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State PCS

  • 02 Apr 2024
  • 51 min read
Social Justice

Recognition of LGBTQIA+ Rights in India

For Prelims: Supreme Court, LGBTQIA+, Section 377 Judgement, Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019, Legality of same-sex marriage in India

For Mains: Major Challenges Faced by LGBTQIA+ in India, Recent Advancements and Ongoing Struggle Related to LGBTQIA+.

Source: TH

Why in News?

The Supreme Court(SC) recently warned judges against using court-ordered counseling to make LGBTQ+ individuals a way to turn them against their own identity and sexual orientation, especially when they are distressed or separated from partners by family members.

  • SC noted that while understanding a person's desires is acceptable, trying to change their identity and sexual orientation through counseling is highly inappropriate.

What is the Status of LGBTQIA+ Rights and Recognition in India?

  • About: LGBTQIA+ is an acronym that represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual.
    • The "+" represents the many other identities that are still being explored and understood. The acronym is constantly evolving and may include other terms like non-binary and pansexual.
  • History of Recognition of LGBTQIA+ in India:
    • Colonial Era and Stigma (Pre-1990s):
      • 1861: Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, criminalizing "carnal intercourse against the order of nature," is introduced under British rule. This law becomes a major hurdle for LGBTQIA+ rights in India.
    • Early Recognition and Activism (1990s):
      • 1981: The first All-India Hijra Conference took place in 1981.
      • 1991: The AIDS Bhedbhav Virodhi Andolan (ABVA) publishes "Less Than Gay," the first public report on the status of LGBTQIA+ people in India, demanding legal changes.
    • Landmark Cases and Setbacks (2000s):
      • 2001: The Naz Foundation files a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging Section 377.
      • 2009: A landmark Delhi High Court ruling in Naz Foundatuon vs Govt of NCT of Delhi decriminalizes consensual homosexual acts, seen as a major victory for LGBTQIA+ rights.
      • 2013: The Supreme Court, in a setback, overturns the Delhi High Court decision, upholding Section 377.
    • Recent Advancements and Ongoing Struggle (2010s-Present):
      • 2014: The Supreme Court recognizes transgender people as a "third gender." (National Legal Services Authority V/s Union of India popularly known as NALSA judgement)
      • 2018: In a historic decision, the Supreme Court strikes down Section 377, decriminalizing same-sex relationships. (Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India)
      • 2019: The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 was passed, granting legal recognition and prohibiting discrimination against transgender individuals.
      • 2020: The Uttarakhand High Court acknowledges legal protection for live-in relationships of same-sex couples.
      • 2021: In the case of Anjali Guru Sanjana Jaan v. State of Maharashtra & Ors. (2021), the Bombay High Court observed that for the Village Panchayat elections, the petitioner identified herself as a female while she was a transgender and her application was rejected.
        • The court held that the petitioner had the right to self-identify her gender and accepted her application.
      • 2022: In August 2022, the Supreme Court of India expanded the definition of family to include same-sex couples and queer relationships.
      • 2023: In October 2023, A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme court rejecting petitions to legalise same-sex marriage in India.
        • SC ruled that it does not have the authority to modify the Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954 by either removing or adding provisions to include same-sex individuals.
        • It stated that the responsibility lies with Parliament and state legislatures to enact laws regarding this matter.

What are the Major Challenges Faced by LGBTQIA+ in India?

  • Social Stigma: Deep-rooted societal attitudes and stigma against LGBTQIA+ individuals persist in many parts of India.
    • This leads to prejudice, harassment, bullying, and violence in different social arenas like education and employment affecting the mental and emotional well-being of LGBTQIA+ individuals.
  • Family Rejection: Many LGBTQIA+ individuals experience rejection and discrimination within their families, leading to strained relationships, homelessness, and a lack of support systems.
  • Healthcare Access: They often encounter barriers to accessing healthcare services, including discrimination from healthcare providers, lack of LGBTQIA+-friendly healthcare facilities, and challenges in obtaining appropriate medical care related to sexual health.
  • Inadequate Legal Recognition: While progress has been made in recognizing transgender rights, there is still a lack of legal recognition and protections for non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals.
    • Legal challenges related to marriage, adoption, inheritance, and other civil rights persist for them.
  • Intersectional Challenges: LGBTQIA+ individuals who belong to marginalized communities, such as Dalits, tribal communities, religious minorities, or those with disabilities, face compounded discrimination and marginalization based on their intersecting identities.
  • Manipulative Counseling: Manipulative counseling practices, such as conversion therapy and pathologizing LGBTQIA+ identities, exacerbate the challenges faced by this community.
    • These practices reinforce harmful stereotypes, deny authenticity, and contribute to internalized stigma and distress.

