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May 4 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm



The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), established in 2015, aim to tackle global challenges by 2030. Despite initial progress, recent reports suggest significant obstacles remain, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Urgent action is needed, focusing on government commitment, capacity strengthening, and international support. 

Introduction to SDGs: 

  • Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015. 
  • Consist of 17 goals with 169 targets to be achieved by 2030. 
  • Aim to address global challenges such as poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation. 

Progress and Challenges 

Slow Progress: 

  • Reports indicate progress is off track. 
  • COVID-19 pandemic and other crises have hindered advancements. 
  • Goals related to environment and biodiversity receive insufficient attention. 

Deficiencies in Implementation: 

  • Lack of integrated approach to SDGs. 
  • Focus on human well-being neglects environmental concerns. 
  • Key Areas for Urgent Action (UN SDG Report, 2023) 

Capacity Strengthening: 

  • Enhancing national and subnational institutions. 
  • Ensuring accountability and delivery of progress. 

International Support: 

  • Mobilizing resources for developing nations. 
  • Strengthening UN development system. 
  • Scientific Evidence and Political Impact 


  • SDGs have mainly led to discursive effects. 
  • Limited transformative impact on political systems. 
  • Some normative and institutional reforms observed. 
  • Guidelines for Action (UN Report ‘Future is Now’, 2019) 


Brundtland Commission 

  • The United Nations formed the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1983, which is popularly known as the Brundtland Commission. 
  • This commission played a crucial role in shaping the idea of sustainable development. 
  • It defined sustainable development as the balance between meeting current needs and ensuring that future generations can meet their own needs without compromising resources or the environment. 

The Earth Summit of 2002: 

The Earth Summit of 2002, also known as Rio+10, reinforced the United Nations’ dedication to Agenda 21 in conjunction with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 

  • The subsequent Johannesburg Declaration further bound nations worldwide to the pursuit of sustainable development. 
  • The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set to be achieved by 2015, emerged after the United Nations’ Millennium Summit in 2000. 
  • These goals were replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2016, expanding upon the eight development objectives initially outlined for 2015. 

The Earth Summit of 2012 

  • The Earth Summit of 2012, also called Rio+20 or Earth Summit 2012, was a follow-up to the 1992 and 2002 summits. 
  • It marked the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have been integrated into the Agenda 2030 since 2015. 
  • The Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) was launched in 2013 as a direct response to the Rio+20 Declaration, “The Future We Want.” 
  • PAGE aims to assist countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, with a particular emphasis on SDG 8: “Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment.” 

Multiple choice question: 

  1. Which of the following statements is/are correct regarding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
  1. The Sustainable Development Goals were initially suggested by a worldwide think tank known as the ‘Club of Rome’. 
  1. The Sustainable Development Goals must be accomplished by 2030. 

Choose the correct code: 

  1. Only 1 
  1. Only 2  
  1. Both 1 and 2  
  1. Neither 1 nor 2  



The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were actually proposed by the United Nations. The predecessor to the SDGs, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), were established by the UN Millennium Summit in 2000. Statement 1 is incorrect. 

The SDGs were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. Therefore, they must be accomplished by that deadline. Statement 2 is correct. 



India’s score in the World Press Freedom Index decreased from 36.62 to 31.28 over the last year, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). 

  • India’s rank improved slightly from 161 to 159, primarily due to other countries slipping in their rankings. 

Threats to Press Freedom: 

  • RSF notes that press freedom globally is threatened by political authorities. 
  • Average press freedom score fell by 7.6 points globally. 

Categories in Press Freedom Questionnaire 

  • Five Categories: Political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context, and security. 
  • India’s scores worsened in all categories except security. 

Challenges in India 

  • RSF describes India’s media as being in an “unofficial state of emergency” since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. 
  • Notable alignment between Modi’s party (BJP) and major media families. 
  • Reference to “Godi media” mixing populism and pro-BJP propaganda. 
  • Journalists critical of the government face harassment campaigns by BJP-backed trolls. 

Concerns about the United States 

  • Deterioration in Rank: The U.S. press freedom score fell from 71.22 to 66.59, and its rank deteriorated from 45 to 55. 
  • Concerns raised about Trump’s presidency and his adversarial stance towards the media. 


Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India (COI): 

  • Freedom of speech and expression is the foundation for media freedom, though not explicitly mentioned. 
  • Grants Indian citizens the right to express views and opinions through any medium. 

Article 19(2) of the COI: 

  • Reasonable restrictions can be imposed on the freedom of speech and expression for specific purposes. 
  • These restrictions can be related to national security, public order, defamation, etc. 


