Daily Prelims Newsletter for upsc 11 Mar 2022

Daily Prelims Newsletter For UPSC
| RaghukulCS

11 Mar 2022-Friday

Table Of Contents

Table of Contents

The Hague Convention of 1954

Why in the news?

In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recently advocated for protective measures to preserve Ukraine’s endangered cultural heritage.

To prevent intentional or unintentional damage, the agency is labelling cultural sites and monuments in Ukraine with the distinctive “Blue Shield” emblem of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

What is the 1954 Hague Convention?

Background: Throughout history, armed conflicts have always wreaked havoc on people’s lives. In addition to the humanitarian costs, conflicts have resulted in widespread destruction of cultural heritage, undermining the foundations of communities, long-term peace, and the prospects for reconciliation.

The origins of the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict can be traced back to 1954, when UNESCO adopted the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

The 1954 Hague Convention is the name given to this convention.

It is the first and most comprehensive multilateral treaty solely dedicated to the protection of cultural heritage in times of peace as well as armed conflict.

Aim: The convention seeks to safeguard cultural property such as architectural, artistic, or historical monuments, archaeological sites, works of art, manuscripts, books, and other objects of artistic, historical, or archaeological interest, as well as scientific collections of any kind, regardless of their origin or ownership.

India is a signatory to the Hague Convention of 1954.

What exactly is the Blue Shield Emblem?

Article 6 of the 1954 Hague Convention states that cultural property may bear a distinguishing emblem to aid in its identification.

The Blue Shield, formerly known as the International Committee of the Blue Shield, was founded in 1996 in response to this.

It is a non-governmental, non-profit international organisation dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage around the world.

The Blue Shield network is widely regarded as the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross.

Function: The Blue Shield is a global network of dedicated individuals committed to protecting the world’s cultural heritage from threats such as armed conflict and natural disasters.

Museums, monuments, archaeological sites, archives, libraries, and audio-visual material, as well as significant natural areas and intangible heritage, are all included.

Associated Issue: Some states have refused to mark their cultural property, claiming that doing so would make it more vulnerable to attack by an enemy determined to destroy its symbols of national identity.

Unfortunately, this was the case during the war in the former Yugoslavia, when cultural property bearing the Blue Shield was deliberately targeted.

What exactly is UNESCO?

About: It is a United Nations specialised agency (UN). It aims to promote peace through international collaboration in education, science, and culture.

It was established in 1945 and is headquartered in Paris, France.

It is made up of 193 members and 11 associate members. India became a member of UNESCO in 1946.

The United States and Israel formally left UNESCO in 2019.

Convention on Chemical Weapons and Convention on Biological Weapons

Why in the news?

The United States recently stated that Russia may be planning a chemical or biological weapon attack in Ukraine.

Previously, Russia claimed that the US had chemical and biological weapons labs in Ukraine, which the US denied.

What exactly are chemical weapons?

A chemical weapon is a substance that is used to cause intentional death or harm due to its toxic properties.

Chemical weapons also include munitions, devices, and other equipment specifically designed to weaponize toxic chemicals.

Initiatives that are related:


The Chemical Weapons Convention Act of 2000 was enacted to put the Chemical Weapons Convention into effect (CWC).

It called for the formation of a National Authority for Chemical Weapons Convention, abbreviated as NACWC. This institution, established in 2005, serves as the primary point of contact between the Indian government and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Global (Hazardous Chemicals and Waste) Conventions of Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm:

The Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm conventions are multilateral environmental treaties with the goal of protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes.

The Australia Group (AG) is an informal forum of countries that seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons through the harmonisation of export controls.

What does the Chemical Weapons Convention entail?

It is a multilateral treaty that prohibits the use of chemical weapons and requires their destruction within a certain time frame.

The CWC negotiations began in 1980 at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament.

The convention was drafted in September 1992 and became available for signature in January 1993. It went into effect in April 1997.

It makes the destruction of old and abandoned chemical weapons mandatory.

Members should also declare any riot-control agents (also known as “tear gas”) in their possession.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is an international organisation founded by the CWC in 1997 to implement and enforce the CWC’s provisions.

It has 192 state parties and 165 signatories as members.

The convention has been signed by India.

Prohibited by the Convention:

Chemical weapons development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, or retention.

The transfer of chemical weapons.

The use of chemical weapons.

Assisting other states in engaging in activities prohibited by the CWC.

