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Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 29th February 2024) Part - 2 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC PDF Download

INDUS-X Summit 2024

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 29th February 2024) Part - 2 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC


Context: The United States Department of Defense (DoD) and the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) recently participated in the second India-U.S. Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X) Summit in New Delhi, India.

  • The summit was jointly organized by Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), MoD, and the DoD, and coordinated by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) and Society of India Defense Manufacturers (SIDM).

What are the Key Highlights of the Second INDUS-X Summit?

Focus on Indo-Pacific Security:

  • The summit underscored the significant role India and the US play as vital partners in ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
  • Discussions revolved around co-producing advanced military capabilities, strengthening defence supply chains, and enhancing interoperability to address shared security challenges.

Promoting Innovation and Collaboration:

  • There was a strong emphasis on fostering innovation in defence technologies through collaborative efforts between Indian and American industries.
  • The summit provided a platform for startups and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the defence sector to engage with established players, facilitating knowledge exchange and partnerships.

Defence Partnership Between India and the United States:

  • The summit highlighted the robust defence partnership between India and the US, citing initiatives like Initiatives on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) aimed at fostering innovation across key sectors, including defence.

Emphasis on Technological Innovation:

  • The Summit underscored the critical role of technological innovation in defence within the broader context of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership, fostering collective progress for defence industries across borders.

Joint IMPACT Challenges:

  • The Summit highlighted the introduction of Joint IMPACT Challenges, aiming to advance defence and aerospace co-development and co-production collaboratively, involving startups in pioneering solutions.

What are the Key Developments in India-US Defence Cooperation?

Framework and Partnership Renewal:

  • The foundation of India-US defence cooperation is the "New Framework for India-US Defence Cooperation," renewed for a decade in 2015.
  • In 2016, the partnership was elevated to a Major Defence Partnership (MDP).
  • India's elevation to Tier-1 status under the US Department of Commerce’s Strategic Trade Authorization license exception occurred in July 2018.

Institutionalized Dialogue Mechanisms:

  • The 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, which includes the Ministers of External Affairs and Defence from both nations along with their US counterparts, serves as the apex platform for addressing political, military, and strategic issues.
  • The 5th Edition of the India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue took place in November 2023 in New Delhi.

Defence Policy Group (DPG):

  • The DPG, led by the Defence Secretary and Under Secretary of Defence (Policy), facilitates a comprehensive review of defence dialogues and mechanisms.
  • The 17th DPG convened in Washington D.C. in May 2023.

Defence Procurements and Platforms:

  • Defence procurements from the US are on the rise, amounting to nearly US$20 billion.
  • Key US-origin platforms in use by India include Apache, Chinook, MH60R helicopters, and P8I aircraft.
  • Recently, the US State Department approved a possible foreign military sale of 31 MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones to India.

Important Defence Agreements:

  • Significant agreements include the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (2016), Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (2018), Industrial Security Agreement (2019), Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (2020), and Memorandum of Intent for Defence Innovation Cooperation (2018).

Military-to-Military Exchanges:

  • High-level visits, exercises, training courses, and service-specific bilateral mechanisms facilitate military-to-military exchanges.
  • India participates in a growing number of military exercises with the US, including Yudh Abhyas, Vajra Prahar, Malabar, Cope India, and Tiger Triumph, among others.
  • Participation in multilateral exercises like Red Flag, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), CUTLASS Express, Sea Dragon, and Milan further strengthens cooperation.
  • INS Satpura marked the first Indian naval ship to visit the US mainland as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav in August 2022.
  • India joined the multilateral Combined Maritime Force (CMF) as an Associate Partner in April 2022, based in Bahrain.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 29th February 2024) Part - 2
Try yourself:
What is the main focus of the INDUS-X Summit 2024?
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Rani Chennamma

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 29th February 2024) Part - 2 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC


Context: To mark 200 years since Rani Chennamma's defiance against the British East India Company, numerous social groups across India have initiated a national campaign, Naanoo Rani Chennamma (I am Rani Chennamma too), on February 21st.

  • The Campaign aims to evoke Chennamma's legacy to demonstrate that women can be leaders in defending dignity and justice. Rani Chennamma's courage serves as an inspiration to women across the country.
  • Her determination and swift actions to protect her homeland can be viewed as a testament to her unwavering dedication to safeguarding her realm.

Who was Rani Chennamma?

