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Special Issue Current Affairs UPSC CSE Oct Week 1

Current Affairs UPSC CSE

Special Issue Current Affairs UPSC CSE -Oct Week 1

VP Menon’s role in accession of J&K and other states

  • Recently 126th birth anniversary of VP Menon was observed. Born on September 30, 1893, Menon was the Secretary in the Ministry of States which was established by the Government of India in 1947 to deal with the accession of princely states.
  • While the nation rightly remembers Sardar Patel’s herculean efforts in ensuring that over 500 princely states seamlessly joined the Union of India, few know that it was Menon working in the background, travelling across the country and persuading different Maharajas and Nawabs to accede.
  • Perhaps Menon’s greatest contribution was coming up with the original policy on accession that required the princely states to accede only in the three matters of defence, external affairs and communications.
  • Since these matters were fairly non-controversial, Menon believed they would be readily accepted by the rulers. In his book Integration of the Indian States, Menon recounts approaching Sardar and pointing out the advantages of this policy: “The basic unity of India would be achieved and, when the new constitution was framed, we could thrash out the necessary details.”
  • It was Menon’s policy piloted by Sardar Patel that was finally reflected in the Instrument of Accession (IoA) executed by the states becoming a part of the Union of India in 1947 and their seamless integration thereafter.

Menon and J&K

  • One of the states to which Menon travelled to secure its accession was Jammu and Kashmir. By October 25, 1947, an attack by Afridi tribesmen had reached the outskirts of Srinagar, forcing the Maharaja of J&K to escape the city and relocate to Jammu.
  • On October 26, the Defence Committee of the Indian Government held a meeting to discuss the viability of a military intervention in J&K. Lord Mountbatten, who was part of this meeting, observed that since J&K had not acceded to either India or Pakistan, it was an independent country.
  • According to Mountbatten, if the Maharaja acceded to India, troops could be sent to rescue the state. Subsequently, it was Menon who immediately flew to Jammu and secured the Maharaja’s signature on the IoA.
  • With accession secured, the next challenge for Menon and his team in the Ministry of States was to ensure complete integration.
  • While this was a legally complex but politically straightforward matter in respect of most princely states, negotiations between representatives of the Government of India and Sheikh Abdullah, the Prime Minister of J&K, in relation to J&K’s status in India failed to produce a mutually acceptable result.
  • It was thus decided that the Constitution of India would reflect the position under the 1947 IoA. In a letter dated September 29, 1949, Menon writes to Sheikh Abdullah proposing an initial formula for the draft Article 370.
  • The final text of Article 370 introduced in the Constitution of India is based on this understanding. Sheikh Abdullah however had reservations regarding Menon’s letter.
  • He proposed an alternative formulation which simply stated that the Indian Parliament would be entitled to legislate only on defence, external affairs and communications.
  • Overriding the Sheikh’s objections, but in deference to his principled disagreement, the Ministry of States sent a draft proclamation to the Yuvraj of Kashmir, Karan Singh, for signing.
  • This was the final step towards complete integration in the Union of India by which all princely states that had acceded to India were required to accept the Constitution of India as their own through a public proclamation. It is significant to note that J&K’s proclamation was worded differently from the others.
  • This proclamation, issued on November 25, 1949, did not accept the Constitution of India as J&K’s own. Instead, it stated that the Constitution of India, “in so far as it is applicable to [J&K]” would “govern the constitutional relationship between [J&K and the] Union of India”.
  • This was a reference to Article 370 of the Constitution of India. The rest, as they say, is history.

Dadasaheb Phalke and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award

  • Recently, it was announced that superstar Amitabh Bachchan will be awarded the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Indian cinema’s highest honour. The announcement was made by the Union Minister of Information & Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar on Twitter.
  • The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is part of the National Film Awards, themselves a highly coveted collection of honours in the film industry.
  • The Award is named after Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, the pioneering filmmaker who gave India its first film– ‘Raja Harishchandra’, in 1913.

The Dadasaheb Phalke Award

  • Presented annually by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the award is considered the highest honour in the Indian film fraternity. It is awarded for “outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema”.
  • According to the website of the Directorate of Film Festivals, the award was instituted by the government in 1969, and consists of a ‘Swarna Kamal’, a cash prize of INR 10 lakh, a certificate, a silk roll, and a shawl.
  • The award is presented by the President of India in the presence of the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, the Chairpersons of the juries, the representatives of the Film Federation of India, and the Confederation of All India Cine Employees amid senior officials, the website says.
  • Amitabh Bachchan is the 50th recipient of the award. Last year, it was given posthumously to the legendary late actor Vinod Khanna.
  • The first recipient of the award was Devika Rani Roerich in 1969. Subsequent awardees include music director Naushad, filmmaker Satyajit Ray, filmmaker Raj Kapoor, singer Lata Mangeshkar, actor Dilip Kumar, actor Dev Anand, filmmaker Yash Chopra, writer Gulzar, actor Shashi Kapoor, and actor Manoj Kumar among others.

