UPSC Key—27th October, 2023: Arctic Council, Social Media’s impact on mental health, and India- Qatar | UPSC Current Affairs News

UPSC Key—27th October, 2023: Arctic Council, Social Media’s impact on mental health, and India- Qatar | UPSC Current Affairs News

UN Security Council again fails to address Israel-Hamas war


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: 

• General Studies II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

• General Studies II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- The U.N. Security Council failed again Wednesday to address the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza, rejecting rival United States and Russian resolutions.
The council is the U.N.’s most powerful body, charged with maintaining international peace and security, but its divisions have left it impotent and scrambling to try to find a resolution with acceptable language.

• Why U.N. Security Council failed again to address the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza?

• What UN chief Antonio Guterres said?

Festive offer

• “It is important to also recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation”-Comment

• “The grievances of the Palestinian people cannot justify the appalling attacks by Hamas”-elaborate

• How does the United Nations see Israel-Palestine?

• United Nations-what all you know about this organisation?

• According to the UN Charter, Article 23, “The Security Council shall consist of fifteen Members of the United Nations”-do you know who all are the fifteen members?

• Permanent members and Non-permanent members-Compare and Contrast

• Five permanent members ten non-permanent members-know in detail

• How Voting System works in United Nations Security Council

• For Your Information- According to the United Nations Security Council website, Article 27 of the UN Charter states that: 1. Each member of the Security Council shall have one vote. 2. Decisions of the Security Council on procedural matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members. 3. Decisions of the Security Council on all other matters shall be made by an affirmative vote of nine members including the concurring votes of the permanent members; provided that, in decisions under Chapter VI, and under paragraph 3 of Article 52, a party to a dispute shall abstain from voting.

• What is Veto power in UNSC?

• Which members of the UNSC can exercise Veto Power?

• Do You Know-According to the United Nations Security Council website, The creators of the United Nations Charter conceived that five countries — China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) [which was succeeded in 1990 by the Russian Federation], the United Kingdom and the United States —, because of their key roles in the establishment of the United Nations, would continue to play important roles in the maintenance of international peace and security. They were granted the special status of Permanent Member States at the Security Council, along with a special voting power known as the “right to veto”. It was agreed by the drafters that if any one of the five permanent members cast a negative vote in the 15-member Security Council, the resolution or decision would not be approved. All five permanent members have exercised the right of veto at one time or another. If a permanent member does not fully agree with a proposed resolution but does not wish to cast a veto, it may choose to abstain, thus allowing the resolution to be adopted if it obtains the required number of nine favourable votes.

• Do You think that the veto power given to five permanent members of the UNSC should be abolished?

• On what basis was Security Council permanent membership granted?

• How are the non-permanent members of the Security Council selected?

• Are UN resolutions binding?

• Is Security Council reform in any way moving forward?

• What is the process for Security Council reform?

• How does the Security Council determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression?

• “Veto power was granted in the UN Charter 77 years ago to encourage each other, but it has turned out that the power is being used to block”-Analyse

• “UN Security Council (UNSC) has become “paralysed” and “dysfunctional” in its “present form”, as it has not been able to take any decision since Israel-Hamas war started”-How far you agree with the given statement?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:  

📍Why the West supports Israel

📍Takeaways from war zone


Qatar hands death penalty to 8 former Navy men; deeply shocking, says Govt


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- In a setback to India’s efforts at securing their release, eight former personnel of the Indian Navy, arrested in an alleged case of espionage, were handed the death sentence by a court in Qatar Thursday. Calling the ruling “deeply shocking”, India said it is exploring all “legal options”. The Indian nationals, all employees of Doha-based Dahra Global, were taken into custody in August 2022.

• Who are these Indians, and what were they doing in Qatar?

