Syllabus: GS1/Art & Culture

In News

  • Union Minister of ports, shipping and waterways reviewed the construction of the National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC) site at Lothal.

National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC)

  • Bodies involved: It is being developed under the Sagarmala Scheme by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) in collaboration with Government of Gujarat.
  •  Background: The project was launched in 2022, and is being developed at a cost of Rs 3,500 crore.
  • Objective: The NMHC is being developed with the aim of displaying India’s diverse maritime history and also help Lothal emerge as a world-class international tourist destination.
  • It will house four theme parks – Memorial theme park, Maritime and Navy theme park, Climate theme park, and Adventure and Amusement theme park.
  • It will also house the world’s tallest lighthouse museum, 14 galleries highlighting India’s maritime heritage starting from the Harappan time till today, as well as a coastal states pavilion displaying the diverse maritime heritage of Indian states and UTs.


  • Location: It is situated near the village of Saragwala in the Dholka Taluka of Ahmedabad district (Gujarat). The nearest cities are Dholka and Bagodara.
  • Name: The meaning of Lothal (a combination of Loth and (s) thal) in Gujarati is “the mound of the dead”. Incidentally, the name of the city of Mohenjo-daro (also part of the Indus Valley Civilisation, now in Pakistan) means the same in Sindhi.

Lothal as Indus Valley Site

  • Lothal was one of the southernmost sites of the Indus Valley civilization, located in the Bhāl region of what is now the state of Gujarat.
  • Timeline: The port city is believed to have been built in 2,200 BC. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) discovered Lothal in 1954.
  • Features: In later excavations, ASI unearthed a mound, a township, a marketplace, and the dock at Lothal.
  • Trade: Lothal was a thriving trade centre in ancient times, with its trade of beads, gems and ornaments reaching West Asia and Africa.

World’s oldest Dockyard?

  • According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Lothal had the world’s earliest known dock, connecting the city to an ancient course of the Sabarmati river.
  • A metropolis with an upper and a lower town had in on its northern side a basin with vertical wall, inlet and outlet channels which has been identified as a tidal dockyard.
  • Additionally, the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa discovered marine microfossils and salt, gypsum crystals at the site, indicating that sea water once filled the structure and it was definitely a dockyard.
  • Satellite images show that the river channel, now dried, would have brought in considerable volume of water during high tide, which would have filled the basin and facilitated sailing of boats upstream.
  • The remains of stone anchors, marine shells, sealings which trace its source in the Persian Gulf, together with the structure identified as a warehouse further aid the comprehension of the functioning of the port.”

Heritage Value

  • Lothal was nominated in April 2014 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its application is pending on the tentative list of UNESCO.
  • Its heritage value is comparable to other ancient port-towns around the world – including Xel Ha (Peru), Ostia (Port of Rome) and Carthage (Port of Tunis) in Italy, Hepu in China, Canopus in Egypt, Gabel (Byblos of the Phoenicians), Jaffa in Israel, Ur in Mesopotamia, Hoi An in Vietnam.
  • In the region, it can be compared with other Indus port towns of Balakot (Pakistan), Khirasa (in Gujarat’s Kutch) and Kuntasi (in Rajkot).

Source: PIB

Dark Patterns in Online Advertisements

Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

In News

The Union Consumer Affairs Ministry has decided to issue specific guidelines to control dark patterns’ in online advertisements.

What are Dark Patterns?

  • The term ‘dark patterns’ was coined by Harry Brignull in 2010, it simply means a user interface that has been crafted to trick or manipulate users into making choices that are detrimental to their interest.
  • Dark patterns encompass a wide range of manipulative practices such as drip pricing, disguised advertising, bait and click, choice manipulation, false urgency and privacy concerns. 

