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Current Affairs 15 September 2023


  1. 75th Anniversary of Operation Polo
  2. Challenges in Indian Cotton Production and Yields
  3. Libya’s Catastrophic Flooding
  4. Innovative Mosquito Control Methods
  5. eCourts Project
  6. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar (SSB) awards for 2022
  7. Red Fire Ants

75th Anniversary of Operation Polo


India celebrated the 75thanniversary of Operation Polo on September 13, 2023. On this day in 1948, Indian Army launched military action to integrate the princely state of Hyderabad.


GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Background of Operation Polo
  2. Reasons for Launching Operation Polo
  3. Operation Polo on the Ground

Background of Operation Polo

  • Nizam’s Intentions: The Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Shah, expressed his desire to keep Hyderabad as an independent entity and did not wish to join India or Pakistan after Independence.
  • Opportunity in Kashmir War: The Nizam took advantage of the fact that the Indian government became preoccupied with the Kashmir war soon after Independence.
  • Standstill Agreement: The Nizam signed a standstill agreement with India in November 1947. This agreement implied that a status quo would be maintained between the Indian dominion and Hyderabad until a solution was reached. It was initially signed for a one-year period during which the Indian government would not exercise any authority over Hyderabad.

Reasons for Launching Operation Polo

  • Geographical Significance of Hyderabad: Hyderabad, located in the Deccan, was one of the most populous and prosperous states in India. It encompassed 17 districts, including Aurangabad (now in Maharashtra) and Gulbarga (now in Karnataka).
  • Desire for Relations with Pakistan: Despite not sharing a common border with Pakistan, the landlocked Hyderabad state had a predominantly Hindu population with Muslim rulers. The Nizam aimed to establish friendly relations with Pakistan.
  • Actions of the Razakars: During this period, the Nizam’s administration capitalized on the standstill agreement with India. It expanded the Razakars, an irregular paramilitary force led by Maj Gen SA El Edroos, who was the Arab commander in chief of the Hyderabad state forces. The Razakars were created to support the Nizam’s rule and resisted Hyderabad’s integration into newly independent India.
  • Razakar Atrocities: The Razakars, primarily composed of local radical Muslim volunteers loyal to the Nizam’s regime, carried out atrocities. They persecuted Hindus, forcibly converting them to Islam, and engaged in violence, including killing, raping women, and causing Hindu sympathizers to flee the state.
  • Operation Polo was launched to bring an end to these issues and to integrate Hyderabad into the newly formed Indian Union.

Operation Polo on the Ground

  • Indian Military Leadership: The Indian forces were under the leadership of Major General Jayanto Nath Chaudhuri, who served as the General Officer Commanding of 1 Armoured Division.
  • Ceasefire Announcement: The Nizam of Hyderabad announced a ceasefire on September 17, signaling a halt to hostilities.
  • Entry into Hyderabad: On September 18, Major General Chaudhuri and his forces entered Hyderabad city.
  • Surrender of Maj Gen El Edroos: Major General SA El Edroos, the Arab commander in chief of the Hyderabad state forces and leader of the Razakars, surrendered to Major General Chaudhuri.
  • Appointment as Military Governor: Following the surrender and successful integration of Hyderabad into India, Major General Chaudhuri was appointed as the Military Governor of Hyderabad, overseeing the administrative transition of the region into the Indian Union.

Challenges in Indian Cotton Production and Yields


Cotton, a versatile crop crucial for food, feed, and fiber, plays a significant role in India’s agriculture and textile industries. Unfortunately, in recent years, India has faced declining cotton production and yields, posing challenges for these sectors.


GS III: Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Cotton Production in India:
  2. Significance of Cotton in India
  3. Rapid Increase and Subsequent Decline in Cotton Production in India:
  4. Issues Associated with the Cotton Sector in India
  5. Way Forward

About Cotton Production in India:

