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



The efficiency and effectiveness of the judicial system are fundamental to upholding the rule of law and ensuring access to justice for all. However, recent discussions surrounding the working hours of judges have reignited debates on the functioning of the judiciary. 

While the focus often revolves around the number of days judges spend on the bench and their vacation periods, it is imperative to delve deeper into the structural challenges and systemic issues contributing to the backlog of cases. 

Debate on Judge’s Working Hours: 

  • Recently, a remark by a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council reignited the debate on judges’ working hours. 
  • It raised questions about the effectiveness of judges’ work schedules and the need for modernization. 

Red Herring Argument on Court Timings: 

  • The focus on the number of days judges sit or take vacations overlooks deeper issues contributing to case arrears. 
  • Implying that longer court hours or fewer vacations would solve the arrears problem oversimplifies the issue. 
  • India’s Judicial Backlog: A Growing Challenge 

Unresolved Cases Clog the System: 

India’s judiciary faces a significant challenge: a massive backlog of unresolved cases. This “pendency,” as it’s called, is particularly severe in lower courts, where most cases originate and where there’s a critical shortage of judges. 

  • Regional Imbalances: The problem isn’t evenly distributed. Some states, like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, grapple with millions of pending cases, exceeding the national average. 
  • A Growing Tide: The situation worsens. From 2010 to 2020, pendency across all courts increased by 2.8% annually. This means, even without new cases, 
  • it would take: Supreme Court: 1.3 years, High Courts & Subordinate Courts: 3 years each to clear the existing backlog at the current disposal rate. 

Beyond Regular Courts: 

  • The issue extends beyond regular courts. Tribunals and specialized courts, established to expedite case resolution, also face high pendency and vacancies. 
  • For example, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had over 21,000 pending cases at the end of 2020. 

Factors Contributing to Arrears: 

  • Shortage of Judges: Many states have vacancies in high courts and lower courts, leading to prolonged vacancies and increasing workload. 
  • Quality Deficits: Uneven proficiency in language and legal acumen among lawyers and judges result in procedural delays and prolonged trials. 
  • Excessive Litigation: Government litigation constitutes a significant portion of court cases, straining the system. 
  • Legislative Impact: New laws often lead to increased litigation without considering the impact on court workload. 
  • Administrative Efficiency: Lack of administrative support and outdated procedures hinder efficient case management. 

Proposed Solutions: 

  • Administrative Reforms: Establishing administrative secretariats with qualified court managers to assist judges. 
  • Enhanced Entry Standards: Setting higher standards for judicial appointments and legal practice to ensure competency. 
  • Financial Support: Allocating more resources to improve court infrastructure and support staff. 
  • Procedural Reforms: Streamlining procedures, reducing government litigation, and clearing outdated laws to expedite case disposal. 
  • Specialized Efforts: Implementing specialized courts, pre-trial mediation, and prioritizing old cases to reduce backlog. 

Initiatives to Streamline India’s Courts 

India’s judiciary is actively tackling the challenge of case pendency through various initiatives: 

  • Virtual Courts: Embracing technology, virtual courts allow proceedings to occur remotely via video conferencing. This improves access to justice and expedites case resolution. 
  • e-Courts Portal: This online platform serves as a one-stop shop for all court stakeholders – litigants, lawyers, government agencies, and citizens. It leverages technology to enhance access to justice. 
  • E-filing: Filing cases electronically offers numerous benefits. It saves time and money, eliminates the need for physical presence in court, automatically digitizes case files, and reduces paper usage. 
  • Interoperable Criminal Justice System (ICJS): This initiative fosters seamless data exchange between courts, police, jails, and forensic labs. This integrated platform improves efficiency within the criminal justice system. 
  • Fast-Track Courts: The government establishes these specialized courts to expedite case resolution and reduce overall backlog. 
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): Mechanisms like Lok Adalats (people’s courts), Gram Nyayalayas (village courts), and Online Dispute Resolution provide faster and more accessible avenues for resolving disputes. 

Multiple Choice Question: 

  1. Which of the following statements regarding dispute resolution techniques is/are correct?
  1. Arbitration involves the resolution of disputes by a neutral third party, whose decision is binding on the parties involved. 
  1. Mediation is a non-binding process where a neutral third party assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable solution. 
  1. Conciliation is a process where a neutral third party evaluates the merits of the case and provides a non-binding recommendation. 
  1. Litigation refers to the resolution of disputes through informal negotiations between the parties involved. 

