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Jul 13, 2024 Daily PIB Summaries

CONTENTS AgriSURE AgriSURE Context: The Government to soon launch an ‘Agri Fund for Start-Ups & Rural Enterprises’ (AgriSURE) to provide support to Startup and Agripreneurs. Relevance: GS III: Agriculture Introduction to AgriSURE Initiative The Government of India is set to launch the ‘Agri Fund for Start-Ups & Rural Enterprises’ (AgriSURE) aimed at bolstering innovation and sustainability in the agricultural sector. This initiative seeks to support start-ups and agripreneurs through investments in sector-specific and sector-agnostic Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs), as well as direct equity assistance. Key Details of AgriSURE Fund Allocation: AgriSURE will be established with an initial corpus of ₹750 crore, comprising contributions from NABARD, the Ministry of Agriculture, and other institutional stakeholders. Fund Structure: It will operate as a Category-II Alternative Investment Fund (AIF), providing both equity and debt support. The fund targets high-risk, high-impact activities across the agriculture value chain. Launch Event: The announcement was made at a stakeholder meet at NABARD Headquarters in Mumbai. Key attendees included financial institutions, investors, AIF managers, and agri-startups. Objectives and Focus Areas Objectives: Foster an ecosystem that enhances financing opportunities for the agriculture sector, particularly benefiting small and marginal farmers. Focus Areas: Innovation in agriculture technologies. Strengthening the farm produce value chain. Developing rural infrastructure. Creating employment opportunities. Supporting Farmers Producer Organizations (FPOs). Specific Initiatives: Encouraging IT-based solutions for agriculture. Promoting machinery rental services for farmers. Management and Operations Fund Manager: NABVENTURES, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NABARD, will manage AgriSURE. Duration: The fund is designed to operate for 10 years, extendable by two or more years as needed. AgriSURE Greenathon 2024 Purpose: Launched alongside the fund, the AgriSURE Greenathon 2024 is a hackathon aimed at addressing critical challenges in agriculture through innovative solutions. Themes: Smart Agriculture on a Budget: Overcoming cost barriers to advanced agriculture technologies. Turning Agri-Waste into Profit: Transforming agricultural waste into profitable ventures. Tech Solutions for Regenerative Agriculture: Promoting economically viable regenerative agriculture practices. Call to Action: NABARD invites participation from young innovators to contribute towards advancing India’s agricultural sector under the theme of ‘Viksit Bharat’. Conclusion AgriSURE represents a significant step towards enhancing agricultural innovation and sustainability in India. By fostering public-private collaboration and supporting disruptive solutions, the initiative aims to catalyze transformative growth in the agriculture sector, benefitting farmers and stakeholders across the country.

Jul 13, 2024 Daily Editorials Analysis

CONTENTS The PDS Impact on Household Expenditure Monitoring of Transport Vehicles The PDS Impact on Household Expenditure Context: The Public Distribution System (PDS) is a crucial social security initiative in India aimed at ensuring food security. Currently, under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) of 2013, up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population are eligible for subsidised foodgrains. By reducing the cost of these foodgrains, households can allocate more resources to other food items, other nutrient and protein-rich foods. An empirical question is whether households diversify their food consumption as a result. Relevance: GS3- Food Security Public Distribution System Mains Question: Discuss the significance that the Public Distribution System (PDS) holds for India’s population. Has PDS led to an allocation of resources towards diversification of food choices for households? (15 Marks, 250 Words). Household Consumption Expenditure Survey (HCES) 2022-23: The upcoming data from the Household Consumption Expenditure Survey (HCES) for 2022-23 will renew interest in studying the impact of free food from the PDS on expenditure for other food items. Regarding representativeness, the HCES:2022-23 collected information on both food and non-food items received by households through various social welfare programmes. Detailed information is available in the HCES:2022-23 report by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) on the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation