9 May | UPSC Current Affairs | Vallabhacharya, Lightning, Biofuel Alliance & More

GS Paper 1


News: The 545th birth anniversary of Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya has been recently celebrated.

Early Life:

  • Vallabhacharya was born into a Brahmin family in Champaran, which is now located in the Raipur district of Chhattisgarh.
  • His birth anniversary is observed in India on Krishna Paksha Ekadashi of the Vaishakha month of the Hindu calendar as Vallabhacharya Jayanti.

Early Life

Role in the Bhakti Movement:

  • He emerged as one of the pioneers of the Bhakti movement.
  • He was a contemporary of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, contributing significantly to the revival of devotional practices in Hinduism.

Founding Pushtimarg Sect:

  • Vallabhacharya established the Krishna-centered Pushtimarg sect, which translates to “the path towards grace,” within the Vaishnavism tradition.
  • He propagated the philosophy of Shuddhadvaita.

Philosophical Tenets:

  • Pushtimarga Emphasis: Within Pushtimarg, Vallabhacharya emphasized Bhakti, or devotional love and surrender, as the primary means for devotees to attain salvation, focusing on devotion to Lord Krishna.
  • Shuddhadvaita Philosophy: Vallabhacharya’s philosophy of Shuddhadvaita posits pure non-dualis.
  • It asserts that the individual soul (atman) is not distinct from the supreme reality (Brahman) but is rather a part of it.
  • Unlike Advaita philosophy by Shankaracharya, it rejects the concept of maya (illusion).

Literary Contributions: Vallabhacharya’s significant literary works include

  • Anubhashya on Brahma Sutra,
  • Subhodhini Vyakhya of Bhagavat,
  • Siddhanta-Rahsya,
  • Bhagavat Leela Rahasya,
  • Ekanta-Rahsya,

Catatumbo Lightning

News: Catatumbo lightning emerges from the convergence of multiple factors, creating the distinct conditions necessary for its occurrence.

Definition: “Catatumbo lightning” is a natural phenomenon specific to the Catatumbo River area at Lake Maracaibo in Venzuela.

  • It is named after the Catatumbo River that feeds into the lake.

Location: It occurs over the mouth of the Catatumbo River where it empties into Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. This area is called as “the lightning capital of the world”.



  • Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela is the largest lake in Latin America.
  • It is also among the oldest water bodies on the planet.
  • Its proximity to the Andes Mountains and the Caribbean Sea creates a unique geographical setup that plays a crucial role in the frequency of lightning in the region.

Frequency and Duration: Catatumbo lightning is renowned for its remarkable frequency and duration, with occurrences spanning up to 160 nights annually.

Mechanism of Lightning:

  • Catatumbo lightning materializes when warm, moisture-laden air originating from the Caribbean Sea converges with cooler air descending from the Andes mountains.
  • This collision of air masses generates towering cumulonimbus clouds, setting the stage for the electrifying display.
  • Within these big clouds, vigorous winds and temperature differentials provoke the accumulation of electrical charges.
  • When the electrical potential reaches a critical threshold, the stored energy discharges in the form of awe-inspiring lightning bolts.

8 May | UPSC Current Affairs | GS 3: Hopen Island, Drones, Carbon Farming & More

GS Paper 2

Global Biofuel Alliance

News: The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has announced that the Global Biofuel Alliance (GBA) has launched a work plan.

Definition: The Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA) is a multi-stake holder alliance of Governments, International Organizations and Industries.

Launch: GBA was launched on the sidelines of the 2023 G20 summit in New Delhi,


  • The alliance is aimed at facilitating international cooperation and intensifying the use of sustainable biofuels.
  • It also seeks to facilitate global biofuels trade and technical support for national biofuel programmes.

Members Nations:

  • The GBA was spearheaded by India, the United States, and Brazil.
  • 9 initiating members–India, the US, Brazil, Argentina, Bangladesh, Italy, Mauritius, South Africa, and the UAE.
  • Observer countries: Canada and Singapore.

International Organisations:

  • World Bank, Asian Development Bank, World Economic Forum, International Energy Agency, International Energy Forum, International Renewable Energy Agency, and International Civil Aviation Organization have agreed to join the alliance.

Functions: GBA aims to increase biofuel usage by:

  • Facilitating capacity-building exercises along the biofuel value chain.
  • Providing technical support for national biofuel programs.
  • Promoting sharing of policy lessons.
  • Advancing biofuel technology.
  • Encouraging wider stakeholder participation to enhance the use of sustainable biofuels.