Dhundiraj Govind ‘Dadasaheb’ Phalke

  • Born in 1870 at Trimbak in Maharashtra, Phalke was drawn towards creative arts since childhood. He studied engineering and sculpture and developed an interest in motion pictures after watching the 1906 silent film The Life of Christ.
  • Before venturing into films, Phalke worked as a photographer, owned a printing press, and had even worked with the famed painter Raja Ravi Varma.
  • In 1913, Phalke wrote, produced, and directed India’s first feature film, the silent Raja Harishchandra. A commercial success, it propelled Phalke to make 95 more films and 26 short films in the next 19 years.
  • Phalke’s fortunes dwindled with the arrival of sound in cinema, and he died in 1944 at Nashik after retiring from films.


  • A new, curious mineral has been discovered inside a diamond unearthed from a mine in South Africa. The mineral has been named goldschmidtite, after Victor Moritz Goldschmidt, the Norwegian scientist acknowledged as the founder of modern geochemistry.
  • Goldschmidtite has an unusual chemical signature for a mineral from Earth’s mantle, according to the University of Alberta, a student of which discovered it.
  • While the mantle is dominated by elements such as magnesium and iron, goldschmidtite has high concentrations of niobium, potassium and the rare earth elements lanthanum and cerium.
  • PhD student Nicole Meyer found a single grain of the mineral in the diamond, unearthed in Koffiefontein, South Africa. The university described it as dark green and opaque.
  • Though the mantle makes up about 80 per cent of the Earth’s volume, very little is known about it. Reaching the mantle is not easy; it is about 2,900 km thick and no attempt to drill into it has been successful.
  • Diamonds hold clues as they are found up to 160 km beneath the surface, in the upper mantle.
  • Diamonds that are unearthed were brought up closer to the surface, probably as a result of violent volcanic eruptions when the Earth was hotter, according to the Smithsonian Magazine.


  • In music, we often hear a singer — or certain musical instruments — gliding seamlessly from one pitch or tone to another, with a smooth progression. Nearly all musicians know this as “portamento”, a term that has been used for hundreds of years.
  • Not everyone or everything can achieve it, however; this continuous varying of pitch is possible only for the trained human voice, besides string and some other instruments.
  • Now an MIT student has invented an algorithm that produces a portamento effect between any two audio signals in real-time. Trevor Henderson is now a graduate student in computer science, MIT said in a statement.
  • In experiments, the algorithm seamlessly merged various audio clips, such as a piano note gliding into a human voice. His paper describing the algorithm won the “best student paper” award at the recent International Conference on Digital Audio Effects, MIT said.
  • The algorithm relies on “optimal transport”, which is a centuries-old geometry-based framework that determines the most efficient ways to move objects — or data points — between various configurations. It has been applied to fluid dynamics, 3-D modelling, computer graphics, and more.
  • Now, Henderson has applied optimal transport to interpolating audio signals, or blending one signal into another, MIT said.

Scientists excavate ‘ancient river’ in Uttar Pradesh

  • The Union Water Ministry has excavated an old, dried-up river in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad) that linked the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. The aim is to develop it as a potential groundwater recharge source, according to officials at the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), a body under the Union Jal Shakti Ministry that coordinates the cleaning of the Ganga.
  • The “ancient buried river” as it was described at a conference organised by the Ministry, is around 4 km wide, 45 km long and consisted of a 15-metre-thick layer buried under soil.
  • According to Executive Director, NMCG, D.P. Mathuria, the discovery was made last December by a team of scientists from the CSIR-NGRI (National Geophysical Research Institute) and the Central Groundwater Board during a helicopter-borne geophysical survey covering the Prayagraj and Kaushambi region in Uttar Pradesh.Special Issue Current Affairs UPSC
  • These paleochannels reveal the course of rivers that have ceased to exist.
  • The newly discovered river, according to Mr. Mathuria, was a “buried paleochannel that joins the Yamuna river at Durgapur village, about 26 km south of the current Ganga-Yamuna confluence at Prayagraj.
  • The genesis of the palaeochannel’s discovery followed a 2016 report of a seven-member committee, headed by Professor K.S. Valdiya of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), commissioned by the Water Resources Ministry.
  • This report concluded that evidence from palaeochannels suggested that the mythological Saraswati river did indeed exist. They claimed to have based their conclusions on reports and maps of palaeochannels in north India and a separate, ongoing project by the Central Groundwater Board to map the aquifers (extremely deep stores of groundwater) of India.