website, specifically on pages 15 to 18. The survey aims to provide insights into the characteristics of households receiving benefits rather than precise estimates of beneficiaries for each scheme. Typically, survey estimates of programme coverage are lower than administrative data suggests. Common issues in PDS literature include inclusion errors (ineligible households consuming PDS resources) and exclusion errors (eligible households not consuming PDS foodgrains). Researchers will compare the survey data on households consuming PDS items with NFSA coverage data. Significance of Survey Data: While interpreting these estimates requires caution, the survey data is valuable for examining the characteristics of households reporting benefits from the programmes. Unless detailed information is obtained about the nature of an ailment or disease in the case of health shocks, and fee waivers or reimbursements in education, it is not possible to impute the value of free medical and education services received by households. The NSSO conducts separate surveys for education and health, gathering detailed information on out-of-pocket expenses and free services availed by households. Some may wonder why data on household payments cannot be used to impute the value of medical services. Insurance products are considered investments, not consumption, and relevant information is collected in the All India Debt & Investment Survey, not the HCES. To aid analysts and researchers, the NSSO has decided for the first time to impute the value of selected food and non-food items received for free. This allows for the calculation of two metrics: the Monthly Per Capita Consumption Expenditure (MPCE) of a household, which is the ratio of monthly consumption expenditure to household size, and the value of household consumption in a month considering the imputed value of free food and non-food items, termed ‘MPCE with imputation’. Both metrics are published by the NSSO in its report. Imputation of Values: The NSSO has proposed two sets of values for each state and sector (rural and urban) to impute the value of food and non-food items received for free: the modal unit price and the 25th percentile unit price. While consumption expenditure refers to out-of-pocket spending, the value of consumption includes both free and subsidized items used by households. In its report, the NSSO used the modal price for imputing values only for items received free, not subsidized items. Therefore, no imputation is done for food items purchased from the PDS at regulated nominal prices. The main item that many households received for free was foodgrains from the PDS. At the all-India level, about 94% and 95% of the imputed value in rural and urban areas, respectively, is attributable to food items. When considering all households, including those that did not receive any free items, the imputed value for food is ₹82 in rural areas and ₹59 in urban areas. The NSSO report includes the average value of MPCE among various fractile classes, which are divisions of the population based on their MPCE. For the bottom 5% of the MPCE distribution, the average MPCE is ₹1,373 in rural areas and ₹2,001 in urban areas. This means that 5% of Indians have an MPCE below these amounts. When examining the imputed value of consumption for those at the lower end of the rural distribution, it is found that 20% of individuals in the bottom 5% actually belong to the next higher class (5%-10%), representing about 86 lakh people in rural India. Similar upward movement patterns are observed up to the sixth fractile class in rural areas and in urban areas as well. Conclusion: Since the report’s release, there has been ongoing debate about where to set the poverty line. A key issue to consider is whether to estimate the number of poor households based on their expenditure alone or based on the total value of their consumption, including the value of free items they receive. It is evident that in-kind social transfers significantly impact the well-being of households at the lower end of the consumption or income distribution. Monitoring of Transport Vehicles Context: On July 10, in Uttar Pradesh, a private double-decker bus collided with a milk tanker, resulting in 18 fatalities. Local reports indicated that the bus’s insurance had not been renewed and it lacked an alarm system to alert the driver if the bus drifted from its lane, among other issues. If the State government’s inquiry confirms these details, they will underscore the complex nature of road safety. Relevance: GS3- Industry and Infrastructure Mains Question: In the context of rising road accidents of transport vehicles, examine the corelation between factors of road safety and accidents. What can be done to minimise such incidents in the future? (15 Marks, 250 Words). Road Safety: Road safety encompasses factors such as road and highway design, the presence of roadside businesses, speed and access control, and visibility, all crucial for protecting lives. These findings should also draw attention to the reluctance of municipal authorities and local bodies to scrutinize public and licensed private infrastructure until after lives are lost. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2022, 1.71 lakh people died, and 4.23 lakh were injured in 4.46 lakh road accidents. A 2023 IIT Delhi report estimated 11.3 road-accident deaths per lakh population in 2021, highlighting a public health crisis exacerbated by data inconsistencies and underreporting. Road Accidents in India-2022: Number of Road Accidents: In 2022, India experienced a total of 4,61,312 road accidents, resulting in 1,68,491 fatalities and 4,43,366 injuries. Compared to the previous year, these figures reflect an 11.9% increase in accidents, a 9.4% rise in fatalities, and a significant 15.3% surge in injuries. Road safety is a global issue, with 1.3 million deaths annually from road crashes. Notably, nearly one in four road deaths worldwide occurs in India. According to WHO data, approximately 3,00,000 people are killed on Indian roads each year, equating to more than 34 deaths every hour, and this is a conservative estimate. The number of individuals suffering life-altering injuries from road crashes is even higher. Road Accident Distribution: 32.9% of accidents occurred on National Highways and Expressways. 23.1% on State Highways. 43.9% on other roads. 36.2% of fatalities happened on National Highways. 24.3% on State Highways. 39.4% on other roads. Demographic Impact: Young adults (18-45 years) comprised 66.5% of the victims in 2022. Individuals in the working age group (18-60 years) accounted for 83.4% of total road accident fatalities. Rural vs. Urban Accidents: 68% of road accident deaths occurred in rural areas. 32% occurred in urban areas. Vehicle Categories: Two-wheelers had the highest share of total accidents and fatalities for the second consecutive year. Light vehicles (cars, jeeps, taxis) ranked second. Road-User Categories: Two-wheeler riders made up 44.5% of fatalities. Pedestrians were the second-largest group, with 19.5% of fatalities. State-Specific Data: Tamil Nadu recorded the highest number of road accidents in 2022 (13.9% of total accidents), followed by Madhya Pradesh (11.8%). Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of road accident fatalities (13.4%), followed by Tamil Nadu (10.6%). Understanding these state-specific trends is crucial for implementing targeted interventions. Speed control is particularly critical, as it is a major factor in most fatal road accidents in the country. Following the bus accident, police reported that the collision had ejected passengers from the bus. Public officials are aware of measures to control speed in urban and rural areas, such as strategically placed speed-breakers, roundabouts, and increased police monitoring. Additionally, it should be clear which portions of the Automotive Industry Standards were violated by the bus’s condition at the time of the accident. Way Forward: There are three ways forward. First, local authorities must enforce existing standards with skilled personnel and proper equipment. They should be empowered to impose harsher penalties on transport service operators who fail to meet safety requirements. Municipal bodies must be prevented from diluting standards specified by engineers to facilitate local businesses. Second, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways needs to collect and publish more comprehensive data on vehicle registrations, safety certificates, testing centers, criteria, and reports and audits. It also needs to improve the quality of data on injuries and deaths, both of which are currently undercounted. Finally, there needs to be greater public awareness of how the health of transport vehicles is assessed and access to each vehicle’s latest test report. This might be challenging due to general complacency towards quality control and unscrupulous operators evading sanctions, but it is a necessary step to ensure safety. Conclusion: The approach to road safety must be proactive, not reactive. The public plays an equally important role as the government. A collaborative and dedicated effort from both the government and citizens can reduce road accidents and save precious lives.

