Saturday, 15th June 2024

Table of contents

1   Daily Current Affairs


China’s ‘grey-zone’ warfare tactics against Taiwan


Gig Economy and Platform Workers in India


Chlorella Growth Factor


Nitrous oxide emissions up 40% in 40 years


Jyotirmath and Pargana Shri Kainchi Dham


Baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) in India




Rift Valley Fever (RVF)

2   Daily Editorial Analysis


India’s Prospects Through Artificial General Intelligence

3   Weekly Current Affairs Practice


Practice Questions - Current Affairs 15-06-2024

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Daily Current Affairs

China’s ‘grey-zone’ warfare tactics against Taiwan

Why in the news?

  • Recently,  President Lai Ching-te assumed office in Taiwan, China has responded strongly to his pro-independence statements by employing sophisticated tactics against his Democratic Progressive Party.

Background of the China-Taiwan Issue:

  • Origins: The conflict traces back to the Chinese Civil War (1927-1950). After the Communist victory in 1949, the Nationalist government retreated to Taiwan, establishing the Republic of China (ROC), while the Communists declared the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the mainland.
  • Claims and Dispute: China views Taiwan as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland, whereas Taiwan sees itself as a distinct, democratic entity. This disagreement over Taiwan’s political status fuels ongoing tensions.
  • Strategic Importance: Taiwan's significance lies in its location within the “first island chain” in the western Pacific and its dominance in the global semiconductor industry. Control over Taiwan would boost China’s regional power and potentially threaten US interests, while Taiwan’s independence is crucial for the US and its allies.

What is Grey Zone Warfare? 

  • About: 
    • Grey Zone Warfare refers to coercive measures used to exploit the space between peace and war, deliberately staying below the threshold that would provoke a conventional military response.
  • Origin
    • Emerging from the Cold War era post-1945, the development of nuclear weapons necessitated restraint in direct conflicts, as the cost and risk of escalation became too high.
  • Methods: Grey Zone Warfare includes both kinetic and non-kinetic methods employed by conventional military forces and irregular proxies.
    • Kinetic Methods: Use of proxies for on-ground action or changing the territorial status quo through coercion or militarization.
      • Example: China's actions in the South China Sea and Russia's invasion of Crimea.
    • Non-Kinetic Methods: Activities range from nefarious economic activities, influence operations, and cyberattacks to mercenary operations, assassinations, disinformation campaigns, economic actions like debt traps and sanctions, and election meddling.
  • Prime Objectives:
    • Escalation Bait: Small actions designed to provoke the other party to escalate, allowing the aggressor to respond in kind, legitimised as self-defence.
    • Projection of Strength: Countries display their capabilities and aim to normalise disputed territorial claims by consistently marking a presence in those regions.

What are the elements of Grey-Zone Warfare ?

  • Military Pressure: The People's Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command (PLA ETC) regularly conducts training drills and simulated invasion scenarios, including 3D animation videos of missile attacks on Taiwan, to intimidate and exert psychological pressure.
  • Grey-Zone Warfare: The PLA carries out continuous sorties of fighter jets, UAVs, and strategic fighters over and around Taiwan, aiming to wear down Taiwan's defence forces through sustained pressure and intelligence gathering.
  • Economic Coercion: China suspended preferential tax rates for 134 chemical imports from Taiwan under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in response to pro-independence statements by Taiwan's President Lai Ching-te and Taipei's restrictions on over 2,000 Chinese imports.

What are China's Grey Zone Tactics Against India ?

  • Cyber Operations:
    • China targets India's critical infrastructure and political systems through cyber operations like hacking, data theft, denial of service attacks, and disinformation. 
    • In 2022, India's power transmission systems faced numerous cyber-attacks reportedly linked to Chinese sources.
  • Information Warfare:
    • China employs propaganda, rumour-spreading, and social media manipulation to create societal divisions and undermine trust within India. 
    • For instance, threatening messages to North Eastern Indian communities in Bengaluru were traced back to China, revealing a campaign to influence internal affairs.
  • Support to Proxy Forces:
    • China supports insurgent groups and non-state actors within India to create discord and deplete resources. 
    • This strategy, evident in the 1980s and 1990s with Chinese backing of northeast insurgent movements, reportedly continues today.
  • Economic Coercion:
    • China uses economic coercion by imposing trade restrictions and leveraging economic influence to pressure India. 
    • The Belt and Road Initiative showcases how China could use economic leverage for political and strategic gains.
  • Legal and Diplomatic Manoeuvring:
    • China exploits legal loopholes, leverages international institutions, and manipulates alliances to undermine India’s international standing. 
    • For example, China uses civilian fishing fleets to assert presence in the South China Sea, circumventing international legal challenges.
  • Military Intimidation:
    • China engages in military intimidation by massing troops near borders or in contested regions to suggest potential escalation. 
    • A significant instance is the deployment of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops in the contested Galwan region in Ladakh.