• Know the Background-The eight former Navy personnel — Captain Navtej Singh Gill, Captain Saurabh Vasisht, Commander Purnendu Tiwari, Captain Birendra Kumar Verma, Commander Sugunakar Pakala, Commander Sanjeev Gupta, Commander Amit Nagpal and Sailor Ragesh — were working at Al Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a defence services provider company.
The company is owned by an Omani national, Khamis al-Ajmi, a retired squadron leader of the Royal Oman Air Force. This man too, was arrested along with the eight Indians, but he was released in November 2022.
The company’s old website, which no longer exists, said it provided training, logistics and maintenance services to the Qatari Emiri Naval Force (QENF). On its new website, the company is called Dahra Global, but there is no mention of the connection to the QENF, nor of the seven former Navy officers who had leadership roles in the company.
Commander Purnendu Tiwari (retd), who was Managing Director of the company, received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2019 for his services in furthering the bilateral relationship between India and Qatar. He was feted in Doha by then Indian Ambassador P Kumaran, and a former head of the Qatar defence forces’ International Military Cooperation. The function was held at the Indian Cultural Centre. Captain Kapil Kaushik of the Indian Navy, who was the defence attache at Embassy of India at the time, was present at this event.
The Dahra website had certificates from Kumaran, and his successor at the Indian Embassy in Doha, Ambassador Deepak Mittal, praising the company’s work as furthering the cause of good relations between the two countries. Most of the arrested men had been working at Dahra for four to six years at the time of their arrests.

• When were the men arrested by the Qatari authorities, and why?

• What is the nature of the relationship between India and Qatar?

• What are the challenges, if any, in the relationship?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:  

📍Who are the 8 Indian Navy veterans sentenced to death by a court in Qatar, and what is the case against them?


The Biden pragmatism


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story-C Raja Mohan writes: The unexpected explosion of the Israel-Palestine conflict has raised questions about the potential overstretch in American grand strategy. But while the challenges confronting the US are complex and demanding, Washington has the will, resources and room for much geopolitical manoeuvre.

• “The unexpected explosion of the Israel-Palestine conflict has raised questions about the potential overstretch in American grand strategy”-Decode the statement

• Can Washington determine outcomes in simultaneous wars in Europe, the Middle East and Asia amidst the growing strategic collaboration between Beijing and Moscow and Tehran’s capacity to create trouble?

• “Over the last two years, the US has made impressive gains in Asia”-Elaborate

• US role in Middle east region-connect the dots

• Why Washington uncritically supports Tel Aviv?

• ‘Several factors, however, suggest it is unwise to underestimate the US’s strategic resilience’-what are those factors highlighted by the author?

• For Your Information-According to C Raja Mohan, several factors, however, suggest it is unwise to underestimate the US’s strategic resilience. One is the importance of balancing the noisy US foreign policy debates about decline and isolationism against the Washington establishment’s enduring strength, demonstrated over the decades, to moderate the extreme domestic arguments and sustain the pursuit of essential US interests worldwide.
Second, the US decline tends to be overstated. The US share of the global GDP continues to be around 24 per cent. While it is true that the Western share of the GDP has declined, much of that reflects a substantive drop in Europe’s share. At the same time, it is easy to overstate China’s rise. The current slowdown in the Chinese economy suggests it will be a long while, if at all, before Beijing overtakes Washington in aggregate GDP.
On the military front, the US continues to spend more on defence than the next 10 countries combined, including China and India. None of the other powers can project military power in the manner the US does. As the crisis has unfolded in the Middle East, the US deployed two aircraft carriers in the eastern Mediterranean during the last few days.
On the diplomatic front too, the US has been able to insert itself directly and at the highest level in the Gaza war. While China and Russia have offered the usual bromides, Biden travelled there personally, pressed the Israelis to delay the ground invasion and pushed for humanitarian relief. The US has more leverage than the other major powers with both the Arabs and Israel. All that was not enough to produce peace, but there should be no doubt about who has the greater influence in shaping the regional landscape.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:  

📍US President Joe Biden links India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor to Hamas attack



Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- Zerin Osho, Eoin Jackson Writes: In an emerging multipolar world, India has surprised many observers by extracting a rare thing as host of the G20 Summit — consensus. Seen increasingly as a deterrent against Chinese expansionism, India has shown it can balance the competing interests of the Global North and the Global South. This is essential to protecting our global climate, including critically important ecosystems such as the Arctic.

