IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 24th June 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Scientists decode genome of ‘miracle plant’
Part of Prelims and Mains GS III Science and Technology
- ‘Arogyapacha’ (Trichopus zeylanicus) is endemic to the Agastya hills, and is known for its medicinal properties.
- This ‘miracle plant’ is known for its traditional use by the Kani tribal community to combat fatigue.
- Studies have also proven its anti-oxidant, aphrodisiac, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, anti-ulcer, hepatoprotective and anti-diabetic properties.
Do you know?
Kani is a tribe living in the Western Ghats area of Kerala, India. Their use of the forest plant arogyapacha (trichopus zeylanicus) as a key ingredient in a herbal remedy called Jeevani was noted by visiting scientists.
ILS develops antibodies against Chikungunya infection
Part of Prelims and Mains GS III Science and Technology: Health
The Institute of Life Sciences (ILS), which functions under the Department of Biotechnology, has entered into a non-exclusive license for product commercialisation after having successfully developed antibodies against the Chikungunya viral (CHIKV) infection.
It will help researchers unravel myriad aspects of virus pathogenesis. Moreover, with greater light shed upon the CHIKV infection biology using these antibodies, research communities are now a step closer to developing efficacious antivirals and other control strategies against the Chikungunya virus.
Ambubachi Mela, Assam
Part of Prelims and Mains GS I Art and culture
A floating replica of the historic Kamakhya Temple, installed on the Brahmaputra river on the occasion of the annual four-day Ambubachi Mela at Amingaon, near Guwahati.PTI
Do you know?
The Ambubachi Mela is an annual Hindu mela held at Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam. This yearly mela is celebrated during the monsoon season that happens to fall during the Assamese month Ahaar, around the middle of June .
It is the celebration of the yearly menstruation course of goddess Kamakhya. It is believed that the presiding goddess of the temple, Devi Kamakhya, the Mother Shakti, goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during this time stretch.
Cabinet nod for wage code Bill likely
Part of Prelims and Mains GS III Labour laws
- Looking to bring in a fresh wave of labour reforms, the Labour Ministry is likely to seek Cabinet approval for the Code on Wages Bill.
- The wage code Bill is one of four codes envisaged by the government which would subsume 44 labour laws with certain amendments.
- The four codes will deal with wages, social security, industrial safety and welfare, and industrial relations.
TOPIC:General studies 2 and 3:
- India and the World
- International Relations
- Policies of developed and developing countries and their impact on India’s interests
Weathering the incoming geopolitical storm
The nature and dynamics of Southern Asian geopolitics are undergoing a radical transformation, slowly, steadily and in an irrevocable manner.
Is New Delhi adequately prepared to weather the incoming geopolitical storm?
Growing uncertainty in Southern Asian geopolitics:
- There is a sharp power competition in the region.
The U.S. is caught between its reluctance to part with its fading glory on the one hand and unwillingness to do what it takes to maintain its regional influence on the other.
When challenged by China and Russia in the regional geopolitical landscape, the U.S.’s superpower instinct is to push back, often leading to short-sighted decisions and confused policies. Russia and China are jointly and individually challenging the U.S.’s pre-eminence and drafting smaller countries of the region into their bandwagon/s.
The resultant geopolitical competition for space, power and influence in the regional scheme of things is undoing the traditional geopolitical certainties in Southern Asia.
- The China pivot:
While, Washington’s role as the regional pivot and power manager is becoming a thing of the past with Beijing increasingly able and willing to assume that role.
Regional geopolitics, from Iran to Central Asia and from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean region, is increasingly being shaped by China. China is the new regional hegemon with states in the region jumping on its bandwagon without much resistance.
When new powers are on an ascendance, its neighbours tend to recalibrate their policies and old partnerships and alliances. Regional holdouts and challengers such as India will need to balance themselves tactfully to steer clear of the rising hegemon’s ire.
- The presence of an extreme trust deficit among the various actors in the region.
India and Pakistan, or China and India do not trust each other. Aa trust deficit exists between even seemingly congenial partners such as the U.S. and India, Russia and China, and among traditional partners such as Iran and India, and Russia and India.
The varying degrees of trust deficit when combined with other factors such as unresolved conflicts, misunderstandings or the occurrence of a crisis could easily push the region towards more conflict and friction, and obviously less cooperation and regional integration.
- The rising war talk in the region:
The possibility of a military conflict between Iran and the U.S., which in turn would draw many more countries in the region into it leading to widespread instability, potential for India-Pakistan border skirmishes and possible escalation, an escalating China-U.S. trade war, and the many proxy and cold wars in Afghanistan and West Asia will keep the temperature high in the region for the foreseeable future.
In sum, a power transition in the Southern Asian sub-system, an extreme trust deficit and the escalating war talk pose ominous signs for the region.
India needs to adopt a slew of balancing acts in order to weather the incoming geopolitical storm.
- India would need to balance its innate desire to get closer to the U.S. with the unavoidable necessities of not excessively provoking China both in the maritime and continental domains.
Clearly, getting too close to the U.S. will provoke China, and vice versa.
- Driving India’s West Asia policy:
Taking care of its energy and other interests (including the Chabahar project) with Iran and not alienate the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Israel by doing so.
While Iran’s share in India’s energy imports is steadily decreasing, alienating Iran might not suit India’s strategic interests in the longer run.