About:

  • Chenamma was born on October 23rd, 1778, in Kagati, a small village in what is now the Belagavi district in Karnataka.
  • At 15, she married Raja Mallasarja of Kittur, who ruled the province until 1816.
  • After Mallasarja's death in 1816, his eldest son, Shivalingarudra Sarja, became king. However, Shivalingarudra's health soon began to decline.
  • Kittur needed an heir to survive, but Shivalingarudra had no natural heir, and Chennamma had lost her son.
  • Before his death in 1824, Shivalingarudra adopted a child, Shivalingappa, as the successor. However, the British East India Company refused to recognize Shivalingappa as the kingdom's successor under the 'Doctrine of Lapse.'
  • Under this doctrine, any princely state without a natural heir would collapse and be annexed by the Company.
  • John Thackery, a British official in Dharwad, attacked Kittur in October 1824.

Battle Against British:

  • In 1824, a fleet of 20,000 British soldiers attempted to invade Kittur, a former princely state in Karnataka.
  • But Rani Chennamma retaliated, killing a British official to protect her homeland.
  • Trained in martial arts and military tactics, she was a formidable leader.
  • She led her army into battle, using guerrilla warfare tactics to surprise the British forces.
  • The conflict lasted several days, but the British ultimately prevailed due to their superior firepower.

Legacy:

  • Despite her capture and imprisonment in Bailhongal Fort (Belagavi, Karnataka), Rani Chennamma's spirit remained unbroken.
  • Her rebellion inspired countless others to stand up against British rule. She became a symbol of courage and defiance.
  • In 2007, the Indian government honored her by issuing a postage stamp in her name.
  • Several Kannada lavanis or folk songs fondly remember Rani Chennamma as a protector and guardian.
  • Lavani is a vibrant and expressive folk art form rooted in the cultural heritage of Maharashtra, but it has also found a place in certain parts of Karnataka. The word "Lavani" comes from the Marathi term "lavanya," meaning beauty.
  • Lavani is a combination of traditional song and dance, performed to the rhythmic beats of the Dholki, a percussion instrument.

What is the Doctrine of Lapse?

  • It was an annexation policy followed widely by Lord Dalhousie when he was India's Governor-General from 1848 to 1856.
  • According to this, any princely state that was under the direct or indirect control of the East India Company where the ruler did not have a legal male heir would be annexed by the company.
  • As per this, any adopted son of the Indian ruler could not be proclaimed as heir to the kingdom.
  • By applying the doctrine of lapse, Dalhousie annexed the States of:
  • Satara (1848 A.D.), Jaitpur, and Sambalpur (1849 A.D.), Baghat (1850 A.D.), Udaipur (1852 A.D.), Jhansi (1853 A.D.), and Nagpur (1854 A.D.).

Conclusion

The Rebellion of Kittur Rani Chennamma remains a significant chapter in India’s struggle for freedom. Her unwavering leadership and resilience serve as a reminder that even in the face of daunting challenges, courage can prevail.


Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 29th February 2024) Part - 2 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC


Context: Recently, a new study has been published by researchers at the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and the Bengaluru-based National Institute of Advanced Studies, suggesting that even air quality in India could be influenced by El Nino and La Nina events.

  • The study has suggested that the unusual air quality in some Indian cities in the winter of 2022 could be attributed to the record-breaking spell of La Nina prevailing at that time.

What are the Key Findings of the Study?

Link between Pollution and Winter Months in India:

  • During October to January, northern Indian cities, like Delhi, typically have high levels of PM2.5 due to various meteorological factors and pollution transport from regions like Punjab and Haryana.
  • The western and southern parts of the country have always had relatively lower levels of pollution, because of their proximity to oceans.
  • The winter of 2022, however, showed a significant deviation from this normal.
  • Northern Indian cities, including Delhi, were cleaner than usual, while cities in the west and the south, like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai, experienced worse-than-usual air quality.

Anomalous Behaviour in Winter 2022:

  • PM2.5 concentrations in Ghaziabad and Noida reduced significantly, while Delhi saw a slight reduction. In contrast, Mumbai and Bengaluru experienced rises in PM2.5 levels.
  • Northern Indian cities had cleaner air than western and southern cities.

Factors Causing Anomaly:

  • The most crucial factor in explaining the anomaly of winter 2022 was a change in the normal wind direction.
  • During winter, the wind usually blows in the northwesterly direction. For example, from Punjab towards Delhi and further into the Gangetic plains.
  • It is a reason for transporting agricultural waste pollutants from Punjab and Haryana into Delhi.
  • In the winter of 2022, however, the wind circulation was in the north-south direction.
  • The pollutants being carried from Punjab and Haryana bypassed Delhi and surrounding areas and flew over Rajasthan and Gujarat to southern regions.

