Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Historic ‘Sengol’ to be installed in new Parliament


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sengol

Mains level : Not Much


Central Idea

  • Prime Minister is set to install the ‘Sengol,’ a historical sceptre from Tamil Nadu, in the new Parliament building, which will be inaugurated on May 28, 2023.

What is Sengol?

  • Sengol is a historical sceptre that holds significant cultural and historical value in Tamil Nadu.
  • Derived from the Tamil word “Semmai,” meaning “Righteousness,” Sengol represents a symbol of justice and good governance.
  • In the Chola era, the transfer of power from one king to another was sanctified with the sceptre being handed over as a symbol of authority and the responsibility to rule with fairness and justice.
  • It gained prominence during the transfer of power from the British to the Indian people at the time of India’s independence.

History: Traditional Chola Practice and Symbolism

  • Historical Practice: The presentation of the Sengol aligns with a traditional Chola practice where Samayacharyas (spiritual leaders) led the coronation of kings, sanctifying the transfer of power and symbolically recognizing the ruler.
  • Symbol of Justice and Good Governance: The Sengol, a symbol of justice and good governance, holds cultural significance as recorded in ancient Tamil texts like Silapathikaram and Manimekalai.

Sengol’s recent context and creation

  • Lord Mountbatten’s Question: Prior to Independence, Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, asked Nehru about the ceremony that should symbolize the transfer of power.
  • Inspiration from Chola Dynasty: Rajagopalachari, the last Governor-General of India, suggested a ceremony from the Chola dynasty, where the transfer of power was sanctified and blessed by high priests.
  • Manufacturing the Sengol: Rajagopalachari approached Thiruvaduthurai Atheenam, a renowned Shaivite mutt in Tamil Nadu’s Tanjore district, which commissioned the creation of the Sengol from Chennai-based jewellers, “Vummidi Bangaru Chetty.”
  • Craftsmanship: Vummidi Ethirajulu and Vummidi Sudhakar skillfully crafted the five-foot-long Sengol, featuring a symbolic ‘Nandi’ bull representing justice.

Significance of the ‘Sengol’

  • Symbolic importance: Derived from the Tamil word “Semmai,” meaning “Righteousness,” the ‘Sengol’ represents a significant historical symbol of Independence.
  • Marks Transfer of Power: On August 14, 1947, Pandit Nehru, the first PM, received the ‘Sengol’ from the Adhinam of Tamil Nadu, marking the shift of power from the British to the Indian people.

The Handover Ceremony

  • Arrival of the Sengol: Three individuals, including the deputy high priest of the Adheenam, a Nadaswaram player, and an Oduvar (singer), brought the newly made Sengol from Tamil Nadu.
  • The Ceremony: On August 14, 1947, the Sengol was handed over to Lord Mountbatten during a procession, and later taken to Jawaharlal Nehru’s house, where it was officially presented to him.
  • Sacred Song and Attendees: A special song composed by the 7th-century Tamil saint Tirugnana Sambandar, as specified by the high priest, accompanied the ceremony. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India’s first president, and other dignitaries were present during the event.

Ceremonial Procession and Tamil Traditions

  • Grand Procession: The Sengol will be ceremoniously transported to the House in a grand procession.
  • Musical Ensemble: Traditional Nadaswaram musicians, playing Tamil Nadu’s iconic instrument, will lead the procession, and PM is expected to walk alongside them, embracing Tamil culture.
  • Adheenams and Sanctification: Adheenams, priests from Shaivite mutts in Tamil Nadu, will be present in the Lok Sabha’s Well. They will sanctify the Sengol with holy water after Prime Minister Modi greets them, honoring Tamil traditions.
  • Oduvars and Sacred Recitation: Tamil temple singers known as Oduvars will recite the “Kolaru Padhigam” lyrically, while the Nadaswaram musicians enchant with their soulful music.


  • The Sengol continues to be revered as a representation of India’s independence and serves as a tangible reminder of the country’s rich cultural heritage and the values it upholds.
  • Its installation in the new Parliament building further emphasizes its importance and aims to educate and inspire people about this historical event and the principles it embodies.


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Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

India to triple Supercomputing capabilities


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Supercomputing

Mains level : National Supercomputing Mission


Central Idea

  • India is set to significantly enhance its supercomputing capabilities by installing an 18-petaflop system this year.
  • This development aims to improve complex mathematical calculations, particularly in weather forecasting, by providing greater processing power and accuracy.

Understanding Supercomputers

  • A supercomputer is a high-performance computer capable of processing massive amounts of data at extraordinary speeds.
  • Performance is measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) rather than million instructions per second (MIPS).
  • Supercomputers have the ability to perform trillions (peta) of FLOPS.

India’s Journey in Supercomputing

  • India’s supercomputing journey began in the late 1980s when the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) was established in response to technology embargoes imposed by the United States.
  • Since then, India has steadily progressed, unveiling the PARAM 800 in 1991, which was the world’s second-fastest supercomputer at the time.
  • The National Supercomputing Mission (NSM), launched in 2015 with a budget of ₹4,500 crore, has been instrumental in propelling India’s supercomputing capabilities.
  • The mission aims to create a network of supercomputers across academic and research institutions in the country, supporting academia, researchers, MSMEs, and startups.

Current Supercomputing Infrastructure

  • India’s most powerful civilian supercomputers, Pratyush and Mihir, have a combined capacity of 6.8 petaflops.
  • Pratyush is located at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune, while Mihir is housed at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) in Noida.
  • These supercomputers became operational in 2018 after an investment of ₹438 crore.
  • Both institutions are affiliated with the MoES.

Acquisition of New Supercomputers

  • The new supercomputers, sourced from French corporation ATOS, were procured as part of a deal signed between the Indian and French governments in December 2018.
  • The Government aims to acquire high-performance computers worth ₹4,500 crore by 2025, with an estimated cost of ₹900 crore for the new earth-sciences Ministry computers.

Enhanced Capabilities and Future Outlook

  • Upgrading the supercomputing systems every 4-5 years is essential to improve performance.
  • The new system will enhance resolution from the current 12×12 km to 6×6 km, providing greater clarity and accuracy in local weather forecasts.
  • The ultimate goal is to represent areas using 1 km-square grids, enabling the prediction of rapidly evolving weather phenomena such as cloudbursts.
  • The current fastest high-performance computing system in the world is the Frontier-Cray system at Oakridge National Laboratory in the United States, with a peak speed of 1 exa-flop (equivalent to 1,000 petaflops).

