Daily Current Affairs : 15th June 2023

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Bullet Train Project
  2. Uniform Civil Code
  3. Elnino and Monsoon
  4. Facts for Prelims

1 . Bullet Train Project

Context: Construction of a 360-metre-long bridge across the Purna river between Bilimora and Surat stations in Gujarat was fraught with challenges for the National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd. (NHSRCL), the implementing agency for the bullet train project to connect Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

About Bullet Train Project

  • The Indian Railways bullet train project, officially known as the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail (MAHSR) project, is a proposed high-speed rail corridor that aims to connect the cities of Mumbai and Ahmedabad in India.
  • The Indian Railways bullet train project is an ambitious project that envisages to improve transportation infrastructure and connect the cities of Mumbai and Ahmedabad with high-speed trains.
  • The project was first proposed in 2013, and the Indian government has been working with Japan’s Shinkansen Technology to develop the project.
  • The proposed bullet train corridor is expected to cover approximately 508 km and will include 12 stations along the route.
  • The trains are expected to run at speeds of up to 320 km/hour, reducing travel time between Mumbai and Ahmedabad from the current 7-8 hours to just 2 hours.
  • The project is expected to cost around $17 billion, with the majority of funding coming from a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
  • The project is being implemented by the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), a joint venture of the Central government and the Indian Railways.
  • The NHSRCL is responsible for the planning, design, development, implementation, and maintenance of the bullet train project.

What are the benefits of The Bullet Train Project?

  • The High-Speed Rail (HSR) project apart from being a technological marvel, would afford many quantifiable benefits like saving in travel time, vehicle operation cost, reduction in pollution, job creation, reduction in accidents/ enhanced safety, imported fuel substitution, and reduction in pollutants.
  • The project would also boost the infrastructure and add to the growth of economy. HSR would be an integrated system having overall optimization of various components, viz. Hardware, Software, Human-ware, and their interface, etc.

Technology Used – The bullet train being built between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will use the ballast-less Slab Track system (popularly known as J Slab track system) as used in Japanese Shinkansen high speed railway.

What are the major hurdles?

  • The bullet train project has faced criticism from some quarters, with concerns being raised about the
    • high cost of the project,
    • the displacement of people due to land acquisition, and
    • the potential environmental impact of the project.

2 . Uniform Civil Code

Context: The 22nd Law Commission of India sought fresh suggestions from various stakeholders, including public and religious organizations, on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).


  • Almost four years after the Law Commission of India came out with a consultation paper stating that a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) was “neither necessary nor desirable at this stage”, the Commission set about to examine the issue afresh as it solicited views and suggestions on UCC from the public and recognised religious organisations.
  • In June 2016, the Ministry of Law and Justice, made a reference to the Law Commission to examine all matters relating to the implementation of a UCC. The Law Commission, however, did not submit a final report on the issue and furnished a consultation paper on “Reform of Family Law” in August 2018.
  • The consultation paper was one of the last reports submitted by the 21st Law Commission, led by former Supreme Court judge BS Chauhan.

What are the cases related to the Uniform civil service code?

  • Shah Bano Case of 1985 that dealt with maintenance for Muslim women, the Supreme Court called it a “matter of regret that Article 44 has remained a dead letter”, adding common civil code will help the cause of national integration by removing desperate loyalties to laws that have conflicting ideologies.
  • Sarla Mudgal Case (1995), which dealt with issues of bigamy and conflict between personal laws in matters of marriage, the court highlighted the need for UCC again. It also requested the Prime Minister of India to have a fresh look at Article 44 and endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India and wanted the Court to be informed about the steps taken.
  • Supreme Court’s subsequent orders in Ahmedabad Women Action Group Case (1997) and Lily Thomas Case (2000) clarified that no direction was issued to the government for enactment of a uniform civil code in the Sarla Mudgal case.
  • Recently the top court wrapped up a clutch of petitions demanding for UCC observing that such issues are meant for Parliament to decide and that courts should not be seen as directing the legislature to enact a law.  
  • Responding to these petitions through an affidavit in October 2022, the Union government had told the court that personal laws based on religion is an “affront to the nation’s unity”, adding UCC will bring about integration of India by bringing different communities on a common platform through an unvarying legal regime.

Background of UCC

  • The Lex Loci Report of October 1840- It stressed the importance and necessity of uniformity in the codification of Indian law, relating to crimes, evidence and contract. But, it also recommended that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims should be kept outside such codification.
  • The Queen’s 1859 Proclamation- It promised absolute non-interference in religious matters.
  • So while criminal laws were codified and became common for the whole country, personal laws continue to be governed by separate codes for different communities.
  • Post independence UCC was included under Directive Principle of State Policy

About Uniform Civil Code

  • It is the idea that all citizens, irrespective of faith, should be governed by the same set of laws in ‘personal’ affairs such as marriage, divorce, succession and inheritance, and adoption. Currently, each religion has its own set of personal laws.
  • Article 44 of the Constitution says, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.” It is a Directive Principle of State Policy, not mandatory, but a directive towards a desirable end.
  • Personal Laws include : Marriage,Divorce, Adoption, Inheritance, Succession & Maintenance

Why is Article 44 important?

