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Table of Contents
- Art And Culture
- Society and Education:
- International Relations
- Dialogues And Talks:
- Geopolitical Events:
- Organizations And Conventions:
- United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
- International Monetary and Finance Committee (IMFC)
- 2nd India-Africa Defence Dialogue
- Financial Action Task Force
- G20 Religion Forum
- Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) Group
- Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
- 7th ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting
- Banking And Finance:
- Science And Technology
- Places in News
- Index in News
- Schemes in News
Art And Culture
Art and Architecture of the Chola Dynasty
- The Tamil movie Ponniyin Selvan:1 or PS1, which had recently been released, brought attention to the Chola Dynasty.
The Chola Dynasty:
- The Chola dynasty was a Tamil empire in southern India and one of the longest-ruling dynasties in world history.
- The earliest datable references to the Chola are from inscriptions dated to the 3rd century BCE during the reign of Ashoka of the Maurya Empire.
- As one of the Three Crowned Kings of Tamilakam, along with the Chera and Pandya, the dynasty continued to govern over varying territories until the 13th century CE.
- Despite these ancient origins, the rise of the Chola, as the “Chola Empire,” only begins with the medieval Cholas in the mid-9th century CE.
- The history of the Cholas falls into four periods:
- Early Cholas of the Sangam literature
- Interregnum priod were Cholas were feaduatries
- Imperial medieval Cholas (Imperial Cholas)
- The movie PS1 is based on this period.
- Later Chola dynasty
- From Prelim's point of view, only Sangam Cholas and Imperial Cholas are important.
Imperial Cholas (9th to 12th century AD):
- Vijayalaya was the founder of the Imperial Chola dynasty.
- Thanjavur was the capital of the Imperial Chola Dynasty.
- The Chola kingdom stretched across present-day Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
- The Cholas' maritime dominance allowed them to conquer territory as far away as Malaysia and the Indonesian Sumatra islands.
- Rajaraja I is also known as Ponniyin Selvan. It means the son of Ponni (the Cauvery River). The Rajaraja I, born Arunmozhi Varman and considered the greatest of all Chola rulers.
|Source: Indian Express||Source: Indian Express|
- The Great Living Chola Temples:
- They have been classified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
- The site includes three great 11th- and 12th-century Temples:
- Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur
- Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram
- Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram
- The Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram, built by Rajendra I, was completed in 1035.
- Its 53-m vimana (sanctum tower) has recessed corners and a graceful upward-curving movement, contrasting with the straight and severe tower at Thanjavur.
- The Airavatesvara temple complex, built by Rajaraja II, at Darasuram features a 24-m vimana and a stone image of Shiva.
- The temples testify to the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.
- Chola Sculpture:
- In Chola temples, sculptures made of stone and metal predominate.
- They represent socio-religious concepts from the Chola era.
- The Nataraja sculpture is well-known for both its aesthetic appeal and its symbolic value.
G20 Culture Track
- As part of India’s G20 Presidency between December 2022 and November 2023, the Government is planning to host five key meetings focusing on the “culture track” at Khajuraho, Bhubaneswar, Hampi and Agra.
- These cities have been chosen mainly for well-known monuments and UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort (UP), the Hindu and Jain temples of Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh), the Konark Sun Temple (Odisha), and the sites at Hampi (Karnataka). Agra will host two of the five meetings.
- For the culture track, a G20 Secretariat has been set up in the Ministry of Culture, which will hire a professional agency “for research, documentation and coordination work for the G20 work-stream of culture.
- Khajuraho is an ancient city known for its magnificent temples (Mandir) and intricate sculptures.
- The Khajuraho temple site had 85 temples during the 12th century spread over 20 square kilometres. Among these, only 25 temples have survived the course of time, spread over six square kilometres.
- Built-in the mediaeval century (between 950-1050 AD) by the Chandela Dynasty, the UNESCO site of 'Khajuraho Group of Monuments' is famous for its Nagara-Style architecture and graceful sculptures of nayikas (Hindu Mythological female protagonists) and deities.
