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Current Affairs 28 November 2023

  1. Kambala
  2. UNODC and UN Women Study: Rise in Gender-related Killings (2022)
  3. Social Audit of MGNREGA Scheme
  4. Investor Risk Reduction Access (IRRA) Platform
  5. Carbon Dioxide Removal
  6. Booker Prize
  7. Saurauia Punduana


Recently, Bengaluru held its first Kambala race, with 159 pairs of buffaloes and their jockeys racing through the specially made slush tracks in the city’s Palace Grounds.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Kambala: Coastal Karnataka’s Traditional Buffalo Race
  2. Kambala Ban, Repeal, and Caste Discrimination: Unraveling the Narrative

Kambala: Coastal Karnataka’s Traditional Buffalo Race

  • Folk Sport: Kambala is a traditional folk sport primarily practiced in coastal Karnataka districts, especially in regions with a majority of Tulu speakers.
  • Historical Context: Originally hosted by families in sludgy fields post-paddy harvest, it has evolved with various Kambala Samithis now organizing events.
Organizing Bodies:
  • Kambala Samithis: These organizing bodies host weekly events from November to April in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts.
  • Community Involvement: Families, particularly from the Bunt community, take pride in participating, grooming buffaloes throughout the year for the races.
Categories of Kambala:
  • Negilu (Plough): Entry-level category using light ploughs to tie buffaloes for the race.
  • Hagga (Rope): Buffaloes raced by jockeys with only a rope tying the pair together.
  • Adda Halage: Jockeys stand on a horizontal plank dragged by buffaloes, offering a unique twist to the traditional format.
  • Kane Halage: Wooden plank tied to buffaloes with water holes, and the winner is determined by the height of water splashes.
Cultural Significance:
  • Prestige and Pride: Kambala holds cultural significance, especially for the Bunt community, with families investing efforts to win events.
  • Symbol of Tradition: Reflects the rich cultural heritage of coastal Karnataka and serves as a showcase of traditional practices.

Kambala Ban, Repeal, and Caste Discrimination: Unraveling the Narrative

Ban by Supreme Court:
  • Animal Rights Petition: Various organizations, including PETA, filed a petition against traditional sports, alleging animal abuse.
  • Complaint Against Kambala: Allegations of cruelty, such as tying buffalo noses with ropes and continuous whipping during races, led to Kambala’s ban by the Supreme Court in 2014.
  • Parallel Ruling: Jallikattu and bullock cart racing were also banned based on Sections 3, 11(1)(a), and (m) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Ban Reversal and Amendments:
  • 2016 Notification: MoEF&CC issued a notification prohibiting bull exhibitions but carved exceptions for events like Jallikattu and Bullock Cart Races in specific states based on cultural practices.
  • State Amendments: Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra amended the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to provide exemptions for these events. A Constitutional Bench upheld these amendments in May 2023.
Caste Discrimination Accusations:
  • Historical Context: Koraga community members, historically considered untouchable, were mistreated before Kambala events.
  • Contemporary Criticism: Critics argue that dominant caste groups control the sport, perpetuating caste discrimination, with lower-caste individuals relegated to menial roles during the event.
Evolution of Kambala:
  • Cultural Heritage: Despite challenges, Kambala remains a vital cultural tradition in coastal Karnataka.
  • Shift in Dynamics: Ongoing discussions aim to address caste-related issues, ensuring a more inclusive and respectful environment during Kambala festivities.

-Source: The Hindu


Recently, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and UN Women released a study titled-Gender-related killings of women and girls (femicide/feminicide), revealing an increase in gender-related killings of women and girls in 2022.


GS II: Issues Related to Women

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Femicide/Feminicide and the Highlights of the Study
  2. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Femicide/Feminicide and the Highlights of the Study

Femicide/Feminicide: Deliberate killing of women or girls based solely on their gender, rooted in societal attitudes and discrimination.

Key Highlights of the Study:

Global Trends:

  • Nearly 89,000 intentional killings of women and girls in 2022, marking the highest yearly number in the past two decades.
  • Despite a decline in overall homicides globally, female homicides are not decreasing.

Victim Profile:

  • Women are more likely to be victims of intimate partner or family-related homicides compared to men.
  • While men and boys constitute 80% of global homicides, women represent 53% of killings in the home and 66% of intimate partner killings.