India’s Counter Measures to Grey-Zone Warfare:

  • Enhancing Border Defense:
    • The deployment of advanced surveillance systems, including UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and high-tech surveillance cameras, aids in monitoring and responding to adversarial movements.
  • Strengthening Strategic Partnerships:
    • India is enhancing its strategic position through defence collaborations with allies. Notable agreements include:
    • LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement): Facilitates logistical support between Indian and US militaries.
    • COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement): Ensures secure communications between the two forces.
    • BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement): Allows sharing of geospatial intelligence.
  • Participating in Joint Military Exercises:
    • Exercise Malabar: Initially bilateral between India and the US, now includes Japan and Australia, focusing on naval interoperability.
    • Indo-Russian Exercise Indra: A bi-annual exercise involving Army, Navy, and Air Force to boost cooperation with Russia.
  • Expanding Naval Cooperation:
    • Mission SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region): Ensures maritime security and stability in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) by providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
    • Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS): A forum led by India to increase cooperation among IOR navies and address regional security challenges.
  • Advancing Defence Technology Collaborations:
    • India is co-developing and co-producing defence technology with international partners. The Quad Alliance, including the US, Australia, and Japan, exemplifies this effort to address regional security through technological collaboration.
  • Enhancing Information Sharing:
    • Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR): Enhances maritime security by serving as a hub for real-time information sharing among IOR countries, improving regional maritime domain awareness.
  • Modernising Armed Forces:
    • India is investing in modernising its military through new technology and indigenous defence production, focusing on reducing dependency on foreign imports. Initiatives include:
      • Make in India: Promotes domestic defence production.
      • Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA): Developed indigenously.
      • Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS): Enhances artillery capabilities.
      • Akash Surface-to-Air Missile System: Strengthens air defence


Taiwan must navigate China’s multifaceted 'grey-zone' tactics through resilience in defence, strategic alliances, and international advocacy to safeguard its sovereignty and democratic identity amid escalating pressures. By promoting international awareness and cooperation, Taiwan can counteract China's coercive strategies and maintain its democratic integrity in the face of growing challenges.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)


Q:1 South China Sea has assumed great geopolitical significance in the present context. Comment. (2016)

Source:  TH

Keywords: GS Paper— 2– International Relations – India & Its Neighborhood - Relations
Daily Current Affairs

Gig Economy and Platform Workers in India

Why in the news? 

  • Recently, gig workers have raised concerns about incidents of heat stroke and fainting, exacerbated by the lack of health support from the companies employing them.
  • As per a report published by Nasscom, the Indian gig workforce is expected to expand to 23.5 Mn workers by FY30 from 7.7 Mn in FY2.
  • Gig workers will form 4.1% of the total workforce in India by FY30, from 1.5% in FY21 and approximately 22% of the jobs are high-skilled, 47% are medium-skilled, and ~31% are low-skilled.

Who are Gig Workers?

  • Gig workers are individuals engaged in temporary, flexible work arrangements, often serving multiple clients or companies, performing tasks or providing services.
  • They are typically independent contractors rather than traditional employees, giving them more control over when, where, and how they work.

Gig Economy: 

  • The gig economy, also known as the freelance or on-demand economy, is gaining prominence in India. It is marked by temporary and flexible job arrangements.
  • Companies are increasingly opting to hire short-term contractors, consultants, and freelancers instead of committing to full-time employees.

Growth of the Gig Economy:

  • In 2020-21, the gig economy in India employed 77 lakh workers, accounting for 2.6% of the non-agricultural workforce and 1.5% of the total workforce, according to a NITI Aayog report.
  • Approximately 47% are engaged in medium-skilled jobs, 22% in high-skilled jobs, and 31% in low-skilled jobs within the gig economy.
  • By 2029-30, the gig economy is projected to grow significantly, reaching 2.35 crore workers. At that point, gig workers are expected to constitute 6.7% of the non-agricultural workforce and 4.1% of the total workforce in India.

Why is it Essential to Provide Social Security Benefits to Gig Workers?


  • Economic Security: 


    • The gig economy's reliance on demand-driven work lacks job security, necessitating social security benefits like unemployment insurance, disability coverage, and retirement savings to ensure stable income.
  • More Productive Workforce: 
    • Lack of access to employer-sponsored health insurance makes gig workers vulnerable to unexpected medical expenses. 
    • Prioritising their health through social security benefits can foster a healthier and more productive workforce.
  • Equity in Opportunities
    • Exemption from traditional employment protections exposes gig workers to exploitative conditions and inadequate compensation. 
    • Social security benefits can help mitigate these disparities and ensure fair treatment.
  • Long-term Financial Security: 
    • Without employer-sponsored retirement plans, gig workers often struggle to save for retirement, increasing their risk of financial hardship later in life.
    • Social security benefits enable them to save effectively and reduce dependence on public assistance.

Challenges Faced by Gig Workers: 

  • Long Working Hours:
    • Nearly 30% of app-based cab drivers work over 14 hours daily; more than 83% work more than 10 hours, with 60% exceeding 12 hours.
    • About 60% of drivers from Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) work over 14 hours daily.
  • Low Pay:
    • Over 43% of gig workers earn less than Rs 500 daily (Rs 15,000 monthly after deductions).
    • 34% of app-based delivery persons earn less than Rs 10,000 monthly, contributing to income disparities.
  • Financial Strain:
    • 72% of cab drivers and 76% of delivery persons face difficulties managing expenses.
    • 68% of cab drivers' total expenses exceed their earnings, leading to potential debt situations.
  • Unsatisfactory Compensation:
    • More than 80% of app-based cab drivers and over 73% of delivery persons are dissatisfied with their earnings.
    • Companies deducting 31-40% of the commission rate per ride exacerbates dissatisfaction.
  • Work Conditions:
    • Extensive work hours lead to physical exhaustion and increase the risk of road accidents, exacerbated by demanding delivery policies.
    • Limited union membership (less than 37% of drivers) affects their ability to negotiate better conditions.
  • Issues with Platforms:
    • Workers face challenges such as ID deactivation and customer misconduct, which hinder their work effectiveness.
    • A majority report negative impacts from customer behaviour, affecting job satisfaction and performance.

