5 Jun | UPSC Current Affairs: Ahilyabai Holkar, Exit Polls, Anti-incumbency, Sunkoshi River & More

Table of Contents


Ahilyabai Holkar


  • Recently, the 300th birth anniversary of the Maratha queen Ahilya Bai Holkar was celebrated. 

Early Life and Ascension to Power:

    • Born on May 31, 1725, Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar became the Holkar Queen of the Maratha Malwa kingdom, India. 
    • Khanderao Holkar’s death in the battle of Kumbher in 1754 led to Ahilyabai’s ascension to the throne.
    • Twelve years later, after the passing of her father-in-law, Malhar Rao Holkar, Ahilyabai was crowned queen of the Malwa kingdom.

Visionary Leadership and Governance:

    • Over the next 28 years of her reign, Ahilyabai ruled Malwa with wisdom, courage, and administrative acumen, fostering relative peace and stability in the region. 
    • Her capital, Maheshwar, flourished as a center of literary, musical, artistic, and industrial endeavors under her patronage.

Ahilyabai Holkar

Cultural Patronage and Industrialization:

    • Ahilyabai welcomed distinguished personalities such as Marathi poet Moropant, Shahir Ananta Gandhi, and Sanskrit scholar Khushali Ram to her capital.
    •  She propagated the message of dharma and played a pivotal role in industrialization, notably establishing a textile industry in Maheshwar, renowned for its Maheshwari sarees.

Military Leadership and Justice Administration:

    • Exhibiting military prowess, Ahilyabai personally led armies into battle and appointed Tukojirao Holkar as the Chief of Army. 
    • Her reputation for administering justice impartially was exemplified when she sentenced her only son, convicted of a capital offense, to death by being crushed by an elephant.

Religious Contributions and Social Reforms:

    • Ahilyabai’s legacy as a temple builder and philanthropist is profound, with hundreds of temples and Dharmashalas constructed under her patronage throughout India. 
    • Notably, she initiated the renovation of the iconic Kashi Vishwanath Temple in 1780. 
    • Furthermore, she implemented landmark decisions, including the abolition of traditional laws confiscating property from childless widows.

Legacy and Posthumous Recognition:

    • John Keay, the British historian, bestowed upon her the title of ‘The Philosopher Queen’. 
    • Ahilyabai passed away on August 13, 1795, at the age of seventy, and her throne was succeeded by her nephew and commander-in-chief, Tukojirao Holkar.

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Exit Polls


  • Ahead of the Lok Sabha poll results on June 4, there is significant excitement surrounding exit polls, which attempt to accurately predict the outcome.


  • Exit polls are surveys conducted immediately after voters leave polling stations.


  • Exit polls provide an early indication of the likely outcome of the elections based on voter responses. 


  • Pollsters ask voters whom they voted for as they exit polling stations. 


  • A representative sample of voters from various polling stations is selected to participate in the survey. 


  • Conducted on the day of the election after voters have cast their votes. 


  • Exit poll results are usually published immediately after polling concludes. 

Legal Restrictions:

  • In India, the Election Commission bans the publication of exit polls during the voting period to avoid influencing voters. 

Exit Poll Norms in India: Prohibition of Exit Polls

    • Section 126 of Representation of the People Act, 1951: It prohibits conducting exit polls and disseminating results via print or electronic media from the start of the first phase until half an hour after the last phase ends.
    • Article 324: Under Article 324, the Election Commission of India (ECI) prohibits media agencies from publishing or releasing the results of exit polls.
    • Prohibition Period: The ECI usually imposes a “prohibition period” on publishing or disseminating exit poll results.
    • Punishment for Violators:  Violators of the directive could face a two-year prison term, a fine, or both.
    • Registration Requirement: ECI also mandates that media agencies conducting exit polls register with the ECI.



  • Strong anti-incumbency coupled with a united fight by the opposition parties routed the ruling YSR Congress party in Andhra Pradesh.