- Some names of temples:
- Kandariya Mahadeva Temple
- Jagdambi Temple
- Chitragupta Temple
- Vamana Temple
- Javari Temple
- Parsvanatha Temple
- Adinatha Temple, Santinatha Temple, Ghantai Temple and Brahma Temple
- Hampi, also referred to as the Group of Monuments at Hampi, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Hampi town, Vijayanagara district, east-central Karnataka, India.
- Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century. It was a fortified city.
- Chronicles left by Persian and European travellers, particularly the Portuguese, say that Hampi was a prosperous, wealthy and grand city near the Tungabhadra River, with numerous temples, farms and trading markets.
- By 1500 CE, Hampi-Vijayanagara was the world's second-largest medieval-era city after Beijing, and probably India's richest at that time, attracting traders from Persia and Portugal.
- The Vijayanagara Empire was defeated by a coalition of Muslim sultanates; its capital was conquered, pillaged and destroyed by sultanate armies in 1565, after which Hampi remained in ruins.
- Hampi is also known as the ‘World’s Largest Open-air Museum’.
- Hampi structures belong to the Dravidian architecture.
- Some famous sites are:
- The Krishna temple complex
- The Vitthala temple complex
- Virupaksha Temple
- Stone chariot Garuda shrine
- Pattabhirama temple complex
- Lotus Mahal complex
Global and Indian Initiatives:
Mahakal Lok Corridor
- Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Mahakal Lok, the 920-metre-long mega corridor near the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga temple in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh.
What is Mahakal Lok Corridor?
- Mahakal Maharaj Mandir Parisar Vistar Yojna is a plan for the expansion, beautification, and decongestion of the Mahakaleshwar temple and its adjoining area in Ujjain district.
- Under the plan, the Mahakaleshwar temple premises of around 2.82 hectares is being increased to 47 hectares, which will be developed in two phases by the Ujjain district administration.
- This will include the 17 hectares of Rudrasagar lake. The project is expected to increase annual footfall in the city from the current 1.50 crore to nearly three crore.
- One of the aspects of the Vistar Yojna’s first phase is a visitor plaza with two entrances or Dwaars — the Nandi Dwaar and the Pinaki Dwaar.
Significance of Mahakaleshwar Temple:
- Mahakaleshwar, which means the ‘Lord of time’, refers to Lord Shiva.
- As per Hindy mythology, the temple was constructed by Lord Brahma and is presently located alongside the holy river Kshipra.
- Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga in Ujjain is one of the 12 jyotirlingas.
- As per records, the temple’s Mahakal Lingam is believed to be Swayambhu (self-manifested) and unlike any other jyotirlingas in the country, the idol of Mahakaleshwar faces south.
- The Maratha general Ranoji Shinde built the temple in its present form in 1734 CE.
The 12 jyotirlinga sites in India:
Tulu and Kodava Languages
- Speakers of Tulu and Kodava have opposed the draft of the Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Bill, 2022, which aims to ensure the “extensive use and propagation” of Kannada.
- They have sought that various dialects spoken within Karnataka too should get protection under the ambit of the Bill.
- Tulu is a Dravidian language spoken mainly in two coastal districts Dakshina Kannada and Udupi of Karnataka and Kasaragod district of Kerala.
- Some scholars suggest Tulu is among the earliest Dravidian languages with a history of 2000 years.
- At present, Tulu Language is not included in the Eight Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Thus the Tulu speakers, mainly in Karnataka and Kerala, have been requesting the governments to give it official language status and include it in the eighth schedule of the Constitution.
- Tulu art, culture and cinema:
- Tulu has a rich oral literature tradition with folk-song forms like paddana, and traditional folk theatre yakshagana.
- Tulu also has an active tradition of cinema with around 5 to 7 Tulu language movies produced a year.
- Kodava is a Dravidian language spoken in Karnataka state in southern India, particularly in the Kodagu, Bengaluru, Dakshina Kannada and Mysuru districts.
- There are two dialects of Kodava: Mendele, which is spoken in Northern and Central Kodagu, and Kiggat, which is spoken in Kiggat naadu in Southern Kodagu.