What are the Government Initiatives?

  • National Urban Policy Framework (NUPF): Recognizes urbanisation in India, aiming to manage growth as cities expand to 558.8 million by 2031. Cities and towns are pivotal in India’s economic development.
  • The Code on Wages, 2019: This code mandates a universal minimum wage and floor wage applicable across both organised and unorganised sectors, thereby extending coverage to gig workers as well.
  • Code of Social Security (2020): Proposes social security schemes for gig and platform workers, covering life and disability, accident insurance, health, maternity benefits, and old age protection. Yet to be implemented.
  • e-Shram Portal: Launched for registering unorganised workers, including gig and platform workers, across 400 occupations. Self-declaration basis for registration.
  • Registration and Welfare Bill (2023): Introduced to regulate gig platforms, with provisions to penalise aggregators for misconduct. Aims to ensure welfare and rights protection for gig workers in Rajasthan.

Recommendations for the Future:

  • Platform-Led Skilling Initiatives: Platforms should lead outcome-based skilling with educational and vocational partnerships to bridge worker skill gaps. Continuous assessments and certifications ensure relevance in a dynamic market.
  • Enhanced Social Inclusion: Platforms should create supportive environments for women and persons with disabilities, implementing policies to mitigate biases and ensure equitable access.
  • Extension of Social Security Measures: This includes provisions like paid sick leave, healthcare access, insurance, and retirement plans. Platforms should collaborate with government and insurers for effective implementation.
  • Transparency in Data Sharing: Platforms must uphold transparency in data practices while safeguarding user privacy, enabling stakeholders to analyse trends, identify challenges, and tailor interventions.


Thus, improving the conditions of workers in the gig economy requires comprehensive measures. By implementing fair regulatory frameworks, enhancing social security provisions, and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, we can create a more equitable and sustainable environment for gig workers in India. These efforts are essential to uphold dignity and fairness in the evolving landscape of work.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q:1 Examine the role of ‘Gig Economy’ in the process of empowerment of women in India. (2021)

Source: TH

Keywords: GS3 — Economy —Growth & Development – Gig Economy- Employment
Daily Current Affairs

Chlorella Growth Factor

Why in the News?

  • Recently, scientists at CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) have highlighted the potential of Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF), a protein-rich extract from the microalgae Chlorella sorokiniana, as an optimal ingredient for various food and feed applications.

What are Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) and Chlorella Sorokiniana?

  • Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF): 
    • Nutritional Benefits: CGF is rich in amino acids and high-quality proteins, making it a promising alternative source for both human and animal diets. It contains essential amino acids, peptides, nucleotides, polysaccharides, vitamins, and minerals, surpassing commercial soy meal in nutrient content.
    • Production Method: CGF extraction involves a non-chemical autolysis process that preserves the integrity of amino acids and other valuable components.
    • Application: Adding CGF to chicken feed enhances egg quality, demonstrating its potential as a superior protein supplement for animals.
    • Sustainability: Microalgae like Chlorella sorokiniana are categorised as "under-exploited crops" that do not compete with traditional food crops for space and resources, offering a sustainable solution to address the rising global demand for high-quality protein sources.
  • Chlorella sorokiniana:
    • Chlorella sorokiniana is an oval-shaped single-celled algae renowned for its rapid growth in the microscopic world. 
    • Each cell functions as a self-contained organism, possessing all essential nutrients necessary for its sustenance, thereby being self-sustaining and complete. 
    • Under optimal conditions of sunlight and nutrient availability, Chlorella sorokiniana can multiply rapidly, increasing from one cell to 24 cells within a span of 24 hours.

What are Microalgae and Macroalgae ?

  • Microalgae:
    • Microalgae are tiny photosynthetic organisms found in various natural environments such as water, rocks, and soil. 
    • They exhibit higher photosynthetic efficiency compared to terrestrial plants and contribute significantly to global oxygen production. 
    • Microalgae thrive in both freshwater and marine habitats, examples include Chlorella and Diatoms. Marine microalgae are crucial in oceanic food chains and absorb carbon dioxide.
    • However, ongoing climate change and global warming are causing surface ocean waters to warm, leading to reduced nutrient availability due to decreased mixing between nutrient-rich deeper waters and surface waters.
  • Macroalgae:
    • Macroalgae, commonly known as seaweeds, are multicellular autotrophs categorised into three groups based on thallus colour: Chlorophyta (green algae), Rhodophyta (red algae), and Phaeophyta (brown algae). 
    • Seaweeds lack roots, stems, and leaves typical of land plants and are foundational in marine ecosystems. 
    • They form dense underwater forests called kelp forests, which serve as critical habitats for various marine organisms including fish, snails, and sea urchins.
    • Some species of seaweeds include Gelidiella acerosa, Gracilaria edulis, Gracilaria crassa, and Gracilaria verrucosa, each playing distinct roles within marine environments.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q:1 Consider the following statements in respect of probiotics: (2022)

  1. Probiotics are made of both bacteria and yeast.
  2. The organisms in probiotics are found in foods we ingest but they do not naturally occur in our gut.
  3. Probiotics help in the digestion of milk sugars.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only 
  2. 2 only
  3. 1 and 3 
  4. 2 and 3

Ans: (c)


Q:1 What are the research and developmental achievements in applied biotechnology? How will these achievements help to uplift the poorer sections of the society? (2021)

Q:2 How can biotechnology help to improve the living standards of farmers? (2019)

Source: TH

Keywords: GS - 3, Science & Tech.- Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology
Daily Current Affairs

Nitrous oxide emissions up 40% in 40 years

Why in the news?

