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UPSC Essentials: Key terms of the past week

From Eco-sensitive zones, Title IX, to Anti-defection law — many key terms were in the news last week. Here's a highlight of some of the important terms useful for UPSC CSE Prelims and Mains preparation.

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Essential key terms from the last week’s news categorised as per the relevance in the UPSC-CSE syllabus.

Eco-Sensitive Zones


Prelims: General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialisation.

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Mains: GS III- Environment

Why in news?

—Farmers in Kerala continue to protest across several high ranges of the state against the Supreme Court’s recent order to establish 1-km Eco-Sensitive Zones around all protected areas, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.

What is Eco-Sensitive Zones?

—As per the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016), issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, land within 10 km of the boundaries of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries is to be notified as eco-fragile zones or Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ).

—While the 10-km rule is implemented as a general principle, the extent of its application can vary. Areas beyond 10-km can also be notified by the Union government as ESZs, if they hold larger ecologically important “sensitive corridors.”

Why are Eco-Sensitive Zones created?

—According to the guidelines issued by the Environment Ministry on February 9, 2011, ESZs are created as “shock absorbers” for the protected areas, to minimize the negative impact on the “fragile ecosystems” by certain human activities taking place nearby. Furthermore, these areas are meant to act as a transition zone from areas requiring higher protection to those requiring lesser protection.

—The guidelines also state that the ESZs are not meant to hamper the daily activities of people living in the vicinity, but are meant to guard the protected areas and “refine the environment around them”.


—To do so, the guidelines list the activities prohibited in an ESZ, such as commercial mining, sawmills, commercial use of wood, etc., apart from regulated activities like felling of trees. Lastly, there are permitted activities like ongoing agricultural or horticultural practices, rainwater harvesting, organic farming, among others.



Prelims: Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.

Mains: GS III Indian Economy, Inclusive growth and associated issues/challenges

Why in news?


—India is expected to witness slowing growth and faces an upside risk to the fiscal deficit owing to the recent excise duty cuts on fuel, but it has a low risk of stagflation owing to prudent stabilisation policies, the Department of Economic Affairs said in its Monthly Economic Review for May 2022.

What is Stagflation?

—Stagflation is a term that defines a situation characterized by a simultaneous increase in prices (inflation) and stagnation of economic growth.

— Stagflation can also be defined as a period of inflation combined with a decline in the gross domestic product (GDP).

— The situation may comprise of following elements-

1) growth rate of the economy slows down

2) the level of unemployment remains steadily high

3) yet the inflation or price level remains high at the same time.

White dwarf


Prelims: Space Science, Geography

Why in news?


—Astronomers have observed for the first time a phenomenon, called, “cosmic cannibalism,” a dead star is ripping apart its planetary system. A star is ending its life so violently that the dead star left behind, called a white dwarf, is disrupting an entire planetary system by sucking in debris from both its inner and outer reaches.

—The white dwarf star is consuming the rock-metallic and icy material, both of which are the “ingredients of planets”.

What is a white dwarf?


—A white dwarf is formed when a low-mass star like our sun exhausts most of its nuclear fuel. It is usually very dense, dim and about the size of a planet. It is the last observable stage of evolution for low- and medium-mass stars.

—Compared to our sun, a white dwarf has a similar carbon and oxygen mass though it is much smaller in size — similar to Earth. White dwarf temperatures can exceed 100,000 Kelvin according to NASA. Despite having too high a temperature, white dwarfs have a low luminosity as they’re so small in size.


—Where a star ends up at the end of its life depends on the mass it was born with. Stars that have a lot of mass may end their lives as black holes or neutron stars. A low or medium mass star (with a mass less than about 8 times the mass of our Sun) will become a white dwarf. A typical white dwarf is about as massive as the Sun, yet only slightly bigger than the Earth. This makes white dwarfs one of the densest forms of matter, surpassed only by
neutron stars and black holes.

What else you should know?

—This case of cosmic cannibalism was diagnosed with the help of archival data from the Hubble Space Telescope and other NASA observatories.

—The researchers obtained the findings based on the analysis of material captured by the atmosphere of the nearby white dwarf star G238-44.

Boyfriend loophole


Prelims: Current events of international importance and social issues

Why in news?

—US senators reached a bipartisan deal on gun safety measures. The reform outline includes a significant provision to address the ‘boyfriend loophole’.

What is the boyfriend loophole?

—It refers to a gap in American federal and some state gun laws that allow access to guns by dating abusers.

—The new plan on gun safety measures includes a provision to address what is known as the “boyfriend loophole”.

—It would prohibit dating partners- not just spouses- from owning guns if they had been convicted of domestic violence.

—The framework says that convicted domestic violence abusers and individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders would be included in criminal background checks.



Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains: GS II – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting the Indian interests

Why in news?

—Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Germany to attend the Group of Seven (G7) Summit at Schloss Elmau, a century-old retreat in a nature reserve in the Bavarian Alps.

What is G7?

—The G7 is an informal forum of leading industrialised nations, which include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Representatives of the European Union are always present at the annual meeting of the heads of state and government of the G7. Germany holds the presidency of the G7 in 2022. Japan will be president in 2023.

What else you should know about G7?

—As of 2022, G7 countries make up 10% of the world’s population, 31% of global GDP, and 21% of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Summit website. China and India, the two most populous countries with among the largest GDP figures in the world, are not part of the grouping.

—In all G7 countries, annual public sector expenditure exceeded revenue in 2021. Most G7 countries also had a high level of gross debt, especially Japan (263% of GDP), Italy (151%) and the US (133%).

—The G7 countries are important players in global trade. The US and Germany in particular are major export nations. Both sold goods worth well over a trillion US dollars abroad in 2021.

Title IX


Prelims: Current events of national and international importance

Why in news?

—Title IX, the law best known for its role in gender equity in athletics and preventing sexual harassment on campuses, is turning 50.

What is Title IX?

—Title IX, the law best known for its role in gender equity in athletics and preventing sexual harassment on campuses, is turning 50.

—It was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972, after being shepherded through Congress in part by Rep. Patsy Mink, a Democrat from Hawaii who was the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House.

—The law forbids discrimination based on sex in education, and despite its age remains a vital piece in the ongoing push for equality, including in the LGBTQ community.

Roe v. Wade


Prelims: Current events of national and international importance

Why in news?

—The United States Supreme Court on Friday (June 24) overturned by a 6-3 majority ‘Roe v. Wade’, the court’s landmark 1973 judgment that made abortion a constitutional right.

What is ‘Roe v. Wade’?

—The case is sometimes referred to simply as “Roe”, the listed name of the 22-year-old plaintiff, Norma McCorvey. ‘Wade’ was the defendant Henry Wade, the Dallas County (Texas) district attorney at the time.

—‘Roe’ struck down laws that made abortion illegal in several states, and ruled that abortion would be allowed up to the point of foetal viability, that is, the time after which a foetus can survive outside the womb.

—Foetal viability was around 28 weeks (7 months) at the time of the ‘Roe’ judgment nearly 50 years ago; experts now agree that advances in medicine have brought the threshold down to 23 or 24 weeks (6 months or a little less), and newer studies show this could be further pegged at 22 weeks. An average pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks.

—Foetal viability is often seen as the point at which the rights of the woman can be separated from the rights of the unborn foetus. The length of a pregnancy is commonly calculated from the start of a person’s most recent menstrual period. Since many people identify pregnancy only after the sixth week, pre-viability timelines leave women with very little time and opportunity to make a decision to abort.

—Abortion laws across the world rely on this metric but those opposing abortions argue that this is an arbitrary timeframe that legislation and the court in ‘Roe’ adopted.

Anti-defection law


Prelims- Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

Mains- GS II Parliament and State legislature

Why in news?

— The unfolding political crisis in Maharashtra has thrown the spotlight on the anti-defection law.

What is anti-defection law?

— The anti-defection law punishes individual Members of Parliament (MPs)/MLAs for leaving one party for another.

— Parliament added it to the Constitution as the Tenth Schedule in 1985. Its purpose was to bring stability to governments by discouraging legislators from changing parties.

— The Tenth Schedule – popularly known as the Anti-Defection Act – was included in the Constitution via the 52 nd  Amendment Act, 1985 and sets the provisions for disqualification of elected members on the grounds of defection to another political party. However, it allows a group of MP/MLAs to join (i.e. merge with) another political party without inviting the penalty for defection. And it does not penalise political parties for encouraging or accepting defecting legislators.

—As per the 1985 Act, defection by one-third of the elected members of a political party was considered a merger. But the 91 st  Constitutional Amendment Act, 2003, changed this and now at least two-thirds of the members of a party have to be in favour of merger to have validity in the eyes of the law.

—The members disqualified under the law can stand for elections from any political party for a seat in the same House.

—The decision on questions as to disqualification on ground of defection are referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House, which is subject to ‘Judicial review’.

—However, the law does not provide a time-frame within which the presiding officer has to decide a defection case.

What are the grounds of disqualification?

—If an elected member voluntarily gives up his membership of a political party.

—If he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party or anyone authorised to do so, without obtaining prior permission.

—As a pre-condition for his disqualification, his abstention from voting should not be condoned by his party or the authorised person within 15 days of such incident.

—If any independently elected member joins any political party. If any nominated member joins any political party after the expiry of six months.

—No Recognition of Split: Due to the 91st  amendment, the anti-defection law created an exception for anti-defection rulings.

— However, the amendment does not recognise a ‘split’ in a legislature party and instead recognises a ‘merger’.


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First published on: 27-06-2022 at 02:03:37 pm
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