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Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 18 May 2024

CONTENT Swachhata Pakhwada Swachhata Pakhwada Context: Recently, the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (MDoNER) has taken a significant step towards promoting cleanliness and environmental sustainability with the launch of Swachhata Pakhwada and it will run from 16th May to 31st May 2024. Relevance: GS II: Government Policies and Interventions Dimensions of the Article: About Swachhata PakhwadaSwachh Bharat Mission About Swachhata Pakhwada: Overview: Swachhata Pakhwada is an initiative launched in April 2016 under the Swachh Bharat Mission. Objective: The primary objective of Swachhata Pakhwada is to bring a fortnight of concentrated focus on Swachhata (cleanliness) issues and practices by engaging central government ministries/departments. Aim: The initiative aims to involve all ministries and departments in a common program to contribute to the Swachh Bharat Mission. Planning: An annual calendar is circulated among the ministries in advance to assist them in planning activities for the Pakhwada. Monitoring: Ministries observing Swachhata Pakhwada are closely monitored using the online monitoring system of Swachhata Samiksha. This system facilitates the uploading and sharing of action plans, images, and videos related to Swachhata activities. Implementation: During the Pakhwada fortnight, participating ministries are designated as ‘Swachhata Ministries’ and are expected to implement qualitative cleanliness improvements within their jurisdictions. Swachh Bharat Mission: On October 2, 2014, the Prime Minister of India inaugurated the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) with the primary goal of eradicating open defecation throughout the country by 2019.The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan initiative signifies a crucial and long-overdue endeavor to improve sanitation conditions in India.Globally, India’s record in terms of open defecation was even worse than in some economically disadvantaged regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti, and Ghana.This campaign aims to tackle this issue and elevate India’s sanitation standards to meet international norms. Two distinct phases of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: The first phase of the mission extended until October 2019, and the second phase extends from 2020-21 to 2024-25.The objectives of these phases were rooted in completing the foundational work laid out in Phase 1. Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Grameen Phase I: In the initial phase, launched in 2014, the rural sanitation coverage in the country stood at 38.7%.Since the initiation of this effort, more than 100 million individual toilets have been constructed. Rural areas across all states declared themselves Open Defecation Free (ODF) by October 2, 2019. Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Grameen Phase II: The emphasis of Phase-II is on ensuring the lasting success of the accomplishments achieved in Phase-I.This phase places significant importance on establishing effective infrastructure for the management of Solid/Liquid & Plastic Waste (SLWM) in rural India.Implemented from 2020-21 to 2024-25 in a mission mode, this phase is allocated a comprehensive budget of Rs. 1,40,881 crores. Under the ODF Plus category, SLWM is monitored using four outcome indicators: Plastic waste management,Biodegradable solid waste management (including animal waste),Greywater (Household Wastewater) managementFaecal sludge management. Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U): The Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U), initiated in 2014, by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, it is a national mission aimed at promoting cleanliness, sanitation, and effective waste management in the urban areas of India.The program’s primary goal is to cleanse and eliminate open defecation from cities and towns across the country, and its implementation is divided into distinct phases. Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Urban Phase I: In the initial phase, SBM-U 1.0, the pivotal goal was achieving Open Defecation Free (ODF) status across urban India. This involved providing access to sanitary facilities and encouraging a shift in behavioral norms. Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Urban Phase II: SBM-U 2.0 (2021-2026), building upon the accomplishments of the initial phase, aimed not only for ODF+ and ODF++ standards but also for garbage-free urban regions.Central to SBM-U 2.0 were sustainable sanitation practices, efficient waste management strategies, and the promotion of a circular economy model, focusing on harnessing waste as a resource and minimizing waste generation.

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 18 May 2024

CONTENTS WHO Releases Global Report on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) 2024Landowner Rights Upheld by Supreme Court VerdictCollegium SystemPREFIRE Polar MissionDigital ArrestInvasion of Armoured Sailfin Catfish Threatens Eastern Ghats Ecosystem WHO Releases Global Report on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) 2024 Context: In preparation for the 77th session of the World Health Assembly, the World Health Organization (WHO) has published its Global Report on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) for the year 2024. This report offers an overview of the advancements achieved in 2023 concerning the execution of the Road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021-2030, providing insights into the ongoing efforts to combat these debilitating illnesses on a global scale. Relevance: GS II: Health Dimensions of the Article: Key Highlights of the WHO ReportWhat are Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD)? Key Highlights of the WHO Report: Global Status for 2023: 50 countries have eliminated at least one neglected tropical disease (NTD) as of December 2023, marking halfway progress towards the 2030 target of 100 countries.5 countries were recognized for eliminating one NTD, and 1 country for eliminating two NTDs.Iraq became the 50th country to eliminate at least one NTD in July 2023, signaling halfway achievement towards the 2030 goal.Noma was added to the list of NTDs in 2023.Bangladesh was validated by WHO in October 2023 for eliminating visceral leishmaniasis as a public health problem. Global Status for 2022: In 2022, 1.62 billion people needed interventions against NTDs, showing a 26% decrease from 2010, but further efforts are required to achieve the 90% reduction target by 2030.Approximately 848 million people received treatment for at least one NTD through preventive chemotherapy interventions in 2022, 49 million fewer than in 2021 but 50 million more than in 2020.Reported deaths from vector-borne NTDs increased by 22% compared to 2016 by the end of 2022. India: India was certified free of NTDs like dracunculiasis and yaws.In 2022, India treated about 117 million fewer people for lymphatic filariasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis compared to 2021.40.56% of India’s population needed interventions against NTDs in 2022. Key Challenges: Slow post-COVID-19 recovery, funding uncertainties, geopolitical disruptions, and climate change were highlighted as key challenges.Gaps in knowledge and tools, along with insufficient data, remain significant hurdles in addressing NTDs. What are Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD)? Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)– a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries – affect more than one billion people and cost developing economies billions of dollars every year.Populations living in poverty, without adequate sanitation and in close contact with infectious vectors and domestic animals and livestock are those worst affected.Seven of the most common NTDs can be found in a number of countries—primarily in low- and middle-income countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.Controlling the vectors (e.g., mosquitoes, black flies) that transmit these diseases and improving basic water, sanitation, and hygiene are highly effective strategies against these NTDs. The NTD Crisis NTDs such as dengue, lymphatic filariasis and visceral leishmaniasis (Kala-Azar) afflict 1 billion people worldwide, and yet, are not prioritised in the public health narrative in many parts of the world.India bears the largest burden of NTDs in the world, accounting for 40 per cent of the global lymphatic filariasis disease burden and almost a quarter of the world’s visceral leishmaniasis cases. Government’s efforts regarding NTD In recent years, the government has made concerted efforts to address the nation’s NTD burden, especially visceral leishmaniasis and lymphatic filariasis which were slated to be eliminated by 2020 and 2021 respectively.India has already eliminated several other NTDs, including guinea worm, trachoma, and yaws.Measures taken include Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for lymphatic filariasis prevention in endemic districts and Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) to control the breeding of sandflies that transmit visceral leishmaniasis.The Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF) was launched in 2018, as part of intensifying efforts towards the elimination of NTDs.A WHO-supported regional alliance established by the governments of India, Bangladesh, and Nepal in 2005 to expedite early diagnosis and treatment of the most vulnerable populations and improve disease surveillance and control of sandfly populations (Kala-azar). -Source: The Hindu Landowner Rights Upheld by Supreme Court Verdict Context: In a significant decision aimed at safeguarding the rights of landowners, the Supreme Court of India has ruled that all government acquisitions must adhere to the provisions outlined in Article 300A. This landmark verdict was delivered in response to a case involving the Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s attempt to acquire private land for the construction of a public park, a move deemed unlawful by the court. The ruling underscores the importance of upholding constitutional protections against arbitrary land acquisitions by government entities. Relevance GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article: Observations Made by the Supreme Court in the Recent CaseThe Evolution of the Right to Property in India Observations Made by the Supreme Court in the Recent Case: Protection of Right to Property: The right to property is protected as a constitutional right and interpreted as a human right under the current constitutional scheme. Seven Basic Rights Under Article 300A: Article 300A confers seven basic procedural rights to landowners and corresponding duties upon the state for any valid acquisition:Right to notice: Duty of the State to inform owners about its intention to acquire their property.Right to be heard: Duty of the State to hear objections from landowners.Right to a reasoned decision: Duty of the State to inform its decision on acquisition.Acquisition only for public purpose: Duty of the State to demonstrate that acquisition serves a public cause.Right to fair compensation: Duty of the State to provide restitution and rehabilitation, ensuring fair compensation.Right to efficient conduct: Duty of the State to conduct the acquisition process efficiently and within prescribed timelines.Right of conclusion: Landowners have the right to a final conclusion of the acquisition proceedings. Significance of Procedural Justice: Procedural safeguards mandated by Article 300A are crucial for protecting the right to property as they ensure fairness, transparency, natural justice, and prevent arbitrary exercise of power in the acquisition process. The Evolution of the Right to Property in India: Pre-44th Constitutional Amendment (Before 1978): Article 19(1)(f) and Article 31 of Part III of the Indian Constitution guaranteed the right to purchase, possess, and dispose of property, and safeguarded against deprivation of property.Article 31 provided an absolute right against deprivation of property, limiting the state’s ability to acquire movable property in the public interest due to its status as a fundamental right. The 44th Constitutional Amendment: Abolished Article 19(1)(f) and Article 31, replacing them with a modified version, Article 300-A.This transformed the right to property from a fundamental right to a legal/constitutional right. Provisions of Article 300-A: Article 300-A states that “no person shall be deprived of his property except by authority of law,” granting the government authority to seize property for the general welfare. Court Interpretations of Article 300-A: The Madhya Pradesh High Court (2022) emphasized that property acquisition laws must be legitimate, and state acquisition must benefit the public.In Vidya Devi v. the State of Himachal Pradesh (2022), the Supreme Court ruled that even government authorities in a welfare state cannot seize property without following legal procedures.In Vimlaben Ajitbhai Patel vs. Vatslaben Ashokbhai Patel, the Supreme Court affirmed that while no longer a fundamental right, the right to property remains a human right. -Source: Times of India Collegium System Context: Recently, two senior-most district judges moved to the Supreme Court alleging that the Himachal Pradesh HC collegium overlooked their merit and seniority in the selection process of judges, and have taken their grievances to the Supreme Court. Relevance: GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Indian Judiciary) Dimensions of the Article: What is the Collegium System?Working of the Collegium System and NJACAppointment procedure of HC JudgesTransfer procedure of HC Judges What is the Collegium System? The Collegium System is a system under which appointments/elevation of judges/lawyers to Supreme Court and transfers of judges of High Courts and Apex Court are decided by a forum of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.’ There is no mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.The recommendations of the Collegium are binding on the Central Government; if the Collegium sends the names of the judges/lawyers to the government for the second time. Evolution of the Collegium system In the First Judges case (1982), the Court held that consultation does not mean concurrence and it only implies an exchange of views.In the Second Judges case (1993), the Court reversed its earlier ruling and changed the meaning of the word consultation to concurrence. Third Judges Case, 1998: In the Third Judges case (1998), the Court opined that the consultation process to be adopted by the Chief Justice of India requires “consultation of a plurality of judges”.The sole opinion of the CJI does not constitute the consultation process. He should consult a collegium of four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court and even if two judges give an adverse opinion, he should not send the recommendation to the government.The court held that the recommendation made by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) without complying with the norms and requirements of the consultation process is not binding on the government.The Collegium system was born through the “Third Judges case” and it is in practice since 1998. It is used for appointments and transfers of judges in High courts and Supreme Courts.There is no mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments. Working of the Collegium System and NJAC The collegium recommends the names of lawyers or judges to the Central Government. Similarly, the Central Government also sends some of its proposed names to the Collegium.Collegium considers the names or suggestions made by the Central Government and resends the file to the government for final approval.If the Collegium resends the same name again then the government has to give its assent to the names. But the time limit is not fixed to reply. This is the reason that appointment of judges takes a long time.Through the 99th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2014 the National Judicial Commission Act (NJAC) was established to replace the collegium system for the appointment of judges.However, the Supreme Court upheld the collegium system and struck down the NJAC as unconstitutional on the grounds that the involvement of Political Executive in judicial appointment was against the “Principles of Basic Structure”. i.e., the “Independence of Judiciary”. Issues involved in appointment Cumbersome Process: There are inordinate delays in the appointment of High Court judges and it leads to the pendency of cases.Lack of Transparency: There is no objective criteria for selection and people come to know about judges only after selection. It also promotes nepotism in the judiciary. The consultations of the Collegium are also not discussed in any public platform.Instances of Politicisation: In many cases, there is indication that due to the unfavorable judgments of certain judges the political executive hinders their appointments, elevation, or transfer. This reflects poorly on the concept of independence of the judiciary.Improper Representation: Certain sections of societies have higher representation whereas many vulnerable sections have nil representation. Appointment procedure of HC Judges Article 217 of the Constitution: It states that the Judge of a High Court shall be appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India (CJI), the Governor of the State.In the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of the High Court is consulted.Consultation Process: High Court judges are recommended by a Collegium comprising the CJI and two senior-most judges.The proposal, however, is initiated by the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned in consultation with two senior-most colleagues.The recommendation is sent to the Chief Minister, who advises the Governor to send the proposal to the Union Law Minister. Transfer procedure of HC Judges Article 222 of the Constitution makes provision for the transfer of a Judge (including Chief Justice) from one High Court to any other High Court. The initiation of the proposal for the transfer of a Judge should be made by the Chief Justice of India whose opinion in this regard is determinative.Consent of a Judge for his first or subsequent transfer would not be required.All transfers are to be made in public interest i.e., for promoting better administration of justice throughout the country. -Source: The Hindu PREFIRE Polar Mission Context: A NASA PREFIRE polar mission is set to be launched from New Zealand on May 22. Relevance: GS III: Science and Technology The PREFIRE Polar Mission Explained: Overview: The PREFIRE (Polar Radiant Energy in the Far-InfraRed Experiment) polar mission comprises twin satellites, each equipped with an instrument, tasked with measuring the poles approximately six hours apart. Objective: The primary goal of the mission is to unveil the complete spectrum of heat loss from Earth’s polar regions, thereby enhancing the accuracy of climate models. Aim: The PREFIRE mission aims to fill knowledge gaps and furnish data to refine predictions related to climate change and sea level rise.It seeks to offer fresh insights into how Earth’s atmosphere and ice impact the radiation of heat from the Arctic and Antarctic into space. Satellite Operation: Cube satellites, akin to the size of a shoebox, will be launched aboard an Electron launch vehicle.Equipped with Mars-tested technology, these satellites will measure an underexplored portion of Earth’s radiant energy.Twin satellites housing a thermal infrared spectrometer will orbit near-polar asynchronously, covering overlapping areas near the poles every few hours.Weighing less than 6 pounds (3 kilograms) each, the instruments will employ thermocouples, similar to those found in household thermostats, for data collection. Mission Objectives: Understand the disproportionate warming of the Arctic compared to the rest of the planet since the 1970s.Gain insights into the efficiency of far-infrared heat emission by substances like snow and sea ice, and the influence of clouds on far-infrared radiation escaping to space.Enable researchers to forecast changes in heat exchange between Earth and space, and their repercussions on phenomena such as ice sheet melting, atmospheric temperatures, and global weather patterns. -Source: Indian Express Digital Arrest Context: Following increasing reports of “digital arrests” by cybercriminals the central government has collaborated with Microsoft to block more than 1,000 Skype IDs used for online intimidation, blackmail, and extortion. Relevance: GS III: Security Challenges Dimensions of the Article: Understanding Digital ArrestPreventive Measures Understanding Digital Arrest: Overview: Digital arrest is an emerging cybercrime tactic utilized by fraudsters to deceive unsuspecting individuals and extort money through digital means. Modus Operandi: Cybercriminals impersonate law enforcement officials, such as police, Enforcement Directorate, or CBI, tricking victims into believing they have committed a serious offense.Victims are coerced into believing they are under “digital arrest” and must remain visible on platforms like Skype until demands are met.Fraudsters threaten prosecution unless victims pay a significant sum of money.Victims may be manipulated into self-arrest or self-quarantine, believing they cannot leave their homes without paying. Preventive Measures: Cyber Hygiene: Regularly update passwords and software, and enable two-factor authentication to thwart unauthorized access.Avoid Phishing Attempts: Refrain from clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources. Verify the legitimacy of emails and messages before sharing personal information.Secure Devices: Install reputable antivirus and anti-malware solutions, and keep operating systems and applications updated with the latest security protocols.Virtual Private Networks (VPNs): Utilize VPNs to encrypt internet connections for enhanced privacy and security. Be cautious of free VPN services and opt for trustworthy providers.Secure Communication Channels: Employ encryption for sensitive information protection. Exercise caution when sharing passwords and other details, especially in public forums.Awareness: Promote preventive measures and increase public awareness about digital arrest and other cyber threats. -Source: Indian Express Invasion of Armoured Sailfin Catfish Threatens Eastern Ghats Ecosystem Context: Scientists from CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) have revealed alarming findings regarding the proliferation of invasive armoured sailfin catfish in the Eastern Ghats. Their research indicates that these catfish now inhabit 60% of the region’s water bodies, posing significant threats to the local ecosystem. The presence of these invasive species has led to damage to fishing nets and disturbances in the delicate balance of the aquatic environment. Relevance: GS III: Species in News Key Facts About Sailfin Catfish: Overview: The sailfin armoured catfish belongs to the genus Pterygoplichthys of the Loricariidae family and is native to South America. However, it has been introduced to freshwater environments worldwide, leading to serious ecological impacts. Invasive Species: Sailfin catfish is considered one of the most serious invasive species due to its wide distribution and negative effects on local ecosystems. Introduction in India: Originally introduced in India for its distinctive appearance and algae-eating capacity in tanks and aquariums, the sailfin catfish population has significantly increased over time. Physical Characteristics: Sailfin catfish feature worm-like dark markings on a dark-golden background, stout pectoral fins with rough surfaces, and a disc-like, protrusible mouth used for suction feeding on algae.Female sailfin catfish are typically smaller, while males larger than 18 inches are common. Habitat and Behavior: Sailfin catfish inhabit various slow-moving water bodies, primarily near the shore and in shallow waters.They are known to create spawning burrows along shorelines, which can undermine canal banks and lake shorelines. Size: Sailfin catfish can grow to lengths exceeding 20 inches and weigh up to 3.0 pounds. -Source: The Hind

Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 17 May 2024

CONTENTS RoDTEP scheme RoDTEP Scheme Context: The government is setting up a system to verify that only taxes paid on materials used (input duties) are refunded under the RoDTEP scheme. Relevance: GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy, Taxation) Dimensions of the Article: Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) SchemeRoDTEP Benefits Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) Scheme The RoDTEP Scheme allows exporters to receive refunds on taxes and duties that are not exempted or refunded under any other scheme.Under the scheme, exporters receive refunds on the embedded taxes and duties previously non-recoverable.The chief aim of the scheme is to boost the export of goods that were poor in volume.The scheme basically replaces the Merchandise Export from India Scheme (MEIS).The scheme provides for rebates of Central, State and Local duties/taxes/ levies which are not refunded under any other duty remission schemes.The RoDTEP scheme can be said to be a combination of the MEIS and the Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL).Under this scheme, refund would be claimed as a percentage of the Freight On Board (FOB) value of exports.  Features of RoDTEP Scheme It covers duties and taxes levied at the central, state and local levels that are not reimbursed under any other mechanism. Items that were under the MEIS and the RoSCTL are shifted to the RoDTEP.Refunds will be issued to exporters as transferable duty credit/electronic scrips and maintained in an electronic ledger. This is keeping in line with the Digital India mission. This can be used to pay basic customs duty on imported goods. The credits can also be transferred to other importers.Faster clearance through a digital platform will be facilitated through a monitoring & audit mechanism, with an IT-based risk management system that would physically verify the exporters’ records.The scheme is applicable across all sectors. RoDTEP Benefits Being WTO-compliant, the RoDTEP scheme can make available from the government benefits to the exporters seamlessly.The scheme is more exhaustive in that certain taxes that were not covered under the previous scheme are also included in the list, for example, education cess, state taxes on oil, power and water.It will add more competitiveness in the foreign markets, with assured duty benefits by the Indian Government.It will also help exporters meet international standards and promote business growth.Also under RoDTEP, tax assessment is set to become fully automatic for exporters, hence, Businesses will get access to their refunds for GST via an automatic refund-route.