Select the incorrect options using the codes below: 

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

Answer – D 


Arbitration involves the resolution of disputes by a neutral third party, whose decision is binding on the parties involved. Mediation is a non-binding process where a neutral third party assists the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable solution. 

Conciliation is similar to mediation, where a neutral third party assists in resolving disputes, but it is non-binding. Litigation refers to resolving disputes through formal legal proceedings, not informal negotiations. 

Litigation refers to formal legal proceedings, not informal negotiations. Arbitration is a binding process, unlike mediation or conciliation. 

Litigation refers to formal legal proceedings, not informal negotiations. Conciliation involves a neutral third party providing a non-binding recommendation, whereas mediation is non-binding and aims to facilitate a mutually acceptable solution. 



By 2047, over 50% of India’s population is expected to live in cities. To address the urban infrastructure needs, the World Bank estimates a requirement of $840 billion over the next 15 years.  

The AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) scheme, launched in June 2015 and its version 2.0 in October 2021, aims to address these challenges. 

What is the AMRUT Scheme? 

  • Objective: Tackle infrastructure issues related to water, mobility, and pollution with financial assistance from the Centre, States, and cities. 
  • Targets 500 cities and towns with populations over one lakh. 
  • Goals: Ensure every household has a tap with assured water supply and sewerage connection, develop green spaces, and reduce pollution by promoting public and non-motorised transport. 
  • Budget: ₹50,000 crore for five years from FY 2015-16 to FY 2019-20. 

AMRUT 2.0 

  • Aim: Make cities ‘water secure’ and provide water tap connections to all households in statutory towns. 
  • Targets: 100% sewage management in 500 AMRUT cities. 
  • Budget: ₹2,99,000 crore, with a Central outlay of ₹76,760 crore over five years.₹83,357 crore used as of May 19, 2024. 
  • 58,66,237 tap connections, 37,49,467 sewerage connections, development of 2,411 parks, and installation of 62,78,571 LED lights. 
  • AMRUT aligns with Sustainable Development Goal 6 (clean water and sanitation). 

Current Reality 

  • Water and Sanitation Issues: About 2,00,000 deaths annually due to inadequate water and sanitation; significant disease burden. 
  • Resource Scarcity: 21 major cities facing groundwater depletion; 31% urban households lack piped water; 67.3% lack piped sewerage. 
  • Air Quality Concerns: Worsening air quality in AMRUT cities despite National Clean Air Programme. 

Challenges and Shortcomings of AMRUT Scheme: 

  • Project-oriented approach: Focuses on individual projects rather than a comprehensive urban development plan. This can lead to a lack of cohesion and missed opportunities for synergy. 
  • Limited city participation: Top-down approach with minimal involvement from local bodies like elected officials and citizen groups. This can lead to a disconnect between project goals and community needs. 
  • Governance issues: Centralized control by bureaucracy and potential influence of private interests might contradict the spirit of decentralization envisioned in the 74th Constitutional Amendment. 
  • Water management flaws: Standardized solutions might not account for local variations in climate, rainfall patterns, and existing water infrastructure. This can lead to inefficiencies and resource wastage. 

Irregular Town Planning and AMRUT: 

Irregular town planning and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) are intricately linked issues that pose a significant challenge for future community development in India. 

  • Strained Infrastructure: Unplanned urban growth leads to congested settlements with inadequate water supply, sanitation, and solid waste management systems. This is precisely what AMRUT aims to address, but irregular planning makes implementation difficult and resource intensive. 
  • Inequitable Distribution:  Irregular layouts often result in informal settlements lacking basic amenities. 

The Way Forward: 

  • Integrated Approach: AMRUT’s impact can be amplified by linking it with initiatives promoting planned development.  Schemes like Smart Cities Mission can provide a framework for long-term planning alongside AMRUT’s focus on immediate service delivery. 
  • Community Participation:  Including local communities in planning processes is crucial.  Understanding their needs and incorporating their perspectives can lead to more effective and sustainable solutions for unplanned areas. 

Multiple Choice Question: 

  1. Which of the following statements regarding the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme is/are correct?
  1. AMRUT aims to address infrastructure challenges related to water, mobility, and pollution in urban areas. 
  1. The scheme covers 1000 cities and towns with a population of over one lakh. 
  1. AMRUT 2.0 focuses on making cities ‘water secure’ and providing functional water tap connections to all households. 
  1. The total outlay for AMRUT 2.0 is ₹50,000 crore for five years. 

