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May 18 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm



The congress party proposes a constitutional amendment to raise the 50% reservation cap for obc, Sc’s, and st in government positions and colleges.

  • concerns arise mainly from elites due to legal and economic arguments.
  • opposition to higher reservation

Legal Argument:

  • more than 50% reservation may violate the constitution.

Economic Argument:

  • reservation may compromise talent, skill, and merit, leading to poorer economic outcomes.
  • this argument can be challenged with empirical evidence.

Natural Experiment: Tamil Nadu

  • Tamil Nadu (TN) has 69% reservation since 1990, protected from the supreme court’s 1992 ruling by placing it under the ninth schedule.

GDP growth:

  • Tn had the second highest per capita GDP growth after Karnataka from 1993 to 2023.
  • the number of factories in tn doubled, second only to Gujarat.
  • investments in medium and small enterprises were the highest among states compared.
  • production was second highest after Maharashtra.


  • Tn employed the highest number of workers and paid the highest wages for non-agricultural labour.
  • 40% of India’s electronics production comes from tn.
  • nearly half of India’s smartphone exports are from kanchipuram, a district with a significant Dalit population.

Promotions and Reservations for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs):

  • Indra Sawhney verdict ruled that reservations only applied to initial government job appointments, not promotions.
  • 77th Amendment Act (1995) This amendment added a new clause (Article 16(4A)) allowing states to create reservations for promotions for SCs and STs if they felt these groups were under-represented in government jobs.
  • The 81st Amendment Act (2000) further clarified how leftover reserved positions for SCs and STs from one year would be carried forward to the next.
  • The 85th Amendment Act (2001) allowed for reservation benefits with “consequential seniority” for SC and ST government employees, retroactive to 1995.
  • It’s important to note that Article 335 of the Constitution emphasizes that while promoting SCs and STs is important, maintaining efficient administration is also crucial.


  • A more recent amendment, the 103rd Amendment (2019), introduced a 10% reservation for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in government jobs and educational institutions.

Indra Sawhney & Others vs Union of India, 1992:

  • The Supreme Court upheld the 27% reservation for backward classes but invalidated the government notification that reserved 10% of government jobs for economically backward classes among higher castes.
  • The Court maintained that the total reservation beneficiaries should not exceed 50% of the Indian population.
  • Introduced the ‘creamy layer’ concept, limiting reservations for backward classes to initial appointments and excluding promotions.

Breach of the Limit by the States:

Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Indra Sawhney case, several states have enacted laws exceeding the 50% reservation limit, including Maharashtra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh.

  • The Tamil Nadu Reservation Act, 1993, mandates 69% reservation in state government jobs and educational institutions.
  • In January 2000, the Governor of Andhra Pradesh declared 100% reservation for Scheduled Tribes (ST) candidates in school teacher positions in Scheduled Areas, which was later ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
  • The Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act of 2018, which provides a 12% to 13% quota for the Maratha community, pushes the state’s reservation percentage beyond the 50% limit.


TN’s higher reservation did not hinder economic growth or scare away investors. Increased reservation may promote inclusive economic growth. Concerns about economic progress slowing due to higher reservation lack empirical support. The argument that higher reservation will impede economic progress is unfounded and ideologically biased.

Balancing Reservation and Merit:

  • While allocating reservations to communities, it is essential to ensure the efficiency of the administration.
  • Exceeding reservation limits can overlook merit, potentially disrupting the entire administrative system.

Multiple choice question:

  1. Which of the following elements was declared as a Basic feature/structure of the Indian Constitution in the “Indra Sawhney Case”?
  2. Rule of Law.
  3. Supremacy of the Constitution.
  4. Welfare state.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

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



In the “Indra Sawhney Case” (1992), commonly known as the Mandal Case, the Supreme Court declared the “Rule of Law” as a Basic Structure/element of the Indian Constitution. The concept of the Rule of Law ensures that all individuals and institutions, including the government, are subject to and accountable under the law.

It implies that the exercise of governmental power is constrained by laws and regulations, preventing arbitrary actions and ensuring fairness and justice in society. Therefore, the recognition of the Rule of Law as a fundamental aspect of the Indian Constitution highlights its significance in upholding democratic principles and safeguarding the rights and liberties of citizens.