Using riot control devices as “warfare methods.”

What exactly is a biological weapon?

About biological weapons: Biological weapons use microbiological agents (such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi) or toxins to intentionally kill or harm humans, animals, or plants.

Initiatives that are related:

The Geneva Protocol of 1925 prohibited the use of biological weapons in warfare.

In 1950, India ratified the Geneva Convention.

Following that, in 1975, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) came into force, prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition, and retention of biological weapons.

This was ratified by India in 1974.

What exactly is the Convention on Biological Weapons?

It is a critical component of the international community’s efforts to combat the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), and it has established a strong norm against biological weapons.

WMD is a weapon with the capability of inflicting death and destruction on such a massive and indiscriminate scale that its mere presence in the hands of an adversary can be considered a grave threat.

The Convention, formally known as “The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction,” was negotiated in Geneva, Switzerland, by the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament.

It became effective on April 10, 1972, after it was opened for signature.

There are 183 States Parties and 4 Signatory States among the members.

The convention has been signed by India.

Prohibited by the Convention:

It effectively bans the development, manufacture, acquisition, transfer, stockpiling, and use of biological and toxin weapons.

It was the first multilateral disarmament treaty to prohibit an entire class of WMDs (WMD).

Women's Representation in the Judiciary

Why in the news?

The Chief Justice of India recently expressed concern about the lack of women among High Court judges.

He made this remark while speaking at an event commemorating the International Day of Women Judges (10th March).

What exactly is the International Day of Female Judges?

In 2021, the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 75/274 designated March 10th as the International Day of Women Judges.

India was one of the countries that supported the resolution, which was proposed by Qatar.

The purpose of the day is to recognise the efforts and contributions of female judges.

The day also empowers young women and girls who want to be judges and community leaders.

Combating gender disparities in the judicial system will also aid in the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

SDG Goal 5: Ensure gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

What is the Status of Women in the Courts?

The percentage of women judges in high courts is only 11.5 percent, while the Supreme Court has four sitting women judges out of 33 in office.

The situation of female lawyers in the country is no better. Only 15% of the 1.7 million registered advocates are women.

What are the Causes of a Lack of Female Representatives?

Society’s Patriarchy:

The primary reason for women’s underrepresentation in the judiciary is society’s deeply ingrained patriarchy.

Women are frequently subjected to hostile environments in courtrooms. Harassment, lack of respect from members of the bar and bench, and the silencing of their opinions are just a few of the traumatic experiences that many female lawyers have recounted.

The Workings of the Opaque Collegium System: Because of the method of recruitment through an entrance examination, more women tend to enter the lower judiciary at the entry level.

The higher judiciary, on the other hand, has a collegium system, which has a tendency to be more opaque and, as a result, more likely to reflect bias.

The Supreme Court Collegium recently recommended 192 candidates for High Courts, of which 37, or 19%, were women. However, only 17 of the 37 women recommended have been appointed thus far.

No Reservation for Women: Many states have a reservation policy for women in the lower judiciary, but it does not exist in the High Courts or the Supreme Court.

States like Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, and Rajasthan have benefited from such reservations, with 40-50 percent of judicial officers being women.

Despite public support from all major political parties, the Bill providing for 33 percent reservation for women in Parliament and state legislatures has yet to be passed.

Familial Responsibilities: Factors such as age and family responsibilities influence the advancement of women judges from the lower courts to the higher courts.

Not Enough Women in Litigation: Because lawyers elevated from the bar to the bench make up a significant proportion of judges in the high courts and Supreme Court, it is worth noting that the number of female advocates remains low, limiting the pool from which women judges can be chosen.

Judicial Infrastructure: Another barrier to women in the profession is a lack of judicial infrastructure.

Small, crowded courtrooms, a lack of restrooms, and a lack of childcare facilities are all obstacles.

No Serious Attempt: Over the last 70 years, no serious attempt has been made to provide adequate representation for women in the high courts or the Supreme Court.

Women account for approximately half of the total population in India, and a large number of women are available for advancement in the Bar and judicial services; however, the number of women judges is small.

No Serious Attempt: Over the last 70 years, no serious attempt has been made to provide adequate representation for women in the high courts or the Supreme Court.

Women account for approximately half of the total population in India, and a large number of women are available for advancement in the Bar and judicial services; however, the number of women judges is small.