Some major types of Dark Patterns:

  • Urgency: This tactic creates a sense of urgency or scarcity to pressure consumers into making a purchase or taking an action.
  • Basket Sneaking: Websites or apps use dark patterns to add additional products or services to the shopping cart without user consent.
  • Confirm Shaming: It involves guilt as a way to make consumers adhere. It criticizes or attack consumers for not conforming to a particular belief or viewpoint.
  • Forced Action: This involves forcing consumers into taking an action they may not want to take, such as signing up for a service in order to access content.
  • Nagging: It refers to persistent, repetitive and annoyingly constant criticism, complaints, requests for action.
  • Subscription Traps: This tactic makes it easy for consumers to sign up for a service but difficult for them to cancel it, often by hiding the cancellation option or requiring multiple steps.
  • Interface Interference: This tactic involves making it difficult for consumers to take certain actions, such as canceling a subscription or deleting an account.
  • Bait and Switch: This involves advertising one product or service but delivering another, often of lower quality.
  • Hidden Costs: This tactic involves hiding additional costs from consumers until they are already committed to making a purchase.
  • Disguised Ads: Disguised ads are advertisements that are designed to look like other types of content, such as news articles or user-generated content.


  • Harms to consumer autonomy: Making choices based on false or paid-for reviews tricks or influences consumers to make choices not in their best interest.
  • Financial loss: Such as buying a more expensive product, paying more than what was initially disclosed.
  • Privacy harms: There is a threat of sharing data with other entities.
  • It can lead to a less consumer trust and engagement into digital infrastructure, brands and advertising.
  • Expanding online space in India: Online space in India has experienced an impressive growth in recent years, with the number of internet connections reaching 830 million in 2021.
    • Moreover, India’s consumer digital economy is anticipated to hit the US$1 trillion mark by 2030, growing from US$537.5 billion in 2020. 
    • The expanding online space creates more opportunities for such advertising which makes specific guidelines to control dark patterns even more desirable.

Some of the regulatory measures taken in India

  • The Department of Consumer Affairs summoned cab and two-wheeler aggregators to come clean on their charges and algorithms, as consumer angst and frustration with these services rose to alarming levels. The Department also formed a consultation group to address the issue of fake online reviews. 
  • The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), has been addressing such issues through its existing code on misleading ads.
    • The ASCI code applies across media, including online advertising (including companies’ own websites, pages and handles). 
  • Consumer Protection Act 2019: Deceptive patterns that manipulate consumer choice and impede their right to be well informed constitute unfair practices are prohibited under the Consumer Protection Act 2019. 
  • Both the Consumer Protection Act 2019 and the ASCI code require ads not to mislead consumers.
    • The ASCI code is proposed to be extended to reflect the following advertising-related concerns around dark patterns.

Way Ahead

  • Regulators and self-regulators across the globe are stepping up their monitoring game with investments in artificial intelligence that can detect dark patterns and manipulative practices. 
  • Consumers must not be forced or directed towards unintended consequences without their express consent and consent by deceit is not an express consent. Consumers shall be aware of what they are signing up and also should be able to get out of the same.
  • While legislation and rules in this area will continue to evolve, a culture of consumer respect and meaningful engagement is what is most needed from organizations to keep the online experience proper. 

 India’s External Debt

Syllabus: GS3/Indian Economy

In News

As per the RBI India’s external debt has risen up to $624.7 billion during the financial year 2023.