Way Forward

  • Push for Legal Reforms: In 2023, the SC judgment on LGBTQIA+ marriages transferred the ball in the legislature’s court to make relevant laws for the community.
    • Legislatures can pass a separate law altogether or make amendments in the existing laws to recognise their rights.
    • For example, Tamil Nadu has already amended the Hindu Marriage Act in 1968 to allow self-respect or ‘Suyamariyathai’ marriages which allowed marriages to be declared in the presence of the couple’s friends or family or any other persons.
  • Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment: Encouraging entrepreneurship and economic empowerment within the LGBTQIA+ community by providing them access to mentorship, funding, and resources for starting LGBTQIA+-owned businesses and ventures.
    • Promote LGBTQIA+-friendly workplaces and businesses through certification programs.
  • Healthcare Access: Ensuring access to LGBTQIA+-friendly healthcare services, including mental health support, gender-affirming care, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and sexual and reproductive health services.
    • Training healthcare providers to provide culturally competent and inclusive care to LGBTQIA+ patients.
  • Sports as a Game Changer: Sports can be used as a platform for breaking stereotypes and fostering camaraderie.
    • Creating sports leagues specifically designed for LGBTQIA+ individuals to promote physical health, mental well-being, and community bonding can be done in this regard.

Drishti Mains Question:

1. Evaluate the progress made in acknowledging LGBTQIA+ rights in India, with a specific emphasis on recent developments concerning same-sex marriages

2. What are the key challenges in achieving full equality for the LGBTQIA+ community in India, and what steps can be taken to address them effectively?

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)

Q. Explain the constitutional perspectives of Gender Justice with the help of relevant Constitutional Provisions and case laws. (2023)


SC Halts Implementation of Amended IT Rules

Source: IE

Why in News?

The Supreme Court of India has placed a temporary hold on the central government's notification establishing a Fact Check Unit (FCU).

Does the Judiciary have Power to Hold a Law before Declaring it Unconstitutional?

  • Laws made by Parliament are presumed constitutional. While it is subject to judicial review, the burden lies with the petitioners in the court to prove it unconstitutional.
    • Courts tend to avoid suspending laws until they determine their constitutionality, balancing judicial review and Parliament's legislative authority.
    • However, the IT Rules in question are not legislative acts but are formulated by the MeitY under powers delegated by Parliament, affecting the presumption of constitutionality.
      • The Supreme Court leans towards the opinion that it fulfils the requirements for an "explicit finding of unconstitutionality" resulting in a temporary stay.
  • Previous cases, such as the Maratha reservation law in Maharashtra 2020 and the farm laws of 2021 (which were later repealed), were temporarily suspended by the Supreme Court.

What is the Fact Checking Unit and Amended IT Rules 2023?

  • Fact Checking Unit: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, designated the FCU as a statutory body under the Press Information Bureau (PIB) as per the amendment made to Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 in 2023.
    • FCU has been tasked with flagging content deemed to be false information related to the central government and its agencies on social media platforms.
  • Key Provisions of IT Rules, 2023 Regarding Fake News:
    • Online intermediaries, such as social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, along with internet service providers like Airtel, Jio, and Vodafone Idea, are required to ensure they do not disseminate inaccurate information about the Government of India.
      • Additionally, these platforms must make reasonable attempts to avoid hosting content related to the Central Government that has been flagged as false or misleading by a fact-checking unit.
    • If the fact-checking unit identifies any information as false, online intermediaries will be obligated to remove it.
      • Failing to do so could result in the loss of their safe harbour protection, which shields them from legal action regarding third-party content.

What are the Exemptions to Intermediaries Regarding Third-party Information Liability?

