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States demand that ‘Lightning’ be declared a Natural Disaster

GS Paper III

Context: Because to the significant number of fatalities it causes across the nation, a few states have asked that lightning be classified as a natural disaster.

Why discuss this?
  • 2,500 individuals every year lose their lives to lightning.
  • According to current standards, catastrophes covered by the State Disaster Response Fund include cyclones, droughts, earthquakes, fires, floods, tsunamis, hailstorms, landslides, avalanches, cloudbursts, pest assaults, frost, and cold waves.
  • Deliberations are required since it is a matter of policy.
What is lightning?
  • According to science, lightning is a sudden, intense, and partially earthward directed discharge of electricity.
  • The discharges are produced in enormous, 10–12 km towering clouds that are rich in moisture.
  • These clouds generally have a base within 1-2 km of the surface of the Earth and a top 12–13 km above it.
  • These clouds’ tops had temperatures between -35° and -45°C.
Its formation:
  • The drop in temperature causes water vapour that is rising in the cloud to condense.
  • As the temperature drops below freezing, the water freezes and forms ice crystals.
  • They continue to ascend, gaining bulk until they are about to plummet to Earth due to their extreme weight.
  • This results in a system where smaller ice crystals are travelling up and bigger crystals are falling down at the same time.
  • Electrons are released as a result of collisions, which is a process that is quite similar to the creation of electrical sparks.
  • A chain reaction results from the liberated electrons’ movement, which increases collisions and electron production.
  • The top layer of the cloud becomes positively charged as a result of this process, whilst the intermediate layer becomes negatively charged.
  • Between a billion and ten billion volts separate the electrical potential of the two layers, which is a significant difference.
  • A huge current, between 100,000 and one million amperes, begins to flow between the layers in a remarkably short period of time.
Types of lightning:

Broadly, there are three forms of lightning:

  • Inter-cloud
  • Intra-cloud
  • Cloud-to-ground
  1. Lightning that strikes from the clouds to the earth can cause significant property damage and kill people in addition to killing cattle and animals.
  2. The Earth is electrically neutral even though it is a superb conductor of electricity.
  3. It becomes positively charged in contrast to the cloud’s centre layer, though.
  4. Because of this, 15% to 20% of the current is also directed towards the Earth.
  5. This current flow causes harm to both human life and property on Earth.
How intensely does it strike?
  • A typical lightning flash has 30,000 amps and 300 million volts.
  • Household current is 120 volts and 15 amps, for comparison.
  • A 100-watt incandescent bulb may be lit by a lightning strike for nearly three months.
Why does lightning kill so many people in India?
  • More than 70% of fatalities occurred as a result of individuals standing under lone, towering trees, which is one of the reasons for the high death toll.
  • A quarter of the victims had open wounds.
  • Moreover, extremes brought on by climate change are directly propagated by lightning.
Mitigating lightning incidents:
  • In India, lightning is not regarded as a natural catastrophe.
  • Yet, recent initiatives have led to the establishment of an early warning system that is already saving many lives.
  • Rural regions account for almost 96% of lightning-related fatalities.
  • Thus, the majority of public education and mitigation campaigns must target these populations.
  • Devices for preventing lightning strikes are inexpensive and quite simple. Yet, their current level of deployment in rural regions is quite low.
  • Similar to heat action plans, states are urged to create and execute lightning action plans.
  • Also, plans are being made to establish an international centre of excellence for lightning research to improve early detection and warning systems.

Source: The Hindu

Bhutan no longer a ‘Least Developed Country’


GS Paper II


Context: On December 13, 2023, Bhutan will become the eighth nation to leave the Least Developed Countries (LDC) list.

