UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 1 July 2024 – Insights IAS

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UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 1 July 2024 covers important current affairs of the day, their backward linkages, their relevance for Prelims exam and MCQs on main articles

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InstaLinks :  Insta Links help you think beyond the  current affairs issue and help you think multidimensionally to develop depth in your understanding of these issues. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background.

Table of Contents 

GS Paper 1: (UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 29 June 2024)

  1. 50 years of Emergency

  2. Gender Discrimination at the Workplace

GS Paper 2:

  1. Tibet-China Dispute Act Passed by US Congress

 

Reports in News

  1. RBI’s Financial Stability Report (FSR)

  2. Artificial Intelligence Preparedness Index (AIPI)

  3. Annual World Drug Report (2024)

  4. Migration and Development Brief 2024

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP) 

  1. Bhuvan Panchayat Portal and National Database for Emergency Management 

  2. International North-South Transport Corridor

  3. Ways and Means Advances (WMA)

  4. AI washing

  5. Space Debris

  6. Senna spectabilis

UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 01 July 2024


GS Paper 1:


50th anniversary of the Emergency

Syllabus: Post-Independence India

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 Source: IE

Context: On June 25, India marked the 50th anniversary of the Emergency, a 21-month period from 1975 to 1977, during which Prime Minister Indira Gandhi suspended civil liberties, curtailed press freedom, made mass arrests, cancelled elections, and ruled by decree.

What is an “Emergency”?

An Emergency refers to legal measures in a country’s constitution or laws that enable swift government response to crises like war or rebellion threatening national stability, security, or sovereignty.

Provisions in Constitution: These are outlined in Articles 352 to 360 under Part XVIII of the Indian Constitution, drawing inspiration from Germany’s Weimar Constitution.

What was a National Emergency?

Emergency in India was a period of 21 months from 1975 to 1977 declared by the then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi and officially issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352 of the Constitution of India because of the prevailing “internal disturbances”.

This gave the Prime Minister the authority to Rule by decree leading to the suspension of elections and curbing of civil liberties.

  

National Emergency has been proclaimed three times in India:

  • Indo-China War (1962): Declared due to “external aggression” during the Sino-Indian War.
  • Indo-Pak War (1971): Imposed on the grounds of “external aggression” during the Indo-Pakistani War.
  • (1975-1977): The third and most controversial national emergency was declared due to “internal disturbance” amidst internal political unrest, significantly suspending civil liberties.

  

Reasons for declaration of Emergency in 1975:

  1. Internal Disturbances: Growing political dissent and protests against Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s government created significant internal instability. Eg: Nationwide protests and movements such as Jayaprakash Narayan’s Sampoorna Kranti or “Total Revolution”.
  2. Electoral Malpractice Allegations: The Allahabad High Court found Indira Gandhi guilty of electoral malpractices and invalidated her 1971 election victory in the Indira Gandhi vs Raj Narain case.
  3. Economic Challenges: The country faced severe economic issues, including high inflation, food shortages, and labor strikes. Eg: Strikes and protests by labor unions, such as the railway workers’ strike of 1974. Also, post-liberation war hardship persisted along with a national emergency already in place.
  4. National Security Threats: Indira Gandhi’s government argued that there were threats to national security from both internal and external sources. Eg: Threats from the Cold war and post-liberation war tensions.

  

It was criticized as the darkest phase of post-independent India:

  1. Suspension of Civil Liberties: Fundamental rights, including freedom of speech and expression, were suspended.
  2. Arbitrary Arrests and Detentions: Thousands of opposition leaders, activists, and dissidents were detained without trial. Eg: Key political figures such as Jayaprakash Narayan and Morarji Desai were imprisoned under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA).
  3. Human Rights Violations: The Emergency witnessed a disregard for human rights. Eg: The mass sterilization program, targeting low-income populations, was coercive and unethical.
  4. Centralization of Power: The 38th and the 42nd Amendment significantly curtailed the powers of the judiciary and centralized authority in the executive. Eg: Limitations on judicial review.
  5. Press Censorship and Information Blackout: The Emergency witnessed a severe crackdown on press freedom. Media outlets faced strict censorship, and critical reporting of the government’s actions was banned. Eg: The Indian Express publishing a blank editorial in protest.