  • In a recent study by the Global Carbon Project (GCP) titled "Global Nitrous Oxide Budget (1980-2020)", nitrous oxide emissions have shown a continuous increase of 40% from 1980 to 2020.

About Nitrous Oxide (N2O):

  • Nitrous oxide (N2O), an odourless and colourless gas, is non-flammable but supports combustion to the same extent as oxygen, leading to its colloquial name, 'laughing gas'.
  • It is soluble in water and its vapours are heavier than air. 


  • Medical Use: Nitrous oxide serves as an anaesthetic and analgesic in dentistry and surgery, often combined with oxygen to provide sedation and pain relief during procedures.
  • Automotive Industry: In motorsports, nitrous oxide enhances engine power output for performance enhancement.
  • Food Industry: Nitrous oxide acts as a propellant in whipped cream dispensers, contributing to a light and fluffy texture.
  • Chemical Industry: Used as an oxidising agent in specific chemical reactions and processes.
  • Environmental Monitoring: Utilised to calibrate gas chromatographs and other analytical instruments essential for environmental monitoring and research.
  • Recreational Use: Nitrous oxide is sometimes used recreationally for its euphoric and dissociative effects.
  • Aerospace Industry: In the aerospace sector, nitrous oxide functions as a hybrid rocket propellant, providing oxidising properties for rocket engines.

Environmental Impact of Nitrous Oxide (N2O):

  • Greenhouse Gas: Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere, intensifying the greenhouse effect and global warming.
  • Global Warming Potential (GWP): N2O has a global warming potential approximately 298 times greater than that of carbon dioxide (CO₂) over a 100-year period. This high GWP indicates that nitrous oxide has a much stronger heat-trapping capability per molecule compared to CO₂.
  • Atmospheric Lifetime: Nitrous oxide remains in the atmosphere for about 114 years, contributing to its long-term impact on climate change by persisting and accumulating over time.
  • Climate Change: Nitrous oxide (N2O) acts as a greenhouse gas, contributing to global warming and thereby exacerbating climate change impacts. These include more frequent and severe weather events, sea-level rise, and disruptions to ecosystems.
  • Ecosystem Effects: Nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture can cause nutrient imbalances in soils and water bodies, which in turn affect plant growth and aquatic life.

Key findings of the study: 

  • Alarming Rise in Nitrous Oxide (N2O) Emission: Nitrous oxide emissions from human activities have increased by 40% (3 million metric tons of N2O per year) between 1980 and 2020.
  • Top 5 Emitters of N2O: The largest emitters of N2O are China (16.7%), India (10.9%), US (5.7%), Brazil (5.3%), and Russia (4.6%). India ranks as the second-largest emitter of N2O globally after China.
  • Per-Capita Emissions: In per capita terms, India has the lowest emission of N2O at 0.8 kg N2O/person, lower than China (1.3), US (1.7), Brazil (2.5), and Russia (3.3).
  • Atmospheric Concentration: The concentration of atmospheric N2O reached 336 parts per billion in 2022, marking a 25% rise over pre-industrial levels, which exceeds previous estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
  • Emission Pattern in Regions: Among the 18 regions analysed in this study, only Europe, Russia, Australasia, Japan, and Korea experienced decreasing nitrous oxide emissions.
  • Europe showed the most significant decrease between 1980 and 2020, attributed to reductions in fossil fuel and industrial emissions.
  • China and South Asia recorded the largest increases in N2O emissions during the same period, with a rise of 92%.
  • Technological Challenge: The study highlights that currently, no technologies exist that can effectively remove N2O from the atmosphere.

Sources of Nitrous Oxide Emissions:

  • Agriculture: The primary source of nitrous oxide emissions is agriculture, specifically from the use of synthetic fertilisers and management of livestock manure. Microbial processes in soils and water bodies convert nitrogen compounds into N2O.
  • Industrial Processes: Certain industrial activities, such as the production of nitric acid and adipic acid (used in fertilisers and nylon production), also release significant amounts of N2O.
  • Combustion: Nitrous oxide can be produced from the combustion of fossil fuels and biomass, although emissions from these sources are relatively minor compared to agriculture.
  • Waste Management: Activities such as wastewater treatment and the decomposition of organic waste in landfills are additional contributors to nitrous oxide emissions.
  • Natural sources: Natural sources, including oceans, inland water bodies, and soil, accounted for 11.8% of global nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions between 2010 and 2019.