Regional Disparities:

  • Africa reported the highest number of intimate partner/family-related homicides in 2022, surpassing Asia for the first time in 13 years.
  • The Americas, with fewer cases, exhibited higher rates of femicides per 100,000 female population.

Africa’s Standing:

  • Africa, with around 20,000 victims in 2022, surpassed Asia as the region with the highest absolute number of victims.
  • Africa also had the highest number of victims relative to its female population (2.8 per 100,000 women).

Europe’s Trends:

  • Europe saw an average reduction in female intimate partner/family-related homicides by 21% between 2010 and 2022, with variations across sub-regions.

India’s Situation:

  • India experienced a slight decline in gender-based killings over the past decade.
  • Dowry-related deaths remained a significant cause, with honour killings and witchcraft-related murders forming a smaller percentage.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is a United Nations agency established to address global issues related to drugs, crime, and terrorism. It was established in 1997 through the merger of the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and the Centre for International Crime Prevention.

Key Functions of UNODC:
  • Drug Control: UNODC works to combat the production, trafficking, and abuse of illicit drugs globally. This includes efforts to prevent drug abuse, treat addiction, and support alternative development strategies for communities affected by the illicit drug trade.
  • Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice: UNODC focuses on preventing and combating various forms of transnational crime, including human trafficking, organized crime, corruption, and cybercrime. It supports member states in strengthening their criminal justice systems.
  • Terrorism Prevention: UNODC plays a role in preventing and countering terrorism by providing assistance to member states in developing legal frameworks, enhancing capacities, and promoting international cooperation in combating terrorism.
  • Corruption Prevention: The agency works to prevent and combat corruption by promoting anti-corruption measures, supporting the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), and providing technical assistance to member states.
  • Research and Data Analysis: UNODC conducts research and analysis to provide member states with accurate and up-to-date information on trends related to drugs, crime, and terrorism. This information helps in formulating evidence-based policies and strategies.
  • Technical Assistance: UNODC provides technical assistance and capacity-building support to member states, helping them develop effective policies, legislation, and institutions to address drug-related and criminal justice challenges.
  • International Cooperation: The agency facilitates international cooperation and coordination among governments, international organizations, and other stakeholders to address cross-border challenges related to drugs, crime, and terrorism.

-Source: The Hindu


Recent data from the Management Information System (MIS) on Social Audit, maintained by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), sheds light on the progress and challenges of the social audit in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).


GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Progress of Social Audits in MGNREGS
  2. Social Audit Mechanism under MGNREGA
  3. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

Progress of Social Audits in MGNREGS

Overall Status:
  • Out of 34 States and Union Territories, only 6 have completed social audits for over 50% of the works conducted under MGNREGS in gram panchayats.
Leadership in Social Audits:
  • Kerala: Leads the way with 100% coverage of gram panchayats in social audits, demonstrating a comprehensive and inclusive approach.
States Surpassing 50% Mark:
  • Bihar (64.4%): Achieves significant progress with a social audit coverage exceeding 50%.
  • Gujarat (58.8%): Surpasses the halfway mark in social audit coverage for MGNREGS works.
  • Jammu and Kashmir (64.1%): Demonstrates substantial progress with over 60% social audit coverage.
  • Odisha (60.42%): Exceeds the 60% mark in social audit completion.
  • Uttar Pradesh (54.97%): Crosses the 50% threshold in social audit coverage.
States with 40% or More Coverage:
  • Telangana (40.5%): Achieves over 40% social audit coverage.
  • Himachal Pradesh (45.32%): Crosses the 45% mark in social audit completion.
  • Andhra Pradesh (49.7%): Approaches the halfway point with nearly 50% social audit coverage.
Low Coverage in Poll-Bound States:
  • Among states heading into elections, social audit coverage is notably low:
    • Madhya Pradesh (1.73%): Significantly low social audit completion.
    • Mizoram (17.5%): Moderate progress with room for improvement.
    • Chhattisgarh (25.06%): Crosses the 25% mark in social audit coverage.
    • Rajasthan (34.74%): Approaching the 35% milestone in social audit completion.

