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Current Affairs 21 March 2024

  1. Defamation under Indian Law
  2. Study Links Deep Sea Erosion to Astronomical Cycles
  3. Legacy of S. R. Bommai v. Union of India Case
  4. Gender Inequality Index (GII) 2022
  5. State of Global Climate Report 2023
  6. Reverse Flipping
  7. Spring Equinox


The Supreme Court restrained a trial court from proceeding with a defamation case against Delhi Chief Minister for retweeting a YouTube video against the BJP’s IT cell.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Defamation under Indian Law
  2. Supreme Court Verdicts on Defamation and Free Speech
  3. Recent Case: Delhi CM’s Defamation Challenge

Defamation under Indian Law

Definition and Classification
  • Civil Defamation:
    • Can be libel (written) or slander (spoken), governed by tort law.
    • Results in financial compensation; damages computed based on probabilities.
  • Criminal Defamation (Section 499 IPC):
    • Involves making or publishing imputations intending to harm a person’s reputation.
    • Punishable with up to two years’ imprisonment or fine, or both (Section 500 IPC).

Supreme Court Verdicts on Defamation and Free Speech

Subramanian Swamy vs. Union of India (2016):

  • Upheld constitutionality of IPC Sections 499 and 500.
  • Recognized the right to reputation under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Considered criminal defamation as a reasonable restriction on freedom of expression under Article 19(2).

Kaushal Kishore vs. Union of India (2017):

  • Ruled against imposing additional restrictions on free speech beyond those specified in Article 19(2).

Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India (2015):

  • Quashed Section 66A of the IT Act 2000, which criminalized sending offensive messages.
  • Found the provision ambiguous and violative of Article 19(1)(a), not saved under Article 19(2).
  • Protection of Reputation:
    • Civil and criminal defamation laws safeguard individuals’ reputations against false and harmful statements.
  • Balancing Freedom of Expression:
    • Courts balance the right to free speech with the need to protect individuals from defamation, considering constitutional provisions and precedents.
  • Legal Clarity and Ambiguity:
    • Supreme Court rulings aim to provide clarity on the scope and limitations of defamation laws, ensuring adherence to constitutional principles.

Recent Case: Delhi CM’s Defamation Challenge

  • Issue: Delhi CM challenged a Delhi HC order upholding summons in a criminal defamation case for retweeting an allegedly defamatory video in 2018.
  • HC Observation:
    • Retweeting defamatory content implies endorsement, attracting liability under Section 499 IPC.
    • CM’s wide social media following amplifies the reach, making retweet a form of public endorsement.
Supreme Court Ruling
  • Interpretation of Retweeting:
    • SC ruled that retweeting does not always imply endorsement.
    • Retweeting may not necessarily reflect the retweeter’s own views or endorsement of the content.

-Source: Indian Express


A recent study published in the journal Nature Communications has revealed compelling evidence of erosion in the deep sea. This erosion phenomenon is intricately connected to astronomical grand cycles, including the orbits of Earth and Mars, as well as global warming or cooling trends. The findings underscore the complex interplay between celestial dynamics and environmental changes on Earth, shedding new light on the geological processes shaping our planet’s deep-sea landscapes.


GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Findings of the Study
  2. What are Astronomical Cycles?

Key Findings of the Study

Discovery of Astronomical Grand Cycles

  • Geological sedimentary evidence in the deep sea reveals a newly discovered 2.4-million-year cycle, known as “astronomical grand cycles,” influenced by Earth and Mars’ orbits.
  • These cycles impact global warming or cooling trends, identified through erosion patterns in deep-sea sedimentary data.

Influence of Planetary Orbits on Climate

  • Interference of gravity fields between planets in the solar system, particularly Earth and Mars, leads to changes in orbital eccentricity.
  • Variations in solar radiation received by Earth due to these orbital changes result in 2.4-million-year cycles of warming and cooling.

Role of Deep-Sea Circulation in Climate Regulation

  • Vigorous deep-sea circulation, propelled by eddies during warmer cycles, may prevent ocean stagnation, even if the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) slows.
  • AMOC, responsible for transporting warm water northwards into the North Atlantic, is crucial for regulating climate.
  • Deep ocean eddies, akin to giant whirlpools, play a vital role in ocean circulation dynamics, residing at depths where sunlight doesn’t penetrate.
  • These eddies contribute to seafloor erosion and the formation of large sediment accumulations known as contourites.

Future Research Directions

  • The team aims to gather additional data on cycles driven by Earth-Mars interaction to further explore Earth’s climate fluctuations over millions of years.

What are Astronomical Cycles?