Way forward

To further enhance India’s supercomputing capabilities and maintain technological advancements, the following steps can be considered:

  • Continued investment in research and development to stay at the forefront of supercomputing technology.
  • Collaboration with international partners and organizations to leverage global expertise.
  • Encouraging academia, researchers, MSMEs, and startups to utilize the supercomputing infrastructure for scientific breakthroughs and innovation.
  • Strengthening the National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) by expanding its network and providing adequate resources.
  • Regularly upgrading supercomputing systems to keep up with evolving computational demands and maintain competitiveness on a global scale.

Also in news

Recently, India’s AI Supercomputer ‘AIRAWAT’ has been ranked at No. 75 in the world at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC 2023) in Germany.

About Airawat

  • The supercomputer ‘AIRAWAT’ has recently been named in the 61st edition of the Top 500 Global Supercomputing List.
  • Installed at C-DAC in Pune, ‘AIRAWAT’ is an AI supercomputer implemented under the National Program on AI by the Government of India.
  • The manufacturer of ‘AIRAWAT’ is Netweb Technologies.
  • ‘AIRAWAT’ PSAI stands out as India’s largest and fastest AI supercomputing system, boasting an impressive speed of 13,170 teraflops.

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Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

73% projects completed under Smart Cities Mission


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Smart Cities Mission

Mains level : Urban transformation initiatives

Smart Cities Mission

Central Idea

  • The Union Urban Affairs Ministry announced that significant progress has been made under the Smart Cities Mission, with more than 90% of the allocated funds being utilized and 73% of the projects already completed.

Why discuss this?

  • The projects were supposed to be completed within five years of the selection of the city.
  • However, in 2021 the Ministry changed the deadline for all cities to June 2023, which was earlier the deadline for Shillong alone.

What is Smart Cities Mission?

  • The Smart Cities Mission is an initiative of the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry that was launched by PM on June 25, 2015.
  • Cities across the country were asked to submit proposals for projects to improve municipal services and to make their jurisdictions more liveable.
  • Between January 2016 and June 2018 (when the last city, Shillong, was chosen), the Ministry selected 100 cities for the Mission over five rounds.

How does it work?

  • Each smart city has created a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) responsible for planning, appraising, approving, releasing funds, implementing, and managing, operating, monitoring, and evaluating development projects.
  • The SPV is led by a full-time CEO and includes nominees from the Central and State governments, as well as the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) on its Board.

Monitoring and Reporting

  • The implementation of the SCM is overseen by an Apex Committee, led by the Secretary of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • The committee utilizes the Real Time Geographical Management Information System (GMIS) to provide regular reports on project progress.

Features of the mission

  • Smart Infrastructure: Upgrading urban systems, including transportation, water, and waste management.
  • E-Governance: Digital platforms for transparent government services and citizen engagement.
  • Smart Solutions: Integration of IoT and data analytics to optimize urban systems.
  • Sustainability: Green initiatives, renewable energy, and eco-friendly practices.
  • Social and Economic Development: Affordable housing, healthcare, and fostering entrepreneurship.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: Utilizing data for evidence-based planning and resource allocation.

Progress status

(1) Funds Utilization

  • As of May 1, a total of ₹38,400 crore was released for the Smart Cities Mission.
  • Out of this amount, ₹35,261 crore has already been utilized for various projects.
  • The utilization of funds accounts for over 90% of the allocated budget.

(2) Project Completion

  • The Smart Cities Mission encompasses approximately 7,800 projects, valued at ₹1.8 lakh crore.
  • Among these projects, more than 5,700, valued at ₹1.1 lakh crore, have been completed.
  • The remaining projects are expected to be completed by June 30, 2024.
  • Currently, only 22 out of the 100 designated cities have successfully concluded all projects under the mission.


  • By emphasizing effective funds utilization and project completion, the government intends to transform cities into smarter, more sustainable, and citizen-centric urban spaces.


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Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Study reveals unique Nervous System in Comb Jellies


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Comb Jellies, Neurons, Neural Network

Mains level : Not Much


Central Idea

  • Comb jellies, or ctenophores, are marine animals with jelly-like bodies and iridescent combs.
  • They represent an ancient animal lineage and have a distinct nervous system.
  • A recent study published in Science examined the comb jelly nervous system and made surprising discoveries.

What are Comb Jellies?

  • Comb jellies, also known as ctenophores, are marine animals that belong to the phylum Ctenophora. They are fascinating creatures with a unique and delicate appearance.
  • Despite their name, comb jellies are not actually true jellyfish.
  • They have a gelatinous, transparent body that is often luminescent and adorned with rows of cilia, or comb-like structures, which give them their characteristic shimmering appearance.

Findings of the new study

  • The researchers aimed to investigate how nerve net neurons in comb jellies connect.
  • Contrary to expectations, synapses (junctions between neurons) were absent in the nerve net.
  • Instead, nerve-net neurons were continuously connected by a single plasma membrane.

Significance of ctenophores

  • In the 1950s, electron microscopy confirmed the separate-cell nature of neurons connected by synapses.
  • Ctenophores challenge this notion by having a syncytial nerve net, as observed in the new study.
  • Ctenophores attracted attention due to their status as a potential early animal lineage.
  • Whole-genome sequencing studies supported the theory that ctenophores branched off early in animal evolution.

Evolution of ctenophore nervous systems

  • The evolution of ctenophore nervous systems remains unclear to biologists.
  • Leonid Moroz proposed a controversial theory of independent nervous system evolution in ctenophores and other animals.
  • Ctenophores exhibit a unique nervous system lacking classical neurotransmitter pathways and common neuronal genes.
  • The absence of muscle-based movement and reliance on cilia might have driven the evolution of a different signal conduction system.

Questions for further research

  • Researchers aim to study the development of nerve net neurons in ctenophores.
  • They seek to determine if adult ctenophores retain syncytial nerve nets or develop synapses.
  • The uniqueness of ctenophore nervous systems provides valuable insights into the evolution of the nervous system.
  • Comparative analyses of unique animal systems like ctenophores aid in understanding neuronal function and treating disorders.


  • Understanding the functional and evolutionary significance of syncytial nerve net neurons in ctenophores requires further research.
  • This study serves as a crucial foundation for investigating the evolution of nervous systems in animals.
  • Comparative studies on small marine creatures like ctenophores offer insights into the fundamental principles of brain function.

