Prelims Booster

7th September – Prelims Booster

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

September 5 is commemorated as the ‘Teacher’s Day’ annually to mark the birth anniversary of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

About Dr Radhakrishnan –

  • He was born on September 5, 1888 in Thiruthani, Tamil Nadu. He was India’s first Vice President and second President.
  • He received a knighthood in 1931 and honorary membership of the British Royal Order of Merit in 1963. He was the first Indian to hold a chair at the University of Oxford – the Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics (1936-1952), In 1930, he was appointed Haskell lecturer in Comparative Religion at the University of Chicago.
  • He was elected chairman of UNESCO’s executive board in 1948.
  • He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1954.
  • He was one of the founders of Helpage India, a renowned NGO for elderly underprivileged in India.
  • He had also formed the Krishnarpan Charity Trust along with Ghanshyam Das Birla and some other social workers in the pre-independence era.
  • Works – His book, ‘The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore’ became famous globally in terms of showcase of Indian philosophy. His philosophy was grounded in Advaita Vedanta.He defended Hinduism against “uninformed Western criticism” and played a major role in the formation of contemporary Hindu identity.
  • His other works include Indian Philosophy, (1923-27), The Philosophy of the Upanishads (1924), An Idealist View of Life (1932), Eastern Religions and Western Thought (1939), and East and West: Some Reflections (1955).


ISRO’s maiden mission to the Moon (Chandrayaan-1) has sent images which show that Moon may be rusting along the poles.

Details –

  • The sign of this finding is that even though the surface of the Moon is known to have iron – rich rocks, it is not known for the presence of water and oxygen, which are the two elements needed to interact with iron to create rust.    
  • Scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) say that this could be because the Earth’s own atmosphere is lending a helping hand which, in other words, means that the Earth’s atmosphere could be protecting the Moon as well.
  • Thus, the Chandrayaan-1 Moon data indicates that the Moon’s poles are home to water, this is what the scientists are trying to decipher.

About Chandrayaan-1 –

  • Chandrayaan-1 is the India’s first lunar probe which was launched in October, 2008.
  • ISRO lost communication with Chandrayaan-1 in August 2009.
  • The spacecraft is a very small cube which is about 1.5 meters on each side i.e about half the size of a smart car.
  • The interplanetary radar has been used to observe small asteroids several million miles from Earth.
  • Chandrayaan-1 provided evidence of lunar caves formed by an ancient lunar lava flow.
  • Among its many achievements was the discovery of widespread presence of water molecules in lunar soil.

Kesavananda Bharati

Kesavananda Bharati, the head of the Edaneer Mutt in Kasargod passed away recently. He will forever be remembered for the legal challenge that he mounted against the government of Kerala, which is considered by the majority of legal scholars as the greatest constitutional case in India’s judicial history.

About the case –

By a 7-6 majority judgment delivered in ‘His Holiness Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru and Ors. Vs. State of Kerala and Anr’, a 13-judge Bench of the Supreme Court ruled on April 24, 1973 that the “basic structure” of the Constitution is inviolable, and cannot be amended by Parliament. The basic structure doctrine has since been regarded as a fundamental tenet of Indian constitutional law.

What did the judgement say?

  • The court held that under Article 368 of the Constitution, which provides Parliament amending powers, something must remain of the original Constitution that the new amendment would not change.
  • But while the judgment established the doctrine of basic structure and ruled that Parliament had no power to alter it, the court did not define basic structure itself.
  • It only listed a few principles — among them, federalism, secularism, and democracy. Since then, the court has been adding new features to this concept.
  • Basic structure’ is today widely interpreted to include the supremacy of the Constitution, the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, doctrine of separation of powers, federalism, secularism, sovereign democratic republic, the parliamentary system of government, the principle of free and fair elections, welfare state, etc.