  • About: Section 2(1)(w) of the Information Technology Act 2000 defines an intermediary as a person who receives, stores or transmits any electronic record and provides any service relating to such record on the behalf of another person.
    • Intermediary includes network service providers, telecom service providers, internet service providers, search engines, web-hosting service providers, online-auction sites, online payment sites, online-marketplaces and cyber cafes.
  • Criteria for Exemptions: Section 79(1) of the IT Act, 2000 grants intermediaries exemption from liability for third-party information, subject to certain conditions:
    • The intermediary's role is limited to providing access to a communication system through which third-party information is transmitted, hosted, or stored.
    • The intermediary does not initiate or control the transmission, recipient selection, or content modification.
  • Conditions for Intermediary Liability: Under Section 79(3) of the IT Act, intermediaries can be held liable for third-party content in specific situations:
    • If they are involved in unlawful acts like conspiracy, abetting, aiding, or inducing.
    • If they fail to promptly remove or disable access to unlawful material upon receiving actual knowledge or notification from the government without tampering with evidence.

What are the Major Concerns Related to the Amended IT Rules, 2023?

  • Potential Arbitrary Enforcement: There are concerns about the arbitrary nature of how the FCU determines what constitutes false information related to the central government.
    • This could lead to subjective judgments and selective targeting of certain viewpoints or individuals.
    • Critics argue that these rules specifically the amendment to Rule 3(1)(b)(v) of the IT Rules 2021 as being violative of Article 14, Article 19(1)(a) and (g), Article 21 of the Constitution.
      • The Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal vs Union of India (2015), held that a law that limits speech can neither be vague nor over-broad.
      • The amendment to Rule 3(1)(b)(v) of the IT Rules 2021 expanded the definition of "fake news" to include fake news involving government business which can lead to potential arbitrary enforcement.
  • Impact on Intermediaries: The rules place significant responsibilities on online intermediaries to monitor and remove content flagged by the FCU.
    • This could create a burden for these intermediaries and potentially lead to over-censorship to avoid legal repercussions.
  • Potential for Misuse: There are concerns that these rules could be misused by the government to suppress dissenting opinions or criticism, particularly against government policies or officials.
    • The lack of robust safeguards against such misuse raises apprehensions about the rules' overall impact on democratic discourse and transparency.

Way Forward

  • Ensuring Transparency and Accountability: The government should ensure transparency in the operations of the FCU, including clearly defining the criteria and procedures used to identify false information.
    • Additionally, mechanisms for oversight and accountability should be established to prevent misuse or arbitrary enforcement.
  • Clear Guidelines and Due Process: Developing clear guidelines and due process mechanisms for intermediaries to follow when dealing with content flagged by the FCU.
    • This includes providing avenues for content creators to appeal decisions and ensuring that removals are based on objective criteria and evidence.
  • Legal Safeguards: Ensure that any regulatory measures comply with constitutional principles and international human rights standards, particularly regarding freedom of speech and expression.
    • Legal safeguards should be in place to prevent overreach and protect individuals' rights to express diverse opinions.

Drishti Mains Question:

1. How is the Indian government regulating social media platforms, and what are the key challenges associated with this regulatory approach?

2. What are the concerns related to amended Information Technology Rules, 2023, particularly regarding the role of Fact Checking Unit?

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question:

Q. In India, it is legally mandatory for which of the following to report on cyber security incidents? (2017)

  1. Service providers
  2. Data centres
  3. Body corporate

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only 
(b) 1 and 2 only 
(c) 3 only 
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: D

Indian Polity

Debate on Post-Retirement Appointments for Judges

For Prelims: Supreme Court, High Court, Chief Justice of India, Collegium System

For Mains: Ethical Implications of Resignation of a Sitting Judge, Evolution of the Collegium System and its Criticism.

Source: TH

Why in News?

The practice of judges accepting official posts after retirement has become a subject of debate, particularly in light of recent events where a former judge joined a political party shortly after resigning from the judiciary raised questions about judicial conduct.

What are the Constitutional Provisions Related to Retired Judges in india?

  • Constitutional Provisions:
    • Article 124(7): It prohibits a retired judge of the Supreme Court from practising before any court or authority in India.
      • This restriction is aimed at maintaining the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.
      • However, the Constitution does not explicitly prohibit retired judges from accepting post-retirement assignments or appointments.
    • Article 128:
      • The Chief Justice of India, with the President's consent, may request a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Federal Court, or High Court qualified for Supreme Court appointment to sit and act as a Supreme Court Judge.
    • Article 220:
      • It bars High Court judges from pleading before “any authority in India except the Supreme Court and the other High Courts.”
  • Related Cases and Recommendations:
    • Bombay Lawyers Association v. Union of India: The Supreme Court dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking a mandatory cooling-off period of two years for retired judges before accepting post-retirement appointments.
      • The apex court stated that it was not within the court's jurisdiction to mandate a cooling-off period.
      • While dismissing the PIL, the court underscored the importance of enacting legislation to regulate post-retirement appointments for judges, thereby leaving the matter to the discretion of the concerned judge or legislative intervention.
    • 14th Law Commission: The 14th Law Commission, headed by MC Setalvad, had recommended that judges should not take up post-retirement jobs from the government; it also recommended setting the Cooling-off Period after retirement.
      • However, there is no specific rule that prevents judges from accepting such positions.