Select the correct answer using the codes below: 

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



AMRUT aims to address infrastructure challenges related to water, mobility, and pollution in urban areas. The scheme covers 500 cities and towns with a population of over one lakh, not 1000. 

AMRUT 2.0 focuses on making cities ‘water secure’ and providing functional water tap connections to all households. 

The total outlay for AMRUT 2.0 is ₹2,99,000 crore for five years, not ₹50,000 crore. 



Delhi experienced its fourth consecutive day of heatwave conditions, defined as a maximum temperature of 45°C or more. 

Multiple weather stations in Delhi record temperatures at specific locations at Palam, Lodhi Road, Ridge, Ayanagar, etc . 

Each station provides data for its specific location, not an average for the whole city. Temperature readings on mobile apps show the nearest station’s data, which may differ from official IMD stations. 

Anthropogenic Factors 

  • Urban Infrastructure: Pavements, buildings, roads, and parking lots increase temperatures due to lack of shade and moisture. 
  • Construction Materials: Concrete structures retain more heat, contributing to warmer temperatures. 
  • Building Geometry: Dense building areas with narrow streets trap heat and obstruct wind flow, raising temperatures. 
  • Air Conditioners: Heavy use of ACs in malls and residential areas releases heat outdoors, increasing local temperatures. 

Urban Heat Islands 

  • Areas within cities that experience higher temperatures compared to surrounding regions. 
  • Causes: Lack of trees, vegetation, and water bodies; extensive concrete and infrastructure. 
  • Natural Cooling: Parks, urban forests, and water bodies reduce temperatures through shade and cooling processes like transpiration and evaporation. 


An urban heat island (UHI) is a phenomenon where urban areas experience significantly higher temperatures compared to surrounding rural areas. This temperature difference is primarily caused by human activities and infrastructure. 


  • Reduced Vegetation: Cities have fewer trees and plants, which absorb heat during the day and release it at night. Concrete, asphalt, and buildings absorb and retain heat, contributing to warmer nights. 
  • Increased Paved Surfaces: Roads, parking lots, and sidewalks absorb and trap heat, radiating it back into the surrounding air. 
  • Waste Heat: Vehicles, factories, and human activity generate heat that gets trapped within the urban environment. 


  • Increased Energy Use: People rely more on air conditioning to cope with the heat, leading to higher energy consumption. 
  • Air Quality Issues: Heat can trap pollutants like smog and ozone, causing respiratory problems. 
  • Public Health Concerns: Heat stress, heatstroke, and other heat-related illnesses become more prevalent. 
  • Water Scarcity: Increased evaporation due to heat can put a strain on water resources. 


  • Urban Greening: Planting trees, creating rooftop gardens, and using green infrastructure can help cool down cities. 
  • Lighter-Coloured Pavements: Replacing dark-coloured pavements with lighter materials that reflect heat can make a difference. 
  • Energy-Efficient Buildings: Promoting buildings with better insulation and cooling systems can reduce heat generation. 
  • Urban Planning Strategies: Designing cities with wider walkways, encouraging green roofs, and promoting walkable neighbourhoods can improve air circulation and reduce heat buildup. 

Reason for Heatwave: 

  • The rain deficit (only 0.4 mm rainfall recorded in May compared to the normal of 29.1 mm) significantly contributed to heat build-up. 
  • Clear skies, westerly winds from Rajasthan (experiencing 50°C temperatures), and the absence of western disturbances prior to May 10th further intensified the heat. 

What is a Heatwave? 

A heatwave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, lasting for several days, that significantly exceeds the average for the region. These extreme temperatures can pose a serious health threat to humans and animals. 

Criteria for Declaring a Heatwave: 

 Maximum temperature exceeding a specific value for a certain number of consecutive days. 

Plains (like Delhi):  

  • Maximum temperature is 40°C (104°F) or hotter for at least 2 days in a row. 
  • AND the temperature is 4.5°C to 6.4°C (8.1°F to 11.5°F) higher than usual for those days. 

Hilly regions:  

  • Maximum temperature is 30°C (86°F) or hotter for at least 2 days in a row. 
  • AND the temperature is 4.5°C to 6.4°C (8.1°F to 11.5°F) higher than usual for those days. 

Coastal areas:  

  • The temperature is at least 37°C (98.6°F) for 2 days in a row. 
  • AND the temperature is 4.5°C (8.1°F) or hotter than usual for those days. 

