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State PCS

  • 19 Apr 2024
  • 53 min read

Court Petitions

Read More: Curative Petition, Review Petition, Public Interest Litigation, Supreme Court

Indian Economy


For Prelims: About CDP-Suraksha, Status of Horticulture in India, Technology in Agriculture.

For Mains: Role of technology in doubling the income of farmers, Farm subsidies related Issues and Way Forward, Investment in Agriculture, Agricultural Reforms.

Source: IE

Why in News?

Recently, the Central government has launched a new platform called CDP-SURAKSHA to disburse subsidies to horticulture farmers under the Cluster Development Programme (CDP).

  • This will boost the growth of India’s horticulture sector, which contributes nearly one-third to the agriculture gross value addition (GVA).


  • About:
    • SURAKSHA stands for “System for Unified Resource Allocation, Knowledge, and Secure Horticulture Assistance.”
    • The platform will allow an instant disbursal of subsidies to farmers in their bank accounts by utilising the e-RUPI voucher from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
    • It has features such as database integration with PM-KISAN, cloud-based server space from NIC, UIDAI validation, eRUPI integration, local government directory (LGD), content management system, geotagging, and geo-fencing.
  • Working:
    • The platform allows access to farmers, vendors, implementing agencies (IA), cluster development agencies (CDAs), and officials of the National Horticulture Board (NHB).
    • A farmer can login using their mobile number, place an order and contribute their share of the cost of planting material.
    • After payment, an e-RUPI voucher will be generated. This voucher will then be received by a vendor, who will provide the required planting material to the farmer.
    • After the delivery of material, farmers have to verify the delivery through geo-tagged photos and videos of their field.
    • After verification, the implementing agencies (IA) will release the money to the vendor for the e-RUPI voucher. The vendor will be required to upload an invoice of the payment on the portal.
    • The IA will collect all the documents and share them with the CDA for subsidy release, then only the subsidy will be released to the IA.
    • However, the farmer, who raised the demand for the plant material using the platform, can avail of the subsidy at the first stage only.

What is e-Rupee?

  • It is a one-time payment mechanism that enables users to redeem the voucher without a card, digital payments app or internet banking access, at the merchants accepting UPI e-Prepaid Vouchers.
  • The e-RUPI would be shared with the beneficiaries for a specific purpose or activity by organisations via SMS or QR code.

What is the Status of the Horticulture Sector in India?

  • India is the 2nd largest producer of fruits and vegetables.
  • Fruits and vegetables account for almost 90% of the total horticulture production in the country.
  • The Indian horticulture sector contributes about 33% to the agriculture Gross Value Added (GVA) making a very significant contribution to the Indian economy.
  • India is currently producing about 320.48 million tons of horticulture produce which has surpassed the food grain production, that too from a much smaller area (25.66 million Ha. for horticulture against 127.6 M. ha. for food grains).
    • The productivity of horticulture crops is much higher compared to the productivity of food grains (12.49 tones/ha against 2.23 tones/ha.).
  • According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), India leads in the production of certain vegetables (ginger and okra) and fruits (banana, mangoes and papaya).
    • In terms of exports, India is ranked 14th in vegetables and 23rd in fruits, and its share in the global horticultural market is a mere 1%.
    • Bangladesh, UAE, Nepal, Netherlands, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the UK, Oman, and Qatar are the major export destinations for fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Around 15-20% of the fruits and vegetables in India are wasted along the supply chain or at a consumer level, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

What is the Cluster Development Program (CDP)?

  • About:
    • It is a central sector programme aimed at growing and developing identified horticulture clusters to make them globally competitive.
    • A horticulture cluster is a regional/geographical concentration of targeted horticulture crops.
  • Implementation:
    • It will be implemented by the National Horticulture Board (NHB) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
    • In a pilot phase, the programme will be implemented in 12 horticulture clusters, out of the total 55 clusters selected for the programme.
    • These clusters will be implemented through Cluster Development Agencies (CDAs) which are appointed on the recommendations of the respective State/UT Government.
  • Objectives:
    • To address all major issues related to the Indian horticulture sector including pre-production, production, post-harvest management, logistics, marketing and branding.
    • CDP aims to improve exports of targeted crops by about 20% and create cluster-specific brands to enhance the competitiveness of cluster crops.
    • To leverage geographical specialisation and promote integrated and market-led development of horticulture clusters.
    • To converge with other initiatives of the Government such as the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund.
  • Examples:
    • Some clusters identified for the implementation of CDP are:
      • Siphahijala (Tripura) for pineapple
      • Solapur (Maharashtra) and Chitradurga (Karnataka) for pomegranate
      • West Jaintia Hills (Meghalaya) for turmeric.