What are the Arguments Related to Post-Retirement Appointments for Judges?

  • Arguments in Favour:
    • Utilisation of Expertise: Proponents argue that judges possess valuable expertise and experience that can be beneficial to the government and public service sectors.
      • By accepting official posts post-retirement, judges can contribute to policy making and governance based on their deep understanding of legal principles and judicial processes.
    • Ensuring Integrity in Official Positions: Supporters of post-retirement appointments argue that judges are held to high standards of integrity throughout their careers, and this integrity is likely to carry over into their roles in official positions.
      • By appointing retired judges to key positions, there's an assurance of upholding ethical standards and impartiality in decision-making.
    • Fulfilling Vacancies Requiring Specialised Knowledge: Certain official positions require specific expertise or understanding of legal intricacies, which retired judges are well-equipped to provide.
      • These appointments ensure that crucial positions are filled by individuals with deep insights into legal matters, contributing to effective governance and administration.
    • Maintaining a Pool of Talent: Offering post-retirement appointments ensures that the country retains the knowledge and skills of seasoned jurists.
      • It allows for the continued contribution of judicial veterans to public service beyond their tenure on the bench.
  • Arguments Against Post-Retirement Appointments:
    • Risk of Compromising Judicial Independence: Critics argue that accepting official posts after retirement may compromise judicial independence, as it could create perceptions of favouritism towards the appointing authority.
      • This quid pro quo undermines public trust in the judiciary and raises questions about the impartiality of judicial decisions made during their tenure.
      • The Restatement of Values of Judicial Life emphasises the importance of impartiality in judicial conduct. Judges must not only deliver justice but also ensure that their actions uphold public confidence in the judiciary's impartiality.
        • The Supreme Court of India adopted the Restatement of Values of Judicial Life in 1997, which outlines ethical standards for judges.
        • It emphasises the importance of impartiality, avoiding conflicts of interest, refraining from seeking financial benefits, and being conscious of public scrutiny.
    • Potential for Conflict of Interest: There's a concern that post-retirement appointments may create conflicts of interest, especially if the former judge's decisions or rulings during their tenure benefit the appointing authority.
      • This could erode public confidence in the judiciary and raise doubts about the motivations behind judicial decisions.
    • Destabilising the Judiciary: These appointments are seen as part of a larger strategy to undermine the judiciary's independence by gradually eroding its authority and integrity.
      • By enticing judges with political appointments, the government risks compromising the judiciary's ability to act as a check on executive power.
Position Appointment Procedure
Chief Justice of India (CJI)
  • Article 124 (2), vests power on the President to appoint judges of the Supreme Court including the CJI, by warrant under his hand and seal.
  • The outgoing CJI recommends his successor, typically based on seniority.
Supreme Court Judges
  • They are also appointed by President.
  • The proposal is initiated by the CJI. The CJI consults other Collegium members and the senior-most judge of the court from the relevant High Court, Opinions are recorded in writing.
  • The recommendation is forwarded to the Law Minister, who advises the Prime Minister to advise the President.
Chief Justice of High Courts
  • The Chief Justice and Judges of the High Courts are to be appointed by the President under clause (1) of Article 217 of the Constitution after consultation with: The CJI and the Governor of the state concerned.