Key Terminologies

  • Ctenophores: Another term for comb jellies, referring to marine animals belonging to the phylum Ctenophora.
  • Nerve Net: The diffuse nervous system found in comb jellies, composed of interconnected neurons.
  • Synapses: Junctions between neurons that allow for communication and transmission of signals in most animals, including humans.
  • Plasma Membrane: The outer membrane of a cell that separates its internal components from the external environment.
  • Neurotransmitter Pathways: The specific chemical signals used by neurons to communicate with each other in the nervous system.
  • Syncytial Nerve Net Neurons: Neurons within the nerve net of comb jellies that are interconnected without the presence of synapses.
  • Colloblasts: Specialized cells in comb jellies used for capturing prey by producing adhesive substances.

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Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

What is PARAKH Program?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PARAKH

Mains level : Curriculum harmonization

Central Idea

  • The Ministry of Education has organized a workshop in New Delhi to discuss the unification of 60 school examination boards operating across different states and union territories.
  • The key component of this plan is PARAKH, the National Assessment Centre established under the National Council of Educational Research and Training.

What is PARAKH?

  • PARAKH stands for Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development.
  • It is an organization created to bring school boards from various states and union territories onto a unified platform.
  • It has been launched as part of the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP)-2020.
  • It acts as a constituent unit of the NCERT.
  • It is tasked with holding periodic learning outcome tests like the National Achievement Survey (NAS) and State Achievement Surveys.
  • It will work on three major assessment areas: large-scale assessments, school-based assessment, and examination reforms.

Key objectives of PARAKH

  • Uniform Norms & Guidelines: Setting comprehensive norms, standards, and guidelines for student assessment and evaluation in all recognized school boards.
  • Enhance Assessment Pattern: Encouraging school boards to adopt assessment patterns aligned with the skill requirements of the 21st century.
  • Reduce Disparity in Evaluation: Establishing uniformity across state and central boards, which currently employ different evaluation standards, resulting in significant score disparities.
  • Benchmark Assessment: Developing a benchmark assessment framework to move away from rote learning and align with the objectives of the NEP 2020.

Outcomes of the recent workshop

(1) Establishing Equivalence of Boards

  • The Centre is planning for the equivalence of boards to facilitate seamless transitions for students across different boards or regions.
  • The objective is to align curriculum standards, grading systems, and evaluation methodologies to enhance the credibility and recognition of certificates and grades obtained across boards.

(2) Moving away from Rote Examination Culture

  • The workshop highlighted the need to reassess the prevailing rote examination culture in the education system.
  • There is a growing realization that holistic assessments, considering various dimensions of a student’s abilities and potential, are equally important.

(3) Standardization and Fairness in Assessments

  • The discussion emphasized the importance of well-designed and standardized question papers to ensure fairness and consistency across schools and boards.
  • Striking a balance between formative and summative assessments was identified as a means to reduce the burden of high-stakes examinations while effectively measuring student progress.


  • PARAKH’s significance lies in its potential to bring about transformative change, facilitating collaboration, and benchmarking assessments.
  • It is an important step towards creating a standardized and equitable assessment system, providing students with a fair platform to demonstrate their abilities and skills.


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Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Did Neanderthals shape our noses?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Neanderthals , Read the attached story

Mains level : Evolutionary features of Humans


Central Idea

  • The human nose has historical and cultural importance beyond its practical functions.
  • Different societies have their own standards of beauty related to nose shape and proportion.
  • The nose is significant in art, literature, and remnants of ancient civilizations.

Who were the Neanderthals?

Time Period Lived approximately 400,000 to 40,000 years ago during the Middle Paleolithic and Late Pleistocene epochs
Physical Appearance Robust build with a barrel-shaped chest, shorter limbs, and distinctive anatomical features such as pronounced brow ridges and a projecting mid-face
Tools and Technology Skilled toolmakers who used a variety of tools made from stone, bone, and antler
Culture and Behavior Complex social structures and likely lived in small groups or bands, exhibited advanced hunting techniques, made use of fire, and engaged in symbolic expressions through personal ornamentation and cave art
Adaptation to Environments Adapted to cold and temperate environments, had robust bodies, large noses, and other physiological characteristics were advantageous for survival in harsh conditions
Interactions with Modern Humans Interbred with early modern humans who migrated out of Africa. As a result, some individuals today carry a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA in their genomes, particularly in non-African populations
Extinction Around 40,000 years ago
Scientific Significance Closest extinct relatives, and understanding their anatomy, behavior, and interactions with modern humans helps reconstruct our shared past

Genetic association study on Human Nose

  • A recent study used 2D images and automated measurements of facial landmarks to conduct a genetic association study.
  • The study involved over 6,000 Latin American individuals and identified 42 new genetic loci associated with the human nose.
  • Some of these loci, including 1q32.3, were replicated in other populations like Asians, Europeans, and Africans.

Role of Neanderthal Genes and ATF3 Gene

  • The genetic locus 1q32.3, associated with midface height, has contributions from Neanderthals.
  • The ATF3 gene, located in this locus, is regulated by FOXL2, which is involved in skull and face development.
  • Changes in nose shape may have evolutionary implications, helping humans adapt to different climates.

Neanderthal Genomes and Human Traits

  • Genomic loci from Neanderthals and Denisovans have influenced various traits and diseases in modern humans.
  • Evidence suggests these genomic contributions affect pathogen response, skin conditions, blood conditions, cancers, and mental health.
  • Understanding the genetic interactions between archaic and modern human genomes aids in comprehending genetic diversity and adaptability.

Human Origins and Interbreeding

  • Human migrations out of Africa, interbreeding with Neanderthals and Denisovans, and extinct archaic hominids have shaped human traits.
  • Recent studies highlight that early humans diverged in Africa from multiple ancestral roots, with varying degrees of genetic components from archaic humans in different populations.

Implications and Future Research

  • Studying the interbreeding event and its consequences deepens our understanding of genetic heritage.
  • The knowledge gained could lead to new avenues for disease study, treatment, and appreciation of human genetic diversity.
  • Continued research on the interplay between archaic and modern human genomes is an exciting frontier in genomics.


Key Terminologies

Loci/Locus: The position of a specific gene on a chromosome.

Introgression: The transfer of genetic information between different species or populations through interbreeding.

Neanderthals: Archaic hominids closely related to modern humans, believed to have interbred with early humans.

Denisovans: A subspecies of archaic humans who lived until around 30,000 years ago.

Genomic Loci: Specific locations on chromosomes associated with certain traits or characteristics.


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Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

Radiometric Dating using Calcium-41       


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Radiometric Dating , Calcium 41

Mains level : Not Much

Central Idea: A recent study has shown that Calcium-41 can be used in a similar way as Carbon-14 in carbon dating, but with several advantages.

