Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 21 May 2023

Supreme Court upholds Jallikattu sport

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has upheld the amendments made by Tamil NaduMaharashtra, and Karnataka to The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, allowing JallikattuKambala, and bullock-cart races. The court overturned the verdict of a two-judge Bench in ‘Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja’ (2014), which had banned practices such as Jallikattu, the traditional bull-taming sport of the Pongal harvest festival.

What did SC say?

  1. The five-judge Bench noted that Jallikattu has been held in Tamil Nadu for at least a century, and “we will not disrupt the view of the legislature that it is part of the cultural heritage of the state”.
  2. In the 2014 ‘Nagaraja’ judgment, an SC Bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Ghose had ruled that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 “over-shadows or overrides the so-called tradition and culture”.
  3. In its judgment delivered on 18 May 2023, the Constitution Bench said, “We do not accept the view of Nagaraja that Jallikattu is not a part of the cultural heritage of the State of Tamil Nadu. We do not think that there was sufficient material for the Court to come to that conclusion.”

Pongal and the culture of Jallikattu

  1. Pongal in Tamil Nadu is a celebration of nature, and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest.
  2. Similar harvest festivals of Makara SankrantiMaghi, and Magh Bihu are observed in other parts of the country at the same time, in mid-January.
  3. In Tamil Nadu, the festival lasts for three or four days, and on the third day, Mattu Pongal, cattle are worshipped.
  4. The bull-taming events then start, especially in the southern districts of the state, when the elite Jallikattu breeds test the strength and skill of farm hands in especially constructed arenas.
  5. Contests in AvaniapuramPeelamedu and Alanganallur, villages neighbouring Madurai, set the tone for the season, which continues until April.

Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) governance

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) is set to break new ground in the country’s digital commerce ecosystem. ONDC employs cutting-edge digital infrastructure, seeking to democratise digital commerce in India and make it more accessible and inclusive. More than 29,000 sellers live on the network, and alpha tests are currently running in 236 cities. It will transform the digital commerce landscape in India and serve as an important reference point for a forward-looking Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) governance framework.

What is ONDC, and how does it work?

  1. ONDC is an interoperable network based on the BeckN protocol that anyone can piggyback on.
  2. It seeks to break down silos in digital commerce by enabling platforms of varying configurations (big or small) to connect and operate seamlessly on it.
  3. It comprises different entities called ‘Network Participants’, including Buyer ApplicationsSeller Applications, and Gateways that perform the search and discovery function. Imagine a scenario where all the large e-commerce platforms, from food delivery to clothing and fashion to conveyance, are accessible in one place, along with your neighbourhood start-ups, shops, and kirana stores.

How does this help, and why is it significant?

  1. By moving the exchange of goods and services from a platform-centric approach to a network-centric approach, ONDC eliminates the need for buyers and sellers to use the same application, and promotes the discoverability of local digital stores across industries. This paradigm shift from “store of value” to “flow of value” brings with it a multitude of benefits.
  2. From the buyer’s perspective, ONDC offers greater freedom of choice, reducing the overwhelming reliance on a single platform.
  3. Sellers also stand to benefit greatly: the network-centric approach of ONDC reduces the skewed bargaining power in favour of the platforms, which often results in higher entry barriers and lower margins for sellers.

How will the system be funded?

  1. The ONDC entity was initially promoted by the Quality Council of India and Protean e-Gov Technologies Limited in December 2021, and has since raised more than Rs 180 crore from multiple investors including private and public sector banks, depositories, development banks, and other financial institutions.
  2. While initial funding was obtained through share allotments, the ONDC entity aims to develop a self-sustaining financial model in the future.
  3. One potential revenue stream could include charging a small fee from platforms to fund ongoing and expansion-related activities independently.