  • Major Crop: Cotton is a crucial commercial crop in India, contributing to approximately 25% of global cotton production.
  • “White-Gold”: Its economic importance in India has earned it the nickname “White-Gold.”
  • Cultivation Distribution: In India, cotton cultivation is divided, with 67% grown in rain-fed areas and 33% in irrigated regions.
  • Climatic Requirements: Cotton thrives in hot, sunny climates with extended frost-free periods, performing best in warm and humid conditions.
  • Adaptability to Soil: Cotton can be grown in various soil types, including well-drained alluvial soils in the north, variable-depth black clayey soils in the central region, and mixed black and red soils in the south.
  • Sensitivity to Waterlogging: While somewhat tolerant to salinity, cotton is highly sensitive to waterlogging, underscoring the importance of well-drained soils.
  • Major Cotton-Producing States: The majority of cotton production comes from ten key states, categorized into three diverse agro-ecological zones:
    • Northern Zone: Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan
    • Central Zone: Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh
    • Southern Zone: Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu

Significance of Cotton in India:

  • Triple Resource: Cotton is a valuable crop in India, providing three essential components:
    • Lint Fiber: The white fluffy fiber, making up approximately 36% of raw unginned cotton, is the primary raw material for the textile industry.
    • Cottonseed: Accounting for about 62% of the cotton, cottonseed serves various purposes.
    • Wastes: Comprising about 2% of the cotton, waste materials are separated during ginning.
  • Textile Dominance: Cotton plays a dominant role in India’s textile industry, commanding a significant share of two-thirds in the country’s total textile fiber consumption.
  • Cottonseed Oil: Cottonseed contains approximately 13% oil, which is widely used for cooking and frying, making it a significant source of vegetable oil.
  • Feed Industry: Cottonseed cake/meal is a vital component in India’s feed industry, ranking second only to soybean in feed cake production.
  • Protein-Rich Feed: The leftover cottonseed cake, constituting 85% of the seed, is a valuable and protein-rich feed ingredient for livestock and poultry.
  • Vegetable Oil Production: Cottonseed oil is the country’s third-largest domestically-produced vegetable oil, following mustard and soybean, contributing to India’s edible oil industry.

Rapid Increase and Subsequent Decline in Cotton Production in India:

  • Between 2000-01 and 2013-14, India experienced a significant surge in cotton production, primarily attributed to Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) technology.
  • Key developments during this period include:
    • Adoption of genetically-modified (GM) cotton hybrids with Bt genes, specifically designed to combat the American bollworm insect pest.
    • This adoption resulted in a surge in lint yields, increasing from 278 kg per hectare in 2000-01 to 566 kg per hectare in 2013-14.
    • Correspondingly, there was an increase in cottonseed oil and cake production.
  • The decline in cotton production and yields began post-2013-14, primarily due to the emergence of the pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella).
  • Factors contributing to the decline:
    • Pink bollworm larvae infesting cotton bolls, causing reduced cotton production and lower quality cotton.
    • Unlike the American bollworm, pink bollworm primarily feeds on cotton, leading to the development of resistance against Bt proteins.
    • Continuous cultivation of Bt hybrids led to pink bollworm populations developing resistance, replacing susceptible ones.
    • Unusual surge in pink bollworm larvae survival on cotton flowers was reported in Gujarat in 2014, and subsequently, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, and northern Rajasthan also experienced pink bollworm infestations in the following years.

Issues Associated with the Cotton Sector in India:

  • Unpredictable Cotton Production:
    • Cotton production in India is subject to significant unpredictability due to various factors.
    • Limited access to irrigation systems, declining soil fertility, and erratic weather patterns, including unexpected droughts or excessive rainfall, contribute to the uncertainty surrounding cotton yields.
  • Small-Scale Farming:
    • The majority of cotton farming in India is carried out by small-scale farmers.
    • These farmers often rely on traditional agricultural practices and have limited access to modern farming technologies, which in turn affects overall cotton production.
  • Market Access Challenges:
    • A significant number of cotton growers in India face constraints in reaching markets and are compelled to sell their harvest at reduced rates to intermediaries.

Way Forward:

  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM):
    • Advocate for integrated pest management (IPM) strategies that combine natural controls, trap crops, and beneficial insects to reduce pesticide dependency while effectively managing pests.
  • Seed Banks and Genetic Diversity:
    • Establish seed banks at the community level to conserve and share traditional cotton seed varieties, preserving genetic diversity and promoting higher-yielding strains.
  • Digital Platforms for Direct Sales:
    • Establish digital platforms that directly connect cotton farmers with buyers and textile manufacturers, reducing middlemen involvement and ensuring fair pricing.
  • Promoting Value Addition:
    • Promote value addition by establishing local cotton processing units that can gin, clean, and process cotton fiber, creating employment opportunities and adding value to the cotton supply chain.