Carbon Dating and its limitations

  • Carbon-14 is an unstable and weakly radioactive isotope of carbon.
  • It has a half-life of 5,700 years and is used to estimate the age of carbon-based materials.
  • Radiocarbon dating provides objective age estimates for materials from living organisms.
  • Carbon-14 cannot determine the age of objects older than approximately 50,000 years.
  • Three techniques are used to measure carbon-14 content: gas proportional counting, liquid scintillation counting, and accelerator mass spectrometry.

Introducing Calcium-41

  • Calcium-41 is a rare long-lived radioisotope of calcium with a half-life of 99,400 years.
  • It is produced through cosmic ray interactions in the soil and is found in the Earth’s crust.
  • Calcium-41 occurs less frequently than carbon-14.

Method used: Atom Trap Trace Analysis (ATTA)

  • ATTA is a technique proposed by researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China.
  • It is based on laser manipulation and detection of neutral atoms.
  • The sample is vaporized, and the atoms are laser-cooled and loaded into a light and magnetic field cage.
  • By tuning the laser’s frequency, Calcium-41 atoms can be detected through electron transitions.

Significance and Applications

  • ATTA can detect one Calcium-41 atom in every 10^16 calcium atoms in seawater with 12% precision.
  • It is selective and avoids confusion with potassium-41 atoms.
  • ATTA can be adapted to study other isotopes, such as argon-39, krypton-81, and krypton-85.
  • The applications of ATTA and Calcium-41 include dating rocks covered by ice and exploring Earth-science applications.


Also read:

What is Carbon Dating? How does it work?


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Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Understanding a Human Pangenome Map


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Human Pangenome Map

Mains level : Genetic studies


Central Idea

  • A study published in the Nature journal presents a pangenome reference map built using genomes from 47 anonymous individuals.
  • The individuals included in the study are from various regions, including Africa, the Caribbean, Americas, East Asia, and Europe.

Understanding Genomes and Reference Genomes

  • The genome refers to the collection of all genes and regions between genes found in our chromosomes.
  • Each chromosome is composed of millions of nucleotides (A, T, G, and C) arranged in different combinations.
  • Genome sequencing helps understand genetic diversity and susceptibility to diseases.
  • A reference genome is a map used to compare newly sequenced genomes and identify differences.
  • The first reference genome, created in 2001, had limitations and did not represent human diversity accurately.

What is Pangenome Map?

  • The new study focuses on building a pangenome map, which is a graph representing genetic diversity among individuals.
  • Pangenome maps use long-read DNA sequencing technologies to assemble sequences accurately.

Importance of Pangenome Map

  • Although humans are more than 99% similar in their DNA, there is still a 0.4% difference between individuals.
  • A complete and error-free pangenome map helps understand genetic differences and human diversity.
  • It aids in identifying genetic variants linked to health conditions, such as the discovery of 150 new genes associated with autism.
  • The current pangenome map lacks representation from certain populations, including Indians.

Implications for Indian Genomes

  • The pangenome map, despite not including Indian genomes, will assist in mapping Indian genomes against existing reference genomes.
  • Future pangenome maps with Indian genome data will provide insights into disease prevalence, rare gene discovery, diagnostic methods, and drug development.


Key Terminologies

Genome: The complete set of genes and regions between genes in an organism.

Reference Genome: A map used to compare newly sequenced genomes and identify differences.

Pangenome: A graph representing genetic diversity among individuals rather than a linear sequence.

Nucleotides: The building blocks of DNA (A, T, G, C).

Long-Read DNA Sequencing: A technology that produces longer and contiguous DNA strands for more accurate sequencing.


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History- Important places, persons in news

In news: Neh Pema Shelphu Shrine


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Neh Pema Shelphu Shrine

Mains level : NA

neh pema

Central Idea

  • The landowner of a disputed area in Arunachal Pradesh has demanded either compensation from Army for a land where Army has built Gurdwara near the Neh Pema Shelphu Shrine.

Neh Pema Shelphu Shrine

  • It is a holy shrine located in the Mechukha Valley of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It holds significant religious importance for the local Memba Buddhist community.
  • The shrine is believed to have been sanctified by Guru Padmasambhava, a prominent figure in Tibetan Buddhism, during his exploration of the area in the 8th century AD.
  • It has been a place of worship and pilgrimage for the Memba people since 1274 AD, according to historical records.
  • It attracts hundreds of Buddhists who visit the shrine annually during a pilgrimage in March.

Why in news?

  • The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee claimed the shrine associated with Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh Guru, in Arunachal Pradesh has been turned into a Buddhist shrine.



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Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

What are Global Depository Receipts (GDRs)?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Global Depository Receipts (GDRs)

Mains level : Not Much

Central Idea: Tata Consumer Products has announced its decision to delist its global depository receipts (GDRs) from the London Stock Exchange and Luxembourg Stock Exchange.

What are GDRs?

  • GDRs are financial instruments used by companies to raise capital from international investors.
  • They represent a bundle of shares in the company and are typically listed and traded on international stock exchanges.
  • GDRs provide a way for companies to access global capital markets and attract investments from foreign investors without directly listing their shares on multiple stock exchanges around the world.

GDR Regulation in India

  • In India, GDRs can be issued by Indian companies that meet the eligibility criteria set by the SEBI.
  • SEBI sets guidelines and regulations for companies wishing to issue GDRs typically include the following:
  1. Listing: The company must be listed on a recognized stock exchange in India.
  2. Track Record: The company should have a track record of profitability for a certain period as specified by SEBI.
  3. Good Corporate Governance: The company must comply with corporate governance norms and disclose relevant financial and non-financial information.
  4. Regulatory Compliance: The company must comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including those related to securities and foreign exchange.
  5. Approval from Regulatory Authorities: The company needs to obtain necessary approvals from SEBI and other relevant authorities for the issuance of GDRs.

Need for GDR

  • Capital Raising: GDRs offer a means for companies to raise capital from international investors, helping them finance investments, expansion projects, acquisitions, or debt repayment.
  • Global Investor Base: GDRs allow companies to access a diverse range of international investors, including institutional investors, hedge funds, and retail investors, thereby expanding their shareholder base.
  • Cost Efficiency: GDRs can be a cost-effective alternative to traditional methods of listing shares on multiple exchanges, as they enable companies to tap into global capital markets without the need for separate listings in different countries.
  • Simplified Trading and Settlement: GDRs facilitate easy trading and settlement for international investors, as they eliminate the need to navigate local market regulations and procedures.
  • Risk Mitigation: GDRs can provide a degree of risk mitigation for companies by reducing their exposure to local market fluctuations and volatility, as they offer access to a more diversified investor base.
  • Arbitrage Opportunities: GDRs can create arbitrage opportunities for investors who can exploit price discrepancies between the GDRs and the underlying shares listed on the domestic stock exchange.