Way Forward

  • Legislative Action: The government should prioritise the enactment of a comprehensive law to regulate post-retirement assignments for judges of constitutional courts.
    • This legislation should establish clear guidelines, including provisions for cooling-off periods and restrictions on certain appointments, to uphold judicial independence.
  • Consultation with Judiciary: Before drafting the law, the government should engage in meaningful consultations with the judiciary, legal experts, and stakeholders to ensure that the proposed regulations are balanced and effective.
  • Implementing Cooling-Off Periods: Consideration can be given to implementing a cooling-off period, as recommended by the Law Commission of India.
    • This period would provide a buffer between a judge's retirement and any potential post-retirement appointments, minimising the risk of conflicts of interest.
  • Judicial Ethics and Code of Conduct: The judiciary should reinforce its commitment to upholding ethical standards and maintaining the integrity of the judicial system.
    • Clear guidelines and a code of conduct should be established for judges regarding post-retirement engagements to prevent any perception of impropriety.
  • Learning from International Best Practices: Drawing upon international best practices and experiences, India can learn from other countries' approaches to regulating post-retirement assignments for judges.
    • In the United States, Supreme Court judges do not retire lifelong to prevent conflict of interest.
      • In the United Kingdom, Supreme Court judges retire at the age of 70. There is no law preventing judges from taking post-retirement jobs, but no judge has done so.
    • Comparative studies and engagement with global legal experts can provide valuable insights for refining domestic regulations.

Drishti Mains Question:

Q. How can legislative measures, judicial input, and cooling-off periods bolster judicial integrity amidst post-retirement appointments for judges in India?

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q. With reference to the Indian judiciary, consider the following statements: (2021)

  1. Any retired judge of the Supreme Court of India can be called back to sit and act as a Supreme Court judge by the Chief Justice of India with the prior permission of the President of India.
  2. A High Court in India has the power to review its own judgement as the Supreme Court does.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither I nor 2

Ans: c


Q. Critically examine the Supreme Court’s judgement on ‘National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014’ with reference to appointment of judges of higher judiciary in India. (2017)


ASI to Delist Lost Monuments

For Prelims: Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR Act), Indian Heritage Sites

For Mains: Issues Related to Heritage Conservation in India, Indian Heritage Sites, Government Policies & Interventions

Source: IE

Why in News?

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided to delist 18 “centrally protected monuments” because it has assessed that they do not have national importance.

  • These 18 monuments are part of an earlier list of monuments that the ASI had said were “untraceable”.

Which Monuments are Being Delisted?

  • Among the monuments that face delisting now are a mediaeval highway milestone recorded as Kos Minar No.13 at Mujessar village in Haryana, Barakhamba Cemetery in Delhi, Gunner Burkill’s tomb in Jhansi district, a cemetery at Gaughat in Lucknow, and the Telia Nala Buddhist ruins in Varanasi.
    • The precise location of these monuments, or their current physical state, is not known.
  • This is the first such large-scale delisting exercise in several decades. The ASI currently has 3,693 monuments under its purview, which will fall to 3,675 once the current delisting is completed.

What does Delisting a Monument Mean?

  • Removal from ASI's Purview:
    • The delisted monument will no longer be conserved, protected, and maintained by the ASI.
      • It will effectively be removed from the ASI's list of centrally protected monuments.
  • Allowing Construction and Urbanisation:
  • Loss of Legal Protection:
    • The AMASR Act, 1958 provides legal protection to monuments declared to be of national importance.
      • Delisting a monument means it will no longer have this legal protection and could be subject to neglect or damage.
  • Procedure for Delisting:
    • Section 35 of the AMASR Act allows the Central Government to declare that any ancient monument or archaeological site of national importance has ceased to be of national importance through a notification in the Official Gazette.
      • A gazette notification was issued on 8th March 2024 for delisting the 18 monuments, followed by a two-month window for public objections or suggestions.

What does It Mean When the ASI Declares a Monument "Untraceable"?

  • When the ASI declares a monument as "untraceable," it means that the monument is no longer physically locatable or identifiable.
    • Factors contributing to the loss of monuments include urbanisation, encroachments, construction activities like dams and reservoirs, and neglect over time.
    • Some monuments, especially smaller or lesser-known ones, have deteriorated to the extent that there is no surviving public memory of their existence.
  • Despite the AMASR Act's mandate for the ASI to regularly inspect and conserve protected monuments, the effectiveness of these efforts has been inconsistent.
  • Declaring monuments untraceable underscores the loss of valuable cultural heritage and highlights the need for better conservation efforts and resource allocation in the future.

What are the Challenges in Protecting India's Historical Monuments?

