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Feb 24, 2024 Daily PIB Summaries

CONTENTS NaViGate Bharat PortalNational Ayurvedic Health Project for Tribal Students NaViGate Bharat Portal Context: Recently, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting launched four portals — Press Sewa, National Register for LCOs, CBC, NaViGate Bharat. Relevance: GS II: Government Policies and Interventions Dimensions of the Article: NaViGate Bharat Portal: Bridging Information GapsPress Sewa Portal: Streamlining Periodical RegistrationOther Portals in Information Domain NaViGate Bharat Portal: Bridging Information Gaps Development and Purpose: Developed by the New Media Wing of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.National Video Gateway of Bharat (NaViGate Bharat) is a unified bilingual platform.Hosts videos covering Government’s development-related and citizen welfare-oriented measures. Features and Functions: Empowers citizens through a single interactive platform.Enables searching, streaming, sharing, and downloading videos related to various Government schemes.Offers an advanced search option with filters for precise information retrieval.Serves as a one-stop platform, eliminating the need to search multiple sources. Press Sewa Portal: Streamlining Periodical Registration Under PRP Act, 2023: Developed under the Press and Registration of Periodicals Act, 2023 (PRP Act, 2023) by the Press Registrar General of India (PRGI).Aims to simplify the registration procedures prevalent under the colonial PRB Act, 1867. Key Features: Online Application: Publishers can apply for title registration online using Aadhar-based e-signatures.Probability Meter: Indicates the likelihood of title availability.Real-time Tracking: Users can track application status through an intuitively designed dashboard.Dedicated DM Module: Allows District Magistrates to manage applications in a centralized dashboard. Other Portals in Information Domain: National Register for Local Cable Operators (LCOs): Initiates centralization of LCO registration currently with Post Offices.A web form collects information from local cable operators for the National Register. Central Bureau of Communication (CBC): Established on December 8, 2017, through the amalgamation of DAVP, DFP, and S&DD.;A vital unit within the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. National Ayurvedic Health Project for Tribal Students Context: The Ministry of Ayush, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and ICMR-National Institute of Research in Tribal Health (NIRTH) Jabalpur, has launched a joint project. Aimed at health screening and management through Ayurvedic interventions, the initiative targets over 20,000 tribal students at the national level. Relevance: GS II: Government policies and Intervantions Dimensions of the Article: Health Initiative for Tribal Students in Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs)About Eklavya Model Residential Schools: Health Initiative for Tribal Students in Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) Scope of the Initiative: Targeting children aged 10-18 in 55 identified EMRS across 14 states.Joint collaboration between the Ministry of Ayush, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, and ICMR-NIRTH Jabalpur. Focus Areas for Ayurvedic Interventions: Addressing malnutrition, anemia, sickle cell diseases, hemoglobinopathies, and tuberculosis. Holistic Approach to Health: Instilling healthy lifestyle practices based on Ayurvedic principles.Aiming to enhance overall health, well-being, and disease prevention. Integrated Disease Management: Adopting an integrated approach to manage various health issues effectively. Background on EMRSs: Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) cater to Scheduled Tribes (ST) children in remote areas.Emphasis on holistic development, including education, sports, skill training, and healthcare.Facilitating access to higher education and employment opportunities for tribal students. About Eklavya Model Residential Schools: EMRS started in the year 1997-98 to impart quality education to ST children in remote areas in order to enable them to avail of opportunities in high and professional education courses and get employment in various sectors.Across the country, as per census 2011 figures, there are 564 such sub-districts out of which there is an EMRS in 102 sub-districts.As per revised 2018 scheme, every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an EMRS by the year 2022.These schools will be on par with Navodaya Vidyalayas and will have special facilities for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development. Objectives of EMRS: Comprehensive physical, mental and socially relevant development of all students enrolled in each and every EMRS. Students will be empowered to be change agent, beginning in their school, in their homes, in their village and finally in a larger context.Focus differentially on the educational support to be made available to those in Standards XI and XII, and those in standards VI to X, so that their distinctive needs can be met,Support the annual running expenses in a manner that offers reasonable remuneration to the staff and upkeep of the facilities.Support the construction of infrastructure that provides education, physical, environmental and cultural needs of student life. Features of EMRS Admission to these schools will be through selection/competition with suitable provision for preference to children belonging to Primitive Tribal Groups, first-generation students, etc.Sufficient land would be given by the State Government for the school, playgrounds, hostels, residential quarters, etc., free of cost.The number of seats for boys and girls will be equal.In these schools, education will be entirely free.