What is a Least Developed Country (LDC)?
  • The UN classifies developing nations with the lowest socioeconomic development indices as LDCs.
  • The idea initially emerged in the late 1960s, and UN resolution 2768, which was adopted in November 1971, formalised it.
  • According to the UN, an LDC is defined as “a country that exhibits the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development, with- Low levels of income, human capital and economic diversification, High levels of economic vulnerability, and A population that is disproportionately reliant on agriculture, natural resources, and primary commodities.
Criteria for LDCs:
  • The UN specifies three requirements for a nation to be designated as an LDC:
  • It must have a gross national income (GNI) per capita below the level of USD 1,230 over a three-year average.
  • On a composite human assets index that takes into account factors like diet, health, and education, it must fare poorly.
  • It must exhibit signs of financial vulnerability, such as a propensity for natural calamities and the presence of structural economic limitations.
  • The UN evaluates nations every three years, and they must concurrently satisfy a choice of all three requirements.
How many countries are LDCs?
  • The UN now recognises 46 nations as LDCs.
  • One from the Caribbean, nine from Asia, 33 from Africa, and 33 from the Pacific region make up the remaining group.
  • Bangladesh, Laos, and Nepal were suggested for deletion from the list at the UN’s triennial review of LDC nations in 2021.
How does a country get off the LDC list?
  • A nation must fulfil requirements in the three previously mentioned categories of income, human resources, and economic vulnerability in order to be removed from the LDC list.
  • A country must achieve the income threshold for two consecutive triennial reviews by having a GNI per capita of at least USD 1,242.
  • The country must also demonstrate that this level of income is long-term sustainable.
  • To pass the economic vulnerability test, a country must also demonstrate that it has strengthened its capacity to resist outside economic shocks like natural disasters or changes in commodity prices.
How did Bhutan get off the LDC list?
  • In 1971, Bhutan was added to the initial list of LDCs. The criteria for graduation in 2015 and 2018 were satisfied.
  • In the previous 20 years, Bhutan’s GDP has increased more than eight times, from less than $300 million in 2000 to USD 2.53 billion in 2017.
  • Between 2003 and 2017, the proportion of persons living in poverty declined from 17.8% to 1.5%.
  • From 23.2% in 2007 to 8.2% in 2017, fewer individuals were living in poverty as a percentage of the population.

What economic measures did it take?

Exports of hydropower: Bhutan expanded its hydropower exports to India, which currently make over 20% of its total exports.

Bhutan created Brand Bhutan in order to diversify its exports and pursue high-end markets with specialised exports of high-value, low-volume commodities from industries including textiles, tourism, handicrafts, culture, and natural resources.

Promotion of tourism: It turned out to be a year-round travel destination in South Asia.

Advantages of being an LDC:

Duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) access to developed country markets is available to LDCs.

Also, LDCs are qualified for loans with specific conditions for development, such as loans with a lower interest rate and a longer payback period than those granted to other countries.

This type of help is commonly referred to as “Official Development Assistance” (ODA) or “aid”.

Way forward for Bhutan:

As a result, moving up the list is frequently just the beginning of progress.

The conclusion of one trip is not the beginning of another when one leaves LDC status.

Currently, a nation must step up efforts to increase its production capacity, diversify its economy, and develop new avenues for generating money.

Source: The Hindu

Iran- Saudi rivalry: China’s role and India’s Concerns

GS Paper II

Context: In an unexpected change of events, Iran’s and Saudi Arabia’s national security advisers said on March 10 in Beijing, in the presence of Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi, that they had reached a consensus to resolve their differences and will reopen their embassies within two months.

Background: Iran- Saudi rivalry

The two nations have been engaged in a struggle for regional geopolitical power since January 2016, when the Saudi kingdom broke diplomatic ties with Iran following the attack on the former’s embassy in Tehran. This has prolonged the crises in Yemen and Syria.

Only a few months ago, Iran’s senior military figures threatened Saudi Arabia with repercussions if it didn’t rein in its Persian-language media channels that were fervently reporting anti-government rallies in Iran. It’s a good idea to have a backup plan in case the backup plan fails.