What are the Challenges Faced by the Horticulture Sector?

  • Production Challenges: Such as small operational landholdings, lack of irrigation facilities and poor soil management, threat of pests etc.
  • Institutional Challenges: The limited outreach of farm insurance and farm mechanisation, combined with a lack of access to institutional credit for small and marginal farmers, contribute to lower investment in the sector.
  • Climate Change: Climate change-related events such as changing weather patterns, droughts, floods, and other natural disasters, are another significant challenge that can lead to crop failures and losses.
  • Farmers Producer Organisation (FPO): Weak FPOs are also the sector's challenges, limiting farmers' ability to benefit fully from the opportunities available.
  • Infrastructural Issues: Other challenges such as the perishable nature of fruits and vegetables, Poor logistics and lack of equitable cold storage and warehousing facilities, a lack of guidance for farmers on which crops to plant, resulting in overproduction of certain commodities and shortages of others.

What Initiatives have been Taken for for the Development of the Horticulture Sector?

Way Forward

  • To enhance the productivity of this sector and to improve the livelihood of farmers, the effective and timely disbursal of subsidies is essential.
  • There is tremendous scope for enhancing the productivity of Indian horticulture which is imperative to cater to the country’s estimated demand of 650 Million MT of fruits and vegetables by the year 2050.

Drishti Mains Question:

Q. Discuss the sustainability of providing subsidies as a solution to various issues in India, and analyse whether it imposes a burden on the fiscal purse. Support your argument with relevant examples.

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Questions (PYQs)

Q1. Under the Kisan Credit Card scheme, short-term credit support is given to farmers for which of the following purposes? (2020)

  1. Working capital for maintenance of farm assets
  2. Purchase of combine harvesters, tractors and mini trucks
  3. Consumption requirements of farm households
  4. Post-harvest expenses
  5. Construction of family house and setting up of village cold storage facility

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 5 only
(b) 1, 3 and 4 only
(c) 2, 3, 4 and 5 only
(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Ans: (b)


Q. Assess the role of the National Horticulture Mission (NHM) in boosting the production, productivity and income of horticulture farms. How far has it succeeded in increasing the income of farmers? (2018)


Cotton Cultivation in North India

For Prelims: Pink Bollworm (PBW), Cotton, Bt Cotton, Pests of Cotton, kharif, Kasturi cotton

For Mains: Significance of Cotton for India, Reason Associated with Subsequent Decline in Cotton Production in India, India's cotton sector's competitiveness.

Source: BL

Why in News?

As the 2024-25 kharif cotton planting season approaches in North India, stakeholders foresee a potential dip in cotton acreages.

  • This shift is driven by a confluence of factors, including severe pink bollworm (PBW) infestation, weak prices for the fibre crop, and rising labour costs.
  • Farmers, faced with these challenges, may increasingly opt for alternative crops such as paddy, maize, and guar.

What is Pink Bollworm (PBW) Infestation?

  • About:
    • PBW (Pectinophora gossypiella) is a major pest within the American bollworm complex, primarily affecting cotton crops.
    • PBW, also known as Saunders, damages developing cotton fruits such as the flower bud (square) and the seed-containing boll.
    • The pest lays eggs on buds, flowers, and bolls, with the hatched larvae burrowing into the bolls to feed on seeds, resulting in lint damage and quality deterioration.
  • Historical Context:
    • The introduction of Bt Cotton, genetically modified to resist pests like PBW, aimed to mitigate risks. However, PBW has developed resistance to Bt Cotton over time, exacerbating the problem.
  • Contributing Factors to Resistance Development:
    • Continuous planting of cotton without crop rotation in central and southern cotton-growing zones favoured PBW persistence.
    • Illegal cultivation of unapproved Bt/HT seeds by farmers contributed to PBW resistance development.
    • Extended cultivation of long-duration hybrids provided continuous host availability for PBW.
    • Extending the cotton crop beyond recommended periods facilitated PBW survival and reproduction.
    • Lack of adherence to refugia planting exacerbated resistance development by constant exposure of PBW to Bt protein.
      • Refugia plants are the biodiversity plants that grow around cultivated plants, providing a place of protection and food for natural enemy insects.
  • Impact on Crop Yield and Economy:
    • PBW infestation results in significant yield losses and affects cotton fibre quality, impacting farmers' income and sustainability.
    • According to entomologists, cotton farms in Haryana have experienced significant damage, with around 25% of farms reporting a 50% loss.
    • Punjab has witnessed a 65% damage rate, while Rajasthan tops the list with a staggering 90% loss, underscoring the severe economic repercussions for farmers and the regional economy.

