Posts

Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 20 April 2024

CONTENTS DURGA-2Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India DURGA-2 Context: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is reported to be testing a prototype of its DURGA-2 (Directionally Unrestricted Ray Gun Array) system. Relevance: Facts for Prelims About DURGA-2 Functionality: DURGA-2 is a weapon system designed to damage or destroy its target using focused energy, which can be in the form of lasers, microwaves, or particle beams. Advantages: Speed: The weapon transmits lethal force at the speed of light, approximately 300,000 kilometers per second.Environmental Independence: The beams of DURGA-2 are not influenced by gravity or atmospheric drag.Precision: It offers high precision, allowing for accurate targeting.Customizability: The effects of the weapon can be tailored by adjusting the type and intensity of the energy directed at the target. Significance: The development of DURGA-2 signifies a transformative shift in the aerospace industry, potentially revolutionizing the way wars are conducted.This advancement facilitates the creation of state-of-the-art platforms, weapons, sensors, and networks crucial for ensuring success in future warfare scenarios. Countries with Similar Systems: The technology of focused energy weapons is also possessed by countries like Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Israel, and China. Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India Context: In the last 24 years, IRDAI steered the industry on the growth path in the post-reforms era by safeguarding consumer interests and propelling industry advancement. Relevance: GS III: Indian Economy Dimensions of the Article: About Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India About Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India: Establishment: IRDAI was founded in 1999 as a regulatory body to safeguard the interests of insurance customers.Statutory Body: It operates as a statutory body under the IRDA Act 1999 and falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance.Regulatory and Development Authority: IRDAI is responsible for regulating and fostering the development of the insurance industry in India.Monitoring Activities: The authority closely monitors insurance-related activities to ensure compliance with regulations and standards.Legal Framework: The powers and functions of IRDAI are defined by the IRDAI Act, 1999 and the Insurance Act, 1938.

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 20 April 2024

CONTENTS Department of Posts Opens Second Post Office Branch in Antarctica at Bharati Research StationCDP-SURAKSHANCERT Revises Textbooks with New Findings and Inclusive LanguageGold Price Dynamics and CorrelationsGlobal Alliance for Incinerator AlternativesDragonfly Mission Department of Posts Opens Second Post Office Branch in Antarctica at Bharati Research Station Context: The Department of Posts has recently inaugurated a second branch of the post office at the Bharati research station in Antarctica, marking a significant development after almost four decades. Letters intended for Antarctica will now bear a new experimental PIN code, MH-1718, which is customary for a new branch. Currently, Maitri and Bharati are the two active research stations operated by India in Antarctica. This initiative by the Department of Posts will facilitate better communication and connectivity for the researchers and personnel stationed in Antarctica, enhancing the logistical and operational support for India’s Antarctic missions. Relevance: GS III: Science and Technology Dimensions of the Article: Significance of India’s Post Office in AntarcticaAntarctic Treaty System OverviewIndia’s Antarctic Programme Overview Significance of India’s Post Office in Antarctica Historical Context In 1984, India inaugurated its inaugural post office in Antarctica at Dakshin Gangotri, India’s first research station on the continent. However, due to submergence in ice in 1988-89, this station was decommissioned. Establishment of the New Post Office Subsequently, on 26th January 1990, India set up another post office at the Maitri research station in Antarctica. Unique Postal Administration Even though the Maitri and Bharati research bases are approximately 3,000 km apart, both fall under the postal jurisdiction of the Goa postal division in India.Correspondence intended for the Antarctic post office is first directed to the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) in Goa.Letters are then transported to Antarctica by a researcher from the NCPOR, ‘cancelled’ (stamped to prevent reuse), and subsequently returned to the senders via regular mail. Strategic and Symbolic Importance The presence of an Indian post office in Antarctica holds strategic significance.While traditionally Indian post offices operate within Indian territory, the Antarctic post office serves as a symbolic assertion of India’s presence on the continent.This initiative underscores India’s dedication to scientific exploration and environmental conservation. Alignment with Antarctic Treaty Principles The Antarctic Treaty, which neutralizes territorial claims, prohibits military activities and nuclear testing, and emphasizes scientific research, is complemented by the establishment of the Indian post office in this neutral territory. Antarctic Treaty System Overview Nature and Purpose The Antarctic Treaty System encompasses a comprehensive set of arrangements designed to govern relations among states with interests in Antarctica.Its primary objective is to guarantee, in the interests of all humankind, that Antarctica remains exclusively dedicated to peaceful activities and remains free from international disputes or conflicts.Representing a global achievement, the treaty has stood as a testament to international cooperation for over five decades. Legal Framework The agreements within the Antarctic Treaty System are legally binding and have been tailored to the unique geographical, environmental, and political characteristics of Antarctica.This system forms a robust international governance framework, ensuring effective management and conservation of the Antarctic region. Evolution and Current Challenges While the Antarctic Treaty has effectively addressed various challenges over the years, the context in the 2020s differs significantly from the 1950s.Technological advancements and the impacts of climate change have made Antarctica more accessible, leading to increased interest and presence from more nations beyond the original 12 signatories.As global resources, particularly oil, become scarcer, there is growing speculation and concern regarding nations’ intentions and interests in Antarctic resources, including fisheries and minerals. Future Considerations Given the shifting landscape and the increasing number of countries with substantial interests in Antarctica, it is imperative for all treaty signatories, especially those with significant stakes in the continent, to prioritize the future of the Antarctic Treaty and its evolving challenges. India’s Antarctic Programme Overview National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCPOR) The National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCPOR) oversees India’s Antarctic Programme.Established in 1998, NCPOR has been pivotal in advancing India’s scientific research and exploration in the Antarctic region. Historical Background India’s engagement with Antarctica began in 1981 with its first scientific expedition to the continent. Research Stations Dakshin Gangotri:Established as India’s inaugural scientific research base in Antarctica.Unfortunately, it was submerged in ice during the 1988-89 season and subsequently decommissioned.Maitri:India’s second permanent research station in Antarctica.Located in the Schirmacher Oasis, a rocky mountainous region.Maitri is surrounded by Lake Priyadarshini, a freshwater lake constructed to support the station.Bharti:India’s latest research station, operational since 2012.Designed to provide a safe working environment for researchers despite Antarctica’s harsh conditions.Located approximately 3000 km east of Maitri, Bharti serves as India’s primary dedicated research facility. Research Vessel: Sagar Nidhi Commissioned in 2008 by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT).Sagar Nidhi is an ice-class vessel capable of navigating through ice up to 40 cm thick.This pioneering vessel has been utilized for various research activities, including the launch and retrieval of remotely operable vehicles (ROV), deep-sea nodule mining systems, and tsunami studies. -Source: The Hindu CDP-SURAKSHA Context: The Central government has introduced the CDP-SURAKSHA platform to disburse subsidies to horticulture farmers under the Cluster Development Programme (CDP). This initiative aims to enhance the growth of India’s horticulture sector, which accounts for nearly one-third of the agriculture gross value addition (GVA). Relevance: GS II: Government Policies and Interventions Dimensions of the Article: CDP-SURAKSHA OverviewHow CDP-SURAKSHA WorksHorticulture Sector in India: Current StatusChallenges Faced by the Horticulture Sector in India CDP-SURAKSHA Overview CDP-SURAKSHA is a comprehensive platform designed to streamline the process of disbursing subsidies to farmers and ensuring the effective allocation of resources. The acronym SURAKSHA stands for “System for Unified Resource Allocation, Knowledge, and Secure Horticulture Assistance.” Key Features: e-RUPI Voucher Integration:Allows for instant disbursal of subsidies directly to farmers’ bank accounts.Database Integration:Integrated with PM-KISAN for seamless data management.Cloud-Based Infrastructure:Utilizes server space from the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to ensure data security and accessibility.Validation and Identification:Incorporates UIDAI validation for secure and authenticated access.Additional Features:Local Government Directory (LGD) integrationContent Management System (CMS) for efficient content handlingGeotagging and geo-fencing capabilities for precise location tracking How CDP-SURAKSHA Works: User Access: Farmers, vendors, implementing agencies (IA), cluster development agencies (CDAs), and National Horticulture Board (NHB) officials can access the platform. Farmer’s Process: Farmers log in using their mobile number, place an order, and contribute their share of the planting material cost.Upon payment, an e-RUPI voucher is generated. Vendor’s Role: The vendor receives the e-RUPI voucher and supplies the required planting material to the farmer.Post-delivery, farmers verify the receipt through geo-tagged photos and videos of their field. Payment and Subsidy Release: Once the delivery is verified, the implementing agencies (IA) process the payment to the vendor against the e-RUPI voucher.Vendors upload the invoice on the portal for verification.The IA then collects and shares all necessary documents with the CDA for subsidy release. Horticulture Sector in India: An Overview Production and Contribution: India is the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables globally.Fruits and vegetables constitute approximately 90% of the total horticulture production in India.The horticulture sector contributes around 33% to the agriculture Gross Value Added (GVA), marking a substantial contribution to the Indian economy. Production and Productivity: India currently produces about 320.48 million tons of horticulture produce, surpassing food grain production, even with a much smaller cultivation area (25.66 million Ha for horticulture compared to 127.6 M. ha for food grains).The productivity of horticulture crops stands at 12.49 tonnes/ha, significantly higher than that of food grains at 2.23 tonnes/ha.According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), India leads in the production of specific vegetables like ginger and okra, and fruits including banana, mangoes, and papaya. Exports and Market Share: India ranks 14th in vegetable exports and 23rd in fruit exports globally, with its share in the global horticultural market at just 1%.Major export destinations include Bangladesh, UAE, Nepal, Netherlands, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the UK, Oman, and Qatar. Challenges: Wastage: Approximately 15-20% of fruits and vegetables in India are wasted along the supply chain or at the consumer level, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Cluster Development Program (CDP): Objective: The CDP is a central sector program aimed at developing identified horticulture clusters to enhance their global competitiveness. Implementation: National Horticulture Board (NHB) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare is responsible for its implementation.The program will be initiated in 12 horticulture clusters as a pilot phase, out of a total of 55 clusters selected for the program.These clusters will be managed through Cluster Development Agencies (CDAs) appointed based on the recommendations of the respective State/UT Government. Key Goals: Address major issues related to the Indian horticulture sector, including pre-production, production, post-harvest management, logistics, marketing, and branding.Aim to increase exports of targeted crops by about 20% and develop cluster-specific brands to enhance the competitiveness of cluster crops.Leverage geographical specialization and promote integrated and market-led development of horticulture clusters.Converge with other government initiatives such as the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund. Challenges Faced by the Horticulture Sector in India Agricultural and Operational Challenges: Small Operational Landholdings: The majority of Indian farmers have small operational landholdings, which limits the scale and efficiency of production.Lack of Irrigation Facilities: Inadequate irrigation facilities lead to dependency on monsoons, affecting crop yield and productivity.Poor Soil Management: Inadequate soil testing and poor soil management practices affect the fertility and health of the soil, leading to reduced crop yields.Threat of Pests: Pest attacks can severely damage horticulture crops, leading to significant losses for farmers. Financial and Investment Challenges: Limited Outreach of Farm Insurance: Many farmers do not have access to farm insurance, leaving them vulnerable to losses due to crop failures or natural disasters.Lack of Farm Mechanisation: Limited use of modern farm machinery and technology results in lower productivity and higher production costs.Lack of Access to Institutional Credit: Small and marginal farmers often face difficulties in accessing institutional credit, which hampers investment in the sector. Climate Change and Environmental Challenges: Changing Weather Patterns: Climate change has led to unpredictable and extreme weather conditions, affecting crop cultivation and productivity.Droughts and Floods: Irregular rainfall patterns and increasing instances of droughts and floods can lead to crop failures and significant economic losses. Institutional and Organisational Challenges: Weak Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs): Inefficient FPOs limit farmers’ ability to leverage collective strength and benefit from economies of scale.Perishable Nature of Produce: Fruits and vegetables being perishable in nature require efficient and timely harvesting, storage, and transportation facilities to prevent post-harvest losses. Logistical and Supply Chain Challenges: Poor Logistics: Inefficient transportation and distribution systems lead to delays and losses in the supply chain.Lack of Equitable Cold Storage and Warehousing Facilities: Inadequate cold storage and warehousing facilities result in significant post-harvest losses. Information and Guidance Challenges: Lack of Guidance on Crop Selection: Farmers often lack proper guidance and information on suitable crops to plant, leading to overproduction of certain commodities and shortages of others. -Source: The Hindu NCERT Revises Textbooks with New Findings and Inclusive Language Context: The latest revisions by NCERT in its textbooks incorporate DNA analysis findings from Rakhigarhi to emphasize ancient Indian continuity. Other notable changes include highlighting Ahom victories, using honorifics for Shivaji, and modifying terms like “rebel” to “revolt” in historical contexts to present a more accurate and inclusive representation of India’s history and culture. Relevance: GS I: History Dimensions of the Article: Key Facts Related to RakhigarhiAhom DynastyChhatrapati Shivaji MaharajNational Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) Key Facts Related to Rakhigarhi: Location and Historical Context: Location: Rakhigarhi is an archaeological site located in the Hisar district of Haryana, situated in the Ghaggar-Hakra river plain.Size and Importance: It is one of the largest sites of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) and is located on the banks of the now-dry Sarasvati River.Phases of Civilization: Rakhigarhi has revealed three distinct phases of the Indus Valley civilization: Early, Mature, and Late. Major Archaeological Findings: Infrastructure and Settlement: The site has revealed a well-structured drainage system, lanes, and possibly a walled settlement.Artifacts: Numerous artifacts have been discovered, including jewelry made of copper and gold, terracotta toys, earthen pots, seals, and semi-precious stones such as agate and carnelian.Significant Discoveries: Two female skeletons were found buried with a wealth of pottery and adorned jewelry. A cylindrical seal with five Harappan characters on one side and an alligator symbol on the other is also among the notable findings. Genetic Analysis and Cultural Continuity: DNA Analysis: The DNA analysis of Rakhigarhi suggests a genetic continuity between the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) and modern populations.Implications: This finding supports the argument for an indigenous origin of the IVC, challenging previous theories of large-scale migrations. Ahom Dynasty: Historical Timeline and Resistance: Duration of Rule: The Ahom dynasty ruled over present-day Assam from 1228 to 1826 CE.Significant Battle: The Battle of Saraighat in 1671 was a pivotal naval battle fought between the Ahom Kingdom and the Mughal Empire.Outcome: The Ahom Kingdom secured a decisive victory against the Mughal Empire, effectively halting Mughal expansion into Assam and marking a landmark event in Ahom history. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj: Establishment of the Maratha Empire and Military Tactics: Empire Establishment: Shivaji founded the Maratha Empire, a significant power in western India that challenged Mughal dominance.Military Tactics: Shivaji employed innovative guerrilla warfare tactics, leveraging mobility and surprise attacks against larger Mughal forces. Administrative Reforms and Systems Introduced: Taxation System: Shivaji introduced the collection of two taxes: the Chauth and Sardeshmukhi.Provincial Division: He divided his kingdom into four provinces, each headed by a Mamlatdar.Land Revenue System: Shivaji abolished the Jagirdari System and replaced it with the Ryotwari System. National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT): Overview and Establishment: Founded in 1961 by the Government of India, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) operates autonomously. Primary Objectives and Functions: Conducts research in school education.Develops textbooks and educational materials.Provides teacher training and promotes innovative teaching methods.Collaborates with educational entities.Works towards achieving Universal Elementary Education goals. Role in National Education Policy 2020: NCERT is designated as the primary agency for developing National Curriculum Frameworks (NCFs) for:Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)School EducationAdult Education -Source: The Hindu Gold Price Dynamics and Correlations Context: Recently, Global price of gold (24 carat) was $2,349.88 per ounce. In India it was ₹7,174 per gram. Relevance: GS III: Indian Economy Dimensions of the Article: Gold Price Dynamics and CorrelationsFactors Determining Global Gold PricesDeterminants of Gold Price in India Gold Price Dynamics and Correlations Current Gold Prices: Global price of gold (24 carat) as of April 10: $2,349.88 per ounce.Gold price in India: ₹7,174 per gram. Recent Trends: Gold prices have surged significantly in recent weeks and are anticipated to continue rising. Correlation Factors: Crude Oil Prices: A direct relationship exists between global crude oil prices and the international gold price (positive correlation).When global oil prices increase, gold prices also rise.U.S. Dollar Value: An inverse relationship is observed between the external value of the U.S. dollar and the international gold price (negative correlation).A decline in the U.S. dollar’s value against major trading partners’ currencies leads to an appreciation in gold prices. Reasons for Correlations: Inflation Hedge:Rising international crude oil prices indicate potential global inflation.This sparks an increased demand for gold as a safeguard against inflation.Asset Stability:Gold is considered a tangible asset, unlike financial assets, and is thus not prone to value depreciation.Currency Exchange Rates:Since the global price of gold is denominated in U.S. dollars, a depreciation of the dollar results in an increase in the global price of gold. Factors Determining Global Gold Prices Supply Side Factors: Production and Mining Costs:Gold production by producing countries and the associated mining costs impact the supply side.With most accessible gold already mined, new production requires deeper and more expensive mining efforts, as gold mining is both energy and labor-intensive.Energy Costs:Rising prices of crude oil and natural gas contribute to increased gold prices due to the energy-intensive nature of gold mining. Demand Side Factors: Institutional Demand:Central banks’ demand for gold significantly influences its price.Central banks acquire gold to bolster their reserve assets, as gold is a stable store of value and underpins the issuance of new currency.Amid the threat of inflation due to the surge in crude oil prices (with Brent crude nearing $90 a barrel) and geopolitical uncertainty from conflicts in West Asia and Eastern Europe, central banks worldwide, particularly the Central Bank of China, are increasing their gold reserves.Current foreign currency reserves in central banks are susceptible to risks and value depreciation.Investor Demand:Both individual and institutional investors seek to invest in physical gold or its financial derivatives and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) as part of their investment portfolios.While return on investment is a primary concern, the diversification of risks and investment safety, especially under uncertain geopolitical and economic conditions, drives demand from this group.Consumer Demand:Consumer demand comes from both individuals and jewelers.In China and India, the largest consumers and importers of gold, it is purchased as a traditional store of wealth and for ornamental purposes on special occasions. Thus, consumer demand is primarily seasonal.Industrial Demand:Gold’s intrinsic properties like malleability and conductivity make it a preferred metal in various industries, influencing industrial demand. Determinants of Gold Price in India Demand and Supply: Gold prices in the domestic market are largely influenced by the demand and supply dynamics.Prices tend to rise when the demand for gold surpasses its supply.Conversely, prices decrease when the market demand is lower than the available supply of gold. Interest Rate: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) monitors and adjusts the gold loan interest rates in India to manage capital flow.Higher interest rates often lead to a significant sell-off of gold, resulting in increased supply and consequently higher gold prices.Conversely, lower interest rates stimulate demand, leading to reduced gold prices. Economic Situation: Gold is often considered a hedge against inflation and recession, prompting people to invest in it during adverse economic conditions.Economic downturns lead to a decline in the financial market, causing investors to seek safer investments like gold, thereby increasing its demand and price in the domestic market. Rupee-Dollar Conversion Rate: An increase in the value of the dollar against the Indian rupee makes it costlier for India to import gold from international markets.As a result, the price of gold in the Indian market also rises significantly. Mathematical Formulas to Calculate Gold Prices: Purity Method (Percentage):Gold value = (Gold rate x Purity x Weight) / 24Karats Method:Gold value = (Gold rate x Purity x Weight) / 100 -Source: Indian Express Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives Context: The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Asia Pacific, in collaboration with other environmental organisations, has called on the ASEAN to take decisive action in response to plastic pollution. Relevance: GS: International Relations Dimensions of the Article: About Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)What is Incineration? About Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Overview: GAIA is a global alliance comprising over 1,000 grassroots organizations, non-governmental entities, and individuals from more than 90 countries. Mission: GAIA strives to facilitate a shift from the prevailing linear and extractive economy to a circular system that upholds people’s rights to a safe and healthy environment. Vision: The organization envisions a just, zero-waste world grounded in respect for ecological boundaries and community rights.GAIA aims for a future where individuals are liberated from the hazards of toxic pollution and resources are conserved sustainably rather than being incinerated or discarded. Approach: GAIA focuses on combating pollution and fostering regenerative solutions in urban areas through local campaigns, policy and finance transformations, research and communication initiatives, and movement building. Primary Intervention Areas: GAIA concentrates its efforts on four key areas: incineration, zero waste, plastic pollution, and climate change. What is Incineration? Definition: Incineration is the process of burning hazardous materials at high temperatures to eliminate contaminants. Incinerator: The process takes place in a specialized furnace known as an “incinerator,” designed specifically for burning hazardous waste in a controlled combustion chamber. Materials Treated: A variety of hazardous materials, including soil, sludge, liquids, and gases, can be treated through incineration. Limitations: While incineration effectively destroys many harmful chemicals like solvents, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and pesticides, it does not eliminate metals such as lead and chromium. Modern Incinerators: Contemporary incinerators are equipped with air pollution control devices, such as fabric filters, scrubbers, and electrostatic precipitators, to remove fly ash and gaseous contaminants. -Source: Down To Earth Dragonfly Mission Context: Recently, NASA confirmed a Dragonfly rotorcraft mission to Saturn’s organic compound-rich moon Titan with a budget of $3.35 billion and a launch date set for July 2028. Relevance: Facts for Prelims Dimensions of the Article: About Dragonfly MissionKey Facts about Titan About Dragonfly Mission Description: Dragonfly is a “dual quadcopter” designed for exploration across the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.It is equipped to investigate various locations on Titan, conducting extensive science measurements primarily from the moon’s surface. Power System: The mission will utilize a radioisotope power system, similar to the one used by the Curiosity rover on Mars. Operational Schedule: Most of Dragonfly’s flights, data transmissions, and scientific operations are planned to occur during Titan’s day.The craft will have ample time to recharge during Titan’s night. Objective: Scheduled to arrive at Titan in 2034, Dragonfly aims to explore dozens of promising locations on the moon.The mission seeks to identify prebiotic chemical processes that are common on both Titan and early Earth, before the development of life. Historical Note: Dragonfly represents a groundbreaking achievement as it marks the first instance of NASA flying a vehicle for scientific exploration on another planetary body.With its eight rotors, the rotorcraft operates similarly to a large drone. Key Facts about Titan Location and Size:Titan is the largest moon of Saturn.Atmosphere:It is the only moon known to have a thick atmosphere.Surface Features:Titan boasts an Earth-like cycle of liquids flowing across its surface, adding to its scientific intrigue. -Source: The Hindu

Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 19 April 2024

CONTENT Surya Tilak Project Surya Tilak Project Context: The Surya Tilak Project, a remarkable endeavour, recently unfolded at Ayodhya, bringing sunlight to the forehead of Sri Ram Lalla. Relevance: Facts for Prelims Dimensions of the Article: Overview of the Surya Tilak ProjectIndian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) Overview of the Surya Tilak Project Description and Purpose The Surya Tilak Project is a blend of advanced technology and traditional beliefs. It is designed to focus a precise beam of sunlight on the forehead of Lord Ram’s idol during the auspicious festival of Ram Navami.The project was undertaken by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), an institution under the Department of Science and Technology. Role of IIA The IIA was responsible for calculating the sun’s position, designing, and optimizing the optical system for the project.The project aims to align the sunlight beam with the forehead of Lord Ram’s idol on the variable date of Ram Navami, which is determined by the solar Gregorian calendar, in contrast to the lunar-based Hindu calendar. Opto-Mechanical System The heart of the Surya Tilak Project is its sophisticated opto-mechanical system, which seamlessly combines optical and mechanical components to manipulate sunlight accurately.Resembling a periscope, the system employs a 19-gear mechanism to make yearly adjustments to account for the sun’s changing position.A manual adjustment, turning one gear tooth each year, is required to set the angle of the pickup mirror.The number 19 is significant as it corresponds to the Metonic cycle, a 19-year period resetting the alignment of the Moon’s phases with the solar year.The Surya Tilak system, equipped with 4 mirrors and 2 lenses, underwent testing, assembly, integration, and validation at the site with technical expertise from IIA.The Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) was responsible for the on-site implementation of the opto-mechanical system. Future Plans A revised design of the Surya Tilak with 4 mirrors and 4 lenses is planned for implementation upon the completion of the full temple. This updated design will accommodate the shifting date of Ram Navami in the calendar. Maintenance and Challenges An annual manual adjustment of the first mirror is required before Ram Navami each year.The system is dependent on clear sunlight and will not function in the absence of direct sunlight due to factors like clouds or rain. Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) Establishment and History Founded in 1786 in Madras, the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) was relocated to Kodaikanal in 1899 and was established as an autonomous institution in 1971. Location Currently headquartered in Bengaluru, the institute has historical roots in Madras and Kodaikanal. Funding and Affiliation The institute is financially supported by the Department of Science and Technology and stands as a prominent research and educational hub in the fields of astronomy and physics. Observational Facilities IIA’s primary observing facilities are strategically located at Kodaikanal, Kavalur, Gauribidanur, and Hanle, enabling a broad range of observational studies. Research and Development The institute engages in observational studies of solar and atmospheric physics, nighttime astronomy using various telescopes, and the design and development of advanced instruments for astronomical research.