Iran’s Strategic Partnership with China:

Iran views China as its most significant strategic ally, so when Iran was urged to uphold the non-proliferation regime and respect the principles of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs in a joint statement made at the first China-GCC summit in Riyadh in December 2022, this alarmed Iran.

The China-mediated agreement, which was reached a month after Raisi’s visit to Beijing, demonstrates how Beijing successfully used its relations with Iran—a country facing domestic pressure, sanctions, and deteriorating relations with Europe—to its advantage regarding that country’s military support for Russia.

The Dialogue Process:

The continuing discussions between Iran and Saudi Arabia aimed at enhancing security in the area, notably in Yemen, are known as the Iran-Saudi Security Dialogue. In 2021, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who was the prime minister of Iraq at the time, sponsored the discussions, which have since taken place intermittently.

Conflict Management Actions by the Biden Administration: As a conflict management measure, the Biden administration has taken action to stop US assistance for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including applicable arm sales. This action aided in helping Riyadh see the benefits of talking with Iran.

Chinese Contribution to the Final Accord: China has made significant contributions to the final Accord between Iran and Saudi Arabia. China has chosen a balanced strategy of enhancing relations with all parties based on shared values and deference rather than geopolitical allegiances with particular nations.

China’s Increasing Regional Engagement: Motivated by a desire to set itself apart from US-led initiatives in the Middle East, China is becoming more involved regionally. China has helped Gulf nations create channels for international engagement and take the lead on problems affecting Iran in the region.

What are India’s concerns?

Any improvement in ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia may have an effect on India’s energy security. As both of these nations are major oil suppliers to India, any war or tension between them might cause interruptions in oil supply and raise oil prices.

Possibility for regional instability: Conflicts in the Middle East, particularly the ongoing war in Yemen, have been stoked by animosity between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Any escalation in hostilities between the two nations might result in further instability in the area, which would have an impact on India’s security interests.

China’s expanding political clout in the Middle East is highlighted by its involvement in mediating the agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which may have consequences for India’s strategic interests. As India has long had positive connections with both Iran and Saudi Arabia, any change in the regional power structure may have an effect on India’s interests.

Effect on India’s plans for the Chabahar port: India has made significant investments in the construction of Iran’s Chabahar port, which will serve as a gateway to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Any improvement in ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia might have an effect on India’s port ambitions, which could have repercussions for India’s regional strategic objectives.


Now that China has succeeded in converting its economic might in West Asia into diplomatic weight, India must contend with a new reality. The agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia may have beneficial effects on the stability of the region, but India will need to closely monitor the dynamics as they change and consider how it can use its own relationships with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other regional players to further its strategic interests.

Source: Indian Express

Growth Prospects: India Better Positioned Than China


GS Paper III

Context: Observers have been dismayed by the Chinese government’s growth target of 5% for 2023 since it is lower than the objective set for previous year and below the anticipated GDP growth for India in 2023. The fact that India is profiting from the favourable effects of the nation’s reopening following COVID-19 lockdowns while China should gain from its reopening just this year makes this all the more remarkable.

Reasons for China’s lower growth target?

Danger of missing growth goal once again: The Chinese government does not want to take the chance of missing its growth goal once more, as it did in 2022.

Although while consumption is rising, external demand is still weak, and it is unclear whether private investment will increase given concerns about the private sector’s contribution to the Chinese economy and the generally cautious attitude that international investors are expressing.

The housing market continues to hinder growth.

Sustainable growth:

The Chinese government is aware that having a growth rate that is too high would only make financial imbalances worse.

Instead, they advocate for sustainable growth, which entails changing the structure of the Chinese economy and putting more stringent regulatory controls in place to control financial risks and realise more socially beneficial goals like a green economy and food security.

Job creation and foreign investment:

With a greater goal for creating new employment, China emphasises the importance of job security as an objective of sustainable growth.

