1)Lal Bahadur Shastri’s political life has lessons:
- Sharing his birthday with Gandhi and coming from the province of Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri was the self-effacing layman who became India’s second Prime Minister (1964-66).
- Nearly 40 years of participation in the freedom movements of the Indian National Congress and independent governments.
- However, his seemingly unlikely ascent to that office and his untimely demise led him to be overshadowed by his long-serving predecessor and successor.
- He was given the title Shastri meaning scholar by Vidyapeeth as a part of his bachelor’s degree award
Pre Independence journey
- He became a member of servants of the people society founded by Lala Lajpat Rai
- There He started to work for the upliftment of backward classes and later became the President of the society
- Impressed and influenced by Mahatma Gandhi he joined Indian Independence Movement in 1920s
- He participated in the non-cooperation movement, the Salt Satyagraha, Individual Satyagraha and Quit India Movement
- He joined the Indian Government and become one of Prime Minister Nehru’s principles first as Railway Minister 1951-56 and later as home minister
- In 1964 he became the Prime Minister of India
Why was Shastri more suitable leader after Nehru?
- He was the Minister Who resigned twice taking moral responsibility for railway accidents in 1956
- Shastri was one of the six who left their cabinet post in 1963 to work in the party organization under the Kamaraj plan
- He was the only one who was recalled by an ailing prime minister in January 1964 in a roving capacity and within 6 months was unanimously elevated as Nehru’s successor upon his death
- In a poll conducted by the Indian Institute of public opinion he had received almost half the votes to fill the role
Quiet change on many fronts
- His tenure began amid a renewed bout of food scarcity and resultant price rise
- More prosaically, it caused a forex crisis from food procurement and a provincial friction between surplus and deficit zones, and saw piecemeal rationing as well as the construction of the Food Corporation of India on the way to an eventual ‘Green Revolution’.
- Such systemic challenges and the structural response to them require organizational consensus and federal cooperation as much as prime ministerial control.
- This was more so in the mid-1960s when the monolithising days of the Congress’ clientele ‘system’ were on their last legs, afflicted by a generational churn among its regional satraps.
Many challenges- in the Nation
- The language violence in Tamil Nadu
- Youth challenges in Orissa
- Returning President’s rule in Kerala
- Persisting feuds in Uttar Pradesh
- Enduring demand for a Punjabi suba and
- Continuing farce in Kashmir
Were some of the question marks at the cross-section of nation, region and institution for the Prime Minister
Challenges in the international arena
- Subdued Non-Aligned Movement
- The now-nuclear challenge of China
- A change in the Soviet leadership,
- A new leader in Pakistan, President Ayub Khan
- And an Anglo-American-Commonwealth combine distracted with varied issues such as Vietnam and Southern Rhodesia.
Fittingly, for a person whose first foray in foreign affairs had been to Nepal, the first fruit of Shastri’s diplomacy was the agreement with then-Ceylon on persons of Indian origin there — an endorsement of the importance of neighborhood.
Rann of Kutch dispute with Pakistan
- Where a combination of its remoteness, reciprocal military situation on the ground, a relatively straightforward question of overdue boundary determination, and successful British mediation meant that Shastri was content with a reasonable reference to an international tribunal, which eventually gave India the lion’s share of the demarcated territory.
- However, it was in August, 18 years from their Independence and Partition, that India and Pakistan came to their first, declared war over that unfinished business from 1947: Jammu and Kashmir.
- As it followed, familiar tropes of infiltration and mopping up, crossover and confrontation, critical calculations of cooperation from the one side and suspicions of collaboration from the other, failed to materialize.
- In the end, he accepted the Soviet offer for mediation and set about the road to Tashkent, where an agreement was signed with his Pakistani counterpart, President Muhammad Ayub Khan in January 1966, more or less restoring the status quo.
It was there that he died, within hours of their declared denouement to war.
Highlights of Shastri’s heritage:
- Shift from personalized to institutionalized government
- The laying of stress from industry to agriculture
- And a move from command to economy
- His quiet ascent to prime ministership and his loud actions as Prime Minister fell through the cracks between the Nehruvian era and Indira’s India.
His political life has lessons but, unfortunately, it is his sudden death that has caused conspiracies and vitiates his public recall, doing little justice to his history.
Lessons from his life
- Protested against caste system
- Patriotic from young age
- Simple living, high thinking
- A compassionate forward-thinking leader
- Honesty was always the best policy
Like most in his time, he rose humbly from the provinces in national politics, and carried his convictions from his faith in people, their constitution and representation. Crucially, he remained modest in both his personal probity and policy making and was not invested solely in his occupancy of his office.
2) Atal Tunnel:
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi shall inaugurate Atal Tunnel, Rohtang at 10 AM on 3rd October 2020.
Atal Tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in the World.
- The 9.02 Km long tunnel connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year.
- Earlier the valley was cut off for about 6 months each year owing to heavy snowfall.