- It is closely related to Tamil, Tulu, Kannada and Malayalam.
Swadesh Darshan Scheme 2.0
- Recently, the Ministry of Tourism has revamped its Swadesh Darshan scheme as Swadesh Darshan 2.0 (SD2.0) with an aim to develop sustainable and responsible infrastructure at destinations.
What is Swadesh Darshan Scheme?
- Swadesh Darshan Scheme is a Central Sector scheme launched in 2014-15 by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Government of India for the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits.
- It is 100% centrally funded and efforts are made to achieve convergence with other schemes of Central and State Governments and also to leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and the Corporate Sector.
Buddhist Circuit map
What are the Key features of the revamped Swadesh Darshan 2.0 (SD2.0) scheme?
- Develop sustainable and responsible tourism.
- Development of benchmarks and standards.
- Promote domestic tourism mainly in tier-II and tier-III cities.
- The state government will designate implementing agencies for the projects instead of the Ministry of Tourism
Following major themes have been identified for tourism under the Scheme:
- Culture and Heritage
- Adventure Tourism
- Wellness Tourism
- MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions) Tourism
- Rural Tourism
- Cruises – Ocean & Inland.
- Recently, a farmer from the Wayanad, Kerala created Ashoka Chakra using tambo art.
What is Tambo Art?
- Tambo Art or Rice paddy art is an art form originating in Japan where people plant rice of various types and colors to create images in a paddy field
- In Japanese, rice fields are called “Ta” or “Tambo” and Tambo Art uses rice fields as a canvas to create huge design works by planting rice with different colored leaves and grain heads.
- The concept assumes that the design illustration will be viewed from a high place such as a viewing platform or similar.
- The image of Ashoka Chakra has been created using four varieties of paddy seeds such as Nazar bath, Kala bath, Kaki sala and Ramlee.
Shyamji Krishna Varma
- Recently, the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi paid tributes to Shyamji Krishna Varma on his Jayanti.
Who was Shyamji Krishna Varma?
- Shyamji Krishna Varma (4 October 1857 – 30 March 1930) was an Indian revolutionary fighter, an Indian patriot, lawyer and journalist
- He founded the Indian Home Rule Society, India House and The Indian Sociologist in London.
- An admirer of Dayanand Saraswati's approach to cultural nationalism, and of Herbert Spencer, Krishna Varma believed in Spencer's dictum: “Resistance to aggression is not simply justified, but imperative”.
Highlights of Verma's Life:
- In 1875, he married Bhanumati, a daughter of a wealthy businessman of the Bhatia community and sister of his school friend Ramdas.
- Then he got in touch with the nationalist Swami Dayananda Saraswati, a radical reformer and an exponent of the Vedas, who had founded the Arya Samaj.
- He became his disciple and was soon conducting lectures on Vedic philosophy and religion.
- He also became the first President of Bombay Arya Samaj.
- In 1905, he founded the India House and The Indian Sociologist, which rapidly developed as an organised meeting point for radical nationalists among Indian students in Britain at the time and one of the most prominent centres for revolutionary Indian nationalism outside India.
National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC)
- Recently, the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi reviewed the work in progress at the site of the National Maritime Heritage Complex at Lothal, Gujarat with the help of a drone via video conferencing.
What is the National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC)?
- It is a project to develop the Indus Valley Site of Lothal as a world-class international tourist destination, the first of its kind in the country, comprising of the maritime museum, lighthouse museum, maritime theme parks, amusement park centres, etc.
- It would showcase the maritime heritage of the country from ancient to modern times by adopting an edutainment approach using the latest technology to spread awareness about India’s maritime heritage.
- It will act as a centre for learning and understanding India’s diverse maritime heritage.
- It will have several innovative features such as Lothal mini-recreation, which will recreate Harappan architecture and lifestyle through immersive technology; besides four theme parks – Memorial theme park, Maritime and Navy theme park, Climate theme park, and Adventure and Amusement theme park.
- This project is being coordinated by the Ministry of Culture (MoC) and the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways (MoPSW).