Proposed Solutions to Mitigate Nitrous Oxide (N₂O) Emissions:

  • Innovative Agricultural Practices:
    • Precision Agriculture: Utilising soil sensors and advanced technologies to optimise fertiliser application can reduce unnecessary nitrogen input, thereby minimising N₂O formation and decrease emissions by up to 50%.
    • Nitrification Inhibitors: These additives slow down the conversion of ammonium in fertilisers to nitrate, a form readily used by N₂O-producing microbes.
    • Cover Cropping: Planting cover crops during fallow periods helps retain soil moisture and nitrogen, reducing the risk of N₂O release.
    • Anti-Methanogenic Feed: Introducing anti-methanogenic feeds like 'Harit Dhara' (HD) or similar innovations can reduce methane and nitrogen emissions from cattle.
  • Nano-Fertilisers:
    • Nano-fertilisers deliver nutrients directly to plant roots in a controlled manner, reducing excess nitrogen and consequently lowering nitrous oxide emissions.
  • Effective Policy Measures:
    • Emission Trading Schemes: Implementing cap-and-trade systems for N₂O emissions can incentivize industries and farmers to adopt cleaner practices.
    • Targeted Subsidies: Governments can provide financial incentives for farmers transitioning to sustainable practices that minimise N₂O emissions.
    • Research and Development: Increased funding for research into N₂O mitigation strategies, including improved fertilisers and waste management techniques, is critical for advancing sustainable solutions.
  • Addressing Emissions from Other Sources: 
    • Industrial Processes: Enforcing stricter regulations and promoting cleaner technologies in industries like nylon production and nitric acid manufacturing can curb rising N₂O emissions.
    • Combustion: Optimising combustion processes in vehicles and power plants, as recommended by the IPCC Climate Change 2021 report, can help reduce N₂O emissions as a by-product.
    • Waste Management: Advancements in waste-to-energy conversion and effective treatment of wastewater and agricultural waste can significantly decrease N₂O emissions from these sources.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question:


Q:1 Which of the following add/adds nitrogen to the soil? (2013)

  1. Excretion of urea by animals
  2. Burning of coal by man
  3. Death of vegetation

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (c)

Q:2 Which one of the following sets of elements was primarily responsible for the origin of life on the Earth? (2012)

  1. Hydrogen, Oxygen, Sodium
  2. Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen
  3. Oxygen, Calcium, Phosphorus
  4. Carbon, Hydrogen, Potassium

Ans: (b)

Q:3 Which feature of some species of blue-green algae helps promote them as bio-fertilizers? (2010)

  1. They convert atmospheric methane into ammonia which the crop plants can absorb readily
  2. They induce the crop plants to produce the enzymes which help convert atmospheric nitrogen to nitrates
  3. They have the mechanism to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that the crop plants can absorb readily
  4. They induce the roots of the crop plants to absorb the soil nitrates in larger quantities

Ans: (c)


Q:1 Sikkim is the first ‘Organic State’ in India. What are the ecological and economical benefits of Organic State? (2018)

Source:  TH

Keywords: GS - 3, Ecology & Environment —Pollution & Degradation — Conservation
Daily Current Affairs

Jyotirmath and Pargana Shri Kainchi Dham

Why in the news:  

  • Recently, the Centre approved the Uttarakhand government’s proposal for renaming the Joshimath tehsil in Chamoli district to Jyotirmath, and the Kosiyakutoli tehsil in Nainital district to Pargana Shri Kainchi Dham tehsil.


  • Jyotirmath (also known as Jyotir Peeth) is a small town located at a height of 1,890 mts (6150 feet).
    • Over time, the local population began referring to the area as “Joshimath”, which was recorded in the government records by the Britishers.
    • Thus, while “Jyotirmath” was used in a more formal or religious context, “Joshimath” became the more commonly used name.
  • It is one of the four cardinal mathas (monasteries) that 8th century philosopher Adi Shankaracharya is believed to have established across India to promote the Advaita Vedanta philosophy.
  • Jyotirmath was established to preserve and disseminate spiritual knowledge and practices. The name “Jyotirmath” comes from the divine light of knowledge he is said to have attained, with ‘jyoti’ meaning divine light.
  • It is also the home of the oldest tree of India, Amar Kalpavriksha, under which Adi Shankaracharya performed penance.

From Kosiyakutoli to Pargana Shri Kainchi Dham:

  • In “Kosiyakutoli”, “Kosi” refers to the river that flows through the Nainital district and “kutoli” is derived from the local language, referring to a village or settlement.
  • Kosiyakutoli came to be known for its association with Neem Karoli Baba and the Kainchi Dham Ashram he founded in 1962.
  • Neem Karori Baba is a renowned Hindu guru and saint with followers in India and abroad. He passed away in 1973. He is revered for his teachings on bhakti yoga and devotion to God.

Source:   (IE)

Keywords: GS-1 – Art & culture — Historical sites
Daily Current Affairs

Baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) in India

Why in the news: 

  • Recently,Baobabs are found in India, from semi-arid central areas to wetter Western Ghats.