  • It refers to the period during which an official holds office.


  • It is the feeling among voters against a political party and its elected representatives in power. 


    • Periods of anti-incumbent sentiment are typically characterised by wave elections. 
    • Anti-incumbency sentiment can also lead to support for term limits.
    • A “wave election” is a term used to describe a significant electoral shift in which one political party makes substantial gains in seats in a legislative body, often resulting in a change of leadership. 
    • In a two-party system, anti-incumbent voters have only one party to vote for, when voting against the incumbent.
    •  In a multi-party system, public mood, i.e., the tendency of opinions held by voters over a set of related policy issues, can determine which parties receive the anti-incumbent vote.


  • In India, the 1999-2003 phase saw the strongest anti-incumbency phase, with most state governments getting voted out.

Rule Of Stare Decisis


  • The Supreme Court recently held that the extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India are an exception to Rule Of Stare Decisis.


  • “Stare Decisis” is Latin for “to stand by things decided.”


  • This doctrine mandates that courts follow the rulings made in earlier similar cases.

Importance of Precedents: 

    • Guiding Principles: Past decisions serve as precedents, which are principles or rules that guide judicial decisions in future similar cases.
    • Consistency: Ensures that similar cases are decided in a consistent manner.

Role of Precedents: 

    • Judicial Reference: Judges use precedents as references for making decisions in current cases with similar legal questions.
    • Predictability: Helps in predicting the outcomes of similar legal cases based on established rulings.

Obligation of Courts: 

    • Consideration: Courts are obligated to consider these precedents in their rulings.
    • Legal Consistency: Maintains consistency and predictability in the law by adhering to established rulings.

Legal System Efficiency: 

    • Operational Efficiency: These doctrines collectively ensure that the legal system operates efficiently.
    • Hierarchy Maintenance: Maintains consistency and hierarchy in judicial decisions, supporting a stable legal framework.

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Diadromous Fish


  • A recent study has raised concerns about the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in safeguarding the habitats of rare migratory fish species.


  • Diadromous fish are species that migrate between saltwater and freshwater environments.

Lifecycle Movement:

  • They move back and forth between the ocean and rivers or streams during different stages of their lives.

Diadromous Fish

Types of Diadromous Fish: 

    • Anadromous Fish: Born in freshwater, migrate to the ocean as juveniles to grow into adults, and return to freshwater to spawn.
    • Examples: Salmon, shad.
    • Catadromous Fish: Born in saltwater, move into freshwater as juveniles to mature into adults, and migrate back to the ocean to spawn.
    • Examples: Eels.
    • Amphidromous Fish: Born in freshwater or estuaries, drift into the ocean as larvae, and later return to freshwater to grow into adults and spawn.
    • Examples: Some species of gobies and snappers.
    • Potamodromous Fish: Born in upstream freshwater habitats, migrate downstream within freshwater as juveniles to grow into adults, and migrate back upstream to spawn.
    • Examples: Some species of trout and cyprinids.

Threats to Diadromous Fish:

    • Agricultural and Pollutant Runoffs: Contaminants from agriculture and other sources can harm their habitats.
    • Habitat Destruction: Dam construction and land development impact their migration routes.
    • Barriers to Migration: Dams, weirs, and other structures hinder their movement.
    • Fishing and Bycatch: Overfishing and accidental capture affect their populations.
    • Climate Change: Altered water temperatures and habitats impact their survival.

Spot Bellied Eagle Owl


  • Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR), Maharashtra is a good breeding ground for a little-known population of forest eagle owl (Bubo Nipalensis), also known as the spot-bellied eagle owl.

Spot Bellied Eagle Owl

Spot-Bellied Eagle-Owl (Ketupa nipalensis): 

    • The spot-bellied eagle-owl, also known as the forest eagle-owl, is a large bird of prey with a formidable appearance. 
  • Scientific Name: Ketupa nipalensis


    • Habitat: This species inhabits a variety of environments, including tropical and subtropical forests, woodlands, and savannas.
    • Geographical Range: It is primarily found in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Southeast Asia.