  • The objective of Article 44 of the Directive Principles in the Indian Constitution was to address the discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise diverse cultural groups across the country.  
  • Dr. B R Ambedkar, while formulating the Constitution had said that a UCC is desirable but for the moment it should remain voluntary, and thus the Article 35 of the draft Constitution was added as a part of the Directive Principles of the State Policy in part IV of the Constitution of India as Article 44.
  • It was incorporated in the Constitution as an aspect that would be fulfilled when the nation would be ready to accept it and the social acceptance to the UCC could be made.

Argument for Uniform Civil Code

  • The inconsistency in personal laws has been challenged on the touchstone of Article 14, which ensures the right to equality. Litigants have contended that their right to equality is endangered by personal laws that put them at a disadvantage.
  • A uniform civil code will help in integrating India more than it has ever been since independence. A lot of the animosity is caused by preferential treatment by the law of certain religious communities and this can be avoided by a uniform civil code.
  • A uniform civil code means that all citizens of India have to follow the same laws whether they are Hindus or Muslims or Christians or Sikhs this will promote secularism
  • It can also reduce vote bank politics
  • It would address the discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise diverse cultural practices.
  • A uniform civil code will also help in improving the condition of women in India. 

Challenges in implementation

  • A move against Secularism : Secular character of India has been identified as part of the basic structure of the Constitution, and Article 25 guarantees the freedom to practise, profess and propagate any religion and UCC is seen as invasion into the secular character
  • Infringement of personal religious laws : A strong argument which goes against the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code is, the very idea of assimilating all the personal laws into a uniform code will infringe the constituents of personal laws of most of the minority religion. 
  • Authority to decide : How will the government decide what laws need to be reformed and what laws are good. It is necessary that govt formulate a code that is acceptable to all the communities.

Case Laws

  • The first prominent case founded was Shah Bano (1985) in this case husband gave an irrevocable talaq (divorce) to her which was his prerogative under Islamic law and took up the defence that since Shah Bano had ceased to be his wife and therefore he was under no obligation to provide maintenance for her as except prescribed under the Islamic law which was in total Rs. 5400. In this case Supreme Court ruled that a Muslim woman was entitled to alimony under the general provisions of the CrPC, like anybody else.
  • Following protests from Muslim leaders, Rajiv Gandhi’s government in 1986 got the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act passed in Parliament, which nullified the ruling. The Act allowed maintenance to a divorced woman only during the period of iddat, or for 90 days after divorce, according to provisions of Islamic law, but in stark contrast to general provisions under the CrPC.
  • In Daniel Latifi vs Union of India (2001), the Supreme Court upheld the Act in so far as it confined the time period of maintenance to the iddat period, but held that the quantum of maintenance must be “reasonable and fair”, and therefore, last her a lifetime. In effect, the verdict did a balancing act between the Shah Bano judgment and the 1986 law.
  • In Githa Hariharan vs RBI (1999), the top court adjudicated upon the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 and the Guardian Constitution and Wards Act, on a petition claiming they violated Articles 14 by treating the father as the natural guardian of a child under all circumstances. The court held that the interest of the child was paramount, and that the letter of law would not override this aspect. It ushered in the principle of equality in matters of guardianship for Hindus, making the child’s welfare the prime consideration.
  • The Supreme Court examined the aspect uniformity again in two cases in 2015. The first pertained to seeking the court’s recognition to the Ecclesiastical Court, which operates under the Canon Law for Catholic Christians and not under India’s civil laws. The apex court was upset — wondering angrily whether India would remain secular in the present circumstances, and calling for stamping out religions from civil laws. This case remains pending.
  • In the second case, the court dealt with the issue of guardianship of a Christian unwed mother without the consent of the child’s father. While ruling in the woman’s favour, it said: “It would be apposite for us to underscore that our Directive Principles envision the existence of a uniform civil code, but this remains an unaddressed constitutional expectation.”

Can state Govt bring UCC

  • Uniform Civil Code or UCC essentially refers to a common set of laws governing personal matters such as marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance and succession. As per Schedule VII of the Constitution, such subjects come in the Concurrent List (Entry No. 5), wherein power to legislate rests with both Parliament and state legislatures. Accordingly, the state legislature may introduce amendments to the personal laws enacted by Parliament, but it cannot be stretched to include the enactment of a UCC for a particular state.
  • As per Article 12 of the Constitution, ‘State’ includes central and state governments. As per that authority, if Uttarakhand or any other state government brings any such legislation, it would require Presidential assent under Article 254 of the Constitution. Uniform Civil Code can only be brought by parliamentary legislation as is clear from government reply before courts and Parliament. 