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 19 April 2024

CONTENTS PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-3Land Conflict Watch Links Land Conflicts to Forest Rights Act EnforcementSupreme Court Recognizes Right to Protection from Climate Change Impacts as Fundamental RightUN WomenIron AgeAthletics Federation of India PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-3 Context: In a significant accomplishment, ISRO’s PSLV-C58/XPoSat mission successfully achieved near-zero debris in Earth’s orbit by converting the final stage into the PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-3 (POEM-3). Instead of leaving debris in orbit after completing its mission, the POEM-3 was safely re-entered into the Earth’s atmosphere. Relevance: GS III: Science and Technology Dimensions of the Article: About POEMWhat are Space Debris?Effective Strategies to Address the Challenge of Space Debris About POEM Overview POEM is a pioneering space platform crafted by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC). Functionality It transforms the fourth stage of a PSLV rocket into a stable orbital station, enabling in-space scientific experiments with a range of payloads. Inaugural Use The first use of POEM was observed during the PSLV-C53 mission in June 2022.Typically, the fourth stage of the PSLV becomes space debris after satellite deployment. However, in the PSLV-C53 mission, it was repurposed as a stable platform for conducting experiments. Navigation Guidance and Control (NGC) System As per ISRO, POEM features a specialized Navigation Guidance and Control (NGC) system for attitude stabilization, managing the orientation of any aerospace vehicle within defined limits. POEM-3 Mission Introduced during the PSLV C-58 mission on 1st January 2024.After the deployment of the XpoSat satellite, the fourth stage was converted into POEM-3 and placed into a 350-km orbit, considerably decreasing the likelihood of space debris creation. Historical Context ISRO initially showcased the potential of using the PS4 (fourth stage of PSLV) as an orbital platform in 2019 during the PSLV-C44 mission. This mission placed the Microsat-R and Kalamsat-V2 satellites into their respective orbits, with the fourth stage repurposed as an orbital platform for space-based experiments. What are Space Debris? There is no universally acknowledged legal definition of the term “space debris.” It’s a term that refers to a collection of undesired objects in Earth’s orbit, whether man-made or natural.Natural Debris is made up of natural bodies that orbit the sun, such as meteors and asteroids.Artificial Debris is made up of man-made (generally non-functional) objects that orbit the Earth. (As a result, it is usually referred to as Orbital Debris.)Dead satellites, spent rocket motors, nuts and bolts, and other space debris are described in the Report of the Second United Nations Conference on Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, published in 1982. Effective Strategies to Address the Challenge of Space Debris Space debris has become a growing concern for space agencies and governments worldwide. Here are some strategies to tackle the problem: Space Treaty with Extended Producer Responsibility: A legally binding agreement is necessary to protect the Earth’s orbit from space debris.The treaty should ensure that producers and users take responsibility for their satellites and debris and enforce collective international legislation with fines and other incentives to make countries and companies accountable for their actions. Incentivization: Countries using the Earth’s orbit should commit to global cooperation, and companies should be incentivized to clean up orbits and include de-orbiting functions in satellites.This can be achieved by offering tax breaks, grants, and other benefits to companies that demonstrate a proactive approach towards managing space debris. Reusable Launch Vehicles: Using reusable launch vehicles instead of single-use rockets can help reduce the number of new debris generated from launches.Reusable launch vehicles can significantly reduce the cost and frequency of launches, thereby reducing the amount of space debris generated. Active Debris Removal: Active debris removal (ADR) refers to the use of specialized spacecraft to capture, retrieve, and dispose of space debris. The ADR technique can help remove large and dangerous debris from the Earth’s orbit. Improved Satellite Design: Improved satellite design can also help reduce the generation of space debris.Satellites should be designed with de-orbiting functions, which can help remove satellites from orbit at the end of their operational life.Satellites should also be designed with robust shielding to protect against collisions with debris. -Source: The Hindu Land Conflict Watch Links Land Conflicts to Forest Rights Act Enforcement Context: A recent report by Land Conflict Watch, a data research agency tracking land-related conflicts in India, has highlighted a notable correlation between land conflicts and the enforcement of the Forest Rights Act (FRA). The findings suggest that the implementation and interpretation of the FRA may be contributing to conflicts over land rights and ownership, particularly in forested and tribal areas. Relevance: GS III: Environment and Ecology Dimensions of the Article: Analysis on Land ConflictStatus of Implementation of FRA (Forest Rights Act)About Forest Rights Act, 2006 Analysis on Land Conflict Overview The Land Conflict Watch (LCW) database documents 781 conflicts, with 264 conflicts closely associated with parliamentary constituencies where the Forest Rights Act (FRA) is a significant concern.These constituencies are often termed ‘FRA constituencies’, as identified in the People’s Forest report by the Centre for Science and Environment.117 of these conflicts directly impact forest-dwelling communities, involving approximately 2.1 lakh hectares of land and affecting around 6.1 lakh people. Reasons for the Conflicts Conservation and Forestry Projects: Around 44% of the conflicts in these constituencies arise from conservation and forestry projects, including activities like plantations.Non-implementation or Violation of FRA Provisions:Roughly 88.1% of conflicts result from the non-implementation or violation of key provisions within the Forest Rights Act (FRA). These include:Eviction of forest-dwelling communities before their rights claims are vested.Diversion of forest land for other purposes without the prior consent of the Gram Sabha.Lack of adequate legal safeguards for forest-dwelling communities’ land rights.The Forest Department frequently acts as the primary adversarial party in conflicts affecting the forest land rights of local communities. Most Affected States Maharashtra, Odisha, and Madhya Pradesh have the highest number of core FRA constituencies.Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir are the states with the most forest rights issues in critical FRA constituencies. Details on Conflicts Reserved Parliamentary Constituencies:Out of the 781 conflicts in the LCW database, 187 cases have arisen from 69 reserved parliamentary constituencies.Scheduled Tribes (STs): 110 conflicts occur in constituencies reserved for STs.Scheduled Castes (SCs): 77 cases are from constituencies reserved for SCs.Nature of Conflicts:Most conflicts in reserved constituencies revolve around common land, encompassing both community forests and non-forested commons.Conflicts often center on complaints against procedural irregularities in land transactions.In contrast, unreserved constituencies experience a higher frequency of conflicts over private land, specifically revenue patta lands.Common Economic Activities Involved in Conflicts:Infrastructure Projects: Infrastructure development, particularly in the mining and power sector, and road and railway projects, is the primary cause of land conflicts in reserved constituencies.Collection of Minor Forest Produce: Past issues related to the collection of minor forest produce have also led to conflicts. Status of Implementation of FRA (Forest Rights Act) Titles AccordedAs of February 2024, around 2.45 million titles have been granted to tribal and forest dwellers.Claims RejectionOut of the five million claims received, approximately 34% have been rejected.Recognition RateDespite the significant potential, the actual recognition of forest rights has been limited. As of 31st August 2021, only 14.75% of the minimum potential forest areas eligible for forest rights have been recognized since the FRA came into force.State-wise ImplementationAndhra Pradesh:Recognized 23% of its minimum potential forest claim.Jharkhand:Recognized only 5% of its minimum potential forest area.Intra-State VariationsEven within states, recognition rates vary:Odisha:Nabarangapur district achieved a 100% Individual Forest Rights (IFR) recognition rate.Sambalpur district has a recognition rate of 41.34%. About Forest Rights Act, 2006 Schedule Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers Act or Recognition of Forest Rights Act came into force in 2006.The Nodal Ministry for the Act is Ministry of Tribal Affairs.It has been enacted to recognize and vest the forest rights and occupation of forest land in forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers, who have been residing in such forests for generations, but whose rights could not be recorded.This Act not only recognizes the rights to hold and live in the forest land under the individual or common occupation for habitation or for self-cultivation for livelihood, but also grants several other rights to ensure their control over forest resources.The Act also provides for diversion of forest land for public utility facilities managed by the Government, such as schools, dispensaries, fair price shops, electricity and telecommunication lines, water tanks, etc. with the recommendation of Gram Sabhas.Rights under the Forest Right Act 2006:Title Rights- ownership of land being framed by Gram Sabha.Forest management rights– to protect forests and wildlife.Use rights- for minor forest produce, grazing, etc.Rehabilitation– in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement.Development Rights– to have basic amenities such as health, education, etc. Importance of Forest Rights Act, 2006: It broadens the scope of the Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution, which safeguard  the claims of indigenous communities over tracts of land or forests they inhabit.One of the causes of the Naxal movement, which had an impact on states like Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Jharkhand, was the alienation of tribes.By recognising community rights to forest resources, it has the potential to democratise forest governance.The act will guarantee that people have the opportunity to manage their forests independently, which will limit official exploitation of forest resources, enhance forest governance, and improve management of tribal rights. Challenges Governments find it expedient to undermine FRA or give up on it altogether in favour of monetary gains because tribals do not constitute a significant vote bank in the majority of states.Unawareness at the Lower level of forest officials who are supposed to help process forest rights claims is high and majority of the aggrieved population too remains in the dark regarding their rights.The FRA was intended as a welfare programme for tribal members, but the forest bureaucracy misinterpreted it as a tool to legalise expansion.Some environmentalist groups express worry that the FRA favours individual rights more than community rights, leaving less room for the latter.Community Rights effectively gives the local people the control over forest resources which remains a significant portion of forest revenue making states wary of vesting forest rights to Gram Sabha.The forest bureaucracy worries that it will lose the significant influence it already has over land and people, while corporations worry that they would lose their easy access to priceless natural resources.Gram Sabha, which occasionally lacks technical know-how and is educationally incompetent, creates rough maps of community and individual claims. -Source: The Hindu Supreme Court Recognizes Right to Protection from Climate Change Impacts as Fundamental Right Context: The Supreme Court of India recently acknowledged the right to protection from the impacts of climate change as part of the fundamental rights to life (Article 21) and equality (Article 19) enshrined in the Indian Constitution. This landmark ruling was made during a case concerning the conservation of the Great Indian Bustard and the Lesser Florican. The Court emphasized that the intersection of climate change and human rights has become increasingly prominent in recent years, highlighting the urgent need for effective measures to address climate change and protect the rights of vulnerable communities and species in India. Relevance: GS III: Environment and Ecology Dimensions of the Article: Intersection of Climate Change and Human RightsSupreme Court’s Interpretation of Constitutional Provisions Related to Climate ChangeChallenges in Harmonizing Climate Change Mitigation with Human Rights Safeguarding Intersection of Climate Change and Human Rights Right to Life and Property Climate change can directly affect people’s right to life through extreme weather events like hurricanes or floods, resulting in loss of life and property.For instance, rising sea levels in low-lying coastal areas due to climate change can threaten homes and livelihoods, compelling communities to relocate. Right to Clean Water and Sanitation Climate change can influence water sources, causing water scarcity or contamination, thereby impacting people’s right to clean water and sanitation.In areas experiencing more frequent droughts due to climate change, communities may face challenges in accessing safe drinking water, leading to health problems. Health and Well-being Climate change can worsen health issues, particularly among vulnerable populations.Increased heat waves can result in heat-related illnesses and deaths, affecting the right to health.Changes in weather patterns can also influence food security and nutrition, impacting people’s overall well-being. Migration and Displacement Climate change-induced events like sea-level rise, extreme weather events, or desertification can compel people to migrate or be displaced, intersecting with human rights, especially the right to residence and the right to seek asylum.For instance, communities in coastal areas may need to relocate due to rising sea levels, leading to challenges related to resettlement and rights protection. Rights of Indigenous Peoples Climate change can disproportionately impact indigenous communities that depend heavily on natural resources for their livelihoods and cultural practices.Changes in ecosystems due to climate change can jeopardize traditional livelihoods like farming or fishing, affecting indigenous peoples’ rights to land, resources, and cultural heritage. Supreme Court’s Interpretation of Constitutional Provisions Related to Climate Change Constitutional Provisions Article 48A: Emphasizes environmental protection.Article 51A(g): Advocates for wildlife conservation.Article 21: Acknowledges the right to life and personal liberty.Article 14: Guarantees equality before the law and equal protection of laws.These constitutional articles are fundamental to the right to a clean environment and protection from the detrimental effects of climate change. Judicial Pronouncements In the MC Mehta vs Kamal Nath Case (2000), the Supreme Court affirmed that the right to a clean environment is an integral part of the right to life. Recent Ruling Implications This verdict bolsters the legal framework for environmental protection initiatives in India and establishes a basis for legal actions against climate change negligence.It aligns with the increasing global acknowledgment of the human rights aspects of climate change, as articulated by the UN Environment Programme and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment. Challenges in Harmonizing Climate Change Mitigation with Human Rights Safeguarding Trade-offs Certain climate mitigation actions, such as land use constraints for conservation projects or displacement due to renewable energy infrastructure development, might clash with human rights.Finding a middle ground to mitigate negative impacts while maximizing benefits is a nuanced challenge. Access to Resources Climate initiatives, like the shift to renewable energy or the introduction of carbon pricing, can affect the accessibility of vital resources like energy, water, and food, particularly for marginalized groups. Environmental Migration Climate-triggered migration can stress social systems and result in disputes over resources and rights in recipient communities.Efficiently managing migration patterns while respecting the rights of both migrants and host communities presents a multifaceted challenge. Adaptation vs. Mitigation Juggling efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) with investments in adapting to climate impacts is complex.Choosing one over the other can have human rights implications, especially for communities already vulnerable to climate-related risks. International Cooperation Addressing climate change necessitates global collaboration.Striking a balance between national climate objectives and global duties and ensuring climate actions uphold the rights of vulnerable communities globally is a complicated endeavor. -Source: The Hindu UN Women Context: Six months into the war, Gaza is facing a humanitarian crisis disproportionately impacting women and girls, according to a new report by UN Women. Relevance: GS II: International Relations UN Women Overview Purpose and Establishment UN Women is the specialized United Nations agency focused on promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women.It was established by the UN General Assembly in July 2010 as part of the UN reform agenda to consolidate resources and mandates for more impactful results. Core Objectives Policy Formulation and SupportAssists inter-governmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women, in shaping policies, global standards, and norms.Implementation AssistanceSupports member states in applying these standards, offering technical and financial assistance upon request, and building effective partnerships with civil society.Coordination and AccountabilityLeads and coordinates the UN system’s efforts on gender equality and advocates for accountability through ongoing monitoring of system-wide progress. Global Engagement Advocates globally to realize the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for women and girls, emphasizing women’s equal participation across all aspects of life. Country-Specific Initiatives Collaborates with government and non-governmental partners in countries seeking assistance to establish the necessary policies, laws, services, and resources to advance gender equality. Funding Mechanisms Provides grants through two key funds to support innovative and impactful programs:Fund for Gender EqualityUN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) CSW is a global policy-making body, operating as a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), solely dedicated to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. Information Dissemination Offers regular updates on women’s rights issues to the General Assembly, ECOSOC, and the Security Council.Manages the UN Secretary-General’s database on violence against women to track actions by UN Member States and organizations to combat violence. -Source: Down To Earth Iron Age Context: A team of archaeologists claimed to have discovered a unique Iron Age megalithic site at Ooragutta near Bandala village in SS Tadvai mandal of Mulugu district, Telangana. Relevance: GS I: History Overview of the Iron Age Definition and Timeline The Iron Age is a significant period in human history, succeeding the Stone Age and Bronze Age, and generally spanned from 1200 B.C. to 600 B.C., varying by region. Geographical Spread The Iron Age was prevalent in Africa, Europe, and Asia during the prehistoric era of the Old World. It did not occur in the Americas, as they were undiscovered territories during this time. Introduction and Impact of Iron The discovery of iron marked a pivotal shift, as it became the dominant metal over bronze in metalworking during this period.The origins of ironworking can be traced back to Turkey before it spread to various European regions. Technological Advancements Agricultural ToolsThe use of iron revolutionized farming with the introduction of the ‘ard’, an iron plow, which proved more efficient than wooden or bronze alternatives.WeaponryIron was used to craft swords and other weapons, leading to the formation of formidable armies.These advancements enabled armies to conquer and expand their territories, consolidating power among kings and rulers.General Technological InnovationsConstruction of large forts and bridges.Advancements in pottery and weaving techniques.Exploration and mining of deep ground resources, such as salt and other valuable minerals. End of the Iron Age The Iron Age is categorized as a period of prehistory, preceding the widespread use of writing.The era concluded with the advent of widespread writing, although iron continued to be extensively used for crafting tools, weapons, architectural elements, machinery, and more. -Source: The Hindu Athletics Federation of India Context: In a first, the Athletics Federation of India has disaffiliated 16 district associations across the country for failing to send teams for the National inter-district junior athletics meet held recently. Relevance: Facts for Prelims Athletics Federation of India (AFI) Overview AFI is the premier governing body responsible for managing athletics in India.It operates as an autonomous, non-governmental, and non-profit organization. Affiliations AFI is a member of World Athletics, the Asian Athletics Association (AAA), and the Indian Olympic Association. History and Structure Established in 1946, AFI was formerly known as the Amateur Athletic Federation of India (AAFI).It encompasses 32 affiliated state and institutional units. Key Responsibilities Organizes National Championships.Trains national athletics campers.Selects Indian athletics teams for international events, including the Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games (CWG), World Championships, Asian Championships, and other international competitions.Conducts National Championships across various age groups. Promotion and Development Initiatives Hosts international and national championships and meets to boost the sport’s popularity, engage the public, and make athletics more commercially viable to foster the growth of athletes and the sport.Supervises and supports its state units in their operations.Plans and establishes special coaching camps and training for coaches.Initiates development programs and grassroots promotions to enhance athletics at the foundational level in India. -Source: The Hindu

Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 18 April 2024

CONTENTS SARATHI AppCombined Maritime Forces SARATHI App Context:  Recently, the government has launched the ‘SARATHI’ App for Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Antyodaya Yojana- National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM). Relevance: GS II: Government Policies and Interventions Dimensions of the Article: SARATHI App###li SARATHI App Development: Developed by the Ministry of Rural Development in collaboration with The/Nudge Institute. Purpose and Features: Role in Graduation Program:Aims to ensure timely, effective, and efficient implementation of the Graduation program, which targets the most vulnerable populations.Effectiveness and Efficiency:Enhances the effectiveness of work across multiple levels.Reduces cognitive and administrative burdens.Transparency:Ensures transparency in the implementation and monitoring of the program.Risk Mitigation:Helps in mitigating the risk of leakage of consumption and livelihood support provided to the target households. About Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission: It is a centrally sponsored programme, launched by the Ministry of Rural Development in June 2011.To eliminate rural poverty through the promotion of multiple livelihoods and improved access to financial services for the rural poor households across the country.To reach out to all rural poor households and impact their livelihoods. The objective of the Mission is to promote sustainable livelihoods for the poor such that they come out of poverty. The institutions of the poor are intended to facilitate access to formal credit;support for diversification and strengthening of livelihoods;and access to entitlements and public services. Functioning: It involves working with community institutions through community professionals in the spirit of self-help which is a unique proposition of DAY-NRLM.It impacts the livelihoods through universal social mobilization by inter alia organising one-woman member from each rural poor household into Self Help Groups (SHGs), their training and capacity building, facilitating their micro-livelihoods plans, and enabling them to implement their livelihoods plans through accessing financial resources from their own institutions and the banks. Implementation: It is implemented in a Mission mode by special purpose vehicles (autonomous state societies) with dedicated implementation support units at the national, state, district and block levels, using professional human resources in order to provide continuous and long-term handholding support to each rural poor family. Combined Maritime Forces Context: INS Talwar of the Indian Navy recently seized 940 kg of drugs in the Arabian Sea as part of an operation led by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). Relevance: GS III: Security Challenges About Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Overview CMF is a multi-national naval partnership based in Bahrain, committed to promoting security, stability, and prosperity across approximately 3.2 million square miles of international waters, including some of the world’s most crucial shipping lanes. Main Objectives Defeating terrorism and preventing piracy.Encouraging regional cooperation.Promoting a safe maritime environment. Key Functions Countering violent extremism and terrorist networks in maritime areas of responsibility.Collaborating with regional and other partners to enhance overall security and stability.Strengthening the maritime capabilities of regional nations.Responding to environmental and humanitarian crises upon request. Task Forces CMF is comprised of five task forces. Headquarters Co-located with US Naval Central Command and US Navy Fifth Fleet at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain. Member Nations Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Türkiye, UAE, United Kingdom, United States, and Yemen. Participation and Mandate Participation is voluntary, and no nation is obligated to carry out any duty it is unwilling to conduct.Member nations are not bound by either political or military mandates.CMF is flexible, with contributions ranging from providing a liaison officer at CMF HQ in Bahrain to supplying warships, support vessels, and maritime reconnaissance aircraft based on land.Associated support can be provided by warships not explicitly assigned to CMF if they have the time and capacity while undertaking national tasking. Command Structure CMF is commanded by a U.S. Navy Vice Admiral, who also serves as Commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) and US Navy Fifth Fleet.The Deputy Commander of CMF is a United Kingdom Royal Navy Commodore.Other senior staff roles at CMF’s headquarters are filled by personnel from member nations.