Physical Features: 

    • Size: The owl measures about 50 to 65 cm in length and weighs between 1500 to 1700 grams. Its wingspan can reach up to 1.7 meters.
    • Coloration: The upperparts of the owl’s body are a rich chocolate brown, speckled with white spots. The belly and breast are light cream-colored, covered in bold black spots, giving the owl its name.

Behavior and Ecology: 

    • Activity: Primarily nocturnal.
    • Diet: As an apex predator, it feeds on a variety of prey, including rodents, small mammals, reptiles, and insects.
    • Social Structure: It is a solitary bird that is territorial and maintains a home range.

Conservation Status: 

    • IUCN Status: Least Concern
    • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule IV
    • CITES: Appendix II

Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR): 

    • Definition: It is an interstate tiger reserve spanning across Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
    • Madhya Pradesh Portion: Located in the Satpura ranges.
    • Naming: The reserve is named after the Pench river that flows through it.
    • Components: The reserve comprises the Indira Priyadarshini Pench National Park, the Pench Mowgli Sanctuary and a buffer.
    • Important Bird Areas (IBA):The Pench Tiger reserve is also among the sites notified as Important Bird Areas (IBA) of India.
    • Flora: Southern dry broadleaf teak forests, tropical mixed deciduous forests, shrubs, climbers , bamboo plantations.
    • Fauna: Mammals such as sloth bear, jackal, nilgai, wild dog etc. Birds like peafowl, magpie robin, pintail, drongo, unia, myna etc. 
    • Note: Recently, the Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Maharashtra has been marked as India’s first international Dark Sky Park.

Sunkoshi River


  • River Sunkoshi cleanup in Nepal has removed 24,575 kg of plastic in 36 hours.


  • Sunkoshi River is known as the “river of gold,”.


  • The Sunkoshi is located in Nepal and it is part of the Koshi or Saptkoshi River system.


  • One of the longest and most rafted rivers in Nepal.


    • Origin: The Sunkoshi originates from the Zhangzangbo Glacier in Tibet.
    • Confluence: It merges with the Saptkoshi River.
    • Flow Path: It eventually joins the Ganga (Ganges) in the Katihar district of Bihar, India.
    • Drainage: Drains into the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh. 

Koshi River:

    • Transboundary River: It flows through China, Nepal, and India.
    • Tributary of the Ganges: It serves as a prominent tributary of the Ganges.
    • Nickname: Known as “the sorrow of Bihar” due to its history of flooding and frequent course changes as it flows from Nepal to Bihar.
    • Origin: Originates from the Tibetan Plateau and crosses the Himalayas.
    • Flow Path: Flows through the Mahabharat range and Siwalik hills, reaching the plains of eastern Nepal and finally meeting the Ganges in Bihar, India.
    • Drainage Area: Drains an area of 74,500 sq.km, with only 11,070 sq.km lying within Indian Territory. The Koshi River system drains about 45% of Nepal.
    • Boundaries: The Koshi River valley is bounded by steep margins, disconnecting it from other rivers such as the Yarlung Zangbo River, Mahananda River, Gandaki, and Ganga. 
    • Course Changes: Known for its tendency to change course, often flowing westward. Over the last 200 years, Kosi has shifted westwards by approximately 112 km, causing significant changes to agricultural land.
    • Tributaries: The Koshi River has seven major tributaries:
      • Sun Koshi
      • Tama Koshi (or Tamba Koshi)
      • Dudh Koshi
      • Indravati
      • Likhu
      • Arun
      • Tamore (or Tamar)

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Direct Seeded Rice (DSR)


  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has commercialized herbicide-tolerant (Ht) basmati rice varieties, which promotes water-saving direct seeded rice (DSR).