The Indian Constitution doesn’t grant absolute freedom of speech. Even though Article 19(1)(a) guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression, Article 19(2) outlines reasonable restrictions. 

  • Security of the State: This includes restrictions to prevent violence, rebellion, or activities that threaten national security. 
  • Sovereignty and Integrity of India: This restricts speech that could endanger the unity or territorial integrity of India. 
  • Friendly relations with Foreign States: This prevent speech that could damage India’s diplomatic relations with other countries. 
  • Public Order: This allows restrictions to maintain peace and order within the country. For instance, incitement to violence wouldn’t be protected. 


Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras (1950): 

  • Supreme Court recognized free press as a cornerstone of democracy. 

Indian Express v. Union of India (1985): 

  • Supreme Court emphasized the press’s vital role and its duty to protect press freedom. 

Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India (1978): 

  • Supreme Court clarified that freedom of expression extends beyond national borders. 

Bijoe Emmanuel v. State of Kerala (1986): 

  • Supreme Court included the right to remain silent within the right to speak. 

How freedom of speech Is important for reporters 

  • Transparency and Accountability: Reporters uncover corruption and hold institutions accountable, as seen in the Panama Papers scandal. 
  • Democracy and Informed Decision-Making: Through free speech, journalists provide diverse perspectives and vital information during elections, fostering democracy. 
  • Human Rights Advocacy: Journalists expose atrocities and advocate for oppressed groups, as seen in coverage of the Rohingya crisis. 
  • Social Justice and Reform: Reporters highlight social issues, mobilize movements, and push for policy change, exemplified by the Black Lives Matter movement. 
  • Preserving Freedom and Democracy: Freedom of speech safeguards civil liberties and democratic values, evident in journalists’ coverage of global protests despite threats. 

Measures to protect freedom of speech: 

  • Strong Legal Framework: Upholding a constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and expression is crucial. This includes clear definitions and limitations on what constitutes “reasonable restrictions.” 
  • Independent Judiciary: A strong and independent judiciary is essential to ensure fair trials and prevent censorship through the legal system. 
  • Media Literacy: Educating the public on media bias, fact-checking techniques, and responsible online behaviour can empower them to critically evaluate information and resist manipulation. 
  • Support Independent Media: Choose to consume information from a variety of sources, especially those funded independently and not beholden to special interests. 

Multiple choice question: 

  1. In the context of freedom of speech and expression in India, consider the following statements:
  1. It is an absolute right guaranteed by the Constitution. 
  1. Reasonable restrictions can be imposed on this right in the interests of public order. 

Which of the following statements is/are correct? 

  1. 1 only 
  1. 2 only 
  1. Both 1 and 2 
  1. Neither 1 nor 2 



While freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed by the Constitution of India under Article 19(1)(a), it is not an absolute right. Like most rights, it is subject to certain reasonable restrictions. Statement 1 is incorrect. 

Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution allows the state to impose reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression in the interests of public order, decency, morality, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, defamation, contempt of court, incitement to an offence, and sovereignty and integrity of India. Statement 2 is correct. 



India’s foreign policy faces a perplexing paradox: while the nation rises on the global stage, it experiences a simultaneous decline in regional influence, particularly in South Asia. 

  • This divergence stems from a complex interplay of factors, including competition with China, shifts in regional dynamics, and evolving geopolitical landscapes. 

Global Rise vs. Regional Decline: 

  • India experiences a contradiction where it is rising globally but declining regionally. 
  • Global rise attributed to economic growth, military capabilities, and active participation in global institutions and multilateral groups. 
  • Regional decline stems from diminishing relative power compared to China, loss of influence in South Asia, and changes in regional geopolitics. 

Factors Contributing to Global Rise and Regional Decline 

Global Rise Factors: 

  • Active participation in key global institutions like G-20 and multilateral groups such as the Quad. 
  • Growing international focus on the Indo-Pacific, where India holds a central position. 

Regional Decline Factors: 

  • Competition with China for influence in South Asia. 
  • Shifts in regional power dynamics due to China’s rise and the U.S.’s withdrawal from the region. 

Impact and Challenges 

  • Impact of China’s Rise: 
  • India faces geopolitical competition from China in South Asia, leading to a decline in regional influence. 

Challenges and Responses: 

  • Need to modernize India’s approach to the region and accept changed geopolitical realities. 
  • Focus on leveraging maritime advantages in the Indo-Pacific to counter continental challenges. 
  • Embrace non-India centric perspectives and collaborate with external partners to address regional challenges. 

