabolic hormone of the body.
  • Type 2 diabetes is age-related; it often develops at the age of 45 and beyond.
  • Type 1 diabetes is largely genetic in nature, while Type 2 depends on the lifestyle of the individual.


The Indian Space Research Organisation’s PSLV-C58/XPoSat mission has practically left zero debris in earth’s orbit. The last stage of the Polar Satellite Launch vehicle (PSLV) used in the mission was transformed into a kind of orbital station- called the PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-3 (POEM-3), before it was left to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere instead of floating in orbit once its mission was completed.

What is POEM?

  • Developed by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) as an inexpensive space platform, POEM uses the spent fourth stage of a PSLV rocket as an orbital platform.
  • Used for the first time in the PSLV-C53 mission in 2022, ISRO had POEM orbit the earth as a stabilised platform to perform in-orbit scientific experiments with various payloads.
  • POEM is powered by solar panels mounted on the fuel tank of the rocket’s fourth stage and a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery.
  • It has a dedicated navigation, guidance, and control (NGC) system to stabilise its altitude along with helium control thrusters.
  • The NGC system has four Sun sensors, a magnetometer, and gyroscopes, and talks to ISRO’s NavIC satellite constellation for navigation.
  • POEM also has a telecommand system to communicate with the ground station.


 In a rare double-emergence of cicada broods, Brood 13, which emerges every 17 years, and Brood 19, which emerges every 13, are going to join together for the first time since 1803, in eastern United States.

What is a cicada?

  • Cicadas are large, robust insects, with transparent wings and large compound eyes.
  • They are known for their loud chirping and tendency to leave behind mounds of exoskeleton
  • They have a distinctive corrugated exoskeletal structure on the sides of their abdomen called a ‘tymbal’, and it’s this organ that produces the loud buzzing sound.
  • There are more than 3,000 species of cicada worldwide, which fall into roughly two categories:
    • Annual cicadas, which are spotted every year
    • Periodical cicadas, which spend most of their lives underground and only emerge once every decade or two.





Fiscal autonomy

Fiscal autonomy refers to the independence of any institution in deciding how to spend its resources without being constrained by external factors. 



Radioisotopes are radioactive isotopes of an element. Atoms that contain an unstable combination of neutrons and protons, or excess energy in their nucleus.



A radionuclide is an unstable element that emits high-energy ionizing radiation from the atomic nucleus.


Space junk

Space junk refers to fragments left behind in space. Most space junk is debris from rocket-launching material and disused satellites.



It is the process of breaking down the organic material with the help of earthworms. 


The Supreme Court of India has emphasized the need to protect lives and livelihoods in the face of climate change, framing it within the context of Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Recognition of Fundamental Rights:

  • Provision and relevance: The Supreme Court interprets the Right to Equality (Article 14) and Right to Life and Liberty (Article 21) expansively, emphasizing their relevance in the context of climate change.
  • Action time: It urges urgent action to mitigate the impacts of climate change, citing growing evidence of vulnerabilities and climate-related risks such as floods, heatwaves, and changing rainfall patterns.
  • Need to address: The Court's verdict underscores the importance of addressing climate change to ensure the realization of fundamental rights, particularly the right to a clean environment and the right to health.

Environmental Concerns and Policy Action:

  • Limited attention: Despite the mounting evidence of environmental degradation and climate change impacts, the political class shows limited attention to ecological issues, especially in election years.
  • Gap: There is a noticeable gap between judicial pronouncements, which highlight the link between environmental protection and human dignity, and actual policy implementation by governments.
  • Crisis episodes, such as extreme weather events and worsening air and water quality, expose the unpreparedness of India's cities, towns, and rural areas, raising questions about the adequacy of developmental endeavors in addressing ecological concerns.
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As India approaches elections, questions regarding the state of democracy in the country are being raised, with diverse perspectives on what constitutes democracy and its deliverables.

Perceptions of Democracy:

  • Perception of democracy: Democracy in India is perceived differently by various segments of society, with perspectives ranging from electoral processes to broader indicators such as freedom of expression, secularism, and institutional integrity.
  • Different lens: While many Indians view democracy through the lens of free and fair elections and functioning legislative and executive bodies, international agencies and liberal commentators highlight additional factors like civil liberties, institutional erosion, and constitutional values.
  • Core elements: Despite differing perceptions, the core elements of democracy include electoral processes, legislative governance, and executive implementation, with varying degrees of adherence and effectiveness.

Challenges and Reforms:

  • Inefficiency: Indian districts, characterized by administrative inefficiencies and governance gaps, exemplify the disconnect between democratic ideals and ground realities, with critical issues like water supply, healthcare, education, and environmental sustainability often overlooked.
  • Lack of community engagement, scientific rigor, and collective decision-making further hinders effective governance at both local and national levels, perpetuating systemic challenges and hindering progress.
  • Required solution: Addressing these challenges requires institutional reforms, enhanced public participation, and investment in education and information dissemination to empower citizens to engage meaningfully in the democratic process and hold elected representatives accountable.
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The Indian Army's decision to observe 2024 as the 'Year of Technology Absorption' underscores its strategic imperative to embrace technological advancements for military modernization and preparedness in the face of evolving threats and challenges.

Strategic Embrace of Disruptive Technologies:

  • Potential of technologies: The 'Year of Technology Absorption' initiative reflects the Indian Army's recognition of the transformative potential of disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and space technology.
  • Competitive edge: By prioritizing the absorption of these technologies, the Army aims to maintain a competitive edge over adversaries and enhance its capabilities to effectively counter emerging threats.
  • Self-reliance: This strategic focus on technology absorption aligns with the broader vision of Atmanirbharta, emphasizing self-reliance and indigenous development in defense technologies.

Integration with Legacy Systems:

  • Integration: The absorption of disruptive technologies entails the integration of cutting-edge innovations with existing legacy systems and military structures.
  • Complementing rather than replacing: Rather than replacing traditional weapon platforms, the emphasis lies on complementing them with new technologies to optimize operational efficiency and strategic effectiveness.
  • Seamless transition: This approach ensures continuity and synergy between established military doctrines and emerging technological advancements, facilitating a seamless transition towards a more technologically advanced force.
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