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 17 May 2024

CONTENTS Surge in Employment Generation Raises Debates in IndiaAbortion lawUNCTAD Global Trade Update 2024: International Trade Set for ReboundSmart Cities MissionSBI Becomes First Bank to Attain Trading cum Clearing Membership at IIBXWorld Migration Report 2024Global Report on Internal Displacement 2024 Surge in Employment Generation Raises Debates in India Context: India has experienced a substantial increase in employment, witnessing the creation of over 80 million additional jobs from 2017-18 to 2022-23. This surge has ignited discussions regarding its root causes and the sustainability of this trend. Relevance: GS III: Indian Economy Dimensions of the Article: Key Trends in Employment GrowthTrend in Wages and SalariesConcerns Regarding Employment in India Key Trends in Employment Growth: Consistent Growth: Principal employment has shown steady growth since 1983, with no instances of jobless growth.Period of Fastest Increase: The period from 2017-18 to 2022-23 witnessed the fastest increase, adding about 80 million jobs annually at a rate of 3.3%.Improvements in Labour Market Indicators: Despite long-term deterioration, recent years have seen improvements in indicators like labour force participation rate, workforce participation rate, and unemployment rate.Well-Distributed Growth: Employment growth has been evenly spread across rural and urban sectors as well as various industries.Significant Growth Among Women and Older Individuals: Employment growth has been highest among women (over 8% annually) and individuals aged 60 and above (around 4.5% annually).Possible Reasons: Factors contributing to this trend include increasing distress, improved access to resources, and greater flexibility in care-related work. Evolution of Employment Quality: Informal Sector Dominance: Around 50% of formal sector jobs are informal, with approximately 82% of the workforce engaged in informal employment.Growth in Own-Account and Unpaid Family Workers: A significant portion of employment growth (44 million) is in the form of own-account workers and unpaid family workers.Government Schemes Influence: Government initiatives like Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) have fueled this growth by providing substantial funding to this segment.Primary Sources of Employment: Self-employment constitutes the primary source of employment (55.8% in 2022), followed by casual employment (22.7%) and regular employment (21.5%). Trend in Wages and Salaries: Relative Stagnation: Aggregate wages and salaries have experienced relative stagnation in recent years.Nominal vs. Real Growth: From 2017-18 to 2022-23, there was an average annual growth of 6.6% in nominal terms, but only 1.2% after adjusting for inflation.No Significant Improvement in Living Conditions: Despite no apparent wage distress, there hasn’t been significant improvement in living conditions, possibly due to factors like a large influx of workers and stagnating labour productivity. Trends in Youth Employment: Pre-Pandemic Increase: Youth employment and underemployment increased between 2000 and 2019 but declined during the pandemic.Intensified Unemployment Among Educated Youths: Unemployment, particularly among educated youths, has intensified over time.Gender Disparities: The unemployment rate is higher among educated young women compared to men, especially among female graduates. Concerns Regarding Employment in India: Growth of Informal Jobs: While the economy grows, many new jobs are informal, lacking security, benefits, or minimum wage.Quality of Youth Employment: Despite low overall unemployment rates, youth employment is often of poor quality, leading to over-education or precarious gig economy jobs.Gender Gap: Women’s participation in the formal workforce remains low, with many engaged in unpaid family work or low-paying self-employment.Misalignment with Education: The education system may not align with current job market needs.Informal Sector Dominance: A significant portion of the workforce remains in the informal sector, leading to lower tax revenue and limited social security benefits.Automation Threat: Automation poses a threat to certain sectors, potentially displacing jobs, particularly in manufacturing and outsourcing.Vulnerability to Shocks: Informal and casual workers are highly vulnerable to economic downturns or external shocks, as witnessed during the Covid-19 pandemic.Demand for Government Jobs: There is significant demand for government jobs due to limited job creation in the private sector, highlighting the appeal of stable government employment. -Source: The Hindu Abortion Law Context: The Supreme Court on May 15 refused to entertain a plea of a 20-year-old unmarried woman seeking termination of her over 27-week pregnancy, saying the foetus in the womb also has a fundamental right to live. Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article: The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Act, 2021Who falls in the category of women allowed to terminate pregnancy between 20-24 weeks? News Summary: The Supreme Court declined to entertain a plea from a 20-year-old unmarried woman seeking termination of her over 27-week pregnancy.The decision was made by a bench led by Justice B R Gavai, upholding the Delhi High Court’s ruling from May 3 denying termination of the pregnancy. Key Observations by the Court: The Supreme Court questioned the right of the child to survive, considering the advanced stage of pregnancy.The petitioner argued that the focus of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act is primarily on the rights of the mother, highlighting her delicate state.The Delhi High Court had constituted a panel of AIIMS doctors to assess the situation, which concluded that there were no congenital abnormalities or dangers to the mother that necessitated termination. Important Judgements by the Supreme Court regarding Abortion: X v/s NCT of Delhi (2022): The Supreme Court ruled that women have the right to terminate pregnancies between 20 and 24 weeks due to any “change in their material circumstances.”It emphasized that women have sole authority over their bodies and are the ultimate decision-makers regarding abortion. Rights of a Foetus Under Indian Law: The rights of a foetus under the Indian Constitution remain unclear, with no explicit articulation.The distinction between whether a foetus possesses rights or mere “interests” is ambiguous, as seen in a 2009 Supreme Court decision.A 2016 Bombay High Court decision referenced international human rights law to conclude that a foetus lacks rights until birth, highlighting the need for clarity in Indian laws. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 provides the legal framework for making CAC services available in India.Termination of pregnancy is permitted for a broad range of conditions up to 20 weeks of gestation as detailed below:When continuation of pregnancy is a risk to the life of a pregnant woman or could cause grave injury to her physical or mental health;When there is substantial risk that the child, if born, would be seriously handicapped due to physical or mental abnormalities;When pregnancy is caused due to rape (presumed to cause grave injury to the mental health of the woman);When pregnancy is caused due to failure of contraceptives used by a married woman or her husband (presumed to constitute grave injury to mental health of the woman). The MTP Act specifies who can terminate a pregnancy;till when a pregnancy can be terminated; andwhere can a pregnancy be terminated. Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Act, 2021 The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act allows termination of pregnancy by a medical practitioner in two stages.After a crucial amendment in 2021, for pregnancies up to 20 weeks, termination is allowed under the opinion of one registered medical practitioner.For pregnancies between 20-24 weeks, the Rules attached to the law prescribe certain criteria in terms of who can avail termination. It also requires the opinion of two registered medical practitioners in this case.For pregnancies within 20 weeks, termination can be allowed if:the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health; orthere is a substantial risk that if the child was born, it would suffer from any serious physical or mental abnormality.The explanation to the provision states that termination within 20 weeks is allowed “where any pregnancy occurs as a result of failure of any device or method used by any woman or her partner for the purpose of limiting the number of children or preventing pregnancy, the anguish caused by such pregnancy may be presumed to constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman”.The phrase “any woman or her partner” was also introduced in 2021 in place of the earlier “married woman or her husband”. By eliminating the word “married woman or her husband” from the scheme of the MTP Act, the legislature intended to clarify the scope of Section 3 and bring pregnancies which occur outside the institution of marriage within the protective umbrella of the law.For both stages — within 20 weeks and between 20-24 weeks — termination is allowed “where any pregnancy is alleged by the pregnant woman to have been caused by rape, the anguish caused by the pregnancy shall be presumed to constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman”. Who falls in the category of women allowed to terminate pregnancy between 20-24 weeks? For pregnancies between 20-24 weeks, Section 3B of the Rules under the MTP Act lists seven categories of women:Survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest;Minors;Change of marital status during the ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce);Women with physical disabilities (major disability as per criteria laid down under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016);Mentally ill women including mental retardation;The foetal malformation that has substantial risk of being incompatible with life or if the child is born it may suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities to be seriously handicapped;Women with pregnancy in humanitarian settings or disaster or emergency situations as may be declared by the Government. -Source: The Hindu UNCTAD Global Trade Update 2024: International Trade Set for Rebound Context: The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has released its Global Trade Update for 2024, indicating a potential turnaround for international trade. After experiencing declines over multiple quarters, trade is expected to rebound in 2024, marking a significant shift in global economic dynamics. Relevance: GS III: Indian Economy Dimensions of the Article: Key Highlights of the Global TradeKey Highlights of the Report Related to India Key Highlights of the Global Trade Global Trade Trends in 2023: Global trade decreased by 3% to USD 31 trillion in 2023, following a peak in 2022.The decline was primarily driven by reduced demand in developed economies and weaker trade in East Asia and Latin America.Trade in goods fell by 5%, while trade in services grew by 8%, buoyed by a nearly 40% surge in tourism and travel-related services. Impact on Developing Countries: Developing nations experienced a sharper decline, with imports and exports falling by 5% and 7%, respectively, compared to a 4% drop in imports and 3% in exports for developed nations.Most regions witnessed negative trade growth, except for a significant increase in intra-regional trade in Africa. Specific Sectoral Changes: Despite the overall decline, trade in environmental products increased by 2%, driven by a substantial surge in electric vehicle sales, which grew by 60%.However, trade in apparel continued to contract, declining by 13%. Outlook for 2024: GDP growth is expected to continue at around 3% in 2024.Challenges such as shipping disruptions and geopolitical tensions may raise costs and disrupt supply chains, casting shadows over the optimistic outlook. Geopolitical and Trade Patterns: Bilateral trade patterns have been favouring countries with similar geopolitical stances, indicating a rise in political proximity in trade.There has been a concentration of global trade towards major trade relationships, although this trend has softened towards the end of 2023. Key Highlights of the Report Related to India India’s Efforts to Reduce Dependency: Despite initiatives like the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme and Quality Control Orders (QCOs), imports from China increased.UNCTAD’s estimates highlighted trade reorientation due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Impact of Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Russia’s trade dependency on China increased by 7.1% while decreasing by 5.3% with the EU.This shift was primarily due to changes in Russian oil exports, with a redirection from the EU to China and India. Positive Trade Dynamics for India: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry emphasized favourable trade dynamics despite growing dependence.India’s imports from the EU rose by 9.7% in 2023, with significant shares in capital goods and intermediate goods/raw materials.India’s export of smartphones surged by 98.42% in 2023, reaching USD 14.27 billion. Improved Trade Performance: In 2023, India’s trade performance notably improved with both the EU and China. -Source: The Hindu Smart Cities Mission Context: Despite two extensions until June 2024, the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) launched in 2015, is unlikely to meet its deadline, with 5,533 completed projects funded at Rs. 65,063 crore and 921 ongoing projects worth Rs. 21,000 crore. Relevance: GS II: Government Policies and Interventions Dimensions of the Article: What is the Smart Cities Mission?What kinds of projects were proposed?Challenges Faced by the Smart City MissionSteps Needed to Strengthen the Smart City Mission What is the Smart Cities Mission? The Smart Cities Mission is an initiative of the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry that was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 25, 2015.Cities across the country were asked to submit proposals for projects to improve municipal services and to make their jurisdictions more liveable.Between January 2016 and June 2018 (when the last city, Shillong, was chosen), the Ministry selected 100 cities for the Mission over five rounds.The projects were supposed to be completed within five years of the selection of the city, but in 2021 the Ministry changed the deadline for all cities to June 2023, which was earlier the deadline for Shillong alone. What kinds of projects were proposed? After the Ministry gave broad guidelines to the participating cities, the project proposals ranged from making certain stretches of roads more accessible and pedestrian-friendly to more capital-intensive ones like laying water pipelines and constructing sewage treatment plants.All 100 cities have also constructed Integrated Command and Control Centres to monitor all security, emergency and civic services. During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, these centres were converted into emergency response units by many of the cities. Challenges Faced by the Smart City Mission: Lack of Clear Definition: The Smart City Mission (SCM) lacks a clear definition of what constitutes a smart city, leading to challenges in resource allocation and project prioritization. Sidelining Elected Representatives: Reduced role of elected councils in decision-making raises concerns about democratic governance and accountability within the SCM framework. Competitive Selection Process: Selection of cities through competitive means overlooks India’s diverse urban realities, leading to the exclusion of many areas from development. Limited Area Development: Focus on developing less than 1% of a city’s area results in the neglect of significant portions, impacting overall urban development. Financial Constraints: Inadequate funding compared to the required investment for improving livability in Indian cities poses a significant challenge to SCM’s success. Governance Structure: Misalignment of the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) model with the constitutional framework and limited participation of the private sector hinder effective governance. Social Displacement and Environmental Impact: Smart city projects often lead to the displacement of vulnerable populations and environmental disruptions, such as urban flooding. Steps Needed to Strengthen the Smart City Mission: Appointment of Dedicated CEO: Appoint a dedicated CEO with a fixed tenure and representation from experts and stakeholders to ensure effective leadership and management. Inclusion of MPs in Advisory Forums: Include Members of Parliament (MPs) in State-Level Advisory Forums for their grassroots-level expertise in project identification and implementation. Emphasis on Pan-City Projects: Prioritize pan-city projects for comprehensive development, optimizing resource allocation, and reducing wastage. Digital Infrastructure Protection: Implement mechanisms to protect digital infrastructure from cyber threats and ensure data privacy. Capacity Building for ULBs: Strengthen Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) capabilities in small cities through central government assistance for organizational restructuring and capacity building. Timely Project Completion: Focus on timely project completion by actively intervening in execution and providing necessary expertise and support. -Source: The Hindu SBI Becomes First Bank to Attain Trading cum Clearing Membership at IIBX Context: The State Bank of India (SBI) has achieved a significant milestone by becoming the inaugural bank to secure Trading cum Clearing (TCM) membership at the India International Bullion Exchange (IIBX). This accomplishment underscores SBI’s commitment to enhancing its presence and influence within the bullion trading sector, further solidifying its position as a key player in India’s financial landscape. Relevance: Facts for Prelims Key Highlights: The RBI’s decision allows SBI’s IFSC Banking Unit (IBU) to participate as trading and clearing members at the IIBX platform, designated as Special Category Clients (SCCs), facilitating gold imports through the bullion exchange.This development is anticipated to boost trading volumes for gold and silver at the IIBX, enhancing transparency and efficiency in India’s Bullion Market.IIBX, overseen by the International Financial Services Centers Authority (IFSCA), represents India’s inaugural bullion exchange, situated within the GIFT-City IFSC.Bullion markets serve as platforms for trading precious metals such as gold and silver, where transactions occur directly between buyers and sellers, including through futures markets.Silver and gold possess diverse industrial applications, influencing their market prices, with bullions often viewed as a hedge against inflation and a secure investment option.TCMs, or Trading and Clearing Members, have the authority to trade on their own behalf and on behalf of clients, as well as clear and settle trades conducted by themselves and other trading members availing their clearing services. -Source: Times Of India World Migration Report 2024 Context: The World Migration Report 2024 was launched by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), revealing significant shifts in global migration patterns. Relevance: Facts for Prelims Insights from the World Migration Report 2024: Launch and Frequency: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) released the World Migration Report 2024, its flagship report, every two years. Remittance Trends: India, Mexico, China, the Philippines, and France were the top five remittance recipient countries. India led in remittances in 2010, 2015, 2020, and 2022. International remittances surged by 650% from USD 128 billion to USD 831 billion between 2000 and 2022. India received the highest remittances at USD 111 billion in 2022, followed by Mexico. USD 647 billion of total remittances went to low- and middle-income countries. Challenges Faced by Migrant Workers: South Asian migrant workers encounter financial exploitation, excessive debt from migration costs, xenophobia, and workplace abuses. Record High Displacement:The number of displaced individuals reached a record high of 117 million by the end of 2022. India’s Migration Dynamics: India holds the highest number of international migrants globally, nearly 18 million. Significant Indian diasporas exist in countries like the UAE, the US, and Saudi Arabia. Gender Dynamics:India has a slightly higher share of female immigrants compared to males. Countries with a notably high proportion of male emigrants include India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Migrant Destinations: Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries remain prominent destinations for migrant workers, especially from India, Egypt, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Employment sectors include construction, hospitality, security, domestic work, and retail. -Source: The Hindu Global Report on Internal Displacement 2024 Context: In 2023, the number of internally displaced people increased to 75.9 million, from 71.1 million in the preceding year, according to the Global Report on Internal Displacement 2024 (GRID-2024) released recently. Relevance: GS II: International Relations Global Report on Internal Displacement 2024 (GRID-2024): Overview: The annual report is published by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).It documents internal displacements caused by conflict, violence, and disasters. Highlights of GRID-2024: In 2023, the global number of internally displaced people (IDP) rose to 75.9 million, up from 71.1 million the previous year.Displacements: 7.7 million due to disasters (one-fourth from earthquakes) and 68.3 million due to conflict and violence.Top Countries: Sudan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Colombia, and Yemen host nearly half of the world’s IDPs.Sudan has the highest number of IDPs recorded for a single country at 9.1 million.New displacement mainly occurred in Sudan, the Palestinian territories, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, accounting for almost two-thirds of all new displacement. South Asia Findings: Around 5.3 million people in South Asia were internally displaced due to conflict and violence at the end of 2023, with 80% in Afghanistan.Conflict and violence triggered 69,000 displacements in South Asia in 2023, with Manipur violence alone causing 67,000.India experienced the highest number of displacements due to conflict and violence since 2018.Internal displacements due to natural disasters in India decreased sharply in 2023 to 528,000 from 2.5 million in 2022. -Source: The Hindu

Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 16 May 2024

Contents: GRAP reviews air quality scenario of Delhi-NCRSangam Initiative GRAP Reviews Air Quality Scenario of Delhi-NCR Focus: GS III: Environment and Ecology Why in News? Delhi-NCR has been witnessing  increase in the average air quality of Delhi-NCR over past few days. Taking note of the situation, the Sub-Committee for invoking actions under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) of the Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR & Adjoining Areas (CAQM) accordingly met today to take stock of the current air quality scenario of Delhi-NCR and also assess technical as well as expert inputs related to forecasts for overall air quality of the region. What is the Graded Response Action Plan? GRAP is a set of emergency measures that kick in to prevent further deterioration of air quality once it reaches a certain threshold.Stage 1 of GRAP is activated when the AQI is in the ‘poor’ category (201 to 300), for instance, the AQI in Delhi was 211.The second, third and fourth stages will be activated three days ahead of the AQI reaching the ‘very poor’ category (301 to 400), ‘severe’ category (401 to 450) and ‘severe +’ category (above 450) respectively.For this, the CAQM is relying on air quality and meteorological forecasts by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and the India Meteorological Department (IMD).Measures being imposed under the previous categories will continue even when the subsequent category is activated, that is, if measures under Stage-2 are activated, measures under Stage-1 will continue to remain in place. Other Details: The CAQM revised the Graded Response Action Plan earlier this year.The GRAP was first notified in January 2017 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.This was based on a plan that was submitted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in November 2016. According to the notification, the task of implementing the GRAP fell on the now dissolved Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for the NCR.From 2021 onwards, the GRAP is being implemented by the CAQM. Sangam Initiative Focus: GS II: Government policies and Interventions Why in News? Department of Telecommunications (DoT) recently announced the selected participants for Stage 1 of the ground-breaking ‘Sangam: Digital Twin with AI-Driven Insights Initiative’. Sangam: Digital Twin Initiative Overview Proof of Concept (PoC): The initiative unfolds in two stages, beginning with an exploratory phase focused on creative exploration and clarity of vision, followed by a practical demonstration stage highlighting specific use cases.The ultimate goal is to create a future blueprint that can guide collaborative efforts in scaling and replicating successful strategies across future infrastructure projects. Aim and Objectives: Sangam aims to showcase the practical implementation of innovative infrastructure planning solutions.The initiative seeks to establish a model framework fostering efficient collaboration and intends to provide a roadmap for scaling and replicating successful strategies in forthcoming infrastructure ventures. Digital Twin Technology: Employing Digital Twin technology, Sangam creates virtual replicas of physical assets.This enables real-time monitoring, simulation, and analysis, facilitating experimental iterations and feedback loops to adapt dynamically for optimal outcomes. Technological Integration: In the backdrop of technological breakthroughs in communication, computation, and sensing, Sangam integrates 5G, IoT, AI, AR/VR, AI-native 6G, Digital Twin, and next-gen computational technologies.This collaborative effort harnesses the collective intelligence of diverse entities, including public bodies, infrastructure planners, tech companies, startups, and academia. Vision 2047: Aligned with the techade era’s vision for 2047, Sangam represents a collaborative leap in reshaping infrastructure planning and design.Breaking silos, the initiative seeks to bridge the gap between conceptualization and realization, providing a platform for stakeholders to transform innovative ideas into tangible solutions and contribute to groundbreaking advancements in infrastructure.

