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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 20 July 2021


  1. Bombay HC on Speedy trial as a fundamental right
  2. Monsoon Deficit problem for oilseed farmers
  3. Moon’s Wobble Effect
  4. Internet via high-altitude balloons in Cuba

Bombay HC on Speedy trial as a fundamental right


The Bombay High Court observed, “For how many years without trial, can people languish in jail. Speedy trial is a fundamental right.”


GS-II: Polity and Governance (Judiciary, Constitutional Provisions, Fundamental Rights)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Data regarding Delay in Justice
  2. Reasons for delay in Justice
  3. Way Forwards

Data regarding Delay in Justice

  • As per the National Judicial Data Grid:
    • Around 17% of all cases in district and Taluka Courts are three to 5 years old;
    • More than 20% of all cases in High Courts are 5-10 years old, and over 17% are 10-20 years old.
    • Over 66,000 cases are pending before the Supreme Court
    • Over 57 lakh cases are pending before various HCs
    • Over 3.5 crore cases are pending before various District and Subordinate courts – the number could have increased to more than 4 crores due to the pandemic.
  • According to the National Crime Record Bureau, lakhs of people who are lodged in jail are waiting for their pleas to be heard. Thousands are in jail for petty crimes and have spent more jail time than are required by law.
  • In 2016, there were at least 18,000 women prisoners in central jails across the country and of them, the hearing of cases of 6328 women had not even been started in Courts.

Reasons for delay in Justice

  • Across India, there are vacancies against even the sanctioned strengths of courts and in the worst performing states those vacancies exceed 30 per cent. Due to this, the average waiting period for trial in lower courts is around 10 years and 2-5 years in HCs.
  • District courts across the country also suffer from inadequate infrastructure and poor working conditions, which need drastic improvement, particularly if they are to meet the digital expectations raised by the higher judiciary.
  • Also, there is a yawning digital divide between courts, practitioners and clients in metropolitan cities and those outside. Overcoming the hurdles of decrepit infrastructure and digital illiteracy will take years.
  • The budget allocated to the judiciary is between 0.08 and 0.09 per cent of the GDP. Only four countries — Japan, Norway, Australia and Iceland — have a lesser budget allocation and they do not have problems of pendency like India.
  • On an average, there is just one judge for 73,000 people in India. In contrast, the US has one judge for every 13,000 people. If better salaries and better perks are provided, then better lawyers would be interested in becoming judges.

Way Forwards

  • There should be wide introspection through extensive discussions, debates and consultations to identify the root causes of delays in our justice delivery system and providing meaningful solutions to improve the justice delivery system in India.
  • Government rules, orders and regulations should be thorough and comprehensive after wide consultations with stakeholders to avoid unnecessary litigations.
  • Speedy Justice is not only a fundamental right but also a prerequisite of maintaining the rule of law and delivering good governance. In its absence, Judicial system ends up serving the interests of the corrupt and the law-breakers.
  • One of the solutions is to substantially increase the strength of the judicial services by appointing more judges at the subordinate level — improvements must start from the bottom of the pyramid. Strengthening the subordinate judiciary also means providing it with administrative and technical support and prospects for promotion, development and training.
  • The Supreme Court should mandate summary disposal of all ‘hibernating’ PILs – those pending for more than 10 years before HCs – if they do not concern a question of significant public policy or law.
  • Women judges, and judges from historically-marginalised castes and classes must finally be given a fair share of seats at the table.

-Source: The Hindu

Monsoon Deficit problem for oilseed farmers


The easing of the monsoon post June 2021 has resulted in a 32% rainfall deficit during that period, and is likely to push farmers into changing their kharif crop patterns.


GS-III: Agriculture (Cropping patterns), GS-I: Geography (Important geophysical phenomena)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is cropping pattern?
  2. Rabi Crops
  3. Kharif Crops
  4. Zaid Crops
  5. About the recent study on Monsoon and farming Oil seeds

What is cropping pattern?

  • Cropping pattern is basically the nature and variety of crops grown both spatially and temporally in an area or a geographical region. In spatial terms, it is what different type of crops grown in adjacent lands of a region. In temporal terms, it is the nature of crops that are taken up in a specific land over different agrarian seasons of a year (like kharif-rainy, rabi-winter, zaid-summer). It depends upon following factors:
    • Infrastructure facilities: Irrigation, transport, storage, trade and marketing, post-harvest handling and processing etc.
    • Socio-economic factors: Financial resource base, land ownership, size and type of land holding, household needs of food, fodder, fuel, fibre and finance, and labour availability etc.
    • Technological factors: Enhanced varieties, cultural requirements, mechanization, plant protection, access to information, etc.

Rabi Crops

  • Rabi crops are sown in winter from October to December and harvested in summer from April to June.
  • Some of the important rabi crops are wheat, barley, peas, gram and mustard.
  • Though, these crops are grown in large parts of India, states from the north and north-western parts such as Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh are important for the production of wheat and other rabi crops.
  • Availability of precipitation during winter months due to the western Temperate Cyclones help in the success of these crops.
  • However, the success of the green revolution in Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and parts of Rajasthan has also been an important factor in the growth of the abovementioned rabi crops.