Jul 13, 2024 Daily Current Affairs

CONTENTS United Nations High Seas Treaty UNESCO Calls for Improved Soil Protection to Avert Global Degradation Crisis Dark Web ANI Sues Wikipedia Over Allegedly Defamatory Content Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Salvinia molesta MeDevIS Platform United Nations High Seas Treaty Context: India has recently endorsed and approved the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement, also known as the High Seas Treaty. This international agreement aims to safeguard marine biodiversity in the high seas through global collaboration and operates within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Relevance: GS II: International Relations Dimensions of the Article: About UN High Seas Treaty What are High Seas? About UN High Seas Treaty: The High Seas Treaty, formally known as the Agreement on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), represents a significant international effort to address environmental challenges in the high seas. Here are the key aspects and significance of the treaty: Key Aspects of the High Seas Treaty: Legal Framework and Objectives: UNCLOS Framework: Operates under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), addressing gaps in the governance of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions. Conservation and Sustainability: Aims to reduce pollution, conserve biodiversity, and promote sustainable use of marine resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Key Objectives: Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): Establishes MPAs to regulate activities and conserve marine ecosystems. Equitable Benefit-sharing: Ensures fair distribution of benefits from marine genetic resources, balancing scientific research and commercial exploitation. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs): Mandates EIAs for activities with potential impacts on the marine environment, regardless of jurisdiction. Status of Adoption: International Support: As of June 2024, 91 countries have signed the treaty, with 8 having ratified it. It becomes legally binding 120 days after ratification by 60 countries. Significance of the High Seas Treaty: Global Commons Stewardship: Addressing Environmental Challenges: Mitigates resource overexploitation, biodiversity loss, and pollution (e.g., plastic waste) in the high seas, covering 64% of the ocean. Comparative to Paris Agreement: Parallel to Climate Efforts: Likened to the Paris Agreement, the treaty aims to safeguard the oceans’ health and promote sustainable resource use. Alignment with UNCLOS: Implementing UNCLOS: Provides specific guidelines under UNCLOS principles for equitable resource usage and biodiversity protection. Managing Emerging Challenges: Deep-Sea Mining and Plastic Pollution: Addresses emerging threats like deep-sea mining, ocean acidification, and plastic pollution through robust governance. Institutional Framework and Cooperation: Enhanced International Cooperation: Establishes mechanisms for international cooperation and decision-making on ocean governance. Contribution to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG 14 (Life Below Water): Supports SDG 14 by promoting conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. Significance for India: Global Environmental Leadership: Commitment to Sustainability: Demonstrates India’s leadership in ocean governance and sustainability, particularly through initiatives like Marine Protected Areas. Economic and Strategic Benefits: Blue Economy Goals: Aligns with India’s Blue Economy aspirations, offering economic opportunities from marine genetic resources. Regional and International Positioning: Indo-Pacific Engagement: Strengthens India’s Indo-Pacific strategy, supporting a sustainable maritime environment through initiatives like SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region). What are High Seas? High seas refer to the areas of the oceans that are beyond the national jurisdiction of any country. Here are some key points to note: The high seas begin at the border of countries’ exclusive economic zones beyond 370 km (200 nautical miles) from a country’s coastline and extend up to the outer limits of the continental shelf. All countries have the right to use the high seas for shipping, fishing, and scientific research. The high seas comprise more than 60% of the world’s oceans by surface area. Due to a lack of regulation and monitoring, activities on the high seas are often vulnerable to exploitation, making it important to protect them through international treaties and agreements. -Source: The Hindu UNESCO Calls for Improved Soil Protection to Avert Global Degradation Crisis Context: At an international conference in Agadir, Morocco, the UNESCO Director-General urged its 194 Member States to enhance soil protection and rehabilitation. The organization warned that by 2050, up to 90% of the planet’s soil could be degraded, posing a significant threat to global biodiversity and human life. Relevance: GS III: Environment and Ecology Dimensions of the Article: Insights on Global Soil Degradation by UNESCO Causes and Impacts of Soil Degradation Initiatives Related to Management of Soil Way Forward and Sustainable Soil Management Practices Insights on Global Soil Degradation by UNESCO: Extent and Impact: According to the World Atlas of Desertification, 75% of soils are already degraded, directly impacting 3.2 billion people. This trend could worsen, affecting up to 90% of soils by 2050. Soil