- Iran in the SCO
- Energy Transition Index 2023
- Swami Vivekananda
- National Maritime Heritage Complex
- CH3+ molecule
- Gucchi mushroom
Recently, Prime Minister welcomed Iran as the newest member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at the virtual summit of the grouping.
GS II: International Relations
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
- Iran’s Membership in the SCO
- India’s Delicate Balancing Act
About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
- The grouping came into existence in Shanghai in 2001 with six members, minus India and Pakistan.
- Its primary objective was to enhance regional cooperation for efforts to curb terrorism, separatism, and extremism in the Central Asian region.
- Prior to Iran’s joining, the SCO consisted of eight member countries: China, Russia, India, Pakistan, and the four Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
- Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia enjoy Observer status in the SCO, while six other countries — Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey and Sri Lanka — have Dialogue Partner status.
Iran’s Membership in the SCO
- The case for Iran’s full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has been discussed for several years.
- In 2016, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin stated that Iran’s nuclear issue being resolved and UN sanctions lifted would pave the way for its SCO membership.
- However, the US, led by President Donald Trump, withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, rendering the agreement ineffective and impacting Iran’s SCO aspirations.
Changing Geopolitical Landscape:
- The US’s chaotic exit from Afghanistan has created opportunities for Chinese influence and investments in Central Asia.
- China has strengthened strategic ties with Pakistan and displayed assertiveness on the global stage.
- Amid the Ukraine conflict and deteriorating Western-Russian relations, China has declared a strong friendship with Moscow.
- Iran has expanded its outreach beyond traditional ally Russia, signing a China-brokered deal to re-establish relations with Saudi Arabia.
- A border market was opened between Iran and Pakistan, despite historical distance.
China’s Interest in Iran’s SCO Membership:
- For China, Iran’s SCO inclusion is reassuring amid escalating rivalry with the US.
- China and Iran signed a 25-year cooperation deal in 2021, including collaboration in the oil sector.
- Chinese private refiners are purchasing more Iranian oil as competition for Russian supplies rises in Asia.
- Russia’s Perspective:
- Russia seeks more allies within the SCO, evident from Belarus, a close regional ally, likely to join through a memorandum of obligations.
India’s Delicate Balancing Act
- India is faced with the challenge of maintaining a delicate balance as the dynamics within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) evolve.
- India and the United States have strengthened their partnership, reaching unprecedented levels of cooperation and trust.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently concluded an Official State Visit to the US, during which important technology and defence agreements were signed.
- US President Joe Biden has emphasized the democratic values shared by both countries, contrasting them with Chinese authoritarianism.
Historical Ties with Iran:
- India has longstanding historical ties with Iran, particularly in the realm of commercial relations.
- Traditionally, India has been a major importer of Iranian crude oil, with Iran being one of India’s top energy suppliers until May 2019.
- However, following the end of the US waiver on sanctions in May 2019, India suspended its import of crude oil from Iran.
Challenges and Considerations:
- India’s shifting relationships with both the US and Iran present challenges in navigating its position within the SCO.
- India must carefully manage its partnerships and economic interests while balancing the geopolitical dynamics within the organization.
Source: Indian Express
Recently, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked India at the 67th place globally on its Energy Transition Index (ETI).
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- Energy Transition Index
- Key highlights of the Energy Transition Index
- Contributors to India’s energy transition progress
Energy Transition Index:
- The index assesses the energy transition progress of 120 economies.
- India stands out as the only major economy with accelerating momentum in all dimensions of energy transition.
- Singapore is another major economy showing significant momentum by advancing sustainability, energy security, and equity in a balanced manner.
- The index evaluates the current performance of energy systems based on economic development, environmental sustainability, energy security, and access indicators.
- It also considers the readiness of economies to transition to secure, sustainable, affordable, and inclusive energy systems.
Key highlights of the Energy Transition Index
- Sweden secured the top position, with Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Switzerland following closely in the top five.
- France was the only G20 country in the top 10, with Germany, the U.S., and the U.K. also ranking high.
- Global average ETI scores have increased by 10% since 2014 but have shown limited growth in the past three years.
- Only 41 countries have consistently made progress in the past decade towards energy transition.
Contributors to India’s energy transition progress:
- Achieving universal electricity access, improving clean cooking options, and increasing renewable energy deployment.
- Effective utilization of existing capacities and a low reliance on natural gas, which helped India withstand recent energy crises.
Concerns and challenges:
- Rising import dependence and volatility in the global energy market.
- Predominantly carbon-intensive energy mix.
- Balancing economic growth with the need for creating quality jobs for the growing working-age population.
- Sustained momentum, effective policy management, and partnerships are crucial for achieving long-term energy transition goals.
- Promoting clean energy investments, innovation, and energy efficiency while ensuring inclusivity.
- Building a skilled workforce and fostering public-private collaboration.
- Investing in low-carbon technology research and development for a successful energy transition in India.
About World Economic Forum (WEF)
- The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
- It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests.
- The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance.
Major reports published by WEF:
- Energy Transition Index.