Background of the case –

  • In the early years of Independence, the Supreme Court conceded absolute power to Parliament in amending the Constitution, as was seen in the verdicts in Shankari Prasad (1951) and Sajjan Singh (1965).
  • The reason for this is believed to be that in those initial years, the apex court had reposed faith in the wisdom of the then political leadership, when towering luminaries of the Indian freedom movement were serving as Members of Parliament.
  • In subsequent years, however, the Constitution was amended by governments at will to suit partisan political interests. The Supreme Court in Golaknath (1967) held that Parliament’s amending power could not touch the Fundamental Rights, and that this power lay only with a Constituent Assembly.
  • In the early 1970s, the government of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi enacted major amendments to the Constitution (the 24th, 25th, 26th and 29th) to get around the judgments of the Supreme Court in RC Cooper (1970), Madhavrao Scindia (1970) and Golaknath (1967).
  • In RC Cooper, the court had struck down Indira’s bank nationalisation policy, and in Madhavrao Scindia, it had annulled the abolition of privy purses of the rulers of former princely states.
  • All the four amendments — 24th (fundamental rights, 1971), 25th (property rights, 1972), 26th (privy purses, 1971), 29th (land reform acts, 1972) — as well as the judgment in ‘I C Golaknath & Ors vs State of Punjab and Anr’ (1967), came under challenge in Kesavananda Bharati, in which the petitioner sought relief against the Kerala government vis-à-vis two state land reform laws.
  • Since Golaknath was decided by Bench of 11 judges, a larger Bench was required to test its correctness, and thus 13 judges formed the Kesavananda Bench. Nani Palkhivala, Fali Nariman, and Soli Sorabjee presented the case against the government.

Assam Rifles

Recently, the case of Assam Rifles regarding the scrapping or retention of the dual control structure for Assam Rifles (which comes under both the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Defence) has went to the Delhi High Court.

What is ‘Assam Rifles’?

  • Assam Rifles is one of the six central armed police forces (CAPFs) under the administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The other forces being the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
  • It is tasked with the maintenance of law and order in the North East along with the Indian Army and also guards the Indo-Myanmar border in the region.
  • It has a sanctioned strength of over 63,000 personnel and has 46 battalions apart from administrative and training staff.

Unique features –

  • It is the only paramilitary force with a dual control structure. While the administrative control of the force is with the MHA, its operational control is with the Indian Army, which is under the MoD.
  • This means that salaries and infrastructure for the force is provided by the MHA, but the deployment, posting, transfer and deputation of the personnel is decided by the Army. All its senior ranks, from DG to IG and sector headquarters, are manned by officers from the Army. The force is commanded by Lieutenant General from the Indian Army.
  • The force is the only central paramilitary force (CPMF) in real sense as its operational duties and regimentation are on the lines of the Indian Army. However, its recruitment, perks, promotion of its personnel and retirement policies are governed according to the rules framed by the MHA for CAPFs.

What is the issue?

  • Dual-control has created two sets of demands from both within the Assam rifles and by MoD and MHA for singular control over the force by one ministry.
  • A large section within the force wants to be under the administrative control of the MoD, as that would mean better perks and retirement benefits which are far higher compared to CAPFs under MHA. However, Army personnel also retire early, at 35, while the retirement age in CAPF is 60 years.
  • Also, CAPF officers have recently been granted non-functional financial upgradation (NFFU) to at least financially address the issue of stagnation in their careers due to lack of avenues for promotion. But Army personnel also get one-rank-one-pension which is not available to CAPFs.

Background –

  • Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force raised way back in 1835 in British India with just 750 men. Since then it has gone on to fight in two World Wars, the Sino-Indian War of 1962 and used as an anti-insurgency force against militant groups in the North East.
  • Raised as a militia to protect British tea estates and its settlements from the raids of the NE tribes, the force was first known as Cachar Levy. It was reorganised later as Assam Frontier Force as its role was expanded to conduct punitive operations beyond Assam borders.

Yanomami Tribe

From the remote rainforests of Brazil, a little-known tribe has made an emotional appeal to Indians to not buy gold which comes from Yanomami territory.

