UPSC Daily Current Affairs – Prelims & Mains [15th July 2023]

Impact of Moon on Earth

Syllabus: Evolution of the Solar System and Earth

In News

India successfully sent its Chandrayaan 3 mission to the moon.

Formation of Earth and Moon

Approximately 4.5 billion years ago, the Earth and Moon were formed through a series of transformative events, which can be outlined as follows:

  • Accretion: During the early stages of the solar system, minute particles congregated and merged, giving rise to larger bodies known as planetesimals and eventually protoplanets.
  • Giant Impact: A protoplanet called Theia, approximately the size of Mars, collided with the young Earth, resulting in a colossal impact that ejected debris into space.
  • Formation of the Moon: The debris from the monumental collision began to orbit the Earth and gradually coalesced to form what we know as the Moon today.
  • Differentiation: As both the Earth and Moon took shape, a process of differentiation occurred. Materials separated based on their densities, causing heavier elements to sink towards the core, while lighter elements ascended towards the surface, thereby establishing distinct layers within each celestial body.
  • Lunar Evolution: Over time, the Moon cooled and solidified. It underwent volcanic activity and experienced significant impact events, giving rise to the creation of craters, basins, and other notable geological features like lunar maria.

The moon has had a profound impact on the evolution of life on Earth

  • Water on Earth: The collision of the planet ‘Theia’ with Earth, originating from the outer solar system, is believed to have brought substantial amounts of water to our planet.
  • Impact on Tectonic Plates: The gravitational pull of the Moon might have played a role in setting our tectonic plates in motion.
  • Impact of Moon’s Gravitational Pull: The Moon’s gravitational force aids in the transfer of heat from the equator to the poles, fundamentally influencing Earth’s climate.
  • Impact on Earth’s Rotation: Additionally, the Moon contributes to stabilizing Earth’s rotation on its axis by gradually slowing it down.
  • Stabilizing Earth’s Climate: The presence of the Moon significantly contributes to stabilizing Earth’s axial tilt and climate. This stability has been crucial for the development of seasons, profoundly influencing the distribution of water and the evolution of life.
  • Regulating Earth’s Climate: The Moon’s presence continues to play a vital role in stabilizing Earth’s climate, facilitating heat transport and regulating its rotational motion.
  • Impact of Tides: The regular ebb and flow of water at the ocean’s edge could have encouraged life to adapt and transition from the oceans to land.
  • Influence on Biological Cycles: Lunar cycles have a notable impact on the reproductive cycles of marine life and other animal behaviors. For instance, the laying and hatching of turtles’ eggs depend on the timings of tides.
  • Moonlight’s Effects: Moonlight affects the behavior of nocturnal animals and triggers species-wide reproduction, as observed in corals, for example.


The Moon holds great significance for humanity, both in terms of geological exploration and space exploration. India’s Chandrayaan 3 mission represents a crucial step in this direction, aiming to gain a deeper understanding of the Moon’s geology and its potential for benefiting humankind.

Prelims Questions

Tides occur in the oceans and seas due to which the following (UPSC 2015)

  1. The gravitational force of the Sun
  2. The gravitational force of the Moon
  3. The centrifugal force of the Earth

Select the correct answer using the codes given below.

  • (a) 1 only
  • (b) 2 and 3 only
  • (c) 1 and 3 only
  • (d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: C

Challenges posed by sand and dust storms

Syllabus: Geophysical phenomena/Climate/Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

In News

According to the UN, sand and dust storms (SDS) have increased dramatically in frequency and severity in recent years.

What is SDS?

SDS, or Sand and Dust Storms, are prevalent meteorological hazards commonly found in arid and semi-arid regions. They are typically triggered by thunderstorms and strong pressure gradients associated with cyclones, which intensify wind speeds over vast areas. These powerful winds lift substantial amounts of sand and dust from exposed, dry soils into the atmosphere, carrying them across distances ranging from hundreds to thousands of kilometers.