Libya’s Catastrophic Flooding


More than 5,000 people are known to have died and thousands more are missing after devastating floods swept through the Libyan port city of Derna. Entire neighbourhoods disappeared into the sea as a huge tsunami-like torrent of water swept through the city.


GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Factors Behind the Catastrophic Flooding in Derna
  2. Impacts
  3. Geographical location of Derna

Factors Behind the Catastrophic Flooding in Derna

Extreme Weather:

  • The region experienced unprecedented rainfall from September 10 to 11, with Derna receiving over 150 mm of rainfall in just two days, significantly exceeding the average monthly rainfall for September.
  • The rains were accompanied by strong winds reaching up to 80 kph.
  • The extreme weather was brought about by Storm Daniel, which transitioned into a ‘medicane’ or a tropical-like cyclone, fueled by abnormally warm Mediterranean waters.

Vulnerable Geography:

  • Derna’s location played a significant role in the widespread damage it suffered.
  • It is situated at the end of a valley and is intersected by the Wadi Derna, a seasonal river flowing from the mountains to the south toward the sea.
  • Normally, dams protect the city from flooding caused by the river. However, the heavy rains overwhelmed these dams and led to significant destruction.

Crumbling Infrastructure:

  • The collapse of the dams in Derna exposed the poor state of Libya’s infrastructure.
  • The country has been embroiled in a decade-long war between rival factions, leading to a neglect of socio-economic issues, including infrastructure development.
  • The absence of flood-resilient structures, roads, and early-warning systems exacerbated the impact of the flooding, as Libya was ill-prepared to face such a calamity.
  • The devastating floods exposed the lack of disaster preparedness in the region, especially in Derna.


  • Property Damage: Urban flooding damages buildings, infrastructure, and properties, leading to substantial economic losses for individuals, businesses, and municipalities.
  • Displacement and Loss of Life: Residents may be forced to evacuate flooded areas, leading to temporary displacement. In extreme cases, urban flooding can result in loss of life.
  • Health Risks: Contaminated floodwater can pose health hazards due to pollutants and diseases, increasing the risk of waterborne illnesses among residents.
  • Infrastructure Strain: Floods strain urban infrastructure, disrupt transportation, and damage roads, bridges, and utilities.
  • Environmental Degradation: Floods can lead to soil erosion, sediment buildup, and loss of vegetation, affecting overall ecosystem health.
  • Economic Disruption: Urban flooding disrupts businesses, interrupts services, and impacts the local economy, potentially leading to job losses and decreased economic activity.
  • Long-Term Resilience: Frequent urban flooding may erode community resilience, as residents and local governments grapple with recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Geographical location of Derna

  • Derna, situated in eastern Libya, is a coastal port city positioned along the Mediterranean Sea between Benghazi and Tobruk.
  • It finds itself at the eastern terminus of the Jebel Akhdar, also known as the “green mountains.”
  • The city is divided by the Wadi Derna, a seasonal river originating from the southern highlands and flowing through the city.

Innovative Mosquito Control Methods


Rapid urbanization in countries like India has caused an increase in mosquito-borne diseases. Genetic engineering is an emerging method for mosquito control, involving altering mosquito traits or behavior.


GS III: Biotechnology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Why Innovative Approaches to Mosquito Control are Necessary?
  2. Harnessing Genetic Engineering for Mosquito Control
  3. Benefits of Genetic Engineering for Mosquito Control
  4. Risks and Concerns of Genetic Engineering for Mosquito Control

Why Innovative Approaches to Mosquito Control are Necessary?

Disease Transmission by Mosquitoes:

  • Mosquitoes, small flying insects from the Culicidae family, are notorious for transmitting diseases to humans and animals.
  • They can transmit deadly diseases such as Malaria, Dengue, Zika, and Yellow fever, affecting millions of people every year.

Impact of Rapid Urbanization:

  • The rapid urbanization of the global population, particularly in developing countries like India, has led to annual surges in mosquito-borne diseases like dengue.

Climate Change and Disease Spread:

  • Climate change has expanded the territories where mosquito-borne diseases are prevalent, as seen in indigenous cases of dengue in France.

Current Mosquito Control Tools:

  • In the battle against mosquitoes, various tools have been used, including mosquito nets, insecticides, and symbionts like Wolbachia.