degradation encompasses biological, chemical, and physical decline in soil quality, leading to reduced capacity to provide ecosystem goods and services. Initiatives and Programs: World Soil Health Index: UNESCO plans to establish a global soil health index in collaboration with international partners. This index aims to standardize soil quality measurement, identify trends in degradation or improvement, and highlight vulnerable areas. Pilot Programme for Sustainable Soil Management: UNESCO is launching a pilot programme in ten natural sites supported by its Biosphere Reserves Programme. This initiative focuses on assessing and improving soil and landscape management methods while promoting best practices globally. Capacity Building: UNESCO intends to train member government agencies, indigenous communities, and conservation organizations in accessing tools for soil protection and sustainable management. Causes and Impacts of Soil Degradation: Causes of Soil Degradation: Physical Factors: Include erosion from rainfall, surface runoff, floods, wind, and tillage. Biological Factors: Human and plant activities that reduce soil quality, such as deforestation and unsustainable agricultural practices. Chemical Factors: Nutrient reduction due to changes in soil pH (alkalinity or acidity), waterlogging, and contamination by pollutants like heavy metals. Impacts of Soil Degradation: Food Security: Degraded soils reduce agricultural productivity, contributing to food insecurity, especially in impoverished regions. Ecosystem Services: Diminished soil health affects ecosystem services such as water filtration, nutrient cycling, and carbon sequestration. Climate Change: Soil degradation impacts carbon stocks and contributes to climate change mitigation challenges. Global and Regional Context: Globally, approximately 33% of soils are moderately to highly degraded, with significant concentrations in Africa, where 40% of degraded soils are located. In India, about 30% of soils are degraded, driven by factors like erosion, deforestation, urbanization, and industrial pollution. Historical Context and Interventions: Historical practices like the Green Revolution, while boosting food production, also contributed to soil degradation due to intensive agricultural practices. Deforestation, urbanization, and industrialization have further exacerbated soil degradation by altering land use and introducing pollutants. Initiatives Related to Management of Soil Initiatives related to the management of soil encompass a range of global efforts aimed at promoting sustainable soil practices, enhancing soil health, and addressing the challenges of degradation. Here’s an overview of key initiatives and their objectives: Global Soil Partnership (GSP): Establishment: Founded in 2012 and hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Objectives: Prioritizes soils in the global agenda, promotes sustainable soil management practices, and supports initiatives for food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and sustainable development. World Soil Day: Purpose: Celebrated annually on December 5th to raise awareness about the importance of healthy soil and promote sustainable soil management. Official Recognition: Designated by the 68th UN General Assembly in 2013, with the first official celebration on December 5, 2014. Bonn Challenge: Goal: Aims to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested landscapes by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. Partnership: Launched by the Government of Germany and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2011. Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN): Objective: UNCCD’s goal to achieve a state where land resources are stable or increasing in quality, supporting ecosystems, food security, and human well-being. Timeline: Targeted to stop and reverse land degradation globally by 2030. Recarbonization of Agricultural Soils (RECSOIL): Led by: FAO initiative aimed at decarbonizing global agricultural soils. Method: Focuses on increasing soil organic carbon (SOC) through sustainable soil management practices like crop rotation, cover cropping, and reduced tillage. Way Forward and Sustainable Soil Management Practices: Restoring Soil Health: Practices include enhancing soil organic matter, improving water retention, and increasing biodiversity through sustainable methods. Use of Organic Amendments: Biochar, compost, and other organic materials improve soil structure and fertility. Agroforestry Integration: Integrating trees and shrubs into agricultural landscapes to prevent soil erosion and enhance soil fertility. Global Database on Soil Health: Standardized monitoring and tracking progress to inform targeted interventions and policy decisions. Urban Soil Management: Integration of green roofs, bioswales, and urban parks to promote rainwater infiltration, reduce runoff, and create healthy soil pockets in cities. Remediation of Contaminated Soils: Utilizing microbes, plants, and phytomining to break down or neutralize contaminants, promoting natural soil healing and regeneration. -Source: Down To Earth Dark Web Context: Recently, the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET-UG) and University Grants Commission-National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) exam paper leaks on the dark web before the exam have sparked nationwide protests and concerns.  