3 . El Nino and Monsoon

Context: Any discussion on Indian monsoon these days invariably has references to the El Nino phenomenon. It is almost as if the fate of the Indian monsoon depends on the abnormalities in sea surface temperatures in far-away Pacific Ocean. El Nino, which is the warming of the waters in the Pacific Ocean near South America, is generally associated with the weakening of monsoon winds and dry weather in India.

What is El Nino, La Nino, ENSO?

  • ENSO – The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a recurring climate pattern involving changes in the temperature of waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. On periods ranging from about three to seven years, the surface waters across a large swath of the tropical Pacific Ocean warm or cool by anywhere from 1°C to 3°C, compared to normal. This oscillating warming and cooling pattern, referred to as the ENSO cycle, directly affects rainfall distribution in the tropics and can have a strong influence on weather across the United States and other parts of the world. El Niño and La Niña are the extreme phases of the ENSO cycle; between these two phases is a third phase called ENSO-neutral.
  • El Nino – El Nino, as is commonly known, refers to an abnormal warming of surface waters in equatorial Pacific Ocean. It is known to suppress monsoon rainfall.
  • La Nina – The opposite phase, La Nina, which is the abnormal cooling of sea surface waters in the same region, is known to aid rainfall over India.
  • Neutral:  Neither El Niño or La Niña. Often tropical Pacific SSTs are generally close to average.  However, there are some instances when the ocean can look like it is in an El Niño or La Niña state, but the atmosphere is not playing along (or vice versa).

Interaction between Ocean-Atmosphere system

  • Just the abnormal warming or cooling of surface waters in Pacific Ocean does not result in an El Nino or La Nina event. The associated atmospheric conditions also have to be in sync.
  • Though ENSO is mostly discussed in terms of temperature abnormalities of sea surface waters, it is important to understand that it is not just an ocean system. ENSO actually is an interaction of ocean and atmospheric conditions.
  • In fact, the ‘southern oscillation’ part in the term ENSO refers to a specific atmospheric condition that is a measure of the difference in sea-level air pressure over western and eastern side of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Another atmospheric condition that plays a key role in ENSO is the strength and direction of winds.
  • The ocean part of the ENSO is measured by what is known as the Oceanic Nino Index or ONI. The atmospheric part is monitored through Southern Oscillation Index, or SOI.
  • The ocean and atmospheric conditions in El Nino or La Nina tend to reinforce each other, producing a cyclic process. That means that the warming of the sea surface waters during an El Nino event influences atmospheric conditions in a way that these, in turn, result in further warming of the waters.

What happens during ENSO neutral Condition?

  • The tropical regions, that is the area immediately above and below the equator, is home to a permanent wind system called trade winds that move from east to west at quite low altitudes.
  • Because of the exposure to sunlight, the sea surface in the Pacific Ocean is quite warm. When the trade winds move over the Pacific Ocean, they push these relatively warm waters, which also become lighter, in the westward direction. So, the surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, that is near the South American coast, get pushed towards the west. It is replaced by the relatively cooler waters from below. The warmer surface waters continue to get pushed till they encounter a landmass in the islands at Philippines and Indonesia. They cannot be pushed any further.
  • The result of this process is the accumulation of relatively warm waters near Indonesia, called the Western Pacific Warm Pool, and relatively cold waters near Ecuador and Peru. This sweeping of surface waters and its accumulation also results in a relative rise in sea levels near Indonesia. The sea levels on the eastern coast of Indonesia happens to be about half a metre higher than the western coast of Ecuador and Peru.
  • The warmer surface waters near Indonesia creates a region of low-pressure area, causing the air to rise upwards. This also results in formation of clouds and heavy rainfall. The air flow also helps in building up the monsoon system which brings rainfall over India.
  • At higher altitudes, this air starts to move towards eastern Pacific Ocean, that is, in direction opposite to the trade winds that flow at lower altitudes. This wind system, east to west near the surface, and west to east at higher altitudes, creates a loop, and reinforces the temperature gradient between the east and west Pacific Ocean.

