18 May 2024: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

18 May 2024 CNA
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A. GS 1 Related
B. GS 2 Related
1. Why delay in uploading turnout data, SC asks EC
1. Spain blocks arms ship from Chennai to Israel
C. GS 3 Related
D. GS 4 Related
E. Editorials
1. Stay invested
F. Prelims Facts
1. Nepal latest to ban Indian spice brands over safety concerns
2. Nearly 6 million trees disappeared from farmlands: study
3. Archaeologist finds first evidence of rock art in form of 
footprints in Mangaluru city
G. Tidbits
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
FIP Magazine


1. Spain blocks arms ship from Chennai to Israel

Syllabus: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s Interests

Mains: Israel – India Relations


  • Spain has refused entry to the Denmark-flagged cargo ship Marianne Danica, which was transporting arms from Chennai to Israel.
  • This decision aligns with Spain’s critical stance on the Israeli offensive in Gaza and its recent suspension of arms export licenses to Israel.

Incident Overview

  • Ship and Cargo Details: The Marianne Danica departed from Chennai on April 8, carrying 27 tonnes of explosives and was scheduled to make a port call at Cartagena, Spain, en route to Haifa, Israel.
  • Spanish Stance: Spain’s Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares emphasized the decision as part of a consistent policy to reject any ship carrying arms to Israel from docking at Spanish ports.

Context and Reactions

  • Humanitarian Concerns: Spain and Belgium have suspended arms export licenses to Israel due to the increasing civilian casualties in Gaza.
  • International Response: Amnesty International Spain welcomed the decision, highlighting the adherence to the Arms Trade Treaty and Spanish law.
  • Indian Response: The Ministry of External Affairs of India acknowledged the report and indicated that further investigations would clarify the nature of the cargo and its intended recipient.


Humanitarian Impact

  • Civilian Casualties: Rising civilian deaths in Gaza have prompted countries like Spain and Belgium to reconsider their arms export policies to Israel.
  • Displacement: The ongoing Israeli ground offensive has led to significant displacement of Palestinians, with the UNRWA reporting at least 630,000 people forced out of Rafah since May 7.

Legal and Diplomatic Concerns

  • Arms Export Regulations: Compliance with international treaties like the Arms Trade Treaty and national laws regarding arms exports is a crucial consideration.
  • Bilateral Relations: The decision could impact diplomatic relations between the involved countries, particularly between Spain, India, and Israel.

Policy Consistency

  • Spain’s Firm Stance: This marks the first instance of Spain enforcing its policy to reject arms shipments to Israel, demonstrating a commitment to its stance on peace in the Middle East.
  • Global Precedent: Spain’s actions could set a precedent for other countries to adopt similar measures in response to humanitarian crises.

Ethical and Moral Responsibility

  • Advocating Peace: By refusing entry to arms shipments, Spain signals its support for peaceful resolutions over military escalations in conflict zones.
  • Humanitarian Advocacy: The decision underscores the importance of prioritizing humanitarian concerns in international policy decisions.


Enhanced Monitoring and Compliance

  • Stringent Inspections: Implement stricter inspection protocols for cargo ships at ports to ensure compliance with international and national arms export regulations.
  • Transparent Reporting: Encourage transparent reporting and documentation of arms shipments to avoid misuse and ensure accountability.

Diplomatic Engagement

  • Multilateral Dialogues: Promote multilateral dialogues involving all stakeholders to address underlying issues and work towards a peaceful resolution in conflict regions.
  • Humanitarian Aid: Increase humanitarian aid and support for displaced populations to mitigate the impact of conflicts and promote stability.

Nut Graf: Spain’s refusal to allow a ship carrying arms from Chennai to Israel to dock at its ports highlights a firm stance on prioritizing peace and humanitarian concerns over military engagements. This decision, aligned with Spain’s consistent policy, underscores the need for strict adherence to international arms trade regulations and promotes a precedent for ethical responsibility in international relations.

F. Prelims Facts

1. Nepal latest to ban Indian spice brands over safety concerns

Context: Nepal has recently banned the import and sale of two popular Indian spice brands, Everest and MDH, due to safety concerns over the presence of ethylene oxide, a carcinogenic pesticide. This move follows similar bans by Hong Kong and Singapore.


  • Ethylene Oxide Concerns: Ethylene oxide is a chemical used for sterilizing medical equipment and as a pesticide. It is recognized as a carcinogen, posing significant health risks.
  • International Actions: Prior to Nepal’s decision, Hong Kong and Singapore had already banned these Indian spice brands for the same safety reasons.

Details of the Ban

  • Brands Affected: Everest and MDH, two widely used Indian spice brands, are at the centre of this controversy.
  • Nature of Contamination: Tests revealed the presence of ethylene oxide in some of the spice products, leading to health and safety concerns.

Health Risks

  • Carcinogenic Effects: Ethylene oxide is a known carcinogen, raising concerns about long-term health impacts on consumers.
  • Public Safety: The presence of harmful substances in widely consumed food products poses a significant public health risk.

Regulatory and Compliance Challenges

  • Food Safety Standards: The bans highlight potential gaps in food safety standards and compliance in the production and export of spices.
  • International Trade Implications: Such bans can affect trade relations and the reputation of Indian spice brands in global markets.