On weather/climate/environment:

  • The dust particles serve as condensation nuclei for cloud formation, influencing the quantity and distribution of precipitation.
  • Airborne dust acts similarly to the greenhouse effect, impacting the amount of energy reaching the Earth’s surface.
  • SDS events are recurring environmental phenomena that diminish air quality and visibility.

On human health:

  • Particles larger than 10 μm are unable to be inhaled and primarily affect external organs.
  • Particles smaller than 10 μm tend to get trapped in the nose, mouth, and upper respiratory tract, contributing to respiratory disorders like asthma.

On land and marine ecosystems:

  • Surface dust deposits serve as a source of micronutrients for both continental and maritime ecosystems. For instance, Saharan dust is believed to fertilize the Amazon rainforest.
  • However, dust also has numerous negative impacts on agriculture and food security, including:
    • Reduction of crop yields by burying seedlings.
    • Causing loss of plant tissue.
    • Decreasing photosynthetic activity.
    • Increasing soil erosion.

Primary hotspots of the dust storm are

  • Sahara Desert,
  • Middle East,
  • Taklamakan Desert in northwest China,
  • Southwest Asia,
  • Central Australia,
  • Etosha and Makgadikgadi basins of southern Africa,
  • Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia and
  • Great Basin in the US

Concerns raised by the UN

  • Approximately 2 million tonnes of sand and dust are introduced into the atmosphere each year. SDS commonly originate in dryland areas, which make up 41% of the Earth’s land surface and encompass some of the most delicate ecosystems, highly vulnerable to the effects of global climate change.
  • The frequency and intensity of SDS have been amplified by human-induced climate change. Consequently, the impact of SDS is experienced in all parts of the world, regardless of whether they are developed or developing countries.
  • The escalating strength and recurrence of SDS pose a significant obstacle in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • SDS are linked to at least 11 of 17 SDGs. These include –
    • SDG 1 on ending poverty,
    • SDG 2 on ending hunger,
    • SDG 3 on health for all,
    • SDG 6 on water and sanitation,
    • SDG 8 on inclusive and sustainable economic growth,
    • SDG 11 on sustainable cities,
    • SDG 13 on climate action and
    • SDG 15 focuses on combating desertification, land degradation.
  • The regions that will be particularly impacted by SDS are Africa and the Middle East, where desertification is most prevalent. Despite this, there is generally a lack of global recognition regarding SDS as a significant hazard.

Steps taken/needed

  • In 2015, the UN General Assembly acknowledged that SDS present a formidable challenge to the sustainable development of countries and regions affected by them.
  • On July 12, 2023, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) marked the inaugural International Day of Combating Sand and Dust Storms.
  • It is evident that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is closely linked to the efforts of reducing the frequency and impact of SDS in the affected areas.

Arresting land degradation

  • The policy and planning concerning SDS should aim to decrease societal vulnerability by addressing the impact of wind erosion. This calls for a multi-sectoral approach that involves sharing information, implementing both short and long-term interventions, engaging various stakeholders, and raising awareness about SDS.


Effectively dealing with SDS demands a comprehensive approach that encompasses sustainable land management, climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, and disaster risk reduction, which includes the establishment of early warning systems and international cooperation.

GSI survey of the Siachen

In News

In June 1958, an expedition to the Siachen glacier was conducted by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) under the leadership of V. K. Raina, an Indian geologist.

This particular survey holds great historical and geostrategic importance as it refutes the claim that Pakistan had control over the glacier from the very beginning.

Description of Siachen Glacier


Situated in the eastern Karakoram range of the Himalayas, the Siachen Glacier is positioned just northeast of the point NJ9842, which marks the end of the Line of Control between India and Pakistan. The Nubra Valley serves as the gateway to the strategically significant Siachen Glacier and Karakoram Pass.