El Nino and abnormal Behaviour

  • In some years, for reasons that are not fully understood, the trade winds get weakened. It affects the ability of the trade winds to push warmer surface waters towards the Indonesian coast. Not enough warmer water is swept towards western Pacific Ocean.
  • That means the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, off the coasts of Ecuador and Peru, becoming warmer than normal. This is the El Nino phase. Because the sea-level at the Indonesian coast is higher, and the trade winds are not very strong to resist the motion, some accumulated warm water begins to flow backwards towards the South American coast under the influence of gravity. This further adds to the warming in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
  • The air circulation loop also gets affected, as a result. That, in turn, reduces the amount of precipitation over Indonesia and neighbouring regions, and impacts the Indian monsoon as well.
  • Exactly the opposite happens during a La Nina event. The trade winds become stronger than usual, pushing more warmer waters towards the Indonesian coast, and making the eastern Pacific Ocean colder than normal.

ENSO and Climate Change

  • In general, El Nino has a warming effect on the planet, while La Nina tends to cool it down. The warmest years in a decade are usually the El Nino years. The warmest-ever year on record, 2016, was part of one of the longest and strongest El Nino episodes ever, dubbed the Godzilla El Nino.
  • It is important to note that the warming over the planet accounts only for the near-surface temperatures. It does not account for the massive amount of heat trapped in the oceans. El Nino or La Nina years do not alter the overall heat in the system, but these do influence how much of it gets sunk in the ocean. During the La Nina phase, for example, a larger than normal amount of warm surface water of Pacific Ocean is pushed towards the Indonesian coast.
  • Here the entire column of ocean, several hundred metres deep comprises of relatively warm water. On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, relatively colder water from the deep emerges on the top. A large area over the eastern Pacific Ocean thus contains colder water. This has the ability to absorb some of the heat from the atmosphere, making the atmosphere slightly cooler. This is how La Nina produces a cooling effect.
  • El Nino works in exactly the opposite direction, and produces a heating effect. El Nino thus accentuates the global warming phenomenon, and contributes to climate change. The reverse effect, that of climate change on ENSO – the kind of impacts climate change is having in the Pacific — is not very clear, however.

4 . Facts for Prelims

Gorkha regiment

  • Since the independence of India in 1947, as per the terms of the Britain–India–Nepal Tripartite Agreement, six Gorkha regiments, formerly part of the British Indian Army, became part of the Indian Army and have served ever since.
  • The troops are mainly from ethnic Gurkha communities of India and Nepal.
  • Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the first to induct the Gurkhas, into the Sikh Army.
  • There are about 32,000 Nepalese Gorkhas currently serving in the Indian Army’s seven Gorkha Rifle regiments (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th and 11th), each of which has five to six battalions (around 800 soldiers each).
  • All the Gorkha regiment soldiers carry a ‘khukri’, which is a long knife that curves inward. The insignia of all the Gorkha Rifles regiments is a pair of crossed ‘khukris’.
  • The Gurkhas took part in the two world wars, the Falklands conflict and British operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, East Timor and Sierra Leone,
  • The ceremonial headgear also varies — while most Infantry regiments, Armoured Corps regiments, and other arms and services have a peak cap with the regimental badge, the Gorkha Rifles regiments, Kumaon Regiment, Garhwal Regiment, and Naga Regiment officers wear a kind of slouch hat which is called Terai Hat or Gorkha Hat colloquially.

Open Market sale scheme

  • Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) refers to selling of foodgrains by Government / Government agencies at predetermined prices in the open market from time to time to enhance the supply of grains especially during the lean season and thereby to moderate the general open market prices especially in the deficit regions.
  • Under the open market sale policy, the government allows FCI to sell food grains, especially wheat and rice, at predetermined prices in the open market from time to time to bulk consumers and private traders.
  • The FCI conducts a weekly auction to conduct this scheme in the open market using the platform of commodity exchange NCDEX (National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Limited). The State Governments/ Union Territory Administrations are also allowed to participate in the e-auction, if they require wheat and rice outside TPDS & OWS.

About Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)

  • In 1975, the Government of India initiated to identify the most vulnerable tribal groups as a separate category called PVTGs and declared 52 such groups, while in 1993 an additional 23 groups were added to the category, making it a total of 75 PVTGs out of 705 Scheduled Tribes, spread over 17 states and one Union Territory (UT), in the country (2011 census).
  • Currently there are 75 tribal groups have been categorized by the Ministry of Home Affairs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)s.
  • PVTGs reside in 18 States and UT of A&N Islands. 
  • For the identification of PVTGs the state governments or UT governments submit proposals to the Central Ministry of Tribal Welfare for identification of PVTGs. After ensuring the criteria is fulfilled, the Central Ministry selects those groups as PVTGs.
  • Among the 75 listed PVTG’s the highest number are found in Odisha
  • How they are identified : The criteria for identifying Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups are: –
    • Pre-agricultural level of technology
    • Low level of literacy
    • Economic backwardness
    • A declining or stagnant population
  • According to the procedure, the state governments or UT governments submit proposals to the Central Ministry of Tribal Welfare for identification of PVTGs. After ensuring the criteria is fulfilled, the Central Ministry selects those groups as PVTGs.

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