  

Lessons that were learnt and checks and balances put in place to prevent a recurrence:

  1. Constitutional Safeguards: Later, the newly formed Janata government brought about 43rd and 44th amendments in 1977 and 1978 respectively to restore the earlier constitution to some extent. Eg: Written recommendation of the cabinet for national emergency, “armed rebellion” in place of internal disturbance et al.
  2. Judicial Activism: The Supreme Court evolved the basic structure doctrine to strike down 39th Amendment some parts of the 42nd This paved the way for restoration of democracy. Eg: The landmark Minerva Mills case (1980) established the power of judicial review over proclamations of emergency.
  3. Parliamentary Oversight: Efforts were made to strengthen parliamentary oversight over the executive branch. Eg: Passage of subsequent amendments by Parliament, Parliamentary committees were empowered.
  4. Ensuring Fair Elections: Reforms were introduced to make the electoral process more transparent and fairer. Eg: ECI became multi-member body, reforms like Model Code of Conduct were brought in.
  5. Civil Society and Grassroots Mobilization: The Emergency galvanized civil society, highlighting its role in protecting democracy. Eg: Significance of JP’s Sampoorna Kranti, the post-emergency rise of activist organizations like the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).

  

Conclusion:

The Emergency of 1975-77 serves as a powerful reminder of the need for robust democratic safeguards to prevent the abuse of power. Looking ahead, constant vigilance by citizens, a robust civil society, and strong democratic institutions are essential to prevent a return to such a dark chapter.

Insta Links:

Mains Link:

Q) Under what circumstances can the Financial Emergency be proclaimed by the President of India? What consequences follow when such a declaration remains in force? (UPSC 2018)

Prelims Link:

Q) With reference to the constitution of India, prohibitions or limitations or provisions contained in ordinary laws cannot act as prohibitions or limitations on the constitutional powers under Article 142. It could mean which one of the following? (UPSC 2019)

 (a) The decisions taken by the Election Commision of India while discharging its duties can not be challenged in any court of law.

(b) The Supreme Court of India is not constrained in the exercise of its powers by laws made by the parliament.

(c) In the event of grave financial crises in the country, the President of India can declare Financial Emergency without the counsel from the cabinet.

(d) State Legislatures can not make laws on certain matters without the concurrence of the Union legislature.

Ans: (b)


Gender Discrimination at the Workplace

Syllabus: Indian Society: Issues related to Women

 Source: Indian Express

Context: The article criticizes Foxconn for not hiring married women due to concerns about family duties and absenteeism.

What are the Issues? 

Foxconn, an Apple supplier, reportedly does not hire married women, citing family duties and higher absenteeism as reasons. This highlights a broader issue where women’s careers are hindered by traditional gender roles, as they often manage household responsibilities, allowing men to excel at work. Data suggests that India’s Female LFPR has decreased from 30% to 24% in the past two decades, despite an increase in girls’ enrollment in Class 10.

Issues with Foxconn’s Action

  1. Gender Discrimination: Excluding married women from employment based on family duties and absenteeism.
  2. Reinforcing Gender Roles: Perpetuating traditional roles where women are expected to handle household responsibilities.
  3. Inequality in Opportunities: Denying married women equal access to job opportunities and career advancement.
  4. Workplace Diversity: Reducing workplace diversity by not hiring a significant segment of the population.
  5. Economic Impact: Limiting married women’s financial independence and economic contributions.
  6. Violation of Rights: Potentially breaching anti-discrimination laws and equal employment rights.
  7. Unfair Assumptions: Making broad assumptions about married women’s work performance without individual assessment.

