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Current Affairs 03 July 2024

  1. 52nd Anniversary of the Simla Agreement
  2. Bombay High Court Decision on College Dress Code
  3. Examination Controversies and Education Debate
  4. UK Teenager Becomes First to Receive Brain Implant for Epilepsy Control
  5. Syntrichia Caninervis
  6. Nouka Baich Boat Race
  7. SEBEX 2


Recently, the 52nd anniversary of the Simla Agreement, signed on 2nd July 1972 by the then Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, was observed.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Origins and Context of the Simla Agreement
  2. Major Provisions of the Simla Agreement
  3. Evolution of India-Pakistan Relations
  4. Current Dynamics (2023-2024)

Origins and Context of the Simla Agreement

Post-1971 War Dynamics:

  • The Simla Agreement emerged as a direct result of the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War, which culminated in the creation of Bangladesh (previously East Pakistan).
  • India’s military involvement was pivotal, significantly reshaping the geopolitical landscape of South Asia.

Principal Negotiators:

  • Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India
  • Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, President of Pakistan

Primary Objective:

  • To establish peace and normalize relations between India and Pakistan after the intense conflict.
Goals of the Simla Agreement

Kashmir Dispute:

  • India sought a bilateral approach to resolve the Kashmir issue, aiming to prevent Pakistan from taking it to international forums.

Enhanced Relations:

  • Hoped to improve relations with Pakistan by leveraging the new regional power dynamics.

Ceasefire Line:

  • India opted not to push for converting the ceasefire line into a permanent boundary to avoid fueling further resentment and potential backlash from Pakistan.

Major Provisions of the Simla Agreement

Peaceful Negotiations:

  • Emphasized resolving all disputes between India and Pakistan through peaceful means, primarily bilateral discussions.

Line of Control (LoC):

  • Established the LoC in Kashmir, which both countries agreed to respect without altering its status unilaterally.

Military Withdrawal:

  • Mandated the withdrawal of military forces to their respective sides of the international border, marking a significant step towards de-escalation.

Future Dialogue:

  • Set the stage for future meetings between the leaders of both countries to establish durable peace, normalize relations, and address humanitarian issues, including the repatriation of prisoners of war.
Importance of the Simla Agreement

Ongoing Relevance:

  • Remains pertinent today as the Kashmir issue and broader Indo-Pak relations continue to be contentious in South Asian geopolitics.

Framework for Dialogue:

  • Provides a legal foundation for future discussions and negotiations between India and Pakistan.
Criticisms of the Simla Agreement

Unmet Goals:

  • Did not achieve its intended objectives of fostering lasting peace and cooperation. Deep-seated mistrust and historical grievances persist.

Nuclear Deterrence:

  • Both nations’ nuclear tests post-1998 altered the strategic dynamics, diminishing the agreement’s relevance.

Peace Process:

  • Failed to establish a sustained peace process or normalization of relations.

International Perspective:

  • The global community generally respects the bilateral approach of the Simla Agreement, often citing it to discourage international intervention in Kashmir.

Evolution of India-Pakistan Relations

Partition and Independence (1947):

  • The partition of British India into India and Pakistan led to the creation of two separate nations: India, a secular state, and Pakistan, a theocratic state.
  • The Maharaja of Kashmir initially sought independence but later acceded to India following Pakistan’s attack on Kashmir, leading to the first Indo-Pak War (1947-48).
Conflicts and Agreements:
  • 1965 and 1971 Wars:
    • The 1965 conflict began with border skirmishes and escalated into a full-scale war, ending with a UN-mediated ceasefire.
    • In 1971, India’s intervention in East Pakistan’s struggle for independence resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
  • Simla Agreement (1972):
    • Signed after the 1971 war, it established the LoC in Kashmir.
  • Kashmir Insurgency (1989):
    • Pakistan supported a militant insurgency in Kashmir, leading to widespread violence and human rights abuses.
  • Kargil Conflict (1999):
    • Pakistani forces infiltrated Indian-controlled Kargil, leading to a conflict that ended with an Indian victory but strained relations further.
  • Mumbai Attacks (2008):
    • Coordinated attacks by Pakistan-based militants in Mumbai, killing 166 people, severely strained bilateral relations.