Present Status of India’s External Debt

  • India’s external debt at end-March 2023 rose by $5.6 billion to $624.7 billion from the year-earlier period but the external debt-to-GDP ratio slid to 18.9% at end-March from 20% a year earlier.
  • Valuation Gains: Valuation gains due to the appreciation of the U.S. dollar vis-à-vis the Indian rupee and major currencies such as yen, SDR, and euro were placed at $20.6 billion.
    • Excluding the valuation effect, external debt would have increased by $26.2 billion instead of $5.6 billion at end-March 2023 over end-March 2022.
    • The contractual value of a debt can be defined as the present value of the stream of payments set out in the initial contract between the debtor and creditor on the assumption that such payments will be made with certainty.
  • Long-term debt (with original maturity of above one year) was placed at $496.3 billion, logging a decline of $1.1 billion over the end-March 2022 level.
  • The share of short-term debt (with original maturity of up to one year) in total external debt rose to 20.6% at end-March 2023 from 19.7% a year earlier.
  • Dollar-denominated debt remained the largest component of external debt, with a share of 54.6% at end-March 2023, followed by debt denominated in the Indian rupee (29.8%), SDR (6.1%), yen (5.7%), and euro (3.2%).
  • Outstanding debt of government and non-government sectors rose during FY23 to $133.3 billion ($130.8 billion in FY22) and $491.3 billion ($488.3 billion), respectively.

What is the External Debt of a country? 

  • It refers to money borrowed from a source outside the country. External debt has to be paid back in the currency in which it is borrowed.
  • Sources
    • External debt can be obtained from foreign commercial banks, international financial institutions like International Monetay Fund (IMF), World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) etc and from the government of foreign nations.
    • Normally these types of debts are in the form of tied loans, meaning that these have to be used for a predefined purpose as determined by a consensus of the borrower and the lender.
  • Governments and corporations are eligible to raise loans from abroad. These are in the form of external commercial borrowings. The interest rate on foreign loans is linked to LIBOR (London Interbank Offer rate) and the actual rate will be LIBOR plus applicable spread, depending upon the credit rating of the borrower.

What are the types of external debt?

External debt is money borrowed by a government or corporation from a foreign source. It can include:

  • Public and publicly guaranteed debt
  • Non-guaranteed private-sector external debt
  • Central bank deposits
  • Loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

The Impact of Rising/Defaulting on External Debt

  • A debt crisis can occur if a country with a weak economy is not able to repay the external debt due to an inability to produce and sell goods and make a profitable return.
  • If a nation is unable or refuses to repay its external debt, it is said to be in sovereign default. This can lead to the lenders withholding future releases of assets that might be needed by the borrowing nation. 
  • Such instances can have a rolling effect. The borrower’s currency may collapse, and the nation’s overall economic growth will stall.
  • Defaults and bankruptcies in the case of countries are handled differently from defaults and bankruptcies in the consumer market. It is possible that countries that default on external debt may potentially avoid having to repay it.
  • Excessive levels of foreign debt can hamper countries’ ability to invest in their economic future as their limited revenue goes to servicing their loans.
    • This thwarts long-term economic growth.

Conclusion and way forward 

  • Like any form of debt, borrowing money from foreign sources can be good or bad. It may be a useful, cost-effective way to access much-needed capital or trigger a vicious cycle of debt.
  • If it means procuring money for important investments at a cheaper rate than can be found domestically, then it can ultimately be viewed as a good thing. However, the same cannot be said when struggling economies are effectively forced to borrow from other countries on ridiculous terms just to stay afloat.

Dark matter

Syllabus :GS 3/Science and Technology 

In News

Scientists estimate that up to 85% of the matter in the universe could be made of what’s called dark matter.

Dark matter 

  • It is composed of particles that do not absorb, reflect, or emit light, so they cannot be detected by observing electromagnetic radiation. 
  • It is material that cannot be seen directly.


  • In the 19th century, Lord Kelvin, a Scottish-Irish physicist, wanted to estimate the mass of the Milky Way galaxy , using data on how fast stars moved around the galaxy’s core.
    • He found discrepancies or anomalies in the data, things which could not be explained and were attributed to “dark bodies” that we cannot see.
    • The galaxy seems to be rotating much faster than it should, based on estimates.
    • The theory is that there is an “invisible matter” responsible for the speed at which our galaxy rotates And that may be true of other galaxies as well
    • Stars have been observed to travel at higher-than-estimated speeds, especially at the edges of galaxies. 