Insecticide Resistance:

  • Despite the availability of a first-generation malaria vaccine, insecticide resistance in mosquitoes is a growing concern, prompting the need to explore new control approaches.

Harnessing Genetic Engineering for Mosquito Control:

Advancements in Genome Sequencing:

  • Recent advancements in next-generation sequencing techniques have allowed researchers to obtain whole genome sequences for various mosquito species.
  • Notably, institutions like the University of California and institutes in Bengaluru, India, have contributed to high-quality reference genomes for Anopheles stephensi, a major malaria vector.

Unprecedented Opportunities:

  • The availability of mosquito genome sequences and the capacity to genetically manipulate them provide unprecedented opportunities for mosquito control.

Gene-Drive Technology:

  • Gene-drive technology, developed by Austin Burt (Professor at Imperial College London) in 2003, aims to manage mosquito populations by altering how they inherit specific genes, challenging conventional Mendelian genetic rules.
  • This technology utilizes special proteins to edit mosquito DNA, inducing specific genetic sequence additions when proteins cut the mosquito’s DNA.
  • These genetic changes impact the mosquito’s reproductive ability and disrupt the multiplication of malaria parasites within them, rendering the mosquitoes incapable of spreading the disease.

Antimicrobial Enhancement:

  • Researchers at Imperial College London genetically enhanced a mosquito gene to produce antimicrobial substances, which disrupt the development of the Plasmodium parasite and reduce mosquito lifespan.

Benefits of Genetic Engineering for Mosquito Control:

Precision Targeting:

  • Genetic engineering allows for precise modification of mosquito populations, specifically targeting disease-carrying species.

Reduced Insecticide Use:

  • This targeted approach reduces the reliance on broad-spectrum insecticides, minimizing harm to non-target species.

Lower Environmental Impact:

  • Compared to traditional insecticides, genetic engineering may have a lower environmental impact as it doesn’t involve chemical pollution of ecosystems, protecting beneficial insects and aquatic life.


  • Genetically modified mosquitoes can pass on their modified genes, providing a self-perpetuating method of mosquito control without frequent reapplications.

Public Health Impact:

  • By reducing mosquito-borne diseases, genetic engineering can significantly improve public health, potentially saving lives and reducing healthcare costs.

Risks and Concerns of Genetic Engineering for Mosquito Control:

Ecosystem Consequences:

  • Genetic modifications can have unforeseen consequences in ecosystems, potentially disrupting food chains or creating ecological imbalances.

Ethical Concerns:

  • Critics raise ethical objections to gene manipulation in organisms, especially when altering the genetics of wild populations, leading to questions of ecological responsibility.

Unintended Traits:

  • Genetically modified mosquitoes might unintentionally acquire traits that enhance their ability to invade new habitats, causing unforeseen ecological disruptions outside their natural range.

eCourts Project


The Union Cabinet recently approved the third phase of the eCourts Projects with a budget allocation of ₹7,210 crore.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. eCourts Project
  2. Phase III of the eCourts Project
  3. Major Initiatives Under the eCourts Project

eCourts Project

  • The eCourts Project was initiated based on the “National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Indian Judiciary – 2005.” This policy was proposed by the eCommittee of the Supreme Court of India with the aim of enabling the Indian judiciary through ICT.
  • The eCommittee is a governmental body established in response to a proposal from the Chief Justice of India. It is responsible for formulating a National Policy on computerization in the Indian Judiciary and advising on technological and managerial changes.
  • This is a nationwide project, overseen and funded by the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India, with the goal of implementing ICT in District Courts across the country.
  • Key objectives of the project include providing efficient and citizen-centric service delivery, developing decision support systems in courts, automating processes for transparency in accessing information, enhancing judicial productivity, and making the justice delivery system affordable, accessible, cost-effective, predictable, reliable, and transparent.
  • Phase I of the eCourts Project was completed in 2015, computerizing 14,249 Court sites.
  • Phase II expanded the computerization to 18,735 District and Subordinate courts.

Phase III of the eCourts Project

  • Phase III is a centrally sponsored project aimed at digitizing all court records, including legacy and pending cases, at an estimated cost of ₹2,038.40 crore.
  • The project plans to enhance the digital infrastructure of courts by establishing 2,500 new modern, virtual-friendly courts, setting up 1,150 virtual courts, and creating 4,400 eSewa kendras in all court complexes.
  • Approximately 3,108 crore documents will be digitized as part of this phase, further advancing the digitization efforts within the Indian judiciary.