Benefits offered

  • Access to Global Capital: GDRs enable Indian companies to access a larger pool of international capital and diversify their funding sources beyond domestic markets.
  • Increased Liquidity: Listing GDRs on international exchanges provides Indian companies with broader exposure and enhances the liquidity of their shares, as they become accessible to a wider range of investors.
  • Enhanced Global Visibility: GDRs help raise the profile of Indian companies on a global scale, increasing their visibility and attracting the attention of international investors and analysts.
  • Currency Diversification: GDRs can also provide an opportunity for Indian companies to diversify their exposure to foreign currencies, as GDRs are often denominated in a currency other than the company’s home currency.


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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Arsenic Contamination in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Arsenic Poisoning

Mains level : Not Much


Central Idea: A recent peer-reviewed study suggests that even low levels of arsenic consumption can affect cognitive function in children, adolescents, and young adults.

Arsenic Contamination

  • Arsenic is a highly toxic element naturally present in the environment.
  • Contaminated water, particularly groundwater, is a major source of arsenic exposure.
  • Long-term arsenic exposure can lead to various health issues, including cancer, skin lesions, cardiovascular disease, and negative impacts on cognitive development.

Menace in India

  • Arsenic contamination in groundwater is one of the most crippling issues in the drinking water scenario of India.
  • According to the latest report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), 21 states across the country have pockets with arsenic levels higher than the BIS stipulated permissible limit of 0.01 milligram per litre (mg/l).
  • The states along the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river basin — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam — are the worst affected by this human-amplified geogenic occurrence.
  • In India, arsenic contamination was first officially confirmed in West Bengal in 1983.
  • Close to four decades after its detection, the scenario has worsened.
  • About 9.6 million people in West Bengal, 1.6 million in Assam, 1.2 million in Bihar, 0.5 million in Uttar Pradesh and 0.013 million in Jharkhand are at immediate risk from arsenic contamination in groundwater.

Key findings of the recent study

(1) Arsenic impact on behaviour

  • The study found that individuals exposed to arsenic had reduced grey matter and weaker connections within key regions of the brain associated with cognitive functions.
  • Chronic exposure to arsenic could have significant consequences at a population level, leading to increased school failures, diminished economic productivity, and higher risks of criminal and antisocial behavior.

(2) Arsenic Exposure and Socioeconomic Factors

  • As previous studies have shown, arsenic exposure is particularly harmful to the poor.
  • The recent study reaffirms that economically and nutritionally disadvantaged individuals experience greater cognitive impairment from arsenic exposure.
  • The impact of arsenic on impairing cognition is more pronounced at a collective level rather than at an individual level.

Government Initiatives to address Arsenic Contamination

  • Governments in Bihar and West Bengal have taken steps to address arsenic contamination since the 1990s.
  • Strategies include promoting piped water access, installing arsenic removal plants, and encouraging groundwater extraction from deeper aquifers with lower arsenic levels.
  • The goal is to minimize arsenic exposure and mitigate its health impacts in affected regions.

Possible solutions

Some of the management options include

  • Uses of surface water sources
  • Exploring and harnessing alternate arsenic-free aquifer
  • Removal of arsenic from groundwater using arsenic treatment plants/filters
  • Adopting rainwater harvesting/ watershed management practices.


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Banking Sector Reforms

Credit cards put under Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS)

Mains level : Not Much

Central Idea: The Centre has amended rules under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) Rules, bringing international credit card spends under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS).

Changes introduced

  • Credit card spends outside India now fall under the LRS, allowing for the application of a higher TCS rate.
  • The amendment removes the exclusion of credit card transactions from the LRS, which was previously covered under Rule 7 of the Foreign Exchange Management (Current Account Transaction) Rules, 2000.
  • The changes do not apply to payments for the purchase of foreign goods/services from India.

What is Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS)?

  • LRS is a facility provided by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to resident individuals to remit funds abroad for permitted current or capital account transactions or a combination of both.
  • The scheme was introduced in 2004 and has been periodically reviewed and revised by the RBI.
  • Under the scheme, resident individuals can remit up to a certain amount in a financial year for permissible transactions including education, travel, medical treatment, gifts, and investments in equity and debt securities, among others.
  • The limit for LRS is currently set at USD 250,000 per financial year.

Eligibility for LRS

  • LRS is open to everyone including non-residents, NRIs, persons of Indian origin (PIOs), foreign citizens with PIO status and foreign nationals of Indian origin.
  • The Scheme is NOT available to corporations, partnership firms, Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), Trusts etc.

Benefits provided by LRS

  • LRS is an easy process that anyone can use to transfer money between two countries.
  • It’s especially useful for businesses because they can use it to transfer funds to India, and investors can receive their investments back home.
  • LRS also has some added benefits, like fast transfer timing and no issues with exchange rates.

Concerns with credit card spends

  • The amendment aims to achieve parity between the usage of credit and debit cards, which were already covered under the LRS.
  • Instances of disproportionately high LRS payments compared to disclose incomes prompted the amendment.
  • Business visits of employees, where costs are borne by the employer, are not covered under the LRS.
  • The data collected from major money remitters under the LRS indicated that international credit cards were being issued with limits exceeding the prescribed norm.

Exclusions and impact of the Scheme

  • The government assured that the LRS scheme would not cover genuine business visits abroad by employees.
  • The imposition of a 20% tax collection on source (TCS) for foreign remittances would primarily affect tour travel packages, gifts to non-residents, and domestic high net-worth individuals investing in assets like real estate, bonds, and stocks outside India.
  • The Ministry emphasized that the 5% TCS levied on medical or education expenses abroad, allowed up to ₹7 lakh per year, and would remain unchanged.



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RBI Notifications

RBI regulations on Green Deposits


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Green Deposits

Mains level : Not Much

Central Idea: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has introduced a regulatory framework to govern the acceptance of green deposits by banks, ensuring transparency and accountability in their investments.

What are Green Deposits?