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 18 April 2024

CONTENTS Delhi High Court Affirms Universality of Domestic Violence ActSupreme Court to Hear Petitions for 100% Cross-Verification of VVPAT with EVMsIndian Government Prioritizes Development of Andaman and Nicobar IslandsGreen BondsGopi Thotakura to Become First Indian Space Tourist on Blue Origin’s NS-25 MissionSpecial Rupee Vostro AccountNew Blood Test Measures Ageing Pace through DNA Methylation Delhi High Court Affirms Universality of Domestic Violence Act Context: The Delhi High Court recently underscored the universal applicability of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005, asserting that it extends protection to all women irrespective of their religious or social background. The High Court made these observations while dismissing a plea filed by a husband and his relatives, challenging an appellate court order that had reinstated a domestic violence complaint filed by the wife. This landmark judgement reaffirms the commitment to uphold women’s rights and safeguard them from domestic violence, irrespective of their cultural, religious, or social affiliations. Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article: What is Domestic Violence?How Widespread is Domestic Violence in India?Legal Frameworks Addressing Domestic Violence in IndiaChallenges in Enforcing Laws Against Domestic Violence What is Domestic Violence? Domestic violence refers to any form of abusive behavior in a domestic setting, typically involving a spouse or partner, which may be physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological. Factors Contributing to Domestic Violence Gender Gap in India Wide gender gap in India contributes to a sense of male superiority and entitlement.Men may use violence to assert dominance and reinforce perceived superiority. Alcohol and Drug Misuse Intoxication impairs judgment and exacerbates violent tendencies.Leads to loss of inhibitions and escalation of conflicts into physical or verbal abuse. Dowry System Strong correlation between domestic violence and the dowry system.Violence increases when dowry expectations are not met.Despite the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, cases of bride burning and dowry-related violence persist. Financial Stress and Dependency Financial stressors and dependency dynamics exacerbate tensions within relationships. Traditional Beliefs and Gender Roles Traditional beliefs perpetuate gender roles and power imbalances.Patriarchal systems prioritize male authority and control over women.Violence often stems from notions of ownership over women’s bodies, labor, and reproductive rights. Desire for Dominance and Control Desire for dominance and control over a partner stemming from insecurity or entitlement. Social Conditioning Marriage is often portrayed as the ultimate goal for women, reinforcing traditional gender roles.Indian culture glorifies women who exhibit tolerance and submission, discouraging them from leaving abusive relationships. Socio-economic Factors Poverty and unemployment create additional stresses within households, increasing the likelihood of violent behavior. Mental Health Conditions Untreated mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or personality disorders contribute to volatile behavior. Lack of Awareness and Understanding Limited understanding of healthy relationship dynamics and rights.Ignorance about legal protections against domestic violence or available support services.Many women lack awareness of their rights, perpetuating a cycle of low self-esteem and subjugation. How Widespread is Domestic Violence in India? Statistics 32% of ever-married women in India reported experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional violence by their husbands in their lifetime.According to NFHS-5 (2019-2021), 29.3% of married Indian women (ages 18-49) have experienced domestic or sexual violence; 3.1% of pregnant women (ages 18-49) have suffered physical violence during pregnancy.87% of married women who are victims of marital violence do not seek help, according to NFHS data.Many cases go unreported, with only a fraction making it to the police. Legal Frameworks Addressing Domestic Violence in India Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA) Designed to safeguard women from domestic violence.Encompasses physical, emotional, sexual, and economic abuse.Offers various protective, residential, and relief measures. Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 498A) Addresses acts of cruelty by a husband or his relatives against a woman.Criminalizes acts of harassment, cruelty, or torture. Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Sets guidelines for evidence in legal proceedings.Applicable in domestic violence-related cases. Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 Tackles offenses related to dowry.Criminalizes the act of giving or receiving dowry. National Commission for Women Act, 1990 Forms the National Commission for Women (NCW) to protect women’s rights.NCW’s role includes addressing domestic violence issues. Domestic Abuse in Same-Sex Relationships Existing laws predominantly focus on heterosexual relationships.Leaves same-sex couples vulnerable without adequate legal protection.Recognizing same-sex marriages could broaden legal safeguards for same-sex couples. Challenges in Enforcing Laws Against Domestic Violence Social Stigma and Fear Victims often refrain from reporting due to societal stigma, fear of reprisal, or concerns about family reputation.Such reticence complicates authorities’ efforts to intervene. Underreporting and Normalization Many domestic violence incidents go unreported.Victims might not identify certain behaviors as abusive or might see them as normal. Limited Awareness Many, including victims, are uninformed about their legal entitlements and available support.Lack of awareness makes reporting and accessing legal assistance challenging. Financial Dependence Victims might rely financially on their abusers.Concerns about economic consequences can deter them from seeking legal help. Inadequate Training and Implementation Law enforcement and judicial bodies might lack specialized training in handling domestic violence cases.Varied enforcement of laws undermines their effectiveness. Difficulty in Establishing Domestic Violence Providing evidence of domestic violence in court can be challenging.Absence of witnesses or physical evidence can undermine cases. Impact on Family Relationships Domestic violence often occurs within familial contexts.Legal actions can strain family ties, dissuading victims from seeking legal remedies. Cultural Norms and Practices Cultural norms and practices influence the perception and handling of domestic violence.Enforcement approaches need to accommodate these cultural nuances. -Source: Indian Express Supreme Court to Hear Petitions for 100% Cross-Verification of VVPAT with EVMs Context: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear petitions that seek 100% cross-verification of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips with the vote count as per Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). This decision comes in response to concerns raised about the accuracy and integrity of the electronic voting system and aims to enhance transparency and confidence in the electoral process. The hearing underscores the court’s commitment to ensuring fair and transparent elections and will likely have significant implications for future electoral procedures and safeguards in India. Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article History of the Voting Process in IndiaInternational Voting PracticesVoter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) MachinesHow has the Performance of EVMs been?Strategies to Enhance the Robustness of the Voting Process History of the Voting Process in India First Two General Elections (1952 and 1957) Separate boxes were provided for each candidate with their election symbol.Voters dropped a blank ballot paper into the box of their chosen candidate. Third General Election Introduction of the ballot paper with names of candidates and their symbols.Voters put a stamp on the candidate of their choice. Introduction of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) EVMs were introduced on a trial basis in 1982 in the Paravur Assembly constituency in Kerala.Fully deployed in all booths during the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, and West Bengal in 2001.Used in all 543 constituencies in the 2004 general elections to the Lok Sabha. Introduction of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) In the case of Subramanian Swamy versus Election Commission of India (2013), the Supreme Court ruled that a paper trail is essential for free and fair elections.In the 2019 general elections, EVMs were backed with 100% VVPAT in all constituencies. International Voting Practices Western DemocraciesMany western democracies still use paper ballots for their elections.Countries that discontinued EVMsEngland, France, The Netherlands, and the U.S. have stopped using EVMs for national or federal elections after trials in the last two decades.GermanyThe German Supreme Court declared the use of EVMs in elections unconstitutional in 2009.EVM Usage in Other CountriesBrazil uses EVMs for their elections.India’s NeighboursPakistan: Does not use EVMs.Bangladesh: Experimented with EVMs in a few constituencies in 2018 but reverted to paper ballots for the general elections in 2024. Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) Machines: VVPAT is an independent verification printer that is attached to electronic voting machines (EVMs).Its purpose is to allow voters to verify that their votes have been recorded accurately.As soon as a voter presses the button on the EVM, the VVPAT machine prints a slip containing the name and symbol of the party they voted for, which is visible to the voter for around 7 seconds.VVPAT Machines were first introduced in India during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to increase transparency and eliminate doubts about the accuracy of EVMs.Only polling officers have access to the VVPAT machines.According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), EVMs and VVPATs are separate entities and are not connected to any network. Challenges with VVPAT machines: Technical malfunctions: Possibility of technical malfunctions is a primary concern with VVPAT machines.Malfunctions can result in inaccurate printing or no printing of the paper receipt of the vote cast by the voter. Verification of paper trails: Verification of paper trails generated by the VVPAT machines is another challenge.It is not always clear how this record can be verified, especially in cases of discrepancies between electronic and paper records. Public confidence: Recent reports of defective VVPAT machines have eroded public confidence in the electoral process.Lack of transparency and accountability on the part of the EC has raised questions about the fairness and accuracy of elections. Legal mandate: The Supreme Court in Dr. Subramanian Swamy v ECI (2013) held that VVPAT is an “indispensable requirement of free and fair elections”. How has the Performance of EVMs been? Despite dire warnings regarding malpractices and EVM hacking, there has been no concrete evidence of any actual tampering with EVMs thus far.While EVMs, like any machinery, have experienced glitches and have been promptly replaced in case of malfunctions, the assertion that they are susceptible to hacking or manipulation, despite the presence of existing technical and administrative safeguards, has been made without substantiated proof.Sample counting of VVPATs, conducted during both the general election in 2019 and various Assembly elections, has indicated that the discrepancy between the VVPAT recount and the EVM count has been negligible.Such discrepancies often stem from minor errors such as failure to delete mock polls from the machine before the voting process or inaccuracies in manually recording the final count from the machine. Strategies to Enhance the Robustness of the Voting Process Scientific Sampling for EVM and VVPAT Matching Adopt a scientific approach to determine the sample size for matching the EVM count with VVPAT slips.A 100% match between EVM count and VVPAT slips is unscientific and cumbersome.Error Resolution:If even a single error is detected, all VVPAT slips for the concerned region should be fully counted to determine the results.This approach will instill statistically significant confidence in the counting process. Introduction of Totaliser Machines Implement ‘totaliser’ machines at the booth level to aggregate votes from 15-20 EVMs before revealing the candidate-wise count.This would provide a degree of cover for voters at the booth level and enhance the integrity of the voting process. -Source: The Hindu Indian Government Prioritizes Development of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Context: The Indian government’s renewed emphasis on the development of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI) highlights their strategic importance in the Indo-Pacific region. This focus has led to intensified efforts to bolster infrastructure and security measures in the islands. Relevance: GS III: Internal Security Dimensions of the Article: Strategic Importance of the Andaman and Nicobar IslandsChallenges to the Development of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI)Strategic Infrastructure Development Needed in Andaman and Nicobar Islands (A&N; Islands)Historical Overview of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Strategic Importance of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Geographical and Economic Significance Located 700 nautical miles southeast of the Indian mainland.Adds 300,000 sq km to India’s exclusive economic zone.Potential for undersea hydrocarbon and mineral deposits. Strategic Location Positioned astride the Malacca Strait, a critical maritime choke point.More than 90,000 merchant ships pass through annually, carrying about 30% of the world’s traded goods. Maritime Boundaries Shares boundaries with Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.Provides India with substantial ocean space under UNCLOS in terms of exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. Defence and Security Serves as the first line of defence against potential threats from the East, particularly amidst China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.Port Blair has the potential to become a regional hub for naval collaboration on disaster relief, medical aid, counter-piracy, search and rescue, and other maritime security initiatives. Challenges to the Development of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI) Policy Shift and Strategic Importance Transition from India’s Look East policy to a more robust Act East policy.Growing recognition of the islands’ strategic significance due to the increasing capabilities of the Chinese PLA Navy. Lack of Prioritization Historically, the islands have not been politically prioritized.The islands’ strategic importance has only recently been acknowledged. Infrastructure and Distance Challenges in developing infrastructure due to the islands’ distance from the mainland. Environmental and Regulatory Constraints Complex environmental clearance procedures.Regulations related to forest and tribal conservation pose challenges. Coordination and Vision Conflict Coordination challenges due to involvement of multiple ministries and agencies.Conflict between long-term strategic vision and immediate political gains. Strategic Infrastructure Development Needed in Andaman and Nicobar Islands (A&N; Islands) Maritime Domain Awareness and Surveillance Ensure comprehensive surveillance and awareness over the islands. Defence and Deterrence Capabilities Strengthen deterrence against naval threats from the East.Increase military forces and deploy appropriate assets at the Andaman Nicobar Command (ANC).Base surveillance and fighter aircraft at ANC and conduct frequent detachments. Maritime Economy Infrastructure Develop infrastructure to support India’s maritime economy, especially in the southern group of islands.Develop the Galathea Bay transhipment port on Great Nicobar Island. Connectivity and Transportation Improve transportation and connectivity to facilitate development and tourism.Revitalize the plan to connect A&N; Islands to the mainland through Submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) for better and cheaper connectivity and access to Digital India’s benefits.Reduce the islands’ dependence on mainland for essential supplies and services.Establish high-speed inter-island ferry services and a seaplane terminal. International Partnerships and Concessions Explore partnerships with the Quad and Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) for development initiatives.Seek infrastructure development concessions similar to those on India’s northern borders. Historical Overview of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Historical Background India’s association with the islands dates back to the aftermath of the 1857 War of Independence when the British established a penal colony for Indian revolutionaries.The islands were occupied by the Japanese in 1942 and became the first part of India to be liberated from British rule in 1943 during Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s visit to Port Blair.After the Japanese surrender in 1945, the British reoccupied the islands, which were later handed over to India on the eve of Independence. Post-Independence Neglect and Development The period from Independence until 1962 saw neglect due to their remote location and dark symbolism.In 1962, a naval garrison was established due to concerns about a Chinese submarine.The Andaman Nicobar Command (ANC) was established in Port Blair in 2001 after the post-Kargil War security review, marking India’s first joint and unified operational command.The ANC, India’s first joint/unified operational command, places forces from all three services and the Coast Guard under a single commander-in-chief. Geographical and Cultural Highlights The Ten Degree Channel separates the Andaman Islands from the Nicobar Islands, located approximately at the 10-degree latitude mark.Indira Point on Great Nicobar Island is the southernmost tip of the Nicobar Islands and India.The ANI is home to 5 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups: Great Andamanese, Jarwas, Onges, Shompens, and North Sentinelese. Development Projects and Proposals NITI Aayog is undertaking a project for Great Nicobar that includes an international container transhipment terminal, an airport, a power plant, and a township.A proposal for Little Andaman calls for the development of a new greenfield coastal city to compete with Singapore and Hong Kong. Kra Canal Proposal The Kra Canal is a proposed canal in Thailand aiming to connect the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea to create a shortcut for shipping between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. -Source: Indian Express Green Bonds Context: Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) green lighted investments in the country’s Sovereign Green Bonds (SGrBs) by Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIS). Relevance: GS III: Indian Economy Dimensions of the Article: What are Green Bonds?How beneficial is it for investors?What Difference Between SGB and Other Bonds?Risks and Challenges What are Green Bonds? Green bonds are bonds issued by any sovereign entity, inter-governmental groups or alliances and corporates with the aim that the proceeds of the bonds are utilised for projects classified as environmentally sustainable.The framework for the sovereign green bond was issued by the government on November 9, 2022. Why are these bonds important? Green Bonds have emerged as an important financial instrument to deal with the threats of climate change and related challenges.According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank Group’s institution, climate change threatens communities and economies, and it poses risks for agriculture, food, and water supplies.A lot of financing is needed to address these challenges. It’s critical to connect environmental projects with capital markets and investors and channel capital towards sustainable development – and Green Bonds are a way to make that connection. How beneficial is it for investors? Green Bonds offer investors a platform to engage in good practices, influencing the business strategy of bond issuers.They provide a means to hedge against climate change risks while achieving at least similar, if not better, returns on their investment.In this way, the growth in Green Bonds and green finance also indirectly works to disincentivise high carbon-emitting projects, as per the IFC. What is the difference Between SGB and Other Bonds? Sovereign green bonds (SGrBs) are a type of government bond issued to finance climate and environmental projects.SGrBs are similar to other government bonds in that they have a maturity period and carry a coupon rate, but the proceeds from their sale are used specifically for green projects.SGrBs are part of the government’s overall borrowing and will add to the government’s debt.In India, the government has announced plans to borrow INR 16,000 crore through the issuance of SGrBs in H2 FY23 as part of a larger borrowing plan of INR 5.92 lakh crore through dated securities. Risks and Challenges One of the main risks associated with sovereign green bonds is the possibility of default. While the risk of default is generally low for sovereign bonds, it is important for investors to carefully consider the creditworthiness of the issuing government.Another challenge is the lack of standardization and transparency in the market for sovereign green bonds. This can make it difficult for investors to compare the risks and returns of different bonds.There is also a risk that the funds raised through the sale of sovereign green bonds may not be used effectively or may not have the intended impact on the environment. It is important for governments to carefully plan and monitor the use of these funds to ensure that they are used effectively. -Source: The Hindu Gopi Thotakura to Become First Indian Space Tourist on Blue Origin’s NS-25 Mission Context: Entrepreneur and pilot Gopi Thotakura is poised to make history as the first Indian to venture into space as a tourist on Blue Origin’s NS-25 Mission, founded by Jeff Bezos. Thotakura has been selected as one of the six crew members for the mission, the launch date of which is yet to be announced. If the mission is successful, Thotakura will follow in the footsteps of Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, who became the first Indian to travel to space aboard a Soviet spacecraft to the Salyut 7 space station in 1984. This significant achievement highlights India’s growing presence and participation in the global space exploration sector. Relevance: GS III: Space Dimensions of the Article: Space TourismKarman Line Space Tourism Definition: A sector of the aviation industry offering tourists the chance to experience space travel for leisure, recreation, or business. Market Growth: Valued at $848.28 million in 2023.Expected to reach $27,861.99 million by 2032. Types of Space Tourism: Sub-orbital spaceflight:Takes passengers just beyond the Kármán line (100 km above sea level).Offers a few minutes in outer space before returning to Earth.Example: Blue Origin’s New Shepherd mission.Orbital spaceflight:Takes passengers to an altitude of nearly 1.3 million feet.Passengers can spend from a few days to over a week in space.Example: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 mission in September 2021 took four passengers to an altitude of 160 km for three days in orbit. Challenges: Cost:Typically, a passenger must pay at least a million dollars for the trip.Environmental Concerns:Rockets emit gaseous and solid chemicals into the upper atmosphere.A 2022 study by UCL, University of Cambridge, and MIT found rocket soot emissions significantly warm the atmosphere.Safety:As of 2023, 676 people have flown into space with 19 fatalities, resulting in an approximate 3% fatality rate. Karman Line Definition: An imaginary boundary that marks the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, situated at 100 km (62 miles) above sea level. Origin: Named after aerospace pioneer Theodore von Kármán.Established by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) in the 1960s. Significance: An aircraft or spacecraft crossing the Karman line is classified as a spaceflight.Individuals crossing this line are officially recognized as astronauts. Characteristics: Aerodynamics vs Orbital Mechanics:Below the Kármán line, flight is dominated by aerodynamic principles.Above the line, orbital mechanics become more crucial.Atmospheric Conditions:At the Karman line, the atmosphere is extremely thin.Traditional aircraft relying on wings for lift struggle to function effectively due to the thin atmosphere.Spacecraft above the Karman line require their own propulsion systems to maintain trajectory and counteract the minimal atmospheric drag. -Source: Indian Express Special Rupee Vostro Account Context: India has simplified the payment mechanism for traders importing pulses from Myanmar, requiring them to use the Rupee/Kyat direct payment system through the Special Rupee Vostro Account (SRVA) through the Punjab National Bank. Relevance: GS III: Indian Economy Dimensions of the Article: About Settlement in Indian Rupees (SRVA)Eligibility Criteria for Banks About Settlement in Indian Rupees (SRVA) Overview SRVA is an additional arrangement to the existing system of settlement using freely convertible currencies and operates as a complementary system.Freely Convertible Currency: Currency that can be converted into major reserve currencies like the U.S. Dollar, Pound Sterling, in accordance with the country’s regulations. Objective Reduces dependence on hard (freely convertible) currency. Regulatory Approval SRVA requires prior approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) before opening, unlike the Rupee Vostro account. Functioning of SRVA ComponentsInvoicing: All exports and imports must be denominated and invoiced in Indian Rupees (INR).Exchange Rate: The exchange rate between the trading partner countries’ currencies is market-determined.Settlement: The final settlement occurs in INR.Operational ProcessAuthorized domestic dealer banks (authorized to deal in foreign currencies) must open SRVA accounts for correspondent banks of the partner trading country.Domestic importers make payments (in INR) into the SRVA account of the correspondent bank for invoices from overseas sellers/suppliers.Domestic exporters receive export proceeds (in INR) from the balances in the designated account of the correspondent bank of the partner country.For availing advances against exports, domestic banks must prioritize ensuring that available funds are used to meet existing payment obligations, i.e., from already executed export orders or pending export payments.All cross-border transactions reporting must comply with the guidelines under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999. Eligibility Criteria for Banks Banks from partner countries must approach an authorized domestic dealer bank to open the SRVA.The domestic bank then seeks approval from the apex banking regulator, providing details of the arrangement.Domestic banks must ensure the correspondent bank is not from a country listed in the updated Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Public Statement on High-Risk and Non-Co-operative jurisdictions.Domestic banks must present financial parameters related to the corresponding bank for review.Authorized banks can open multiple SRV accounts for different banks from the same country.Balances in the account can be repatriated in freely convertible currency and/or the currency of the beneficiary partner country, depending on the underlying transaction for which the account was credited. -Source: The Economic Times New Blood Test Measures Ageing Pace through DNA Methylation Context: Researchers have developed a groundbreaking blood test that measures the pace of ageing by studying DNA methylation. The test examines how an enzyme adds methyl groups to DNA in older adults, establishing a correlation between this biological process and ageing. This innovative approach offers a promising method to assess an individual’s biological age, providing valuable insights into the ageing process and potentially enabling personalized interventions to promote healthy ageing and prevent age-related diseases. Relevance: Facts for Prelims Geroscience: An Overview Definition Geroscience is an interdisciplinary field dedicated to understanding the biological mechanisms of aging and age-related diseases. Key Areas of Study Biological FactorsDNA Methylation: A process where methyl groups (CH3) are added to the DNA molecule, crucial for regulating gene expression and maintaining genome stability.Enzyme Activity: Including gerozyme, an aging-associated enzyme.External FactorsSocio-economic influences.Lifestyle interventions such as:NutritionExerciseMusic therapy Objective To develop strategies, including drug interventions targeting specific aging-related processes, to promote healthy aging and combat age-related conditions like dementia. -Source: The Hindu

Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 17 April 2024

CONTENT IPEF to Host Clean Economy Investor Forum in Singapore IPEF to Host Clean Economy Investor Forum in Singapore Context: The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) has announced plans to organize a Clean Economy Investor Forum in Singapore on 5th-6th June 2024. Relevance: Facts for Prelims About IPEF Clean Economy Investor Forum Initiative: One of the initiatives under the International Partnership for Economic Cooperation (IPEF), launched in May 2022. Objective: To mobilise investments into sustainable infrastructure, climate technology, and renewable energy projects. Key Features: Provides a platform for climate tech entrepreneurs and companies in India.Recognises top climate tech companies and start-ups among member countries.Presents them to global investors. IPEF Pillars of Cooperation: TradeSupply ChainClean EconomyFair Economy Member Countries: Comprises 14 country partners:AustraliaBrunei DarussalamFijiIndiaIndonesiaJapanRepublic of KoreaMalaysiaNew ZealandPhilippinesSingaporeThailandUnited StatesVietnam

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 17 April 2024

CONTENTS Water Crisis: 13 East-Flowing Rivers Between Mahanadi and Pennar Run DryCustodial DeathFilm on Usha Mehta Highlights Her Significant Role in the Quit India MovementIMD Forecasts “Above Normal” Monsoon for India in 2024KerogenLake KaribaOperation Meghdoot Water Crisis: 13 East-Flowing Rivers Between Mahanadi and Pennar Run Dry Context: According to data released by the Central Water Commission (CWC), at least 13 east-flowing rivers between the Mahanadi and Pennar basins are currently devoid of water. This alarming situation underscores the severity of the water crisis affecting these regions and highlights the urgent need for sustainable water management practices, conservation efforts, and effective water resource planning to address the growing water scarcity and ensure the availability of water for both human and ecological needs. Relevance: GS I: Geography Dimensions of the Article: Crisis Faced by East-Flowing Rivers in IndiaReasons for the Drying of East-Flowing RiversMeasures to Address the Issue of River Drying Crisis Faced by East-Flowing Rivers in India Affected Rivers: 13 east-flowing rivers between Mahanadi and Pennar are currently dry:Rushikulya, Bahuda, Vamsadhara, Nagavali, Sarada, Varaha, Tandava, Eluru, Gundlakamma, Tammileru, Musi, Paleru, and Munneru.These rivers flow through Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Odisha, draining into the Bay of Bengal. Water Storage Decline: Basin storage reached zero on 21st March, down from 32.28% capacity at the same time last year. Water Crisis in Other River Basins Deficient Water Storage: Cauvery, Pennar, and east-flowing rivers between Pennar and Kanniyakumari are experiencing deficient or highly deficient water storage.Ganga basin has less than half of its total capacity, lower than the same period last year.Narmada, Tapi, Godavari, Mahanadi, and Sabarmati river basins also have reduced storage levels. Overall Water Storage: India’s 150 major reservoirs are at 36% of their total capacity in live storage.At least six reservoirs have no water storage.286,000 villages in 11 states on the Ganga basin are facing water availability decline. Drought Conditions: 35.2% of the country’s area is under abnormal to exceptional drought conditions.7.8% under extreme drought and 3.8% under exceptional drought.Karnataka and Telangana are dealing with drought and drought-like conditions due to rainfall deficits. Reasons for the Drying of East-Flowing Rivers Deforestation:Reduced soil water retention leading to decreased groundwater recharge and river flows.Changing Weather Patterns:Irregular rainfall and increased temperatures affecting river flow.Climate change causing prolonged droughts and reduced water flow.Infrastructure:Dams and water diversion for irrigation reduce downstream river flow.Unregulated sand mining causing river flow disruption and erosion.Water Pollution:Industrial, agricultural, and domestic waste pollution.Invasive species like water hyacinths degrading water quality and harming aquatic life.Urbanization:Urban expansion and encroachment altering natural river flow.Awareness and Conservation:Limited awareness and ineffective conservation measures impacting river health and flow. Measures to Address the Issue of River Drying Water Conservation Techniques: Rainwater Harvesting: Capture and store rainwater to replenish groundwater.Watershed Management: Manage and protect the natural resources in a watershed to improve water quality and quantity.Soil Moisture Conservation: Implement practices to improve soil’s ability to retain moisture and reduce runoff. Efficient Irrigation Practices: Promote Drip Irrigation and Sprinkler Irrigation to reduce water wastage and ensure sustainable water use in agriculture. Afforestation and Reforestation: Increase vegetative cover to reduce soil erosion, improve groundwater recharge, and maintain river flow. Groundwater Regulation: Enforce strict regulations on groundwater extraction to maintain the base flow of rivers and prevent drying. Interlinking Rivers: Explore the feasibility of Interlinking Rivers to transfer surplus water from water-rich regions to water-deficient regions. For example, the Ken-Betwa River link project. Community Involvement: Engage local communities in water management and conservation efforts to ensure sustainable water use and maintain river flow. Policy Reforms: Implement policy reforms to promote sustainable water management practices, regulate water use, and combat river drying. Research and Development: Invest in research and develop new technologies and practices for water conservation and management to find innovative solutions to the problem. -Source: The Hindu Custodial Death Context: The Supreme Court has emphasised the necessity of adopting a “more rigorous approach” when considering bail applications from police officers charged in cases of custodial deaths. Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article: About Custodial death:Reasons for Custodial DeathsWhat are the Provisions Available Regarding Custody? About Custodial death: Overview: Custodial death refers to the death of a person who was in the custody of law enforcement officials or in a correctional facility.This can happen due to various reasons, including the use of excessive force, neglect, or abuse by the authorities. Definition: According to the Law Commission of India, custodial violence is a crime committed by a public servant against an arrested or detained person who is in custody. Custodial Death in India: In recent years, the number of custodial deaths in India has been a cause for concern.In 2017-2018, a total of 146 cases of death in police custody were reported.This number decreased to 136 in 2018-2019, 112 in 2019-2020, 100 in 2020-2021 but increased again to 175 in 2021-2022.The highest number of custodial deaths were reported in Gujarat, with 80 cases in the last five years. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Bihar also had a high number of cases. NHRC Recommendations: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended monetary relief in 201 cases and disciplinary action in one case related to custodial deaths. Reasons for Custodial Deaths Absence of Strong Legislation: India does not have an anti-torture legislation and is yet to criminalise custodial violence, while action against culpable officials remains illusory.Excessive force: Law enforcement officials may use excessive force against a person in custody, which can lead to severe injuries or even death.Neglect: Failure to provide adequate medical care, nutrition, or hygienic conditions to the person in custody can also result in custodial deaths.Abuse: Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by law enforcement officials can cause custodial deaths.Torture: Torture, whether physical or psychological, can lead to severe injuries and even death.Suicide: Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and trauma can drive a person to commit suicide while in custody.Medical conditions: Existing medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, can become life-threatening if not adequately treated while in custody. It’s important to note that in many cases, multiple factors may contribute to custodial deaths. It’s the responsibility of law enforcement officials and correctional facilities to ensure the safety and well-being of persons in their custody. What are the Provisions Available Regarding Custody? Constitutional Provisions Under the Indian Constitution, Article 21 provides for the protection of the right to life and personal liberty, and it states that no person shall be deprived of their life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.The right to be protected from torture is also considered a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.Article 22 provides protection against arrest and detention in certain cases, and it stipulates the right to counsel as a fundamental right. Administrative provisions Role of State Government:Police and public order are State subjects, and it is primarily the responsibility of the State government to ensure the protection of human rights.Role of Central Government:The Central Government issues advisories and has enacted the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHR), 1993.This act stipulates the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and State Human Rights Commissions to look into alleged human rights violations by public servants. Legal Provisions The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) Section 41 was amended in 2009 to include safeguards for arrests and detentions, reasonable grounds and documented procedures, transparency to family and friends, and legal representation.The Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides for punishment for injury inflicted for extorting confession under sections 330 and 331.The crime of custodial torture against prisoners can be brought under sections 302, 304, 304A, and 306 of the IPC.The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, provides for the protection of an accused person’s confession made to the police.Section 25 of the Act stipulates that a confession made to the police cannot be admitted in court.Section 26 of the Act provides that a confession made to the police by a person cannot be proved against that person unless it is made before the Magistrate.The Indian Police Act, 1861, provides for the dismissal, penalty, or suspension of police officers who are negligent in the discharge of their duties or unfit to perform the same under sections 7 and 29 of the Act. -Source: Indian Express Film on Usha Mehta Highlights Her Significant Role in the Quit India Movement Context: The recent release of a film portraying the life of freedom fighter Usha Mehta serves to underscore the importance of her historical contributions and sacrifices during the Quit India Movement. This cinematic tribute brings renewed attention to Mehta’s pivotal role in India’s struggle for independence, emphasizing her courage, dedication, and unwavering commitment to the cause of freedom. By commemorating Usha Mehta’s legacy, the film not only honors her memory but also educates and inspires future generations about the sacrifices made by individuals like her in shaping India’s history and securing its independence. Relevance: GS I: History Dimensions of the Article: Role of Usha Mehta in the Quit India Movement (QIM)Build-up to August 1942Extent of Mass ParticipationBrutal suppression of protests Role of Usha Mehta in the Quit India Movement (QIM) Background on Usha Mehta: A 22-year-old law student inspired by Gandhi’s ideology, prompting her to abandon her studies and actively join the Quit India Movement. Establishment of Congress Radio: Recognizing the power of communication, Mehta conceived the idea of Congress Radio as a covert means of sharing information.Faced challenges in funding and technical expertise, but with the help of associates like Nariman Printer, she worked to establish Congress Radio.Despite British regulatory restrictions, Printer’s expertise led to the creation of a functional transmitter, allowing Congress Radio to make its first broadcast on 3rd September 1942. Catalyzing Independence Through Broadcasts: Congress Radio quickly became a leading news source for Indians, bypassing colonial censorship and sharing vital information about the movement’s progress.In addition to news, the station broadcasted political speeches and ideological messages, bolstering people’s commitment to achieving independence. Legal Consequences and Legacy: The clandestine operations of Congress Radio drew the attention of British authorities, resulting in the arrest and subsequent trial of Mehta and her associates.Mehta, affectionately known as “Radio-ben” for her groundbreaking efforts, continued to uphold Gandhian principles post-independence.She received national recognition, including the Padma Vibhushan award in 1998. Build-up to August 1942 While factors leading to such a movement had been building up, matters came to a head with the failure of the Cripps Mission.With World War II raging, the beleaguered British government needed the cooperation of its colonial subjects.With this in mind, in March 1942, a mission led by Sir Stafford Cripps arrived in India to meet leaders of the Congress and the Muslim League.The idea was to secure India’s whole-hearted support in the war, and the return offer to Indians was the promise of self-governance.But things did not go that way. Despite the promise of “the earliest possible realisation of self-government in India”, Cripps only offered dominion status, not freedom. Also, there was a provision for the partition of India, which was not acceptable to the Congress.The failure of the Cripps Mission made Gandhi realise that freedom would come only if Indians fought tooth and nail for it.The Congress was initially reluctant to launch a movement that could hamper Britain’s efforts to defeat the fascist forces.But it eventually decided on mass civil disobedience. At the Working Committee meeting in Wardha in July 1942, it was decided the time had come for the movement to move into an active phase.Gandhi made a call to Do or Die in his Quit India speech, followed by the launch of a mass protest demanding what Gandhi called “An Orderly British Withdrawal” from India.Almost the entire leadership of the Indian National Congress was imprisoned without trial within hours of Gandhi’s speech. The slogan ‘Quit India’ While Gandhi gave the clarion call of Quit India, the slogan was coined by Yusuf Meherally, a socialist and trade unionist who also served as Mayor of Bombay.A few years ago, in 1928, it was Meherally who had coined the slogan “Simon Go Back”. Extent of Mass Participation The participation was on many levels.Youth, especially the students of schools and colleges, remained in the forefront.Women, especially school and college girls, actively participated, and included Aruna Asaf Ali, Sucheta Kripalani and Usha Mehta.Workers went on strikes and faced repression.Peasants of all strata were at the heart of the movement. Even some zamindars participated. These peasants concentrated their offensive on symbols of authority and there was complete absence of anti-zamindar violence.Government officials, especially those belonging to lower levels in police and administration, participated resulting in erosion of government loyalty.Muslims helped by giving shelter to underground activists. There were no communal clashes during the movement.The Communists did not join the movement; in the wake of Russia (where the communists were in power) being attacked by Nazi Germany, the communists began to support the British war against Germany and the ‘Imperialist War’ became the ‘People’s War’The Muslim League opposed the movement, fearing that if the British left India at that time, the minorities would be oppressed by the Hindus.The Hindu Mahasabha boycotted the movement.The Princely states showed a low-key response. Lack of Unity The British had the support of the Viceroy’s Council (which had a majority of Indians), of the All India Muslim League, the princely states, the Indian Imperial Police, the British Indian Army, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Indian Civil Service.Many Indian businessmen profiting from heavy wartime spending did NOT support the Quit India Movement. Brutal suppression of protests The Quit India movement was violently suppressed by the British — people were shot and lathicharged, villages were burnt, and backbreaking fines were imposed.In the five months up to December 1942, an estimated 60,000 people had been thrown into jail.However, though the movement was quelled, it changed the character of the Indian freedom struggle, with the masses rising up to demand with a passion and intensity like never before: that the British masters would have to Quit India. -Source: Indian Express IMD Forecasts “Above Normal” Monsoon for India in 2024 Context: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted an “above normal” monsoon rainfall for India between June and September this year. Remarkably, this is the first time in a decade that the IMD has forecasted “above normal” rainfall at the initial stage, nearly 45 days ahead of the onset of the four-month monsoon season. This early prediction provides valuable insights for farmers, policymakers, and the general public, allowing them to better prepare for the anticipated weather conditions and potentially benefiting agricultural productivity and water resources management across the country. Relevance: GS I: Geography Dimensions of the Article: IMD’s Rainfall Prediction for 2024La NiñaEl NiñoIndian Ocean Dipole (IOD) IMD’s Rainfall Prediction for 2024 Overall Rainfall Prediction: Above Normal Rainfall:The country is expected to receive 106% of the long period average (LPA) rainfall.Long Period Average (LPA):LPA is the average rainfall received over the past 50 years, specifically the average from 1971-2020.Classification of Rainfall:Normal: 96% to 104% of LPADeficient: Less than 90% of LPABelow Normal: 90% to 95% of LPAAbove Normal: 105% to 110% of LPARegional Distribution:Except for some regions in the northwest, east, and northeast, nearly the entire country is likely to receive good rainfall. India’s Normal Rainfall: India typically receives 870 mm of rainfall during the monsoon season. Factors Indicating Above Normal Rainfall: El Nino and La Nina: Weakening of El Nino: A contributing factor to the good rainfall forecast.Development of La Nina: Expected during the second half of the season (August-September), also contributing to the positive forecast. Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD): Positive IOD: Another factor indicating above normal rainfall for the season. La Niña La Niña is a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the colder counterpart of El Niño, as part of the broader El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern.is a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the colder counterpart of El Niño, as part of the broader El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern.During a period of La Niña, the sea surface temperature across the equatorial Eastern Central Pacific Ocean will be lower than normal by 3 to 5 °C (5.4 to 9 °F).An appearance of La Niña persists for at least five months.It has extensive effects on the weather across the globe, particularly in North America, even affecting the Atlantic and Pacific hurricane seasons, in which more tropical cyclones occur in the Atlantic basin due to low wind shear and warmer sea surface temperatures, while reducing tropical cyclogenesis in the Pacific Ocean.La Niña is a complex weather pattern that occurs every few years, as a result of variations in ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific.It occurs as strong winds blow warm water at the ocean’s surface from South America across the Pacific Ocean towards Indonesia.As this warm water moves west, cold water from the deep sea rises to the surface near South America.As a result, it is considered to be the cold phase of the broader El Niño–Southern Oscillation weather pattern, as well as the opposite of El Niño weather pattern.La Niña impacts the global climate and disrupts normal weather patterns, which as a result can lead to intense storms in some places and droughts in others. El Niño El Niño is the warm phase of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific (between approximately the International Date Line and 120°W), including the area off the Pacific coast of South America.The ENSO is the cycle of warm and cold sea surface temperature (SST) of the tropical central and eastern Pacific Ocean.El Niño is accompanied by high air pressure in the western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern Pacific.During the development of El Niño, rainfall develops between September–November.The cool phase of ENSO is La Niña, with SSTs in the eastern Pacific below average, and air pressure high in the eastern Pacific and low in the western Pacific.The ENSO cycle, including both El Niño and La Niña, causes global changes in temperature and rainfall. Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), sometimes referred to as the Indian Nino, is a phenomenon similar to El Nino.It occurs in a relatively smaller area of the Indian Ocean, between the Indonesian and Malaysian coastline in the east and the African coastline near Somalia in the west.In the IOD, one side of the ocean along the equator becomes warmer than the other.A positive IOD occurs when the western side of the Indian Ocean, near the Somalia coast, becomes warmer than the eastern Indian Ocean.Conversely, a negative IOD indicates cooler temperatures in the western Indian Ocean. Negative IOD Air circulation in the Indian Ocean basin moves from west to east near the surface and in the opposite direction at the upper levels.Warmer waters from the western Pacific cross into the Indian Ocean, causing a slight temperature rise in that region.During normal years, this leads to the rising of air and helps maintain the prevailing air circulation.In years when the air circulation becomes stronger, more warm surface waters from the African coast are pushed towards the Indonesian islands, resulting in a warmer western Indian Ocean.Hotter air rises, reinforcing the cycle of a negative IOD. Positive IOD Air circulation becomes weaker than normal, and in rare cases, it may even reverse direction.As a result, the African coast becomes warmer, while the Indonesian coastline experiences cooler temperatures.Positive IOD events often occur during El Nino periods, while negative IOD is sometimes associated with La Nina.The cooling effect of El Nino on the Pacific side of Indonesia contributes to the development of a positive IOD in the Indian Ocean. -Source: Indian Express, PIB Kerogen Context: The primary source of hydrocarbons in the rocky underground is called kerogen: lumps of organic matter. Relevance: Facts for Prelims About Kerogen Definition and Composition: Kerogen is the portion of naturally occurring organic matter that is insoluble in organic solvents.Represents about 90% of the organic carbon in sediments. Occurrence and Properties: Found in source rock and can expel hydrocarbons upon thermal cracking.Typical organic constituents include algae and woody plant material.Consists of both lighter and heavier hydrocarbons. Role in Hydrocarbon Formation: Acts as a precursor to oil and natural gas.Has a high molecular weight compared to bitumen or soluble organic matter.Bitumen forms from kerogen during petroleum generation. Types of Kerogens: Type I: Mainly algal and amorphous kerogen, highly likely to generate oil.Type II: Mixed terrestrial and marine source material, can generate waxy oil.Type III: Woody terrestrial source material, typically generates gas. Impact on Hydrocarbon Generation: The type of kerogen largely determines the type of hydrocarbons produced in the rock.Different kerogen types contain varying amounts of hydrogen relative to carbon and oxygen.The hydrogen content of kerogen controls the yield of oil vs. gas from primary hydrocarbon-generating reactions. -Source: The Hindu Lake Kariba Context: Water levels at Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe have dropped dramatically because of the latest El Nino drought. Relevance: Facts for Prelims About Lake Kariba Size and Ranking: World’s largest man-made lake and reservoir by volume.Approximately 280 km long and 40 km wide, covering nearly 6,000 square kilometers. Location: Located approximately 1300 kilometers upstream from the Indian Ocean.Situated along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.200 kilometers downstream of Victoria Falls. Formation: Formed following the completion of the Kariba Dam wall at its northeastern end.The dam flooded the Kariba Gorge on the Zambezi River. Kariba Dam: Consists of a double-arch wall.Dimensions:Height: 128 metersLength: 617 metersWidth (top): 13 metersWidth (base): 24 metersConstruction:Began on 6th November 1956.Completed in 1959, taking up to three years. Significance: Provides substantial electric power to both Zambia and Zimbabwe.Supports a thriving commercial fishing industry. Geographical Features: Situated across the Kariba gorge, creating a border crossing between Zambia and Zimbabwe. -Source: Down To Earth Operation Meghdoot Context: The Indian Army recently commemorated 40 years since ‘Operation Meghdoot’ began, securing the Siachen Glacier. Relevance: Facts for Prelims About Operation Meghdoot Objective: Code-name for the Indian Armed Forces operation to capture the Siachen Glacier, a strategically crucial region in Northern Ladakh. Historical Context: Siachen has been a point of contention between India and Pakistan since the Karachi Agreement of 1949.The area remained undivided due to the challenging terrain and harsh weather conditions. Purpose: India’s military response to Pakistan’s “cartographic aggression” in Ladakh, north of map reference NJ9842, where the Line of Control (LoC) was previously agreed upon. Execution: Launched on April 13, 1984.Unique as the world’s first assault on the highest battlefield.Led by Lieutenant General Manohar Lal Chibber, Lieutenant General PN Hoon, and Major General Shiv Sharma.India secured strategic heights on Siachen, deploying troops via airlifts and air-dropping supplies to high-altitude airfields. Achievements: Pre-empted the seizure of Sia La and Bilafond La passes by the Pakistan Army.Indian troops gained control of the entire Siachen Glacier.Distinguished by seamless coordination and synergy between the Indian Army and the Air Force. Strategic Importance of Siachen: Location and Altitude:Situated at around 20,000 feet in the Karakoram Mountain range.Known as the highest militarised zone globally.Strategic Domination:Dominates the Shaksgam Valley (ceded to China by Pakistan in 1963) in the north.Controls routes from Gilgit Baltistan to Leh from the west.Dominates the ancient Karakoram Pass in the east.Observes nearly the entire Gilgit Baltistan towards the west, an Indian territory illegally occupied by Pakistan in 1948. -Source: The Economic Times