  • Adansonia digitata is native to Africa and belongs to the Malvaceae family. There are eight species of Adansonia worldwide, found in Africa, Asia and Australia.
  • Baobab trees in India were introduced by African migrants and Arab and Portuguese traders.
  • Locals in Mandu (MP) believe the baobab seeds were brought by Afghan rulers of the Ghuri Dynasty during the reign of Hoshang Shah of Malwa.
  • The tree commemorates the French botanist Michel Adanson, who studied Senegal’s natural history, with ‘digitata‘ referring to the hand-shaped leaves.
  • “Baobab” is derived from the Arabic “bu hibab,” which means “fruit with several seeds.”
  • The tree is also known by other names, such as
    • ‘dead-rat tree’ (due to its fruit’s resemblance to dead rats),
    • ‘monkey-bread tree’ (since monkeys eat its dry fruit),
    • ‘upside-down tree’ (because it's bare branches resemble roots),
    • ‘cream of tartar tree’ (due to the acidic taste of its fruit).
  • In Hindi, it is referred to as gorakh-imli or gorakh-chinch. It is also revered as the “Tree of Life” and “Mother of the Forest,” symbolising resilience and cultural richness.
  • Multi-purpose tree: Food, clothing, medicine, ornamental purposes and raw materials. The Bhil community in MP preserves these trees and makes a living by collecting and selling various baobab products.
  • Superfruits: Cucumber-shaped fruits and leaves are high in nutrients. Its nutritional profile includes protein, fat, carbohydrates, fibre, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin C, and potassium.
  • Heritage tree: Cultural and religious significance, like the heritage baobab tree in Goa.
  • Physical properties include
    • Appearance: Deciduous trees grow up to 20-30 m with a trunk diameter of 2-10 m, smooth, reddish-brown to grey bark with longitudinal fibres.
    • Water storing trunks: Distinctive swollen, bottle-shaped trunk that stores water for dry seasons.
    • Soil: Well-drained, acidic soils.
    • Blooming: Both wet and dry seasons in Southern Africa from October to December, with fruits appearing from April to May. In India, they flower from May to June, aligning with the rainy season.
    • Unique properties: Resist fire, termites & drought. Extensive roots.
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest known living baobab tree is around 800 years old and is in Sagole, South Africa, near the Zimbabwe border.
  • The largest baobab tree outside Africa in India is located at Golconda Fort. It is over 400 years old and is known locally as hatiyan jhad (elephant tree).

Source: (DTE)

Keywords: GS-3 – Ecology & Envi. – Biodiversity- Species
Daily Current Affairs


Why in the news: 

  • Recently, Cyclone Ilsa (category 5 cyclone) that crossed Bedout Island wiped out 80-90 percent of the island’s seabird (Masked bobby, brown bobby and lesser frigatebird) population.
  • Bedout Island is located in the Timor Sea off the remote north coast.

Categories of Cyclone:


  • Seabirds are bird species adapted to live and feed in the saltwater environment of the ocean.
  • They contribute to the health of islands and the reefs that surround them.
  • They connect the marine and terrestrial ecosystems by transporting marine-derived nutrients to terrestrial breeding, roosting, and nesting areas via guano deposition and other means.

Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra bedouti):


  • The masked booby is a large, white gannet-like seabird with black trailing edges to the wings, a black tail and yellow bill.
  • They range widely over tropical and subtropical open ocean.
  • IUCN Status: Least Concern

Brown Booby (S leucogaster):

  • The brown booby is a large, chocolate-brown-and-white seabird.
  • Distribution: Tropical seas of the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, plus the Caribbean Sea.
  • IUCN Status: Least Concern

Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel):

  • Lesser frigatebirds are large, predominantly black birds with long narrow wings, a deeply forked tail and a long hooked bill.
  • Distribution: They are found throughout the Indian Ocean, the western and central Pacific Ocean, and off Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • IUCN Status: Least Concern

Source: (DTE)


Keywords: GS-3 - Ecology & Environment- Biodiversity- Species
Daily Current Affairs

Rift Valley Fever (RVF)

Why in the news ?

  • A recent study has revealed that the geographical range of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) disease clusters is expanding across eastern Africa.
  • The increasing frequency of small RVF clusters in previously unaffected areas is associated with a combination of higher temperature and rainfall.

  • Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a zoonotic viral disease caused by the Rift Valley fever virus, which is found in most of sub-Saharan Africa, especially eastern and southern Africa.
  • It was first identified in 1931 in the Rift Valley in Kenya.
  • It is transmitted by mosquitoes, most commonly the Aedes and Culex mosquitoes.
  • It is primarily a disease of ruminants such as sheep, goats and cattle but human infections occur following close contact with infected animal tissue and body fluids.
  • Symptoms: People with RVF often have either no symptoms or a mild illness that includes fever, weakness, back pain, and dizziness.
  • It produces high mortality rates in newborn ruminants, especially sheep and goats, and abortion in pregnant animals.
  • RVF is listed in the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) Terrestrial Animal Health Code and must be reported to the WOAH.

Source: (DTE)

Keywords: GS-3 - Science & Technology- Biology – Disease
Daily Editorial Analysis

India’s Prospects Through Artificial General Intelligence

Why in the news ?

  • Recently, it has been observed that Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) has the potential to redefine and shape India's future prospects on the global stage for coming generations.

Understanding AGI:

  • Definition: AGI refers to artificial intelligence systems with general intelligence comparable to or exceeding human cognitive abilities across nearly all areas.
  • Concept: AGI represents a futuristic vision where machines possess cognitive abilities on par with humans, capable of reasoning, problem-solving, perception, learning, and language comprehension.
  • Capabilities: Unlike AI designed for specific tasks, AGI can generalise its capabilities to solve any problem, even those it wasn't explicitly programmed to handle.

The Indian AI Mission:

  • Government Initiative: In March 2024, the Indian Cabinet approved the India AI mission, allocating over ₹110,000 crore over five years for AI development.
  • Infrastructure Development: This mission will support the creation of AI supercomputing infrastructure, accessible to startups, academia, and industry.
  • Strategic Entry: As India joins the global AI race, the focus must be on the next evolutionary leap: Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).