  • Astronomical cycles refer to periodic variations in the Earth’s orbit and orientation towards the Sun that impact the amount of solar radiation received by our planet over long periods. These cycles are influenced by gravitational forces among celestial bodies in the solar system.
Milankovitch Cycles
  • Named after Serbian scientist Milutin Milankovitch, who proposed them in the 1920s to explain Earth’s cyclical ice age patterns.
  • Also known as Milankovitch cycles or Milankovitch oscillations.
Key Astronomical Cycles
  • Eccentricity (100,000 years)
    • Involves changes in the elliptical shape of Earth’s orbit around the Sun.
  • Obliquity (41,000 years)
    • Refers to variations in the tilt of Earth’s axis relative to its orbital plane.
  • Precession (23,000 years)
    • Describes the shifting orientation of Earth’s axis over time.

-Source: Down To Earth


The S. R. Bommai v. Union of India case, decided by a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India in 1994, restricts the arbitrary dismissal of state governments under Article 356. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, its impact persists in shaping India’s constitutional framework.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. S. R. Bommai v. Union of India case
  2. Significance of S.R. Bommai v. Union of India Case
  3. Article 356 of the Indian Constitution

S. R. Bommai v. Union of India case

Background of the Case:

  • In 1985, Karnataka’s government changed hands to the Janata Party, led by Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde.
  • SR Bommai succeeded Hegde as Chief Minister in 1988.
  • A significant defection from the Janata Dal party in 1988 led to the loss of majority support for Bommai’s government.
  • The state government was dismissed under Article 356 due to this loss of majority, despite Bommai’s request to prove his majority in the Assembly being denied.
Supreme Court Ruling:
  • A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court delivered the ruling.
  • Emphasized the cautious exercise of power under Article 356, aligning with the views of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission.
  • Stressed the need for thorough parliamentary scrutiny of the Presidential Proclamation under Article 356(3).
  • Declared that if the proclamation lacks parliamentary approval, it lapses within two months, and the state assembly resumes its functions.
  • Confirmed the judiciary’s authority to subject the proclamation to judicial review and entertain writ petitions challenging its legality.
  • Clarified that the President’s power to dismiss a state government is not absolute but subject to limitations.
  • Recognized implicit powers in Article 356 regarding the dissolution of the legislature, inferred from Article 174(2) and Article 356(1)(a), pertaining to the Governor’s authority and the President’s ability to assume state government powers.

Significance of S.R. Bommai v. Union of India Case:

  • Landmark Judgment: The case stands as a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court, particularly regarding the basic structure doctrine and the misuse of Article 356.
  • Clarity on Article 356: The judgment offered clarity on the scope and limitations of Article 356, stressing its use only in exceptional circumstances.
  • Alignment with Sarkaria Commission: The principles outlined by the Supreme Court were in line with the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission, which examined Centre-State relations.
  • Affirmation of Federalism: It affirmed the principles of federalism, highlighting that state governments are not subordinate to the central government, promoting cooperative federalism.
  • Judicial Scrutiny: The judgment reinforced the role of the judiciary in scrutinizing the President’s actions under Article 356, ensuring adherence to constitutional principles and preventing misuse of power.
  • Sole Authority of Assembly: It clarified that the floor of the Assembly is the sole authority to test the government’s majority, emphasizing the objective assessment over the subjective opinion of the Governor.

Article 356 of the Indian Constitution:

Background of Article 356:
  • Federal vs. Unitary System: During the Constituent Assembly discussions, the debate centered around adopting either a federal or unitary system of government in India.
  • Dr. Ambedkar’s Clarification: Dr. Ambedkar clarified that India operates under both federal and unitary principles, with federalism prevailing under normal circumstances and unitary control during emergencies.
  • Misuse of Article 356: Despite warnings against its misuse, subsequent governments frequently invoked Article 356 for political reasons, leading to its invocation 132 times.
Key Provisions of Article 356:
  • Basis: Article 356 is based on Section 93 of the Government of India Act, 1935.
  • Grounds for Imposition: It allows for the imposition of President’s Rule on any state of India on the grounds of the failure of the constitutional machinery.
  • Two Situations: President’s Rule can be imposed when the President receives a report from the state’s Governor or when a state fails to comply with directions from the Union government.
  • Consequences: During President’s Rule, the state government is suspended, and the central government administers the state directly through the Governor.
  • Parliamentary Approval: Imposition of President’s Rule requires parliamentary approval within two months through a simple majority in both Houses of Parliament.
  • Duration: Initially for six months, it can be extended for up to three years with parliamentary approval every six months.
  • 44th Amendment: The 44th Amendment introduced constraints on extending President’s Rule beyond one year, allowing extension only in case of a national emergency or if certified necessary by the Election Commission due to difficulties in conducting state assembly elections.
  • Sarkaria Commission and Bommai Case: The Supreme Court, based on the Sarkaria Commission’s report, outlined situations where the exercise of power under Article 356 could be proper or improper, as seen in the Bommai case (1994).