La Nina's Influence:

  • Extended La Nina persisted for an unusually long three years by the winter of 2022, impacting wind patterns.
  • The three consecutive years of La Niña conditions (2020-23) — a rare “Triple-Dip” phenomenon — had widespread impacts on the ocean and climate across the globe.
  • Not all La Nina events might produce noticeable changes in wind circulation over India.
  • The 2022 event is particularly strong. And the impact on air circulation became evident only in the third year of La Nina. So, there may be an accumulative effect.
  • The study suggests an unclear impact of El Nino on air quality in India.

Conclusion

  • La Nina's influence on air quality in India during winter 2022 highlights the importance of understanding global climate patterns in local environmental conditions.
  • Further research is needed to elucidate the complex interactions between climate phenomena and air quality in India.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 29th February 2024) Part - 2
Try yourself:
What was the impact of the Doctrine of Lapse on princely states in India?
View Solution


Maratha Reservation Bill

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 29th February 2024) Part - 2 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC


Context: The Maharashtra Assembly recently approved the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Bill 2024, allocating a 10% reservation for the Maratha community in jobs and education under socially and educationally backward categories.

What are the Key Points of the Maratha Reservation Bill?

  • The Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Bill 2024 was based on a Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission report.
  • This report identified the Marathas as socially and educationally backward, justifying the need for reservation.
  • The Bill specifies the Maratha community as a Socially and Educationally Backward Class under Article 342A (3) of the Indian Constitution. It provides reservation for this class under Articles 15(4), 15(5), and 16(4) of the Constitution.
  • Article 342A (3) allows every state or union territory to prepare and maintain a list of socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs), which can differ from the Central List.
  • Article 15(4) enables the state to make special provisions for the advancement of any SEBCs of citizens or the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
  • Article 15(5) allows the state to reserve seats in educational institutions for backward classes, the Scheduled Castes, and the Scheduled Tribes, except for minority educational institutions.
  • Article 16(4) authorizes the state to reserve appointments or posts in favor of any backward class of citizens not adequately represented in state services.
  • The Bill ensures that the principle of the creamy layer applies, limiting reservation to those Marathas not in the creamy layer category, targeting the most marginalized within the community.
  • The commission's report highlighted "exceptional circumstances and extraordinary situations" justifying reservations to the Maratha community above the 50% ceiling set by the Supreme Court (Indira Sawhney judgment(1992).
  • Currently, Maharashtra has a 52% reservation, including various categories such as SC, ST, OBC, Vimukt Jati, Nomadic Tribes, and others. With the addition of 10% reservation for the Marathas, the total reservation in the state will now reach 62%.

What are the Arguments in Favour and Against the Maratha Reservation Bill?

Arguments in Favour:

Socio-Economic Backwardness:

  • The empirical data collected by the Shukre Commission underscores the socio-economic challenges faced by the Maratha community, justifying the need for a reservation to uplift them from poverty and marginalisation.
  • The high percentage of farmer suicides among Marathas highlights the severity of their economic distress and the urgent need for targeted interventions to uplift the community.

Representation:

  • Marathas have historically been excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their backwardness. Reservation in government jobs and education can enhance their representation and participation in various sectors, contributing to inclusive development.

Arguments Against Maratha Reservation:

Legal Viability:

  • Given the history of previous Maratha reservation attempts facing legal challenges and eventual setbacks in higher courts, doubts persist about the new Bill's ability to withstand judicial scrutiny, especially in light of the Supreme Court's previous ruling striking down Maratha reservations due to insufficient empirical data justifying quota extension beyond the 50% ceiling.

The Kunbi Certificate Controversy:

  • A draft notification proposing recognition of "sage soyare" (extended relatives of Marathas with Kunbi lineage) as Kunbi, eligible for OBC reservation, stirred controversy.
  • Opposition parties have raised questions about the viability of the new reservation and its potential impact on existing OBC reservations.

Dissent within the Maratha Community:

  • Some activists and leaders within the Maratha community expressed dissatisfaction with the separate reservation, preferring inclusion within the OBC category.

Need for Comprehensive Approach:

  • While reservation may address immediate concerns, it may not effectively address the root causes of Maratha's backwardness. A holistic approach addressing issues like education, skill development, and infrastructure is essential for sustainable development.

Way Forward

  • Ensure that the Maratha Reservation Bill is legally sound and withstands judicial scrutiny by providing robust empirical data to justify the reservation beyond the 50% quota ceiling set by the Supreme Court.
  • The government should adopt integrated policies that combine reservation with targeted welfare programs, skill development initiatives, and infrastructure projects to ensure holistic development for Marathas.
  • Sustainable development initiatives addressing the root causes of backwardness should be prioritised over short-term considerations, aiming for inclusive growth and social justice for all communities.
  • Promote social cohesion and inclusivity by fostering understanding and support for affirmative action measures aimed at addressing historical injustices and promoting equity.