Journey Towards AGI:

  • Current AI Limitations: 
    • Despite significant advancements, no AI tool has yet passed the Turing test, a benchmark proposed by 20th-century computer scientist Alan Turing. 
    • This test measures an AI's ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.
  • Prediction Machines: 
    • Current state-of-the-art AI technologies, including ChatGPT, DALL-E, and others, function primarily as prediction machines. 
    • They predict answers to specific prompts with high accuracy because they have been trained on vast amounts of data.
  • Human-Level Performance
    • These AI systems lack human-level capabilities in areas such as creativity, logical reasoning, and sensory perception. 
    • They do not yet exhibit the comprehensive cognitive flexibility and problem-solving abilities characteristic of human intelligence.
  • Paradigm Shift with AGI: 
    • The advent of AGI represents a significant shift in our technological future and its societal role. Our adoption and management of AGI will not only shape our global standing but also define the legacy for future generations.
  • Transformative Power of AI: 
    • AI's potential to enhance human life is widely recognized. It is crucial to approach this future with a strong sense of responsibility and a collective vision to ensure technology benefits the greater good.
  • Future with AGI: 
    • Achieving success with AGI will transcend leading in technology; it will involve mastering a domain that could influence human evolution, economics, and global governance. Mastery of AGI could ultimately determine the future balance of global power.

Potential Benefits of AGI:

  • Healthcare: 
    • In India, it could bridge the gap between urban and rural healthcare services by monitoring health metrics in real-time, predicting potential problems, and coordinating customised preventative care and treatments.
  • Agriculture: 
    • AGI can optimise crop yields, manage pests, and monitor soil health. In India, it could assist small and marginal farmers in making informed decisions, thereby improving productivity and sustainability.
  • Education: 
    • It has the potential to democratise quality education across India, ensuring that students in remote areas receive the same quality of education as those in urban centres.
  • Governance: 
    • In India, it could ensure efficient public service delivery even in the remotest parts of the country, thereby improving governance and accountability

Risks and Challenges Associated with AGI:

  • Understanding the Risks: 
    • The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed an AI Risk Management Framework to help mitigate the risks associated with AGI. 
    • This framework identifies 12 risks and proposes over 400 actions that developers can implement to manage these risks effectively.
  • Long-term Risks: 
    • Yuval Noah Harari has highlighted a long-term risk involving the potential convergence of AGI and biotechnology. 
    • This convergence could fundamentally alter human existence by manipulating human emotions, thoughts, and desires.
  • Regulatory Challenges
    • Regulatory sandboxes have emerged as a crucial tool for evaluating innovations within a controlled and monitored environment. 
    • These sandboxes enable policymakers to gather empirical evidence on the benefits and risks associated with AGI applications.
  • Ethical Considerations: 
    • Ensuring that AI-based decisions are ethical, fair, and well-documented is essential to mitigate risks. 
    • There are concerns that AGI could potentially disadvantage individuals or groups through discriminatory practices, emphasising the need to align AGI development with universally accepted human values.

Policy Suggestions: 

  • Preparing for AGI-Driven Economy and Defence Integration: India needs to anticipate how AGI will transform job markets and economic structures while ensuring safe integration into defence strategy, acknowledging the tendency to under-prepare for rare catastrophic risks.
  • Establishing an AI Department: India should create a dedicated AI department to centralise coordination of all AI-related activities, setting standards, guidelines, and policies aligned with national strategic interests.
  • Democratising Data Access: India must liberate access to vast datasets across public and private sectors to foster a competitive AI ecosystem capable of addressing global and local challenges effectively.
  • Enhancing National Security through AI: India should develop a robust AI ecosystem for strategic applications in defence, drone technology, cybersecurity, and other critical sectors to bolster national security and drive innovation.
  • Nationwide AI Skilling Initiative: Launching a comprehensive AI skilling initiative is crucial, aiming to train 50 million people in AI usage skills and 1 million in AI development to meet future workforce demands.
  • Fostering Collaborations and Partnerships: India should forge partnerships with universities, technical institutes, and online education platforms to integrate AI-focused curricula, establish specialised degree programs, and promote continuous education opportunities nationwide.


Thus. AGI offers significant potential for enhancing human life and economic competitiveness but introduces new risks and challenges. Striking a balance between fostering innovation and ensuring responsible development is crucial. Addressing current challenges and anticipating future impacts is essential as we navigate the uncharted territory of AGI to secure a safe and beneficial future.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q1. With the present state of development, Artificial Intelligence can effectively do which of the following? (2020)

  1. Bring down electricity consumption in industrial units
  2. Create meaningful short stories and songs
  3. Disease diagnosis
  4. Text-to-Speech Conversion
  5. Wireless transmission of electrical energy

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  • 1, 2, 3 and 5 only 
  • 1, 3 and 4 only 
  • 2, 4 and 5 only 
  • 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Ans: (b)

Source: LM

Keywords: GS –3 — science & Technology– Advancement in the field of Science and technology
Weekly Current Affairs Practice

Practice Questions - Current Affairs 15-06-2024

Q1. Which of the following are the principles of the Rule of law?

1. Clarity and accessibility of law

2. Equality before the law

3. Right to participate in the creation of laws

4. Independent judiciary

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

1 and 3 only

1, 2 and 3 only

2 and 4 only

1, 2, 3 and 4

Q2. By which of the following act The rule of the Company was replaced by the rule of the Crown in India.?

Government of India Act of 1858

Government of India Act of 1836

Government of India Act of 1867

Government of India act 1897

Q3. Which of the following factors limits the sovereignty of the Indian Parliament?