Importance for India:

  • The alliance will focus on collaboration and will provide additional opportunities to Indian industries in the form of exporting technology and equipment.
  • It will also help accelerate India’s existing biofuels programs such as PM-JIVAN Yojna, SATAT, and GOBARdhan scheme, thereby contributing to increased farmers’ income.
  • It will also help in creating jobs and overall development of the Indian ecosystem.


  • Definition: Biofuel is a renewable energy source that is derived from plant, algal, or animal biomass.
  • Most biofuels are used as transportation fuels, but they may also be used for heating and electricity generation.
  • Global Growth Projection: The International Energy Agency anticipates a remarkable surge in biofuel production by 2050, estimating a 3.5-5 times increase, primarily fueled by global Net-Zero objectives.
  • India’s Contribution to Biofuel Procurement:
  • In 2022, worldwide biofuel procurement soared to a record-breaking 171.2 billion liters, with India’s share standing at a modest 2.7%, equivalent to 4.6 billion liters.
  • Despite this, India maintains its status as the third-largest ethanol producer globally, trailing behind only the United States (US) and Brazil in production volume.

GS Paper 3

India VIX (Volatility Index)

News: India VIX has surged to a 15-month

Volatility Index:

  • The Volatility Index measures the market’s anticipation of volatility in the near term.
  • During moments of market volatility, the market typically moves sharply up or down, and the VIX tends to climb.
  • VIX falls as volatility falls.
  • VIX is not the same as a price index like the NIFTY.
  • The price index is calculated by taking the price movement of the underlying equities into account.
  • The Volatility Index is calculated as an annualized percentage using the order book of the underlying index options.

India VIX:

  • India VIX reflects investors’ perceptions of market volatility in the near term, i.e. it portrays market volatility over the next 30 calendar days.
  • The higher the India VIX number, the greater the predicted volatility, and vice versa.
  • The India VIX is calculated by the NSE from the order book of NIFTY options.
  • India VIX mirrors the state of risk among investors.
  • When the India VIX is high, the market expects considerable shifts, indicating a volatile time.
  • However, if the India VIX is low, it signifies that the market is anticipating minute changes.

FWD 200B

News: India’s First Indigenous Bomber UAV has been unveiled in Bengaluru.

Definition: It is India’s first indigenous bomber UAV aircraft.

Manufacture: FWD-200B is developed by Flying Wedge Defence, one of the pioneers in India’s defence and aerospace technology sector.

FWD 200B


  • To position India as a global drone manufacturing and technology hub.
  • Equipping India with the right air defence resources and enhancing national security.


  • It is classified as a MALE Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (medium-altitude, long-endurance).
  • FWD-200B is equipped with optical surveillance payloads and integrated with precision air strike capabilities resembling missile-like weapons.
  • It has a payload capacity of 100 kgs.
  • It operates at a maximum speed of 200 knots (370 kmph) and can stay in the air for 12 to 20 hours straight.


  • FWD-200B will reduce India’s reliance on costly bomber unmanned aircraft imports and boost the Make in India initiative.

Child Labour in India: Magnitude, Causes, Impacts and Solutions | UPSC


News: Researchers have developed Goldene, a single-atom-thick sheet of gold, opening new avenues in nanotechnology.


  • Goldene:
    • Goldene marks the pioneering achievement as the first free-standing 2D metal.
    • It is a mere one atom thick, approximately 100 nanometers thin—about 400 times slimmer than the thinnest commercially available gold leaf.
  • Applications:
    • Electronics Industry: Goldene’s ultrathin nature promises transformative applications in the electronics industry, enabling the development of next-generation electronic devices with enhanced performance and miniaturization.
    • Catalysis and Energy Production: Goldene holds potential in catalytic processes for carbon dioxide conversion, hydrogen production, and water purification, offering efficient and sustainable solutions for addressing environmental and energy challenges.

Sahyadri Tiger Reserve

News: Maharashtra will translocate tigers to Sahyadri reserve.

Location: The Sahyadri Tiger Reserve is located in the Sahyadri Ranges of Western Ghats in Maharashtra.


  • Established through the amalgamation of the Chandoli National Park and Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary, the reserve was notified to safeguard its rich biodiversity.

Distinctive Landscapes:

  • A prominent feature of the reserve is its abundance of barren rocky and lateritic plateaus, locally referred to as “Sadas,” contributing to its unique topography.


  • The reserve has moist evergreen, semi-evergreen, and moist and dry deciduous vegetation, providing habitats for diverse flora and fauna.