About the Lothal:
- It is one of the southernmost sites of the Indus Valley Civilisation, situated in the Bhal region in present-day Gujarat.
- Said to be built in 2,200 BC, this port city was a thriving trade centre in ancient times with its trade of beads, gems and ornaments reaching West Asia and Africa.
- The word “Lothal” is a combination of Loth and thal, meaning the mound of the dead in Gujarati.
- The port city was discovered after a team of archaeologists led by SR Rao started the search for Harappan civilisation post-1947 in the Saurashtra region.
- According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Lothal had the world's earliest known dock, connecting the city to an ancient course of the Sabarmati river.
- In 2014, Lothal was nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, however, its application is still pending.
- According to the dossier submitted to UNESCO, the excavated site of Lothal is the only port town of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
About Indus Valley Civilization:
- Indus civilization also called Indus valley civilization or Harappan civilization is the earliest known urban culture of the Indian subcontinent. The nuclear dates of the civilization appear to be about 2500–1700 BCE, though the southern sites may have lasted later into the 2nd millennium BCE.
Kashi-Tamil Sangamam Programme
- Recently, the Union Government announced a month-long programme to “strengthen” and “rekindle” the cultural and civilisational bond between Tamil Nadu and Varanasi.
- Named the ‘Kashi-Tamil Sangamam’, the programme would be held from November 16 to December 16 this year.
What is the objective of the Sangamam?
- Its objective is to rediscover the centuries-old bond of knowledge and ancient civilisational linkages between Varanasi and Tamilnadu.
- In this programme, over 2400 Tamil people in 12 groups from diverse sections of society, including academics, spiritualism, philosophy, trade and commerce, agriculture, entrepreneurship, arts and artisanship will visit Kashi for eight days to get familiarised with the ancient knowledge shared by these two ancient cities.
More about the programme:
- The programme is organised under the framework of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’.
- IIT-Madras and Banaras Hindu University are the hosting partners of this mega event.
Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat:
- It aims to enhance interaction & promote mutual understanding between people of different states/UTs through the concept of state/UT pairing.
- The states carry out activities to promote a sustained and structured cultural connect in the areas of language learning, culture, traditions & music, tourism & cuisine, sports and sharing of best practices, etc.
- It is launched by the Ministry of Education.
- Recently Kittur Utsav was celebrated in Karnataka.
What is Kittur Utsav?
- Kittur Utsav is a state-level festival.
- It was celebrated in memory of Kittur Rani Channamma, who had fought the British 30 years before the Revolt of 1857.
Who was Kittur Rani Channamma?
- Kittur Chennamma (23 October 1778 – 21 February 1829) was the Indian Queen of Kittur, a former princely state in present-day Karnataka.
- She led an armed resistance against the British East India Company in 1824, in defiance of the Paramountancy, in an attempt to retain control over her dominion.
- She defeated the Company in the first revolt but died as a prisoner of war after the second rebellion.
- As one of the first and few female rulers to lead rebel forces against British colonisation, she continues to be remembered as a folk hero in Karnataka, she is also an important symbol of the Indian independence movement.
- She belonged to the Lingayat community and received training in horse riding, sword fighting, and archery from a young age.
- The Lingayat or Veerashaiva community, a politically dominant group in Karnataka, are devotees of Shiva.
- Recently PM Modi paid a visit to the Mangarh Dham in Rajasthan, the site of the Mangarh Massacre of 1913.
What is the Mangarh Massacre of 1913?
- About 1,500 Bhil tribals and forest dwellers were killed at Mangarh on November 17, 1913, when the British Indian Army opened fire on the protesters.
- The people gathered to demand the abolition of bonded labour system and relaxation in heavy agricultural taxes imposed by the rulers of princely states.
- They were led by Govind Guru.
- This incident is also known as Adivasi Jallianwala.
Who Are The Bhil Tribals and Why Did They Rebel?
- Bhils, a tribal community living across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh faced oppression at the hands of the rulers of the princely states and the British.
- By the end of the 20th century, the Bhils living in Rajasthan and Gujarat became bonded labourers.