About Yanomami Tribe –

  • The Yanomami live in the rainforests and mountains of northern Brazil and southern Venezuela, and are, according to Survival International, the largest relatively isolated tribe in South America.
  • The Yanomami are believed to have crossed the Bering Strait from Asia into North America perhaps 15,000 years ago, and travelled southward to their home in the Amazon. Survival International says the tribe numbers around 38,000 today, and its members live in contiguous forested territory of around 9.6 million hectares in Brazil and 8.2 million hectares in Venezuela.
  • The Yanomami practise an ancient communal way of life. They live in large, circular houses called yanos or shabonos, some of which can hold up to 400 people.
  • Rituals, feasts and games are held in the main, central area. Each family has its own hearth where food is prepared and cooked during the day. At night, hammocks are slung near the fire which is stoked all night to keep people warm.
  • It is a Yanomami custom that a hunter does not eat the meat he has killed. “He shares it out among friends and family. In return, he will be given meat by another hunter,” says the website of Survival International.
  • The Yanomami consider all people to be equal, and do not have a chief. Instead, all decisions are based on consensus after long discussions and debates.

What is the ‘gold rush’ in Yanomami territory?

  • Since the 1980s, the Yanomami have been facing an onslaught from illegal gold miners. According to Survival International, Yanomami land was invaded by up to 40,000 miners who killed the indigenous people, destroyed their villages, and brought them deadly diseases. A fifth of the Yanomami population perished in just seven years.
  • Following a sustained campaign led by Survival International, the Brazilian government notified a ‘Yanomami Park’ in 1992, and the miners were expelled. However, they kept returning, and in 1993, they murdered 16 Yanomami including a baby in Haximú village. A Brazilian court subsequently found five miners guilty of the massacre. However, the illegal entry of gold miners in Yanomami country continued.

Project Dolphin

In his Independence Day speech this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the government’s plan to launch a Project Dolphin. The proposed project is aimed at saving both river and marine dolphins.

How ‘Project Dolphin’ will help?

  • Project Dolphin will be on the lines of Project Tiger. During the first meeting of the National Ganga Council (NGC), headed by the Prime Minister, it was said that “Special Conservation program needs to be taken up for Gangetic Dolphin which is national aquatic animal and also indicator species for the river Ganga spread over several states,” state the minutes of meeting.
  • So far, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), which implements the government’s flagship scheme Namami Gange, has been taking some initiatives for saving dolphins. Now, Project Dolphin is expected to be implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

What is the Gangetic dolphin?

  • The Gangetic river system is home to a vast variety of aquatic life, including the Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica). The Gangetic dolphin is one of five species of river dolphin found around the world. It is found mainly in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems.
  • The Conservation Action Plan for the Ganges River Dolphin, 2010-2020, describes male dolphins as being about 2-2.2 metres long and females as a little longer at 2.4-2.6 m. An adult dolphin could weigh between 70 kg and 90 kg. The breeding season of the Gangetic dolphin extends from January to June. They feed on several species of fishes, invertebrates etc.

Efforts to save ‘dolphin’ till now –

The Gangetic dolphin remains listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

  • WILDLIFE ACT PROTECTION – After the launch of Ganga Action Plan in 1985, the government on November 24, 1986 included Gangetic dolphins in the First Schedule of the Indian Wildlife (Protection), Act 1972. This was aimed at checking hunting and providing conservation facilities such as wildlife sanctuaries. For instance, Vikramshila Ganges Dolphin Sanctuary was established in Bihar under this Act.
  • CONSERVATION PLAN – The government also prepared The Conservation Action Plan for the Ganges River Dolphin 2010-2020, which “identified threats to Gangetic Dolphins and impact of river traffic, irrigation canals and depletion of prey-base on Dolphins populations”.
  • NATIONAL AQUATIC ANIMAL – On October 5, 2009, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while chairing the maiden meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority, declared the Gangetic river dolphin as the national aquatic animal. Now, the National Mission for Clean Ganga celebrates October 5 as National Ganga River Dolphin Day.

Daily MCQs

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