- Global Competitiveness Report.
- Global IT Report (WEF along with INSEAD, and Cornell University)
- Global Gender Gap Report.
- Global Risk Report.
- Global Travel and Tourism Report.
-Source: The Hindu
July 4 is the death anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, recognised as one of the greatest spiritual leaders.
GS I: History
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Swami Vivekananda
- Vedantic Humanism
- His teachings
About Swami Vivekananda
- The Swami Vivekananda ji’s original name was Narendranath.
- He was born on 12th January, 1863 at Kolkata , the Swamiji’s Jayanti i.e. birth anniversary is celebrated as the “National Youth Day“.
- Spiritual primacy is the central theme of Vivekananda’s teachings, through which human beings can succeed in every sphere of their lives.
- Nevertheless, he urges people, especially the youth, to never let go of reason.
- Instead, he premises his philosophy, ideas and life work on the premise of reason.
- The three instruments of knowledge that he propounded are instincts, reason, and inspiration.
- Swami Vivekananda believed that there is only one Self in the universe. There is only one Existence. He saw the entire universe as a manifestation of the absolute One.
- On the coexistence of various faiths, he believed religious acceptance, and not tolerance was important. He claimed that tolerance comes out of a superiority complex.
- For Vivekananda, the most desirable path for self-realisation was the selfless service of man.
- Some ways through which the essential unity of all human beings can be realised are unconditional love for all, judicious detachment, and expansion of self through service of fellow humans despite any sectarian difference, he believed.
- He was an exponent of vedantic humanism.
- He did not propagate a world-negating concept of spirituality, rather he said that each and every chore of your life should be done with divinity.
- He articulated that external rituals of religion are of secondary importance but the spiritual essence of a religion should be preserved and accepted.
Divinity within ourselves
- “Infinite power is in the soul of man, whether he knows it or not. Its manifestation is only a question of being conscious of it. With the full consciousness of his infinite power and wisdom, the giant will rise to his feet.”
- Swami Vivekananda asserted that each soul is potentially divine.
- The goal of human beings should be to manifest this divinity within, which can be done by controlling nature, external and internal.
- Swami Vivekananda, emphasising the importance of work, said that God can be attained through work.
- He said that in every society there are people whose minds cannot be concentrated on the plane of thought alone.
- He stressed that a lot of people fritter away a great amount of their energies because they are oblivious to the secret of work. The key to this secret lies in Karma Yoga, as it teaches how to employ to the maximum advantage all our energies in our work.
- Karma-Yoga teaches how to work for work’s sake, unattached to the results.
- A Karma Yogin works out of her nature as she feels it is the right thing for her to do and that is the sole objective of her work. “Whatever you do, let that be your worship for the time being,” he said.
- Bhakti Yoga teaches that love is a vital element of all human beings.
- It teaches how to love bereft of any ulterior motives.
- “All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying,” said Swami Vivekananda.
- Raja Yoga opens up the psychological way to union with God.
- This Yoga teaches that in order to acquire knowledge, we’d have to use a method called concentration.
- Swami Vivekananda, to explain this Yoga, gives an example of a chemist who works in her laboratory, concentrating all the powers of her mind, bringing them into one focus, and throwing them onto the elements; the elements stand analysed and thus her knowledge comes.
- “The more this power of concentration, the more knowledge is acquired. The stronger the power of concentration, the better will that thing be done.”
Faith in oneself
- He emphasises that the ideal of faith in ourselves is of the greatest help to us as whatever “you think, that you will be. If you think yourselves weak, weak you will be; if you think yourselves strong, strong you will be.”
- One has to know that all knowledge, power, purity, and freedom are in oneself.
- Swami Vivekanand also urges people to not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions.
- “We, as Vedantists, know for certain that there is no power in the universe to injure us unless we first injure ourselves. Let us blame none, let us blame our own karma. The effect is here and the cause is here too. We are to blame. Stand up, be bold, and take the blame on your own shoulders.”
Source: Indian Express
Recently, Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, reviewed the project process of National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC), Lothal in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. NMHC complex will have Asia’s Biggest Under Water Marine Museum and India’s Grandest Naval Museum.
GS II: History
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Lothal
- Heritage Value
- National Maritime Heritage Complex
- 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.
- The port city is believed to have been built in 2,200 BC.
- Lothal was a thriving trade centre in ancient times, with its trade of beads, gems and ornaments reaching West Asia and Africa.
- 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.
Discovering Harappan sites:
- Indian archaeologists started the search for cities of the Harappan Civilisation post-1947 in Gujarat’s Saurashtra.
- Archaeologists led the team which discovered a number of Harappan sites at the time, including the port city of Lothal.
- Excavation work was carried out in Lothal between February 1955 and May 1960.
- 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.
- 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.
- ASI unearthed a mound, a township, a marketplace, and the dock.
- Adjacent to the excavated areas stands the archaeological site museum, where some of the most prominent collections of Indus-era antiquities in India are displayed.
- 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, as per the dossier.