Other key issues that impact workplace gender inclusivity

  • Cultural Norms and Stereotypes: Indian society perpetuates traditional gender roles where women are expected to prioritize family over career.
    • Example: The gender pay gap in India persists, with women earning 19% less than men, reflecting these biases.
    • Solution: Promote gender-neutral upbringing, challenge stereotypes through media campaigns, and emphasize equal opportunities.
  • Patriarchal Organizational Structures: Many workplaces in India maintain hierarchies dominated by men, making it challenging for women to ascend to leadership roles.
    • Example: A study found that only 15% of board seats in NSE-listed companies were held by women in 2021.
    • Solution: Implement quotas or targets for female representation in leadership roles and foster mentorship programs.
  • Implicit Bias and Stereotype Threat: Implicit biases against women persist in performance evaluations and decision-making processes.
    • Example: Studies have shown that women receive less credit for their work compared to men in similar positions.
    • Solution: Implement unconscious bias training for managers and use standardized performance evaluation criteria.
  • Harassment and Safety Concerns: Workplace harassment is a major deterrent for women, often going unreported due to fear of retaliation.
    • Example: The #MeToo movement highlighted the widespread prevalence of harassment in Indian workplaces.
    • Solution: Enforce strict anti-harassment policies, provide safe reporting mechanisms, and sensitize employees through training.
  • Lack of Work-Life Balance: Balancing work and family responsibilities remains challenging for women due to inadequate support systems.
    • Example: Maternity leave policies in India are not uniform, leading to disparities.
    • Solution: Encourage flexible working arrangements, affordable childcare facilities, and extended parental leave.
  • Education and Skills Gap: Gender bias in education and vocational training limits women’s access to high-paying jobs.
    • Example: Women are underrepresented in STEM fields and emerging industries.
    • Solution: Promote STEM education for girls, offer scholarships, and collaborate with industries for skill development.
  • Cultural Sensitivity Training: Cultural biases and insensitivity towards diversity often hinder inclusivity.
    • Example: Insensitive comments or practices can create hostile work environments.
    • Solution: Regular cultural sensitivity training for employees and management can foster a more inclusive atmosphere.

Measures to Address the Issue:

Key Recommendations Description
Legislation and Enforcement Strengthen and enforce existing laws related to workplace gender inclusivity, including anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws.
Stricter enforcement of laws such as the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act of 2013.
Increase fines and penalties for non-compliance and expedite cases to set deterrent examples.
In 2017, the Maternity Benefits Amendment Act was passed which increased the stipulated maternity leave period in India from 12 weeks to 26 weeks in organisations that have at least 10 employees.
SC Judgement The Supreme Court of India declared (in Selina John’s case) rules penalizing women employees for getting married as unconstitutional, citing gender discrimination and inequality.
Corporate Initiatives Encourage companies to adopt inclusive policies, diversity training, and transparent reporting of gender-related data.
Promote initiatives like the Tata Group’s “Second Career Internship Program” for women’s reentry into the workforce.
Women’s Networks Support and promote women’s networks within organizations to provide mentorship and networking opportunities.
Adopt models like “Lean In Circles” to create peer groups for women to support each other’s career growth and mentorship.
Media Campaigns Use media to challenge stereotypes and promote positive portrayals of women in the workplace.
Draw inspiration from campaigns like Dove’s “Real Beauty” to challenge unrealistic standards and depict women as competent professionals.
Collaboration Encourage partnerships between government, NGOs, and the private sector to create a cohesive approach to gender inclusivity.
Highlight successful initiatives like the “Mahila Shakti Kendra” collaboration that empowers women through skill development, education, and healthcare.

Conclusion 

By addressing these dimensions and implementing these strategies, India can foster a workplace environment that embraces diversity and gender inclusivity, ensuring that women have equal opportunities to thrive professionally.

 

Insta Links:

 

Mains Links:

Q.“Though women in post-Independent India have excelled in various fields, the social attitude towards women and the feminist movement has been patriarchal.” Apart from women’s education and women empowerment schemes, what interventions can help change this milieu?” (UPSC 2021)

Prelims Links:

Which of the following gives the ‘Global Gender Gap Index’ ranking to the countries of the world? (UPSC 2017)

(a) World Economic Forum
(b) UN Human Rights Council
(c) UN Women
(d) World Health Organization

Ans: A


UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 1 July 2024 GS Paper 2:


Tibet-China Dispute Act Passed by US Congress

Syllabus: International Relations

 Source: BS

Context: US Congress recently, passed the “Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act,” aimed at countering China’s historical claims over Tibet and promoting dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama.

  

What does the Policy say? 

The Act states that US policy requires the Tibet-China dispute to be resolved peacefully through dialogue, in accordance with international law and the UN Charter. It supports the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way Approach,” which envisions Tibet remaining part of China while granting Tibetans meaningful autonomy.

 

What is the History of the Issue between China and Tibet? 

The China-Tibet issue centres on Tibet’s historical quest for independence and China’s claim of sovereignty over the region. Tibet, located on the Tibetan Plateau, has been the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people and other ethnic groups. In 1913, the 13th Dalai Lama declared de facto independence for Tibet, which China never recognized, asserting its own sovereignty. In 1951, after the Chinese Communist Party’s takeover, Tibet’s leaders were coerced into signing the Seventeen Point Agreement, ostensibly granting autonomy but allowing Chinese military presence. The agreement, rejected by many Tibetans, marked the beginning of tensions culminating in the 1959 Tibetan Uprising. Following the Dalai Lama’s flight to India and the establishment of the Central Tibetan Administration, China intensified control over Tibet, suppressing freedoms and imposing demographic changes that challenged Tibetan cultural survival despite infrastructure developments.