Pests of Cotton

Insect Symptoms

Spotted bollworm
(Earias vitella)

  • Central shoots dry, wither and drops down.
  • Later, it bores into flower buds, bolls and causes shredding.
American bollworm
(Helicoverpa armigera)
  • Flaring up of bracts (surround the flower bud in a pyramid-like shape).
  • Bore holes filled with frass on squares.
Tobacco caterpillar
(Spodoptera litura)
  • Irregular bore holes.
  • Skeletonization of leaves.
  • Heavy defoliation.

White fly
(Bemicia tabaci)

  • Suck sap from the leaves
  • Low quality lint.
  • Boll shedding occurs in severe cases.
Cotton Aphid
(Aphis gossypii)
  • Both nymphs and adults suck the sap from leaves.
  • Shiny appearance due to honeydew secretion.

Cotton mealy bug
(Phenacoccus solenopsis)

  • Bushy shoots.
  • At an early stage of cotton planting, crop senescence (ageing) may be seen.
  • Sooty mould formation.

What are the Trends in Cotton Cultivation in North India?

  • Impact on North Indian States:
    • Punjab, Rajasthan, and Haryana, the primary cotton-growing states in North India, are all witnessing fluctuations in cotton acreages.
    • Punjab experienced a significant decline of 32% in cotton area during the 2023-24 kharif season, while Rajasthan witnessed a slight decrease and Haryana saw a marginal increase.
  • Shift Towards Alternative Crops:
    • Farmers in North India are exploring alternative crop options such as paddy, maize, guar, mung beans, and groundnuts due to quality concerns and poor realisations.
    • In Punjab, where water availability is favourable, farmers may revert to paddy cultivation. In Rajasthan, the preference may lean towards guar cultivation, while maize and mung beans could emerge as alternatives in other areas.
  • Labour Costs and Realisations:
    • Rising labour costs further compound the challenges faced by cotton farmers in North India. Additionally, poor quality resulting from pest infestations has impacted farmers' realisations, leading to concerns about compensation for crop losses.
  • Expectations for the Coming Season (2024):
    • Despite the prevailing challenges, some optimism exists regarding the forthcoming cotton season. Favourable monsoon forecasts and relatively better prices offer a glimmer of hope for a modest increase in cotton acreages. However, concerns persist, including the lack of advanced technology and the severity of PBW damages observed in certain areas.

Growing Conditions

  • Cotton is a Kharif crop that requires 6 to 8 months to mature.
  • Temperature: Between 21-30°C (Requires a hot, sunny climate with a long frost-free period)
  • Rainfall: Around 50-100 cm (Most productive in warm and humid conditions).
  • Soil Requirements: Cotton can be planted in a wide range of soils, from medium to heavy, but black cotton soil is the most ideal for cotton cultivation.
  • It can tolerate a pH range of 5.5 to 8.5 but is sensitive to waterlogging.
Major Cotton Growing States
  • Northern Zone: Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan.
  • Central Zone: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh.
  • Southern Zone: Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu.
  • Primary source for the textile industry, commanding two-thirds of India's total textile fibre consumption.
  • Cottonseed oil and cake/meal are used for cooking and as feed for livestock and poultry.
    • Cottonseed oil is India's third-largest domestically-produced vegetable oil.
  • Cotton is one of India's most important commercial crops, accounting for approximately 25% of global cotton production.
  • It is often referred to as "White-Gold" due to its economic significance.


Drishti Mains Question:

Q. Evaluate the challenges faced by cotton farmers and examine the importance of crop diversification and sustainable agricultural practices in ensuand ring food and income security.

UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q1. The black cotton soil of India has been formed due to the weathering of (2021)

(a) brown forest soil

(b) fissure volcanic rock

(c) granite and schist

(d) shale and limestone

Ans: (b)

Q2. A state in India has the following characteristics: (2011)

  1. Its northern part is arid and semi-arid.
  2. Its central part produces cotton.
  3. Cultivation of cash crops is predominant over food crops.

