Indian Express EXPLAINED _ Current Affairs for UPSC _ July 2021, Week-2

  • Proposed Elephant Reserve in Chhattisgarh (Environment)
  • An Aerospace Engineer on Suborbital Flight (Science & Technology)
  • The Story of Sir Sankaran Nair (History & Culture)
  • Practice Questions


UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: conservation initiatives, Mains: GS Paper III – Ecology and environment

Sub Theme: Conservation of endangered species | UPSC


The proposed Lemru Elephant Reserve in Chhattisgarh, in the pipeline for 20 years, has become the subject of yet another controversy. In a letter on June 26, the state Forest and Environment Department asked the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) to make a presentation for decreasing the area of the proposed reserve from 1,995 sq km to 450 sq km.


Lemru Elephant Reserve

  • The proposal for the reserve, in Korba district, was passed unanimously by the Assembly in 2005 and got central approval in 2007. Lemru is one of two elephant reserves planned to prevent human-animal conflict in the region, with elephants moving into Chhattisgarh from Odisha and Jharkhand. Its area was then proposed to be 450 sq km.

Reduction in Area

  • In September 2011, the then government issued a notification for setting up the reserve across 1,143 sq km, according to the June 26, 2021 letter from the Forest and Forest Department.
  • The current Congress government, in a Cabinet meeting in August 2019, decided to increase the area further, to 1,995 sq km.
  • But last month came the Forest Department’s letter to the PCCF (Wildlife) for reducing the area to 450 sq km.


Why does the government want to reduce the size of the reserve?

  • The area proposed under the reserve is part of the Hasdeo Aranya forests, a very diverse biozone that is also rich in coal deposits.
  • Of 22 coal blocks in the area, seven have already been allotted with mines running in three, and in the process of being established in the other four.
  • Under the ‘No-Go Area’ policy from the UPA area, the entire area was considered out of bound for mines, but in 2020, five coal blocks from the region were put on the auction list.
  • In 2008, the CII had written to the government requesting it to move the reserve to make 40 million tonnes of coal accessible. The biggest challenge in increasing the reserve area was that several coal mines would become unusable.


Project Elephant

  • Project Elephantwas launched in 1992 by Central Government to provide financial and technical support to wildlife management efforts by states for their free-ranging populations of wild Asian Elephants.
  • The project aims to ensure the long-term survival to the populations of elephants in their natural habitats by protecting the elephants, their habitats and migration corridors.
  • Goals of Project Elephant are supporting the research of the ecology and management of elephants, creating awareness of conservation among local people, providing improved veterinary care for captive elephants.
  • Objective - Project Elephant (PE) was launched by the Government of India in the year 1992 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with following objectives:
  1. To protect elephants, their habitat & corridors
  2. To address issues of man-animal conflict
  3. Welfare of captive elephant


Monitoring against poaching

Project Elephant has been formally implementing MIKE (Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants) programme of CITES in 10 ERs since January 2004. It is mandated by COP resolution of CITES. Project Elephant was started in South Asia in 2003 with the following purposes:

  • To measure levels and trends in illegal hunting of elephants.
  • To determine changes in these trends over time.
  • To determine the factors causing or associated with these changes and to try and assess in particular to what extent observed trends are a result of any decisions taken by the Conference of the Parties to CITES.

Data are collected from all sites on monthly basis in specified MIKE patrol form and submitted to Sub-Regional Support Office for South Asia Programme in Delhi who are assisting Ministry in implementation of the programme.


Project RE-HAB

  • Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), on Monday, launched a unique project of creating “bee-fences” to mitigate human – elephant conflicts in the country.
  • The objective of Project RE-HAB (Reducing Elephant – Human Attacks using Bees) is to thwart elephant attacks in human habitations using honey bees and thus reducing loss of lives of both, humans as well as elephants.
  • The pilot project was launched at four locations around village Chelur in Kodagu district of Karnataka on 15thMarch, 2021. These spots are located on the periphery of Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve and prone to human-elephant conflicts. 
  • Project RE-HAB is a sub-mission under KVIC’s National Honey Mission. While the Honey Mission is a programme to increase the bee population, honey production and beekeepers’ income by setting up apiaries, Project RE-HAB uses bee boxes as a fence to prevent the attack of elephants.



UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: –Astronomy, Mains GS paper III: science and technology

Sub Theme: Sub-orbital flights | UPSC


  • The main difference between orbital and suborbital flight is the speed at which a vehicle is traveling. Orbital velocity is the speed that an object must maintain to remain in orbit around a planet. A good way to picture this is to imagine a ball being thrown at ground level — at a normal throwing speed, the ball travels in an arc through the air before hitting the ground. But say you were to put a little rocket on the ball that made it travel so fast that its arc shape would perfectly match the curvature of the Earth. At that point, the ball would have achieved orbit and would fly at a consistent height above our planet.


  • To orbit 125 miles (200 kilometers) above Earth, a spacecraft must travel at a screaming 17,400 mph (28,000 km/h). "It is actually this incredibly high speed which makes orbital spacecraft technically complex and expensive. Suborbital flight, in contrast, requires much lower speeds. A suborbital rocket doesn't have the power to achieve orbit. Instead, it will fly up to a certain height that depends on its speed, and then come back down once its engines are shut off. To reach 125 miles above Earth, a suborbital vehicle needs to fly at a relatively sedate 3,700 mph (6,000 km/h), although that's still much faster than a commercial airplane, which flies at around 575 mph (925 km/h).