- Dealing with the Russia-China partnership:
It will be crucial for India’s continental strategy, be it with regard to arms sales, the Afghan question or checking Chinese dominance of the region.
New Delhi should be clever enough to exploit the not-so-apparent fissures between Beijing and Moscow. A related concern should be the growing relationship between Pakistan and Russia which must be dealt with by smart diplomacy rather than outrage.
- Srategic partnership between Pakistan and China:
China, being a rising superpower and an already status quoist power in the region, could potentially be persuaded to check Pakistan’s revisionist tendencies. This again requires a great deal of subtle effort from New Delhi to convince Beijing that it has great stakes in regional strategic stability.
What must be noted is that both Beijing and New Delhi, despite their sharp differences and unavoidable strategic competition, share a stake in the region’s stability.
Therefore even a small measure of rapprochement between them, as it seemingly exists today, could stabilise the region to a great extent.
- Handling Afghanistan:
If India is serious about having a say in Afghanistan’s future, it would need to enact several balancing acts there: between Russia and China, China and Pakistan, the Taliban and Kabul, and the Taliban and Pakistan.
In a constantly changing Afghan geopolitical landscape, the contents of India’s interests should also evolve.
A benign unipolarity or a balanced multipolarity with some amount of great power concert is generally better than unbalanced multipolarity.
Unbalanced multipolarity when combined with a situation of power transition in the regional sub-system, as is perhaps the case today, might prove to be destabilising.
New Delhi should be careful to avoid getting caught in a nutcracker geopolitical situation in the region. Engaging in a delicate balancing game is undeniably the need of the hour. India needs to see through many balancing acts to deal with regional tensions.
Connecting the dots:
- A power transition in the Southern Asian sub-system, an extreme trust deficit between regional players and the escalating war talk pose threatening signs for the region. In such a scenario, India needs to adopt balancing acts. Discuss.
General studies 1 and 2:
- Women empowerment
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General studies 3:
- Indian economy and employment; Gender parity; Women participation in workforce
Women Empowerment in New India
As the government plans actions to transform India — and politics — it needs to pay more heed to women’s field-voices and needs.
- For the first time ever, a critical-half of voters constituted women, near-parity to male numbers with many exhibiting independent decision-making in vote-casting. This outpouring — despite 20 million women claimed as missing from voters’ lists — testifies to the maturity of women’s political agency. It is a self-propelled contribution to nation-building, notwithstanding lack of adequate support to women’s political contestation from any major political party.
- The 17th Lok Sabha has the highest tally of women since Independence — 78. This still amounts to a mere 14 per cent of 543 members.
- Further, as a recent study highlights, with the current rate of increase it will take 40 years for women to reach 33 per cent participation in Parliament/legislatures. (Thirty-three percent being the minimum threshold for critical-mass enabling gender impact.)
- The Women’s Reservation Bill:
Demands to revive and pass the Women’s Reservation Bill are already making the rounds. The vision of 21st century New India needs women-leaders as harbingers of harmony and progress; gender-parity not fractional reservation.
- New India also needs to urgently put in place measures to reverse the massive drop in women’s work-participation and threats to freedom of movement.
A major issue identified by many pre-election surveys, perhaps a key propelling factor for voting in such large numbers, was the concern about physical security and safety.
- The plummeting work-force participation in past years, the resonating #MeToomovement, highlight growing insecurity for women in coming out onto the streets, in workplaces/public places, which are their birthright to access.
- Besides emphasising women’s fundamental and constitutional right to dignity and security, bridging the gender gap in work-participation, according to a McKinsey estimate, would add $770 billion to the Indian economy by 2025. Naya India cannot be built unless women hold-up-half-the-sky.
- There is growing threat to women’s personal and bodily integrity within homes and neighbourhoods. Building home-toilets was one key step towards women’s physical security and it resonated. But cleansing the Internet and social media platforms of the pornography invading homes and turning fathers, brothers, sons, neighbours and of course, strangers into predators, is a burning issue yet left untracked. This is a national security-threat that requires prioritised strategic-action.
- Attention to women’s issues, including equitable political representation, could spearhead other vital democratic reforms desperately required to cleanse the system of the unabashed growth of money-and-muscle-power, a principal inhibiting factor for women-contestants – and equally, less-muscular-moneyed-men — in the electoral process.
Women’s rights are fundamental human rights, not to be examined in silo fashion. A holistic, interconnected and intrinsically Indian vision cross-cutting sectors and issues needs articulation with time-bound implementation deadlines as a major national priority. It could become the global exemplar.
Connecting the dots:
- As the government plans actions to transform India — and politics — it needs to pay more heed to women’s field-voices and needs. Comment.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Which of the following is correct about ‘Jeevani’
- It is a health program of Akashvani
- It is a herbal remedy
- Health assistance program of Odisha
- None of the above
Q.2) Consider the following statements
- ‘Arogyapacha’ is endemic to the Agastya hills, and is known for its medicinal properties.
- ‘Arogyapacha’ is known for its traditional use by the Kani tribal community to combat fatigue.
Select the incorrect statements
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.3) Consider the following statements about Ambubachi Mela,
- It is an annual Buddhist mela celebrated during the monsoon season.
- It is the celebration of the yearly menstruation course of goddess Mother Shakti.
Select the correct statements
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Walking a diplomatic tight rope
A dialogue of civilisations
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