Earlier Observations 

  • Scientists say that the reason we are unable to see or detect this invisible matter is that it does not interact with electromagnetic forces — things like visible light, X-ray or radio waves.
    • They argue that we can, however, observe some of the effects of dark matter through its gravitational force.
    • A decade ago, experiments at the Large Hadron Collider proved the Standard Model of particle physics by detecting the Higgs boson particle — a particle which itself had long proved to be elusive.

New theories about dark matter

  • Some scientists argue that if there were invisible forces in the universe, we would have found them already and that, given that we haven’t detected those forces, they suggest we should think outside of the Standard Model.
  • One of those scientists is the physicist Mordehai Milgrom who  has developed an alternative theory of gravity
    • That suggests that gravitational force operates differently at different distances from the core of a galaxy.
  • While Newton’s theory of gravity explains most large-scale movements in the cosmos, Milgrom’s Modified Newtonian Dynamics suggests that a force acts differently when it is weak, such as at the edge of a galaxy.
  • Advocates of the theory say it predicts the rotation of galaxies and the speed of the stars better than Newton’s theory.

Future outlook 

  • Scientists cannot define dark matter with any certainty, but that hasn’t stopped the search for it. 
  • The new Euclid space telescope, set for launch on July 1, will play a key role. 
  • Our largest space-based telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope is also on the case.
  • Experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) may provide more direct clues about dark matter.
    • The LHC could help solve the mystery of dark matter. 
Do you know ?The Standard Model is the idea that everything in the universe is made of a few fundamental particles and that those are governed by four fundamental forces — the strong force, the weak force, the electromagnetic force, and the gravitational force.

Demand of Horizontal  Reservation for transgender community

Syllabus :GS 1/GS2/Social Issues /Governance 

In Context 

  •  The Maharashtra government stated that it would  be difficult to provide “additional reservations” to transgender persons in education and public employment.


  • Trans persons in India have been fighting for the right to horizontal reservation for a long time. 
  • The demand for reservation has been raised by many prominent Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi activists and trans persons as well, such as Grace Banu, Living Smile Vidya and Disha Pinky Shaikh.

What are horizontal reservations?

  • Horizontal reservation is an intersectional approach that is provided for within each vertical reservation category.
    • For example, a Dalit woman can access vertical reservation under the SC category, whereas through horizontal reservation she will be able to access reservations for women as well — both of which equally influence the person’s social location. 
Types of reservationsIn India, historically oppressed and disadvantaged communities have a right to affirmative action policies. Reservation in education and employment can be divided into two broad categories, namely, vertical and horizontal.Difference Vertical reservations Horizontal reservationVertical reservations are provisions aimed at addressing social asymmetry arising out of caste hierarchy, and in the case of OBCs, social and educational “backwardness”. These include reservations for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC).Horizontal reservation, on the other hand, cuts across all vertical groups to provide affirmative policies for disadvantaged groups within categories. For example, disabled persons are guaranteed horizontal reservation in all the aforementioned vertical categories, general and reserved (vertical) alike, by the Central government.States like Uttarakhand and Bihar have also rolled out policies that guarantee horizontal reservation for women. This means that a woman who belongs to the SC category should be able to avail reservation based on both caste and gender. The horizontal model ensures this. This is exactly what transgender persons are fighting for, as well.

Demand to secure horizontal reservation for trans people

  • It has to do with the need for mandating provisions for a community that has been marginalised for long in society and recognising the different aspects making up their social identity
  • A study conducted by the National Human Rights Commission revealed that in 2017, only 6 percent of transgender people were formally employed. 
  • Informal work that a significant portion of the community currently engages in, like begging and sex work, have been criminalised in India under various Acts and laws.
    • But trans persons are often employed in such work for reasons related to both ritual and survival.
  • In this regard, the NALSA verdict has largely been interpreted as directing reservations for transgender people in the OBC category.
    • This perhaps stems from the bench identifying the community as “a socially and educationally backward class”. So far, no implementation has happened even to that end.
  • Transgender persons have filed several petitions of late in the Delhi HC, Madras HC, Rajasthan HC, etc., asking for horizontal reservation in education and jobs.