  • Lost Monuments:
    • The Ministry of Culture reported to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture that 50 out of India’s 3,693 centrally protected monuments were missing.
      • Few among the lost monuments were victims of rapid urbanisation, submerged due to reservoirs/dams, and remained untraceable.
  • Inadequate Security:
    • Only 248 out of over 3,600 protected monuments had security guards posted.
      • The government could provide only 2,578 security personnel at 248 locations, falling short of the total requirement of 7,000 due to budgetary constraints.
      • The Parliamentary Committee expressed dismay over the insufficient personnel for monument protection, highlighting budgetary limitations as a significant challenge.
    • A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India revealed that at least 92 centrally protected monuments had gone missing, highlighting the inadequacies in the monitoring and protection mechanisms.
  • Lack of Comprehensive Survey:
    • The absence of a comprehensive physical survey of all monuments after Independence has led to a lack of reliable information regarding the exact number of monuments under the protection of the ASI.

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

  • The ASI, which works under the Union Ministry of Culture, is responsible for protecting and maintaining certain specific monuments and archaeological sites that have been declared to be of national importance under the relevant provisions of The Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904 and The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR Act).
  • Its activities include carrying out surveys of antiquarian remains, exploration and excavation of archaeological sites, conservation and maintenance of protected monuments etc.
  • It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham- the first Director-General of ASI. Alexander Cunningham is also known as the “Father of Indian Archaeology”.

Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR Act)

  • The aim of the act is to protect and preserve ancient monuments for future generations.
    • Applies to monuments over 100 years old in public or private ownership.
  • Prohibits construction or alteration around ancient monuments without National Monuments Authority (NMA) approval.
    • NMA established in accordance with the AMASR Act is responsible for the conservation and preservation of monuments and sites (and banned/restricted areas surrounding centrally designated monuments).
    • NMA is responsible for implementing the AMASR Act and granting permission for construction or developmental activity within protected and regulated areas.
  • Protected area is a 100-metre radius around the monument, with a regulated area extending up to 200 metres beyond that.
    • Current restrictions prohibit construction within 100-metre radius of protected monuments and have strict regulations for permits in an additional 200-metre radius.

Read more: ASI's Stance on Religious Practices at Monuments

Drishti Mains Question:

Q. Discuss the challenges in protecting India's historical monuments, to ensure the preservation of India's cultural heritage?

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q. With reference to Chausath Yogini Temple situated near Morena, consider the following statements:

  1. It is a circular temple built during the reign of Kachchhapaghata Dynasty.
  2. It is the only circular temple built in India.
  3. It was meant to promote the Vaishnava cult in the region.
  4. Its design has given rise to a popular belief that it was the inspiration behind the Indian Parliament building.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 and 2
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 4 
(d) 2, 3 and 4

Ans: C

Q. With reference to the art and archaeological history of India, which one among the following was made earliest? (2015)

(a) Lingaraja Temple at Bhubaneswar
(b) Rock-cut Elephant at Dhauli
(c) Rock-cut Monuments at Mahabalipuram
(d) Varaha Image at Udayagiri

Ans: (b)


Q.1 Safeguarding the Indian Art Heritage is the need of the moment. Discuss. (2018)

Q.2 Indian Philosophy and tradition played a significant role in conceiving and shaping the monuments and their art in India. Discuss. (2020)

Important Facts For Prelims

Africa's Afar Triangle: Birthplace of a Potential New Ocean

Source: TOI

Why in News?

Recent geological findings suggest that Africa's Afar Triangle could be the birthplace of a new ocean in 5 to 10 million years.

  • This phenomenon, unfolding amidst the rich and diverse landscapes of the African continent, offers a rare glimpse into the dynamic processes that shape Earth's geography.

What is Africa’s Afar Triangle?

  • About: The Afar Triangle, nestled in the Horn of Africa, is a geological depression where three tectonic plates, the Nubian, Somali, and Arabian plates converge.
    • It is part of the East African Rift system, which extends from the Afar region down through eastern Africa.
    • Beyond its geological significance, the Afar Triangle holds a rich paleontological history, disclosing fossil specimens of some of the earliest hominins.

  • Tectonic Movement and Rift Expansion: The Afar region has been experiencing gradual tectonic movements for millions of years.
    • The rift's expansion was notably highlighted in 2005 when a significant rift opened up in the Ethiopian desert, indicating the ongoing separation of the African continent at a tectonic level.
  • Factors Responsible for Rift’s Expansion:
    • One of the key factors driving the rifting process is believed to be a massive plume of superheated rocks rising from the mantle beneath East Africa.
      • This plume could be exerting pressure on the overlying crust, causing it to stretch and fracture.
    • Also, the magmatism in the region, particularly at the Erta Ale volcano, offers clues to the tectonic transition, with characteristics that mimic those of a mid-ocean ridge.
      • Magmatism is the formation and motion of magma below Earth's surface. It contributes to various phenomena on Earth, such as filling tectonic cracks, forming mountains, and aiding in the release of heat from the Earth's core.
  • Formation of Ocean: This ongoing rift expansion in this region could potentially lead to the formation of a new ocean, tentatively named the "Alvor-Teide Atlantic Rift".
    • This new body of water would be the result of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden flooding over the Afar region and into the East African Rift Valley.