Indian higher education has long been influenced by politics. Political leaders have historically established colleges and universities to advance their careers and gain electoral support. This political involvement has shaped the location, naming, and functioning of many institutions, affecting academic appointments and sometimes leading to compromised academic freedom.

Historical Context

  • Political Establishments: Politicians often founded colleges and universities to gain support and advance their careers.
  • Location Decisions: New institutions were sometimes placed in politically advantageous areas.
  • Socio-cultural Factors: Many institutions catered to the demands of specific electorates.

Academic Appointments and Freedom

  • Naming and Renaming: Universities’ names often influenced by political factors.
  • Appointments: Academic positions sometimes filled based on political connections rather than merit.
  • Academic Freedom: Despite political influences, universities generally adhered to international norms of academic freedom, allowing professors to teach, research, and publish freely.

Threats to Academic Freedom

  • Self-censorship: Fear of state retribution leads to self-censorship among academics, particularly in social sciences and humanities.
  • High-Profile Cases: Notable resignations and pressures on renowned professors highlight the issue.
  • Journal Restrictions: Independent academic journals face political pressures, limiting scholarly freedom.

Student Involvement and Campus Politics

Student Politics

  • Increased Activism: Right-wing student organizations have become more active, even in traditionally leftist universities.
  • Reporting Faculty: Students reporting professors for disagreeable content, leading to disciplinary actions.

Dangers of Politicization

  • Motives: Critics argue these institutions are driven by “entrepreneurial zeal” of politicians, not educational needs [source: Hindustan Times article on NEP and political challenges].
  • Quality Concerns: Focus on profits over quality can lead to subpar infrastructure, faculty, and educational outcomes.
  • Patronage Networks: Allegations exist of using these institutions to create patronage networks through admissions, jobs etc.

Politicization of higher education institutions

Politicization of higher education institutions refers to the undue influence of political parties or agendas on the functioning of universities and colleges. This can manifest in various ways, including:

A study by the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) found that states with a history of political interference in universities have lower graduation rates

A report by the University Grants Commission (UGC) highlighted the issue of student unrest due to political interference in universities

  • Appointment of politically affiliated individuals to key positions like vice-chancellors or governing boards.
  • Curriculum changes to promote a particular ideology or downplay critical thinking.
  • Student union elections becoming battlegrounds for political parties.
  • Restrictions on free speech and dissent within campuses.

Negative Impacts:

  • Decline in academic quality: Focus on political agendas can divert attention from core academic pursuits like research and teaching.
  • Erosion of autonomy: Institutions lose their ability to set their own standards and priorities.
  • Faculty appointments based on political affiliation rather than merit can lead to a decline in teaching quality.
  • Increased social and religious divisions: Political interference can exacerbate existing social tensions.
  • Limited job prospects: Focus on ideology over practical skills can leave graduates unprepared for the workforce.



As the country strives for sustained growth, the government is placing a strong focus on two key drivers: advanced manufacturing and expanding consumer market. This approach aims to not only elevate India’s position in the global economy but also unlock vast opportunities for its people.

Driving Growth Through Advanced Manufacturing:

  • Focus on Sophistication: The Indian government is pushing for a shift towards higher-tech, value-added products in manufacturing. This will involve advancements in technology, design, and production processes.
  • Global Ambitions: The goal is to integrate more deeply into global manufacturing networks, positioning India as a reliable supplier within these chains.

Unlocking the Consumer Powerhouse:

  • A Thriving Market: Reports predict a massive consumer market opportunity in India, reaching $2.9 trillion by 2031.
  • Food Spending on the Rise: As disposable incomes increase, consumers will spend more on food, creating a lucrative market for food producers and retailers.
  • Financial Services Boom: The demand for banking, insurance, and other financial services is expected to surge, presenting a significant opportunity for financial institutions.

The Perfect Storm for Economic Growth:

  • Demographic Advantage: India’s young population, with a high proportion in the working age group, presents a “demographic dividend” that can fuel economic activity if the workforce is equipped with the necessary skills.
  • Policy Stability: Consistent government policies minimize disruptions for businesses, creating a more predictable environment for investors.
  • Public-Private Partnership: The government views itself as a facilitator for the private sector, collaborating to create an environment that encourages investment and expansion. This collaboration is crucial for harnessing the potential of both the consumer market and manufacturing growth.