Feb 24, 2024 Daily Current Affairs

CONTENTS Demand for Reservations: Maratha CommunityArticle 1426th Regional Dialogue of Secretaries of Security CouncilsRani ChennammaCantor’s Giant Softshell TurtleKalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve Demand for Reservations: Maratha Community Context: The Maharashtra Assembly recently passed the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Bill 2024, setting aside 10% reservation for the Maratha community in jobs and education under socially and educationally backward categories. Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article: Maratha Reservation Bill: Key HighlightsHistory and Status of the Maratha Reservation DemandChronology of Maratha Reservation Demand102nd Amendment Act of 2018Arguments in Favour and Against the Maratha Reservation Bill Maratha Reservation Bill: Key Highlights Legislative Background: Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Bill 2024.Drafted based on recommendations from the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission. Maratha Community Identification: Marathas identified as socially and educationally backward through the commission’s report.The Bill specifies Marathas as a Socially and Educationally Backward Class under Article 342A (3) of the Indian Constitution. Constitutional Articles Invoked: Reservation provided under Articles 15(4), 15(5), and 16(4) of the Constitution.Article 342A (3): Empowers states to prepare lists of SEBCs different from the Central List. Creamy Layer and Targeted Reservation: Creamy layer principle applied to restrict reservation to non-creamy layer Marathas.Targets the most marginalized within the Maratha community. Exception to 50% Reservation Ceiling: Commission cites “exceptional circumstances and extraordinary situations” justifying reservations above the 50% ceiling set by the Supreme Court (Indira Sawhney judgement, 1992). Impact on Total Reservation in Maharashtra: Current reservation stands at 52%, including various categories.Addition of 10% reservation for Marathas raises the total reservation in Maharashtra to 62%. History and Status of the Maratha Reservation Demand: The demand for reservation by the Maratha community in the Indian state of Maharashtra has a history dating back several years. Here’s an overview of the history and status of the Maratha reservation demand: Background of the Maratha Community: The Marathas are a socially and politically influential group in Maharashtra, constituting approximately 33% of the state’s population. Historically, they were known as a warrior caste with significant land holdings and political influence.Social and Economic Backwardness: Over time, various factors such as land fragmentation, agrarian distress, unemployment, and limited access to education and employment opportunities have led to the social and economic backwardness of many Marathas. While they continue to play a crucial role in the rural economy, a significant section of the community has faced challenges in various aspects of life.Demand for Reservation: In response to these challenges, the Maratha community has been demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutions. They seek inclusion in the category of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) to avail the benefits of affirmative action policies.Political Mobilization: The demand for Maratha reservation gained momentum through large-scale protests and demonstrations organized by various Maratha organizations and associations. These protests highlighted issues related to unemployment, underrepresentation, and socio-economic disparities within the community. Chronology of Maratha Reservation Demand: 2017: A commission chaired by Retired Justice N G Gaikwad recommended Maratha reservation under SEBC.2018: Maharashtra Assembly passed a bill proposing 16% reservation for Marathas.2018: Bombay High Court upheld the reservation but suggested reducing it to 12% in education and 13% in jobs.2020: Supreme Court stayed its implementation and referred the case to the Chief Justice of India for a larger bench. 2021: Supreme Court struck down Maratha reservation in 2021, citing the 50% cap on total reservations set in 1992.The Maratha reservation, at 12% and 13% (education and jobs), increased the overall reservation ceiling to 64% and 65%, respectively.SC emphasized that the 50% rule could be relaxed only in exceptional and extraordinary situations.The court found no such circumstances in Maharashtra to breach the limit.The state had no authority to grant socially and economically backward status to a community; only the president can adjust the central list of backward classes.The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the 102nd Constitution Amendment but differed on its impact on state power to identify SEBCs. 2022: In November 2022, after the SC upheld the 10% quota for Economically Weaker Sections, the state government allowed economically weaker Maratha members to benefit from the EWS quota pending the resolution of the Maratha reservation issue. 102nd Amendment Act of 2018: Introduction of New Articles: The 102nd Amendment Act of 2018 introduced two new articles into the Constitution of India: Article 338B and Article 342A. Article 338B: Article 338B deals with the establishment of the National Commission for Backward Classes. This commission is responsible for addressing the concerns and rights of socially and educationally backward classes in the country. Article 342A: Article 342A empowers the President of India to specify the socially and educationally backward communities within a State.It underscores that the inclusion of a community in the Central List for socially and backward classes and the subsequent grant of reservation benefits are matters within the purview of the Parliament. Arguments in Favour and Against the Maratha Reservation Bill Arguments in Favour: Empirical Justification:Shukre Commission’s empirical data supports the socio-economic challenges faced by the Maratha community, justifying the need for reservation to alleviate poverty and marginalization.Economic Distress:High farmer suicide rates among Marathas indicate severe economic distress, emphasizing the urgent requirement for targeted interventions through reservation.Historical Exclusion:Marathas historically excluded from mainstream opportunities. Reservation in jobs and education can enhance representation and participation, contributing to inclusive development. Arguments Against: Legal Scrutiny Concerns:History of legal challenges and setbacks for previous Maratha reservation attempts raises doubts about the new Bill’s ability to withstand judicial scrutiny, especially regarding the 50% reservation ceiling.Doubts on Viability:Doubts persist about the viability of the new reservation, with concerns raised about potential legal issues and its impact on existing OBC reservations.Controversial Inclusion Criteria:Draft notification proposing recognition of “sage soyare” as Kunbi, eligible for OBC reservation, sparked controversy, raising questions about the inclusion criteria.Community Dissatisfaction:Some Maratha activists prefer inclusion within the OBC category, expressing dissatisfaction with separate reservation.Limited Impact on Root Causes:Reservation may address immediate concerns but may not effectively tackle the root causes of Maratha backwardness. A holistic approach is needed for sustainable development, including education and skill development. -Source: The Hindu Article 142 Context: Recently, the Chandigarh mayoral election garnered attention as the Supreme Court of India invoked Article 142 of the Constitution to overturn the election results. Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article: Extraordinary powers under Article 142Pros of Article 142Cons of Article 142Significant cases where Article 142 was invoked Extraordinary powers under Article 142: Article 142(1) states that “The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe”.From Article 142, the Supreme Court derives overarching powers to perform the functions of Executive and legislative in order to bring about complete justice.In this pursuit, Article 142 is supplemented by the Articles 32 (Right to constitutional remedies), Article 141 (The law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all courts within the territory of India) and Article 136 (Special Leave petition).This is often termed as judicial activism.  Pros of Article 142 For upholding citizens’ rights and implementing constitutional principles when the executive and legislature fails to do so.Sets out a system of check and balance and controls to the other branches of the government.For example:In Vishakha v State of Rajasthan case, Supreme Court laid down the guidelines to protect a woman from sexual harassment at its workplaceBandhua Mukti Morcha Case  Court gave its landmark judgment on bonded labour system of IndiaIn Olga Tellis Case where Right to livelihood was declared part and parcel of the right to life. Cons of Article 142: Judiciary cant be held accountable for its decisions.It creates slippery slope of Judicial overreach.Repeated use of Art 142 can diminish the faith of the people in the integrity, quality, and efficiency of the government. Significant cases where Article 142 was invoked: Babri Masjid Case: The article was used in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.It was instrumental in the handover of the disputed land to a trust to be formed by the union government. Bhopal Gas Tragedy: The SC invoked its plenary powers in the Union Carbide vs Union Govt case.It intervened to provide compensation to victims of the deadly Bhopal Gas Tragedy. -Source: The Hindu 6th Regional Dialogue of Secretaries of Security Councils Context: Recently, the 6th Regional Dialogue of Secretaries of Security Councils/National Security Advisers (NSA) on Afghanistan was held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Relevance: GS II: International Relations Dimensions of the Article: Regional Security Dialogue on AfghanistanKey Issues Impacting India-Afghanistan RelationsIndia’s Relations with Afghanistan Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan: Series of high-level meetings involving National Security Advisers (NSA) or senior security officials.Participants: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, China, Russia, India, and Central Asian states.Aims to discuss and coordinate regional approaches for stability in Afghanistan.Follows the objective of UNSCR 2593, preventing Afghan territory from posing threats.Highlights the critical need to combat terrorism within Afghanistan. India’s Efforts for the People of Afghanistan: Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) promotes education, admitting over 3,000 students, including 600 Afghan girls.Establishment of a Humanitarian Air Corridor between Delhi and Kabul for essential travel and aid delivery.Supply of humanitarian assistance: 50,000 MTs of wheat, 250 tons of medical aid, and 28 tons of earthquake relief aid.Partnership with UNODC for the welfare of Afghan drug users, supplying hygiene kits, baby food, blankets, and medical aid.Ongoing trade and commerce with Afghanistan, including through the Chabahar port. Key Issues Impacting India-Afghanistan Relations: Drug Trade Challenges: Originating from Afghanistan’s golden crescent, the drug trade contributes significantly to regional instability and violence.Poses substantial challenges for Afghanistan and neighboring countries, including India. Strategic Setback: India’s strategic interests and influence in the region faced setbacks following the Taliban’s capture of Kabul in 1996. Obstacles Post-Taliban Takeover (2021): The Taliban’s takeover in 2021 presented hurdles for India’s infrastructure projects like the Salma Dam and Parliament Building.Investments in Afghanistan were impeded by security concerns, corruption, and various challenges. Concerns Over Terrorism: The bombing of a Sikh gurdwara in Kabul, claimed by ISIS-K, raised significant concerns for India. Shift in Security Dynamics: Until August 2021, India relied on a friendly government in Kabul and the security presence of the United States for its security.The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan led to a careful reassessment of the security landscape by India. India’s Relations with Afghanistan: History: India’s policy towards Afghanistan is deeply rooted in historical and civilizational ties that span centuries.The Treaty of Friendship in 1950 marked the beginning of relatively good relations between India and Afghanistan.As contiguous neighbors, India holds legitimate economic and security interests in Afghanistan. Economic Relations: India has invested over USD 3 billion in Afghanistan across nearly 500 projects, covering critical areas like power, water supply, road connectivity, healthcare, education, agriculture, and capacity building.The Border Roads Organisation of the Indian Army constructed a major road in 2009, connecting Delaram to Zaranj in the remote Afghan province of Nimroz, offering an alternative route for duty-free movement of goods through the Chabahar port in Iran.Tariff concessions under the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) are extended to Afghan traders.The Salma Dam, also known as the Afghan-India Friendship Dam (AIFD), is a hydroelectric and irrigation project funded by India in Herat Province. Political Relations: The India-Afghanistan relations were bolstered by the signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement in October 2011.The Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) outlines assistance for rebuilding Afghanistan’s infrastructure and institutions, education, and technical support.India