Key Terms

  • Tectonic Movement: Tectonic movement refers to the large-scale motion of the Earth's lithosphere caused by the interactions of tectonic plates.
    • There are three main types boundaries formed due to tectonic movements: Divergent Boundaries, Convergent Boundaries and Transform Boundaries
  • Rifting: Rifting refers to the geological process where the Earth's Lithosphere (the outermost layer of the Earth) is stretched and thinned, leading to the formation of rift valleys or basins.
    • This process usually occurs at divergent plate boundaries where tectonic plates move away from each other.
    • As the plates move apart, tensional forces cause the lithosphere to crack and break, creating rift zones.
  • Mid-Oceanic Ridge: A mid-oceanic ridge is a long underwater mountain range that forms along divergent boundaries between tectonic plates in the oceanic crust.
    • These ridges are characterised by volcanic activity and the upwelling of magma from the mantle, which solidifies to form a new oceanic crust.
    • Mid-oceanic ridges are key features of seafloor spreading, where new crust is continuously created as tectonic plates move apart.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)

Q. Consider the following: (2013)

1. Electromagnetic radiation

2. Geothermal energy

3. Gravitational force

4. Plate movements

5. Rotation of the earth

6. Revolution of the earth

Which of the above are responsible for bringing dynamic changes on the surface of the earth?

(a) 1, 2, 3 and 4 only

(b) 1, 3, 5 and 6 only

(c) 2, 4, 5 and 6 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Ans: (d)

Important Facts For Prelims

100 Years of Vaikom Satyagraha

Source: IE

Why in News?

Recently, India commemorated the centenary of Vaikom satyagraha, a pivotal movement in India's history that challenged untouchability and caste oppression.

What is Vaikom Satyagraha?

  • Background:
    • Vaikom Satyagraha, a nonviolent agitation, unfolded in Vaikom within the princely state of Travancore, Kerala precisely a century ago spanning from 30th March 1924 to 23rd November 1925.
      • This movement stood as a formidable protest against the entrenched practices of untouchability and caste discrimination that had long plagued Indian society.
      • The movement was triggered by the prohibition of people from oppressed classes, especially Ezhavas, from walking on the roads surrounding the Vaikom Mahadeva temple.
    • Efforts were made to negotiate with authorities, including Maharani Regent of Travancore, to open temple roads.
    • It was the first among the temple entry movements in India, setting the stage for similar movements across the country.
      • It emerged amidst the growing nationalist movement and aimed to foreground social reform alongside political aspirations.
  • Key Figures:
    • It was led by visionary leaders like Ezhava leader T K Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon, and K. Kelappan.
    • Erode Venkatappa Ramasamy, revered as Periyar or Thanthai Periyar, played a crucial role, mobilising volunteers, delivering speeches, and enduring imprisonment, earning the title 'Vaikom Veerar'.
    • The movement gained more power when Mahatma Gandhi reached Vaikom in March 1925 and held discussions with leaders of various caste groups.
  • Strategies and Initiatives:
    • The satyagraha initially focused on opening the roads surrounding the Vaikom temple to people from all castes.
    • Leaders of the movement strategically chose nonviolent methods, inspired by Gandhian principles of protest.
  • Outcome:
    • The Vaikom Satyagraha led to significant reforms, including the opening of three out of four roads surrounding the temple to people of all castes.
  • Aftermath and Legacy:
    • In November 1936, the Maharaja of Travancore signed the historic Temple Entry Proclamation, which removed the age-old ban on the entry of marginalised castes into the temples of Travancore.
    • The Vaikom Satyagraha led to a division in perspectives, with few viewing it as a Hindu reformist movement, while another saw it as a fight against caste-based atrocities.
    • Memorials, including the Vaikom Satyagraha Memorial Museum and Periyar's Memorial, were established to commemorate the movement's significance.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)