Given the nation’s worries about the employment market, particularly for young people, China’s current charm drive to keep foreign direct investment in China is a significant source of job creation.

But, investors are seeking for fresh opportunities, with India perhaps benefiting greatly. India is seeing an increase in the number of jobs created by foreign investors, which might provide difficulties for China as it attempts to maintain its level of foreign direct investment.

Comparison of India and China’s growth prospects:

the potential for growth in China and India, with an emphasis on the need to attract foreign direct investment and the creation of jobs.

While the size and population of India and China may not be all that different, the two countries’ economic potential are very different.

The conservative development goals set by the Chinese government are commensurate with the existing difficulties facing the Chinese economy, but they now face more competition, particularly from India, which has a larger market and labour pool.

In the next years, this pattern of China’s conservative growth goals and India’s robust growth will likely intensify, particularly if the geopolitical pressures and high prices in China continue to drive the reorganisation of the value chain.


The Indian economy is benefiting from its demographic dividend whereas the Chinese economy may be experiencing structural decline. China’s structural slowdown and more regulatory measures may also have an impact on its chances for future growth. India may thus be more prepared than China is for long-term growth in the years to come.

Source: Indian Express

Rise of the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Regulations


GS Paper III


Context: ESG standards are currently used by regulators and enterprises globally to evaluate firms. Investors must appropriately examine ESG factors in order to determine a company’s risk profile. India’s ESG legislation and regulations are still in their infancy.

What is ESG?
  • Investors assess a company’s environmental and social effect as well as its corporate governance processes using ESG Rules, a set of benchmarks.
  • They demand that businesses disclose information about their governance practises, as well as their environmental and social performance.
  • Investors are using ESG criteria more frequently to guide their investment decisions, and ESG ratings are becoming into a critical performance indicator for businesses looking to raise capital.
  • Despite the fact that country-specific ESG requirements vary, many call on firms to report data on both their governance procedures and environmental and social challenges.
  • ESG standards are growing more significant as investors and consumers want more responsibility and transparency from businesses.
Features of ESG Mechanism:
  • Environmental aspects: They take into account a company’s effect on greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, waste management, and the preservation of natural resources.
  • Social factors: They include a company’s influence on society, such as labour practises, human rights, community relations, consumer satisfaction, and product safety.
  • A company’s management structure, board diversity, executive remuneration, shareholder rights, and corporate ethics are examples of governance considerations.
  • ESG ratings and metrics: ESG ratings and metrics are used to analyse companies and can be used by investors to gauge a company’s overall sustainability and ethical effect.
  • ESG investing: ESG investing is the practise of making investments in businesses that fulfil specific ESG standards with the intention of earning financial returns while simultaneously improving society and the environment.
  • ESG reporting: Many companies are now required to disclose their ESG performance and report on their sustainability practices, in order to meet regulatory requirements and respond to growing investor demand for transparency and accountability.
Corporate Social Responsibility: ESG-like mechanism in India
  • India has a strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy that requires businesses to participate in activities that advance social welfare.
  • With the passing of the 2014 and 2021 changes to the 2013 Companies Act, this obligation was formalised into law.
How ESG differs from CSR?
  • The impact and procedure of ESG laws are different from CSR requirements.
  • The U.K. Modern Slavery Act, for instance, mandates that businesses with operations in the U.K. and annual sales of more than £36 million disclose the steps they have taken to detect and assess the risks of human trafficking, child labour, and debt bondage in their supply chains.
  • It aims to set up internal accountability processes, assess supplier compliance, and educate supply chain management on these concerns.
  • Financial market players are required to explain how they have incorporated sustainability risks into their investment decision-making processes under the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation.
  • Several similar laws exist at the state, federal, and international levels.
Why is ESG relevant in India?
  • The Environment Protection Act of 1986 is one of several statutes and organisations that India has had for a long time that address environmental, social, and governance challenges.
  • It contains a variety of labour rules, laws managing employee involvement, and quasi-judicial institutions like the National Green Tribunal. It also has laws governing corporate governance procedures.
  • These initiatives created regulations that emphasise monitoring, quantification, and transparency in a manner similar to international ESG standards.
ESG for Indian companies:
  • The following are some crucial ESG factors for Indian businesses:
  • Observance of international ESG regulations: For Indian enterprises to fully benefit from the rising decoupling from China and play a more significant role in global supply chains and the global marketplace as a whole, compliance in the US, UK, EU, and other countries is essential.
  • In order to effectively manage ESG risks, due diligence is essential. This entails going beyond surveys and undertaking more thorough analyses, which may involve reviewing financial documents, speaking with former workers, and making covert trips to watch activities.
  • Restructure organisations: Within the business, ESG due diligence should be backed by rigorous risk assessment procedures and controls to ensure that no shortcuts are done. Businesses must accept these new constraints and modify their organisational structures if they want to take full use of their prospects in the global economy.
Way Forward:
  • Encouragement and rewards for businesses: to voluntarily embrace ESG practises through initiatives for education, training, and awareness-raising.
  • Creating national ESG principles and criteria to encourage uniformity and comparability across Indian enterprises’ ESG performance statistics.
  • Tailor-made Domestic needs-oriented policy putting in place ESG policies with an emphasis on encouraging openness, accountability, and stakeholder involvement and adapted to the requirements and problems of Indian firms.
  • facilitating the creation of ESG-focused investment funds and credit facilities to make it easier for businesses to obtain finance when they exhibit outstanding ESG performance.
  • To promote international commerce and investment while making sure that ESG risks are properly addressed, we should be encouraging global cooperation and the standardisation of ESG standards.