Daily PIB Summaries

PIB Summaries 12 April 2024

CONTENTS HeatwavesCDP-SURAKSHA Platform Heatwaves Context: Recently, Prime Minister  chaired a meeting to review preparedness for the ensuing heat wave season. Relevance: GS  III- Environment (Climate change) Dimensions of the Article: ###liCriteria for Heat WavesHealth Impacts About Heat Wave A heat wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western and South Central parts of India.Heat waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July.Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becoming increasingly frequent globally due to climate change. Criteria for Heat Waves The heat wave is considered when the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C for Plains and at least 30°C for Hilly regions.If the normal maximum temperature of a station is less than or equal to 40°C, then an increase of 5°C to 6°C from the normal temperature is considered to be heat wave condition.Further, an increase of 7°C or more from the normal temperature is considered as severe heat wave condition.If the normal maximum temperature of a station is more than 40°C, then an increase of 4°C to 5°C from the normal temperature is considered to be heat wave condition. Further, an increase of 6°C or more is considered as severe heat wave condition.Additionally, if the actual maximum temperature remains 45°C or more irrespective of normal maximum temperature, a heat wave is declared. Health Impacts The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.It also causes heat cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating.The extreme temperatures and resultant atmospheric conditions adversely affect people living in these regions as they cause physiological stress, sometimes resulting in death. CDP-SURAKSHA Platform Context: The Government of India has come up with a new digital platform called CDP-SURAKSHA to disburse subsidies to horticulture farmers under the Cluster Development Programme (CDP). Relevance: GS II: Government Policies and Interventions CDP-SURAKSHA Platform Full Form: System for Unified Resource Allocation, Knowledge, and Secure Horticulture Assistance (SURAKSHA).Objective: Instant disbursal of subsidies to farmers directly into their bank accounts using the e-RUPI voucher from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). Features: Database integration with PM-KISAN.Cloud-based server space provided by NIC.UIDAI validation for authentication.Integration with e-RUPI.Local Government Directory (LGD) for administrative purposes.Content Management System for data and information.Geotagging to track the location of beneficiaries and vendors.Geo-fencing to set geographical boundaries. Working: Access: The platform is accessible to farmers, vendors, implementing agencies (IA), cluster development agencies (CDA), and officials of the National Horticulture Board (NHB).Order Placement: Farmers can log in using their mobile number and place orders for planting material like seeds, seedlings, and plants.Cost Sharing: After placing the order, farmers are prompted to contribute their share of the cost. The government’s subsidy amount is automatically displayed.e-RUPI Voucher: Upon the farmer’s payment, an e-RUPI voucher is generated, which is received by the vendor supplying the planting material.Verification: Farmers must verify the receipt of the ordered planting material with geo-tagged photos and videos of their fields.Payment Release: Once verified, the IA releases the payment to the vendor.Invoice Upload: Vendors upload an invoice of the payment on the platform. The IA compiles all necessary documents and forwards them to the CDA for subsidy release. e-RUPI: Definition: A one-time payment mechanism developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).Redemption: Can be redeemed without a card, digital payments app, or internet banking access at merchants accepting e-RUPI.Distribution: Can be shared with beneficiaries for specific purposes or activities via SMS or QR code.