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 16 May 2024

Contents: SC condemns Uttarakhand Government’s failure to check Forest FiresExternal Affairs Minister responds to U.S. Govt remarks on Chabahar portSC says Mining within 1 km from of tiger reserves is in contempt of court orderUnion Government grants citizenship certificates under CAA, 2019 ActSikkim’s Statehood Day  Foetus has the Right to Live SC condemns Uttarakhand Government’s failure to check Forest Fires Context: Recently, the Supreme Court ordered the Uttarakhand Chief Secretary to appear before it to answer ,what it said, the state’s “lackadaisical” approach in checking forest fires. The Court questioned the deputation of the forest department officials on election duty even though the Election Commission had granted exemption to the department.The Court also expressed its displeasure at the Centre for not providing sufficient funds to the state to deal with the forest fires. Relevance: GS III: Environment Dimensions of the Article: About Forest FiresAdvantages of forest firesDisadvantages of forest firesForest Fire Vulnerability in IndiaIndia’s Initiatives to Tackle Forest FiresWays to mitigate the risk of forest fires About Forest Fires A forest fire is an uncontrolled fire that occurs in areas with a significant amount of combustible vegetation, such as forests, grasslands, or shrublands. Causes of Forest Fires Forest fires are caused by Natural causes as well as Man-made or anthropogenic causes. Natural causes such as lightning which set trees on fire. High atmospheric temperatures and low humidity offer favourable circumstance for a fire to start.Man-made causes like flame, cigarette, electric spark or any source of ignition will also cause forest fires.Traditionally Indian forests have been affected by fires. The problem has been aggravated with rising human and cattle population and the increase in demand for grazing, shifting cultivation and Forest products by individuals and communities.High temperature, wind speed and direction, level of moisture in soil and atmosphere and duration of dry spells can intensify the forest fires. Advantages of forest fires: Some species of trees and plants have adapted to thrive in the aftermath of fires. For example, some pine trees rely on fires to open their cones and release seeds.Forest fires can help to clear out dead wood, brush, and other debris, reducing the risk of future fires.Fires can help to promote new growth and biodiversity by creating openings in the forest canopy that allow sunlight to reach the forest floor, stimulating the growth of new vegetation. Disadvantages of forest fires: Forest fires can destroy habitats and negatively impact biodiversity by killing animals and plants that are unable to escape the flames.Smoke from fires can cause respiratory problems and other health issues for humans and animals.Forest fires can damage or destroy homes, buildings, and other infrastructure, and can pose a significant threat to human safety.The release of large amounts of greenhouse gases during forest fires can contribute to climate change. India’s Initiatives to Tackle Forest Fires National Action Plan on Forest Fires (NAPFF) was launched in 2018 to minimise forest fires by informing, enabling and empowering forest fringe communities and incentivising them to work with the State Forest Departments.The Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme (FPM) is the only centrally funded program specifically dedicated to assist the states in dealing with forest fires. Forest Fire Vulnerability in India Forest fire season in India is from November to JuneCouncil of Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) report notes a tenfold increase in forest fires over the past two decades in IndiaMore than 62% of Indian states are prone to high-intensity forest fires according to CEEW reportAndhra Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Telangana, and Northeastern states are most prone to forest firesMizoram has the highest incidence of forest fires over the last two decades with 95% of its districts as forest fire hotspotsISFR 2021 estimates over 36% of the country’s forest cover is prone to frequent forest fires, 6% is ‘very highly’ fire-prone, and almost 4% is ‘extremely’ proneAn FSI study found nearly 10.66% area under forests in India is ‘extremely’ to ‘very highly’ fire-prone. Ways to mitigate the risk of forest fires: Prevention: One of the most effective ways to mitigate forest fires is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. This can be done by creating fire breaks, clearing debris, and reducing the amount of flammable material in the forest.Early Detection: Early detection of forest fires can help prevent them from spreading and causing more damage. This can be done by installing fire detection systems, using drones or satellite imagery, and training local communities to report fires quickly.Fire Suppression: Fire suppression is a critical component of forest fire mitigation. This involves using firefighting equipment such as helicopters, water tanks, and fire retardants to put out fires.Forest Management: Proper forest management practices can also help mitigate the risk of forest fires. This includes thinning out dense forests, creating fire-resistant vegetation, and reducing the amount of deadwood and other flammable materials in the forest.Community Education: Educating local communities on the risks of forest fires and how to prevent them can also be effective in mitigating the risk of forest fires. This includes providing information on safe campfire practices, prohibiting the use of fireworks in fire-prone areas, and encouraging the use of fire-resistant building materials in areas at high risk of forest fires. -Source; The Hindu, The Indian Express        External Affairs Minister responds to U.S. Govt remarks on Chabahar port project Context: Recently, the External Affairs Minister said that India will work at explaining the benefits of the Chabahar port in Iran to U>S. Relevance: GS II: International Relations Dimensions of the Article: DetailsThe Chabahar Port and its benefits for IndiaWhat is INSTC? Details: The U.S Government recently indicated about the “potential risk” of sanctions to companies working on the India-Iran joint venture.As a response to this remarks, the India’s External Affairs Minister said that India will “work at” explaining that the Chabahar port is in the region’s interest to the U.S. government and it should not take a “narrow view” of the project.The minister also pointed out that the U.S. had in the past appreciated the importance of the Chabahar port project, which supported aid and trade with Afghanistan.In 2018, the Trumph administration exempted from the sanctions for the Chabahar port project.This was implemented by amending the U.S. law on Iranian sanctions to add a carve-out for projects that supported “reconstruction assistance or economic development for Afghanistan” provided they were in the “national interest of the United States”. The Chabahar Port and its benefits for India The Chabahar Port is Located on the Gulf of Oman and is the only oceanic port of the country.With this, India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan.It will also boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.It also helps India counter Chinese presence in the Arabian Seawhich China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East.Trade benefits: With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline. India has already increased its crude purchase from Iran since the West imposed ban on Iran was lifted.From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated. What is INSTC? India, Iran, and Russia initially agreed to the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) project in 2000 in St. Petersburg; ten additional central Asian and west Asian nations have since joined as observers: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Oman, Syria, and Bulgaria.Although they are not signatories to the INSTC agreement, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan are interested in using the transport corridor.It aims to cut the cost of freight transportation between India and Russia by around 30% and to cut the transit time from 40 days by more than half. It proposes a 7,200 km multi-mode network comprising ship, rail, and road lines.The route largely comprises transporting cargo from Russia, India, Iran, and Azerbaijan.It would be provided as a viable and fairer alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).Further, it will enhance regional connectivity. Objective: The objective of the corridor is to increase trade connectivity between major cities such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Astrakhan, etc. -Source: The Hindu SC says Mining within 1 km from of tiger reserves is in contempt of court order Context: The Supreme Court said that continuance of mining activities within a radius of one km from the boundaries of critical tiger reserves would be in contempt of court. The Court’s verdict in April, 2023 directed that mining within a national park and wildlife sanctuary and within an area of one km from their boundary shall not be permissible. Relevance: GS III: Environment Dimensions of the Article: About TigerWhy Tiger conservation is essential?ThreatsNational Tiger Conservation Authority(NTCA)Project TigerOrganizations or Forums involved in Tiger Conservation About Tiger: Tiger being a keystone species is the symbol of courage and strength in India. This charismatic species has earned its pride as a National animal of India. It features in the National emblem adopted by the Government of India in 1950. India is one of the important Tiger range countries and has more than 70% of the world’s wild tigers and is in a leadership position on the tiger front globally.The largest Tiger Reserve in India is Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve (Andhra Pradesh, Telangana) and the smallest Tiger Reserve in India is Bor Tiger Reserve (Maharashtra). According to the Tiger Census Report, 2019, the Tiger population has substantially increased from 2,226 in 2014 to around 2,967 in 2019. Madhya Pradesh saw the highest number of tigers (526) followed by Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand (442). Why Tiger conservation is essential? The tiger is not just a charismatic species or just another wild animal living in some faraway forest. It is a top predator/Umbrella species that is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates in check, thereby maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed. They prevent over-grazing by limiting herbivore numbers and maintain ecological integrity.Therefore, the presence of tigers in the forest is an indicator of the well-being of the ecosystem. The extinction of this top predator is an indication that its ecosystem is not sufficiently protected, and neither would it exist for long thereafter.Another reason why we need to save the tiger is that our forests are water catchment areas. Most tiger habitats are watershed areas of rivers and streams and in turn, improve soil fertility. Thus conserving tigers help conserve freshwater resources, regulate droughts or heavy rains, and benefits the downstream communities.Tigers attracting tourists, which provide income for local communities.Also, there is a tremendous decline in the tiger population as compared to the past 100 years, and to prevent the deteriorating condition of tigers, it’s important to conserve them. Threats: Threats include habitat loss, poaching, and man-animal conflict. Habitat loss: There are more tiger reserves in India but their connectivity is less. These isolated population can hinder their survival in the long run.Tiger Poaching: This has seriously impacted the probability of survival of Tigers in India. Tigers are mainly poached for their bones and other body parts which are in great demand for traditional Chinese medicines.Tigers in the wild are killed illegally to fuel the demand for Tiger products such as Tiger skins and Tiger Bone Wine. Thus every part of tiger has a market value and there is a huge demand for tiger skins, parts & derivatives drive an increasingly sophisticated network of illegal wildlife trade across all tiger range countries. As a result, demand is driving wild tigers to the brink of extinction, with 97% of the world’s wild tiger population wiped out over the last century. It has become a pride to possess a tiger’s parts namely its skin, nail, bones, and so on.Man-animal conflict: Fragmentation of their habitats has increased tigers moving to nearby human habitations and this, in turn, has increased man-animal conflict. National Tiger Conservation Authority(NTCA): The NTCA was launched in 2005, is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change constituted following the recommendations of the Tiger Task Force. It was given statutory status by the 2006 amendment of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for strengthening tiger conservation, through advisories/normative guidelinesComposition: The authority consists of the Minister in charge of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (as Chairperson), the Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment and Forests (as Vice-Chairperson), three members of Parliament, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests and other members.Objectives: Objectives include Fostering accountability of Centre-State in management of Tiger ReservesAddressing man-animal conflictsAddressing livelihood interests of local people in areas surrounding Tiger ReservesProvide information on protection measures including future conservation plan, estimation of population of tiger and its natural prey species, the status of habitats, disease surveillance, mortality survey, patrolling, approve, co-ordinate research and monitoring on tiger  Ensure critical support including scientific, information technology, and legal support.NTCA provides technical and financial support to Tiger Reserves. Project Tiger: The first-ever initiative for the conservation of tigers was the Project Tiger. The Project Tiger, launched in 1973, has grown to more than 50 reserves amounting to almost 2.2% of the country’s geographical area. It is an ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, providing funding support to tiger range States for in-situ conservation of tigers in designated tiger reserves, and has put the endangered tiger on an assured path of recovery by saving it from extinction, as revealed by the recent findings of the All India tiger estimation using the refined methodology.The tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy.Due to concerted efforts under Project Tiger, at present India has the distinction of having the maximum number of tigers in the world at 2,967 (SE range 2,603 to 3,346) as per 2018 assessment, when compared to other tiger range countries. Tigers were observed to be increasing at a rate of 6% per annum in India when consistently sampled areas were compared from 2006 to 2018. Organizations or Forums involved in Tiger Conservation: Global Tiger Forum(GTF): It is an Inter-Governmental international body working exclusively for the conservation of Tigers. Established in 1994, the Global Tiger Forum (GTF) has its headquarters in New Delhi set up to promote a worldwide campaign to save the tiger, its prey, and its habitat. The Global Tiger Initiative(GTI):It was launched in 2008 as a global alliance of governments, international organizations, civil society, conservation, and scientific communities, and the private sector, to work together to save wild tigers from extinction. In 2013, the scope was broadened to include Snow Leopards.Wildlife Institute of India (WII): Wildlife Institute of India (WII) offers training programs, academic courses, and advisory in wildlife research and management. It was established in 1982 at Dehradun. It is an autonomous Institution of the Ministry of Environment & Forests.World Wildlife Fund(WWF): It works to conserve and connect tiger habitat, monitors tigers and their prey, and collaborates with governments across the 13 tiger range countries to protect wild tigers. -Source; The Hindu Union Government grants citizenship certificates under CAA, 2019 Act Context: Over 300 people were granted citizenship certificates by the Union Government for those who applied under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019. Relevance: GS-II: Polity and Governance (Citizenship, Government Policies and Interventions, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of these policies) Dimensions of the Article: The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019Criticisms of the CAA The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019: The foundation of India’s citizenship laws can be traced back to the constitution, specifically Articles 5-11, and the Citizenship Act of 1955, which outlined provisions for citizenship acquisition through birth, descent, registration, and naturalization. Eligibility: The CAA amended the Citizenship Act of 1955 to grant eligibility for Indian citizenship to illegal migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Definition of illegal migrants: An illegal migrant is someone who enters India without valid travel documents or overstays beyond the permitted duration, potentially facing prosecution, deportation, or imprisonment.Those belonging to the aforementioned communities who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, are not considered illegal immigrants, thus providing a pathway to naturalization.However, the Muslim community is excluded from these provisions. Relaxation: The amendment reduced the residency requirement from 11 years to 6 years for these communities to become eligible for Indian citizenship through naturalization.Members of these communities are exempted from prosecution under the Foreigners Act of 1946 and the Passport Act of 1920.Applicants from these communities are not classified as “illegal immigrants.” Exception: The amendments concerning illegal migrants do not apply to specific tribal areas (under Sixth Schedule) in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, as well as states regulated by the “Inner Line” permit under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations 1873. Criticisms of the CAA It violates the basic tenets of the Constitution. Illegal immigrants are distinguished on the basis of religion.It is perceived to be a demographic threat to indigenous communities.It makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to equality.It attempts to naturalise the citizenship of illegal immigrants in the region.It allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences. -Source:The Hindu Sikkim’s Statehood Day Context: Recently, the President and Prime Minister of India greeted people on the occasion of Sikkim Statehood Day that is celebrated on May 16th. Relevance: GS 1: History GS 2: Polity and Constitution Dimensions of the Article: Sikkim’s Statehood: HistoryCreation of New States in Indian Constitution Sikkim’s Statehood: History In the 1640s India, Pakistan Bangladesh and Nepal were still many princely states with many rulers at that time and had not unified.But by this time, Sikkim had already solidified into country then with a king known as a Chogyal or dharma king, and till 16 May 1975 was an independent country ruled by the monarchs.In the early 18th century, the British Empire sought to establish trade routes with Tibet, leading Sikkim to fall under British suzerainty until independence in 1947. The Treaty of Tumlong in 1861 made Sikkim a protectorate of the British.Initially, Sikkim remained an independent country, until it merged with India in 1975 after a decisive referendum.Indian independence and its move to democracy spurred a fledgling political movement in Sikkim, giving rise to the formation of Sikkim State Congress (SSC).After India’s independence in 1947, the guarantees of independence that Sikkim had acquired from the British were transferred to the new Indian government.In 1950, a treaty was agreed between India and Sikkim which gave Sikkim the status of an Indian protectorate.The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru gave special protectorate status for Sikkim, which was to be a ‘tributary’ of India.Sikkim came under the suzerainty of India, which controlled its external affairs, defence, diplomacy and communications.In 1973, anti-royalist riots took place in front of the Chogyal’s palace.In 1975, the Prime Minister of Sikkim appealed to the Indian Parliament for Sikkim to become a state of India. In April 1975, the Indian Army took over the city of Gangtok and disarmed the Chogyal’s palace guards.Thereafter, a referendum was held for abolishing the monarchy, effectively approving union with India.On 16 May 1975, Sikkim became the 22nd state of the Indian Union, and the monarchy was abolished.To enable the incorporation of the new state, the Indian Parliament amended the Indian Constitution. First, the 35th Amendment laid down a set of conditions that made Sikkim an “Associate State”, a special designation not used by any other state.The 36th Amendment repealed the 35th Amendment, and made Sikkim a full state, adding its name to the First Schedule of the Constitution. Creation of New States in Indian Constitution The procedure for formation of new States laid down in Article 3 of the Constitution. Article 3 assigns to Parliament the power to enact legislation for the formation of new States. Parliament may create new States in a number of ways, namely by: separating territory from any Stateuniting two or more Statesuniting parts of Statesuniting any territory to a part of any State Parliament’s power under Article 3 extends to increasing or diminishing the area of any State and altering the boundaries or name of any State. Note: A state has no say over the formation of new States beyond communicating its views to Parliament. A bill calling for formation of new States may be introduced in either House of Parliament only on the recommendation of the President.The bill must be referred by the President to the concerned State Legislature for expressing its views to Parliament if it contains provisions which affect the areas, boundaries or name of that State. -Source; The Hindu, The Indian Express        Foetus has the Right to Live Context: The Supreme Court recently rejected a prayer petition of a 20 year old single mother to allow abortion of a 27-week pregnancy. The court held that the foetus too has a right to live.The AIIMS expert committee also shows that there is no congenital abnormality in the foetus nor is there any danger to the mother to carry on with the pregnancy which will mandate termination of the foetus.The foetus being viable and normal, and there is no danger to the petitioner to carry on with the pregnancy, the court held that foeticide would neither be ethical nor legally permissible. Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article: The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Act, 2021Who falls in the category of women allowed to terminate pregnancy between 20-24 weeks? The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 provides the legal framework for making CAC services available in India.Termination of pregnancy is permitted for a broad range of conditions up to 20 weeks of gestation as detailed below:When continuation of pregnancy is a risk to the life of a pregnant woman or could cause grave injury to her physical or mental health;When there is substantial risk that the child, if born, would be seriously handicapped due to physical or mental abnormalities;When pregnancy is caused due to rape (presumed to cause grave injury to the mental health of the woman);When pregnancy is caused due to failure of contraceptives used by a married woman or her husband (presumed to constitute grave injury to mental health of the woman). The MTP Act specifies who can terminate a pregnancy;till when a pregnancy can be terminated; andwhere can a pregnancy be terminated. Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Act, 2021 The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act allows termination of pregnancy by a medical practitioner in two stages.After a crucial amendment in 2021, for pregnancies up to 20 weeks, termination is allowed under the opinion of one registered medical practitioner.For pregnancies between 20-24 weeks, the Rules attached to the law prescribe certain criteria in terms of who can avail termination. It also requires the opinion of two registered medical practitioners in this case.For pregnancies within 20 weeks, termination can be allowed if:the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health; orthere is a substantial risk that if the child was born, it would suffer from any serious physical or mental abnormality.The explanation to the provision states that termination within 20 weeks is allowed “where any pregnancy occurs as a result of failure of any device or method used by any woman or her partner for the purpose of limiting the number of children or preventing pregnancy, the anguish caused by such pregnancy may be presumed to constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman”.The phrase “any woman or her partner” was also introduced in 2021 in place of the earlier “married woman or her husband”. By eliminating the word “married woman or her husband” from the scheme of the MTP Act, the legislature intended to clarify the scope of Section 3 and bring pregnancies which occur outside the institution of marriage within the protective umbrella of the law.For both stages — within 20 weeks and between 20-24 weeks — termination is allowed “where any pregnancy is alleged by the pregnant woman to have been caused by rape, the anguish caused by the pregnancy shall be presumed to constitute a grave injury to the mental health of the pregnant woman”. Who falls in the category of women allowed to terminate pregnancy between 20-24 weeks? For pregnancies between 20-24 weeks, Section 3B of the Rules under the MTP Act lists seven categories of women:Survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest;Minors;Change of marital status during the ongoing pregnancy (widowhood and divorce);Women with physical disabilities (major disability as per criteria laid down under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016);Mentally ill women including mental retardation;The foetal malformation that has substantial risk of being incompatible with life or if the child is born it may suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities to be seriously handicapped;Women with pregnancy in humanitarian settings or disaster or emergency situations as may be declared by the Government. -Source; The Hindu, The Indian Express       

Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 15 May 2024

CONTENTS Green Hydrogen Green Hydrogen Context: Maiden India Pavilion at World Hydrogen Summit 2024, Netherlands showcases National Green Hydrogen Mission. Relevance: GS III: Infrastructure Dimensions of the Article: What is Green hydrogen?What is the National Green Hydrogen Mission? What is Green hydrogen? A colourless, odourless, tasteless, non-toxic and highly combustible gaseous substance, hydrogen is the lightest, simplest and most abundant member of the family of chemical elements in the universe.But a colour — green — prefixed to it makes hydrogen the “fuel of the future”.The ‘green’ depends on how the electricity is generated to obtain the hydrogen, which does not emit greenhouse gas when burned.Green hydrogen is produced through electrolysis using renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind or hydel power.Hydrogen can be ‘grey’ and ‘blue’ too.Grey hydrogen is generated through fossil fuels such as coal and gas and currently accounts for 95% of the total production in South Asia.Blue hydrogen, too, is produced using electricity generated by burning fossil fuels but with technologies to prevent the carbon released in the process from entering the atmosphere. Green Hydrogen Importance Hydrogen is being used across the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany. Countries like Japan desire to become a hydrogen economy in future.Green hydrogen can in future be used forElectricity and drinking water generation, energy storage, transportation etc. Green hydrogen can be used to provide water to the crew members in space stations.Energy storage- Compressed hydrogen tanks can store the energy longer and are easier to handle than lithium-ion batteries as they are lighter.Transport and mobility- Hydrogen can be used in heavy transport, aviation and maritime transport. What is the National Green Hydrogen Mission? The intent of the mission is to incentivise the commercial production of green hydrogen and make India a net exporter of the fuel. The mission has laid out a target to develop green hydrogen production capacity of at least 5 MMT (Million Metric Tonne) per annum.This is alongside adding renewable energy capacity of about 125 GW (gigawatt) in the country.This will entail the decarbonisation of the industrial, mobility and energy sectors; reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels and feedstock; developing indigenous manufacturing capabilities; creating employment opportunities; and developing new technologies such as efficient fuel cells.By 2030, the Centre hopes its investments will bring in investments worth ₹8 trillion and create over six lakh jobs. Moreover, about 50 MMT per annum of CO2 emissions are expected to be averted by 2030.As per its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, India has committed to reduce emissions intensity of its GDP by 45% by 2030, from 2005 levels. Advantages: The National Green Hydrogen Mission will make India a leading producer and supplier of Green Hydrogen in the world.It would result in attractive investment and business opportunities for the industry.Will contribute significantly to India’s efforts for decarbonization and energy independence.Will create opportunities for employment and economic development.The Mission will drive the development of the Green Hydrogen ecosystem in the country. The targeted production capacity will bring over ₹8 lakh crore in total investments and will result in creation of over 6 lakh clean jobs.The Mission will support pilot projects in other hard-to-abate sectors. The Mission will also support R&D; projects.