Utilizing Soft Power 

  • Encouraging informal contacts and conflict management processes in the region. 
  • Leveraging India’s cultural and historical ties to retain influence. 

Implications for India’s Global Aspirations 

  • The paradox poses questions about India’s ability to maintain influence both regionally and globally. 
  • Maintaining primacy in the periphery is crucial for India’s role as a pivotal power in international politics. 


Colonial phase: 

  • Anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism efforts, including the Asian relation conference of 1948, solidified India’s relations with its neighbours. 

1950s and 1960s: 

  • India focused on bilateral engagements and treaties rather than regional frameworks to address neighbourhood issues. 


  • India aimed at regional assertion and establishing sub-continental hegemony during this phase. 


  • The Gujral doctrine emphasized unilateral concessions to assure India’s support to neighbours. 

2008 onwards: 

  • Concerns over China’s growing influence in the region led to the conception of the neighbourhood first policy (NFP). 

2014 onwards: 

  • The NFP underwent revamping to enhance ties through economic cooperation and development initiatives. 


The Gujral Doctrine outlines key principles for India’s relations with its neighbours: 

  • India offers assistance without expecting reciprocity. 
  • South Asian nations pledge not to use their territory against each other. 
  • Mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty is essential. 
  • Disputes should be resolved peacefully through bilateral negotiations. 

India’s extended neighbours  

  • Asia-Pacific: India’s ‘Act East’ policy aims to enhance economic, strategic, and cultural ties with the region, focusing on connectivity, commerce, culture, and capacity-building. Key institutional structures like ASEAN, ARF, and EAS support bilateral engagements. 
  • Indo-Pacific: India’s approach emphasizes inclusiveness, openness, and ASEAN centrality, with the SAGAR policy focusing on security and growth in the Indian Ocean. 
  • African Seaboard Countries: Partnerships are based on the principle of mutual development, with island nations like Seychelles and Mauritius having significant Indian diaspora. 
  • Central Asia: India’s Connect Central Asia policy seeks deeper economic and cultural relations, emphasizing commerce, capacity enhancement, connectivity, and contact. 
  • West Asia: India’s “Look West” policy has evolved into “Link and Act West,” focusing on GCC countries, Iran, Israel, and other Arab nations. The launch of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor highlights India’s growing presence in the region. 

India’s Neighbourhood Policy in today’s geopolitical landscape: 

India’s approach towards its neighbours lacks a comprehensive policy, with experts noting a focus on managing rather than shaping relationships. 

  • Strained bilateral ties, exemplified by Pakistan’s refusal to sign agreements on cross-border energy, motor vehicle movement, and railway cooperation during the last SAARC summit, pose challenges to regional policy implementation. 
  • Economic Interests: Ensuring energy security, particularly through cooperation with northern neighbors like Nepal and Bhutan, and facilitating trade through Indian Ocean routes to safeguard oil and gas imports. 
  • Development in the North East: Strengthening connectivity with neighbours like Bangladesh and Myanmar to address the region’s developmental deficit. 
  • Soft Power Diplomacy: Leveraging cultural and historical ties to enhance India’s soft power influence, such as promoting Buddhism as a means of strengthening diplomatic relations. 
  • Security Risks: Addressing cross-border terrorism and drug trafficking, exacerbated by porous borders and regional extremism, including piracy off the coast of Somalia. 

Way forward 

  • The EU’s success stems from historical reconciliation, notably between France and Germany. 
  • Similar reconciliation is vital for the success of other regional organizations, such as SAARC. 
  • Genuine reconciliation between Pakistan and India is essential for SAARC’s success. 
  • Reconciliation between Japan and China, and Japan and Korea, is crucial for the success of East Asia. 
  • Political and public will are essential for successful integration. 
  • Both government and public must believe in the significance of integration for national interests. 

Multiple choice question: 

  1. Consider the following statements about India’s Look East Policy:
  1. It aims to establish deeper economic and strategic relations with Southeast Asian countries. 
  1. It seeks to counter China’s growing influence in the region. 
  1. It emphasizes cultural and people-to-people exchanges with these countries. 

Which of the statements given above are correct? 

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



Establish deeper economic and strategic relations: This is a core objective of the Look East Policy. India aims to increase trade, investment, and infrastructure development with Southeast Asian nations like Indonesia, Vietnam, and Singapore. Statement 1 is correct. 