WHO report on artificial Sweeteners

GS Paper - 3 (Health and Diseases)

The World Health Organisation recommended against using artificial sweeteners to achieve weight loss and prevent lifestyle diseases such as diabetes. The report emphasised that while there was a need to cut intake of sugar, it should not be replaced by artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners provide the sweet taste with very little to no calories.

What has WHO said in its recommendation on artificial sweeteners?

  1. While there could be some weight-loss and reduction in Body Mass Index in the short term as the artificial sweeteners bring down the calories consumed, but in the long run they have been linked to weight gain, the WHO report said.
  2. The sweeteners have also been linked to an increased risk of Type-2 diabetescardiovascular diseases, and mortality in the long run.
  3. Some low certainty data also linked the use of such artificial sweeteners to bladder cancer and preterm birth when consumed by pregnant women.
  4. The meta-analysis found that higher intake of NSS was associated with a 23% increase in the risk of type-2 diabetes when consumed in the form of beverages and 34% when added to foods.
  5. Higher intake of these sweeteners was also linked with 32% increase in the risk of cardio-vascular disease – including a 19% increase in risk for stroke – and 13% increase in the risk for hypertension.
  6. It was also linked with a 25% increase in the risk for pre-term birth. “Long-term adverse effects in the form of increased risk of death and disease offset any potential short-term health benefit resulting from the relatively small reduction in body weight and BMI observed in randomized controlled trials,” the report said.

Have artificial sweeteners been linked to such adverse impacts?

  1. The analysis of WHO is based on already existing studies, results for which have been pooled to reach the conclusions. In fact, the WHO said that it was a “conditional recommendation” because the evidence was of low certainty.
  2. However, the recommendations come on the heels of two important studies that have shown the long term consequences.
  3. A large French study that followed those taking artificial sweeteners for nearly eight years said that it increased the risk of cancers.
  4. Another large study published earlier this year showed that the artificial sweetener erythritol increased the risk of clotting and can lead to heart attacks or strokes.


India witnessed worst levels of human-induced air pollution

GS Paper - 3 (Environment)

As per a recent study, during 2018-2021, India witnessed the maximum levels of human-induced air pollution. This period, traversing the three phases of the COVID-19 pandemic (pre, during and post), saw a surge in air pollution owing to the development of transportation, industrial power plants, green space dynamics and unplanned urbanisation in the country, noted the study.

More about the news:

  1. The research was carried out using Sentinel5P satellite and Google Earth Engine (GEE).
  2. Sentinel-5P monitored the atmospheric air pollutants and chemical conditions from 2018 to 2021.
  3. The cloud computing-based GEE platform was used to analyse air pollutants and chemical components in the atmosphere.
  4. The years 2020 and 2021 saw drastic changes in Air Quality Index (AQI), whereas 2018 and 2019 saw low AQI throughout the year. Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai recorded huge fluctuations in terms of air pollution during the study period.

About Air Pollution and its impact:

  1. In India, anthropogenic activities and human health-related problems are increasing gradually. This triggers health issues and pollution-related diseases like asthma, respiratory disease, lung cancer, as well as skin-related diseases.
  2. The primary pollutants of concern are NO2, carbon monoxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide and methane.
  3. Air pollution and extreme climatic conditions are mutually connected. Sunlight is affected by air pollutants like methane, ozone and aerosols.
  4. Similarly, climate change also influences air quality and pollutants.

Awareness and planning are much needed for protecting our environment. Proper planning, management and development strategies can help protect the environment. Otherwise, climate change and air pollution will increase health emergencies, ecological diversity and environmental degradation.


  1. Air Quality Index (AQI) is a term to define the quality of the air that we breathe.
  2. Air quality index (AQI) is a numerical scale used for reporting day to day air quality with regard to human health and the environment.
  3. An increase in air quality index signifies increased air pollution and severe threats to human health.

0-50 : Good                 51-100 : Moderate

101-200 : Poor            201-300 : Unhealthy

301-400 : Severe        401-500+ : Hazardous

Book A Free Counseling Session

What's Today