About Social Audit:

  • Social audit is the examination and assessment of a program or scheme conducted with the active involvement of people, comparing official records with ground realities.
  • It serves as a powerful tool for social transformation, community participation, and government accountability.
  • Unlike financial audits that scrutinize financial records, social audits focus on evaluating a program’s effectiveness in achieving its social goals while involving stakeholders.
Social Audit Mechanism under MGNREGA:


  • Section 17 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) mandates social audits for all works executed under the program.
  • The Audit of Scheme Rules, 2011, outlines the procedures for social audits and the responsibilities of various entities, including the Social Audit Unit (SAU), state government, and MGNREGA field workers.
Related Issues and Challenges:

Funding Shortages:

  • Social audit units often grapple with inadequate funding, hindering their effectiveness.
  • While the Union government provides funds to these units to ensure their independence from states, issues with timely fund allocation have left some units without funds for extended periods.

Lack of Training:

  • Inadequate training and resources further hinder the effectiveness of social audit units in identifying malpractice.
  • Personnel Shortage:
  • Insufficient staffing makes it difficult for social audit units to carry out their duties effectively.

Low Recovery Rate:

  • Some states have consistently reported “zero cases” and “zero recoveries” over the last three years, raising questions about the effectiveness of monitoring in these regions.
  • Even states with active social audit units, like Telangana, struggle with low recovery rates, indicating systemic challenges.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, MGNREGA, is an Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the ‘right to work’. This act was passed in September 2005.
  • It aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
  • It covers all districts of India except the ones with 100% urban population.
  • MGNREGA is to be implemented mainly by gram panchayats (GPs). The involvement of contractors is banned.
  • Apart from providing economic security and creating rural assets, NREGA can help in protecting the environment, empowering rural women, reducing rural-urban migration and fostering social equity, among others.
  • The MGNREGA wage rates are fixed according to changes in the CPI-AL (Consumer Price Index-Agriculture Labour), which reflects the increase in the inflation in rural areas.

How MGNREGA came to be?

  • In 1991, the P.V Narashima Rao government proposed a pilot scheme for generating employment in rural areas with the following goals:
    • Employment Generation for agricultural labour during the lean season.
    • Infrastructure Development
    • Enhanced Food Security
  • This scheme was called the Employment Assurance Scheme which later evolved into the MGNREGA after the merger with the Food for Work Programme in the early 2000s.
Features of MGNREGA
  • It gives a significant amount of control to the Gram Panchayats for managing public works, strengthening Panchayati Raj Institutions.
  • Gram Sabhas are free to accept or reject recommendations from Intermediate and District Panchayats.
  • It incorporates accountability in its operational guidelines and ensures compliance and transparency at all levels.
Objectives of MGNREGA
  • Provide 100 days of guaranteed wage employment to rural unskilled labour
  • Increase economic security
  • Decrease migration of labour from rural to urban areas.

-Source: Indian Express


The Investor Risk Reduction Access (IRRA) is a platform that will act as a ‘safety net’ for investors in case of technical glitches faced by a trading member or a stock broker registered with SEBI. It will provide investors an opportunity to close open positions and cancel pending orders in case of disruption at the stock brokers’ end.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. IRRA Platform: Enhancing Investor Protection
  2. Need and Significance

IRRA Platform: Enhancing Investor Protection

Purpose and Functionality:
  • Risk Reduction: Developed to mitigate risks for investors in the event of technical glitches at the trading member’s end, both at the primary and disaster recovery sites.
  • Investor Opportunity: Enables investors to close open positions and cancel pending orders using the IRRA platform during technical glitches, ensuring continued market access.
Developed By:
  • Collaborative Development: Jointly developed by major stock exchanges, including BSE, NSE, NCDEX, MCX, and MSE.
Mechanism of Working:
  • Initiation: Trading members can invoke IRRA when facing technical glitches impacting client service across exchanges.
  • Exchange Monitoring: Stock exchanges can also monitor parameters and initiate IRRA enablement if disruptions affect trading services across all exchanges for a particular member.
  • Limited Functionality: IRRA is designed exclusively for canceling pending orders, not for initiating fresh positions.

Need and Significance:

  • Risk Mitigation: Addresses risks for investors in the face of technical disruptions, offering a solution to close positions during glitches.
  • Contingency Planning: Acts as a contingency service by stock exchanges, ensuring investor protection during crises.
  • Market Volatility: Especially crucial in volatile markets where swift actions are necessary for risk management.
  • Persistent Disruptions: Despite business continuity plans, certain disruptions like delayed recovery sites or cyber-attacks persist, making IRRA a valuable initiative.