India’s Growth Potential:

  • Demographic Dividend: India boasts a young population, with a projected 1.4 billion people in the working age group by. This presents a significant advantage in terms of available labor.
  • Skill Development: Initiatives to equip this workforce with relevant skills are crucial to unlocking the potential of the demographic dividend.
  • Consumer Market Boom: India’s domestic consumer market is projected to reach $2.9 trillion by 2031 ([source in previous response]), creating a strong demand base for manufactured goods.
  • Government Support: Initiatives like “Make in India” aim to attract foreign investment and create a manufacturing-friendly environment.

China’s Manufacturing Expertise:

  • Established Infrastructure: China has a well-developed manufacturing infrastructure with established supply chains and efficient logistics networks.
  • Advanced Technology: China is a leader in some areas of manufacturing technology, such as automation and robotics.

Areas for Collaboration:

  • Technology Transfer: China can share its manufacturing expertise and technology with India to help bridge the gap.
  • Joint Ventures: Collaboration on specific projects can leverage both countries’ strengths. India can provide skilled labour, while China contributes advanced technology.
  • Global Supply Chain Integration: Both countries can work together to create a more robust and resilient global supply chain, reducing dependence on any single region.

India as a Future Leader:

  • Cost Advantage: India’s lower labour costs compared to China can make it a more attractive option for some manufacturers.
  • Focus on Innovation: India can leverage its large talent pool to drive innovation in manufacturing processes and products.
  • Strategic Location: India’s geographical position offers access to growing markets in Asia and Africa.

Challenges to Address:

  • Infrastructure Development: India needs to invest in infrastructure development, such as transportation and power grids, to support a larger manufacturing base.
  • Skill Gaps: Bridging the skill gap between the available workforce and the requirements of advanced manufacturing is crucial.
  • Regulatory Burden: Streamlining regulations and reducing bureaucratic hurdles can make India a more attractive destination for manufacturers.

Future Outlook:

  • Export Target: The Indian government has ambitious plans to reach $1 trillion in annual manufacturing exports by 2030
  • Value-Added Products: A focus on higher-tech, value-added goods can increase India’s export competitiveness and profitability.
  • Global Value Chains: Integration into global manufacturing value chains as a reliable supplier of components or finished products presents a significant opportunity.

This multi-pronged approach aims to strengthen India’s economic position. By fostering advancements in manufacturing and capitalizing on the burgeoning consumer market, India is poised for significant economic growth in the coming years.

Multiple choice question:

  1. Which of the following statements about the ICI index of eight core industries is/are CORRECT?
    1. The eight core industries included in the index have equal weightage.
    2. The index is based on the production volume of the included industries.
    3. Information Technology (IT) is one of the eight core industries.
    4. A consistently rising ICI necessarily indicates a flourishing manufacturing sector.

Which of the following statements are correct?

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



The eight core industries in the ICI do not have equal weightage. Currently, Refinery Products hold the highest weightage, followed by Electricity and Steel.

`The ICI is a production volume index, meaning it tracks the collective and individual changes in production volume of the eight core industries.

Information Technology (IT) is not considered a core industry in the context of the ICI. The eight core industries are Coal, Crude Oil, Natural Gas, Refinery Products, Fertilizers, Steel, Cement, and Electricity.

While a rising ICI generally indicates positive growth in the core industries, a single metric like the ICI doesn’t capture the entire picture of the manufacturing sector. Other factors like job creation, export performance, and technological advancements also play a crucial role.



Forest fires are a recurring and severe issue in Uttarakhand, impacting both the environment and the lives of local residents. The fires are often caused by human activities and exacerbated by environmental conditions.

Incidents and Impact

  • On May 2, Gyanu Chalaune and his wife Basanti witnessed their friends engulfed in flames while collecting resin. Both couples succumbed to their injuries.
  • Casualties: Five deaths and four injuries have been reported due to forest fires this year.
  • Fire Statistics: Since November 2023, there have been 1,038 incidents affecting 1,385.5 hectares of forest land.