• How India can help in protecting Arctic?

• What is happening in the Arctic?

• Do You Know-The Arctic is warming at a rate four times faster than the global average, leading to an unprecedented loss of sea ice, as well as the thawing of permafrost. Continued Arctic change risks losing the North Pole’s “great white shield” and unleashing vast quantities of stored carbon, rivaling the cumulative emissions from the US at its current rate. This can trigger multiple catastrophic and irreversible climate tipping points. Protection of the Arctic is, therefore, crucial to protect the world from the worst effects of the climate emergency.

• “There is an intricate correlation between the melting of Arctic sea ice and extreme rainfall events during the Indian summer monsoon”-Discuss

• “Despite awareness about the importance of the Arctic, the climatic challenge is being exacerbated by rapid development and growing geopolitical tensions”-Elaborate further

• What is the Arctic Council?

• What do the Arctic Council do?

• What are the 8 countries in the Arctic Council?

• Map Work-Eight countries in the Arctic Council

• For Your Information-The Arctic Council calls itself “the leading intergovernmental forum” for discussing and addressing issues concerning the Arctic region, including scientific research, and peaceful and sustainable use of resources in the region.
The Council was established by the eight Arctic States — the countries whose territories fall in the Arctic region — through the Ottawa Declaration of 1996. The eight Arctic States — Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States — are the only members of the Arctic Council. The suspension of the Council due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made it more difficult to hold countries accountable and to monitor wider activity contributing to changes in the Arctic.
Besides them, six organisations representing the indigenous people of the Arctic region have been granted the status of permanent participants. All decision-making happens through consensus between the eight members, and in consultation with the permanent participants.
The Council is not a treaty-based international legal entity like the UN bodies or trade, military or regional groupings like WTO, NATO or ASEAN. It is only an intergovernmental ‘forum’ to promote cooperation in regulating the activities in the Arctic region. It is much more informal grouping.
Through six working groups, each dealing with a specific subject, the Arctic Council seeks to evolve a consensus on the activities that can be carried out in the Arctic region in keeping with the overall objective of conserving the pristine environment, biodiversity, and the interests and well-being of the local populations.

• “The active involvement of India as a member of the Arctic Council to voice the concerns of the Global South could help push for an end to further exploitation”-Analyse

• For Your Information-According to the Authors, India’s ability to traverse historical divides and develop aligned positions among the Global North and Global South, as evidenced at the G20 Summit, holds the potential to forge a united approach to safeguarding crucial global ecosystems, especially the Arctic. The New Delhi Leader’s Declaration demonstrated India’s ability to navigate the conflicting interests of the Global North and the Global South. India has a further opportunity to exercise this bridge-building capacity at its proposed virtual G20 Summit in November, where it can raise the Arctic as part of a constructive conversation on climate governance.
This capacity to generate unanimity will be needed to reform Arctic governance and protect the climate. As India takes greater steps towards leading the Global South, its post-G20 future should involve pushing for these reforms and ensuring that climate protection is at the forefront of global Arctic policymaking.