Current Dynamics (2023-2024)

Political Instability:

  • Ongoing political instability in Pakistan, coupled with militant activities and cross-border tensions, perpetuates the cycle of violence and mistrust between the two nations.

Geopolitical Influence:

  • China’s increasing influence in the region, including its strategic partnership with Pakistan and territorial disputes with India, adds another layer of complexity to the Indo-Pakistani relationship.

Additional Contextual Notes

Geopolitical Implications:

  • The strategic importance of South Asia continues to be influenced by the dynamics between India, Pakistan, and their neighboring countries.
  • Global powers, including the United States and China, play significant roles in shaping the regional geopolitical landscape.

Humanitarian Concerns:

  • The ongoing conflict and tensions have significant humanitarian implications, affecting millions of lives in the region.
  • Efforts towards peace and stability are crucial for the well-being of the affected populations.

Future Prospects:

  • The resolution of long-standing issues requires sustained dialogue, mutual trust, and international support.
  • Addressing economic, social, and political grievances is essential for lasting peace and development in the region.

-Source: Live Mint


Recently, the Bombay High Court rejected a plea by 9 students contesting the college’s new dress code that prohibited hijabs, burqas, niqabs, and other religious identifiers on campus. The court concluded that the dress code was implemented in the “larger academic interest” of the students.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Arguments and Court’s Ruling
  2. Bombay High Court’s Ruling
  3. Previous Court Rulings on Hijab
  4. Way Forward

Key Arguments and Court’s Ruling

Students’ Arguments:
  • Students asserted that the college dress code violates their religious freedom and right to education, arguing that the college lacks the authority to enforce such restrictions, especially since it obstructs educational access for minority communities.
  • They claimed these restrictions contravene specific constitutional articles: Article 19(1)(a) (Right to Freedom of Expression) and Article 25 (Right to Freedom of Religion).
  • Additionally, they contended the decision breached the University Grants Commission (Promotion of Equity in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2012, which aim to enhance educational access for SC, ST, OBC, and minority communities.
College Administration’s Arguments:
  • The college administration countered that the dress code applied uniformly to all students, regardless of religious or community backgrounds, with the objective of avoiding the revelation of students’ religion.
  • They referenced the 2022 Karnataka High Court judgement, which declared that wearing the hijab or niqab was “not an essential religious practice” for Muslim women.
  • The administration maintained that the dress code was an internal matter essential for maintaining discipline, and prescribed “any Indian/western non-revealing dress” for girls, applicable to all students.

Bombay High Court’s Ruling:

  • The Bombay High Court rejected the students’ claim that wearing the hijab is an “essential religious practice,” emphasizing that the dress code uniformly applied to all students, regardless of “caste, creed, religion, or language,” and did not violate UGC regulations promoting equity in higher education.
  • The court held that between the competing rights of a student’s dress choice and the institution’s right to maintain discipline, the institution’s “larger rights” must prevail, as students are expected to attend the institution for academic advancement.
  • The court fully agreed with the 2022 Karnataka High Court judgement in Resham v. State of Karnataka, 2022, which validated the state government’s ban on hijabs in government colleges.
Supreme Court Challenge:
  • The Karnataka High Court judgement on the hijab ban is currently under challenge in the Supreme Court, with a 2-judge bench delivering a split verdict in October 2022. The case has been referred to a larger bench.
  • The Bombay High Court verdict is also likely to be contested in the Supreme Court.

Previous Court Rulings on Hijab

Bombay High Court, 2003:

  • In Fathema Hussain Sayed v Bharat Education Society, the court ruled that the Quran does not mandate wearing a headscarf, and a girl student not wearing one does not violate Islamic injunctions.

2015 Kerala High Court Cases:

  • Two petitions challenged the dress code for the All India Pre-Medical Entrance, which required light clothes with half sleeves and slippers instead of shoes.
  • The Central Board of School Education (CBSE) argued the dress code prevented unfair practices. The Kerala High Court directed CBSE to implement additional measures for students wishing to wear religious attire.

Amna Bint Basheer v CBSE, 2016:

  • The Kerala High Court ruled that wearing a hijab is an essential religious practice but upheld the CBSE dress code, allowing additional measures and safeguards.

Kerala High Court, 2018:

  • In Fathima Thasneem v State of Kerala, the court upheld a Christian missionary school’s decision to deny permission to wear headscarves, stating the “collective rights” of the school take precedence over individual student rights.