consistently supports Afghan democracy and advocates for a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Afghanistan. Humanitarian Assistance: Amid the global pandemic, India committed to delivering 75,000 MT of wheat to Afghanistan in 2020.Supplies of tablets like Hydroxy-chloroquine, Paracetamol, and surgical gloves were provided to the Afghan government in 2020.Food assistance, including 11 lakh tonnes of wheat distributed as grains and biscuits to around 1.5 million school children, aimed at addressing food security challenges.In 2018, during times of drought, India distributed 2000 tonnes of pulses to Afghanistan to promote food security.A Medical Diagnostic Centre in Kabul was established in 2015, offering advanced diagnostic facilities to Afghan children and generating goodwill for India. -Source: Indian Express Rani Chennamma Context: Recently, several social groups across the country organized a national campaign Naanoo Rani Chennamma (I am Rani Chennamma too) to commemorate 200 years of Rani Chennamma’s rebellion against the British East India Company. Relevance: GS I: History Dimensions of the Article: Nanoo Chennamma CampaignAbout Rani ChennammaWhat was the doctrine of Lapse? Nanoo Chennamma Campaign: Empowering Women and Advocating Equality The Nanoo Chennamma Campaign aims to commemorate Rani Chennamma and release the ‘Kittur Declaration.’The declaration focuses on the fighting spirit of Indian women, demanding equal rights and representation.Political Significance:The rally holds political significance, addressing the lack of respect for women by political parties.Emphasizes that women demand equality and won’t support parties that don’t respect and ensure their comfortable living. Declaration Contents: The Kittur Declaration addresses the situation of women in India over the last decade.It advocates for women’s rights, equality, and representation in the political landscape. Mobilization Efforts: Organizers plan to mobilize 3,000-5,000 women for the rally, involving about 60 progressive women groups.The campaign extends beyond women’s rights, focusing on broader social and systemic issues in the country. Legacy of Rani Chennamma: The campaign invokes Rani Chennamma’s memory to inspire women to fight against oppression and safeguard democracy.Highlights Chennamma’s bravery, quick thinking, and commitment to protecting her kingdom.Educational and Poverty Eradication Focus:The rally advocates for quality education and poverty eradication to empower women.Prioritizes educational institutes and schemes over temples and smart cities for women’s upliftment. Inspiration for Women Today: Rani Chennamma’s courage to take a stance, even in prison, serves as inspiration for today’s women.Commemorating historical moments like the Kittur revolt led by a woman encourages more women to fight for their rights and participate in public life. Rani Chennamma: A Legacy of Resistance Early Life and Reign: Born in Kakati, Belagavi district, Karnataka, Rani Chennamma became the queen of Kitturu upon marrying Raja Mallasarja.After Mallasarja’s death in 1816, Shivalingarudra Sarja, his eldest son, ascended the throne. Doctrine of Lapse and Kittur Rebellion: Following Shivalingarudra’s death in 1824, adoption of Shivalingappa as the successor was denied by the British under the ‘doctrine of lapse.’The British official John Thackery initiated an attack on Kittur in October 1824, leading to the Kittur Rebellion.In the first battle, the British forces suffered losses, and political agent St. John Thackeray was killed. Two officers were taken hostage.Despite initial setbacks, the British army recaptured Kittur Fort, imprisoning Rani Chennamma and her family. Imprisonment and Death: Rani Chennamma and her family were incarcerated at the fort in Bailhongal, where she passed away in 1829.Doctrine of Lapse Explanation:The doctrine of Lapse allowed the British East India Company to annex princely states without a natural heir.Kitturu fell under British control in 1824 through this doctrine, even before its formal articulation by Lord Dalhousie between 1848 and 1856. -Source: The Hindu Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle Context: Recently, conservationists from the University of Portsmouth uncovered the nesting site of the “secretive” Cantor’s giant softshell turtle on the banks of the Chandragiri River in Kerala. Relevance: GS III: Environment and Ecology Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle: A Profile Also known as the Asian giant softshell turtle and the frog-faced softshell turtle. Distinctive Traits: Renowned for rarity and secretive behavior.Spends the majority of its life buried in sand, with only eyes and mouth visible.Surfaces twice daily for breath and employs a sit-and-wait strategy for prey capture. Dietary Habits: Primarily carnivores (piscivores) with a diet comprising fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. Distribution: Found in eastern and southern India, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, eastern and southern China. Preferred Habitat: Inhabits inland, slow-moving freshwater bodies like rivers, lakes, streams, and estuaries. Conservation Status: IUCN: Critically endangered.CITES: Appendix II.Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I. Threats: Habitat destruction leading to disappearance from significant areas.High local harvesting for meat poses a severe threat to the species. -Source: The Hindu Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve Context: Recently, Researchers have discovered a new plant species in the genus ‘Impatiens’ (Balsaminaceae) in Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tirunelveli. Relevance: GS III: Environment and Ecology Dimensions of the Article: Discovery of ‘Impatiens Karuppusamyi’ in Agasthyamalai RegionKey Facts about Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve Discovery of ‘Impatiens Karuppusamyi’ in Agasthyamalai Region The recently discovered plant species is named ‘Impatiens Karuppusamyi’, paying tribute to S. Karuppusamy for his notable contributions to the taxonomy of South Indian angiosperms.It exclusively inhabits the Agasthyamalai region within the southern Western Ghats.Classified under the scapigerous group (stemless group), the plant graces the landscape during the monsoon season for a limited period. Impatiens Genus Overview: Genus Impatiens: Encompassing over 1,000 species of flowering plants, the genus is widespread across tropical Africa, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, and China. Key Facts about Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve: Location: Situated in the Southern Western Ghats, spanning the Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts of Tamil Nadu.Composite Sanctuaries: The reserve comprises three main sanctuaries: Kalakkad Sanctuary, Mundanthurai Sanctuary, and a segment of Kanyakumari Sanctuary.Agastya Malai Hill Range: Forming the core area of the sanctuary, this hill range is part of one of the world’s 18 biodiversity hotspots and is colloquially known as the “River Sanctuary” due to 14 rivers originating from the Tiger Reserve.Vegetation Diversity: Ranging from dry thorn forest to dry deciduous, moist deciduous, and a patch of West Coast wet evergreen forests on the higher elevations.Rich Fauna: Home to diverse wildlife, including the Lion-tailed Macaque, Nilgiri Tahr, Nilgiri Pipit, Grey Headed Bulbul, Blue Winged Parakeet, and more. -Source: The Times of India