Major Initiatives Under the eCourts Project

  • Case Information Software (CIS): Developed using customised Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS).
  • National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG): Launched in 2015 for monitoring case pendency and disposal in High Courts and Subordinate Courts.
  • Virtual Courts: Introduced in 16 States/UTs, facilitating legal proceedings through video conferencing.
  • eFiling System: Allows electronic filing of legal documents with advanced features like online submission of Vakalatnama, eSigning, and online video recording of oaths.
  • eSewa Kendras: Rolled out to provide e-filing services to lawyers and litigants, promoting inclusive justice delivery.
  • National Service and Tracking of Electronic Processes (NSTEP): Developed for technology-enabled process serving and issuing of summons, implemented in 28 High Courts.
  • Secure, Scalable & Sugamya Website as a Service (S3WAAS) Website: A user-friendly website in 13 regional languages designed for accessibility by people with disabilities.
  • IEC and Training: Initiatives to educate Judicial Officers, lawyers, and the public about the available facilities.

Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar (SSB) Awards for 2022


The CSIR announced the recipients of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar (SSB) awards for 2022 during the One Week One Lab (OWOL) program, but no female scientists were selected for these awards.


GS III: Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. One Week One Lab (OWOL) program
  2. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awards
  3. About CSIR

One Week One Lab (OWOL) program

  • The One Week One Lab (OWOL) program, organized by CSIR, is designed to inspire various groups, including young innovators, students, start-ups, academia, and industry professionals.
  • The program aims to encourage these participants to explore opportunities in deep tech ventures and innovation.
  • Showcasing CSIR’s Technological Advancements
  • In this initiative, different CSIR institutes will take turns each week to present their unique innovations and technological achievements.
  • These presentations are intended to provide the people of India with insights into the cutting-edge work being carried out by CSIR institutes.

Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awards

  • The Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awards are renowned as India’s highest multidisciplinary science honors.
  • They are named in honor of Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, a prominent chemist, visionary, and the founder and director of CSIR.
Purpose and Prize Details
  • These awards aim to recognize exceptional contributions to science and technology in India.
  • Each Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar (SSB) Prize carries a value of Rs 5,00,000 and is awarded annually.
  • The awards cover a wide range of scientific disciplines, including Biological Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Earth Sciences, Engineering Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Medical Sciences, and Physical Sciences.
Eligibility Criteria
  • The SSB Prizes are open to any Indian citizen engaged in research in the field of science and technology up to the age of 45, as of December 31st of the preceding year.
  • Overseas citizens of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) working in India are also eligible.
  • Contributions made primarily in India during the five years leading up to the award year are considered for the prize.

About CSIR

  • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is India’s largest research and development organization, established in 1942.
  • CSIR operates under the Ministry of Science and Technology and functions as an autonomous body.
  • It comprises 37 national laboratories, 39 outreach centers, 1 Innovation Complex, and three units with a presence across India.
  • The governing body of CSIR is led by the Prime Minister of India as President, with the Union Minister of Science and Technology as Vice President, and the Director-General at the helm, alongside the finance secretary (expenditures).

Red Fire Ants


The red fire ant, one of the world’s most invasive species, has been recently found in Europe for the first time, according to a new study.


Facts for Prelims

Red Imported Fire Ants:

  • Origin: Native to South America, red imported fire ants are a species of stinging ants.
  • Scientific Name: Solenopsis invicta
  • Characteristics:
    • They are known for their aggressive behavior, painful stings, and large colony sizes.
    • Reddish-brown to reddish-black in color, with a distinctive coppery head.
    • Small ants, typically measuring between 1/8 to 1/4 inch (3-6 mm) in length.
    • Segmented bodies with a distinct two-part thorax.
  • Stinging Behavior: Infamous for their painful stings, they possess a potent venomous sting causing intense burning and itching sensations in humans.
  • Colony Structure:
    • Fire ant colonies are highly organized and structured.
    • Consist of thousands to hundreds of thousands of ants.
    • Unlike most ant species with a single queen, fire ant colonies are polygynous, having multiple reproductive queens.

July 2024