Q. Which one of the following is a very significant aspect of the Champaran Satyagraha?

(a) Active all-India participation of lawyers, students and women in the National Movement
(b) Active involvement of Dalit and Tribal communities of India in the National Movement
(c) Joining of peasant unrest to India’s National Movement
(d) Drastic decrease in the cultivation of plantation crops and commercial crops

Ans: (c)

Q2. With reference to Rowlatt Satyagraha, which of the following statements is/are correct? (2015)

  1. The Rowlatt Act was based on the recommendations of the ‘Sedition Committee’.
  2. In Rowlatt Satyagraha, Gandhiji tried to utilize the Home Rule League.
  3. Demonstrations against the arrival of Simon Commission coincided with Rowlatt Satyagraha.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (b)


Q. Since the decade of the 1920s, the national movement acquired various ideological strands and thereby expanded its social base. Discuss. (2020)

Rapid Fire

First Tri-service Common Defense Station in Mumbai

Source: IE

The Armed Forces are embarking on a significant initiative to transform Mumbai into India's inaugural tri-service common defence station, marking a crucial step towards achieving jointness among the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

  • This strategic move aims to consolidate all facilities and resources of the three services, encompassing logistics, infrastructure, repair and maintenance, and supplies, under a unified leadership framework.
    • Currently, Mumbai houses separate wings of the three services, operating independently.
    • The Navy, with its substantial presence in Mumbai, will assume the lead role in this new integrated setup.
  • Sulur, located near Coimbatore, and Guwahati are expected to be selected as the sites for the second and third common defence stations.
  • Currently, there are no common defence stations in India. The Andaman and Nicobar command is a full-fledged command raised as a tri-service command in 2001.


Rapid Fire

SKOCH ESG Award 2024

Source: PIB

REC Limited won the SKOCH ESG Award 2024 for 'Renewable Energy Financing'.

  • REC (formerly Rural Electrification Corporation Limited) is a 'Maharatna' Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Ministry of Power, and is registered with the RBI as a Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC), and Infrastructure Financing Company (IFC).
    • REC funds both power and non-power infrastructure, encompassing a wide range from generation to transportation and communication projects, along with sectors including renewables, electric vehicles, and green technologies.
  • The SKOCH ESG Awards recognise organisations demonstrating outstanding performance in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices.
    • The Award and Assessment are a crucial benchmark for assessing organisations' dedication to India 2047 by emphasising the link between sustainable investments and processes for a sustainable business future.
      • SKOCH Group is a prominent Indian think tank established in 1997, that specialises in socio-economic issues engaging with a wide range of entities from Fortune 500 companies to community-based organizations.

Read more: SKOCH Awards, REC Limited's Commitment to Armed Forces Welfare

Rapid Fire

Defence Exports Touch Record High

Source: PIB

Defence exports reached a historic high of Rs 21,083 crore (approximately USD 2.63 billion) in FY 2023-24, marking a 32.5% increase from the previous fiscal year, with recent data showing a 31-fold growth over the past decade compared to FY 2013-14.

  • Key Statistics:
    • Comparing two decades, from 2004-05 to 2013-14 and from 2014-15 to 2023-24, shows a 21-fold increase in defense exports.
    • The private sector contributed approximately 60%, while Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) contributed around 40%.
    • The number of export authorisations issued to defense exporters also increased in FY 2023-24 compared to FY 2022-23.
  • Key Drivers:
    • The significant growth in the Indian defence sector is attributed to policy reforms, Ease of Doing Business initiatives, and comprehensive digital solutions, reflecting global acceptance of Indian defence products and technologies.

Read more: India’s Defence Exports

Rapid Fire

Successful Test Firing of Vikram-1 Stage-2

Source: TH

Skyroot Aerospace, a leading Indian space-tech company, achieved a significant milestone with the successful test firing of Stage-2 of the Vikram-1 space launch vehicle, known as Kalam-250, at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s propulsion testbed in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

  • Stage 2 plays a crucial role in transitioning the launch vehicle from the atmospheric phase to the deep vacuum of outer space, propelling it toward its destination with precision and efficiency.
  • Kalam-250 utilises a high-strength carbon composite rocket motor with solid fuel and a high-performance Ethylene-Propylene-Diene terpolymers (EPDM) Thermal Protection System (TPS). It also features a carbon ablative flex nozzle for precise thrust vector control.
  • Vikram-1 marks India's first private orbital rocket launch, following the suborbital space launch of Vikram-S in November 2022. It demonstrates India's progressing capabilities in space technology and exploration.

Read more: India's First Private Launch Vehicle

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