  • Direct seeding is a crop establishment system wherein rice seeds are sown directly into the field, as opposed to the traditional method of growing seedlings in a nursery, then transplanting into flooded fields.


    • Faster Planting and Maturing: DSR delivers faster planting and maturing compared to conventional puddled transplanted rice (PTR) methods.
    • Resource Conservation: DSR conserves scarce resources like water and labor, making it more sustainable.
    • Cost-Effectiveness: DSR is economically viable as it reduces the need for labor and water resources.
    • Conducive to Mechanization: DSR is more conducive to mechanization, reducing labor requirements and costs.
    • Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions: DSR reduces emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
    • Sustainable Agriculture: It promotes sustainable agricultural practices by minimizing resource use and environmental impact.
    • Employment Opportunities: Mechanized DSR creates avenues for employment through new service provisions.
    • Attractive to Youth and Women Farmers: DSR is less labor-intensive and free from drudgery, making it more attractive to youth and women farmers.

Herbicide-Tolerant Basmati Rice: 

    • Non-GM Varieties: ICAR has commercialized non-genetically modified (non-GM) Ht basmati rice: Pusa Basmati 1979 and Pusa Basmati 1985.
        • Pusa Basmati 1979 and 1985 were made after cross breeding existing popular varieties —Pusa 1509 and Pusa 1121 with ‘Robin’ derived from a doubt-tolerant rice variety.
    • Herbicide Application: Both the varieties contain a mutated acetolactate synthase (ALS) gene helping farmers to spray Imazethapyr, a broad-spectrum herbicide, to control weeds.



  • Living stromatolites, ancient algae-made structures, were found on Sheybarah Island in the Red Sea off Saudi Arabia’s northeastern coast.


  • Greek for ‘layered rock’, these are microbial reefs created by cyanobacteria (formerly known as blue-green algae).

Formation Mechanism:

  • Stromatolites form through the entrapment and cementation of sediment particles by cyanobacterial biofilms, resulting in the accumulation of successive layers over time.


Morphological Characteristics:

  • They typically display alternating light and dark layers and exhibit various shapes such as flat, hummocky, or domed structures.

Geological Timeline:

  • Stromatolites were prevalent during the Precambrian era, exceeding 542 million years in antiquity, and persisted through the Proterozoic epoch, which dates back over 2.5 billion years.

Habitat Diversity:

  • While predominantly found in marine environments, stromatolites have also adapted to intertidal zones and freshwater habitats.

Contemporary Distribution:

  • Their existence today is limited to select saline lagoons and bays worldwide, with Western Australia, particularly Shark Bay, being significant locations.

Paleontological Significance:

  • Stromatolites serve as invaluable repositories of ancient biotic records, with fossilized remains dating back more than 3.5 billion years, providing insight into Earth’s evolutionary history.


    • Contribution to Atmospheric Evolution: Stromatolites played a crucial role in the Great Oxygenation Event over 2 billion years ago by producing oxygen through cyanobacterial photosynthesis, shifting Earth’s atmosphere from carbon dioxide-rich to oxygen-rich.
    • Atmospheric Transition: This change facilitated the evolution of eukaryotic cells, marked by the presence of nuclei, representing a pivotal step in life’s development on Earth.


    •  They, also known as blue-green algae, are microscopic organisms naturally found in various water bodies.
    • They exist in freshwater, brackish (combined salt and freshwater), and marine environments.
    • They are prokaryotic, meaning they lack a membrane-bound nucleus, which is a fundamental feature of a prokaryote.
    • Cyanobacteria are Photoautotrophs i.e. they utilize sunlight to produce their own food through photosynthesis.
    • In warm and nutrient-rich conditions, particularly high in phosphorus and nitrogen, cyanobacteria can undergo rapid multiplication. 
    • This proliferation leads to the formation of blooms, spreading across the surface of the water.
    • Cyanobacteria are characterized by the presence of pigments that account for their color. In fact, they got their name ‘Cyanobacteria’ from their color, cyan (which is greenish blue).

