Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs – 16th September 2023



Today’s Topics List:

  1. Underwater Volcano – Did it made 2023 so hot?

  2. Demand for the OBC quota – Marathas

  3. Jal Jeeva Mission remains a pipe dream: Case study

  4. India – Saudi Arabia relations : Historical




Underwater Volcano – Did it made 2023 so hot?

    • News:
    • While the world is sweltering through record temperatures and scientists found an unusual culprit to be partly blamed. – The Underwater volcanic eruption off Tonga in South Pacific.
    • What Happened?
    • In the South Pacific, two little Islands, which are in fact small peaks on the rim of a large cauldron like hollow that lies at the heart of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai.
      • This volcano was exploded violently in January 2022, blasting 10 cubic km of rock, ash and sediment straight into the sky.
      • It was the biggest atmospheric explosion to be recorder by modern Instruments.
    • This led to a series of events that made a significant impact on the geography of the region, such as,
      • A mega Tsunami wave devastated the Islands of Tonga causing damage as far as Russia, Hawaii, Peru and Chile.
      • There was an extraordinary electrical activity inside the ash cloud, which gave high altitude lightning strikes inside the volcanic plumes.
      • There were 2,600 flashes of lightning every minute and having lightning into stratosphere is unusual.

Volcano and the Water vapour:

  • The main reason for the Tonga to be partly culprit in making 2023 so hot was, the water vapour cause by the volcano.
    • Highly energetic explosion of magma blasted through the shallow ocean, which vapourised the sea water.
    • More than 146 million tonnes of water vapour were thrown into earth’s stratosphere adding 10% to the amount of water found in stratosphere.
    • This volume is equivalent to fill 58,000 Olympic size swimming pools as per NASA.
  • Water vapour is also the most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
    • Heat radiated from Earth’s surface is absorbed by water vapor molecules in the lower atmosphere.
    • The Water vapour molecules radiate heat in all directions, some of the heat returns to the Earth’s surface. Thus, making it a second source of warmth (in addition to sun light) at Earth’s surface.
    • This is due to the Green House effect.
  • Why is it different from other Volcanoes:
  • Usually, land eruptions are associated with sun dimming haze which has a cooling effect on the planet. Ex: Pinatubo in Philippines in 1991.
    • The Tongo eruption is an exception to the rule and significant wildcard we have not seen before.
    • The June August period of this year is the warmest on record with heatwave conditions ranging from Japan to the United States.

What are the risks of Eruption:

  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says at least one Pinatubo style eruption is likely this century.
    • But that volcanoes have had a negligible effect on overall trend of global warming driven by Human Green House Gases since Industrial Revolution.
    • Volcanic activity is irregular, unpredictable and uncontrollable. Hence, there must be more research into this.
  • It is also feared that Climate change might make eruptions more frequent in certain icy areas where the weight of thick glaciers keeps a lid on some volcanoes.
    • A thaw could unleash eruptions

      Many Scientists say more research into volcanoes is vital to gauge how far eruptions can briefly affect the long-term trend of global warming, driven by burning of fossil fuels.




Demand for the OBC quota – Marathas


  • A 17 day fast demanding reservation for the Maratha Community in Jobs and education by manoj Jarange Patil was broken after the Chief Minister of the state visited him and asked for a month’s time to look into the issue.

Who are Marathas?

  • Marathas identified as warrior caste comprising of peasants and landowning groups, makes up one third of the population in Maharashtra.
    • Most of them speak the Marathi language.
    • It is politically strong with 12 out of 20 CMs of the state since its formation in 1960 being from the community.

The demand for Reservation:

  • Though Marathas belonging to the ruling class and land owning groups, the division of holdings and problems in farm sector over the years have, led to the decline in the prosperity of middle and lower middle class of Marathas.
    • The first mass protest for the reservation was held in Mumbai in 1981, led by Annasaheb patil, the leader of Mathadi Labour Union.
    • During 2016-2018, the Marathas Kranti Morcha held massive demonstrations with phase II largely being violent.

Demand for OBC Reservation:

  • Marathas want to be identified as Kunbis, which would entitle them to benefits under the quota of OBCs.
    • The demand for OBC reservation arose after Supreme Court in May 2021 struck down quota for Marathas under the State’s educationally Backward classes (SEBC) act, 2018.

