Prelim Exam

Revision Notes 

Art and Culture

Indulekha Painting by Raja Ravi Varma

Why in News ?

  • Unveiling of the first true copy of Raja Ravi Varma’s “Indulekha” painting at Kilimanoor Palace on his 176th birth anniversary.

About the Painting

  • Masterpiece by Raja Ravi Varma
  • Depicts Indulekha: Protagonist of the first modern Malayalam novel by O. Chandu Menon (1889)
    • Believed to be the inspiration for Ravi Varma’s “Reclining Lady” painting.
  • Indulekha holding a letter: Addressed to her lover Madhavan (novel’s hero).

Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906)

  • Born in Kilimanoor, Travancore (present-day Kerala).
  • Known for:
    • Fusing European art with Indian themes and iconography.
    • Paintings of Hindu epics (Ramayana, Mahabharata) and deities.
    • Making art accessible through affordable lithographs.

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2.GANHRI Reviews India’s Human Rights Accreditation

Why in News ?

  • The UN-backed Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) will assess India’s National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) accreditation status.

NHRC’s Accreditation Review

  • The NHRC will defend India’s human rights record at the meeting in Geneva.
  • NHRC’s A-rating (highest) was put on hold in 2023 due to concerns about:
    • Selection process
    • Police involvement in investigations
    • Lack of gender and minority representation
  • A or B rating affects NHRC’s voting rights in UN bodies.

Background of GANHRI

  • Largest human rights network globally, established in 1993.
  • Headquartered in Geneva with a global governance structure.
  • Recognized partner of the United Nations.
  • 120 members: 88 with A-status, 32 with B-status.
  • Responsible for accrediting NHRIs based on the Paris Principles.

Paris Principles and Accreditation

  • Set international standards for NHRIs to ensure credibility and independence.
  • Require NHRIs to be independent in:
    • Law
    • Membership
    • Operations
    • Policy
    • Resource control
  • Also require a broad mandate, diverse membership, and strong functions and powers.
  • Rigorous peer-based review process conducted every five years.

Significance of Accreditation

  • Accreditation grants international recognition and protection to the NHRI.
  • A-status allows participation in GANHRI, Human Rights Council, and other UN mechanisms.

Human Rights

What are Human Rights?

  • Fundamental rights and freedoms inherent to all people, regardless of background.
  • Universal, inalienable, and indivisible.
  • Foundation for human dignity, equality, and justice.
  • Distinct from civil rights, which are legal and changeable.

Significance of Human Rights

  • Inherent Dignity: Affirm the inherent dignity of every person.
  • Equality and Non-Discrimination: Promote equal opportunities and treatment.
  • Protection from Abuse: Provide a framework for accountability against violations.
  • Global Standards: Establish international standards for treatment.
  • Human Dignity in Crisis: Guide responses to emergencies while protecting human dignity.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • Landmark document outlining fundamental human rights.
  • Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948.
  • Includes 30 articles guaranteeing basic rights to everyone.

National Human Rights Commission (India)

  • Statutory body established under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
  • Function: Promote and protect human rights in India.


  • Chairperson (retired Chief Justice of Supreme Court)
  • Five full-time members
  • Seven deemed members (appointed for expertise)


  • Investigate complaints of human rights violations.
  • Take appropriate action (suo motu or based on complaints).


  • Similar to a civil court (summon witnesses, examine evidence).
  • Recommendations hold significant weight but are not binding.


  • Submit annual and special reports to the government.
  • Highlight human rights situation and recommend improvements.


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3.Foreign Exchange (Forex)

Why In News ?

  • RBI cautioned banks and customers about unauthorized forex trading using banking channels.

About Forex

  • Foreign exchange (Forex): Exchanging the currency of one country for another at prevailing exchange rates.
  • Foreign Exchange Rate: Price of one currency in terms of another.
  • Importance:
    • Links currencies of different countries.
    • Enables comparison of international costs and prices.
  • Demand for Forex:
    • Purchase goods and services from other countries.
    • Send gifts abroad.
    • Purchase financial assets of a foreign country.
  • Impact of Exchange Rate:
    • Increase in forex price increases cost of imported goods (assuming INR weakens).
    • Decrease in demand for imports and forex (other things being equal).

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Why In News ?

  • Depreciation of the rupee against the US dollar has brought focus on Nominal and Real Effective Exchange Rates (NEER & REER).

Nominal Effective Exchange Rate (NEER)

  • Unweighted average exchange rate of a country’s currency against a basket of foreign currencies.
  • Indicates a country’s international competitiveness in the forex market.
  • RBI constructs NEER indices for:
    • A basket of 6 currencies (USD, EUR, CNY, GBP, JPY, HKD)
    • A basket of 40 major trading partner currencies (88% of India’s trade)
  • Base year: 2015-16 (100)
  • Increase: Rupee appreciation against the basket.
  • Decrease: Overall exchange rate depreciation.

