Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 03 July 2023

Reservation for Transgender community

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

In response to a clarification requested by the Bombay High Court, the Maharashtra government said that it will be difficult to provide “additional reservations” to transgender persons in education and public employment, given the reservation that exists so far for various communities in India. Trans persons in India have been fighting for the right to horizontal reservation for a long time.

What have the courts said on reservation for the Transgender community?

  • In the National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA) v Union of India (2014) case, the Supreme Court ruled that transgender persons have a right to reservation, owing to the fact that they “are a socially and educationally backward class”.
  • With regards to reservation, the judgment noted: “We direct the Centre and the State Governments to take steps to treat them [transgender persons] as socially and educationally backward classes of citizens and extend all kinds of reservation in cases of admission in educational institutions and for public appointments.”
  • The NALSA judgment entitles trans persons to reservations on constitutional grounds. It does not, however, mention the nature of reservations – whether they are to be vertical or horizontal.

What are horizontal reservations?

  • In India, historically oppressed and disadvantaged communities have a right to affirmative action policies. Reservation in education and employment can be divided into two broad categories, namely, vertical and horizontal.
  • Vertical reservations are provisions aimed at addressing social asymmetry arising out of caste hierarchy, and in the case of OBCssocial and educational “backwardness”.
  • These include reservations for Scheduled Castes (SC)Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC)Horizontal reservation, on the other hand, cuts across all vertical groups to provide affirmative policies for disadvantaged groups within categories.
  • For example, disabled persons are guaranteed horizontal reservation in all the aforementioned vertical categories, general and reserved (vertical) alike, by the Central government.
  • States like Uttarakhand and Bihar have also rolled out policies that guarantee horizontal reservation for women. This means that a woman who belongs to the SC category should be able to avail reservation based on both caste and gender. The horizontal model ensures this. This is exactly what transgender persons are fighting for, as well.


Internet Apocalypse

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

People on Earth can be left without the internet for several months as a new possibility of internet apocalypse has emerged due to a solar storm. Recently, for the first time, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe (PSP) completed a groundbreaking mission to travel through the solar winds in space. The goal of the mission was to prevent the charged particles from hindering the internet signals on Earth.


  • With first such research being conducted in 2021, scientists have long warned of the possibility of a solar storm impacting the planet with an “internet apocalypse”.
  • They have also warned that one such event could take place in the next decade and would obstruct the infrastructure that carried the internet providers.
  • PSP was launched five years ago and it took the trajectory close to the sun's surface where the solar wind begins.

What is a solar storm and how can it impact Earth’s internet?

  • Solar storms are simply the atmospheric impacts felt on earth due to the winds that generate near the sun.
  • The storms are caused due to the solar flares and coronal mass ejections which release a stream of electromagnetic field towards the Earth.
  • In other words, it consists of a stream of charged particles which beam from the outermost atmosphere of the sun, called corona.
  • NASA has stated that the solar activity appears to be following a cycle of 11 years and at its peak, solar storms could occur multiple times in a day. However, at other times, they can take place less than once a week.
  • But, these solar storms have the potential to cause geometric storms which can hinder the satellite signalsradio communicationsinternet and even electrical power grids.

Has Earth ever witnessed solar storms?

  • Back in 2011, a powerful solar storm reportedly disrupted the radio communications in southern regions of China.
  • In 1859auroras were seen across the world due to the solar storm and the phenomenon was named ‘Carrington Event’.
  • At this time, if a similar power solar storm is generated, it could potentially lead to an ‘internet apocalypse’ resulting in a worldwide blackout which would be significantly damaging to communication across the globe.
  • It can also hinder the supply chain for essential items such as food, water, medicines among several other products.


Chandrayaan-3 to be launched

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

Almost four years after its first unsuccessful attempt to make a spacecraft land on the Moon, Isro will launch its third moon missionChandrayaan-3 (Ch-3), on 12 July 2023, with the primary objective of executing a precise landing on the celestial body. In 2019, the lander and rover of the Chandrayaan-2 mission malfunctioned in the final moments and crash-landed, getting destroyed in the process.

What was the Chandrayaan-2 mission?

  • The objective of the Chandrayaan-2 was to demonstrate the ability to soft-land a lander and rover on the unexplored south pole of the Moon, it also had other goals.
  • The mission was “designed to expand the lunar scientific knowledge through a detailed study of topographyseismographymineral identification and distributionsurface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics of topsoil and composition of the tenuous lunar atmosphere, leading to a new understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon”.
  • In 2021, the space agency revealed that the mission’s Orbiter had produced a handsome amount of data about the Moon.
  • This helped in building upon existing knowledge of the celestial body in terms of its surface, sub-surface and exosphere.
  • For instance, a key outcome from Chandrayaan-2 was the exploration of the permanently shadowed regions as well as craters and boulders underneath the regolith, the loose deposit comprising the top surface extending up to 3-4m in depth.

What went wrong with the Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander?

  • The landing of Vikram was targeted for a plane about 600 km from the south pole of the Moon. However, ISRO lost contact with their lander shortly before the scheduled touchdown on 7 September.
  • When contact was lost, it was travelling at 50 to 60 metres per second (180 to 200 km per hour). It was decelerating, but not fast enough to slow down to a speed of 2 metres/second (7.2 km/hr) that was required for a safe landing.
  • Vikram was designed to absorb the shock of an impact even at 5 metres/second (18 km/hr). At the rate it was decelerating, it could not even have attained a speed of 5 metres/second before touchdown. It hit the Moon at a far greater speed, damaging itself and the instruments on board.

Book A Free Counseling Session