The Judicial Pronouncements:

  • In 2019, Bombay High Court upheld Maratha quota under the SEBC Act.
    • However, it reduced the quota from 16% to 12% in education and 13% in jobs holding it as unjustifiable as recommended by Backward class commission.
    • It also said the Total reservation must not exceed 50% except in exceptional circumstances and extraordinary situations, subject to availability of quantifiable and contemporaneous data reflecting,
  • backwardness,
  • inadequacy of representation
  • without affecting efficiency of administration.
    • In 2021, SC struck down the law citing the Indra Sawhney Judgement 1992, which limited the total quota benefits to 50%.
    • In November 2022, though Supreme court upheld the EWS quota reservations to those not covered under any reservation. Govt of Maharashtra said until the issue of Maratha reservation is settled, the poor among Marathas could not benefit under EWS.
    • In April 2023, Supreme Court turned down the review petition, following which the State planned to file a curative petition and promised formation of a commission to carryout a detailed study of backwardness of the community.

The present Agitation and its course:

  • After the present agitation turned violent with police action, Govt. promised to issue kunbi caste certificates to certain members of the Maratha Community and reservations to eligible Kunbi Marathas and Maratha Kunbis.

What is the Opposition to the demand:

  • The OBC leaders say, they are not opposed to Maratha reservation but it should not be at their cost.
    • OBCs already got only 19 % of the reservation in Maharashtra compared to 27% Nationally.
    • Hence, they are not willing to share quota benefits with politically and numerically dominant Marathas.

The Breakup of reservations in Maharashtra.

  • And there is a 10% EWS quota irrespective of Cate and religion added.

                   This has led to sharp Maratha – OBC polarisation and the political equations that changed in the last one year has made the picture even more complicated.



Jal Jeeva Mission remains a pipe dream: Case study


  • The Mahoba district of Uttar Pradesh has seen a dramatic spike in official tap water connections under the Central Scheme, residents say they only have pipes, not taps, and there is often no actual supply of water flowing through them.

About the scheme:

  • Jal Jeevan Mission, is envisioned to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections by 2024 to all households in rural India.
    • It costs around Rs.3.6 lakh crores.
  • The programme will also implement source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, such as
    • Recharge and reuse through grey water management,
    • Water conservation,
    • Rain water harvesting.
  • The Jal Jeevan Mission will be based on a community approach to water and will include extensive Information, Education and communication as a key component of the mission.
  • JJM looks to create a jan andolan for water, thereby making it everyone’s priority.

Case of Mahoba District:

  • On Independence Day, 2019, this water-starved district in south-eastern Uttar Pradesh reported only 1,612 households with tap connections. 
  • Four years later, 1,29,209 households – or about 98% of all rural homes in Mahoba district – have water connections, according to the public dashboard of the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM).
    • No other district in India has reported such a dramatic increase in tap connections. 
    • However, a visit to some of the villages here suggests that a household certified as “connected” in JJM parlance does not always mean one with an actual water supply.

Claim Vs Relaity:

  • According to the scheme’s definitions, an Functional Household tap connections (FHTC) household is one where at least 55 litres of potable water per person a day is made available to every household.
    • There are villages which have been officially certified as having 100 % coverage of FHTC.
    • But, even here several households do not actually have taps.
    • Some do have taps, but are not getting any water through them.
    • Even in the best case scenario, such households get no more than two hours of water.
  • These distinctions are significant because all of these households are included in Uttar Pradesh’s official claim of 1.6 crore households which have functional tap connections, up from 5.1 lakh households in 2019
    • This conveyed the impression that they all have access to tap water. 
    • Uttar Pradesh has reported a dramatic surge of such tap connections in the last two years.
    • They now make up about 6% of the 13 crore rural households across the country connected to tap water.

Challenges associated:

  • Residents of Asthaun, a village with 420 households, gripe that only half the households have taps and no water actually flows through them.
    • Noting that half the village is in a low-lying area, without a submersible pump, which “only the rich could afford”, water simply did not make it to most houses.
    • The village is still reliant on groundwater from handpumps for domestic drinking purposes.
    • Many houses did have a pipe connection drawn out from the main central pipeline that had recently been laid out in the village.
    • But, this was too narrow and inadequate to convey water into houses.
  • In Luhari village, where its 295 houses have been marked as having tap connections also face the challenge of water supply.
  • In Kunata village, all 185 villages have been marked as having a household tap connection.
    • Many houses do not even have the pipes, let alone the taps, that have been promised as part of the Har Ghar Jal scheme.
    • Many of the access roads into the village have been cleaved to install the central pipeline that is expected to bring in water from the nearest water reservoir, but the pipeline itself is still missing.
  • There are also complaints of the taps getting stolen.