2. Nearly 6 million trees disappeared from farmlands: study

Context: A recent study published in the journal Nature Sustainability highlights the alarming disappearance of nearly 5.8 million mature trees from India’s farmlands between 2019 and 2022.

Study Overview

  • Research Methodology: The study employed satellite imagery from RapidEye and PlanetScope, which have high resolutions of three to five meters, enabling the detection of individual large trees.
  • Time Frame: The analysis covered data from 2010 to 2022, focusing specifically on large trees in agricultural areas.
  • Comparison with FSI Data: The Forest Survey of India (FSI) reports an overall increase in tree cover from 2019 to 2021, but this study focuses on the number of individual large trees rather than overall acreage.

Key Findings

  • Loss of Mature Trees: An estimated 5.8 million large trees disappeared from farmlands between 2019 and 2022.
  • Historical Comparison: Approximately 11% of trees detected in 2010-2011 were no longer visible in 2018-2022.
  • Geographical Hotspots: Significant tree loss was documented in central India, particularly in Telangana and Maharashtra, with some areas losing up to 50% of their large trees.

Environmental Impact

  • Ecosystem Disruption: The loss of large trees affects local ecosystems, biodiversity, and microclimates on farmlands.
  • Carbon Sequestration: Mature trees play a crucial role in carbon sequestration, and their loss could impact efforts to mitigate climate change.

Agricultural Implications

  • Soil Health: Trees contribute to soil fertility and structure, and their removal can lead to soil degradation and erosion.
  • Farm Sustainability: The disappearance of trees can reduce the resilience of agricultural systems to climate variability and extreme weather events.

Conservation Awareness

  • Highlighting Overlooked Areas: The study draws attention to the often-overlooked aspect of tree cover loss in farmlands, which is critical given India’s extensive agricultural landscape.
  • Policy Implications: Findings could inform policy decisions regarding agroforestry practices and the protection of trees on agricultural lands.

Data and Methodology Advancement

  • Technological Utilization: Demonstrates the utility of high-resolution satellite imagery and machine learning in environmental monitoring.
  • Complementary Insights: Provides complementary insights to existing FSI data, which may help refine future forest and tree cover assessments.

3. Archaeologist finds first evidence of rock art in form of footprints in Mangaluru city

Context: The archaeological landscape of India is constantly evolving with new discoveries. Recently, a significant find was unearthed in Mangaluru city, Karnataka. An archaeologist identified the first documented evidence of rock art in the form of a pair of human footprints on a natural stone boulder.


  • Discovery: Professor Murugeshi T., an associate professor of ancient history and archaeology, made the discovery while visiting the site associated with the revered legend Babbu Swamy.
  • Details: The footprints are estimated to be around one foot in length and half an inch deep. While the exact age of the footprints is yet to be determined, Professor Murugeshi suggests they could date back to the first or second century AD.
  • Significance: This discovery holds immense value for understanding the lives and practices of the people who inhabited the region in the past. Rock art serves as a valuable window into their cultural expressions, beliefs, and artistic sensibilities.
  • Comparison: Professor Murugeshi also highlights the presence of over twenty human footprints discovered earlier at the Buddhanajeddu site in coastal Karnataka. These footprints, however, are smaller and believed to be from a later period. The Mangaluru footprints potentially represent a different era or cultural group.


  • Dating: Determining the exact age of the footprints will require further scientific analysis. This will provide a clearer picture of the timeline of human settlement in the region.
  • Interpretation: Understanding the meaning and purpose behind these footprints remains a challenge. Studying the context of the discovery and comparing it with other rock art forms can offer potential insights.

G. Tidbits

Nothing here for today!!!

H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions

Q1. Which of these articles of the Constitution of India mentions the provisions 
to safeguard and ensure the independent and impartial functioning of the 
Election Commission?
  1. Article 320
  2. Article 321
  3. Article 324
  4. Article 326

Answer: c

Explanation: Article 324 of the Constitution of India mentions the provisions to safeguard and ensure the independent and impartial functioning of the Election Commission.

Q2. Consider the following statements with respect to the International 
North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC):
  1. It is a multi-modal transportation route linking the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran and onward to northern Europe via St. Petersburg in Russia.
  2. Russia, India and Iran signed preliminary agreements to develop the INSTC in 2020.

Which of these statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: a

Explanation: Statement 2 is incorrect. Russia, India and Iran signed preliminary agreements to develop the INSTC in 2002.

Q3. ‘Haifa Port’ recently seen in the news is located in:
  1. Iran
  2. Israel
  3. Spain
  4. Egypt

Answer: b

Explanation: The Port of Haifa is located in northern Israel, adjacent to the city of Haifa along the Mediterranean Sea. It is also located on the busy Suez Canal shipping route.

Q4. Consider the following statements with respect to the Forest Survey of India (FSI):
  1. It is a national organisation responsible for the assessment and monitoring of the forest resources of India regularly.
  2. It functions under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  3. It is headquartered in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. 

How many of these statements is/are correct?

  1. One only
  2. ⁠Two only 
  3. ⁠All three
  4. ⁠None of the above 

Answer: b

Explanation: It functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. 

Q5. ‘Buddhanajeddu’ a rock art site, recently seen in the news is located in:
  1. Telangana
  2. ⁠Andhra Pradesh
  3. Tamil Nadu
  4. ⁠Karnataka

Answer: d

Explanation: Buddhanajeddu is a very important rock art site in coastal Karnataka discovered in 2009.


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