Which one of the following states has all of the above characteristics?

(a) Andhra Pradesh

(b) Gujarat

(c) Karnataka

(d) Tamil Nadu

Ans: (b)


Q. Analyse the factors for the highly decentralised cotton textile industry in India.


India’s New Post Office in Antarctica

For Prelims: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Himadri, Dakshin Gangotri, Maitri North, Indian Antarctic Program, Antarctic Treaty System

For Mains: Significance of India's Research Station in Antarctica

Source: IE

Why in News?

Recently, the Department of Posts opened a second branch of the post office at the Bharati research station in Antarctica after almost four decades.

  • Letters intended for Antarctica will now be addressed with a new experimental PIN code, MH-1718, typical for a new branch.
  • Currently, Maitri and Bharati are the two active research stations that India operates in Antarctica.

What is the Significance of India’s Post Office in Antarctica?

  • Historical Context:
    • In 1984, India set up its first post office in Antarctica at Dakshin Gangotri (India’s first research stations).
    • Unfortunately, in 1988-89, Dakshin Gangotri was submerged in ice and was subsequently decommissioned.
  • Continuing the Tradition:
    • India established another post office at the Maitri research station in Antarctica on 26th January 1990.
    • India's two Antarctic research bases, Maitri and Bharati, though are 3,000 km apart but both come under the Goa postal division.
  • Operational Process:
    • Letters meant for the post office in Antarctica are sent to the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) in Goa.
    • When a scientific expedition to Antarctica departs from NCPOR, a researcher carries the consignment of letters.
      • At the research base, the letters are ‘cancelled’, brought back, and returned via post.
      • The term ‘cancellation’ refers to the mark placed on a stamp or postal stationery to render it useless for reuse.
  • Strategic Presence:
    • The existence of an Indian post office in Antarctica serves a strategic purpose.
    • Typically, an Indian post office operates within Indian territory. Antarctica, being foreign and neutral under the Antarctic Treaty, provides a unique opportunity to assert India’s presence on the continent.
    • It symbolises India’s commitment to scientific exploration and environmental stewardship.
  • Antarctica’s Governance:
    • The Antarctic Treaty neutralises territorial claims, prohibits military operations and nuclear tests, and emphasises scientific discovery.
    • Having an Indian post office in this foreign land aligns with the treaty’s spirit.

What is India’s Antarctic Programme?

  • About:
    • It is a scientific research and exploration program under the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCPOR). It started in 1981 when the first Indian expedition to Antarctica was made.
      • NCPOR was established in 1998.
  • Dakshin Gangotri:
    • Dakshin Gangotri was the first Indian scientific research base station established in Antarctica, as a part of the Indian Antarctic Program.
    • However, it was submerged in ice in 1988-89 and was subsequently decommissioned.
  • Maitri:
    • Maitri is India’s second permanent research station in Antarctica. It was built and finished in 1989.
    • Maitri is situated in the rocky mountainous region called Schirmacher Oasis. India also built a freshwater lake around Maitri known as Lake Priyadarshini.
  • Bharti:
    • Bharti, India’s latest research station operation since 2012. It has been constructed to help researchers work in safety despite the harsh weather.
    • It is India’s first committed research facility and is located about 3000 km east of Maitri.
  • Other Research Facilities:
    • Sagar Nidhi:
      • In 2008, India commissioned the Sagar Nidhi, the pride of the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), for research.
      • An ice-class vessel, it can cut through thin ice of 40 cm depth and is the first Indian vessel to navigate Antarctic waters.
      • The ship is the first of its kind in the country and has been used several times for the launch and retrieval of remotely operable vehicles (ROV) and the deep-sea nodule mining system, as well as for tsunami studies.

What is the Antarctic Treaty System?

  • About:
    • It is the whole complex of arrangements made to regulate relations among states in the Antarctic.
    • Its purpose is to ensure in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord.
    • It is a global achievement and has been a hallmark of international cooperation for more than 50 years.
    • These agreements are legally binding and purpose-built for the unique geographical, environmental, and political characteristics of the Antarctic and form a robust international governance framework for the region.
  • Challenges:
    • While the Antarctic Treaty has been able to successfully respond to a range of challenges, circumstances are radically different in the 2020s compared to the 1950s.
      • Antarctica is much more accessible, partly due to technology but also climate change. More countries now have substantive interests in the continent than the original 12.
      • Some global resources are becoming scarce, especially oil. There is considerable speculation regarding nations' interests in Antarctic resources, particularly fisheries and minerals.
      • Therefore, all of the treaty signatories, but especially those with significant stakes in the continent, need to give the future of the treaty more attention.
  • Major International Agreements of the Treaty System:
    • The 1959 Antarctic Treaty
    • The 1972 Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals
    • The 1980 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
    • The 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty

National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR)

  • It was established as an autonomous Research and Development Institution of the Ministry of Earth Sciences on the 25th May 1998.
  • Earlier known as the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), NCPOR is India’s premier R&D institution responsible for the country’s research activities in the Polar and Southern Ocean realms.
  • It is the nodal agency for planning, promotion, coordination and execution of the entire gamut of polar and southern ocean scientific research in the country as well as for the associated logistics activities.
  • Its responsibilities include:
    • Management and upkeep of the Indian Antarctic Research Bases “Maitri” and “Bharati”, and the Indian Arctic base “Himadri”.
    • Management of the Ministry’s research vessel ORV Sagar Kanya as well as the other research vessels chartered by the Ministry.
      • The Ocean Research Vehicle (ORV) Sagar Kanya is a versatile ocean observing platform equipped with technologically advanced scientific equipment and related facilities.
  • It is located in the state of Goa.

Drishti Mains Question:

Q. What are the key achievements and challenges faced by India in its Antarctic endeavours? Also, explain how India's presence in Antarctica contributes to its global standing and scientific capabilities.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q. On 21st June, the Sun (2019)

(a) does not set below the horizon at the Arctic Circle
(b) does not set below the horizon at Antarctic Circle
(c) shines vertically overhead at noon on the Equator
(d) shines vertically overhead at the Tropic of Capricorn

Ans: (a)


Q. How do the melting of the Arctic ice and glaciers of the Antarctic differently affect the weather patterns and human activities on the Earth? Explain.(2021)

Q. Why is India taking keen interest in resources of Arctic region?(2018)

Important Facts For Prelims

PRATUSH Telescope

Source: TH

Why in the News?

Astronomers globally are anticipating a new era of exploration with high-resolution telescopes set to be placed on the moon and in orbit around it. Various proposals, like India's PRATUSH (Probing ReionizATion of the Universe using Signal from Hydrogen), aim to open this new window to the universe.

What is PRATUSH?

  • Objective:
    • It aims to uncover the timing and characteristics of the first stars' formation in the universe, including the colour of the light during Cosmic Dawn.
    • It will unveil the evolution of our early universe from its initial cold gas state to the formation of stars, galaxies, and the universe as we observe it today post-Big Bang.
      • The Cosmic Dawn marks the period when the first sources of radiation, such as stars and galaxies, formed in the universe.
  • Capabilities:
    • PRATUSH will carry advanced radio equipment covering a wide frequency range from 30 to 250 MHz.
      • It will observe large sky areas continuously, recording detailed radio spectra with a resolution of 100 kHz.
    • It includes a custom-designed antenna, analog receiver, and digital correlator for high-resolution spectral analysis.
      • The goal is to achieve a sensitivity level of a few millikelvin with precise
      • Millikelvins (mK) are a unit of measurement used to express temperature on the Kelvin scale, where 1 millikelvin is equal to 1000 of a Kelvin.
    • It is designed for a two-year mission in a circumlunar orbit to avoid interference and achieve optimal radio sky measurements.

What are the Other Global Missions Related to Telescopes on the Moon?

  • Lunar Surface Electromagnetic Experiment (LuSEE) Night Project: It is a collaboration between NASA and Berkeley Lab and aims to land on the moon's far side. It is scheduled for launch in December 2025.
  • NASA's Long-Baseline Optical Imaging Interferometer: It will be launched in parts and be assembled on the moon's far side.
    • It will study magnetic activity in stars and galaxies using visible and ultraviolet wavelengths.
  • ESA’s Argonaut: European Space Agency plans to launch a Radio Telescope aboard its lunar lander, 'Argonaut', by 2030, along with other projects focusing on gravitational wave detection and infrared observations.
  • China's Moon-Orbiting Radio Telescope: China is set to launch a moon-orbiting radio telescope in 2026, positioning itself at the forefront of lunar exploration and astronomical research.
    • The Queqiao-2 satellite, deployed in lunar orbit, carries a 4.2-meter antenna for radio astronomy.

What are Telescopes?