- In the region, it can be compared with other Indus port towns of Balakot (Pakistan), Khirasa (in Gujarat’s Kutch) and Kuntasi (in Rajkot).
National Maritime Heritage Complex
- National Maritime Heritage Museum will be established at Lothal in Gujarat.
- It will have several innovative features such as Lothal mini-recreation, which will recreate Harappan architecture and lifestyle through immersive technology; besides four theme parks – Memorial theme park, Maritime and Navy theme park, Climate theme park, and Adventure and Amusement theme park.
- It is India’s first maritime museum in Gujarat
- 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.
- The museum will act as an independent research centre for archaeology of boat building, reconstruction of maritime history and materials traded.
- It will hold display of salvaged materials from shipwreck sites in Indian Ocean waters.
- The NMHC is being developed with the aim of displaying India’s diverse maritime heritage and also help Lothal emerge as a world-class international tourist destination.
-Source: Indian Express, PIB
Recently, the CH3+ molecule has been detected in space for the first time by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
GS III: Science and Technology
Dimensions of the Article:
- About CH3+ molecule
- What is NASA’s James Webb Telescope?
- Scientists have detected the presence of the CH3+ molecule in light emitted by a swirling disk of dust and gas around a young star.
- The star and its disk are located in the Orion Nebula, approximately 1,350 light years away from Earth.
About CH3+ molecule:
- CH3+ is also known as methyl cation.
- It is a simple organic molecule consisting of one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms.
- The molecule is highly reactive and participates in chemical reactions, leading to the formation of more complex organic compounds.
- Its identification in space indicates the existence of fundamental building blocks for life.
- CH3+ serves as a catalyst for various intriguing and complex reactions.
Significance of the discovery:
- The presence of the CH3+ molecule in a region where planets capable of supporting life are forming holds great significance.
- This discovery can contribute to unraveling the mysteries surrounding the origins of life in the universe.
- It aids scientists in gaining a better understanding of the processes and locations where life could potentially arise.
- The detection of CH3+ expands our knowledge of organic chemistry in space and provides insights into the chemical mechanisms involved in the formation of planets.
- This finding has implications for the field of astrobiology and enhances our understanding of the potential for life beyond Earth.
What is NASA’s James Webb Telescope?
- The telescope has been in the works for years. NASA led its development with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency.
- It was launched aboard a rocket on December 25, 2021, and is currently at a point in space known as the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange point, approximately 1.5 million km beyond Earth’s orbit around the Sun.
- Lagrange Point 2 is one of the five points in the orbital plane of the Earth-Sun system.
- Named after Italian-French mathematician Josephy-Louis Lagrange, the points are in any revolving two-body system like Earth and Sun, marking where the gravitational forces of the two large bodies cancel each other out.
- Objects placed at these positions are relatively stable and require minimal external energy or fuel to keep themselves there, and so many instruments are positioned here.
- L2 is a position directly behind Earth in the line joining the Sun and the Earth. It would be shielded from the Sun by the Earth as it goes around the Sun, in sync with the Earth.
What is the mission of the James Webb Space Telescope?
NASA says the James Webb Space Telescope will be “a giant leap forward in our quest to understand the Universe and our origins”, as it will examine every phase of cosmic history: from the Big Bang to the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets to the evolution of our own Solar System.
The science goals for the Webb can be grouped into four themes.
- To look back around 13.5 billion years to see the first stars and galaxies forming out of the darkness of the early universe.
- To compare the faintest, earliest galaxies to today’s grand spirals and understand how galaxies assemble over billions of years.
- To see where stars and planetary systems are being born.
- To observe the atmospheres of extrasolar planets (beyond our solar system), and perhaps find the building blocks of life elsewhere in the universe. The telescope will also study objects within our own Solar System.
-Source: Indian Express
Unpredictable weather patterns, early springs, and above-average temperatures have left gucchi mushroom hunters in distress.
GS III: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Gucchi mushroom (morel)
- Health benefits
About Gucchi mushroom (morel):
- Gucchi mushroom, also known as morel, is a species of fungus in the family Morchellaceae of the Ascomycota.
- It has a pale yellow color with large pits and ridges on the surface of the cap, raised on a large white stem.
- The ideal weather conditions for the great morel include daytime temperatures between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius and nighttime temperatures between five and nine degrees Celsius.
- Gucchi mushrooms cannot be cultivated commercially and are found in conifer forests across temperate regions, particularly in Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, and Jammu and Kashmir.
- These mushrooms typically grow in clusters on decaying wood logs, leaves, or humus soil.
- The mushrooms may or may not grow in the same spot the following season, which makes the collection process more challenging.
- Gucchi mushrooms are known to be one of the most expensive varieties of mushrooms.
- Gucchi mushrooms are rich in potassium, vitamins, and copper.
- They are a good source of vitamin D and various B-vitamins.
- The mushrooms are also high in antioxidants, which help prevent health issues such as heart diseases and diabetes by removing harmful reactive oxygen species from the body.
-Source: Down To Earth