-Source: Indian Express


According to the Emissions Gap report, delaying greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction will further increase the future dependence on carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR)
  2. Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) Methods: A Comprehensive Overview

Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR)

  • Scope: Encompasses technologies, practices, and deliberate human interventions aimed at extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • Climate Mitigation: Essential component of climate change mitigation efforts, contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
  • Global Impact: Holds promise in addressing the escalating climate crisis by actively mitigating anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.

Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) Methods: A Comprehensive Overview

  • Production Process: Generated through the controlled burning (pyrolysis) of organic waste from agricultural and forest sources.
  • Distinctive Features: Resembles charcoal but is a stable carbon form, minimizing atmospheric escape.
  • Carbon Storage: Provides a safe method for storing carbon, reducing contamination during production.
Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS):
  • Process: Involves bioenergy production through combustion, with subsequent capture and storage of resulting CO2 emissions.
  • Objective: Prevents combustion emissions from contributing to the greenhouse effect.
  • Sequestration: Captures and stores photosynthetically fixed carbon post-combustion.
Direct Air Carbon Capture and Storage (DACCS):
  • Extraction: Directly captures CO2 from the atmosphere at any location.
  • Storage: Permanently stores captured CO2 in deep geological formations or repurposes it for other applications.
  • Technology: Uses electricity to remove CO2 from the air.
Enhanced Rock Weathering:
  • Process: Involves pulverizing silicate rocks to accelerate the typically slow weathering action.
  • Product: Yields a powdered form with increased reactive surface area, applied to agricultural lands for chemical reactions.
Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement:
  • Approach: Includes adding alkaline substances to seawater to expedite the natural sink process.
  • Objective: Accelerates the absorption of CO2 by seawater, enhancing the overall carbon removal.
  • Diverse Strategies: Showcases a range of methods from pyrolysis to ocean alkalinity enhancement for deliberate carbon removal.
  • Technological Advancements: Reflects advancements in technology, offering solutions at various scales to address carbon emissions.
Overall Impact:
  • Holistic Approach: Represents a comprehensive toolkit for carbon dioxide removal, contributing to climate change mitigation efforts globally.

-Source: The Hindu


Recently, Irish writer Paul Lynch won the Booker Prize for fiction for his novel Prophet Song.


Facts for Prelims

Booker Prize:

  • Established in the UK in 1969, the Booker Prize is a prestigious literary award for a singular work of fiction.
  • Initially focused on Commonwealth writers, it has evolved to include global participation, open to authors regardless of their origin.
Objectives of the Prize:
  • The primary goal is to champion outstanding fiction by recognizing the best novel of the year written in English.
Eligibility Criteria:
  • The Booker Prize considers novels originally written in English and published in the UK and Ireland in the prize year.
  • Only original works in English, not translations, are eligible.
  • The novel must be published by a registered UK or Irish imprint; self-published works are not considered.
Prize Details:
  • The winner is awarded £50,000, while each shortlisted author receives £2,500.
Booker Prize Foundation:
  • Established in 2002, the Booker Prize Foundation is a registered charity overseeing the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker International Prize, which commenced in 2005.

-Source: Indian Express


Recently, the Saurauia Punduana plant was recorded for the first time in Manipur’s Tamenglong district.


Facts for Prelims

About Saurauia Punduana:

  • Saurauia Punduana is a plant species belonging to the Actinidiaceae family, characterized by its distinctive flowers and fruits.
  • The flowers undergo a transformation from white to pink as they mature, featuring pink, ovate to obovate petals that curl at the tip.
  • The spherical fruits are shiny white and hold significance in veterinary medicine.
Habitat and Characteristics:
  • Typically found in subtropical forests at altitudes ranging from 600 to 1800 meters.
  • The complete, bisexual flowers possess both functional male (androecium) and female (gynoecium) parts.
Conservation Status:
  • Classified as a critically endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Global Distribution:
  • Saurauia Punduana is distributed across countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, and Myanmar.
  • Within India, it is present in states like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura.
Threats to Saurauia Punduana:
  • Susceptible to various threats, including insect pests, viruses, and fungi, impacting leaves, fruits, and roots.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024