Relevance: GS III: Science and Technology Dimensions of the Article: Dark Web Data Governance Provisions in India Dark Web: The dark web comprises unindexed sites accessible only through specialized web browsers, forming a smaller but concealed part of the internet. It requires special software, configurations, or authorization for access, making it intentionally hidden and challenging for average users to reach. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Data Breach: PII includes information that can identify an individual, ranging from direct identifiers like passport details to quasi-identifiers. Threat actors on the dark web claimed to possess PII of 815 million Indians, including Aadhaar and passport details, sourced from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Data Source and Authentication Challenges: The threat actors did not disclose how they obtained the data, posing challenges in identifying the data leak’s source. Claims of a 1.8 terabyte data leak from an unnamed “India internal law enforcement agency” by a threat actor named Lucius are yet to be authenticated. India’s Cybersecurity Landscape: India, a rapidly growing economy, ranked 4th globally in malware detection in H1 2023, exposing the vulnerability of its digital infrastructure. Unrest in West Asia contributed to an increase in cyber attacks, elevating the risk of digital identity theft as threat actors exploit stolen identity information for various cyber-enabled financial crimes. Data Governance Provisions in India: IT Amendment Act, 2008: Encompasses privacy provisions, but largely specific to situations like restricting the publication of names of juveniles and rape victims. Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd) vs Union of India 2017: Supreme Court declared Indians have a constitutionally protected fundamental right to privacy under Article 21. B.N. Srikrishna Committee 2017: Expert committee appointed for data protection submitted recommendations in July 2018, proposing measures like restrictions on data processing, a Data Protection Authority, and the right to be forgotten. IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021: Mandates social media platforms to exercise greater diligence in managing content on their platforms. Proposal of ‘Digital India Act’, 2023: Aims to replace the IT Act, 2000, addressing gaps in the cybersecurity landscape and data privacy rights, promoting innovation, startups, and citizen protection. Way Forward: Recommendation for using “masked Aadhaar” to enhance privacy and security, displaying only the last four digits. Suggestion to amend the Aadhaar Act for independent oversight through an “Identity Review Committee.” Limiting mandatory Aadhaar usage to permissible purposes and providing alternative authentication methods when Aadhaar fails. Users advised to lock their Aadhaar data through the UIDAI website or app for added protection, rendering compromised biometric information useless. -Source: The Hindu ANI Sues Wikipedia Over Allegedly Defamatory Content Context: Asian News International (ANI) has filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court against Wikipedia, accusing the platform of hosting allegedly defamatory content on ANI’s Wikipedia page. The news agency is seeking Rs 2 crore in damages, claiming the content is “palpably false” and has tarnished its reputation and discredited its goodwill. Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article: What is the Legal Basis for ANI’s Case Against Wikipedia? Previous Supreme Court Rulings Related to Wikipedia What is the Legal Basis for ANI’s Case Against Wikipedia? The legal basis for ANI’s case against Wikipedia revolves around provisions under the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, particularly focusing on intermediary liability and safe harbour protections: Legal Basis under the IT Act, 2000: Definition of Intermediary (Section 2(1)(w)): The IT Act defines intermediaries as entities that handle electronic records on behalf of others. This includes a wide range of entities such as internet service providers, web-hosting services, and search engines. Safe Harbour Clause (Section 79): Section 79(1) provides legal protection to intermediaries against liability for any third-party content or information hosted or transmitted through their platforms. Section 79(2)(b) lays down conditions for intermediaries to qualify for safe harbour protection, including: Observing due diligence while discharging their duties. Not initiating the transmission, selecting the receiver of transmission, or modifying the information contained in the transmission. Complying with government directions such as the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, 2021, or court orders. Section 79(3) specifies that the safe harbour protection will not apply if the intermediary fails to promptly remove or disable access to specified material upon notification by the government. Authentication of Electronic Records (Section 3): This section allows subscribers to authenticate electronic records using digital signatures, ensuring the use of cryptographic systems for secure authentication. Previous Supreme Court Rulings Related to Wikipedia: Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers Organisation of India v. Wikipedia Foundation Case, 2022: The Supreme Court dismissed petitions alleging that a Wikipedia article was defamatory. The court advised petitioners to either edit the article or seek legal remedies through appropriate channels. Hewlett Packard India Sales v. Commissioner of Customs Case, 2023: The Supreme Court