-Source: Hindustan Times


Recently, the Gender Inequality Index (GII), 2022 has been released by UNDP in their Human Development Report 2023-24. In GII, India stands at rank 108th out of 193 countries, with a score of 0.437.


GS I: Role of Women

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Gender Inequality Index (GII)
  2. Major Issues Related to Gender Inequality in India

Gender Inequality Index (GII):

  • GII is a composite metric that measures gender inequality across three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment, and the labour market.
  • It assesses the disparity in human development potential resulting from gender inequality in these areas.
  • GII values range from 0 (indicating equality) to 1 (representing extreme inequality).
  • A lower GII value suggests less inequality between women and men, while a higher value indicates greater disparity.
Dimensions and Indicators:
  • Reproductive Health: Includes maternal mortality ratio and adolescent birth rates.
  • Empowerment: Involves indicators such as the share of parliamentary seats held by each sex and the proportion of the population with at least some secondary education.
  • Labour Market: Incorporates female and male labour force participation rates.
India’s Progress:
  • In the Gender Inequality Index 2021, India was ranked 122nd out of 191 countries, with a score of 0.490.
  • Notably, there has been a significant improvement in India’s ranking, with a jump of 14 ranks in GII 2022 compared to GII 2021.
  • Over the past decade, India has consistently improved its position in the Gender Inequality Index, reflecting ongoing progress towards gender equality within the country.

Major Issues Related to Gender Inequality in India:

Violence Against Women and Girls:

  • Women and girls in India frequently encounter various forms of violence, including domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, dowry-related violence, and honour killings.
  • These incidents significantly contribute to the perpetuation of gender inequality.

Education Disparities:

  • Despite efforts to enhance education accessibility, disparities persist between boys and girls regarding enrollment, retention, and completion rates.
  • Cultural norms, economic constraints, and safety concerns often impede girls’ access to education.

Unpaid Care Work:

  • Women in India typically perform a substantial amount of unpaid care work, encompassing household chores, childcare, and eldercare.
  • This work is often unacknowledged and undervalued, leading to economic dependency and time poverty among women.

Gender Wage Gap:

  • Women in India generally earn less than men for comparable work, reflecting a significant gender wage gap prevalent across various sectors and employment levels.
  • According to the World Inequality Report 2022, men earn 82% of the labour income in India, while women earn only 18%.

Child Marriage:

  • Child marriage disproportionately affects girls, depriving them of educational and economic opportunities and exposing them to health risks.
  • Despite a reduction in prevalence, as per NFHS-5, some states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tripura, and West Bengal still exhibit higher rates of child marriage than the national average.
  • India harbors a significant proportion of the world’s child brides, with one in three of them residing in the country, according to UNESCO.

-Source: Times of India


The new annual State of the Global Climate report, published recently by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), found that 2023 was the hottest year on record.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About State of Global Climate Report 2023
  2. World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)

About State of Global Climate Report 2023:

  • Annual Publication: The State of Global Climate Report 2023 is an annual publication issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
  • Contributors: The report is compiled with the collaboration of numerous experts and partners, including UN organizations, National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), Global Data and Analysis Centers, Regional Climate Centres, the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW), the Global Cryosphere Watch, and the Copernicus Climate Change Service operated by ECMWF.
Highlights of the 2023 Report:

Record-High Temperatures:

  • 2023 marked the hottest year on record, with the global average near-surface temperature surpassing the pre-industrial baseline by approximately 1.45 °Celsius (with a margin of uncertainty of ± 0.12 °C).
  • It also registered the warmest ten-year period on record.

Climate System Indicators:

  • The year witnessed the breaking of numerous records for indicators of the climate system, including levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs), surface temperatures, ocean heat, sea level rise, Antarctic Sea ice cover, and glacier retreat.

Marine Heatwaves:

  • Nearly one third of the global ocean experienced a marine heatwave on an average day in 2023, posing significant threats to vital ecosystems and food systems.
  • By the end of 2023, over 90% of the ocean had encountered heatwave conditions at some point during the year.

Glacier Loss:

  • The global set of reference glaciers suffered the most extensive loss of ice on record since 1950, driven by extreme melt in both western North America and Europe, as per preliminary data.

Renewable Energy Capacity:

  • Renewable capacity additions surged by almost 50% from 2022 to 2023, reaching a total of 510 gigawatts (GW), marking the highest rate observed in the past two decades.