  • About: Telescopes are devices designed to gather and focus light to form magnified images of distant objects.
    • Developed over centuries, with early telescopes credited to inventors like Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler in the 17th century.
  • Function: Telescopes gather and magnify light from space, allowing astronomers to study celestial objects in detail.
    • They help observe distant objects, map the sky, study cosmic events, detect exoplanets, and explore different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, enhancing our understanding of the universe.
    • Telescopes use lenses or mirrors to collect and concentrate light, resulting in an enlarged and clearer view of celestial objects.
  • Types of Telescopes:
    • Catadioptric or Compound Telescopes: Combine both lenses and mirrors for focusing light.
      • Examples: Schmidt-Cassegrain and Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes.
    • Radio Telescopes: Detect radio waves emitted by celestial objects. Comprise large dish antennas and receivers.
      • Example: Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), Pune.
    • Space Telescopes: It is a telescope in outer space used to observe astronomical objects.


NASA is planning the next big space telescope, called the Habitable Worlds Observatory (HWO). This telescope focuses on ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared wavelengths, ideal for searching for potentially habitable exoplanets. The project is currently in its initial development phase.

UPSC Civil Service Examination, Previous Year Questions(PYQs)


Q 1. In the context of space technology, what is “Bhuvan”, recently in the news? (2010)

A. A mini-satellite launched by ISRO to promote distance education in India

B. The name given to the next Moon Impact Probe, for Chandrayan-II

C. A geoportal of ISRO with 3D imaging capabilities of India

D. A space telescope developed by India

Ans: C

Q.2 In the context of modern scientific research, consider the following statements about ‘IceCube’, a particle detector located at South Pole, which was recently in the news: (2015)

  1. It is the world’s largest neutrino detector, encompassing a cubic kilometre of ice.
  2. It is a powerful telescope to search for dark matter.
  3. It is buried deep in the ice.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct ?

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

Ans: D

Important Facts For Prelims

Israel’s Air Defence System

Source: IE

Why in News?

Recently, Israel's multi-layered air defence system defended the country from a major attack, as Iran launched over 300 armed drones and long-range missiles.

What are the Key Facts About Israel's Air Defense System?

  • Air defence systems are basically shields against threats from the sky. They are a combination of different technologies that work together to spot, track, and destroy incoming aircraft, missiles, or drones.
    • Israel's air defense system consists of Iron Dome and C-Dome.
  • Iron Dome:
    • It is a short-range, ground-to-air, air defence system of Israel.
    • The Iron Dome has three main systems that work together to provide a shield over the area where it is deployed.
      • Radar: It has a detection and tracking radar to spot any incoming threats.
      • Weapon Control: It has a battle management and weapon control system (BMC).
      • Missile Fire: It also has a missile firing unit. The BMC basically liaises between the radar and the interceptor missile.
    • It is used for countering rockets, artillery & mortars as well as aircraft, helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).
    • It is capable of being used in all weather conditions, including during the day and night. It claims a success rate of over 90%.
    • It can protect deployed and manoeuvring forces, as well as the forward operating base (FOB) and urban areas, against a wide range of indirect and aerial threats.

  • C-Dome:
    • It is a naval version of Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system, used to shield against rocket and missile attacks.
    • It was first unveiled in 2014 and declared operational in November 2022.
    • It works similarly to the Iron Dome, except that it is mounted on ships.
    • It is mounted on Sa’ar 6-class corvettes, and German-made warships, and uses the same interceptor as the Iron Dome.
      • Unlike the Iron Dome, which has its dedicated radar, the C-Dome is integrated into the ship’s radar to detect incoming targets.
    • It ensures full-circular vessel protection and high kill probability against a full spectrum of modern threats—maritime and coastal.

Similar Air Defense System of India:

  • Indrajaal:
    • India’s first indigenous drone defence dome called “Indrajaal” was designed and developed by Hyderabad-based technology R&D firm Grene Robotics.
    • It has the capability to autonomously protect an area of 1000-2000 sq km against the aerial threats by assessing and acting on aerial threats such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), loitering munitions, and Low- Radar Cross Section (RCS) targets.
    • It will not only provide protection to defence bases but it will be beneficial for linear infrastructures like international borders against advanced weaponry.
  • S-400 Triumf Missile System:
    • The S-400 Triumf is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia. It is one of the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD).
    • The system can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and ballistic and cruise missiles within a range of 400km, at an altitude of up to 30km.
    • The system can track 100 airborne targets and engage six of them simultaneously.