Causes of Forest Fires

  • Human Activities: Migration, high-tension wires, and stubble burning are primary causes.
  • Environmental Factors: Dry spells, less snowfall, and highly inflammable chir pine trees contribute to the fires.
  • Community Practices: Lack of awareness and improper disposal of cigarettes also trigger fires.

Local Efforts and Challenges

  • Community Initiatives: Groups like ‘Jungle Ke Dost’ fight fires with minimal resources, often working for hours with basic tools.
  • Government Measures: The State has proposed remuneration for villagers assisting in firefighting and announced insurance for forest department workers.
  • Criticism: The forest department is criticized for its inadequate response and lack of resources.

Political and Social Dimensions

  • Government Response: The State government attributes most fires to human negligence and is considering cloud seeding to increase rainfall.
  • Political Reactions: The issue has been politicized, with parties blaming each other for inadequate responses.
  • Communal Tensions: Forest fires have ignited communal tensions, with false accusations against specific communities.

Proposed Solutions

  • Community Participation: Empowering local communities and adopting the Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) technique.
  • Economic Incentives: Initiatives like paying villagers to collect pine needles to generate electricity.
  • Infrastructure Development: Establishing fire lines across mountains to prevent the spread of fires.

Forest Fire Statistics in India

Forest fires are a recurring threat to India’s ecological balance, causing damage to wildlife habitats, biodiversity, and air quality. Here’s a look at some key statistics and the states with the highest fire incidences:

National Level:

  • Forest Cover in Fire Prone Zones: Nearly 10.66% of India’s forest cover falls under extremely to very highly fire prone zones, highlighting the vulnerability of these areas ([source in previous response]).
  • Data Source: The Forest Survey of India (FSI) conducts studies and provides data on forest fire occurrences.

States with Highest Forest Fire Probability:

  • North-Eastern Region: States like Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Manipur consistently rank among the states with the highest likelihood of forest fires.
  • Mizoram: Reported the highest number of fire incidents at approximately 3,738.
  • Manipur: Witnessed around 1,702 forest fire incidents.
  • Assam: Faced close to 1,652 forest fire occurrences.
  • Meghalaya: Experienced approximately 1,252 forest fire incidents.
  • Other Vulnerable States:
  • Central India: Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha also experience frequent forest fires.
  • Himalayan States: Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand face fire threats, particularly during dry seasons.

Impacts of Forest Fires:

  • Loss of Biodiversity: Fires damage wildlife habitats and disrupt ecological balances.
  • Soil Erosion: Loss of vegetation cover exposes soil to erosion, impacting land productivity.
  • Air Pollution: Forest fires release significant smoke and pollutants, affecting air quality.

Forest fires pose a significant challenge in India. By addressing the causes, promoting fire prevention measures, and implementing stricter regulations, India can work towards mitigating these risks and protecting its valuable forest ecosystems.

Multiple choice question:

  1. Consider the following gases:
  2. Carbon monoxide
  3. Methane
  4. Ozone
  5. Sulphur dioxide

Which of these are emitted into the atmosphere due to the burning of crop or biomass residues?

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



Biomass, derived from plants and animals, is a renewable energy source. It stores energy from the Sun, which is absorbed by plants through photosynthesis. When biomass is burned, the chemical energy is released as heat. Burning crop residues and biomass is a significant source of carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4), volatile organic compounds (VOC), and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Specifically, burning rice crop residues releases suspended particulate matter, SO2, NO2, and O3 into the atmosphere. Option D is correct.



China’s recent scientific achievement, the High Energy Photon Source (HEPS), poised to be Asia’s first fourth-generation synchrotron light source, is scheduled to commence operations by the end of this year.

About Synchrotron:

  • A synchrotron is a circular particle accelerator.
  • Accelerates electrons to 6 gigaelectron volts within a 1.36-km circumference storage ring.
  • Produces extremely bright light, called synchrotron light, mainly in the X-ray region.
  • This light is millions of times brighter than conventional sources and 10 billion times brighter than the sun.
  • Used in research to study small matter like atoms and molecules.
  • Synchrotron light reveals details about structure and chemical composition of samples.