- The great famine of 1899-1900 which claimed the lives of over 6 lakh people, only worsened the situation for the Bhils.
- Social activist Guru Govindgiri, also known as Govind Guru, is known as the pioneer of the Bhagat movement that emerged in this background. He realised that the socioeconomic setup and prevalence of alcohol addiction which was was the reason behind the plight of the Bhils.
- In an attempt to improve their condition, Guru Govindgiri began the Bhagat Movement in 1908 in which he propagated practices such as vegetarianism and abstinence from alcohol.
- He also asked his supporters to reject bonded labour and fight for their rights. The epicentre of this agitation was Dungarpur and Banswara, densely populated by Bhils.
- Guru Govindgiri had visions of a grand restoration of the Bhil people to their once-famed indigenous kingdoms or governance — a ‘Bhil Raj’.
- Therefore, in consultation with other Bhil leaders, it was decided to take some definite steps towards attaining a Bhil Raj. Messages were sent out to Govindgiri’s followers to congregate for a religious fair at Mangarh hill on 13 November 1913. Bhils from many parts of Dungarpur, Banswara, Kushalgarh, Kherwara, Sunth, etc., reached Mangarh.
- This worried the British and the state authorities of Dungarpur, Banswara, Kushalgarh and Sunth. Thus they crushed it violently.
Saka Panja Sahib
- 100 year have been completed since the Saka Panja Sahib event.
What is Saka Panja Sahib?
- It is a heroic event which took place at Hasan Abdal railway station, close to the sacred shrine of Pahja Sahib on the morning of 30 October 1922.
- The Sikhs from nearby Panja Sahib wanted to serve langar (community kitchen food) to the Sikh prisoners but were told by the station master at Hasan Abdal station that the train would not stop at the station.
- In protest, the Sikhs squatted on the railway tracks and as the train approached, the Sikhs, who were determined to halt the train, continued to stay put, demanding their right to serve langar to the Sikh prisoners.
- The train finally came to a screeching halt, but only after crushing many of Sikh protesters — of whom Bhai Karam Singh and Bhai Partap Singh died after sustaining serious injuries.
- Since then, both Sikhs are hailed as martyrs of Saka Panja Sahib who sacrificed their lives fighting for the rights of Sikhs against the British.
Gurdwara Panja Sahib:
- Gurdwara Panja Sahib is a famous gurdwara located in Hasan Abdal, Pakistan.
- The shrine is considered to be particularly important as the handprint of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, is believed to be imprinted on a boulder at the gurdwara.
Hurricane Storm Surge
- Hurricane Ian, one of the most violent storms to hit the United States, caused a “500-year flood event” in Florida, due to a strong storm surge.
What is Storm Surge?
- A storm surge is a rise in sea level that occurs during tropical cyclones, typhoons or hurricanes.
- The storms produce strong winds that push the water into shore, which can lead to flooding.
- This surge appears as a gradual rise in the water level as the storm approaches.
- Water level heights during a surge can reach 20 feet or more above normal sea level.
Tsunami vs Storm surge vs Storm tide:
Formation of storm surge:
- When a hurricane is in deep ocean waters, the circulating wind pushes the ocean surface to create a vertically circulating column of water, where the surge is barely visible.
- However, as the storm moves closer to the shore, the water which is being pushed downwards by the wind cannot move any lower, so the water forces itself from the sides towards land, causing a storm surge wave.
- Whenever a tropical cyclone or hurricane moves near coastal areas, storm surges are the biggest and most common threat to life and property.
- This phenomenon is commonly found in low-pressure systems, and the severity of the storm surge wave depends on the tides, shallowness of the water in the area, and the angle at which the water is to the hurricane.
- Bangladesh has been devastated by Cyclone Sitrang, the first tropical cyclone of the post-monsoon season of 2022.
- It is named by Thailand.
What are tropical cyclones:
- A tropical cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm originating over tropical oceans from where it draws the energy to develop.
- It has a low-pressure centre and clouds spiralling towards the eyewall surrounding the “eye”, the central part of the system where the weather is normally calm and free of clouds.
