14th January – Prelims Booster

Salem’s foxes

With the arrival of Pongal, the Forest Department officials are gearing up to prevent an unusual jalikattu – one that uses foxes instead of bulls.

Details –

The jalikattu – like event using foxes, or vanga nari in Tamil, is usually organised on Pongal on the outskirts of the district as villagers believe it will bring bountiful rain and good fortune.

Protection status –

The foxes are a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and hunting or capturing them is prohibited.

What is Jalikattu?

  • Jallikattu is a sport conducted as a part of Mattu Pongal (the 3rd day of the four-day long harvest, Pongal).
  • Jallikattu is also known as eru thazhuvuthal or manju virattu.
  • The Tamil word ‘Mattu’ means bull and the 3rd day of Pongal is dedicated to cattle. Bulls get precedence over cows because it helps in the ploughing of field, pulling their cart of goods and mating with cows to produce more offspring and in turn more production of milk.
  • Bulls are brought to a common place where the ritual happens. The participants are supposed to embrace the bull’s hump and try to tame it by bringing the bull to a stop.
  • In 2014, the Supreme Court banned the practice of Jalikattu in the state.

India’s under five girls face high mortality

India is among the few countries in the world where, in 2018, the mortality for girls under 5 years of age exceeded that of boys, according to the ‘Levels and Trends in Child Mortality’ report by the United Nations (UN) inter-agency group for child mortality.

Details –

  • The report states that in 2018, fewer countries showed gender disparities in child mortality, and across the world, boys are expected to have a higher probability of dying before reaching age 5 than girls. But this trend was not reflected in India.
  • According to India’s 2017 Sample Registration System, the States with the highest burden of neonatal mortality are Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh, with 32, 33 and 30 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively.
  • India’s neonatal mortality rate is 23 per 1,000 live births.
  • Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttarakhand showed the largest gender gaps in under-5 mortality.

Causes –

The major causes of neonatal mortality are pre-term birth, intrapartum related events, and neonatal infection.

Social media posting is a fundamental right : Tripura High Court

The High Court of Tripura ordered the police to refrain from prosecuting a man who was earlier arrested over a social media post.

Details –

The Chief Justice in his order broadly remarked that posting on social media was tantamount to a “fundamental right” applicable to all citizens, including government employees.

What is Freedom of Speech and Expression?

  • Freedom of speech and expression is broadly understood as the notion that every person has the natural right to freely express themselves through any media and without outside interference, such as censorship, and without fear of reprisal, such as threats and persecutions.
  • Freedom of expression is a complex right as freedom of expression is not absolute.
  • It carries with it special duties and responsibilities therefore it may be subject to certain restrictions provided by law.

Constitutional provisions –

Article 19 of the Constitution of India ensures freedom of speech and expression, on which the State can impose reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

Kaziranga has one of the highest number of wetland birds

Kaziranga recorded 96 species of wetland birds — one of the highest for wildlife reserves in India, according to the second wetland bird count conducted on January 9-10.

Details –

  • With 6,181 individuals, the bar-headed goose led the species count, followed by the common teal at 1,557 and northern pintail at 1,359. All three belong to the family anatidae.
  • The other species with sizeable numbers include gadwall, common coot, lesser whistling duck, Indian spot-billed duck, little cormorant, ferruginous duck, tufted duck, Eurasian wigeon, Asian openbill, northern lapwing, ruddy shelduck and spot-billed pelican.

Background –

The first wetland bird survey in Kaziranga, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, was conducted in 2018.

Asian Waterbird Census –

  • AWC, the largest such census in Asia, is organised by Wetlands International, is an international programme that focuses on monitoring the status of waterbirds and wetlands.
  • The data collected each year is shared by Wetlands International with global conservation organisations such as IUCN and Ramsar Convention, while state coordinators share data with local wildlife departments to ensure conservation and sustainable management of wetlands in the region.
  • It also aims to increase public awareness on issues related to wetland and waterbird conservation.
  • The census is carried out each January as a voluntary activity at national and local level.
  • The AWC is co-ordinated by Wetlands International as part of global programme, the “International Waterbird Census”.
  • The AWC was started in 1987, and many birders were initiated into bird counting and monitoring through this project.