Real Effective Exchange Rate (REER)

  • Weighted average of a country’s currency relative to an inflation-adjusted basket of foreign currencies.
  • NEER adjusted for inflation differentials between a country and its trading partners.
  • REER reflects a country’s competitiveness considering both exchange rates and inflation.

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Science and Technology


Why In News ?

  • Microsoft unveiled Phi-3-Mini, its latest lightweight AI model.

About Phi-3-Mini

  • Microsoft’s smallest AI model (possibly the first in a series of three).
  • Outperforms models of similar size and even the next size up in language, reasoning, coding, and math tasks.
    • Note: Language models are the foundation of AI applications like ChatGPT and LaMDA.

Comparison with Large Language Models (LLMs)

  • Phi-3-Mini is a Small Language Model (SLM), a streamlined version of LLMs.
  • Advantages of SLMs over LLMs:
    • Cost-effective to develop and operate.
    • Better performance on smaller devices (laptops, smartphones).
    • More efficient for resource-constrained environments (on-device and offline use).

Additional Information

  • Phi-2 (released in December 2023) reportedly matched models like Meta’s Llama 2.
  • Phi-3 models outperform several similar-sized or larger models (e.g., Gemma 7B, Mistral 7B) in key areas.

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6.Oldest Remnants of Earth’s Early Magnetic Field

Why In News ?

  • Geologists at MIT and Oxford University discovered ancient rocks in Greenland containing the oldest evidence of Earth’s early magnetic field.

About the Discovery

  • The rocks are approximately 3.7 billion years old and exhibit traces of a magnetic field with a strength of at least 15 microtesla (Earth’s current magnetic field is around 30 microtesla).
  • Iron particles within these rocks act as tiny magnets, recording the Earth’s ancient magnetic field.
  • The rocks were found in the Isua Supracrustal Belt, Greenland.


  • This discovery sheds light on Earth’s early history and the conditions that allowed life to emerge.
  • Scientists believe an early magnetic field was crucial for life’s development by:
    • Protecting the planet from harmful solar radiation.
    • Contributing to the formation of a life-sustaining atmosphere.
  • Detailed analysis can help detect traces of the early magnetic field elsewhere, enabling researchers to reconstruct its global form and evolution over Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history.

Isua Supracrustal Belt

  • This belt has unique geological features:
    • It rests on a thick layer of Earth’s crust, protected from tectonic activity and deformation for billions of years.
    • It’s one of the oldest rock formations on Earth (3.7 to 3.8 billion years old).
    • It’s a critical site for studying early Earth’s geological and environmental conditions.
  • Location: Southwestern Greenland (remote and inaccessible region).

Earth’s Magnetic Field (Geomagnetic Field)

  • Generated in Earth’s interior and extends into space, forming the magnetosphere.
  • Created by the movement of molten iron and nickel in the outer core (convection).
  • Convection generates electric currents, which in turn produce magnetic fields.
  • These magnetic fields combine to form Earth’s overall magnetic field.

Significance of Earth’s Magnetic Field

  • Protects Earth from harmful solar wind and cosmic radiation.
  • Crucial for navigation (influences compass needles).
  • Essential for life on Earth (shields us from constant bombardment by charged particles from the sun).

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7.INS Vikrant

Why In News ?

  • INS Vikrant, along with INS Vikramaditya, showcased its capability for “twin carrier operations,” a feat achievable by only a few nations.

About INS Vikrant

  • India’s first domestically built aircraft carrier, commissioned in September 2022.
  • Achieved full operational status and integrated into operations in record time.

Historical Significance

  • The name “INS Vikrant” honors India’s first aircraft carrier (acquired from the UK).
    • Played a crucial role in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.
    • Decommissioned in 1997. (Originally laid down as HMS Hercules for the British Royal Navy during WWII)

Role and Capabilities

  • Operates an air wing of 30 aircraft:
    • MiG-29K fighter jets
    • Kamov-31 helicopters
    • MH-60R multi-role helicopters
    • Indigenous Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) (Navy)
  • Offers unmatched military capabilities:
    • Long-range airpower projection
    • Offensive missions
    • Air interdiction
    • Anti-surface warfare
    • Defensive counter-air
    • Airborne anti-submarine warfare
    • Airborne early warning
  • Commissioning places India among nations (US, Russia, France, UK, China) with indigenous aircraft carrier design and construction capabilities.

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