• Examine India’s role in Arctic Council

• Do You Know-India, along with 12 other countries, is Observers to the Arctic Council. So are 13 intergovernmental and inter-parliamentary organisations like the UN Environment Programme, and the UN Development Programme, and 12 other non-governmental organisations. The Observers are not part of the decision-making processes, but they are invited to attend the meetings of the Council, especially at the level of the working groups.
The Observer status is granted to entities that support the objectives of the Arctic Council, and have demonstrated capabilities in this regard, including the ability to make financial contributions. The renewal of Observer status is a formality. The status, once granted, continues till there is a consensus among the members that the Observer was engaging in activities that run counter to the objectives of the Arctic Council.
India had been given the Observer status in 2013, along with five other countries — China, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. Prior to this group, only France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom were granted Observer status. In 2017, Switzerland too became an Observer.
India is one of the very few countries to set up a permanent station in the Arctic for the purposes of scientific research. The polar regions offer some unique opportunities to carry out research related to atmospheric and climate sciences that cannot be done anywhere else.
The Himadri research station, located in Ny Alesund, Svalbard in Norway, about 1200 km south of the North Pole, was started in July 2008. The Goa-based National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCOAR) is the nodal organisation coordinating the research activities at this station.
The station has been used to carry out a variety of biological, glaciological and atmospheric and climate sciences research projects in the last one decade, with over 200 scientists from a number of institutions, universities and laboratories having accessed the facilities at the station.
Himadri came on the back of India’s three-decade experience of carrying out scientific research in the polar regions of Antarctica which began in 1981. India’s first permanent station in Antarctica was set up way back in 1983. In 2010, Indian scientists undertook a scientific expedition to the South Pole as well. India is now among the very few countries which have multiple research stations in the Antarctic.
The Arctic region is very rich in some minerals, and oil and gas. With some parts of the Arctic melting due to global warming, the region also opens up the possibility of new shipping routes that can reduce existing distances. Countries which already have ongoing activities in the Arctic hope to have a stake in the commercial exploitation of natural resources present in the region.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:  

📍Arctic opportunities

📍India unveils its Arctic policy, focuses on combating climate change

📍India in Arctic Council with observer status


SC does not have the authority


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance

Main Examination: General Studies II: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- Fali S Nariman Writes: Existing law cannot be interpreted to include same-sex marriage. The authority to change this, under the Constitution, rests with the legislature

• “The importance of marriage has existed almost since the beginning of human civilisation, but on the understanding that marriage is heterosexual”-why marriages are considered as sacrosanct?

• What is the premises supporting the concept of marriage?

• “Same-sex marriage is a phrase of recent import, an oxymoron, that is, a phrase using contradictory terms”-Do you agree with the author?

• For Your Information-Same-sex marriage is a phrase of recent import, an oxymoron, that is, a phrase using contradictory terms. However, same-sex relationships do exist and are accepted in society. Same-sex marriage is also gaining in popularity. So far, it has been established, only by law, in at least 34 different countries around the world (countries that account for 17 per cent of the world’s total population!); most of the Americas (North and South) and countries in Western Europe are included. But its spread has been uneven: South Africa is the only country in the continent of Africa, and Taiwan is the only country in the continent of Asia that have accepted same-sex marriage.

• What do you know about Supriya Chakraborty and Anr v Union of India?

• “As a matter of constitutional law, neither a Constitution Bench of five Judges, nor even the full complement of 34 judges of the Supreme Court, have the authority to so declare”-why?

• “In the Supriya Chakraborty case, judgments were handed down on October 17 by the five justices on the Constitution Bench”-What was the verdict by Supreme Court in this very case?

• Know the Verdict-The first two senior-most judges in the Court (Chief Justice Chandrachud and Justice Kaul) — in separate but concurring opinions — held that though there was no fundamental right to marry, and although the Court could not treat same-sex couples on the same basis as a marriage between two persons of the opposite sex, declarations were granted and directions were issued to alleviate the hardships experienced by same-sex couples living together. However, the remaining three justices on the Bench (Justices Ravindra Bhat, Hima Kohli and P S Narasimha), whilst also holding that there was no fundamental right to marry, expressly disagreed with the declarations granted and directions issued by the first two senior-most judges. Consequently, the two senior-most judges in the Court are in a minority; their judgments have to be reckoned as dissenting opinions: Having no greater force or validity than “an appeal to the brooding spirit of the future…”.
The operative majority opinion is that expressed in the judgments of the remaining three Justices viz Ravindra Bhat, Hima Kohli and P S Narasimha. A summary of their findings (now the opinion of the Court) is as follows: One, there is no unqualified right to marriage except that recognised by statute or custom; two, legal recognition of the right to a union — akin to marriage or civil union — can only be through enacted law; three, courts cannot enjoin or direct the creation of a legal or regulatory framework resulting in the conferment of legal status on same-sex couples, nor can same-sex couples be granted the right to adopt; four, that it is not possible to read provisions in existing statutes governing marriage in a gender-neutral manner; five, the constitutional challenge to the Special Marriage Act, 1954, the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and the Foreign Marriage Act of 1969 is rejected; six, despite the above, separate directions have been given to the Union of India for setting up a high-level committee (under the cabinet secretary’s chairmanship) to help ameliorate the manifold difficulties (including discrimination) experienced by same-sex couples living together.