  • Green deposits are financial products offered by banks that are similar to regular deposits, but the money received is specifically earmarked for environmentally friendly projects.
  • These deposits support projects aimed at combating climate change, such as renewable energy initiatives, while avoiding investments in activities that harm the environment, like fossil fuel projects.
  • They are part of a broader range of financial products, including green bonds and green shares that enable investors to contribute to environmentally sustainable projects.

Regulatory framework for accepting Green Deposits

  • The RBI’s framework mandates that banks establish a set of rules or policies, approved by their respective Boards, to guide the investment of green deposits.
  • These rules must be made public on the banks’ websites, ensuring transparency and enabling customers to make informed decisions.
  • Banks are required to disclose information on the amount of green deposits received, how these funds are allocated to different green projects, and the environmental impact of such investments.
  • To verify the banks’ claims and the sustainability credentials of the projects, a third-party is appointed to conduct independent verification.

Sectors eligible for green deposits

  • The RBI has identified a list of sectors classified as sustainable, which are eligible to receive green deposits.
  • These sectors include renewable energy, waste management, clean transportation, energy efficiency, and afforestation.
  • Banks are prohibited from investing green deposits in sectors considered detrimental to the environment, such as fossil fuels, nuclear power, tobacco, gambling, palm oil, and hydropower generation.

Addressing greenwashing

  • Greenwashing refers to the practice of making misleading claims about the positive environmental impact of an activity or investment.
  • The RBI’s regulatory framework aims to prevent greenwashing in the banking sector by ensuring that the actual impact of green deposits is accurately represented.
  • By requiring transparency, disclosure, and third-party verification, the framework aims to protect customers from deceptive practices and ensure genuine environmental benefits.

Impact and controversies

  • Depositors who prioritize environmental concerns may find satisfaction in investing their money in environmentally sustainable products like green deposits.
  • However, some critics argue that green investment products may primarily serve to make investors feel good without generating significant environmental benefits.
  • Additionally, the range of projects available for investment through green deposits may be limited, posing challenges in achieving broad environmental impact.

Key challenge: Assessing environmental sustainability

  • Evaluating the true environmental sustainability of a project can be challenging in a complex world with interconnected systems and second-order effects that are difficult to anticipate.
  • It is essential to consider the indirect consequences and long-term effects of actions to determine if a project genuinely contributes to environmental sustainability.
  • Uncertainty surrounding the actual environmental impact of green projects highlights the need for rigorous evaluation and ongoing monitoring to ensure the desired outcomes are achieved.



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Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

Quantum Biology: Unveiling the Quantum Secrets of Life


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Quantum Biology

Mains level : Not Much


Central Idea: The article introduces the concept of quantum biology, which explores the influence of quantum effects on living systems.

Nature and Quantum Mechanics

  • Quantum effects refer to phenomena that occur between atoms and molecules that cannot be explained by classical physics.
  • Quantum mechanics, which governs the behavior of objects at atomic scales, differs from classical mechanics, leading to counterintuitive phenomena like particle tunnelling and superposition.

Quantumness in Biology

  • Quantum biology is an emerging field that explores the role of quantum mechanics in biological processes and living systems.
  • It investigates how quantum phenomena and effects, which typically occur at atomic and subatomic scales, influence and contribute to the functioning and behavior of biological systems.
  • It aims to uncover and understand the quantum nature of biological molecules, processes, and interactions.
  • It seeks to study how quantum mechanics may impact various biological phenomena such as photosynthesis, enzyme reactions, and navigation in birds.

Evidence of Quantum Effects in Biology

  • Research on chemical reactions in biomolecules like proteins and genetic material suggests the influence of quantum effects.
  • Nanoscopic quantum effects can drive macroscopic physiological processes, including enzyme activity, sensing magnetic fields, cell metabolism, and electron transport.

Studying Quantum Biology

  • Studying quantum effects in biology requires tools to measure short time scales, small length scales, and subtle differences in quantum states.
  • Researchers can apply tailored magnetic fields to control the spins of electrons, influencing physiological processes that respond to magnetic fields.

Potential applications

  • Therapeutic devices: Understanding and fine-tuning quantum properties in nature could lead to non-invasive, remotely controlled therapeutic devices accessible through mobile phones.
  • Bio-manufacturing: Electromagnetic treatments based on quantum principles could be used for disease prevention and treatment, such as brain tumors, as well as in bio-manufacturing.

Scope quantum biology’ study

  • Multi-disciplinary: Quantum biology is an interdisciplinary field that brings together researchers from various disciplines, including quantum physics, biophysics, medicine, chemistry, and biology.
  • Many applications: Collaboration and cross-disciplinary research are crucial for advancing quantum biology and unlocking its transformative potential in biology, medicine, and technology.


Facts for Prelims

Superposition: A quantum phenomenon where particles can exist in multiple states simultaneously until measured or observed, in contrast to classical physics where objects have definite properties.

Spins: Quantum properties of electrons that define their interaction with magnetic fields, analogous to the way charge defines their interaction with electric fields.

Deterministic Codebook: A comprehensive understanding of the relationship between quantum causes and physiological outcomes, providing a guide for mapping quantum phenomena to specific biological effects.


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Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

DoT develops Facial Recognition Tool ‘ASTR’


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ASTR, AI

Mains level : Not Much


Central Idea: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has developed an artificial-intelligence-based facial recognition tool called Artificial Intelligence and Facial Recognition powered Solution for Telecom SIM Subscriber Verification (ASTR).

What is ASTR?

  • ASTR is designed to check subscriber databases of telecom operators to identify multiple connections associated with the same person.
  • The goal of ASTR is to detect and block fraudulent mobile connections, thereby reducing cyber frauds.

Development of ASTR

  • In 2012, DoT issued an order requiring telecom operators to share their subscriber database, including users’ pictures, with the department.
  • These images serve as the core database for facial recognition using ASTR.
  • The ASTR project was conceptualized and designed by the DoT’s unit in Haryana between April 2021 and July 2021.
  • A pilot project was conducted in Haryana’s Mewat region to test the feasibility of ASTR, where a significant number of fraudulent SIMs were detected.

How ASTR works?

  • ASTR uses convolutional neural network (CNN) models to encode human faces in subscribers’ images, accounting for various factors like face tilt, angle, image opaqueness, and dark color.
  • A face comparison is performed for each face against all faces in the database, grouping similar faces under one directory.
  • ASTR considers two faces to be identical if they match to a minimum extent of 97.5%.
  • It can detect all SIMs associated with a suspected face within 10 seconds from a database of 1 crore (10 million) images.
  • After matching faces, ASTR’s algorithm utilizes “fuzzy logic” to find approximate matches for subscriber names, considering variations, typographical errors, and related results.