Multiple Choice Question: 

  1. Which of the following statements about the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and its reports is/are correct?
  1. The IMD is responsible for weather forecasting and monitoring in India. 
  1. It releases the State of the Climate Report annually, highlighting global climate trends. 
  1. The IMD operates multiple weather stations across India, providing data for specific locations. 
  1. Its reports include assessments of temperature variations within cities, such as the phenomenon of urban heat islands. 

Select the correct answer using the codes below: 

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



The India Meteorological Department (IMD) is indeed responsible for weather forecasting and monitoring in India.  

While the IMD releases various reports, including weather forecasts and climate outlooks, it does not release the State of the Climate Report annually. This report is usually published by international organizations like the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) or national agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States. 

The IMD operates multiple weather stations across India, providing data for specific locations. These weather stations help in collecting meteorological data such as temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed, and direction. 

The IMD’s reports do include assessments of temperature variations within cities, including phenomena like urban heat islands.  



liberalism now faces significant criticism from both the left and the right. The rise of populist and authoritarian leaders globally marks a decline in liberal democracy, with support for alternative models growing even in India.  

This situation calls for a reformed and inclusive approach to Indian liberalism to address current challenges and renew public trust in democratic values. 

Challenges to Liberalism in India 

  • Once seen as the pinnacle of governance post-1991, liberalism is now under attack worldwide, with only 34 liberal democracies remaining by 2022. 
  • Growing preference for authoritarian models is evident, with a significant portion of Indians favoring non-democratic governance. 

Need for Reformed Liberalism 

  • Indian Roots: Liberal values like liberty and justice are inherent in Indian traditions, reflected by thinkers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and B.R. Ambedkar. 
  • Liberalism must be inclusive, addressing tradition and identity while upholding core ideals of freedom and representation. 

Four Evolutions for Indian Liberalism 

  • Address cultural and emotional concerns of communities, recognizing systemic oppression and ensuring liberal values reach the masses. 
  • Economic Inclusivity: Move beyond neoliberalism, promoting free enterprise and social justice through welfare and equitable distribution of growth benefits. 
  • Political Reform: Decentralize power, revive representative institutions, and rebuild public trust in democratic systems. 
  • Liberal Consensus: Develop a basic agreement among liberals, focusing on shared goals rather than internal disagreements to combat greater threats to democracy. 

Liberalism and the Challenges It Faces Today 

  • Liberalism is a political philosophy that emphasizes individual liberty, democratic governance, economic freedom, and rule of law. 
  • Post-1991, India adopted liberalism, reflecting global trends towards democracy and market-driven economies. 
  • Originated during the Enlightenment with thinkers like John Locke and Montesquieu advocating for personal freedoms and democratic governance. 
  • 19th and 20th Century: Expanded through movements for civil rights, social justice, and economic reforms, particularly in Western democracies. 

Variants of Liberalism 

  • Classical Liberalism: Focuses on limited government and free market economy. 
  • Social Liberalism: Emphasizes the role of the state in ensuring social justice and reducing inequality. 
  • Neoliberalism: Advocates for deregulation, privatization, and globalization to promote economic growth. 

Challenges to Liberalism 

  • Reduced Number of Liberal Democracies: The number of liberal democracies has decreased to just 34 as of 2022.Countries like Hungary and Turkey have seen significant democratic backsliding, with authoritarian leaders undermining liberal democratic principles. 
  • Growing Preference for Authoritarian Models: Increasing support for authoritarian or military rule in various countries, including India. A Pew survey found 85% of respondents in India favouring authoritarianism over representative democracy. 
  • Liberals are criticized for promoting policies that benefit the elite and widen economic disparities. Neoliberal economic policies have been blamed for increasing the wealth gap and neglecting the needs of the poor and marginalized. 
  • Western Colonial Influence: The right views liberalism as a foreign concept that undermines traditional values and community bonds. 
  • Erosion of Trust in Liberal Democracy: There is growing public discontent with the functioning of liberal democratic institutions. 
  • Example: The mainstreaming of bigoted and chauvinistic narratives in various countries has led to increased polarization and distrust in democratic processes. 



Tribal communities in Odisha face difficulties obtaining necessary approvals from the forest department to sell kendu leaves. 

Delays and challenges in selling kendu leaves affect the income and livelihood of these communities. 


Minor Forest Produce (MFP) 

  • According to the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006, minor forest produce includes all non-timber forest products of plant origin. 
  • Examples: Bamboo, brushwood, stumps, cane, tussar, cocoons, honey, wax, lac, kendu leaves, medicinal plants, herbs, roots, tubers, and similar items. 
  • Exclusion: Does not include timber. 
  • Significance: These products are crucial for the livelihoods of Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers. 