World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)

  • The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) responsible for meteorology, climate, operational hydrology, and related geophysical sciences.
  • It serves as the authoritative voice within the UN system regarding the state and behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, climate patterns, and the distribution of water resources.
  • WMO plays a vital role in coordinating international efforts to monitor and assess atmospheric and climate systems, promoting research, facilitating data exchange, and providing weather and climate information for sustainable development.
  • The origins of WMO can be traced back to the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), established in 1873.
  • In 1950, WMO was officially established as the specialized agency of the UN for meteorology, operational hydrology, and related geophysical sciences.
  • Building upon the foundation laid by the IMO, WMO has expanded its scope and activities to address the evolving challenges in meteorology and climate science.
Headquarters and Membership:
  • The headquarters of WMO is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Currently, WMO has a membership of 193 countries and territories, representing virtually all nations across the globe. The membership reflects the global recognition of the importance of international cooperation in meteorology, climate, and hydrology.
Governance Structure:

The governance structure of WMO comprises several key bodies responsible for policy-making, decision-making, and the day-to-day operations of the organization:

World Meteorological Congress:

  • The World Meteorological Congress is the supreme body of WMO.
  • It convenes at least every four years and brings together representatives from all member countries.
  • The Congress establishes general policies, adopts regulations, and provides strategic guidance to WMO.

Executive Council:

  • The Executive Council consists of 37 members, including the President and Vice-Presidents.
  • It meets annually to implement policies and decisions made by the World Meteorological Congress.
  • The Executive Council oversees the day-to-day operations and management of WMO.

Technical Commissions and Regional Associations:

  • WMO operates through a network of technical commissions and regional associations.
  • Technical commissions focus on specific areas of meteorology, hydrology, and related disciplines.
  • Regional associations facilitate regional cooperation and the exchange of meteorological and hydrological information.


  • The Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General, is responsible for the coordination and administration of WMO activities.
  • It supports the implementation of policies and decisions made by the World Meteorological Congress and Executive Council.
  • The Secretariat serves as the central hub for data exchange, research coordination, and capacity building initiatives.

-Source: Indian Express


Startups such as Pine Labs, Zepto, Meesho are the latest new-age companies looking to move headquarters to India.


GS III: Indian Economy

About Reverse Flipping:

  • Definition: Reverse flipping refers to the phenomenon where overseas start-ups relocate their domicile to India and list on Indian stock exchanges.
  • Motivation: The primary motivation behind reverse flipping is the perceived opportunity for a higher valuation and increased certainty of an exit in the Indian market.
  • Trend Growth: This trend has been increasingly observed in recent years as start-ups seek to leverage India’s large and expanding economy, access to greater venture capital resources, favorable tax environments, enhanced intellectual property protection, a skilled and educated workforce, and supportive government policies.
  • Government Recognition: The Economic Survey 2022-23 acknowledged the concept of reverse flipping and proposed measures to expedite the process, including simplifying tax-related procedures, taxation of Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), capital movement regulations, and reducing tax complexities.
What is Flipping?
  • Definition: Flipping involves an Indian company transitioning into a 100% subsidiary of a foreign entity by relocating its headquarters overseas, along with transferring its intellectual property and other assets.
  • Process: Through flipping, an Indian startup effectively becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of a foreign entity, with founders and investors retaining their ownership stakes via the foreign entity after exchanging shares.
Harm to India from Flipping:
  • Brain Drain: Flipping may lead to the migration of entrepreneurial talent away from India, resulting in a loss of innovation and expertise within the country.
  • Value Creation: It results in value creation occurring in foreign jurisdictions rather than contributing to India’s economic growth.
  • Loss of Intellectual Property and Tax Revenue: Flipping also entails the transfer of intellectual property and can lead to decreased tax revenues for India, as profits may be realized and taxed in foreign countries instead of domestically.

-Source: The Economic Times


March 19 marked the spring or vernal equinox, the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.


GS I: Geography

About Spring Equinox:

  • Definition: The spring equinox refers to one of the two moments in a year when the Sun is exactly above the equator, resulting in nearly equal lengths of day and night worldwide.
  • Timing: These equinoxes typically occur around March 19, 20, or 21 and September 22 or 23 each year.
  • Meaning of Equinox: The term “equinox” originates from Latin, meaning “equal night,” highlighting the balance between day and night during these periods.
Northern Hemisphere:
  • The March equinox signifies the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere as the region starts to tilt toward the Sun, leading to longer and sunnier days.
  • It is often referred to as the vernal equinox, with “vernal” meaning fresh or new, signifying the renewal of life associated with springtime.
Southern Hemisphere:
  • Conversely, in the Southern Hemisphere, the March equinox marks the start of fall (autumn) as the region begins to tilt away from the Sun.
  • It is termed the autumnal equinox, indicating the transition into the cooler season.
Seasonal Changes:
  • As the Northern Hemisphere experiences the vernal equinox and longer days, the Southern Hemisphere undergoes the autumnal equinox and shorter days.
  • This transition results in later sunrises, earlier sunsets, cooler winds, and the shedding of dry leaves in the Southern Hemisphere, while the opposite occurs in the Northern Hemisphere.

-Source: The Hindu

April 2024