Daily Current Affairs

Current Affairs 12 April 2024

CONTENTS Global Trade Outlook & Statistics ReportQS World University Rankings: 2024Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger ReserveInvasive Alien SpeciesFiscal Monitor ReportAUKUS Alliance Global Trade Outlook & Statistics Report Context: The World Trade Organisation has published the latest edition of the Global Trade Outlook & Statistics Report. Relevance: GS III: Indian Economy Dimensions of the Article: Global Trade Outlook & Statistics ReportAbout the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Global Trade Outlook & Statistics Report Overview The WTO’s “Global Trade Outlook and Statistics” reviews recent global trade trends up to Q4 2023 and provides forecasts for 2024 and 2025.Detailed breakdowns of merchandise and commercial services trade by sector and region are included, along with information on top traders. Key Forecasts World merchandise trade volume is forecasted to increase by 2.6% in 2024 and 3.3% in 2025, rebounding from a 1.2% decline in 2023. Import Trends Weak import demand was observed in 2023 across most regions, notably in Europe, North America, and Asia.Exceptions include the Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) where imports saw a significant rise. Global GDP Growth Global real GDP growth decelerated from 3.1% in 2022 to 2.7% in 2023.The growth is expected to stabilize at 2.6% in 2024 and 2.7% in 2025.The disparity between GDP growth and merchandise trade volume slowdown is attributed to inflationary pressures reducing consumption of trade-intensive goods. Trade Value The US dollar value of world merchandise trade dropped by 5% in 2023, reaching US$ 24.01 trillion.This decline was counterbalanced by a 9% increase in commercial services trade, reaching US$ 7.54 trillion.The decrease in merchandise exports was influenced by declining commodity prices like oil and gas.The rise in commercial services trade was driven by the recovery of international travel and a surge in digitally delivered services. Resilience of Global Trade Despite major economic shocks, global trade has shown resilience in recent years.Merchandise trade volume increased by 6.3% by the end of 2023 compared to 2019.Commercial services trade also grew, with the annual US$ value rising by 21% between 2019 and 2023. Inflation and Income Growth Inflation is projected to gradually decrease in 2024 and 2025.This will enable real incomes to rise in advanced economies, boosting the consumption of manufactured goods.An increase in demand for tradable goods in 2024 is evident due to improved income prospects and increased household consumption. Risks and Uncertainties Downside risks to the forecast exist due to geopolitical tensions and policy uncertainty.Conflict in the Middle East has disrupted sea shipments between Europe and Asia, while tensions in other regions could result in trade fragmentation. About the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Overview The WTO is an intergovernmental organization that oversees and facilitates international trade among nations.Established in 1995 under the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement, it succeeded the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which was founded in 1948. Functions The WTO fosters trade in goods, services, and intellectual property among its member countries.It provides a platform for negotiating trade agreements, typically aimed at reducing or eliminating tariffs, quotas, and other trade barriers.These agreements are endorsed by representatives of member governments and subsequently ratified by their respective legislatures. Membership The WTO comprises 164 member states, accounting for over 96% of global trade and global GDP. Headquarters Located in Geneva, Switzerland. Decision-making Process Decisions within the WTO are made through consensus among all 164 member states.As a result, all members possess veto powers, ensuring that no decision can be made without the agreement of every member. -Source: The Hindu QS World University Rankings: 2024 Context: 2024 edition of the QS World Ranking for the Universities has been released, recently. Relevance: GS II: Education Dimensions of the Article: QS World University RankingsKey Highlights of the QS World University Rankings 2024 QS World University Rankings: The QS World University Rankings are annual rankings released by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).These rankings aim to evaluate and compare the performance and quality of universities worldwide.The methodology used by QS takes into account various indicators, including academic reputation, faculty-student ratio, employer reputation, sustainability, employment outcomes, international research network, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio, and international student ratio.In addition to the overall rankings, QS also provides rankings by subject, region, student city, business school, and sustainability, catering to specific areas of interest and focus. Key Highlights of the QS World University Rankings 2024 Overview The 2024 QS World University Rankings by Subject offer an independent analysis of over 16,400 individual university programs.These rankings encompass more than 1,500 universities across 95 countries and territories, spanning 56 academic disciplines and five main faculty areas: Arts and Humanities, Engineering and Technology, Life Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences. Indian Universities in the Rankings A total of 69 Indian universities are featured in the QS World University Rankings by Subject, with 424 entries.This marks a 19.4% increase from the previous year’s 355 entries.JNU is India’s top-ranked university in development studies, securing 20th place globally as a new entrant in this field.IIM-Ahmedabad ranks second globally for business and management studies (22nd position).Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences is 24th globally in dentistry. Asian Rankings In Asia, India is the second-most represented country with 69 universities, following China with 101.India ranks fourth in the number of subject entries, trailing China, Japan, and South Korea. Most Represented Indian Universities Delhi University (DU) leads with 30 entries.IIT-Bombay follows with 28 entries.IIT-Kharagpur is next with 27 entries. Research Insights India is now the world’s fourth-largest research producer, contributing 1.3 million academic papers in 2023-24.It trails behind China (4.5m), the US (4.4m), and the UK (1.4m).The international research network indicator has grown by 16%, indicating an increase in the volume and diversity of research partnerships.However, there was a 5% decline in the index measuring the balance between research productivity and impact. Overall Research Trends India is emerging as one of the fastest-growing research hubs globally.Research output in India surged by 54% from 2017 to 2022, more than doubling the global average and surpassing Western counterparts.India is close to surpassing the UK in research productivity.In terms of research impact, based on citation count, India ranks ninth globally for the period 2017-2022.To continue this momentum, focusing on producing high-quality, impactful research and disseminating it within the academic community is crucial. -Source: The Hindu, Indian Express Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve Context: Recently, several restrictions have been imposed on visitors to the Ahobilam Temple Complex, which is located within the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve. Relevance: GS III: Environment and Ecology Dimensions of the Article: Key pointsNagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve Key points: Heatwave Restrictions at Cheethal Base Camp A ban on plastic itemsNo overnight stays due to potential human-animal conflictsProhibition on animal sacrifices at the shrine Wildlife in Nallamala Forest Area Home to red sanders, leopards, and deerTigers also inhabit the region Ahobilam National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) Constituted under the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972Oversees rare flora and fauna specific to the region Ahobilam Temple Complex Consists of 9 shrines to Lord Narisimha in Nallamala forestAdditional temple for Prahaladavarada Varadhan in the mountain foothills Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve Location: Located in the Nallamala Hills of the Eastern Ghats.Spans across five districts of Andhra Pradesh: Prakasam, Kurnool, Guntur, and Mahbubnagar.Covers an area of approximately 3,568 square kilometers. Geographical Aspects: Diverse terrain with rugged hills, deep valleys, and dense forests.Part of the Srisailam-Nagarjunasagar-Kurnool forest belt.The Krishna River flows through the reserve, creating a unique ecosystem. Flora: Tropical and dry deciduous forests.Dominated by teak, terminalia, bamboo, and other native species.Rich in medicinal plants and herbs. Fauna: Home to a significant population of Bengal tigers.Other mammals include:Indian leopardSloth bearDhole (Indian wild dog)Indian pangolinChital (spotted deer)Sambar deerNilgai (blue bull)Four-horned antelopeIndian giant squirrel Birds: Over 350 species of birds have been recorded.Includes the grey junglefowl, painted spurfowl, and the critically endangered white-rumped vulture. Reptiles: Indian pythonMugger crocodileBengal monitorStar tortoise Conservation: Declared a Tiger Reserve in 1983 under Project Tiger.Part of the Srisailam-Nagarjunasagar-Kurnool Biosphere Reserve.Efforts are ongoing to conserve and protect the Bengal tiger and its habitat. -Source: The Hindu Invasive Alien Species Context: In a bid to manage the teeming population of invasive chital (spotted deer) in Ross Island the Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration recently sought help from the Wildlife Institute of India. Relevance: GS III: Environment and Ecology Dimensions of the Article: Invasive Alien SpeciesImpacts of Invasive Alien Species Invasive Alien Species: Invasive alien species, also known as invasive exotic species or non-native species, are organisms introduced to regions or ecosystems outside their native range. These species establish self-sustaining populations and often outcompete native species, disrupting ecosystem balance and causing negative impacts. Factors Contributing to the Rise of Invasive Species: Global Trade and Travel: Increased international trade and travel have unintentionally facilitated the movement of species across borders. Cargo ships, airplanes, and vehicles can carry invasive species within cargo, ballast water, or attached to surfaces, aiding their spread.Climate Change: Elevated temperatures and shifts in precipitation patterns create environments suitable for invasive species. Altered seasonal timings can disrupt native species’ life cycles, making them vulnerable to invasive competitors and predators.Deliberate Introductions: Introducing non-native species intentionally for purposes like gardening, landscaping, and pest control can lead to invasions if these species escape cultivation.Historical Factors: Some invasive species, like the Black Rat introduced to Australia in the late 1800s, have historical origins associated with shipwrecks and industries like pearling. These species are now recognized as some of the “World’s Worst” invasive species. Impacts of Invasive Alien Species: Invasive species can have profound and often detrimental effects on ecosystems, economies, and human health. Here are some key impacts: Competition with Native Species: Invasive species can outcompete native species for essential resources like food, water, and habitat, leading to a decline or extinction of native species.Predation: Some invasive species become predators of native species, causing declines in prey populations. This can disrupt ecological food webs and ecosystems.Ecosystem Disruption: These disruptions have far-reaching consequences for ecosystem stability and resilience, often altering the natural balance of ecosystems.Economic Costs: The annual economic costs of invasive alien species have been steadily increasing, exceeding USD 423 billion globally in 2019. Costs can include damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and fisheries.Infrastructure Damage: Species like Zebra mussels can clog water pipes and infrastructure, leading to expensive repairs and maintenance.Reduction of Food Supply: Many invasive species impact food supplies, such as the Caribbean false mussel damaging fisheries in Kerala, India.Spread of Diseases: Invasive species like Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti can spread diseases like malaria, Zika, and West Nile Fever, posing risks to human health.Impact on Fisheries: For example, water hyacinth in Lake Victoria led to the depletion of tilapia fish, significantly impacting local fisheries and livelihoods. -Source: Indian Express Fiscal Monitor Report Context: Recently, in its Fiscal Monitor the International Monetary Fund said industrial policy initiatives pursued by the United States, Europe and other countries to steer innovation in certain sectors were no panacea to boost economic growth. Relevance: Facts for Prelims Dimensions of the Article: About the Fiscal Monitor ReportKey Facts about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) About the Fiscal Monitor Report Overview The Fiscal Monitor Report offers a snapshot of the latest developments in public finance, updates the medium-term fiscal outlook, and evaluates the fiscal consequences of policies pertinent to the global economy.This biannual report is produced by the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department.The projections in the report are derived from the same database utilized for the World Economic Outlook (WEO) and the Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR).IMF desk economists are responsible for preparing the fiscal projections for individual countries in accordance with WEO guidelines. Key Facts about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Formation and Mission Established in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference with the aim of rebuilding the international monetary system.The IMF’s mission is to foster global economic growth and financial stability, promote international trade, and alleviate poverty worldwide. Funding The IMF finances its operations through quotas and subscriptions from its member countries. Objectives It aims to stimulate economic growth and employment by offering temporary financial assistance to countries to facilitate balance of payments adjustments and provide technical assistance. IMF Reports The IMF publishes the World Economic Outlook and the Global Financial Stability Report. Headquarters Located in Washington, DC, USA. -Source: The Hindu AUKUS Alliance Context: The AUKUS alliance, comprising Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, is set to enter discussions for expanding its membership. Relevance: GS II: International Relations Dimensions of the Article: What is AUKUS?Benefits of Nuclear Submarines for Australia: What is AUKUS? A 2021 defence deal between Australia, the UK and the USAims to help Australia deploy nuclear-powered submarines in the Pacific regionOfficially made to emphasise the countries’ “shared commitment to a free-and-open Indo-Pacific region”Intended to combat China’s ambitions in the regionChina has staked territorial claims across the resource-rich region and has multiple nuclear-capable submarinesAUKUS was signed to bolster Australia’s naval power in the regionThe partnership was described by the then Australian PM Scott Morisson as a “partnership where our technology, our scientists, our industry, our defence forces are all working together to deliver a safer and more secure region that ultimately benefits all”. Benefits of Nuclear Submarines for Australia: Near infinite endurance: Nuclear-powered submarines have an internal nuclear reactor, which gives them the ability to operate and stay submerged for long periods without needing to surface to recharge their batteries.Faster and more advanced: Typically, nuclear submarines are faster and more advanced than conventional submarines, which allows them to reach far out into the ocean and launch attacks on the enemy.Greater range and capability: Nuclear submarines like the SSN-AUKUS will give the Royal Australian Navy the capability to go into the South China Sea to protect its assets and conduct patrols, which it currently does not possess.Improved strategic position: The nuclear-powered submarines will enhance Australia’s strategic position in the Indo-Pacific region and provide a significant boost to its naval power.Commitment to non-proliferation: The new deal includes “clear commitments” to the countries’ respective nuclear non-proliferation obligations, ensuring that Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines will not be equipped with nuclear warheads. -Source: Live Mint