Observations of court’s 

  • In the National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA) v Union of India (2014) case, the Supreme Court ruled that transgender persons have a right to reservation, owing to the fact that they “are a socially and educationally backward class”.
  • Highlights of judgement : SC directed the Centre and the State Governments to take steps to treat them [transgender persons] as socially and educationally backward classes of citizens and extend all kinds of reservation in cases of admission in educational institutions and for public appointments.”
    • The NALSA judgement entitles trans persons to reservations on constitutional grounds. It does not, however, mention the nature of reservations – whether they are to be vertical or horizontal.

Other related developments

  • In 2015, Rajya Sabha DMK MP Tiruchi Siva presented the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill.
    • This Private Member’s Bill, in line with the NALSA judgment, had provisions for reservation for trans persons — in the public and private sector. 
    • The Bill was rejected in the Lok Sabha.
  • The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 was introduced by the Centre. It had no provision for reservations.
  • In 2018, a parliamentary standing committee under the Ministry of Social Justice was set up.
    • The committee, again in line with the NALSA judgment, recommended reservations for transgender persons. 
    • Yet, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 did not have any mention of reservation — vertical or horizontal.
  • Alternatively, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, included in its purview the right of disabled persons to accrue horizontal reservation.
    • Since this Act has been implemented, horizontal reservation for disabled people is now ensured under the Central government.
  • In 2015, the Tamil Nadu government decided to categorise “transgender or eunuch (thirunangai or aravani)”, that is, only transwomen under the Most Backward Classes (MBC) category. 
  • After Sangama v State of Karnataka, Karnataka became the first and only state to offer one per cent horizontal reservation to transgender persons in 2021.
  •  In April 2023, transgender persons were included in the OBC category in Madhya Pradesh.

Government’s stand 

  • Since the NALSA judgement, there has been no direction from the Central government on delivering on the right to reservation for trans persons.
  • Even as the clamour for horizontal reservation for transgender people in government jobs and education grows across India, the Union government said that there was no separate policy under consideration to provide jobs to transgender people in government organisations.


Facts In News

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Knowledge Centre & Space Museum

Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

In News

The Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Knowledge Centre and Space Museum is expected to be ready in 18 months at Kowdiar in Thiruvananthapuram.


  • The  project is jointly promoted by the State government of Kerala and the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).
  • Thiruvananthapuram is where Dr. Kalam spent his initial years with the Indian space programme. As such, the project is a fitting tribute to him.
  • The project, planned on 1.3 acres close to the Kowdiar Palace, was originally conceived in 2016, but was delayed on account of the heritage committee objecting to the initial design.
  • The knowledge centre and museum is designed to benefit the younger generation.

About Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

  • Avul Pakir Jainelabdeen Abdul Kalam was the 11th President of the country from 2002 and 2007 and is also popularly known as the ‘Missile Man’ of India for his contribution into  Integrated Guided Missiles Development Programme (IGMDP).
  • He also played a role in 1998 Pokhran-II tests under the leadership of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee. 
  • Abdul Kalam was felicitated with a Padma Bhushan in 1981, Padma Vibhushan in 1990 and then received India’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna in 1997. 
  • He is also known for a humble and respectful attitude towards people and was called the ‘People’s President’. 
  • After the end of his tenure as President of the country, he went back to delivering lectures to students and writing. 
  • He died after suffering cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture at Indian Institute of Management Shillong in 2015. 

Source: TH

Tomato Grand Challenge (TGC) hackathon

Syllabus : GS3/Economy 

In News

The Centre has announced the Tomato Grand Challenge (TGC) hackathon. 