Diversity on the bench would undoubtedly add new and inclusive perspectives to statutory interpretations.

Increase Judicial Diversity: Increasing judicial diversity enriches and strengthens judicial reasoning’s ability to encompass and respond to a wide range of social contexts and experiences.

This has the potential to improve the justice sector’s response to the needs of women and marginalised groups.

The Way Forward

There is a need to sensitise and emphasise inclusivity among India’s populace in order to effect institutional, social, and behavioural change.

The need of the hour is to correct the patriarchal mindset in recommending and approving the names of those to be elevated as high court judges, and to provide more representation to deserving female lawyers and district judges for elevation.

Women cannot be treated fairly unless they are empowered.

It is past time for all those who have a say in the appointment of judges to the high court and the Supreme Court to recognise the importance of giving women adequate representation in the judiciary.

Other ’S News

The Effect of Urban Heat Island

According to a study, decadal changes in land use and urban sprawl in the Chennai Metropolitan Area have resulted in warmer temperatures and an increase in the urban heat island effect spreading to the peri-urban landscape.

According to the study, the CMA’s vegetation cover was 14.9 percent in 1988, but it has since shrunk to only 6.1 percent of the area in 2017.

Water bodies, which occupied nearly 6.7 percent of the area in 1988, have decreased to 4.6 percent of the CMA.

While agricultural land extent decreased from 42.2 percent in 1988 to 19.2 percent in 2017, it was replaced by urban built-up area.

Rapid urbanisation, particularly along East Coast Road, Rajiv Gandhi Salai, and GST Road, resulted in a 48.7 percent increase in built-up area in 2017 from 17.7 percent in 1988.

As peri-urban areas develop denser urban sprawl, the temperature rises due to the urban heat island effect.

Since 1988, the loss of waterbodies, wetlands, and greenery has resulted in an increase in land surface temperature (LST).

[LST is the earth’s surface radiative temperature, or how hot the earth would be after solar radiation, as measured by a remote sensor.]

Solution – To maintain an LST of less than 30 degrees Celsius, efforts must be made to increase green cover and protect wetlands in peri-urban areas.

Creating an inventory of waterbodies and ecologically sensitive zones would aid in reducing the negative impact of urbanisation.

Peri-urban Zones

They are transition zones between rural and urban land uses, located between the outskirts of urban and regional centres and the rural environment.

Peri-urban boundaries are porous and transitory, as urban development extends into rural and industrial land.

There will always be peri-urban zones, no matter how the boundaries shift.

The Effect of Urban Heat Island ‘Urban heat islands’ form when cities replace natural land cover with dense concentrations of pavement, buildings, and other heat-absorbing and retaining surfaces.

This effect raises energy costs (for example, for air conditioning), levels of air pollution, and heat-related illness and mortality.

Climate change will almost certainly result in more frequent, more severe, and longer heat waves during the summer.

Rapid urbanisation, combined with changes in land use patterns, causes urban spaces to warm in comparison to surrounding non-urban areas; this is known as the urban heat island effect.

Benin Bronzes

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., has announced that it will return the majority of its collection of Benin Bronzes to Nigeria, months after launching an institution-wide review of its practises and ethical code.

The ‘Benin Bronzes’ (made of brass and bronze) are officially known as ‘Benin Kingdom Court Style artworks.’

The Benin Bronzes are a collection of over 3,000 sculptures and artworks dating back to the 16th century from the ancient Kingdom of Benin in present-day Nigeria.

Intricately decorated cast plaques, commemorative heads, animal and human figurines, royal regalia, and personal ornaments are among them.

Making – Benin bronzes are created using the lost-wax casting process, which involves making copies of a model.

This method was also used by the Indus Valley Civilisation.

During the raid on Benin City in 1897, British colonial forces looted the Benin Bronzes.

Several of these pieces were specially commissioned for the kingdom’s kings, or Obas, and Queen Mothers in Benin City.

These artefacts shed light on the Benin Kingdom’s culture as well as its relationships with neighbouring states. Some of these fragments also allude to the kingdom’s relationship with Europeans.

Institution of the Smithsonian

With 21 museums and the National Zoo, it is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex.

It was established in 1846 with funds donated by the Englishman James Smithson (1765–1829) in accordance with his wishes “under the name of the Smithsonian Institution.”

The purpose and vision of the organisation are to increase and disseminate knowledge.

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