SC's Use of Article 142 in Chandigarh Mayoral Election

Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 29th February 2024) Part - 2 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC


Context: The Chandigarh mayoral election has recently become a topic of discussion as the Supreme Court of India invoked Article 142 of the Constitution to nullify the election results.

Why did the Supreme Court invoke Article 142?

  • The Supreme Court invoked Article 142 to rectify the injustice and uphold the integrity of the electoral process in the Chandigarh mayoral election.
  • The election faced irregularities due to the unlawful actions of the presiding officer who declared the winner by invalidating eight votes cast in favor of the opponent, leading to an incorrect outcome.

What is Article 142 of the Indian constitution?

Empowering the Supreme Court:

  • Article 142 authorizes the Supreme Court to issue any decree or order necessary for delivering complete justice in any pending case or matter before it.
  • These decrees or orders have nationwide applicability, making them potent tools for judicial intervention.

Transcending Legal Constraints:

  • Article 142 enables the Supreme Court to surpass the bounds of existing laws or statutes to ensure justice for all parties involved.
  • It empowers the Court to exercise functions beyond adjudication, including executive and legislative roles when necessary.
  • Article 142 is buttressed by several other provisions, including Article 32 (which ensures the right to constitutional remedies), Article 141 (requiring all courts within India to adhere to the Supreme Court's decisions), and Article 136 (which allows for the Special Leave Petition).
  • This collective framework is commonly known as "judicial activism." This concept has frequently led to the Supreme Court overriding parliamentary legislation to deliver "complete justice."

Intervening in Public Interest Matters:

  • The provision empowers the Supreme Court to intervene in cases concerning public interest, human rights, constitutional values, or fundamental rights.
  • This reinforces the Court's role as a guardian of the constitution and ensures protection against violations or encroachments.

Judgments Clarifying the Scope of Powers under Article 142:

Union Carbide Corporation vs Union of India (1991):

  • The SC directed UCC to pay USD 470 million in compensation for the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, underscoring the broad scope of Article 142(1) and clarifying that its powers are of a different quality and not subject to express statutory prohibitions.

Supreme Court Bar Association vs Union of India (1998):

  • The apex court emphasized that the powers under Article 142 are supplementary and should not be used to override substantive laws.
  • The court stated that these powers are curative in nature and should not be used to ignore the rights of litigants or bypass statutory provisions.

A. Jideranath vs Jubilee Hills Co-op House Building Society (2006):

  • The SC stressed that while exercising its power under Article 142, no injustice should be inflicted upon a person who is not a party to the case.

State of Karnataka vs Umadevi (2006):

  • SC clarified that "complete justice" under Article 142 means justice according to law and not sympathy, and that the court will not grant relief that perpetuates illegality encroaching into the legislative domain.

Criticism:

  • Risk of encroaching upon the separation of powers, inviting criticism of judicial activism.
  • Critics argue that Article 142 grants the judiciary broad powers without sufficient accountability, potentially leading to judicial overreach. However, these powers are reserved for exceptional cases where existing laws are inadequate.
  • Potential for disputes over the extent of the Court's authority and its interference with legislative or executive domains.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 29th February 2024) Part - 2
Try yourself:
What is the purpose of invoking Article 142 of the Indian Constitution?
View Solution


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FAQs on Weekly Current Affairs (22nd to 29th February 2024) Part - 2 - Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

1. How is La Nina linked with air quality?
Ans. La Nina is a climate pattern that can lead to an increase in wildfires and droughts, which can in turn worsen air quality by releasing pollutants into the atmosphere.
2. What is the significance of the Maratha Reservation Bill?
Ans. The Maratha Reservation Bill aims to provide reservation in education and jobs for the Maratha community in Maharashtra, addressing their social and economic concerns.
3. How did the Supreme Court use Article 142 in the Chandigarh Mayoral Election?
Ans. The Supreme Court used Article 142 to intervene in the Chandigarh Mayoral Election by issuing directives to ensure fair and transparent election processes.
4. What is the INDUS-X Summit 2024 about?
Ans. The INDUS-X Summit 2024 is a platform for discussing and promoting economic and strategic cooperation among countries in the Indian Ocean region.
5. Who was Rani Chennamma and what was her contribution to Indian history?
Ans. Rani Chennamma was a queen of the princely state of Kittur in Karnataka who fought against British colonial rule, making her a symbol of resistance in Indian history.
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