About Tomato Grand Challenge (TGC) hackathon

  • The Grand Challenge invites ideas on comprehensive and focused area interventions in tomato value chain – from cropping and market insights for the farmers, appropriate cultivars (OP varieties or hybrids) with higher shelf-life of the fruits for fresh marker, cultivars specifically suitable for processing, value-addition through interventions 
  • It has been formulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs in collaboration with M/o Education (Innovation Cell).
  • It can increase shelf-life, improve transportation of fresh and processing products, innovative packaging and storage.


  • It aimed at addressing the availability and affordability of tomatoes for consumers and ensuring fair value for tomato farmers. 
  • The Government also aims to tackle price fluctuations that come from seasonal variations, supply chain disruptions, adverse weather conditions and local production surpluses. 
Do you know ?Tomato is produced almost in all the states in India, though in varying quantities.Maximum production is in southern and western regions of India, contributing 56%-58% of all India production. Southern and Western regions being surplus states, feed to other markets depending on production seasons.The production seasons are also different across regions. The peak harvesting season occurred in December to February. The cycle of planting and harvesting seasons and variation across regions are primarily responsible for price seasonality in Tomato. Apart from the normal price seasonality, temporary supply chain disruptions and crop damage due to adverse weather conditions etc. often led to sudden spikes in prices.Conversely, glut in the production of at local levels have also led to dip in prices causing huge loss to the farmers.

Source:News on air


Syllabus: GS3/Indian Economy

In News

  • The combined Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) increased by 4.3 % (provisional) in May 2023 as compared to the Index of May 2022.


  • The monthly Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) is a production volume index.
  • ICI measures collective and individual performance of production in selected eight core industries viz. Coal, Crude Oil, Natural Gas, Refinery Products, Fertilizers, Steel, Cement and Electricity.
  • Weightage of eight core industries in ICI (highest to lowest): Refinery Products (weight: 28.04 %) > Electricity (weight: 19.85 %) > Steel (weight: 17.92 %) > Coal (weight: 10.33 %) > Crude Oil (weight: 8.98 %) > Natural gas (weight: 6.88 %) > Cement (weight: 5.37 %) > Fertilizers (weight: 2.63 %).
  • Combined weight of these eight core industries is 40.27 percent of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) with base 2011-12. The ICI with base 2004-05 had a weight of 37.90 percent in the IIP (2004-05).
  • It is compiled and released by Office of the Economic Adviser (OEA), Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), and Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
  • ICI for a reference month is released with a time lag of one month on last day of the next month, which is about twelve days prior to the release of IIP for the reference month.
  • The base year of the ICI has been revised to 2011-12 from 2004-05 in alignment with the new series of IIP.

Source: PIB


Syllabus: Miscellaneous

In News

  • The Trophy tour of the 132nd edition of Durand Cup was flagged off by the Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande and Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari.

Durand Cup

  • Background: Durand Cup is Asia’s oldest and the world’s third oldest football tournament. It was started in Shimla in 1888 by Sir Henry Mortimer Durand (known for negotiating the Durand Line).
  • Format: It is an annual domestic football competition in which top Indian football clubs from across the country participate. 
  • Governance: It is Organized by the Indian Armed Forces in association with the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
  • Trophies: The Durand Cup tournament is unique where in the winning team is awarded three trophies, i.e.
    •  the Durand Cup (a rolling trophy and the original prize),
    • the Shimla Trophy (also a rolling trophy and first given by the residents of Shimla in 1904) and
    • the President’s Cup (for permanent keep, first presented by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India’s first President, in 1956).

Durand Line

  • Location: The Durand Line forms the a 2,670-km long international land border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The western end of the line runs to the border with Iran.
  • Background: It was established in 1893 as the international border between British India and the Emirate of Afghanistan by Mortimer Durand, a British diplomat of the Indian Civil Service, and Abdur Rahman Khan, the Afghan Emir.
  • Dispute: Afghanistan disputes it as the Durand Line cuts through the Pashtun tribal areas and further south through the Balochistan region, politically dividing ethnic Pashtuns, as well as the Baloch and other ethnic groups, who live on both sides of the border.

Source: News on Air


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