Way Forward:

  • Aligning High Court judgements may indicate an emerging judicial trend. The Supreme Court’s verdict will be crucial for establishing a clear legal framework.
  • The challenge lies in balancing individual religious freedom with institutional autonomy to implement dress codes, requiring careful consideration in each educational context.
  • The lack of national-level dress code guidelines necessitates clear policies from the UGC to ensure uniformity and protect fundamental rights.
  • Formulating dress codes through a consultative process involving all stakeholders is essential to foster inclusivity and address concerns regarding diverse religious practices.

-Source: The Hindu


The NEET-UG exam has been marred by controversies including issues with grace marks, paper leaks, and other irregularities. The UGC-NET exam was cancelled after it was conducted, and the CSIR-NET and NEET-PG exams have been postponed.

  • In light of these issues, there is ongoing debate about transferring education back to the state list.


GS II: Education

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Status of Education– Historical Background
  2. Prevailing International Practices
  3. Arguments for ‘Education’ in the Concurrent List
  4. Arguments for Restoring ‘Education’ to the State List
  5. Way Forward

Status of Education– Historical Background


  • Government of India Act, 1935: Established a federal structure, dividing legislative subjects between the federal legislature (Union) and provinces (States).
  • Provincial List: Education was categorized under the provincial list, recognizing it as an important public good.


  • Continuation of 1935 Act Trends: Education remained on the State list in the distribution of powers.
  • Emergency Period: The Congress party formed the Swaran Singh Committee to suggest constitutional amendments, including placing ‘education’ in the concurrent list for unified national policies.
  • 42nd Constitutional Amendment (1976): Shifted ‘education’ from the State list to the concurrent list without providing a detailed rationale.

Subsequent Developments:

  • 44th Constitutional Amendment (1978): The Janata Party government, led by Morarji Desai, aimed to reverse changes made by the 42nd amendment. An attempt to revert education to the State list was passed in the Lok Sabha but not in the Rajya Sabha. Consequently, education remains in the concurrent list.

Prevailing International Practices

  • United States: State and local governments set educational standards and standardized tests; federal oversight focuses on financial aid and key policies.
  • Canada: Education is entirely managed by the provinces.
  • Germany: Legislative authority over education resides with its states (Länder).
  • South Africa: National departments oversee school and higher education, with provincial implementation of national policies.

Arguments for ‘Education’ in the Concurrent List

  • Unified Approach: Advocates support a standardized education system across the country to enhance quality and consistency.
  • Central Coordination: Seen as beneficial for aligning national goals with state-level implementation.
  • Criticisms: Concerns about inefficiencies and ethical issues in state-level education management.

Arguments for Restoring ‘Education’ to the State List

  • Governance Efficacy: Centralized control does not eliminate issues, as highlighted by NEET controversies.
  • Autonomy for Local Needs: States can better tailor educational policies to local requirements, particularly in syllabus, testing, and professional course admissions.
  • Diversity Consideration: A uniform approach is not feasible or desirable given the country’s diversity.
  • Expenditure: A significant portion of educational spending is borne by states, indicating a need for discussions on moving education back to the State list.
    • 2022 Report: Out of ₹6.25 lakh crore spent by education departments in 2020-21, the Centre contributed 15%, and the States 85%. Including all other departments’ spending, the Centre’s contribution is 24% and the States’ 76%.

Way Forward

  • Central Oversight: Maintain central regulatory frameworks for areas like medical and technical education while allowing states policymaking autonomy.
  • Productive Dialogue: Emphasize collaboration between central and state authorities to achieve balanced educational reforms and efficient resource allocation.

-Source: The Hindu


A UK-based teenager, Oran Knowlson, has become the first person in the world to receive a brain implant to help control his epileptic seizures using a deep brain stimulation (DBS) device.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Deep Brain Stimulation Device
  2. What is Epilepsy?

About Deep Brain Stimulation Device

  • Overview:
    • The Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) device is used for treating movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease and various neurological conditions.
  • Neurostimulation: Delivers constant electrical impulses to the brain to disrupt abnormal seizure-causing signals.
  • Implantation: Surgically implanted as a 3.5 cm square, 0.6 cm thick device in the skull, anchored with screws.
  • Electrodes: Two electrodes are inserted deep into the brain, targeting the thalamus—a relay station for motor and sensory information. These electrodes connect to the neurostimulator.
  • Activation: The device is activated after recovery from surgery and can be recharged wirelessly.