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:  

📍Court lets itself, and us, down




Preliminary Examination: Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

Mains Examination: General Studies II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- Last week, several state governments requested schools to seek parental consent for the creation of a new student identity card known as the Automated Permanent Academic Account Registry (APAAR). This is part of the ‘One nation, One Student ID’ initiative of the Union government, stemming from the new National Education Policy of 2020.

• What is the purpose of APAAR, the ID for students?

• For Your Information-APAAR, which stands for Automated Permanent Academic Account Registry, is envisioned as a special ID system for all students in India, starting from childhood. Under the initiative, each student would get a lifelong APAAR ID, making it easy for the learners, schools, and governments to track academic progress from pre-primary education to higher education.
APAAR would also serve as a gateway to Digilocker, a digital system where students can store their important documents and achievements, such as exam results and report cards, digitally, making it easier to access and use them in the future for, say, pursuing higher education or finding a job.
The goal behind introducing APAAR is to make education hassle-free and reduce the need for students to carry physical documents. This initiative was launched as part of the National Education Policy 2020 by the Education Ministry.
“The vision is to create a positive change, allowing state governments to track literacy rates, dropout rates, and more, helping them make improvements,” Anil Sahasrabuddhe, Chairman of the National Educational Technology Forum, explained, “It’s about giving states the tools to enhance their performance.”

• But why introduce it?

• How does the government envision APAAR ID to work?

• What do students have to do to get their single ID created?

• What are the concerns surrounding APAAR?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:  

📍One nation, one student: Educationists apprehensive of APAAR student ID card scheme


Why many states in the US have sued Meta over kids’ mental health


Preliminary Examination: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains Examination: General Studies I: Effects of globalization on Indian society.

Key Points to Ponder:

• What’s the ongoing story- Dozens of US states have sued Instagram and Facebook’s parent company Meta, accusing the tech giant of contributing to the youth mental health crisis through the addictive nature of its social media platforms.

In a complaint, the attorneys general of 33 US states, including California and New York, said Meta repeatedly “misled” the public about the dangers of its platforms, and knowingly induced young children and teenagers into addictive and compulsive social media use.
The lawsuit comes two years after former Meta employee Frances Haugen emerged as a whistleblower with allegations that the company was knowingly preying on vulnerable young people to boost profits. She had revealed an internal study at Instagram which found that many young girls using the app were suffering from depression and anxiety around body-image issues.

• What has the lawsuit alleged?

• What had Frances Haugen revealed about Instagram’s impact on mental health?

• How does social media impact mental health?

Other Important Articles Covering the same topic:  

📍Why parents in the US state of Utah will now have to consent to kids using social media

📍Passively scrolling on social media linked to anxiety, depression & stress in new study

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Qatar hands death penalty to 8 former Indian Navy men, Govt explores legal options
Leo box office collection Day 8: Vijay-starrer aims to beat Jailer’s Rs 600 crore record, still has a long road ahead

Previous year UPSC Mains Question Covering similar theme:
📍Child cuddling is now being replaced by mobile phones. Discuss its impact on the socialization of children. (GS1, 2023)

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