Counter China’s growing influence: The rise of China’s economic and military power in the region is a strategic concern for India. Statement 2 is correct. 

Cultural and people-to-people exchanges: The Look East Policy goes beyond just economic and strategic ties. It also promotes cultural understanding and cooperation through educational exchanges, tourism initiatives. Statement 3 is correct. 



Despite the potential for organ donations in India, rates remain low due to poor identification and certification of brain death cases. The Union Health Ministry has issued guidelines to address this issue and improve organ donation rates across the country. 

  • Despite potential cases, organ donation rates in India remain low. 
  • The Union Health Ministry expresses concern over the low rate of organ donations. 
  • The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) issues a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to address the issue. 
  • Hospitals are instructed to identify potential brain death cases and inquire about organ donation pledges. 
  • SOP mandates hospitals to facilitate and monitor brain death case certifications in compliance with the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994. 
  • Hospitals are directed to install ‘Required Request Display Boards’ to inform the public about organ donation opportunities. 
  • In 2022, a total of 16,041 organs, primarily kidneys, were donated, with Delhi leading the country with 3,818 donations. 

Organ Donation in India: A Cause in Need of Support 

  • High Demand, Low Supply: Over 300,000 patients wait for transplants, with 20 deaths daily due to organ shortage. 
  • Slow Donor Growth: Numbers remain low, rising from 6,916 in 2014 to 16,041 in 2022. 
  • Deceased Donor Shortage: India’s deceased donor rate is far below developed nations (less than 1 per million population). 
  • Living Donors Dominate, But Not Enough 
  • Living Donations Prevalent: 85% of donations come from living donors. 
  • Deceased Donation Needed: Kidneys, livers, and hearts especially require deceased donors. 

Regional Disparities 

  • Leaders in Deceased Donation: Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Maharashtra have the highest rates. 
  • Leaders in Living Donation: Delhi-NCR, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, and West Bengal lead in living donations. 


  • Increased Access for Recipients 
  • Age Limit Removed: People over 65 can now register for organ transplants due to improved life expectancy. 
  • Nationwide Registration: Patients can register for transplants in any state, following a “One Nation, One Policy” approach. 
  • Free Registration: Registration fees for organ recipients have been eliminated. 
  • Focus on Efficiency 
  • Centralized Network: NOTTO, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, acts as the central hub for organ donation and transplantation activities in India. 

Challenges Hinder Progress 

  • Lack of Awareness: The public and medical professionals need better education on organ donation. 
  • Family Consent Issues: Reluctance to donate, even when the deceased wished to, creates a hurdle. 
  • Organ Trafficking: Illegal practices exploit the demand for organs, undermining ethical donation. 
  • Matching Challenges: Finding compatible donors and organs leads to long waiting periods for patients. 
  • Incentive Debate: The ethics of offering financial incentives to donors is a complex issue. 
  • Infrastructure Limitations: Inadequate resources for organ retrieval, preservation, and transportation hinder efficient processes. 



Recent developments indicate progress in ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas, with Hamas sending a delegation to Egypt for talks. International mediators, including Egyptian and American officials, are actively involved in facilitating discussions to end the Gaza war. 

  • Hamas is sending a delegation to Egypt for ceasefire talks, indicating progress in efforts to end the Gaza war. 
  • Ceasefire negotiations show signs of compromise, with Egyptian and American mediators involved. 
  • The ceasefire deal’s success hinges on whether Israel will accept it without achieving its goal of destroying Hamas. 
  • A UN report warns that it will take until 2040 to rebuild Gaza’s homes destroyed by Israeli bombardment, with long-lasting economic repercussions. 
  • U.S. and Egyptian mediators propose a three-stage process for ceasefire, including a six-week ceasefire, partial hostage release, and negotiations for a permanent calm. 
  • Hamas seeks guarantees for full Israeli withdrawal and complete end to the war. 
  • Brokers hope the deal will end a conflict that has claimed over 34,000 Palestinian lives according to local health officials. 



  • UN Resolution 181 (1947) led to the creation of Israel in 1948. 
  • First Arab-Israeli War ensued, resulting in Palestinian displacement and territorial division. 

Initial Tensions and Conflicts (1956-1979): 

  • Suez Crisis and Israeli invasion of Sinai Peninsula (1956). 
  • Six-Day War (1967) led to Israeli control over significant territories. 
  • Controversy over Jerusalem as the capital, differing views between Israel and Palestinians. 

Intifadas and Diplomatic Efforts: 

  • First Intifada (1987-1993) and foundation of Hamas. 
  • Second Intifada (2000-2005) marked by escalated violence. 
  • Oslo Accords (1993) established framework for Palestinian self-governance. 