  • The Siachen Glacier holds the distinction of being the world’s highest battlefield.
  • It is also the second-longest non-polar glacier globally, with only the Fedchenko Glacier in Tajikistan surpassing it in length.
  • Additionally, India has constructed the world’s highest helipad and telephone booth in this region.

Geopolitical Significance

Since 1984, the Siachen Glacier has remained a significant point of contention between India and Pakistan. The tension escalated when the Indian Army initiated Operation Meghdoot to assert control over the entire Siachen glacier.

Water Source

The melting waters of the Siachen Glacier nourish the Nubra River in the Indian region of Ladakh. The Nubra River, in turn, flows into the Shyok River, and eventually, the Shyok River converges with the Indus River.

Child Trafficking

In News

According to a recent joint report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Harvard University, it has been revealed that more than half of the child trafficking victims worldwide are subjected to trafficking within their own country.

What is Child Trafficking?

Child trafficking is a deeply troubling and unlawful practice that involves the illegal recruitment, transportation, and exploitation of children for various heinous purposes, including forced labor, sexual exploitation, and child marriage. This appalling violation of human rights poses a significant threat to the well-being and development of innocent children.

Key findings

The comprehensive report, which extensively analyzed data collected by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), brought to light several key findings:

  • Child trafficking victims come from diverse backgrounds and span across various age groups.
  • The most prevalent form of trafficking is forced labor, predominantly affecting boys, while sexual exploitation disproportionately impacts girls.
  • Recruiters, often with close connections to the victims, play a significant role in facilitating trafficking. They resort to false promises, abuse, and threats to control their victims.
  • In light of these distressing findings, the report also provides important recommendations to combat child trafficking effectively:


  • Special collaborative measures are advised to address trafficking in the context of climate change, environmental degradation, and disaster risk reduction.
  • Empowering affected communities is crucial in developing strategies to combat human trafficking and safeguard vulnerable children.
  • It is imperative for governments, organizations, and individuals worldwide to unite and take decisive action against child trafficking, ensuring that all children are protected from this abhorrent practice and given the opportunity to lead safe, dignified lives.

Constitutional Provision

  • Right against exploitation – Article 23 prohibits trafficking in human beings and forced labour. It guarantees the right of every person, including children, to be free from such exploitation.
  • Right to protection – Article 24 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 in hazardous occupations. It aims to safeguard children from physical, mental, and social abuse.
  • Right to education – Article 21A guarantees the right to free and compulsory education for children between the ages of 6 and 14. This provision helps prevent child trafficking by ensuring access to education and promoting child welfare.
  • Directive Principles of State Policy – Article 39 instructs the State to ensure that children are protected from exploitation and moral and material abandonment. It emphasizes the importance of providing opportunities for healthy development and protection of childhood.

Bedaquiline availability in poor countries

In News

Breakthrough Agreement: Global Drug Facility and Johnson & Johnson to Distribute Bedaquiline Generics


In a significant development, the nonprofit Global Drug Facility (GDF) has achieved a breakthrough agreement with pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson. This agreement aims to distribute generic versions of the life-saving anti-tuberculosis drug, bedaquiline, in numerous low and middle-income countries.

Understanding Tuberculosis (TB):

Tuberculosis is a contagious disease caused by bacteria that primarily affects the lungs but can also impact other parts of the body. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. TB remains a treatable but deadly infectious disease, resulting in approximately 1.5 million deaths annually worldwide. Bedaquiline, developed by Johnson & Johnson, has shown remarkable success in treating drug-resistant TB strains.

Significance of the Agreement:

The newly formed agreement holds immense significance for global TB control efforts. By collaborating with Johnson & Johnson, the Global Drug Facility will facilitate access to affordable versions of bedaquiline. Generic manufacturers based in India are expected to offer the drug at a substantially lower price, up to 80% cheaper. This affordability will enable greater accessibility to life-saving treatment for TB patients in low and middle-income countries.