Impact and Results

  • In the first phase, ASTR analyzed over 87 crore (870 million) mobile connections and detected more than 40 lakh (4 million) cases of people using a single photograph to obtain multiple connections.
  • After verification, over 36 lakh (3.6 million) connections were discontinued by telecom operators.
  • The list of fraudulent connections is also shared with banks, payment wallets, and social media platforms to disengage these numbers from their respective platforms.
  • WhatsApp collaborated with the government to disable accounts created using such numbers, and similar efforts are being made with other social media platforms.

Facts for Prelims

Convolutional Neural Network (CNN): A type of deep learning algorithm commonly used for image recognition tasks, where it extracts features and patterns from images by applying convolution operations.

Fuzzy Logic: A form of logic that deals with approximate or qualitative reasoning rather than strict binary true/false values. In the context of ASTR, it is used to find similarity or approximate matches for subscriber names, accounting for variations and typographical errors.



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Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

India’s export of Russian oil to West


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vacuum gas oil (VGO)

Mains level : Reprocessing Russian oil


Central Idea

  • The article discusses India’s increased imports of Russian oil and the potential circumvention of sanctions imposed on Russian oil products.

Why in news?

  • An EU parliamentarian accused India of profiting from cheaply bought Russian oil and indirectly supporting the Russian economy.
  • India justified its purchase by emphasizing its energy demands and the challenges of higher prices due to its reliance on energy imports and significant poverty levels.

Reasons: Sanctions against Russian Oil

  • After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Western countries and Europe aimed to reduce their dependency on Russian energy imports to weaken the Russian economy.
  • Measures were taken, such as Germany suspending the launch of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline and Canada and the US banning the import of Russian crude oil.
  • Stricter sanctions were imposed on Russia, including a “price cap” from trading Russian oil above $60 per barrel.
  • The price cap aimed to cripple Moscow’s economy and limit its ability to fund the war in Ukraine.
  • However, Russia increased its oil exports to India and China as a response.

India’s role in meeting West’s energy demand

  • India, exempt from the sanctions on Russian oil, has seen a significant increase in fuel imports from Russia, which is then refined and supplied to Europe and the US.
  • The refined oil from Russian crude, once processed in India, is not considered of Russian origin.
  • India’s oil imports have helped it meet its own energy demands and also assist Western nations facing energy crises due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
  • India has become a net exporter of refined petroleum products, supplying the West to alleviate current energy shortages.

Impact of Indian imports on Western markets

  • Indian refiners have ramped up exports of refined petroleum products, including diesel and vacuum gas oil (VGO), to Europe and the US.
  • VGO is a feedstock in the refining process that can be further processed to produce gasoline, diesel, and other fuel products.
  • Diesel exports to Europe from India have increased by 12-16% in the last fiscal year.
  • The US has become a major recipient of Indian VGO shipments, receiving 11,000-12,000 barrels per day (bpd) or 65-81% of India’s VGO exports.
  • These exports from India have helped ease the energy tightness and supply constraints in Western markets.


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Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Govt doubles outlay on PLI for IT hardware


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme

Mains level : Not Much

Central Idea

PLI Scheme for IT Hardware

  • The PLI scheme for IT hardware was initially introduced in March 2021.
  • It provides incentives of over 4% for incremental investment in domestic manufacturing for eligible companies, such as Dell and Flextronics.
  • The scheme aims to boost domestic manufacturing, increase exports, and make India a prominent player in the IT hardware sector.
  • The scheme will have a tenure of six years, providing a long-term incentive for eligible companies to invest in domestic IT hardware manufacturing.

Growth in indigenous IT hardware

  • The government highlighted the growth of electronics manufacturing in India.
  • There is a 17% compound annual growth rate over the past 8 years and a production benchmark of $105 billion, including $11 billion in mobile phone exports.

New changes introduced

  • The budgetary outlay for the PLI scheme for IT hardware manufacturing has been set at ₹17,000 crore.
  • The incentive rate has been increased to 5%, offering a higher benefit to companies investing in domestic manufacturing.
  • An additional optional incentive has been introduced for using domestically produced components, although the specific rates of these incentives are not specified.
  • If the optional incentives are utilized as intended, the total incentive under the scheme could amount to 8-9%.

Achievements in Telecom hardware manufacturing

  • Telecom hardware manufacturing has surpassed the projected ₹900 crore and reached ₹1,600 crore.
  • Some Indian companies have become significant exporters of complex radio equipment worldwide.


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Monsoon Updates

Monsoon onset in Kerala on June 4


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Monsoon terminologies

Mains level : Not Much


Central Idea: The monsoon is likely to set in over Kerala with a “slight delay” on June 4, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said. The usual onset date over Kerala is June 1, within a seven-day window.

What does the “Onset of Monsoon” mean?

  • The onset of the monsoon over Kerala marks the beginning of the four-month, June to September southwest monsoon season over India.
  • It brings more than 70 per cent of the country’s annual rainfall.
  • It marks a significant transition in the large-scale atmospheric and ocean circulations in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The IMD announces it only after certain newly defined and measurable parameters, adopted in 2016, are met.
  • The onset is a significant day in India’s economic calendar.

How does IMD predict the monsoon?

  • Broadly, the IMD checks for the consistency of rainfall over a defined geography, its intensity, and wind speed:
  1. Rainfall: The IMD declares the onset of the monsoon if at least 60% of 14 designated meteorological stations in Kerala and Lakshadweep record at least 2.5 mm of rain for two consecutive days at any time after May 10.
  2. Wind field: The depth of westerlies should be upto 600 hectopascal (1 hPa is equal to 1 millibar of pressure) in the area bound by the equator to 10ºN latitude, and from longitude 55ºE to 80ºE. The zonal wind speed over the area bound by 5-10ºN latitude and 70-80ºE longitude should be of the order of 15-20 knots (28-37 kph) at 925 hPa.
  3. Heat: The INSAT-derived Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) value (a measure of the energy emitted to space by the Earth’s surface, oceans, and atmosphere) should be below 200 watt per sq m (wm2) in the box confined by 5-10ºN latitude and 70-75ºE latitude.
  • The onset is not officially declared until the prescribed conditions (above) are met.