Preston Curve


  • The term Preston Curve was recently in the news.


  • The Preston curve refers to a certain empirical relationship that is witnessed between life expectancy and per capita income in a country.


  • It was first proposed by American sociologist Samuel H. Preston in his 1975 paper “The changing relation between mortality and level of economic development”. 

Key Findings:

  • Preston found that people living in richer countries generally had longer life spans when compared with people living in poorer countries. 
  • This is likely because people in wealthier countries have better access to healthcare, are better educated, live in cleaner surroundings, enjoy better nutrition, etc.

Initial Growth and Impact: 

  • When a poor country begins to grow, its per capita income rises and causes a significant increase in life expectancy initially as people are able to consume more than just subsistence calories, enjoy better healthcare, etc.
  • Example: India
  • For example, the average per capita income of Indians rose from around ₹9,000 per year in 1947 to around ₹55,000 per year in 2011.
  •  During the same period, the average life expectancy of Indians rose from a mere 32 years to over 66 years.

Preston Curve

Diminishing Returns:

  • However, the positive relationship between per capita income and life expectancy begins to flatten out after a certain point. 
  • An increase in the per capita income of a country does not cause much of a rise in the life expectancy of its population beyond a point as human life span cannot be increased indefinitely.

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)


  • The total investment by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) has exceeded Rs 2.5 trillion in 7 years.  

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs): 

  • An ETF, or exchange traded fund, is a marketable security that tracks an index, a commodity, bonds, or a basket of assets like an index fund.
  •  Unlike regular mutual funds, an ETF trades like a common stock on a stock exchange. 
  • The traded price of an ETF changes throughout the day like any other stock, as it is bought and sold on the stock exchange.
  •  The trading value of an ETF is based on the net asset value of the underlying stocks that an ETF represents.
  •  ETFs typically have higher daily liquidity and lower fees than mutual fund schemes, making them an attractive alternative for individual investors. 
  • ETFs are considered to be more tax efficient compared to other mutual fund schemes. 
  • There are mainly five types of ETFs – equity ETF, bonds ETF, commodity ETF, international ETF and sectoral/thematic ETF.

Benefits of ETFs: 

  • Diversification: ETFs offer instant exposure to a diversified set of underlying assets, mitigating portfolio risk by spreading investments across various sectors and industries.
  • Cost Efficiency: ETFs typically have lower expense ratios than actively managed mutual funds, resulting in enhanced long-term returns for investors due to passive tracking of an index.
  • Transparency: Most ETFs disclose their holdings daily, providing complete transparency and empowering investors to align their investments with their objectives and risk tolerance.
  • Liquidity: ETFs are actively traded on stock exchanges throughout the day, allowing for convenient buying and selling at prevailing market prices, offering increased flexibility compared to mutual funds.
  • Tax Efficiency: ETFs often present tax benefits due to their in-kind creation and redemption process, potentially reducing capital gains distributions and optimizing returns.
  • Accessibility: A diverse array of ETFs spanning various asset classes, sectors, and themes allows for customization of portfolios according to specific investment objectives and risk preferences, making ETFs accessible to a broad spectrum of investors.
  • Minimal Investment: Many ETFs have modest minimum investment requirements, enabling accessibility for investors with smaller capital bases, facilitating gradual portfolio construction and market engagement even with limited funds.

Limitations of ETFs: 

  • Reduced Potential for Returns: ETFs may not outperform the market significantly over the long term due to their passive tracking of an index, potentially limiting potential returns compared to actively managed funds.
  • Short-Term Price Fluctuations: ETF values can fluctuate throughout the day in response to market shifts, leading to increased short-term volatility compared to more stable investments.
  • Tracking Discrepancy: Some ETFs may not precisely mirror their underlying index, resulting in slight variances in performance, which could affect overall returns.
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