Feb 23, 2024 Daily Current Affairs

CONTENTS Challenges in India’s Fintech Landscape: Foreign Dominance and Regulatory RecommendationsSustainable & Inclusive Development of Natural Rubber Sector (SIDNRS) SchemeNational e-Governance Service Delivery AssessmentSquare Kilometer Array ObservatoryParuveta FestivalPigeonpeaEmployees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) Challenges in India’s Fintech Landscape: Foreign Dominance and Regulatory Recommendations Context: In a recent report presented to Parliament, the Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology raised concerns regarding the dominance of foreign-owned fintech apps in India’s digital payments ecosystem. Fintech is the use of digital platforms to provide financial services. Relevance: GS III: Indian Economy Dimensions of the Article: Key Report Highlights on Digital Payments RegulationUnderstanding Fintech in IndiaFintech Landscape in India Key Report Highlights on Digital Payments Regulation: Regulation Emphasis: The committee underscores the need for effective regulation of digital payment apps due to the growing usage of digital platforms in India.Suggests that regulatory bodies like RBI and NPCI are better suited to control local apps than foreign ones operating across multiple jurisdictions. Market Dominance of Foreign Fintech: Foreign-owned fintech companies, including PhonePe and Google Pay, hold substantial market shares in India.Market distribution: PhonePe (46.91%) > Google Pay (36.39%) > BHIM UPI (0.22%) (as of Oct-Nov 2023). NPCI’s 30% Volume Cap: Aligns with NPCI’s 30% volume cap on UPI transactions for third-party apps like PhonePe and Amazon Pay.Cap implemented in November 2020 with a phased compliance period until December 2024.Aims to manage risks and maintain UPI ecosystem stability during expansion.Emphasizes the importance of consumer outreach by banks and non-banks for UPI growth. Money Laundering Concerns: Expresses worries about fintech platforms being exploited for money laundering, citing instances like the Pyppl app administered by Chinese investment scammers.Despite increased transaction volumes, the fraud-to-sales (F2S) ratio remains around 0.0015% over the last five years.UPI fraud impact on users stands at 0.0189%.F2S ratio measures the percentage of fraudulent transactions compared to the monthly sales volume for a business. Understanding Fintech in India: Definition: Fintech, or financial technology, involves leveraging digital platforms, software, and services to offer or facilitate financial services like payments, lending, insurance, and wealth management. Importance in India: Financial Inclusion: Fintech plays a crucial role in extending financial services to India’s vast unbanked and underbanked populations, particularly in rural areas.Efficiency Boost: Enhances the efficiency and convenience of financial transactions by reducing costs, time, and complexities associated with traditional methods.Economic Growth: Drives innovation and fosters economic growth by creating opportunities for entrepreneurs, startups, and consumers. Segments and Trends: Major Segments: Payments, Digital Lending, InsurTech, WealthTech.Digital Payments: Facilitates online or mobile money transfers through platforms like UPI, wallets, cards, and QR codes.Digital Lending: Provides online loans or credit to individuals and businesses using alternative data and algorithms.Insurtech: Applies technology to enhance the distribution, delivery, and management of insurance products and services.Wealthtech: Offers online platforms for investment, wealth management, and financial advisory services. Fintech Landscape in India: Market Size: India is one of the world’s fastest-growing fintech markets, with over 7,000 fintech startups.Market Growth: The Indian fintech industry was valued at USD 50 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach approximately USD 150 billion by 2025. Regulatory Oversight: Reserve Bank of India (RBI):Regulates banks, NBFCs, PSPs, and credit bureaus.Responsible for overseeing India’s money market and foreign exchange market.Regulates fintech sectors like Digital Payments, Digital Lending, and Digital or neo-banks.Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI):Regulates securities markets and intermediaries such as stockbrokers and investment advisors.Jurisdiction includes services like stockbroking and investment advisory.Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI):Regulates insurers, corporate agents, web aggregators for insurance, and third-party agents for insurance.Ensures compliance and integrity in the insurance sector. -Source: The Hindu Sustainable & Inclusive Development of Natural Rubber Sector (SIDNRS) Scheme Context: The financial assistance for the Rubber sector under the ‘Sustainable & Inclusive Development of Natural Rubber Sector (SIDNRS)’ has been increased by 23% from Rs 576.41 crore to Rs 708.69 crore for the next 2 financial years (2024-25 and 2025-26). Relevance: GS III: Agriculture Dimensions of the Article: Sustainable and Inclusive Development in India’s Natural Rubber SectorKey Facts about Natural RubberRubber Board: Nurturing India’s Rubber Industry Sustainable and Inclusive Development in India’s Natural Rubber Sector The SIDNRS scheme is a government initiative aimed at fostering sustainable and inclusive development in India’s natural rubber sector.Launched in the fiscal year 2017-18, it is executed by the Rubber Board, a statutory body operating under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Objectives: Enhance productivity and quality of natural rubber production.Encourage the adoption of sustainable rubber production practices.Improve the income and livelihoods of rubber growers.Generate employment opportunities within the rubber sector.Facilitate the development of the rubber-based industry. Components of the Scheme: Financial assistance for replanting old and uneconomical rubber trees with high-yielding and disease-resistant varieties.Financial support for intercropping rubber with other crops like pineapple, banana, and cocoa to enhance soil fertility, conserve moisture, and provide additional income.Training and extension services for rubber growers on best practices in production, processing, and marketing.Financial aid for infrastructure development