Galo name – A pointer to ancestors

  • Can you recall the name of your ancestor from 20 generations ago? Or rattle off the names of all your forefathers, right up to the founder of your clan or ethnic group, centuries ago?
  • Members of the Galo community in Arunachal Pradesh can, and this is made possible by their system of naming.
  • At about 1.5 lakh people, the Galos are one of the 26 major communities of Arunachal Pradesh, and dominate West Siang, Lepa Rada and Lower Siang districts. They have a big population in East Siang, Upper Subansiri and Namsai districts too.

Primeval ancestor

  • The Galos belong to the Tani group inhabiting Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, besides Tibet.
  • They trace their common origin to a primeval ancestor, Abotani.
  • But unlike the Mising (Assam), Adi, Apatani, Nyishi and Tagin, the other communities, only the Galos maintain genealogy through given names.
  • “We have a system of prefixing the second syllable of a father’s name to that of a son, who passes on the suffix in his name to his son. We can trace the names of ancestors from the first syllable or prefix of our names,” Kenjum Bagra, a zoologist at Pasighat’s North Eastern Institute of Folk Medicine, said.
  • Ethnographer Moi Bagra’s book Identity says the Memos belong to the Paktu Ao “clan fraternity”, one of 22 the Galos are divided into.
  • The Memos have nine sub-clans: Angu, Bagra, Doji, Kamnyi, Karso, Naho, Ngomdir, Rasa or Rame, and Yorsi or Kamsi. The numbers of sub-clans of the other clans vary.

Einstein Challenge

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has thrown an “Einstein Challenge” to propagate the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi through innovations.
  • In his opinion piece in the 2 October issue of The New York Times on the occasion of the Mahatma’s 150th birth anniversary, he called upon thinkers, entrepreneurs and tech leaders to take forward Gandhi’s idea of innovation for future generations to remember.
  • Modi said that from uniting those who believe in humanity to furthering sustainable development and ensuring economic self-reliance, Gandhi offers solutions to every problem.
  • Modi also mentioned Swachh Bharat Mission, a nationwide campaign that aims to clean streets and roads launched on 2 October 2014.
  • Modi said that Gandhi combined ordinary objects with mass politics.


  • EEHV is lethal for young elephants between the ages of one and 12. If a young elephant dies before reproducing, it affects the population of the species as a whole in the concerned geography.
  • Since the middle of August, a rare disease has killed five elephants in Odisha. Four calves between the ages of six and 10 have died in Nandan Kanan Zoo in Bhubaneswar, followed by the fifth elephant that died in Chandaka forest this week.
  • The disease is caused by a virus called EEHV, or elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus.
  • The four deaths in Nandan Kanan Zoo are the first reported cases of EEHV-related deaths in an Indian zoo, state government and Central Zoo Authority (CZA) officials said, while the death in the forest too is the first known such case in the wild in India.

How the virus works

  • An EEHV information website, a resource conceived in 2011 at the the 7th Annual International EEHV Workshop in Houston, describes EEHVs as a type of herpesvirus that can cause a highly fatal haemorrhagic disease in young Asian elephants.
  • Most elephants carry just as most humans carry a cold virus. When EEHV is triggered, the elephant dies of massive internal bleeding and symptoms which are hardly visible.
  • Some elephants show symptoms such as reduced appetite, nasal discharge and swollen glands, researchers say.
  • The disease is usually fatal, with a short course of 28-35 hours.

No true cure yet

  • There is no true cure for herpesviruses in animals or in humans, the Washington-based Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute says on its website.
  • Because herpes viruses go latent, we won’t be able to find a ‘cure’ but we hope to collaborate in refining effective treatments and help in the development of a vaccine to prevent EEHV.
  • The diagnostic detection of active EEHV infections in Nandan Kanan was carried out at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly.

Why it is a concern

  • The death of the Chandaka forest elephant has worried officials in Odisha.
  • It will be extremely hard to track down every wild elephant in the state and test whether they are positive for EEHV, and the state government cannot afford the manpower, he said.
  • EEHV is lethal for young elephants between the ages of one and 12. If a young elephant dies before reproducing, it affects the population of the species as a whole in the concerned geography.

The way forward

  • An Asian elephant calf’s recovery after falling ill due to EEHV in Chester Zoo, UK, has raised new hope.
  • In June, the BBC reported that two-year-old Indali Hi Way’s recovery has been hailed as a “momentous step”.
  • This was after a treatment regimen including nine anaesthetic procedures, blood plasma transfusions, interferon therapy, anti-viral medications and immune boosting treatments, as well as very large amounts of intravenous fluids.
  • The BBC quoted researchers as saying that the case would help “find answers” to the virus.
  • In India, the CZA will set up a national committee of scientists from Guwahati, Kerala, IVRI and Nandan Kanan to develop protocols for the country lest an EEHV outbreak occurs elsewhere in the future.


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