1. Written nature of the constitution

2. Federal system of the government

3. System of Judicial review

4. Fundamental rights

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

1, 2 and 3 only

2, 3 and 4 only

1 and 4 only

1, 2, 3 and 4

Q4. Which of the following statements is/are correct regarding the separation of powers as per the Indian Constitution?

1. Judicial conduct of a judge of the Supreme Court cannot be discussed in the Parliament.

2. Validity of proceedings in Parliament and the Legislatures cannot be called into question in any Court.

3. President or the Governor shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

1 and 2 only

3 only

1 and 3 only

1, 2 and 3

Q5. Which of the following statements is/are features of Indian Secularism?

1. It is more than a passive attitude of religious tolerance.

2. While French Secularism emphasizes on a strict separation of religion and state, Indian system relies more on what can be termed as ‘Principled Distance approach’

Select the correct answer using the code below.

1 only

2 only

1 and 2 only


Q6. Which of the following statements is/are the main functions of Constitution of India?

1. It provides a set of Basic rules to have minimal coordination in the society.

2. It specifies the source of power in making decisions for the society.

3. It sets some limitations upon the powers of government that is exercised against its citizens.

4. It describes the aspirations and goals of the society.

Select the correct answer using the code below.

1 only

1, 2 and 4 only

1 and 2 only

1, 2, 3 and 4

Q7. Which of the following is/are salient features of the Indian Constitution?

1. Strong Centre

2. Federalism

3. Equal protection of the law

4. No taxation without representation

5. Blend of Rigidity and Flexibility

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

1, 2, 3 and 5

1, 4 , 5

3, 4 , 5

1, 3, 5

Q8. Which of the following is/are correct regarding the Constitution of India?

1. It guarantees rights to a citizen of India.

2. It also sets some limits on what law a government can impose on its citizens.

3. It provides separation of power among different organs of the state.

4. It aims for the creation of a just society.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

1 and 4 only

2 and 3 Only

1 and 3 only

1, 2, 3 and 4

Q9. Consider the following statements:

1. The Constitution is the organic law of the land and demarcates the responsibilities of the organs of the State.

2. Unwritten constitutions constitute laws made by the Parliament only.

3. Rigid constitutions cannot be amended.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

1 only

1 and 2 only 

2 and 3 only 

1, 2 and 3

Q10. Which of the following are the federal features of the Indian Constitution?

1. Independent judiciary

2. Division of powers

3. Bicameralism

4. Written Constitution

5. Two Governments

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

1, 3 and 4 only

2 and 5 only

1, 2, 3 and 4 only

1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Q11. Consider the following pairs [Source : Feature Borrowed]:

1. South African : Fundamental Constitution Duties

2. Soviet Constitution : Procedure for amendment of the Constitution

3. Japan : Procedure established by Law

4. Australia : Joint sitting of the two houses

Which of the pairs given above are correctly matched?

1 and 2 only

2, 3 and 4 only

3 and 4 only

1, 2, 3 and 4

Q12. The principle of proportionate justice includes:

This principle involves rewarding different jobs differently on the basis of efforts and skills required and the danger involved.

This principle involves distributing rewards and duties on the basis of special needs of people.

This indicates the principle of treating people equally.

This indicates the principle of treating people equally irrespective of caste and gender.

Q13. The term Republic mentioned in Preamble of Indian Constitution refers to

1. Head of the State is elected and not hereditary position.

2. Vesting of political sovereignty in the People.

3. Absence of any privileged class and hence all public offices being opened to every citizen without any discrimination.

Choose the correct answer from the code given below.

1 and 2 only

1 only

1 and 3 only

All of the above.

Q14. Which of the following statements is correct regarding the word 'sovereign' in Indian Constitution?

The word 'sovereign' is taken from article 5 of the US constitution.

India is free to conduct its own internal and external affairs.

India cannot cede a part of its territory.

It was added in the preamble by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment act of 1976.

Q15. With reference to the Preamble of the Indian Constitution, consider the following statements:

1. Socialist, Secular and democratic words were added by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act.

2. The Indian state came to be recognized as the ‘Republic of India’ in the lineage of the Constitution of France.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

1 only

2 only

Both 1 and 2

Neither 1 nor 2

Q16. The Preamble enshrines certain ideas which were first spelled out in which of the following?

1. The opening speech of Jawaharlal Nehru on the first meeting of the constituent assembly.

2. Resolution adopted by Congress in Karachi session. 

3. The objective resolution moved by Jawaharlal Nehru and passed by constituent assembly 

4. Drafted by Dr. B R Ambedkar as the first chapter of the Indian constitution.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

4 only

2 and 3 only

3 only

1 and 3 only

Q17. Which of the following has been described as the 'horoscope of our sovereign democratic republic'?

Directive Principles of State Policy

Fundamental Rights


Fundamental Duties

Q18. 'Doctrine of Basic structure' limits the power of which of the following?


Supreme court and High courts



Q19. The Preamble to the Constitution of India is

a part of the Constitution but has no legal effect

not a part of the Constitution and has no legal effect either

a part of the Constitution and has the same legal effect as any other part

a part of the Constitution but has no legal effect independently of other parts

Q20. The mind of the makers of the Constitution of India is reflected in which of the following?

The Preamble

The Fundamental Rights

The Directive Principles of State Policy

The Fundamental Duties

Keywords: Practice Questions - Current Affairs 15-06-2024
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