in rubber-growing areas, including roads, water harvesting structures, and processing units.Support for the establishment and expansion of rubber-based industries such as tire manufacturing, footwear manufacturing, and latex processing units. Key Facts about Natural Rubber Nature and Origin: Natural rubber is a crucial and versatile raw material obtained from the latex or milky sap of specific plant species, primarily the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis).The latex comprises various organic compounds, with polyisoprene being the primary component.Introduced to tropical Asia and Africa by the British Government in the late 19th century. Growing Conditions: Ideal cultivation conditions include a tropical climate with 200 – 450 cm annual rainfall, deep and lateritic fertile soil (pH 4.5 to 6.0), and a minimum temperature of 25°C to a maximum of 34°C.Relative humidity of 80% is preferred, and regions prone to heavy winds should be avoided.Requires approximately 2000 hours of bright sunshine per annum. Production and Consumption: India ranks as the world’s 6th largest producer and the second-largest consumer of natural rubber globally (after China).Thailand leads global natural rubber production, constituting about 35% in 2022.India is the 4th-largest producer in South Asia, following Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam.Approximately 40% of India’s total natural rubber consumption is met through imports. Rubber Distribution: India has around 8.5 lakh hectares of rubber plantations.Major rubber-producing states include Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, and Assam.Kerala and the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu contribute nearly 5 lakh hectares, with Tripura adding around 1 lakh hectares. Major Applications: Predominantly used in tire production due to its excellent grip and wear resistance, with the automobile industry consuming around 65%.Commonly found in shoe soles, providing cushioning and slip-resistant properties.Used in conveyor belts, hoses, machinery components, gloves, syringe plungers, medical equipment, balloons, erasers, household gloves, tennis balls, golf balls, and protective gear. Rubber Board: Nurturing India’s Rubber Industry Statutory Foundation: Established under Section (4) of the Rubber Act, 1947.Operates under the administrative control of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Leadership and Governance: Headed by a Chairman appointed by the Central Government.Comprises 28 members representing diverse interests within the natural rubber industry. Operational Hub: The central office is situated in Kottayam, Kerala. Key Responsibilities: Tasked with fostering the development of the rubber industry in India.Plays a pivotal role in supporting and promoting research, development, extension, and training activities pertaining to rubber. Mission: Aims to facilitate the growth and advancement of India’s rubber sector by providing essential support and guidance through strategic initiatives and collaborative efforts. -Source: The Hindu, Indian Express National e-Governance Service Delivery Assessment Context: Recently, the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) has released the ‘Annual NeSDA Way Forward Report 2023’, showing that Jammu & Kashmir dominated with 1,117 e-services mapped on the NeSDA Way Forward Dashboard. Relevance: GS III: Government Policies and Interventions Dimensions of the Article: Unlocking Digital Governance: NeSDA Way Forward Report 2023 HighlightsNeSDA Portal Unlocking Digital Governance: NeSDA Way Forward Report 2023 Highlights E-Service Landscape: A total of 16,487 e-Services integrated into the NeSDA Way Forward Dashboard by December 2023.Jammu & Kashmir emerges as a leader in e-service delivery, with 1,117 mapped e-services.Tamil Nadu (1,101), Madhya Pradesh (1,010), and Kerala (911) also showcase significant strides in digital service provision. Regional Disparities: Manipur faces challenges in e-service delivery, marking disparities among states.The bottom four states/UTs include Lakshadweep (42), Ladakh (46), Sikkim (51), and Nagaland (64). Jammu & Kashmir’s Exemplary Model: Jammu & Kashmir’s commendable progress includes providing 1,120 e-services and achieving 100% service delivery through the unified e-UNNAT platform.Serves as a benchmark for other regions and a model for replication. Sectoral Saturation: Local Governance & Utility Services sector leads in the maximum provision of e-services.Tourism sector attains the highest saturation for mandatory e-services in 23 out of 36 States/UTs, followed by Environment and Labour & Employment sectors in 20 States/UTs. Evolution of Saturation: Saturation of mandatory e-services witnesses a steady rise from 48% in NeSDA 2019 to 69% in NeSDA 2021 and further to 76% in NeSDA Way Forward 2023. Challenges and Opportunities: Disparities among states underscore the need for concerted efforts to enhance digital governance, with a focus on lagging regions. NeSDA Portal: The NeSDA (National e-Governance Service Delivery Assessment) framework was launched in August 2018 to evaluate the effectiveness of e-Governance service delivery mechanisms.The Department has released two editions of the NeSDA study: NeSDA 2019 and NeSDA 2021.The framework is based on the Online Service Index (OSI) of the UN eGovernment Survey.It covers six sectors: Finance, Labour & Employment, Education, Local Government & Utilities, Social Welfare (including Agriculture & Health), and Environment (including Fire) sectors. Key Findings and Impact: The NeSDA study has led to improvements in the country’s e-Governance landscape, resulting in the following key takeaways:Increase in e-Service Delivery.Rise in the use of Integrated/Centralized Portals for the delivery of e-Services.Improvement across assessment parameter scores. Biennial Assessment: The Department conducts the NeSDA study every two years.It assesses the effectiveness of e-Governance service delivery in States, Union Territories (UTs), and focus Central Ministries.The study helps respective governments enhance the delivery of citizen-centric services and facilitates the sharing of best practices across the country. -Source: Indian Express Square Kilometer Array Observatory Context: Scientists in India will now also be part of the international mega-science project, the Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO), that will function as the world’s largest radio telescope. India’s Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) is amongst the world’s six large telescopes. Relevance: GS III: Science and Technology Dimensions of the Article: Radio TelescopesSquare Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO): Overview and India’s RoleGiant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT)Gravitational Waves Radio Telescopes: Detection of Radio Waves: Radio telescopes are instruments designed to detect and amplify radio waves emanating from space, converting them into signals for astronomers to decipher. Universal Observations through Light Waves: Astronomy involves observing various waves of light.Stars, galaxies, and celestial objects emit visible light as well as electromagnetic waves like radio waves, gamma rays, X-rays, and infrared radiation. Components of a Radio Telescope: A basic radio telescope consists of three essential components:One or more antennas pointed towards the sky to gather radio waves.A receiver and amplifier to strengthen the weak radio signals to measurable levels.A recorder to document and preserve the received signals. Versatility of Radio Telescopes: Radio telescopes are operational both day and night, providing astronomers with continuous opportunities for observation. Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO): Overview and India’s Role The Square Kilometer Array is an international radio telescope project situated in Australia and South Africa.Its construction in the southern hemisphere is chosen for the optimal view of the Milky Way galaxy and minimal radio interference.Participating countries include the UK, Australia, South Africa, Canada, China, France, India, Italy, and Germany. Objective: Aims to construct and operate cutting-edge radio telescopes to revolutionize our understanding of the Universe, fostering global collaboration and innovation. Construction Phases: The project has two construction phases: SKA1 (current) and a potential future phase known as SKA2.Construction began in December 2022 in both South Africa and Australia. Headquarters: Jodrell Bank Observatory, United Kingdom. India’s Role: India, through the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) and other institutions, has been involved in SKAO’s development since the 1990s.India’s primary contribution is in developing and operating the Telescope Manager element, the crucial software enabling the telescope’s functionality.NCRA led an international team from nine institutions and seven countries in this software development.Countries must sign and ratify the SKAO convention to formalize their membership.Recently, the Central Government of India decided to join the project, allocating a financial sanction of Rs 1,250 crore. Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) GMRT is a low-frequency radio telescope used for investigating various radio astrophysical phenomena, ranging from nearby solar systems to the edge of the observable universe.It is located at Khodad, situated 80 km north of Pune, and is operated by the National Centre of Radio Astrophysics (NCRA).The NCRA is a part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) based in Mumbai.GMRT is a project of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and operates under the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).The telescope consists of 30 fully-steerable dish-type antennas, each with a diameter of 45 meters, spread over a 25-km region.Presently, GMRT holds the distinction of being the world’s largest radio telescope operating at meter wavelengths. The objectives of GMRT include: Detecting highly redshifted spectral lines of neutral Hydrogen: GMRT aims to detect the faint signals of neutral Hydrogen in its highly redshifted state.This can provide insights into the early phase of the Universe when proto-clusters or protogalaxies were forming before condensing into galaxies.Redshift, in this context, refers to the change in the wavelength of the signal based on the object’s location and movement. Studying rapidly-rotating Pulsars in our galaxy: GMRT is also used to search for and study pulsars, which are rapidly rotating neutron stars with extremely high densities.Pulsars emit regular radio beams that flash towards the Earth, similar to how a lighthouse emits beams.By studying pulsars, scientists can gain valuable information about their properties, behavior, and the surrounding environment. Significance of GMRT The significance of GMRT lies in its unique capabilities and contributions to various fields of astrophysics. Some key points highlighting its significance are: Wide frequency bandwidth: GMRT operates within the frequency range of 100 MHz to 1,500 MHz, allowing it to observe a broad range of radio emissions and signals from celestial objects.This wide frequency coverage enables the study of diverse astrophysical phenomena. International collaboration: GMRT is highly sought-after by scientists from more than 30 countries, demonstrating its recognition and importance in the global scientific community.Its capabilities and data are valuable for researchers worldwide. Tracing the evolution of galaxies: GMRT plays a crucial role in understanding the evolution of galaxies over cosmic time.By detecting and analyzing the radio emissions from atomic hydrogen (21 cm wavelength), GMRT enables scientists to trace the distribution and behavior of neutral gas in galaxies.This gas is essential for star formation and provides insights into the processes involved in galaxy evolution. Studying distant galaxies: GMRT’s large collecting area and sensitivity allow for the detection of faint radio signals emitted by distant galaxies.This is particularly important when studying the 21 cm emission from atomic hydrogen in distant galaxies, which is otherwise challenging to detect.GMRT’s data contributes to our understanding of galaxies across different cosmological periods. Wide range of astrophysical studies: GMRT’s capabilities extend beyond galaxy evolution.Its large collecting area and frequency coverage make it a useful instrument for studying various astrophysical phenomena.This includes investigating solar and planetary radio emissions, studying the relationship between solar activity and disturbances in the interplanetary medium, and exploring other frontier areas of astrophysics. Gravitational Waves Gravitational waves are space-time ripples resulting from violent and energetic processes in the Universe.Albert Einstein predicted their existence in 1916 through his general theory of relativity.According to Einstein’s mathematics, massive accelerating objects, such as orbiting black holes or neutron stars, disrupt space-time, causing undulating waves to propagate in all directions.These waves carry information about their origins and provide insights into the nature of gravity.Massive objects like neutron stars or black holes orbiting each other are sources of gravitational waves. Production of Gravitational Waves Cataclysmic events, including colliding black holes, supernovae, and colliding neutron stars, generate the strongest gravitational waves.Gravitational waves can also be produced by non-spherical rotating neutron stars and possibly remnants of gravitational radiation from the Big Bang. Feature Gravitational waves are challenging to detect due to their weak interaction with matter.Interferometers, highly sensitive instruments, have been developed to detect these waves.The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is a well-known example that achieved the first direct detection of gravitational waves in 2015. -Source: The Hindu, Indian Express Paruveta Festival Context: The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is making efforts to secure UNESCO recognition for the annual ‘Paruveta’ festival. Relevance: GS I: History Dimensions of the Article: Paruveta Festival: A Celebration of Communal Harmony and TraditionKey Facts about Chenchu Tribes Paruveta Festival: A Celebration of Communal Harmony and Tradition Overview: Celebrated at Sri Narasimha Swamy temple in Ahobilam, Andhra Pradesh.Also known as the ‘mock hunting festival.’ Inclusivity and Communal Harmony: Celebrated by people of all castes, fostering communal harmony.Devotees from diverse religious communities, including Muslims, participate. Origin and Folklore: Linked to the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Narasimha in Ahobilam.Folklore narrates Lord Vishnu’s marriage to tribal girl Chenchulakshmi, symbolizing unity. Special Rituals and Duration: Paruveta rituals extend for a ‘mandala’ (forty days), distinguishing it from common Vijayadasami or Sankranti observances.Deity taken to 32 Chenchu tribal villages during the festival. Ceremonial Activities: Devotees aim bows and shoot two arrows at the palanquin to express reverence and signify protective cover.Chenchus undergo ‘Narasimha Deeksha,’ donning yellow robes and Tulasi Mala, observing celibacy.Temple staff reside in tribal hamlets, reflecting a casteless society of the past with no untouchability. Symbolism and Tradition: Festival encapsulates traditions, communal unity, and spiritual significance.The unique duration of 40 days sets it apart, emphasizing the rich cultural tapestry of Ahobilam. Key Facts about Chenchu Tribes Geographical Presence: Primarily inhabit the hills of southern India, with a significant population in Andhra Pradesh.Also found in states such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Orissa. Language and Communication: Native language, Chenchu, belongs to the Dravidian language family.Many Chenchus are bilingual, also speaking Telugu, the language of their Hindu neighbors. Shift in Livelihood: Historically nomadic food-gatherers, many Chenchu have transitioned to settled lives as farmers or forest laborers.Displacement from traditional lifestyles due to increasing agricultural activities. Habitat and Architecture: Dwell in hive-shaped houses constructed with wattle thatch (intertwined poles, twigs, reeds, or branches). Social Structure: Social organization includes clans, local groups, and families.Exogamous practice prohibits marriage within the same clan.Follow patrilineal descent, tracing lineage through males. Cultural Adaptation: Adoption of Hindu deities from neighboring Telugu tribe due to increased interaction with plains people. Challenges and Adaptation: Economic shifts and cultural assimilation pose challenges to traditional Chenchu ways of life.Resilience and adaptation in the face of changing socio-economic landscapes. -Source: The Hindu Pigeonpea Context: According to the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) a new fast-breeding protocol is likely to make it easier for scientists to develop better quality varieties of the pigeonpea crop at a faster rate. Relevance: GS III: Agriculture Pigeonpea: Also known as arhar and tur, Pigeonpea is a significant legume crop and a key source of protein in India.Mainly consumed as dal, it thrives in semi-arid tropical regions. Climatic Conditions: Requires 600-650mm annual rainfall, with initial moist conditions and dry phases during flowering.Grows at temperatures between 26°C to 30°C in the rainy season and 17°C to 22°C post-rainy season.Adaptable to various soils, but sandy loam or loam soil is optimal. Cultivation Practices: Often intercropped with various crops; 80-90% in India.Susceptible to diseases like Wilt, Sterility Mosaic Disease, Phytophthora Blight, Alternaria Blight, and Powdery Mildew. Challenges and Concerns: Long growth cycle and sensitivity to day length hamper breeding efforts.Limited release of global varieties over six decades. Health Benefits: Low glycemic index and rich in essential nutrients like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamins, and minerals. Major Producing States: Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, and Jharkhand. New ICRISAT Protocols: Aim to accelerate Pigeonpea breeding, reducing the development time from 13 years to 2-4 years.Manipulates factors like photoperiod, temperature, humidity, and breeding cycles for faster results. -Source: Down To Earth Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) Context: A data breach that impacted the systems of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) in 2018 exposing the personal data of millions of Indians was found to have been “repackaged” by a Chinese cyber agency, as per a preliminary probe by New Delhi’s cybersecurity agency. Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance About Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) is a statutory body established under the Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act of 1952. Here are some key points about EPFO: EPFO is responsible for administering the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), Pension Scheme (EPS), and Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme (EDLI) for the organized sector workforce in India.The EPF scheme allows employees to contribute a portion of their salary towards a provident fund, which accumulates with interest and provides a lump sum upon retirement or death.Partial withdrawals from the EPF are allowed for specific purposes such as education, marriage, illness, and house construction.EPFO also operates the EPS, which provides monthly pension benefits for superannuation, disability, survivor, widow(er), and children.The EPS also includes a minimum pension for disablement and provides past service benefits for participants of the erstwhile Family Pension Scheme.The EDLI scheme offers insurance coverage to EPFO members, providing a benefit in case of the member’s death. The benefit amount is calculated as 20 times the wages, with a maximum benefit of 6 lakh rupees.EPFO is governed by the Central Board of Trustees, Employees’ Provident Fund, which consists of representatives from the government, employers, and employees.EPFO has a wide presence across the country, with offices located in 122 locations.It is one of the largest organizations globally in terms of clientele and the volume of financial transactions it handles.EPFO operates under the administrative control of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India. -Source: Down To Earth