Read More: Iron Dome, Israel-Palestine Conflict

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)


Q 1. Which one of the following countries of South-West Asia does not open out to the Mediterranean Sea? (2015)

(a) Syria
(b) Jordan
(c) Lebanon
(d) Israel

Ans: (b)


Q1. ‘Too little cash, too much politics, leaves UNESCO fighting for life.’ Discuss the statement in the light of US’ withdrawal and its accusation of the cultural body as being ‘anti-Israel bias’. (2019)

Q2 . “India’s relations with Israel have, of late, acquired a depth and diversity, which cannot be rolled back.” Discuss. (2018)

Important Facts For Prelims

NCERT Recent Revisions in School Textbooks

Source: TH

Why in News?

NCERT's latest textbook revisions include adding findings from DNA analysis at Rakhigarhi, emphasising ancient Indian continuity. Other major changes include highlighting Ahom victories, using honorifics for Shivaji, and rephrasing terms like "rebel" to "revolt" in historical contexts.

What are the Key Facts Related to Rakhigarhi?

  • Location: Rakhigarhi is an archaeological site situated in the Hisar district of Haryana and is located in the Ghaggar-Hakra river plain.
  • Significance: It is one of the largest Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) sites and is situated on the banks of the now-dry Sarasvati River.
    • Three layers of Early, Mature and Late phases of Indus Valley civilization have been found at Rakhigarhi.
  • Major Findings: Drainage system, lanes, jewelry unit, copper and gold jewelry, terracotta toys, earthen pots, seals, a burnt-brick wall (possibility of a walled settlement), semi-precious stones such as agate and carnelian, two female skeletons buried with a plethora of pottery and adorned jewellery etc.
    • An important find from this site is a cylindrical seal with 5 Harappan characters on one side and a symbol of an alligator on the other.
  • DNA Analysis of Rakhigarhi: It suggests a genetic continuity between the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) inhabitants and modern populations, potentially challenging previous theories of large-scale migrations.
    • This finding adds weight to the argument for an indigenous origin of the IVC, a major civilization of the ancient world.

What is NCERT?

  • About: The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is an autonomous organisation set up in 1961 by the Government of India to assist and advise the Central and State Governments on policies and programmes for qualitative improvement in school education.
  • Objective: NCERT and its units aim to conduct research in school education, create textbooks and educational materials, train teachers, promote innovative teaching methods, collaborate with educational entities, and work towards Universal Elementary Education goals.
  • NCERT and NEP 2020: As per the National Education Policy 2020, NCERT is the nodal agency to develop National Curriculum Frameworks (NCFs) for: Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), School Education, and Adult Education.
Ahom Dynasty: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1630-1680 CE):
  • The Ahom dynasty (1228-1826 CE) ruled over present-day Assam in northeastern India. They were known for their resistance against powerful empires.
  • Battle of Saraighat: It was a significant naval battle fought in 1671 between the Ahom Kingdom and the Mughal Empire.
    • Ahom had a decisive Ahom victory against the Mughal Empire, halting Mughal expansion into Assam.
    • This battle is considered a landmark in Ahom history.
  • Shivaji established the Maratha Empire, a significant power in western India that challenged Mughal dominance.
  • He employed innovative guerrilla warfare tactics, using mobility and surprise attacks to his advantage against larger Mughal forces.
    • He introduced the collection of two taxes called the Chauth and Sardeshmukhi. He also divided his kingdom into four provinces, each headed by a Mamlatdar.
    • He abolished the Jagirdari System and replaced it with the Ryotwari System.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQ)

Q. With reference to the difference between the culture of Rigvedic Aryans and Indus Valley people, which of the following statements is/are correct? (2017)

  1. Rigvedic Aryans used the coat of mail and helmet in warfare whereas the people of Indus Valley Civilization did not leave any evidence of using them.
  2. Rigvedic Aryans knew gold, silver and copper whereas Indus Valley people knew only copper
  3. and iron.
  4. Rigvedic Aryans had domesticated the horse whereas there is no evidence of Indus Valley people having been aware of this animal.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

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

Ans: C

Q. Which of the following characterizes/characterizes the people of Indus Civilization? (2013)

  1. They possessed great palaces and temples.
  2. They worshiped both male and female deities.
  3. They employed horse-drawn chariots in warfare.