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 15 May 2024

CONTENTS India Denies Child Labour Allegations Amid CECA Negotiations with AustraliaNHRC-India’s Accreditation Deferred by GANHRI for Second Consecutive YearWTO Members Celebrate 30th Anniversary of TRIPS AgreementHousing Issues Take Center Stage in 2024 General ElectionsXenotransplantationSoil Stabilization Project Implemented Along Nilgiris’ Major Roads in Tamil NaduGPT-4o India Denies Child Labour Allegations Amid CECA Negotiations with Australia Context: The Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry has strongly rebutted accusations of child labor raised in a recent report by Australia’s Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth. These allegations come amidst ongoing negotiations between India and Australia for the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), intended to expand upon the existing Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) inked in 2022. Relevance: GS II: International Relations Dimensions of the Article: Allegations by the Australian Panel India’s Legal Framework on Child Labour and Forced LabourInternational Labour Organization Conventions on Child Labour Allegations by the Australian Panel: Concerns about child and forced labor in India were raised in the Australian committee’s report, based on claims by the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) and the State Public Services Federation (SPSF Group).The report recommended that the Australian Government include human rights, labor, and environmental chapters in its trade agreements, aligning with United Nations and International Labour Organization conventions and declarations signed by Australia. Statistics on Child Labor and Modern Slavery in India: The 2023 Global Slavery Index by Walk Free estimated that there were 11 million people living in modern slavery in India on any given day in 2021, the highest number globally.Census 2011 data indicates that out of the total child population in India aged 5-14 years (259.6 million), 10.1 million (3.9% of the total child population) are engaged in some form of work, either as ‘main worker’ or ‘marginal worker’, with an additional 42.7 million children out of school. India’s Response: The Indian government has vehemently denied the allegations, emphasizing that existing rules and regulations prohibit child labor and bonded labor.India’s Constitution safeguards labor rights and empowers both central and state governments to enact laws like the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, to protect workers’ rights, including the formation of unions and prevention of harassment.All business entities in India are required to be licensed by local governing bodies and must comply with labor welfare laws prescribed by both union and state governments.Processing units maintain comprehensive records related to processing, quality checks, employee training, and compliance with applicable rules and regulations. India’s Legal Framework on Child Labour and Forced Labour: Constitutional Provisions: Article 23: Prohibits trafficking in human beings and forced labor, ensuring protection against exploitation and degrading work conditions.Article 24: Prohibits the employment of children under 14 in factories, mines, or hazardous occupations, aiming to protect children from exploitation and ensure access to education.Article 39: Outlines principles for ensuring equal rights to livelihood, equal pay for equal work, and protection of workers’ health and children’s well-being. Legislations Against Child Labour: Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986: Bans employing children under 14 in all work, with exceptions for family businesses and the entertainment industry, and restricts adolescents (14-18) from hazardous occupations.Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015: Considers working children as “in need of care and protection” and outlines various situations warranting such protection.National Policy on Child Labour (1987) and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, focus on the rehabilitation of working children and ensuring free education. Legislations Against Forced Labour: Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976: Criminalizes bonded labor and mandates the rehabilitation of freed bonded laborers.Central Sector Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourer, 2021: Provides financial assistance for the rehabilitation of freed bonded labor, shared by Central and State Governments. International Labour Organization Conventions on Child Labour: Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29): Prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor, including debt bondage. This is ratified in India.Equal Remuneration Convention (No. 100): Ensures equal remuneration for work of equal value, regardless of gender. This is ratified in India.Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138): Stipulates the minimum age for work should not be below the age of compulsory schooling and not less than 15 years, with exceptions for developing countries. This is ratified in India.Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182): Prohibits hazardous work for children below 18 years. This is ratified in India.Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention (No. 98): Establishes rules for freedom of unionization and collective bargaining, protecting workers from discrimination for union activities. This is not ratified in India. -Source: Indian Express NHRC-India’s Accreditation Deferred by GANHRI for Second Consecutive Year Context:  The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), based in Geneva and affiliated with the United Nations, has deferred the accreditation of the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC-India) for the second consecutive year. This decision, taken during the Sub Committee on Accreditation (SCA) meeting on May 1, 2024, marks the first time that India’s accreditation has been suspended for two consecutive years (in 2023 and 2024). The decision could potentially impact India’s voting rights at the Human Rights Council and certain bodies within the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Relevance: GS II: International Relations Dimensions of the Article: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI)India’s Accreditation Review National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Establishment and Legal Basis: NHRC is a statutory body established on October 12, 1993, under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. Watchdog of Human Rights: NHRC serves as the watchdog of human rights in India, overseeing the protection and promotion of human rights across the country. Conformity with Paris Principles: NHRC’s establishment aligns with the Paris Principles (1991), which were adopted at the first international workshop on national institutions for the protection of human rights. Objectives: NHRC has several key objectives, including: Strengthening institutional arrangements for addressing human rights issues comprehensively and effectively.Investigating allegations of human rights violations independently of the government, thus emphasizing the government’s commitment to safeguarding human rights. Composition: NHRC consists of a chairperson and eight other members.The chairperson of NHRC is a retired Chief Justice of India.Among the eight members, four are full-time members, while the other four are deemed members.Full-time members include a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, a retired Chief Justice of a High Court, and two members selected for their experience and knowledge of human rights.Deemed members are the chairpersons of the National Commission for Minorities, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, and the National Commission for Women. Appointment Process: The chairperson and members are appointed by the President of India based on the recommendations of a six-member committee. This committee comprises: Prime Minister (as the head)Speaker of the Lok SabhaDeputy Chairman of the Rajya SabhaLeaders of the Opposition in both the Houses of ParliamentUnion Home Minister Functions and Powers of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Functions: Complaint Investigation: NHRC can inquire into complaints of human rights violations, either on its own initiative or through petitions filed by victims or their representatives. These complaints may involve violations by public servants or negligence in preventing such violations.Intervention in Court Proceedings: The Commission has the authority to intervene in any legal proceedings related to human rights violations pending before a court, subject to the approval of the respective court.Visitations and Recommendations: NHRC can conduct visits to correctional facilities and institutions under state government control where individuals are detained or housed for purposes of treatment, reformation, or protection. During these visits, it examines the living conditions of inmates and offers recommendations for improvement.Human Rights Education: NHRC plays a role in spreading human rights literacy among various segments of society, promoting awareness and understanding of human rights principles.International Treaties and Instruments: The Commission is responsible for studying international treaties and other instruments related to human rights and making recommendations for their effective implementation in India. Powers: Civil Court Powers: While investigating complaints, NHRC possesses the same powers as a civil court trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. This includes the authority to summon and enforce the attendance of witnesses and examine them under oath.Compensation: NHRC can grant compensation to victims of police brutality or other forms of human rights violations, providing redress for the harm suffered.Legal Action: When necessary, NHRC has the authority to approach the Supreme Court or the High Court to enforce human rights protections and safeguard the rights of individuals or groups.Suo Motu Cognizance: NHRC can take “suo motu” cognizance of human rights violations, meaning it can initiate investigations and proceedings on its own accord, even without a formal complaint being filed. Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) About GANHRI: GANHRI is an organization affiliated with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.It serves as a global network of national human rights institutions (NHRIs), representing 120 NHRIs worldwide.GANHRI aims to promote and protect human rights by uniting, promoting, and strengthening NHRIs in line with the UN Paris Principles. Accreditation Process by GANHRI: The Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) conducts reviews of NHRIs every five years.The accreditation process ensures compliance with the internationally recognized Paris Principles, focusing on independence, pluralism, and accountability.NHRIs are assessed based on their adherence to the Paris Principles, with ‘A status’ for full compliance and ‘B status’ for partial compliance.Accreditation status impacts a country’s voting rights at the UN Human Rights Council and other UNGA bodies. India’s Accreditation Status: India’s NHRC attained ‘A status’ accreditation in 1999, reaffirmed in 2006, 2011, and 2017 after a deferred review.However, India’s accreditation status is currently under review due to concerns raised in 2023. NHRC-India Accreditation Status Review Background: NHRC’s ratings were suspended in 2023 due to concerns regarding its composition procedure, the involvement of police personnel in human rights investigations, and the absence of gender and minority representation.On May 1, 2024, NHRC’s performance was reassessed to determine its accreditation status. Observations by SCA: The committee’s latest report is awaited, but the 2023 report highlighted several reasons for recommending the deferral.These reasons included the lack of transparency in member appointments, the presence of police officers in human rights investigations, and the inadequate representation of gender and minority groups on the member panel. India’s Response: GANHRI urged India to implement structural changes and incorporate suggestions.However, due to the ongoing general elections in India, implementing these changes was not feasible at the time. -Source: The Hindu WTO Members Celebrate 30th Anniversary of TRIPS Agreement Context: Recently, members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) marked the 30th anniversary of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The TRIPS agreement, which was reached in Marrakesh and played a pivotal role in the establishment of the WTO in 1995, has had a profound and enduring impact on global trade and intellectual property rights. Relevance: GS III: Indian Economy Dimensions of the Article: Evolution of the TRIPS AgreementChallenges Related to TRIPSWay Forward Evolution of the TRIPS Agreement: Venetian Patent Statute (1474): Europe’s first codified patent system granting temporary monopolies to inventors.Industrial Revolution and International Standards (19th Century): Technological advancements necessitated harmonized patent laws.Paris Convention (1883): Initiated protection of intellectual work across countries.General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT): Addressed intellectual property in a limited manner.Uruguay Round (1987-1994): Led to the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the WTO and the TRIPS Agreement, the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property. Role of the TRIPS Agreement in International Collaboration: Establishes minimum IP protection standards across member countries, fostering predictability in international trade and R&D; collaboration.Requires disclosure of IP laws and regulations, enhancing transparency in the global IP system.Encourages technology transfer between developed and developing countries, with developed nations obligated to provide mechanisms for technology transfer under certain conditions.Emphasizes balancing rights with obligations to promote social and economic welfare, aligning with the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).During public health crises like the late 1990s, TRIPS flexibilities were instrumental in ensuring access to antiretroviral treatments, highlighting its importance in such emergencies. Challenges Related to TRIPS: Limiting Access: Strong IP rights under TRIPS may restrict access to essential medicines, educational materials, and agricultural technologies in developing countries.Patenting of Genetic Resources: Concerns arise over patenting genetic resources and traditional knowledge from developing countries without fair compensation.Inadequate Provisions: TRIPS’ disclosure provisions regarding the origin of genetic resources and traditional knowledge are deemed insufficient.Enforcement Challenges: Enforcing IP rights, especially in areas like copyright infringement and counterfeiting, poses difficulties for many developing nations due to limited resources and legal systems.Emerging Issues: Discussions are needed on data ownership, privacy, e-commerce, and the patentability of data-driven inventions in the context of AI and big data. Way Forward: Standardization and Capacity Building: Developing common standards and best practices for IP enforcement, coupled with capacity-building initiatives for developing nations, can create a more equitable global IP landscape.Open Collaboration Models: Exploring open-source collaboration and Creative Commons licenses can foster innovation while ensuring accessibility to knowledge.Guidelines for Emerging Technologies: Establishing clear guidelines for IP ownership and rights concerning AI and other emerging technologies will be essential for promoting responsible innovation. -Source: The Hindu Housing Issues Take Center Stage in 2024 General Elections Context: As India’s 2024 general elections unfold, housing emerges as a crucial issue, with political parties vying for voter support by promising schemes and affordable housing initiatives. The country, home to approximately 1.7 million homeless individuals according to the 2011 Census, grapples with significant housing challenges. Even for those with homes, concerns persist regarding the quality of construction, overcrowding, and inadequate amenities and infrastructure. Relevance: GS II: Government policies and Interventions Dimensions of the Article: Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G):Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY- U: Housing for All – Urban)PMAY Achievements Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G): Scheme Objective: The primary aim of PMAY-G is to provide pucca houses with essential amenities. Target Beneficiaries: The scheme caters to individuals who do not own a house and those residing in kutcha houses or severely damaged houses. Minimum House Size: Currently, houses under the PMAY-G scheme must have a minimum size of 25 sq. mt. with a hygienic cooking space. Concerned Ministry: The Ministry of Rural Development is responsible for the implementation of PMAY-G. Cost Sharing: In plain areas, the cost is shared in a 60:40 ratio between the Central and State governments, providing Rs. 1.20 lakh of assistance per unit.In Himalayan states, north-eastern states, and the UT of Jammu & Kashmir, the ratio is 90:10, with up to Rs. 1.30 lakh of assistance per unit.Union Territories, including Ladakh, receive 100% financing from the Centre. Beneficiary Identification: Beneficiaries are identified using parameters from the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data, verified by Gram Sabhas. Additional Benefits: Beneficiaries are entitled to 90/95 person-days of unskilled labor under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).Assistance for constructing toilets, up to Rs. 12,000, is provided under Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) in collaboration with MGNREGS or other schemes. Electronic Payments: Payments are made electronically directly to bank accounts or post office accounts linked to Aadhaar. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY- U: Housing for All – Urban) The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence.The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resourcePromotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidyAffordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectorsSubsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.The mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers. A slum is defined as a compact area of at least 300 people or about 60 – 70 households of poorly built congested tenements in unhygienic environment usually with inadequate infrastructure and lacking in proper sanitary and drinking water facilities.Mission will be implemented as Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) except for the component of credit linked subsidy which will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme.“Housing for All” Mission for urban area is being implemented during 2015-2022 and this Mission will provide central assistance to implementing agencies through States and UTs for providing houses to all eligible families/beneficiaries by 2022. Coverage area The Mission covers the entire urban area consisting of: Statutory TownsNotified Planning AreasDevelopment AuthoritiesSpecial Area Development AuthoritiesIndustrial Development Authorities orAny such authority under State legislation which is entrusted with the functions of urban planning & regulations PMAY Achievements: Under PMAY-U: A total of 118.63 lakh houses have been sanctioned.Out of these, 78.15 lakh houses have been constructed/delivered by December 2023. Under PMAY-G: States/UTs have been allocated a target of 2.95 crore houses under PMAY-G.More than 2.94 crore houses have been sanctioned for eligible beneficiaries.Over 2.55 crore houses have been completed so far. Funding: Both rural and urban components of PMAY received Rs. 80,671 crores in the interim budget released in February 2024. -Source: The Hindu Xenotransplantation Context: Recently, the first recipient of a modified pig kidney transplant passed away after hisgroundbreaking  xenotransplantation surgery. His death was not linked to the transplant. Relevance: GS III- Science and Technology, GS II- Health Dimensions of the Article: What is xenotransplantation?Why are Pigs Often Used for Xenotransplantation? What is Xenotransplantation? According to the FDA, xenotransplantation is “any procedure that involves the transplantation, implantation or infusion into a human recipient of eitherlive cells, tissues, or organs from a nonhuman animal source, orhuman body fluids, cells, tissues or organs that have had ex vivo contact with live nonhuman animal cells, tissues or organs”.Xenotransplantation is seen as an alternative to the clinical transplantation of human organs whose demand around the world exceeds supply by a long distance.Xenotransplantation involving the heart was first tried in humans in the 1980s.A well known case was that of an American baby, Stephanie Fae Beauclair, better known as Baby Fae, who was born with a congenital heart defect, and who received a baboon heart in 1984.The surgery was successful, but Baby Fae died within a month of the transplant after the baboon heart was rejected by her body’s immune system.Even so, Baby Fae managed to survive the xenotransplantation for much longer than in earlier experiments. Why are Pigs Often Used for Xenotransplantation? Historical Utilization: Pig heart valves have been employed in human surgeries for over half a century, showcasing the historical use of pigs in medical procedures. Anatomical and Physiological Resemblance: Pigs exhibit anatomical and physiological similarities to humans, making them suitable candidates for xenotransplantation.These resemblances facilitate compatibility and reduce the risk of rejection in human recipients. Cost-Effectiveness and Accessibility: The widespread farming of pigs renders them a cost-effective and readily available source for xenotransplantation.Compared to other potential donor species, pigs offer a practical and accessible solution for organ transplantation needs. Organ Size Variability: Various pig breeds present a diverse range of organ sizes, enabling the selection of organs that closely match the specific requirements of human recipients.This variability allows for customized organ matching, enhancing the success rates of xenotransplantation procedures. -Source: The Hindu Soil Stabilization Project Implemented Along Nilgiris’ Major Roads in Tamil Nadu Context: The state highways department of Tamil Nadu has initiated a project titled ‘slope stabilization using soil nailing and hydroseeding method’ along several areas surrounding the Nilgiris’ major roads. This project aims to prevent soil erosion and enhance stability in vulnerable areas, thereby ensuring safer and more resilient road infrastructure in the region. Relevance: GS III: Science and Technology Dimensions of the Article: Soil Nailing OverviewHydroseeding Explanation Soil Nailing Overview: Soil nailing is a technique in geotechnical engineering aimed at fortifying specific areas of soil by introducing reinforcing elements.The process involves inserting steel tendons into the soil and grouting them, creating a composite mass akin to a gravity wall. Methods of Soil Nailing: Drilled and Grouted Soil Nailing: Nails are inserted into pre-drilled holes and filled with grouting materials.Driven Soil Nailing: Primarily for temporary stabilization; fast but lacks corrosion protection for the steel.Drilling Soil Nailing: Utilizes hollow bars, drilled and injected with grout; typically faster than driven nails.Jet Grouted Soil Nailing: Involves creating holes in eroding soil, installing steel bars, and grouting with concrete.Launched Soil Nailing: Steel bars are forcefully nailed into the soil in a single shot using compression by an air mechanism. Common Applications: Stabilizing slopes and landslidesSupporting excavationsRepairing existing retaining walls Hydroseeding Explanation: Hydroseeding is the process of spreading a blend of seeds, fertilizer, organic materials, and water onto soil to encourage grass and plant growth.The resulting vegetation helps bind the topsoil, preventing erosion. -Source: The Hindu GPT-4o Context: The ChatGPT, OpenAI has brought the capabilities of GPT-4 through its latest model named GPT-4o. Relevance: Facts for Prelims Overview of GPT-40 (“o” for “omni”): GPT-40 offers intelligence equivalent to GPT-4 and significantly enhances its capabilities in text, vision, and audio processing. Key Features: Natural Human-Machine Interaction: Enhances the naturalness and ease of human-to-machine interaction.Efficient Voice Mode: Intuitively recognizes the voice of the speaker(s) with improved efficiency.Unified Voice, Text, and Vision Reasoning: Unlike previous versions, GPT-40 seamlessly integrates voice, text, and vision reasoning, reducing latency.Vision Capabilities: Allows users to upload photos and documents, initiating conversations based on visual inputs.Memory Feature: Enables real-time information browsing during conversations, enhancing user experience.Multilingual Support: Improved quality and speed across 50 different languages.Emotion Recognition: Capable of detecting user emotions and adapting conversation styles accordingly.Real-time Facial Emotion Analysis: Can analyze a user’s facial expressions in real-time, providing insights into their feelings. -Source: The Hindu

Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 14 May 2024

CONTENTS Exercise SHAKTIRabindranath Tagore Exercise SHAKTI Context: The 7th iteration of the India-France Joint Military Exercise SHAKTI has begun at Umroi, Meghalaya. Relevance: GS III: Security Challenges Exercise SHAKTI Overview SHAKTI is held biennially, alternating between India and France, with the previous edition taking place in France in November 2021.It aims to enhance joint military capabilities in conducting multi-domain operations under Chapter VII of the United Nations Mandate. Composition of Contingents The Indian contingent comprises 90 personnel, primarily from the RAJPUT Regiment, with representation from other arms and services, as well as observers from the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force.The French contingent consists of 90 personnel primarily from the 13th Foreign Legion Half-Brigade (13th DBLE). Objectives and Focus Areas The exercise focuses on operations in semi-urban and mountainous terrain, aiming to achieve a high level of physical fitness and refine tactical-level operations.Key objectives include sharing best practices and promoting interoperability between the armed forces of both nations. Tactical Drills Tactical drills will cover various scenarios, such as responding to terrorist actions, establishing joint command posts, and employing drones and counter-drone systems. Promoting Cooperation and Bilateral Relations Exercise SHAKTI aims to strengthen camaraderie and cooperation between the armed forces of India and France, further enhancing bilateral defense cooperation and fostering friendly relations. Rabindranath Tagore Context: PM has paid tribute to Gurudev RabindranathTagore on Tagore Jayanti (May 9th). Relevance: GS I- History About Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore Ji The Rabindranath Tagore Ji was a Bengali poet, writer, composer, philosopher, music composer and choreographer, founder of a unique educational institution Visva Bharati and a painter.He reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.Popularly known as ‘Gurudev’, he was born in an affluent Family.He was also called the ‘Bard of Bengal’.He was knighted by the British government in 1915, but he later renounced it protesting against the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.He was a widely travelled person and had been to over 30 countries in 5 different continents.He met many other eminent personalities like Albert Einstein, Romain Rolland, Robert Frost, G B Shaw, Thomas Mann, etc.He had spoken at the World Parliament for Religions in the years 1929 and 1937.The Tagore Ji’s birth anniversary is celebrated by Bengalis all over the word as Rabindra Jayanti.It is marked on the 25th day of the Bengali month of Boisakh (falls in early May in the Gregorian calendar), it is celebrated in Bangladesh also.A period of prolonged agony ended with Tagore’s death on 7 August 1941, aged 80. Contributions of Gurudev Ji The Tagore Ji began writing poetry at the tender age of eight years old and at 16 years of age, Tagore released his first collection of poems under the pen name ‘Bhanusimha’.He became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature when he won the award in 1913 for his translation of his own work in Bengali, Gitanjali.In 1918, he founded the Vishwabharati University at Santiniketan.The Tagore JI is responsible for modernizing Bengali prose and poetry.His notable works include Gitanjali, Ghare-Baire, Gora, Manasi, Balaka, Sonar Tori, he is also remembered for his song ‘Ekla Chalo Re’.The Tagore Ji is said to have composed over 2000 songs and his songs and music are called ‘Rabindrasangeet’ with its own distinct lyrical and fluid style.He started the Rakhi Utsav where people from Hindu and Muslim communities tied colorful threads on each other’s wrists.His poems and songs infuse people with a feeling of patriotism and love for the motherland.His novels, dances, dramas, essays, dance-dramas and stories cover a wide range of topics from personal to political.The national anthems of both India and Bangladesh were composed by Tagore. (The India’s Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh’s Amar Shonar Bangla.)The Sri Lankan national anthem is also said to have been inspired by Tagore Ji.