India’s Tibet Policy:

Aspect Details
Historical Boundaries between India and Tibet Defined under the Simla Convention of 1914 between Tibetan representatives and British India.
Chinese Annexation (1950) China’s full control over Tibet led to disputes over boundaries, including the McMahon Line.
1954 Agreement India signed an agreement with China recognizing Tibet as part of China.
Tibetan Refugees (1959) India provided refuge to the Dalai Lama and his followers after the Tibetan uprising.
Official Policy India recognizes the Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader; and restricts political activities of Tibetan exiles.
 
Policy Shifts Since 2003, the Government of India has recognised Tibet Autonomous Region as part of the People’s Republic of China following the signing of the Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation between India and China
Balancing Act India maintains Tibet is part of China while supporting Tibetan cultural identity cautiously

 

Impact of Tibet and the Dalai Lama on India-China relations: 

  1. Geopolitical Significance: Tibet historically neighbored India, influencing boundaries and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) over 3500 km.
  2. Strategic Importance: Tibet’s plateau is crucial for water resources and holds geopolitical significance, complicating India-China-Tibet dynamics.
  3. Diplomatic Agreements: India recognized Tibet as part of China in a 1954 agreement (and again in 2003), altering its stance from historical conventions.
  4. Dalai Lama’s Presence: China views the Dalai Lama, residing in India, as a separatist, straining bilateral relations persistently.

 

Conclusion: 

India faces complex challenges in its Tibet policy, balancing humanitarian concerns with geopolitical realities. As it navigates relations with China, maintaining a strategic yet compassionate approach towards Tibetans in India while addressing legal and leadership issues post-Dalai Lama will be crucial for stability and regional cooperation.

  

Insta Links: 

 

Mains Link:

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is viewed as a cardinal subset of China’s larger ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative. Give a brief description of CPEC and enumerate the reasons why India has distanced itself from the same. (UPSC 2018)

  

Prelims Link:

“Belt and Road Initiative” is sometimes mentioned in the news in the context of the affairs of : (UPSC 2016)

(a) African Union
(b) Brazil
(c) European Union
(d) China

Ans: D


UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 1 July 2024 Reports in News


Reports In News

Reports Description
RBI’s Financial Stability Report (FSR) The latest 29th issue of the Financial Stability Report (FSR) reveals encouraging trends in India’s banking sector as of March-end 2024.
Scheduled commercial banks reported a notable decline in their Gross Non-Performing Assets (GNPAs) and Net NPA ratios, reaching multi-year lows of 2.8% and 0.6% respectively.
About the report:

The Financial Stability Report (FSR), issued biannually (every six months) by the RBI, provides a comprehensive assessment of financial stability and the resilience of India’s financial system. Prepared by the Sub-Committee of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), chaired by the Governor of RBI, the report evaluates risks impacting the financial sector.

 
Artificial Intelligence Preparedness Index (AIPI) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) released the AIPI Dashboard, ranking Singapore 1st and India 72nd.
The AIPI Dashboard tracks AI readiness in 174 economies based on digital infrastructure, human capital and labour market policies, innovation and economic integration, and regulation and ethics.
Countries are categorized as Advanced Economy (AE), Emerging Market Economy (EM), and Low-Income Country (LIC).
Annual World Drug Report (2024) The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a report on World Drug Day, observed annually on June 26th since 1987 to promote action against drug abuse and illicit trafficking.
Key highlights include a rise in drug abuse, with 292 million users in 2022, and cannabis being the most abused drug, followed by opioids, amphetamines, cocaine, and ecstasy.
Regions most affected by drug-related criminal activity include the Triple Frontier area (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay) and the Golden Triangle (Laos, Myanmar, Thailand).
Cannabis legalization has occurred in Canada, Uruguay, and 27 U.S. jurisdictions. The psychoactive effect of cannabis is primarily due to THC (delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol).
Additionally, illegal drug activities contribute to environmental issues like deforestation, toxic waste dumping, and chemical contamination.
Migration and Development Brief 2024 The World Bank released a brief highlighting key trends in remittance and migration. Remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) reached $656 billion, with India receiving the most at $120 billion, followed by Mexico, China, the Philippines, and Pakistan.
Top migration destinations include the US, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the UK, with the largest number of emigrants from India (18.7 million), followed by Ukraine, China, Mexico, and Venezuela. The largest migration corridor is from Mexico to the US.

UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 1 July 2024 Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Bhuvan Panchayat Portal and National Database for Emergency Management

 Source: PIB

 Context: Recently two new Geoportals developed by ISRO: ‘Bhuvan Panchayat (Ver. 4.0)’ for rural land records and ‘National Database for Emergency Management (NDEM Ver. 5.0)‘ were launched.

  • These portals provide high-resolution satellite imagery for visualisation and planning.
Portal Purpose Features
Bhuvan Panchayat Portal Support decentralized planning

Empower grassroots citizens

Digitizes land records

Reduces dependency on local administration Minimizes corruption

NDEM Ver. 5.0 Portal Provide space-based inputs on natural disasters

Aid in disaster risk reduction

Effective early warning systems

Continuous monitoring

Supports India and neighbouring countries

 


International North-South Transport Corridor

 Source: Economic Times

 Context: India-Russia trade has advanced with the first-ever shipment of Kuzbass coal from Siberia to India via the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

  • The 7,200 km-long INSTC, a multimodal network of sea, road, and rail, offers the shortest route from St Petersburg to Mumbai.
  • The INSTC is part of Russia’s strategy to redirect trade flows from Europe to Asia and the Middle East due to Western sanctions.
  • This corridor will benefit several countries, including Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, the Baltic, Nordic nations, and 11 Central Asian countries.

 


Ways and Means Advances (WMA)

 Source: TH

 Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has increased the Ways and Means Advances (WMA) limits for State governments and Union territories by 28%.

About Ways and Means Advances (WMA):

  • Introduced in 1997 to address mismatches in government receipts and payments.
  • Governments can obtain immediate cash from the RBI, repayable within 90 days, with interest at the existing repo rate.
  • Legal Authority: Authorized under Section 17(5) of the RBI Act, 1934.
  • If WMA exceeds 90 days, it becomes an overdraft, with interest 2 percentage points higher than the repo rate.

 


AI washing

 Source: IE

 Context: “AI washing,” a term popularized by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), refers to companies exaggerating their use of AI to appeal to consumers.

  • This phenomenon has surged following the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in 2022, leading to a significant rise in startups and companies claiming to use AI.
  • However, only a small percentage actually integrate AI into their operations.
  • AI washing involves businesses overstating their AI capabilities or misleading consumers about their features.
  • Notable examples include Google’s misrepresented AI demonstrations and Amazon’s cashier-less checkout systems that relied on manual oversight.

The consequences of AI washing are substantial. It can divert resources from genuine AI innovation, complicate decision-making for businesses seeking real AI solutions, and pose data security risks to consumers.

 


Space Debris

 Source: Hindustan Times

 Context: A defunct Russian satellite, RESURS-P1, broke up into over 100 pieces of debris, forcing astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) to shelter in their spacecraft for about an hour.

  • This incident adds to the growing concern over space debris as space becomes increasingly crowded with vital satellite networks.

 About Space Debris:

  • Man-made objects in Earth’s orbit that are no longer functional.

 Examples: Defunct satellites, spent rocket stages, and debris fragments from collisions.

Threats from Space Debris:

  • Threat to Marine Life: Objects falling into oceans pose risks to marine life and contribute to pollution.
  • Threat to Satellites: Debris poses hazards to operational satellites, potentially causing malfunctions.
  • Kessler Syndrome: Overpopulation of space debris causing cascading collisions.
  • Reduction of Orbital Slots: Accumulation limits the availability of orbital slots for future missions.
  • Space Situational Awareness: Increasing debris complicates tracking and orbit prediction for satellite operators and space agencies.


Senna spectabilis

 Source: TH

 Context: The Kerala Forest Department has partnered with Kerala Paper Products Limited (KPPL) to remove invasive species like Senna spectabilis from the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.

  • These plants threaten the wildlife habitat in the Nilgiri biosphere.

Senna spectabilis:

  • A deciduous tree native to tropical regions of the Americas.
  • Ecological Impact: Thick foliage inhibits the growth of native trees and grasses, leading to food shortages for wildlife, particularly herbivores. Disrupts germination and growth of native plant species.
  • Conservation Status: Classified as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List.

UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 1 July 2024 [PDF]


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