The ultimate goal of the agreement is to accelerate the fight against TB and work towards its complete elimination by 2030. The initiation of the bedaquiline tender in the near future will mark a significant step forward in this ambitious endeavor, fostering hope for better health outcomes and reduced mortality rates associated with tuberculosis.

About Global Drug Facility (GDF):

The Global Drug Facility is a nonprofit organization that operates under the auspices of the UN-backed initiative, “The Stop TB Partnership.” Its primary objective is to ensure global access to quality-assured and affordable tuberculosis diagnostics and treatments. By collaborating with various stakeholders, the GDF plays a pivotal role in addressing the challenges posed by TB in resource-constrained settings.

About The Stop TB Partnership:

Founded in 2001 and hosted by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Geneva, Switzerland, The Stop TB Partnership is a UN-hosted organization. Its mission revolves around bringing together expertise from various country, regional, and global partners to collectively work towards ending TB by 2030. The partnership acts as a vital platform for coordinating efforts, advocating for increased investment in TB control, and fostering innovative solutions to combat this devastating disease on a global scale.


In News

The government has officially renewed its federal guarantee for the National Asset Reconstruction Company (NARCL), facilitating the entity’s acquisition of bad loans from lenders.


NARCL was established as a strategic initiative by banks to address legacy stressed assets valued at Rs 500 crore and above within the Indian Banking system.


With 51% ownership held by Public Sector Banks, NARCL’s primary objective is to purchase bad loans from banks and then sell them to potential buyers interested in Non-Performing Assets (NPAs). The organization will determine the pricing of these NPAs.


NARCL has been incorporated under the Companies Act and registered with the RBI as an Asset Reconstruction Company, operating under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002.

Western Ghats

In News

Based on a spatiotemporal analysis of land use, the Western Ghats has encountered a reduction of 5% in its evergreen forest cover, accompanied by an expansion of built-up areas and agricultural land.

Key Findings

Merely 25% of the forest landmass constitutes interior forests, underscoring the mounting fragmentation pressure and its consequences on the local ecology. Over the past century, the region has undergone significant land cover changes resulting from haphazard developmental activities driven by industrialization and globalization. These changes emphasize the area’s heightened ecological fragility.


The results underscore the importance of implementing conservation measures and sustainable development policies in the Western Ghats. These measures are crucial in mitigating the threats posed to forests and ensuring water security in the region.

What is Ecological fragility?

  • Ecosystem fragility pertains to the susceptibility of an ecosystem to disturbance or harm, which frequently leads to biodiversity loss and disruption of ecological processes. It highlights the intricate balance and sensitivity of natural systems to human activities and environmental alterations.
  • For instance, the deforestation of a rainforest can disrupt the intricate web of species interactions, resulting in species extinction and the elimination of critical ecological functions, such as carbon sequestration and water regulation.

About the analysis

The Western Ghats Spatial Decision Support System (WGSDSS), initiated by the Energy and Wetlands Research Group at the Indian Institute of Science, aims to bolster governance transparency and facilitate the management of the ecologically significant Sahyadri hill ranges. This system offers extensive data on ecological, socio-economic, biodiversity, and environmental aspects, thereby empowering effective decision-making processes.

About Western Ghats

The Western Ghats, also referred to as the Sahyadri Hills, represents one of India’s biodiversity hotspots, being counted among the 36 global biodiversity hotspots. This region has earned the distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting a diverse and exceptional collection of plant and animal species.


In News

The supply of SCALP missiles from France to Ukraine as part of their ongoing counter-offensive against Russian forces has elicited anger from Russia. The SCALP missile, also known as Storm Shadow, is a long-range, conventionally armed weapon designed to target high-value objectives and has the capability to strike deep inside Russian territory.

France’s geographical landscape is characterized by mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in the north and west, while the south, including the Massif Central and the Pyrenees, and the east, with the Alps boasting the highest points, are mountainous regions. As a NATO member, France is extending support to Ukraine in its efforts to resist Russian aggression.

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