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 14 May 2024

CONTENTS China Surpasses US as India’s Largest Trading PartnerDemographic Shifts in India’s Religious CompositionIndian Space Situational Assessment Report 2023 (ISSAR)Himalayan MagpiesIndian Ocean basin-wide (IOBW) IndexMammoth Carbon Capture Plant China Surpasses US as India’s Largest Trading Partner Context: According to data released by the Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI), China has emerged as India’s largest trading partner in the fiscal year 2023-24, with two-way commerce totaling USD 118.4 billion. This marks a narrow overtaking of the United States, whose two-way trade with India amounted to $118.3 billion during the same period. The shift reflects a dynamic in bilateral trade relationships, with China reclaiming its position as India’s top trading partner after the US held the position in the preceding two fiscal years. Relevance: GS II: International Relations Dimensions of the Article: Understanding India-China Bilateral Trade DynamicsIndia – US Bilateral TradeTrade Relations with Other Countries (2019-2024) Understanding India-China Bilateral Trade Dynamics Overview of Bilateral Trade: India’s bilateral trade with China in FY24 amounted to $118.4 billion.Imports from China increased by 3.24% to $101.7 billion, while exports rose by 8.7% to $16.67 billion compared to FY23. Trends in Exports and Imports: From FY19 to FY24, India’s exports to China experienced a slight decline of 0.6%, reaching $16.66 billion.Conversely, imports from China surged by 44.7% during the same period, reaching $101.75 billion. Major Imports from China: India primarily imports electrical and electronic equipment, engineering goods, chemicals, plastics, and textiles from China. Major Exports to China: India’s major exports to China include engineering goods, agricultural products, ores and minerals, chemicals, and petroleum products. Trade Balance Imbalance: The trade balance heavily favors China, with the trade deficit expanding from $53.57 billion in FY19 to $85.09 billion in FY24. Reasons for High Trade Deficit: India relies on Chinese imports to meet domestic demand and preferences, contributing to the widening trade deficit.India’s exports mainly consist of primary commodities, while Chinese exports are dominated by machinery, chemicals, and technology.India’s pharmaceutical industry heavily depends on China for active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), further exacerbating the trade deficit.Limited market access for Indian agricultural and competitive products in China hampers export growth.India’s reliance on critical products from China, such as telecom components and lithium-ion batteries for EVs, contributes to the trade deficit.This dependency on China poses economic and national security risks for India. Mitigation Measures: India has implemented measures like production-linked incentive schemes (PLI), anti-dumping duties, and quality control orders to reduce dependence on China. India – US Bilateral Trade: In FY24, India-US bilateral trade reached $118.3 billion, with exports decreasing by 1.32% to $77.5 billion, and imports dipping by 20% to $40.8 billion compared to the previous fiscal year.Over the past five years, trade with the US exhibited positive growth, with exports increasing by 47.9% to $77.52 billion and imports growing by 14.7% to $40.78 billion, resulting in an expanded trade surplus for India to $36.74 billion. Trade Relations with Other Countries (2019-2024): The UAE emerged as the third-largest trading partner of India in 2023-24, with trade valued at USD 83.6 billion, followed by Russia (USD 65.7 billion), Saudi Arabia (USD 43.4 billion), and Singapore (USD 35.6 billion). With Russia: Exports witnessed a significant increase of 78.3% from $2.39 billion to $4.26 billion, while imports surged by 952% from $5.84 billion to $61.44 billion, resulting in a widened trade deficit from $3.45 billion to $57.18 billion. With Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s exports more than doubled, increasing by 107.9% from $5.56 billion to $11.56 billion. Imports grew by 11.7% from $28.48 billion to $31.81 billion, leading to a slight reduction in the trade deficit from $22.92 billion to $20.25 billion. With UAE: Exports to the UAE rose by 18.3% from $30.13 billion to $35.63 billion, while imports increased substantially by 61.2% from $29.79 billion to $48.02 billion. This shift turned a marginal trade surplus of $0.34 billion in FY19 into a deficit of $12.39 billion by FY24. -Source: Indian Express Demographic Shifts in India’s Religious Composition Context: A recent analysis by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (PM-EAC) reveals that between 1950 and 2015, the percentage of Hindus in India has decreased by 7.82%. Conversely, the percentages of Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs have shown an upward trend during the same period, highlighting significant demographic shifts in India’s religious composition over time. Relevance: GS I: Population and Associated issues Dimensions of the Article: Key Findings of the PM-EAC ReportDemographic Patterns and Their Relevance Key Findings of the PM-EAC Report: Global Trends: In 38 OECD countries surveyed from 1950 to 2015, 30 experienced a significant decrease in the proportion of Roman Catholics, the predominant religious group.The majority religious population declined globally by an average of 22% from 1950 to 2015.OECD countries saw a steeper decline, with an average reduction of 29% in majority religious populations.In Africa, animism or native religion, which was dominant in 24 countries in 1950, lost its majority status by 2015. South Asian Region: Majority religious groups are increasing in countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Afghanistan, while minority populations have significantly declined. Findings for India: The Hindu population in India declined by 7.82% according to the 2011 census, accounting for approximately 79.8% of the population.The Muslim population increased from 9.84% to 14.095%, and the Christian population increased from 2.24% to 2.36%.Sikh population rose from 1.24% to 1.85%, and the Buddhist population increased from 0.05% to 0.81%.The Jain and Parsi community populations decreased, with the share of Jains dropping from 0.45% to 0.36%, and the Parsi population declining by 85% from 0.03% to 0.0004%. Total Fertility Rate (TFR) Trends: India’s TFR is currently around 2, close to the preferred TFR of 2.19, indicating a reliable indicator for projecting population growth.TFR for Hindus decreased from 3.3 in 1991 to 1.9 in 2024, while for Muslims, it declined from 4.4 in 1991 to 2.4 in 2024. Social Equality in India: Despite global demographic shifts, minorities in India experience equal benefits and live comfortable lives. Demographic Patterns and Their Relevance: Definition and Scope: Demographic patterns refer to systematic variations and trends observed in human populations.These patterns emerge from the study of population dynamics, including birth rates, death rates, migration, and population composition. Importance: Predicting Population Trends: Demographic data helps predict population growth or decline by studying birth and death rates over time.Planning and Resource Allocation: Crucial for planning infrastructure, healthcare, education, and social services based on population needs. Understanding Population Changes: Identifying Factors: Investigates the causes behind population changes, such as economic development, education, healthcare, and cultural norms.Consequences Analysis: Examines workforce dynamics, dependency ratios, and implications for social security systems. Policy Formulation and Implementation: Healthcare: Age-specific health needs are understood to allocate resources effectively and provide appropriate healthcare services.Education: Demographics guide educational planning, including the provision of school infrastructure and teacher recruitment.Urban Planning: Population distribution influences city infrastructure, housing, and transportation planning.Ageing Population: Policies are developed to address the needs of elderly citizens, including pensions, healthcare, and social support systems. -Source: The Hindu Indian Space Situational Assessment Report 2023 (ISSAR) Context: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently published the Indian Space Situational Assessment Report (ISSAR) for 2023. This report offers a detailed analysis of India’s space assets and assesses their vulnerability to potential collisions in space. The ISSAR provides valuable insights into the current state of India’s space infrastructure and aims to enhance the country’s ability to manage and safeguard its assets in the increasingly crowded space environment. Relevance: GS III: Science and Technology Dimensions of the Article: ISSAR 2023 Report HighlightsIndian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)Way forward ISSAR 2023 Report Highlights The ISSAR 2023 Report highlights several key points regarding India’s space activities and contributions to international space sustainability efforts: Global Launches and Contributions: A total of 3,143 objects were added globally in 2023 from 212 launches and on-orbit breakup events.India contributed significantly with the launch of 127 satellites by the end of December 2023. Success of ISRO Launches: All seven launches of ISRO in 2023 were successful, placing a total of 5 Indian satellites, 46 foreign satellites, and 8 rocket bodies into their intended orbits. Indian Space Assets: India had 22 operational satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 29 in Geostationary Orbit (GEO) as of December 31, 2023.Three active Indian deep space missions were highlighted: Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter, Aditya-L1, and Chandrayaan-3 Propulsion Module. Space Debris Management: ISRO conducts Collision Avoidance Maneuvers (CAMs) to safeguard its operational spacecraft in case of close approaches by other space objects.A significant increase in the number of CAMs conducted by ISRO in 2023 was noted, with 23 CAMs carried out compared to 21 in 2022 and 19 in 2021.Eight Indian satellites were successfully re-entered in 2023, demonstrating ISRO’s commitment to responsible space debris management. International Cooperation: ISRO actively participates in international fora such as the Inter-Agency Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), contributing to discussions and guidelines on space debris and long-term sustainability of outer space activities.ISRO chaired the 42nd annual IADC meeting in April 2024 and contributed to the revision of IADC space debris mitigation guidelines. Space Debris Challenge: The report acknowledges the challenge of space debris, with 82 rocket bodies from Indian launches remaining in orbit and fragments from a 2001 PSLV-C3 mishap still contributing to the total.  Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Origins and Mandate of ISRO: ISRO, a key component of the Department of Space (DOS) under the Government of India, traces its roots back to the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) established in 1962 by Dr Vikram A Sarabhai.Established on August 15, 1969, ISRO expanded its scope from INCOSPAR to harness space technology for national development.In 1972, ISRO was integrated into DOS with the primary objective of developing and applying space technology to meet diverse national needs. Functions and Centres of ISRO: Satellite launch vehicles like PSLV and GSLV are developed at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram.U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), Bengaluru, is responsible for satellite design and development.Integration and launch operations occur at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota.Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Valiamala & Bengaluru, focuses on the development of liquid stages, including cryogenic stages.Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, handles sensors for communication and remote sensing satellites, along with application aspects of space technology.National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad, manages the reception, processing, and dissemination of remote sensing satellite data. Way forward Establishing a Global Framework for Space Traffic Management (STM): Standardizing procedures for collision avoidance and inter-operator coordination.Promoting Responsible Space Practices: Advocating for debris mitigation measures and sustainable satellite deployment.Encouraging Innovation in Space Technology: Fostering advancements in active debris removal and on-orbit servicing technologies.Facilitating International Collaboration: Sharing resources, expertise, and data for enhanced space situational awareness.Reviewing and Updating Space Regulations: Adapting regulations to meet evolving space sector needs and raising awareness about space sustainability. -Source: The Hindu Himalayan Magpies Context: Recently, the enchanting Himalayan magpies have garnered increased attention as researchers delve deeper into their habitats and behaviours. Relevance: GS III: Environment and Ecology Key Points About Himalayan Magpies: Corvidae Family and Magpies: Magpies belong to the Corvidae family, known for noisy, inquisitive birds like crows, jays, and ravens, often associated with folklore.Appearance and Habitat: Striking in appearance, Himalayan magpies are noticeable species found in the region, classified as “least concern” on the IUCN Red List.Species Diversity: Blue magpies, gold-billed magpies, and red-billed magpies are common in the Himalayas, each occupying different altitude zones.Distribution: Gold-billed magpies inhabit higher altitudes, while red-billed magpies are found at lower heights, often near human settlements.Observation Corridors: Trekking corridors in Western Sikkim offer prime sightings of magpies, attracting bird enthusiasts and tourists.Nesting and Behavior: Magpies build nests in rhododendron trees using twigs and grass, displaying varying social behaviors from solitary to flocking.Threats and Conservation: Human encroachment in forested areas poses challenges to magpie habitats, and sustainable tourism practices are crucial for their conservation. -Source: The Hindu Indian Ocean Basin-Wide (IOBW) Index Context: According to the study, the Indian Ocean basin-wide (IOBW) index exhibits a close association with dengue outbreaks in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Relevance: Facts for Prelims About Indian Ocean Basin-wide (IOBW) Index: Representation: The IOBW Index reflects average sea-surface temperature fluctuations across the tropical Indian Ocean.Predictive Indicator: It serves as a crucial indicator for forecasting the scale and timing of dengue outbreaks in various countries.Hemispheric Association: The index demonstrates a stronger correlation with the Southern Hemisphere compared to the Northern Hemisphere.Regional Impact: Its influence on temperatures is particularly significant in tropical areas, impacting dengue incidence rates in regions like Brazil.Seasonal Trends: Dengue epidemics peak in the Northern Hemisphere from July to October and in the Southern Hemisphere from February to April, corresponding to respective summer periods.Incidence Amplitude: Higher positive IOBW index values correlate with increased dengue incidence rates, while lower values correspond to reduced incidence.Teleconnections Influence: The connection between Indian Ocean temperature and dengue outbreaks is likely due to teleconnections, which transfer heat and moisture across vast distances through atmospheric patterns. Key Facts about Dengue: Causative Agent: Dengue is caused by the dengue virus (DENV).Transmission: It spreads to humans primarily through bites of infected female mosquitoes, notably the Aedes aegypti species.Severity: Severe dengue, also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, can lead to significant complications such as bleeding, shock, and even death.Geographical Distribution: Dengue is more prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions.Symptoms: Common symptoms include high fever, headaches, body aches, nausea, and skin rash. -Source: The Hindu Mammoth Carbon Capture Plant Context: Recently, the world’s largest facility designed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere started operations in Iceland. Relevance: Facts for Prelims About Mammoth Carbon Capture Plant: Size and Location: The Mammoth carbon capture plant is the largest facility of its kind and is situated on a dormant volcano in Iceland.Operational Launch: Recently launched into operation, Mammoth is renowned for its capacity to capture carbon dioxide.Significance: Referred to as “Mammoth,” this plant marks Climeworks’ second commercial direct air capture (DAC) facility in Iceland and surpasses the scale of its predecessor, Orca, initiated in 2021. Functionality: The plant employs advanced technology to draw in air and chemically extract carbon dioxide from it.Extracted carbon dioxide can be stored underground, converted into stone, or repurposed for various applications.Partnership: Climeworks collaborates with Icelandic company Carbfix to sequester captured carbon by transforming it into stone beneath the Earth’s surface, leveraging Iceland’s abundant geothermal energy to power the process. What is Direct Air Capture? Definition: Direct air capture (DAC) is a technology designed to extract carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, regardless of location.Differentiation: Unlike traditional carbon capture methods, which are typically deployed at emission points like industrial plants, DAC enables CO2 extraction from any location.Carbon Utilization: Captured CO2 can be permanently stored in deep geological formations or utilized for various purposes, offering flexibility in carbon management strategies. -Source: Down To Earth