Kharif Crops

  • Kharif crops are grown with the onset of monsoon in different parts of the country and these are harvested in September-October.
  • Important crops grown during this season are paddy, maize, jowar, bajra, tur (arhar), moong, urad, cotton, jute, groundnut and soyabean.
  • Some of the most important rice-growing regions are Assam, West Bengal, coastal regions of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra, particularly the (Konkan coast) along with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. 
  • Recently, paddy has also become an important crop of Punjab and Haryana. In states like Assam, West Bengal and Odisha, three crops of paddy are grown in a year. These are Aus, Aman and Boro.

Zaid Crops

  • In between the rabi and the kharif seasons, there is a short season during the summer months known as the Zaid season. 
  • Some of the crops produced during ‘zaid’ are watermelon, muskmelon, cucumber vegetables and fodder crops. Sugarcane takes almost a year to grow.

About the recent study on Monsoon and farming Oil seeds

  • Especially in northwest and central India, which are seeing rainfall deficits as high as 55%, farmers may be forced to move from oilseeds such as soybean and groundnut to crops which have lower water requirements, such as cotton and maize.
  • Overall, sowing was slower than last year, with the total sown acreage lagging behind 12%.
  • Until June 2021, there had been 28% surplus rainfall. After that point though, the monsoon played truant, resulting in a 32% deficit compared with the long period average from the end of June to Mid-July.
  • Rice is the major kharif season crop, especially in the east and north-east of India, which saw 23% deficit during the period of rainfall deficit from the end of June.

-Source: The Hindu

Moon’s Wobble Effect


A recent study has brought into the focus the wobbling movement of the moon and how it could be a potential problem.


Prelims, GS-I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the wobbling movement of the moon?
  2. Why will this wobble become a problem?

What is the wobbling movement of the moon?

  • The moon also revolves around the Earth about once a month, and that orbit is a little bit tilted. To be more precise, the moon’s orbital plane around the Earth is at an approximate 5-degree incline to the Earth’s orbital plane around the sun. Because of that, the path of the moon’s orbit seems to fluctuate over time, completing a full cycle — sometimes referred to as a nodal cycle — every 18.6 years.
  • When the Moon makes its elliptical orbit, its velocity varies and alters causing our perspective of the “light side” to appear at slightly different angles. This is what it calls the Moon’s wobble or that is how it appears to our eyes.
  • It is a cyclical shift in the moon’s orbit, it is a regular swaying (Oscillation) in the moon’s orbit.
  • It was first documented way back in 1728. This wobble takes over an 18.6-year period to complete. It acts as a background of sea level rise.

Why will this wobble become a problem?

  • At certain points along the cycle, the moon’s gravitational pull comes from such an angle that it yanks one of the day’s two high tides a little bit higher, at the expense of the other. This does not mean that the moon itself is wobbling, nor that its gravity is necessarily pulling at our oceans any more or less than usual.
  • Other variables aside — and speaking very generally, since every region is different — the effect of the wobble could cause high tide levels at a beach to oscillate by 1 or 2 inches over the course of its long cycle.
  • High-tide flooding related to climate change is expected to break records with increasing frequency over the next decade, and people who want to accurately forecast that risk have to work with a lot of noisy data, including weather patterns, astronomical events and regional tidal variation.
  • The moon wobble is part of that noise, but it has always maintained its own slow, steady rhythm.

-Source: Indian Express

Internet via high-altitude balloons in Cuba


President Joe Biden was called by a Governor of the U.S. to greenlight a plan to transmit the Internet to people in Cuba via high-altitude balloons when their government has blocked access.


Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Delivering Internet by Balloon
  2. Drawbacks of the Loon
  3. Significance and benefits of the Balloon networks

Delivering Internet by Balloon

  • For years, Alphabet — the parent company of Google — worked to perfect an Internet-balloon division service called Loon, which was shut down in 2021 as it wasn’t commercially viable.
  • The Loon balloons were effectively cell towers the size of a tennis court which floated 60,000 to 75,000 feet (18,000- 23,000 meters), above the Earth, well above commercial jetliner routes.
  • Made of the commonplace plastic polyethylene, the balloons used solar panels for electricity and could deliver service to smartphones in partnership with a local telecom.

Drawbacks of the Loon

  • Each balloon could serve thousands of people, but hey had to be replaced every five months or so because of the harsh conditions in the stratosphere.
  • Also, the balloons could be difficult to control.
  • It would need an unused band of spectrum, or radio frequencies, to transmit a connection, and spectrum use is typically controlled by national governments. Anyone trying this would have to find a free block of spectrum that wouldn’t be interfered with.
  • Balloon- or drone-powered networks aren’t likely to be economical over the long term.
  • Developing algorithms to appropriately map balloon positions, determining a good strategy to deal with unpleasant weather and addressing the concern of relying on the non-renewable resources are among other challenges.

Significance and benefits of the Balloon networks

  • By allowing phone companies to expand their coverage where needed, the balloons are intended to offer countries a cheaper option than laying cables or building cell towers.
  • They are able to bring Internet access to remote and rural areas poorly served by existing provisions, and to improve communication during natural disasters to affected regions.

-Source: Indian Express

February 2024