To guarantee that Indian enterprises can manage ESG risks and opportunities and support sustainable development, a thorough and coordinated strategy is required.

Source: Indian Express

Facts for Prelims


Oscar Awards:

  • The Academy Awards, usually referred to as the Oscars, are a yearly ceremony honouring achievement in the motion picture industry.
  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), a professional honorary association with more than 9,000 members, bestows the awards.
  • The inaugural Oscars event took place in 1929, and now the Oscars are regarded as the most prestigious honours in the motion picture business.
  • The event, which usually occurs in late February or early March, is live-broadcast on television in more than 225 nations and regions throughout the world.
  • The following are the results of the survey.
  • Members of AMPAS, including actors, directors, writers, and producers, who work in many facets of the film business, select the nominees and winners.
  • A filmmaker’s career may be significantly impacted by winning an Oscar since it is often seen as a symbol of status and can result in more money and project chances in the future.


  • A new anti-virus programme has been launched by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
  • A new antibacterial compound called IITR00693 may aid in the battle against illnesses that are resistant to treatment.
  • Many Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, including some of the most troublesome drug-resistant species, have been successfully treated using its powerful antibacterial properties.
  • IITR00693 functions as a two-edged blade, killing even the most resilient bacteria while simultaneously thwarting the development of resistance, guaranteeing its continued efficacy for future generations.
  • It increases the effectiveness of polymyxins against the two most well-known bacteria that may infect the skin and are multidrug resistant, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.


  • A novel superconductor substance is called reddmatter. It was created by mixing the rare earth element lutetium with nitrogen and hydrogen.
  • After noticing how the colour of the substance changed as it was squeezed from blue to pink to red, it was given the name reddmatter.
  • Compared to previously found superconducting materials, it can function at ambient temperature (21 degrees Celsius) at significantly lower pressure (10,000 atmospheric pressure).
  • It is the first material that can be purchased commercially that completely eliminates energy loss while electricity travels through a wire. This discovery may lead to enhanced high-speed trains, longer-lasting batteries, and more effective power systems.
  • The new superconductor may potentially contribute to the development of lossless electrical grids, as well as stronger and more affordable magnets for use in upcoming nuclear fusion reactors, among other things.

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