observed that adjudicating authorities had extensively relied on online sources, including Wikipedia, to support their conclusions in legal disputes. The court cautioned against the use of crowd-sourced and user-generated platforms like Wikipedia for legal dispute resolution, highlighting concerns over potential inaccuracies and misleading information. -Source: Indian Express Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Context: Recently, Indian scientists have developed an open-source tool to generate an infrared star catalogue for the Adaptive Optics System (AOS) of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). Relevance: GS III: Science and Technology Dimensions of the Article: Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Indian Contribution Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT): Objective: A 30-meter diameter primary-mirror optical and infrared telescope for deep space observations. Collaboration: Joint effort involving institutions from the U.S., Japan, China, Canada, and India. Capabilities: World’s most advanced ground-based optical, near-infrared, and mid-infrared observatory. Incorporates innovations in precision control, segmented mirror design, and adaptive optics. Segmented Mirror: Core component with 492 individual segments. When aligned, forms a single reflective surface of 30m diameter. Location: Mauna Kea, an inactive volcano on the island of Hawai’i, USA. Indian Contribution: Expected Contribution: India poised to be a major contributor. Contribution includes hardware (segment support assemblies, actuators, edge sensors, segment polishing, and coating), instrumentation (first light instruments), and software (observatory software and telescope control systems). Monetary Value: Indian contribution valued at $200 million. Consortium Leadership: Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIAP) leads the consortium of Indian institutions involved in the TMT project. Funding: Joint funding by the Departments of Science and Technology and Atomic Energy in India. -Source: Indian Express Salvinia Molesta Context: Recently, it is reported that an exotic beetle released into a vast reservoir in Betul district has successfully eradicated an invasive weed species, Salvinia molesta, within 18 months. Relevance: GS III: Environment and Ecology Dimensions of the Article: Salvinia molesta Salvinia molesta Nature and Impact Salvinia molesta, known as Water Fern, is a highly destructive aquatic fern. Originating from Southeastern Brazil, it is classified as an aggressive alien invasive weed. Habitat Preferences It thrives in tropical, sub-tropical, or warm temperate regions. Salvinia molesta prefers habitats with still or slow-moving water bodies such as ditches, ponds, lakes, slow rivers, and canals. Introduction in India Locally referred to as “Chinese Jhalaar”, this invasive species was first identified in India in 2018. By 2019, it had completely covered entire reservoirs where it took hold. Environmental Impact The fern forms dense mats on water surfaces, significantly hindering water flow. These mats also reduce light penetration and oxygen levels in affected water bodies. Human Introduction and Uses It has been introduced globally as an ornamental plant due to its aesthetic appeal. In dry areas near water bodies, Salvinia molesta has been utilized as mulch for agricultural crops. -Source: The Hindu MeDevIS Platform Context: Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has introduced an online platform called MeDevIS. Relevance: Facts for Prelims MeDevIS Platform Introduction The Medical Devices Information System (MeDevIS) is a pioneering global open-access clearinghouse for medical device information. Purpose MeDevIS is designed to support governments, regulators, and users in making informed decisions regarding the selection, procurement, and utilization of medical devices. These devices are essential for diagnosing, testing, and treating various diseases and health conditions. Replacing Traditional Methods It replaces traditional paper-based literature searches across multiple publications, which often involve non-standard device names, thus simplifying the complexity of information retrieval. Simplifying Device Naming MeDevIS aims to streamline the naming of medical devices, providing clarity and standardization across global platforms. International Naming Systems European Medical Device Nomenclature (EMDN): Predominantly used in European countries for registering devices in the European database. Global Medical Device Nomenclature (GMDN): Employed by regulatory agencies in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the USA, and other member states for regulatory approval, procurement, supply, inventory management, tracking, and pricing. Features and Benefits These naming systems incorporate codes and definitions that facilitate device registration, regulatory approval, procurement, inventory management in healthcare facilities, and pricing. MeDevIS assists national policy-makers in developing or updating national procurement lists for health technologies, contributing to progress towards universal health coverage. It supports health insurance agencies and reimbursement policies, ensuring patients have access to necessary medical technologies. Conclusion MeDevIS plays a crucial role in enhancing transparency, efficiency, and accessibility in the global medical device landscape, benefiting healthcare systems, regulators, and ultimately, patients worldwide. -Source: WHO