Faunal Diversity:

  • Tigers, leopards, and various lesser cats, alongside predators like wolves, jackals, and wild dogs.

Provision For Translocation:

  • Tranquilisation of tigers for translocation is granted under Section 12 of the Wildlife Protection Act. It allows tranquillisation for the following purposes:
  • Education, scientific research & scientific management, including translocation to an alternative suitable habitat and population management without killing or poisoning any wild animals;
  • Collection of specimens for recognised zoos or museums and similar institutions;
  • Derivation, collection or preparation of snake venom for the manufacture of life-saving drugs.
  • Prior permission for translocation is required from the Central Government for Schedule I animals and from the State Government for any other wild animal.

Other Tiger Reserves in Maharashtra: Maharashtra is also home to other tiger reserves:

  • Melghat Tiger Reserve,
  • Bor Tiger Reserve,
  • Nawegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve,
  • Pench Tiger Reserve,
  • Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve,

Widal Test

News: In India, healthcare providers widely employ the Widal test to diagnose typhoid fever, utilized across both public and private healthcare sectors.

Definition: The Widal blood test is used to diagnose typhoid fever (enteric fever).

  • As with other infections, our immune system produces antibodies in the blood against the bacteria, causing enteric fever.
  • The Widal test rapidly detects and quantifies these antibodies.
  • It’s a point-of-care test and doesn’t need special skills or infrastructure.

⮚ Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection that is caused by is caused by Salmonella typhiand other related bacteria.

⮚ Typhoid spreads through contaminated food and water.

⮚ Its symptoms are high fever, stomach pain, weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation, and a rash.

⮚ Some people, called carriers, may remain symptom-free and shed the bacteria in their stool for several months to years.

⮚ The subsequent treatment usually consists of tablets, typically in urban areas, or injections in rural ones.

⮚ As per the World Health Organisation, 90 lakh people are diagnosed worldwide with typhoid every year and 1.1 lakh die of it.

Why is the Widal Test Inappropriate for Testing Typhoid in India?

  • Single Test Insufficiency:
  • A single positive Widal test result doesn’t definitively diagnose typhoid, while a negative result doesn’t rule it out.
  • Confirming an active infection requires testing at least two serum samples taken 7-14 days apart, but this is often impractical.
  • Baseline Antibody Levels:
  • In regions with high and sustained typhoid prevalence, baseline levels of antibodies against the bacteria may already be present in the blood.
  • Without knowing these baseline levels, accurately interpreting the test is challenging, especially considering different cut-off values specified by various test kit manufacturers.
  • Cross-Reactivity and False Results:
  • Reagents used in the Widal test can cross-react with antibodies from infections caused by other pathogens or in individuals vaccinated against typhoid, potentially leading to false positives.
  • Additionally, prior antibiotic therapy can influence antibody levels, resulting in false negatives.
  • Erroneous Test Results Impacting Burden Assessment:
  • The Widal test’s tendency to produce inaccurate results obscures the true burden of typhoid fever in India, hampering effective disease management and prevention efforts.
  • Issues Contributing to Test Inaccuracy:
  • A lack of awareness of the proper time at which to collect a blood sample, along with a lack of standardisation of kits and poor quality-control compound the problem.
  • High Cost of Testing and Treatment:
  • Each Widal test typically costs several hundred rupees, placing a financial strain on patients, particularly in resource-constrained settings.
  • Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Concerns:
  • The irrational use of antibiotics is a major cause of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
  • Some strains of Salmonella are also resistant to multiple drugs.
  • Continued irrational use of the Widal test, which facilitates unnecessary use of antibiotics, will make it more difficult to control this preventable disease.

Way Forward:

  • Efforts should be directed towards developing superior point-of-care tests to replace the Widal test, enhancing accuracy and reliability in diagnosing typhoid fever.
  • Prioritizing measures to guarantee adequate and safe food and water supplies, along with functional sanitation systems.
  • Adopting a ‘hub and spoke’ model in healthcare delivery can optimize resources, with peripheral sites collecting samples and district hospitals and medical colleges serving as hubs for sample processing.
      • These facilities can also double as research centers to generate regional prevalence and susceptibility data.
  • The Indian Council for Medical Research should continue to publish annual reports highlighting typhoid bacteria’s resistance patterns, aiding in informed decision-making for treatment protocols.
  • Efforts should be made to increase sample testing coverage and reporting to provide comprehensive susceptibility data across different regions.
  • Given the presence of symptom-free carriers, continuous environmental surveillance and data-sharing are imperative to effectively monitor and mitigate the spread of typhoid fever.


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