UPSC Daily News Analysis: Geography, Bribery, Science And More

GS Paper 1

Great Lakes of North America: Location and Geography

Context: The five famous lakes of North America—Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario—have recorded significantly below average ice cover for the second consecutive year in a row.

Great Lakes of North America - Location and Geography


·         Prelims: Locations on Map

·         Mains: Distribution of Key Natural Resources across the world


  • Scientists suggest that global warming was largely responsible for the lack of ice this year, when El Nino has been declared since the middle of last year.
  • El Nino is an abnormal warming of water in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean every three to five years and can last up to 18 months.
  • An El Nino year creates a miniature global-warming crisis, since the warm water spreading across the tropical Pacific releases a large amount of heat into the atmosphere.
  • 2023 was declared as the hottest year on record and January 2024 the hottest January on record, largely because of El Nino.

Great Lakes

  • The Great Lakes are a chain of interconnected freshwater lakes in east-central North America comprising the lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario.
  • The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater ecosystem on Earth. But according to the Fifth National Climate Assessment, they are also among the fastest-warming lakes in the world.
  • The present configuration of the Great Lakes basin is the result of the movement of massive glaciers through North America, a process that began about one million years ago during the Pleistocene Epoch.
  • The Great Lakes receive their water supply from precipitation.
  • The Great Lakes modify the climate of the surrounding region by absorbing a large quantity of heat in the warmer months, which is then lost to the atmosphere during the colder months.
  • This causes cooler summers and warmer winters than would otherwise occur in the region.
Important Features of the Lakes
  • Lake Superior is the largest of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is also one of the world’s largest bodies of fresh water.
  • Lake Superior is also the world’s second largest lake after the Caspian Sea and the world’s largest freshwater lake by area. It is also North America’s largest lake.
  • Lake Huron is the second largest of the Great Lakes. Lake Ontario is the smallest of the great lakes by area and Lake Erie is the southernmost of the five lakes.
  • Lake Michigan is the third largest lake of the Great lakes by area and second by volume. It is the only lake that is entirely in the US; the other four are cross-border lakes.
  • Lake Ontario is the outlet of the Great Lakes chains and connects to the Atlantic Ocean through Saint Lawrence River.
  • The Great Lakes in the decreasing order of their surface areas are: Lake Superior > Lake Huron > Lake Michigan > Lake Erie > Lake Ontario.
  • The Great Lakes in the decreasing order of their surface volume are: Lake Superior > Lake Michigan > Lake Huron > Lake Ontario > Lake Erie.

GS Paper 2

SC Ends immunity for legislators taking bribes

  • Context: A seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court declared that parliamentary privilege or immunity will not protect legislators who take bribes to vote or speak in Parliament or State Legislative Assemblies from criminal prosecution.

·         Prelims: Judiciary

·         Mains: Powers and Functions of the Supreme Court


  • The unanimous verdict overruled a 25-year-old majority view of the Supreme Court, laid down in the JMM bribery case judgment of 1998, that lawmakers who took bribes were immune from prosecution for corruption if they go ahead and vote or speak in the House as agreed.
  • After this latest judgment, the legislator will face criminal prosecution whether or not he makes a speech or votes in favour of the bribe-giver.
  • The offence of bribery is complete on the acceptance of the money or on the agreement to accept money being concluded.
  • The Chief Justice of India reasoned that the freedom of speech and expression, which include voting in the House, and attendant immunities granted to legislators under Articles 105 and 194 did not extend to giving or taking bribes.

Twofold Test

  • The SC said that the shield of immunity or parliamentary privilege could be claimed in two circumstances.
  • One, if the actions of a legislator were meant to enhance the dignity and authority of the House and its members as a collective body.
  • Secondly, if they were in the exercise of his rights to free speech, protest and freedom from arrest, among others.
  • The reference came in an appeal filed by JMM leader Sita Soren, who was accused of taking a bribe to vote for a particular candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections of 2012.
  • Though she later denied culpability on the ground that she voted for the official nominee of her own party, the CBI had filed a chargesheet in the case.

GS Paper 3

Dry Ice: Meaning and Characteristics

Context: Dry ice was mistakenly offered to a party of diners at a Gurugram restaurant and subsequently caused them to vomit blood.

Dry Ice - Meaning and Characteristics


·         Prelims: Science and Technology

·         Mains: Science and Technology – Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.


  • Dry ice is carbon dioxide in its solid form. It is a dense, snowlike substance that sublimes (passes directly into the vapour without melting) at −78.5 °C.
  • When it is not being used to fog up rock concerts, it’s often used to keep perishables cool during shipping or when mechanical cooling is not available.
  • Dry ice is considered a lethal substance. It must never be touched, even with ‘bare hands’, let alone ingested.
  • Both liquid nitrogen and dry ice can cause severe damage to skin and internal organs if mishandled or accidently ingested due to the extremely low temperatures they can maintain. 
  • Dry ice should never be kept or stored or transported in a closed environment which may lead to breathlessness due to carbon dioxide gas emission.
Do you know?
  • Naturally occurring dry ice is found in abundance on a number of celestial bodies in our solar system, including Mars and several of the moons of Uranus and Neptune.

National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC)

Context: India’s first centre for research on conserving the endangered Gangetic river dolphin, National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC), has been established in Patna.

National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC)


·         Prelims: Biodiversity

·         Mains: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation


  • The Gangetic river dolphin is India’s national aquatic animal.
  • It is a Schedule I animal under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • It has been declared an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  • The Gangetic river dolphin is one of four freshwater dolphin species in the world.
  • The other three are found in the Yangtze river in China (now extinct), the Indus river in Pakistan and the Amazon river in South America.
  • The dolphin is found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. It is blind and finds its way and prey in river waters through echolocation.
  • Bihar is home to around half of the estimated 3,000 Gangetic dolphins in India.
  • Dolphins prefer water that is at least five to eight feet deep. If they sense danger, they can dive into deep waters.
  • They are usually found in turbulent waters, where there are enough fish for them to feed on.
  • Gangetic dolphins live in a zone where there is little or no current, helping them save energy.

Facts for Prelims

European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

European Free Trade Association

  • India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries are negotiating a free trade agreement.
  • The EFTA countries include Switzerland, Finland, Norway and Leichtenstein.
  • The proposed free trade agreement comes with a commitment of $100-billion investments from the four-country bloc into India over the next 15 years generating an estimated 1 million jobs.
  • This is the first FTA for India where it has been able to get a commitment on investment and employment from the partner nations.

ADITI Scheme 

  • The Defence Minister of India launched the Acing Development of Innovative Technologies with iDEX (ADITI) schemeto promote innovations in critical and strategic defence technologies.
  • Under the scheme, start-ups are eligible to receive grant-in-aid of up to Rs 25 crore for their research, development, and innovation endeavours in defence technology.
  • The ADITI scheme worth Rs 750 crore for the period 2023-24 to 2025-26 falls under the iDEX (Innovations for Defence Excellence) framework of Department of Defence Production (DDP), Ministry of Defence.
  • The Scheme aims to develop about 30 deep-tech critical and strategic technologies in the proposed timeframe.
  • It also envisages to create a ‘Technology Watch Tool’ to bridge the gap between the expectations and requirements of the modern Armed Forces and the capabilities of the defence innovation ecosystem.

Project Seabird

  • It is the largest naval infrastructure project for India which involves creation of a naval base at Karwar (in Karnataka) on the west coast of India.
  • Upon completion, this $3 billion project will provide the Indian Navy with its largest naval base on the west coast and also the largest naval base east of the Suez Canal.
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