Factors considered by IMD

  • The IMD uses a specialised model that forecasts the arrival dates within a four-day window.
  • It uses six predictors:
  1. Minimum temperatures over northwest India
  2. Pre-monsoon rainfall peak over south Peninsula
  3. Outgoing long-wave radiation (OLR) over the South China Sea
  4. Lower tropospheric zonal wind over the southeast Indian Ocean
  5. Upper tropospheric zonal wind over the east equatorial Indian Ocean, and
  6. OLR over the southwest Pacific region

Back2Basics: Long Period Average (LPA)

  • The IMD predicts a “normal”, “below normal”, or “above normal” monsoon in relation to a benchmark “long period average” (LPA).
  • The LPA of rainfall is the rainfall recorded over a particular region for a given interval (like month or season) average over a long period like 30 years, 50 years, etc.
  • LPA refers to the average rainfall recorded from June to September for the entire country, the amount of rain that falls every year varies from region to region and from month to month.
  • The IMD’s prediction of a normal monsoon is based on the LPA of the 1971-2020 period, during which India received 87 cm of rain for the entire country on average.
  • It has in the past calculated the LPA at 88 cm for the 1961-2010 period, and at 89 cm for the period 1951-2000.

Why LPA is needed?

  • The IMD records rainfall data at more than 2,400 locations and 3,500 rain-gauge stations.
  • Because annual rainfall can vary greatly not just from region to region and from month to month, but also from year to year within a particular region or month.
  • An LPA is needed to smooth out trends so that a reasonably accurate prediction can be made.
  • A 50-year LPA covers for large variations in either direction caused by freak years of unusually high or low rainfall, as well as for the periodic drought years.
  • It also takes into account the increasingly common extreme weather events caused by climate change.

Range of normal rainfall

The IMD maintains five rainfall distribution categories on an all-India scale. These are:

  1. Normal or near normal, when the percentage departure of actual rainfall is +/-10% of LPA, that is, between 96-104% of LPA;
  2. Below normal, when departure of actual rainfall is less than 10% of LPA, that is 90-96% of LPA;
  3. Above normal, when actual rainfall is 104-110% of LPA;
  4. Deficient, when departure of actual rainfall is less than 90% of LPA; and
  5. Excess, when the departure of actual rainfall is more than 110% of LPA.


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Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

India nears milestone with first indigenous Dengue Vaccine


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dengue

Mains level : Not Much


Central Idea: Serum Institute of India and Panacea Biotec have applied to the ICMR’s call for Expression of Interest for collaborative Phase-III clinical trials for an indigenous dengue vaccine.

What is Dengue?

Transmission Primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes
Virus and Serotypes Dengue virus belonging to the Flaviviridae family

Four distinct serotypes: DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, and DENV-4

Symptoms High fever, severe headache, joint and muscle pain, rash, pain behind the eyes, mild bleeding
Severe Dengue Progression to severe dengue can cause plasma leakage, bleeding, organ impairment
Geographic Distribution Endemic in more than 100 countries, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions
Incidence and Global Impact 100-400 million dengue infections occur annually globally, affecting healthcare systems and economies
Vector and Breeding Sites Aedes aegypti mosquito breeds in stagnant water containers found near human dwellings
Treatment No specific antiviral treatment available; supportive care, rest, fluid intake, symptom management
Prevention and Control Reduce mosquito breeding sites, proper water storage, cleaning of water containers, use of insecticides


Dengue Virus Disease and Global Impact

  • Dengue virus disease causes significant morbidity and mortality worldwide, with 2 to 2.5 lakh (200,000 to 250,000) cases reported annually in India.
  • The global incidence of dengue has increased dramatically, with over half of the world’s population at risk.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified dengue as one of the top ten global health threats in 2019.
  • Currently, there is no specific treatment for dengue, highlighting the urgent need for effective vaccines.

Desirable Characteristics of a Dengue Vaccine

The ICMR highlights the desirable characteristics of a dengue vaccine, including a-

  • Favorable safety profile
  • Protection against all four serotypes of dengue
  • Reduced risk of severe disease and death
  • Induction of a sustained immune response and
  • Effectiveness regardless of previous sero-status and age


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North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

In news: Sikkim Statehood Day


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Merger of Sikkim

Mains level : Not Much


Sikkim Statehood Day

  • Sikkim day is annually celebrated on May 16, commemorating the integration of Sikkim with India in 1975.
  • The process of Sikkim joining India occurred about two decades after Sardar Vallabbhai Patel led the integration of princely states into India.

Sikkim’s History with the Chogyal Royals

  • The kingdom of Sikkim was established in 1642 when Phuntsong Namgyal was consecrated as the first ruler or Chogyal.
  • Sikkim’s monarchy, under the Namgyal dynasty, lasted for 333 years until its integration with India in 1975.
  • Sikkim had a Tibetan origin and was located between India and China. It often faced conflicts over land with Bhutan and Nepal.
  • The British saw Sikkim as a buffer state and established a formal relationship with it.
  • Various treaties like the Treaty of Tumlong (1861), Treaty of Titaliya (1817), Calcutta Convention (1890), and Lhasa Convention (1904) shaped the relationship between Sikkim and the British.

Independent India and Sikkim

  • After India’s independence, princely states had the option to accede to India or Pakistan.
  • Sikkim’s unique relationship with British rule led to complexities in its integration with India.
  • Sardar Vallabbhai Patel and BN Rau wanted Sikkim to sign the Instrument of Accession to integrate it with India.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru acknowledged the situation in Sikkim and emphasized its autonomous growth.
  • Sikkim State Congress (SSC), Praja Mandal (PM), and Praja Sudharak Samaj (PSS) demanded a popular government, abolition of landlordism, and accession to India.
  • A Standstill Agreement was signed to maintain the existing arrangement while discussions continued.

War with China

  • Sikkim had a state council with elected and nominated members.
  • Political developments in the 1960s and 1970s played a significant role in Sikkim’s status.
  • The formation of the Sikkim National Congress (SNC) in 1960 and changes in political leadership on both sides influenced the course of events.
  • India-China war of 1962 and containment of border skirmishes made it important to clarify the relationship between India and Sikkim.

How Sikkim finally joined India?

  • The Indian leadership started supporting pro-democracy forces in Sikkim, such as Kazi Dorji of the SNC.
  • Protests in Sikkim in 1973 led to a tripartite agreement between the Chogyal, the Indian government, and three major political parties.
  • Elections were held in 1974, and a new constitution limited the role of the monarch.
  • A referendum held in 1975 resulted in a majority vote in favor of joining India.
  • The Constitution (Thirty-Sixth Amendment) Bill was passed, recognizing Sikkim as a state in the Union of India.
  • Sikkim’s new parliament proposed a bill for Sikkim to become an Indian state, which was accepted by the Indian government.


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