High Energy Photon Source (HEPS) Facts:

  • Located in Huairou, China, 50 km from Beijing.
  • Accelerates electrons to 6 gigaelectron volts in a 1.36-km circumference storage ring.
  • Produces high-energy X-rays for detailed nanometer-scale studies.
  • Offers 14 beamlines for diverse research fields: energy, condensed matter physics, materials innovation, biomedicine.
  • Provides 10,000 times better time resolution compared to third-generation synchrotrons like the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility.



NASA’s PREFIRE polar mission is scheduled to launch from New Zealand on May 22.

Mission Overview:

  • Name: Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment (PREFIRE)
  • Consists of twin satellites, each with one instrument
  • Measures Earth’s poles about six hours apart


  • To reveal the full spectrum of heat loss from Earth’s polar regions for the first time
  • To make climate models more accurate


  • Address gaps in climate knowledge.
  • Improve predictions of climate change and sea level rise.
  • Provide new data on how Earth’s atmosphere and ice affect heat radiation to space from the Arctic and Antarctic.

Satellite Operation:

  • Cube satellites, each the size of a shoebox, launched aboard an Electron vehicle.
  • Equipped with Mars-proven technology.
  • Measure a less-studied portion of Earth’s radiant energy.
  • Satellites in asynchronous near-polar orbits, passing over the same spot at different times for better coverage.
  • Instruments weigh less than 6 pounds (3 kg) each, using thermocouples similar to household thermostat sensors.

Mission Benefits:

  • Understand why the Arctic has warmed over 2.5 times faster than the rest of the planet since the 1970s.
  • Provide insights on far-infrared heat emission by snow and sea ice.
  • Study cloud influence on far-infrared radiation escaping to space.
  • Help predict future changes in heat exchange between Earth and space, affecting ice sheet melting, atmospheric temperatures, and global weather patterns.



Venezuela is believed to be the first country in modern times to have entirely lost all of its glaciers.

Venezuela Overview:

  • Location: Northern coast of South America
  • Area: 916,445 sq.km (353,841 sq mi)


  • North: Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean
  • East: Guyana
  • South: Brazil
  • Southwest and West: Colombia
  • Capital: Caracas

Geographical Features:

  • Northern Andean Mountain chains and interior highlands
  • Orinoco River basin with expansive plains (Llanos)
  • Lake Maracaibo: Largest lake in South America
  • Angel Falls: World’s highest waterfall

Major Rivers:

  • Rio Negro: 2,250 km, a major tributary of the Amazon River (shared with Colombia and Brazil)
  • Orinoco: 2,101 km, third-longest river in South America (shared with Colombia)

Islands and Archipelagos: Administers several Caribbean islands: Margarita Island, La Blanquilla, La Tortuga, Los Roques, Los Monjes

Territorial Claim: Claims jurisdiction over Guyanese territory west of the Essequibo River (53,000 sq mi / 137,000 sq km)

Natural Resources:

  • World’s largest oil reserves
  • Significant deposits of coal, iron ore, bauxite, and gold


  • Spanish (official) 98.2%
  • Indigenous languages 1.3%
  • Portuguese 0.1%
  • Other 0.4% (2023 estimate)

Currency: Venezuelan bolívar



Recently Ambaji White Marble awarded the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the Central Government.

Ambaji White Marble:

  • Known for its stunning white appearance with unique natural patterns.
  • Quarried in Ambaji, Gujarat.
  • Also called Amba White Marble or Ambe White Marble.
  • Features pristine white color with subtle gray or beige veining.
  • Veining varies from fine and delicate to bold and pronounced.
  • Variations occur naturally due to minerals and impurities during formation.
  • Notable for its long-lasting shine and durability.
  • Smooth, polished surface enhances its appeal.
  • Used in luxury architectural projects, sculptures, and monuments.

Marble Key Facts:

  • Metamorphic rock formed from limestone under heat and pressure.
  • Composed mainly of calcite (CaCO3) with other minerals like clay, micas, quartz, pyrite, iron oxides, and graphite.
  • Calcite in limestone recrystallizes to form interlocking calcite crystals under metamorphism.
  • Dolomitic marble forms when dolostone undergoes heat and pressure.
  • Transformation usually occurs at convergent plate boundaries due to regional metamorphism.
  • Can also form by contact metamorphism when hot magma heats nearby limestone or dolostone, often at convergent plate boundaries.


May 18
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