Select the correct statement/statements using the codes given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only 
(b) 2 only
(c) 1, 2 and 3
(d) None of the statements given above is correct

Ans: B

Rapid Fire

CWG Stares at Uncertain Future

Source: IE

Recently, Malaysia rejected the offer to host the Commonwealth Games (CWG) citing short notice and insufficient funds.

  • The Commonwealth Games (CWG) is a quadrennial international multi-sport event among athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations, which mostly consists of territories of the former British Empire.

Commonwealth Nations:

  • The Commonwealth is a collective of 56 countries, primarily former British colonies.
    • Established in 1949 by the London Declaration.
    • Members are mainly situated in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific, with notable emerging economies.
  • It was created as the British Commonwealth of Nations through the Balfour Declaration of 1926.
  • The chief institutions of the organisation are Commonwealth Secretariat and Commonwealth Foundation which focuses on intergovernmental aspects and non-governmental relations among member states respectively.
  • The Commonwealth consists of both Republics and Realms.
    • The British monarch is the Head of State for the realms, whereas the republics are ruled by elected governments except in the case of five countries — Brunei Darussalam, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malaysia, and Tonga — each a self-governed monarchy.
    • The realms are Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, etc.

Read more: Future of the Commonwealth

Rapid Fire

Operation Meghdoot

Source: PIB

Recently, Operation Meghdoot has completed its 40th anniversary which resurfaces the achievements of the Indian Army and Indian Air Force (IAF), in the Siachen glacier to secure the heights dominating the Northern Ladakh region.

  • The operation involved the airlifting of Indian Army soldiers and supplies by the IAF and dropping them on the Siachen glacier.
  • The Siachen Glacier has been a bone of contention since the Karachi Agreement in July 1949. Later, during the 1980s, Pakistan started attempts to legitimise its claim on Siachen Glacier leading to Operation Meghdoot by India.
  • Operation Meghdoot was launched on 13th April 1984, when the Indian Army and Indian Air Force (IAF) advanced to the Siachen glacier to secure the heights dominating the Northern Ladakh region.
  • The operation resulted in India gaining 70 kilometres long Siachen Glacier and all of its tributary glaciers, as well as three main passes of the Saltoro Ridge namely Sia La, Bilafond La, and Gyong La.

Read More: Siachen Glacier, Karachi Agreement

Rapid Fire

TRAI Recommendations for Regulatory Sandbox

Source: BS

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued significant recommendations for customer onboarding and the oversight of the Regulatory Sandbox (RS).

  • Eligibility for the RS in the Digital Communication Sector is limited to Indian nationals or entities, aiming to promote innovative technologies, services, use cases, and business models.
  • Customer onboarding in the RS requires specific voluntary consent, emphasising ethical and legal customer engagement.
  • Adherence to the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023, is crucial for customer onboarding and data processing, highlighting the importance of data protection laws and regulations.
  • Applicants must disclose details of licensing or regulatory relaxations sought for testing purposes and provide a clear exit strategy for the testing phase, ensuring transparency and regulatory compliance.
  • The oversight and governance of the RS is recommended to be managed by the National Telecommunications Institute for Policy Research, Innovation, and Training (NTIPRIT), with involvement from the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) and academic institutions as needed.
  • Funding support from "Digital Bharat Nidhi" is suggested for entities conducting trials for new technologies, aiming to bridge the digital divide and promote socio-economic advancement for underprivileged sections, aligning with broader national goals.

Read more: Comprehensive Framework for a Regulatory Sandbox

Rapid Fire

Starlink Project

Source: IE

Recently, several Starlink satellites were lost due to complex space weather phenomena like solar storms, which were launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX in February 2022.

Starlink Project:

  • It is a SpaceX project, launched in 2019, to build a broadband network with a cluster of thousands of orbiting satellites.
  • The goal of the project is to create a low-cost, satellite-based broadband network that can provide global internet access.
  • The Starlink satellites will be placed in an altitude range between 350 km and 1,200 km in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
    • Reduced latency between a user seeking data and the server transmitting that data is the key benefit of placing satellites in LEO for space-based Internet.
  • Solar Storms happen when th Sun emits large bursts of energy in the form of solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These phenomena send a stream of electrical charges and magnetic fields toward the Earth at high speed.
    • One of the effects of a solar storm striking Earth is the creation of the “Northern lights” which are seen in the regions around the Arctic Circle. An adverse effect of solar storms is the disruption of satellites and other electronic means of communications.

Read More: Space Internet, Geomagnetic Storm

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