What is Epilepsy?

  • Definition: Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures, which can manifest as jerking of arms and legs, temporary confusion, staring spells, or stiff muscles. It is caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
  • Causes:
    • Idiopathic Cases: Nearly 50% of epilepsy cases have no identifiable cause.
    • Common Reasons: Include head trauma, brain tumors, certain infections like meningitis, and genetic factors.
  • Impact:
    • Risk Factors: Epilepsy increases the risk of accidents, drownings, and falls due to sudden seizures.

-Source: The Hindu


Scientists have identified a species of desert moss called ‘Syntrichia caninervis’ that could significantly impact future space exploration and colonization efforts.


Facts for Prelims

About Syntrichia caninervis

  • Overview:
    • Syntrichia caninervis is among the most abundant desert moss species globally, known for its resilience to extreme environmental conditions.
  • Environmental Tolerance:
    • Desiccation Tolerance: Capable of recovering within seconds after losing more than 98% of its water content.
    • Freezing Tolerance: Exhibits extraordinary resilience, surviving temperatures as low as -196°C.
    • Radiation Resistance: Shows high resistance to gamma radiation, with a half-lethal dose estimated at 5,000 Gy.
  • Distribution:
    • Global Spread: Found across diverse regions globally.
    • Dryland Regions: Predominantly inhabits dryland areas such as the Gurbantunggut and Tengger Deserts in China, Mojave Desert in the United States.
    • Mountainous Areas: Also found in mountainous regions including the Pamir, Tibet, Middle East, Antarctica, and circumpolar regions.
  • Unique Adaptation:
    • Water Collection Mechanism: Uses tiny hairs (awns) at the end of each leaf to collect water, supplementing water gathered by the leaves themselves.

-Source: The Hindu


With the south-west monsoon gradually setting in, nouka baich boat races will soon begin in several rural pockets of West Bengal.


Facts for Prelims

About Nouka Baich Boat Race

  • Overview:
    • Nouka Baich is a traditional boat race celebrated in West Bengal, India.
  • Timing:
    • The races take place during September in riverine Bengal, coinciding with swollen river waters in the final weeks of the monsoon season.
    • Some races extend into October and occasionally November in certain locations.
  • Gender Participation:
    • Historically dominated by men, recent years have seen increasing participation of women in these boat races.
  • Cultural Significance:
    • These boat races are closely associated with the worship of Manasa, the Hindu goddess of snakes.
    • Manasa is a prominent local deity worshipped primarily by agrarian communities in rural south Bengal.
  • Types of Boats:
    • The races feature four to five different types of traditional boats.
    • Commonly used boats include Chhip, Kaile Bachhhari, Chande Bachhari, Chitoi, and Sorpi.
    • A notable boat type, the Sorengi, approximately 90 feet in length, is also seen in these races, designed to mimic natural elements.

-Source: Indian Express


India has successfully developed and certified SEBEX 2, a new explosive that is 2.01 times more lethal than standard Trinitrotoluene (TNT).


Facts for Prelims

About SEBEX 2

  • Overview:
    • SEBEX 2 is considered one of the most powerful non-nuclear explosives globally.
  • Composition:
    • It utilizes a high-melting explosive (HMX) composition, enhancing its lethality in various munitions such as warheads, bombs, and shells.
  • Performance:
    • SEBEX 2 is 2.01 times more potent than standard TNT (Trinitrotoluene).
    • TNT equivalence is a measure of explosive power, where SEBEX 2’s higher value indicates significantly greater lethality.
    • For comparison, the Brahmos warhead, currently the most powerful conventional explosive in India, has a TNT equivalence of about 1.50.
    • Globally, most conventional warheads range from 1.25 to 1.30 TNT equivalence.
  • Manufacture and Initiative:
    • Manufactured by Economic Explosives Limited (EEL) in Nagpur, a subsidiary of Solar Industries, as part of India’s Make in India initiative.
  • Certification:
    • SEBEX 2 has been rigorously evaluated, tested, and certified by the Indian Navy under its Defence Export Promotion Scheme.

-Source: Times of India

July 2024