Post-2000 Conflict and Responses: 

  • US-led peace processes (2013). 
  • Gaza Conflict (2014) and Palestine’s break from Oslo Accords (2015). 
  • US funding cuts for Palestinian refugees (2018-2020). 
  • Proposal of “Peace to Prosperity” plan and Abraham Accords (2020). 

Recent Escalations (2022-2023): 

  • Israel conducts raids on Jenin refugee camp. 
  • Hamas launches “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.” 
  • Israel responds with “Operation Iron Swords,” declaring a State of War. 

India’s Stand: 

  • Supports Two-State solution. 
  • Condemns Hamas attacks on Israel. 
  • Issue considered occupied territory by most of the international community. 

Israel has several options available at present to address the ongoing conflict: 

Following a Long-Term Perspective: 

  • Cease the war, allow humanitarian assistance into Gaza, and engage in talks with Hamas through international mediators for the release of hostages and withdrawal of troops. 

Abiding by the Values of Abraham Accords: 

  • Listen to international calls to pause hostilities, considering the broader implications and Israel’s standing in the international community. 

Cooperating with Hamas: 

  • Consider engaging in a prisoner exchange process with Hamas, conditional on the release of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. 

Synchronizing with US’ Stand: 

  • Respond to US criticism and pressure to address the escalating death toll in Gaza, ensure aid delivery, and alleviate humanitarian suffering. 

India’s Role in Promoting a Balanced Approach: 

  • Advocate for a peaceful solution and use multilateral forums like the Human Rights Council to mediate and resolve the Israel-Palestine issue, maintaining favorable relations with both Arab countries and Israel. 



Researchers at Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) discovered a new species of marine tardigrade from the southeast coast of Tamil Nadu. They named it Batillipes chandrayaani after the Chandrayaan-3 moon mission. 

  • Habitat: Batillipes Chandrayaani was found in intertidal beach sediments at Mandapam in Tamil Nadu, highlighting its coastal habitat. 
  • Features: This tardigrade species is similar in size to others, measuring 0.15 millimetres in length and 0.04 millimetres in width.  
  • It has a trapezoid-shaped head and four pairs of legs with sharp-tipped sensory spines. Both males and females have similar morphology and size.  
  • This discovery adds to the 39 species already described under the genus Batillipes. 


  • Tardigrades are microscopic organisms commonly known as ‘water bears.’  
  • Marine tardigrades make up 17% of all known tardigrade species and are found in all oceans.  
  • Despite their small size, they are incredibly resilient creatures, known for their survival skills even in extreme conditions and mass extinctions. 



India has strongly protested China’s construction activities in the Shaksgam Valley, considering them illegal attempts to alter the ground situation. 

  • Location: The Shaksgam Valley, also known as the Trans Karakoram Tract, is situated in the Hunza-Gilgit region of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). It is a disputed territory claimed by India but controlled by Pakistan. 
  • Borders: The valley shares its borders with Xinjiang Province of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to the north, the Northern Areas of POK to the south and west, and the Siachen Glacier region to the east. 
  • Cession to China: In 1963, Pakistan ceded the Shaksgam Valley to China when both nations signed a boundary agreement to settle their border disputes.  
  • However, Article 6 of the agreement stipulated that the sovereign authority concerned would reopen negotiations with China after the resolution of the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India. 
  • Karakoram Highway: The agreement also set the groundwork for the development of the Karakoram Highway, a project that saw collaboration between engineers from China and Pakistan during the 1970s. 



HIMARS is a light, multiple rocket launcher system designed to engage and defeat various targets, including artillery, air defense concentrations, vehicles, and personnel carriers. 

  • Manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corporation, a US-based security and aerospace company, HIMARS is a versatile weapon system utilized for military operations. 


  • Air-Transportable: Mounted on a 5-ton Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV), HIMARS is air-transportable and can be swiftly deployed to different locations. 
  • Launcher Options: It can carry either a launcher pod of six rockets or one MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), providing flexibility in its weaponry. 
  • Rapid Deployment: HIMARS can be prepared for firing in less than 20 seconds, and a full launcher load of six rockets can be fired within 45 seconds, allowing for quick response to threats. 
  • Mobility and Protection: The system launches its weapons and swiftly moves away from the launch site to evade detection by enemy forces. Additionally, it is equipped with the Increased Crew Protection cabin to safeguard the operating crew against various hazards. 


May 4
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