Kendu Leaf 

  • Nickname: Known as the “green gold of Odisha.” 
  • Classification: A nationalized product like bamboo and sal seed, and one of the most important non-wood forest products in Odisha. 
  • Use: Primarily used to roll tobacco into bidis (local cigarettes); also known as tendu leaf in other parts of India. 
  • Major Producers: Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra. 
  • Production Rank: Odisha is the third-largest producer of kendu leaf in India, after Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. 



The Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari will involve a 48-hour meditation session, symbolizing the conclusion of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. 


Location and Description 

  • Location: Situated on a small island off Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu. 
  • Rocks: Stands on one of the two rocks about 500 meters off the mainland of Vavathurai. 
  • Surroundings: Surrounded by the Laccadive Sea, where the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Sea converge. 
  • Purpose: Built in 1970 in honor of Swami Vivekananda, who is believed to have attained enlightenment on the rock. 
  • Structures: Includes the ‘Shripada Mandapam’ and the ‘Vivekananda Mandapam.’ 
  • Statue: Features a life-sized bronze statue of Swami Vivekananda on the premises. 
  • Funding: A memorial funded by contributions from all State Governments and the Central Government. 

Swami Vivekananda: Who Was He? 

  • Early Life: Born as Narendranath Datta in 1863, he became a Hindu monk and spiritual leader. 
  • Disciple of Sri Ramakrishna: Foremost disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, his guru. 
  • Philosophy: Promoted Vedanta and sought to combine Indian spirituality with Western material progress. 
  • Teachings: Emphasized selfless service, the harmony of religions, and the divinity of the soul. 
  • World Recognition: Represented Hinduism at the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago. 
  • Legacy: Founded the Ramakrishna Order in 1897 at Belur, outside Kolkata, to spread his teachings and philosophy. 



The expansion of Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes across Africa presents a substantial challenge to a continent already grappling with a high malaria burden. 

Origin and Characteristics 

  • Native Habitat: Originally from South Asia, Anopheles stephensi is a mosquito species. 
  • Vector Status: It serves as a carrier for both Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax, the parasites causing malaria. 
  • Adaptability: Known for rapid adaptation to environmental changes, it thrives in various settings, including rural and urban areas. 
  • Urban Preference: Unlike typical African malaria vectors, An. stephensi prefers urban environments and proximity to humans. 
  • Breeding Habits: Females lay eggs in diverse water sources like containers, tyres, and flowerpots, with eggs capable of surviving dry conditions. 
  • Feeding Behavior: Feeds on vertebrate hosts indoors and outdoors, reducing the effectiveness of traditional vector control methods like insecticide-treated nets and indoor spraying. 

Concerns and Implications 

  • Health Risks: An. stephensi, along with Aedes mosquitoes, poses a threat due to diseases like dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, and Zika. 
  • Malaria Spread: The spread of this urban mosquito in Africa jeopardizes malaria elimination efforts, especially as urban populations grow (42.5% of Africa’s population now resides in urban areas). 



A court in the Philippines has recently withdrawn biosafety permits for the commercial cultivation of genetically modified golden rice and BT eggplant. 

About Golden Rice 

  • Beta Carotene Content: Golden Rice is a genetically modified variety of rice containing beta carotene, which gives it a yellow-orange or golden colour. 
  • Genetic Engineering: Developed through genetic engineering, it involves the addition of beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, to the rice grain. 
  • Improved Nutritive Value: While regular rice produces beta carotene in the plant but not in the grain, genetic engineering enables the presence of beta carotene in the rice grain, enhancing its nutritional profile. 
  • Source of Beta Carotene: Beta carotene in Golden Rice is identical to that found in various fruits, vegetables, and supplements. 
  • Cultivation and Yield: Requires no special cultivation practices and generally has similar yield and agronomic performance as ordinary rice. 

Importance in Combating Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) 

  • Cost and Taste: Expected to have similar cost and taste as regular rice, making it accessible to communities. 
  • Vitamin A’s Role: Vitamin A is crucial for growth, development, and maintaining healthy visual and immune systems. 
  • Impact of VAD: Weakens resistance to diseases, causes blindness, and may lead to death if untreated. 
  • Significance: Golden Rice serves as a valuable tool in addressing VAD and improving public health, especially in regions where rice is a staple food. 


May 30
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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