  • At the top of their flight arc, passengers in a suborbital vehicle will still achieve a few minutes of weightlessness. They are, in fact, falling back toward Earth, but they are experiencing freefall, similar to an airplane completing parabolic maneuvers to simulate zero gravity. 


Current Affairs:THE STORY OF SIR SANKARAN NAIR | July Explained

UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: – modern history, Mains GS paper I: Important contributors

Sub Theme: Contribution from south India | UPSC

  • Nair was born in the year 1857 in Mankara village of Malabar’s Palakkad district and belonged to an aristocratic family.
  • Nair went against a resolution passed by Indian vakils (advocates) of Madras stating that no Indian vakil would work as a junior to an English barrister. However, he was boycotted by other advocates.
  • During the discussion of Montague-Chelmsford reforms in 1908, he wrote an article in the Contemporary Review criticising the English jury for being partial towards Englishmen. This infuriated the Anglo-Indian community who petitioned the Viceroy and the Secretary of State for India objecting to his appointment as high court judge the first time.
  • When he was nominated to the Madras Executive Council, the Brahmin community in Madras wrote to the Viceroy asking him to not appoint him since he was anti-Brahmin.
  • He was once described by Edwin Montague, the secretary of state for India as an ‘impossible person’.
  • Nair passed away in 1934 at the age of 77. 


Achievements of Mr. Sankaran Nair

  • Despite his many critiques, Nair’s presence as a lawyer and social reformer in Madras was formidable. In 1897 he became the youngest president of the Indian National Congress in the history of the party till then, and the only Malayali to hold the post ever.
  • By 1908 he was appointed as a permanent judge in the Madras High Court.
  • In 1902, Lord Curzon appointed him a member of the Raleigh University Commission.
  • In 1904 he was appointed as Companion of the Indian Empire by the King-Emperor and in 1912 he was knighted.
  • In 1915 he became part of the Viceroy’s Council and was put in charge of the Education portfolio.


Raleigh Commission 

  • It was appointed under the presidency of Sir Thomas Raleighon 27 January 1902 to inquire into the condition and prospects of universities in India and to recommend proposals for improving their constitution and working.
  • Evidently, the Commission was precluded from reporting on primary or secondary education.
  • As a result of the report of the recommendations of the Commission the Indian Universities Act was passed in 1904.
  • The main objective of the Act was to improve the condition of education in India and upgrade the system to a better level.

Social Reformer

  • As a Madras High Court judge, his best-known judgments clearly indicate his commitment to social reforms.
  • In one of his judgment, he ruled that those who converted to Hinduism cannot be treated as outcastes. In a few other cases, he upheld inter-caste and inter-religious marriages.


Role in Freedom Movement

  • He was an ardent freedom fighter and he firmly believed in India’s right for self-government.
  • In 1919, he played an important role in the expansion of provisions in the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms which introduced a system of dyarchy in the provinces and increased participation of Indians in the administration. 
  • In Nair’s biography, written by his son-in-law, the eminent diplomat and the first foreign secretary of India, KPS Menon, the latter noted that the measures in the 1919 reforms were far more liberal than what was originally proposed by the government in 1916. The credit for this, Menon wrote, lay largely with Nair and his uncompromising stance as part of the Viceroy’s Executive Council.
  • Post Jallianwala Bagh massacre, he resigned from Viceroy’s Executive Council. After his resignation, press censorship in Punjab was lifted and martial law terminated. Further, a committee was set up under Lord William Hunter to examine the disturbances in Punjab.


Gandhi and Anarchy

  • It was written after Jallianwala Bagh massacre and was published in 1922.
  • In the book, Nair spelt out his critique of Gandhi’s methods, especially those of non-violence, civil disobedience and non-cooperation. He believed that any of these movements was destined to lead to riots and bloodshed.
  • In his book, he also accused O’Dwyer for his coercive methods that led to the death of hundreds of innocent men and women at Jallianwala Bagh. Thereafter, O’Dwyer sued Nair for defamation in England.


Historic Courtroom Battle

  • The case is about the defamation case that Sir Sankaran Nair, former member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, fought against Sir Michael O’Dwyer, former Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab.
  • The case was argued by by Sankaran Nair who was also a lawyer at the Court of the King’s Bench in England for six weeks — the longest in the history till then and exposed the horrors of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the atrocities committed in Punjab by the British.
  • The 12-member all-English jury was presided over by Justice Henry McCardie, who from the start of the case, made no attempt to hide his bias towards O’Dwyer. So were the other judges, who were also equally unfamiliar with India and Indians.
  • Because of favourable stance of Justice Henry McCardie, O’Dwyer won the case with a majority of 11 against one where the only dissenting judge was Justice Harold Laski.
  • Nair had lost the case and was held guilty for defaming O’Dwyer. He had to pay £500 and expense of the trial to the plaintiff. O’Dwyer stated that he would be willing to forgo the penalty, provided Nair tendered an apology. But Nair remained undeterred. He would rather pay the damages than apologise for writing what he knew was the truth about Jaliianwala Bagh.
  • Impact of the trial in freedom struggle - At a time when the nationalist movement was gaining momentum, Indians saw in the judgement a clear bias of the British government and an effort to shield those who committed atrocities against their own people. The verdict was momentous in that it strengthened the determination of the nationalists to fight for self-government.