Water treatment challenges:

  • Women here continue to walk to the several handpumps or to the village well to draw water. 
    • Region’s rocky sub-surface means that perennial sources of groundwater are few. 
    • The Har Ghar Jal mission’s overarching aim is to wean villagers off their dependence on groundwater and handpumps, and instead provide piped water sourced from dams and rivers.
    • But, such water is often contaminated, hence the administration has commissioned water treatment plants which are in various stages of commissioning.
  • A major challenge of the mission was commissioning pipes that ran for hundreds of kilometres over undulating terrain, given that a crack or leak can cause disruptions in supply.

Way Forward:

            The scheme being flagship initiative of the Central government will transform the lives of rural population especially women who had to spend considerable amount of their time in fetching water from the water sources. Such scale of implementation is often plagued by inefficiencies which needs to be addressed in a swift manner to meet the target of 2024.




India – Saudi Arabia relations : Historical


  • Saudi Arabia Prince Mohammed Bin Salman visited India for the G20 Summit during which the India- Middle East -Europe Economic Corridor was announced. And, during his extended state visit, India has made several agreements with Saudi Arabia.

Important Events for Indo- Saudi relations during the G20 Week:

  • Announcement of India – Middle East – Europe Economic Corridor, a massive infrastructure project that would connect India to Europe via West Asia.
    • It could rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Prince Mohammed Co-Chaired with Modi the first meeting of India Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council (SPC).
  • Both the Countries signed several agreements (eight) including,
    • Upgrading the hydrogen energy partnership to a Comprehensive Energy Partnership for renewable, petroleum and strategic reserves.
    • To create a joint task force for $ 100 Billion of Saudi Investment in India.
    • Discussed the possibility of trading in local currencies.
    • Expediting negotiations for a free trade agreement between India and Gulf Cooperation Council.

History of relations:

  • India and Saudi Arabia always enjoyed a cordial and friendly relations that reflect their socio cultural and economic ties going back to centuries.
    • The two countries established their diplomatic ties in the year 1947.
  • The Visit of King Abdullah in 2006 was a watershed moment which resulted in Delhi Declaration, followed by Riyadh Declaration in 2010, that elevated bilateral ties  to strategic partnership.
  • PM Modi’s visit to Riyadh in 2016 captured the spirit of enhanced cooperation in political, economic, security and defence realms.
    • During this visit the Prime Minister was conferred the Kingdom’s highest Civilian Award, the King Abdulaziz Sash.
  • In February 2019, Prince Mohammed visited India.
    • During this, an agreement was reached where Saudi Arabia would invest approximately $100 billion in India.
    • Six MOUs/ Agreements were signed in a range of fields.
    • An Agreement was also signed to pave the way for Saudi Arabia to join International Solar Alliance.
  • In October 2019, During the PM Modi’s visit to Riyadh, the strategic partnership Council agreement was signed to establish a high level council to steer Indo Saudi relations.
    • SPC has separate sub committees on political, Security, Social and cultural cooperation, and on economy and investment.
    • Twelve pacts were signed during that visit.


The Gulf Cooperation Council:

►  The GCC was formed in 1981 by an agreement among Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), that was concluded in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

▪      It is an economic and political union comprising of all the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf except Iraq.

▪      Although its current official name is Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, it is still popularly and unofficialy known as the Gulf Cooperation Council, its former official name.

▪      The grouping was formed in view of the similar political establishments in the countries based on Islamic principles, their geographical proximity, joint destiny and common objectives.

►  The six members of the GCC are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait.

▪      There are also discussions for possible future memberships for Yemen, Jordan and Morocco.

►  The Membership comprises 2 absolute monarchies – Saudi Arabia and Oman ; 3 Constitutional monarchies (Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait) and 1 Federal monarch – UAE.

▪      India is not part of the Council , but a negotiations for India – GCC Free trade Agreement is underway.


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