- The Tunnel is built with ultra-modern specifications in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3000 Mtrs (10,000 Feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL).
- The tunnel reduces the road distance by 46 Kms between Manali and Leh and the time by about 4 to 5 hours.
- The South Portal (SP) of Atal Tunnel is located at a distance of 25 Km from Manali at an altitude of 3060 Mtrs, while the North Portal (NP) of the tunnel is located near village Teling, Sissu, in Lahaul Valley at an altitude of 3071 Mtrs.
- It is horse shoe shaped, single tube double lane tunnel with a roadway of 8 Mtrs. It has an overhead clearance of 5.525 Mtrs.
- It has the state of the art electromechanical system including semi transverse ventilation system, SCADA controlled firefighting, illumination and monitoring system
3) Laser Guided ATGM
The indigenously developed Laser Guided Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) was successfully test fired today on 1st Oct 2020 defeating a target located at longer range.
- The ATGM employs a tandem HEAT warhead to defeat Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) protected armoured vehicles in ranges from 1.5 to 5 km.
- It has been developed with multiple-platform launch capability and is currently undergoing technical evaluation trials from 120 mm rifled gun of MBT Arjun.
- Having a range of up to 5 km
- This Laser Guided Missile has been developed by Armament R&D Establishment (ARDE), Pune in association with High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), Pune and Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE), Dehradun
4) Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology:
Context: The commission is celebrating the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
- He said that the development of vocabulary in Hindi and other Indian languages by the Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology for more than 9 lakh English words in various subjects including Science, Engineering and Technology, Agriculture and Medical Sciences, during its proud journey of six decades is highly commendable.
- The eighth fundamental duty enshrined in Part 4 of our Constitution instructs us to “develop humanism and the spirit of learning and reform from a scientific perspective.”
- To develop the terminology for Indian languages, the President of India ordered the formation of a permanent commission on 27 April 1960, based on the recommendation of a committee pursuant to clause (4) of Article 344 of the Constitution of India.
- Under the provisions, the Scientific and Technical Terminology Commission was established by the Government of India on October 1, 1961.
- The Scientific and Technical Terminology Commission develops and uses, distributes and promotes standard terminology.
5) India at UN Biodiversity Summit:
Context: Representing India at the United Nations (UN) Biodiversity Summit on the occasion of 75th anniversary of the UN General Assembly, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said that as we are approaching the end of the UN Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020 there is an urgent need to accelerate action to conserve biodiversity.
- The summit is first of its kind ever taken place on Biodiversity in the United Nations General Assembly.
- The Biodiversity Summit was participated by Head of States/Minister level representing the countries which are party to Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The full text of the Environment Minister’s address is as follows:-
- India is one of the seventeen mega-bio-diverse countries in the world.
- India has a culture of not just conserving and protecting nature, but living in harmony with nature.
- The emergence of COVID-19 has emphasized the fact that un-regulated exploitation of natural resources coupled with un-sustainable food habits and consumption pattern lead to destruction of system that supports human life.
- As enshrined in our Vedic scripts “prakritirakshatirakshita” that is if you protect nature, nature will protect you.
- Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, the ethos of non-violence and protection of animals and nature have been suitably enshrined in the Constitution of India and is reflected in several laws and legislations.
- It is due to these beliefs and ethos that India, with only 2.4% of the earth’s land area hosts around 8% of the world’s recorded species.
- I am happy to inform this august gathering that in the course of last decade, India has enhanced the combined forest and tree cover to 24.56% of the total geographical area of the country.
- India has now the highest number of tigers in the wild and have doubled its numbers ahead of the deadline of 2022and recently announced the launch of Project Lion and Project Dolphin.
- India aims to restore 26 million hectares of degraded and deforested land, and achieve land-degradation neutrality by 2030.
- India has already set aside extensive area for meeting the conservation objectives, contributing to Aichi Biodiversity Target-11 and the SDG -15.
- India has established a comprehensive institutional and legal system to realize the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
- India has operationalized a system for access and benefit-sharing provisions of the CBD through a national network of 0.25 million, Biodiversity Management Committees across the country involving local people and 0.17 million Peoples Biodiversity Registers for documentation of biodiversity.
- The post-2020 global biodiversity framework that will be adopted at the 15th Conference of Parties to the CBD in 2021 provides a good opportunity to enhance efforts to conserve and protect nature.
- India has already taken leadership role in order to conserve biodiversity by organizing two Conference of Parties (cops) within a span of less than a year
- We organized cop-14 of UNCCD during September, 2019 in New Delhi, followed by cop 13 of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) in Gandhinagar in Gujarat during February 2020.
India has been championing the cause of “climate action” through conservation, sustainable lifestyle and green development model.
On the occasion of the “75th anniversary of the UN” and the start of the “UN Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development”, lets join our efforts to put nature on a path to recovery and realize the vision of “living in harmony with nature”.