About Kaziranga National Park –

  • Kaziranga National park is a 430 square kilometer area sprinkled with elephant-grass meadows, swampy lagoons, and dense forests is home to more than 2200 Indian one-horned rhinoceros, approximately 2/3rd of their total world population.
  • Formed in 1908 on the recommendation of Mary Curzon, the park is located in the edge of the Eastern Himalayan biodiversity hotspots – Golaghat and Nagaon district in Assam
  • In the year 1985, the park was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
  • Along with the iconic Greater one-horned rhinoceros, the park is the breeding ground of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer.
  • Over the time, the tiger population has also increased in Kaziranga, and that’s the reason why Kaziranga was declared as Tiger Reserve in 2006.

Private property is a fundamental right, says Supreme Court

A citizen’s right to own private property is a fundamental right. The State cannot take possession of it without following due procedure and authority of law, the Supreme Court held in a judgment recently.

Details –

The State cannot trespass into the private property of a citizen and then claim ownership of the land in the name of ‘adverse possession’, the court said, adding that grabbing private land and then claiming it as its own makes the State an encroacher.

Constitutional position of ‘right to property’ –

  • Originally fundamental rights Article 19(1)(f) guaranteed to every citizen the right to acquire, hold and against deprivation of his property. State can acquire on two conditions: (a) it should be for public purpose, and (b) it should provide for payment of compensation (amount) to the owner.
  • After several controversies, many amendments were made which introduced Article 31 A, B, C to prevent Judicial Review of certain laws. Finally with the 44th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1978 Article 19(1)(f) and Article 31 from Part III were repealed.
  • Article 300A in Part XII under the heading ‘Right to Property’ was introduced. It provides that no person shall be deprived of his property except by authority of law. Thus, the right to property still remains a legal and a constitutional right.
  • It is not a Fundamental Right as it is not a part of the basic structure of the Constitution. It can be regulated i.e. curtailed, abridged or modified merely by an ordinary law of the Parliament (no CAA needed). It provides protection only against executive action (not legislative). There is no guaranteed right to compensation in case of acquisition or requisition of the private property by the state.


Ministry of steel in partnership with CII and JPC is organising the launch of Purvodaya-Accelerated Development of Eastern Region through an Integrated Steel hub.

Details –

The objective of this hub would be to enable swift capacity addition and improve overall competitiveness of steel producers both in terms of cost and quality.

The Integrated Steel Hub would focus on 3 key elements –

  • Capacity addition through easing the setup of greenfield steel plants.
  • Development of steel clusters near integrated steel plants as well as demand centres
  • Transformation of logistics and utilities infrastructure which would change the socio-economic landscape in the East.

Significance –

  • Creation of an Eastern Hub would significantly contribute to Purvodaya by propelling socio-economic development in the Eastern region.
  • Steel capacity addition in the hub would entail capital investments of more than $70 billion and lead to an incremental GSDP of $35 billion through steel alone.
  • It will also lead to significant employment opportunities across the entire value chain, creating over 2.5 million jobs in the region.
  • It will also spur the creation of world-class logistics and utilities infrastructure also spurring the development of other manufacturing industries across the region.
  • This will be accompanied by social infrastructure in the form of cities, schools, hospitals, skilling centres etc.

Background –

  • Eastern states of India (Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Northern Andhra Pradesh) collectively hold over 80% of the country’s iron ore, 100% of coking coal and significant portion of chromite, bauxite and dolomite reserves.
  • There is a presence of major ports such as Paradip, Haldia, Vizag, Kolkata etc with over 30% of India’s major port capacity, 3 major National Waterways as well as strong road, rail connectivity to most parts of the country.
  • Despite these advantages, these states currently lag behind many other Indian states in terms of economic and development indicators such as GSDP per capita and Human Development Index (HDI).

Daily MCQs

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