6) Women’s safety:
A 19-year-old Dalit girl, who had been allegedly raped and assaulted at Hathras village in Uttar Pradesh on September 14, succumbed to her injuries on September 29.
- She was cremated in the dead of night with the family claiming they had been kept away from her last rites.
- This inhuman act which follows a string of sexual violence cases in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere in India highlights some grim truths, primarily that the safety of women is not a guarantee despite the stringent laws in place.
- After the Nirbhaya rape in Delhi in 2012, the government set up a committee led by Justice J.S. Verma.
- On its recommendations, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act was amended in 2013, bringing in changes to the Indian Penal Code and other laws.
- The latest National Crime Records Bureau data show that Uttar Pradesh registered the highest number of crimes against women in 2019, accounting for 14.7% of India’s total.
- Fast-tracking the investigation and ensuring justice is the least authorities can do. But the challenge is to ensure that these tragedies are not forgotten.
- Together with increasing gender-sensitivity, the Uttar Pradesh government — and other State governments — must use the law to enhance women’s safety.
7) Constraining critique On Amnesty halting India operations:
The role played by human rights organizations in documenting and questioning state functioning and excesses is a necessary component of civil society activism, which enhances democracy by securing accountability.
- The fact that Amnesty International, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977, had to halt operations in India because of the freezing of its bank accounts and intrusive scrutiny from state agencies is therefore unfortunate.
- The government’s response to Amnesty’s decision, that it will not allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations, suggests that this is linked to the group’s critical reporting of decisions such as the abrogation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir in 2019.
- The group has maintained that it has raised financial resources lawfully.
Is India the only country to stop operations of Amnesty International?
- Amnesty has taken up human rights causes such as minority rights, ending torture, abolition of the death penalty and refugee rights, globally.
- Advocacy of these causes has led to the group being at loggerheads with regimes of various types — from the democratic to the authoritarian — across countries.
- India now joins the ranks of countries such as Russia where the group has stopped operations.
- There is no doubt that the pursuit of these objectives, even if it is not uniform across a lopsided world, has only enhanced and furthered the cause of human rights and their awareness for global citizens.
- Democratic regimes that are bound by constitutionalism should not consider critical activism by groups such as Amnesty as being adversarial, but instead view it as constructive critique of their functioning.
- If the critique is not reasoned, the state can rebut it through communiqués and responses, but should not restrict freedom of expression through intimidation or restraining actions.
- Central governments in India have consistently registered discomfort with critical civil society organizations over the years, but the National Democratic Alliance-led government has taken steps to constrain groups even more, especially those that are trans-national in their functioning.
- This was exemplified in the monsoon session where amendments to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act drafted without consulting stakeholders were rushed through Parliament with little discussion.
8) Sutures with Nano fiber
- Suture thread made of Nano fiber yarns that is bio-absorbable and can deliver a higher load of antibiotics and/or therapeutics at the site itself.
- Prototype of suture thread made of Nano fiber yarns that is bio-absorbable and can deliver a higher load of antibiotics and/or therapeutics at the site itself.
- The suture material uses Nano fibers woven as yarn using certain specific techniques, and the strength can be varied depending on the target tissue (skin, muscle, cartilage), each strand has a good tensile strength, besides degrading rapidly and mimics the collagen fibrils of body tissues
- Several innovations globally in suture material have advanced infection control and achieved in some cases, better recovery among patients, even as other options such as staples, glues and strips have become available.
- Nano fiber yarns are thread-like structures formed by twisting together hundreds of Nano fibers
- The way the Nano fibers mimicked the collagen fibril sparked the idea in a lab that primarily works on scaffold-based tissue engineering to create thread like structures by twisting Nano fibers together using custom-made machinery.
- The project won the SITARE-Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Award 2020 recently.
9) Campaign to select country’s national butterfly:
Seven winged beauties on the final list in poll conducted by nature lovers
- A citizen campaign to drum up support for identifying a national butterfly has gained momentum with close to half a lakh people joining the movement from across the country.
- Spearheaded by butterfly researchers, scientists and enthusiasts, the National Butterfly Campaign has revived focus on the relevance of the charming scaly winged insects in enhancing biodiversity.
- An indicator of healthy ecosystems, butterflies are found in wide varieties in biodiversity hotspots that teem with rich and diverse flora and fauna
- Insects form a vital link in the food and life chain by becoming prey for birds and insects as well as through their role in pollination.
- The unique wing colour patterns and designs have also inspired various forms of art, fashion and culture.
- These insects among others are also known to anticipate environmental hazards, including pollution.
- Kalesh Sadasivan, research associate, Travancore Nature History Society, pointed out that India was yet to designate a national butterfly despite being home to over 1,300 species belonging to six butterfly families that were primarily found in northeast India, Western Ghats and other mountainous and plateau regions. Several countries, including Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and Bhutan, have national butterflies.
- As part of identifying butterfly species that could make it to the coveted status, the National Butterfly Campaign Consortium prepared a long-list of 50 butterflies that was further trimmed to seven.