- Its diameter is typically around 200 to 500 km but can reach 1000 km. A tropical cyclone brings very violent winds, torrential rain, high waves and, in some cases, very destructive storm surges and coastal flooding.
- The winds blow counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
Cyclone season in India:
- There are mainly two cyclone seasons in India:
- Pre-monsoon season – May-June
- Post-Monsoon Season – October-November
- The Bay of Bengal receives more cyclones as compared to the Arabian Sea. October has seen 61 storms form in the Bay of Bengal over the last 131 years. Whereas the Arabian Sea has only seen 32 storms form in October since 1891.
- But due to climate change frequency of cyclones is also increasing in the Arabian Sea.
- Switzerland has recorded the worst melt rate of its glaciers since monitoring began more than 100 years ago, losing six per cent of their remaining volume this year or nearly double the previous record of 2003, according to the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network (GLAMOS).
More about Swiss Glaciers:
- Switzerland is home to around half of all glaciers in the European Alps.
- But the country’s glaciers were reduced by 50 per cent between 1931 and 2016, according to the study. Since 2016, melting has accelerated, and the glaciers have declined by another 12 per cent.
- Not all areas have melted at the same rate. Altitude, debris and glacier shape all affect how quickly the ice retreats.
Why are Swiss Glaciers melting?
- The main and obvious reason is – climate change – a rise in temperature.
- More than half of the glaciers in the Alps are in Switzerland where temperatures are rising by about twice the global average.
- Snowfall replenishes ice lost each summer and helps protect glaciers from further melting by reflecting sunlight back into the atmosphere.
- If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, the Alps’ glaciers are expected to lose more than 80 per cent of their current mass by 2100.
- Many will disappear regardless of whatever emissions action is taken now, thanks to global warming baked in by past emissions, according to a 2019 report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
What is the largest glacier in Switzerland?
- Aletsch Glacier, the Alps' largest and longest glacier, lying in the Bernese Alps of south-central Switzerland
- The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, stretching approximately 1,200 km across seven Alpine countries: France, Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia.
- The Alps emerged during the Alpine orogeny, an event that began about 65 million years ago as the Mesozoic Era was drawing to a close.
- The Alps are young fold mountains with rugged relief and high conical peaks.
- The Alps extend in an arc from France in the south and west to Slovenia in the east, and from Monaco in the south to Germany in the north.
- There was some discussion about the potential effects of geomagnetic storms on the global communication system.
What are Geomagnetic Storms?
- A geomagnetic storm, also known as a magnetic storm, is a temporary disturbance of the Earth's magnetosphere caused by a solar wind shock wave and/or cloud of the magnetic field that interacts with the Earth's magnetic field.
- A geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth's magnetosphere that occurs when there is a very efficient exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth. These storms result from variations in the solar wind that produces major changes in the currents, plasmas, and fields in Earth’s magnetosphere.
- The solar wind conditions that are effective for creating geomagnetic storms are sustained (for several to many hours) periods of high-speed solar wind, and most importantly, a southward directed solar wind magnetic field (opposite the direction of Earth’s field) at the dayside of the magnetosphere. This condition is effective for transferring energy from the solar wind into Earth’s magnetosphere.
- The largest storms that result from these conditions are associated with solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) where a billion tons or so of plasma from the sun, with its embedded magnetic field, arrives at Earth. CMEs typically take several days to arrive at Earth, but have been observed, for some of the most intense storms, to arrive in as short as 18 hours.
- Another solar wind disturbance that creates conditions favorable to geomagnetic storms is a high-speed solar wind stream (HSS). HSSs plow into the slower solar wind in front and create co-rotating interaction regions, or CIRs. These regions are often related to geomagnetic storms that while less intense than CME storms, often can deposit more energy in Earth’s magnetosphere over a longer interval.
- Storms also result in intense currents in the magnetosphere, changes in the radiation belts and changes in the ionosphere, including heating the ionosphere and upper atmosphere region called the thermosphere.
Geomagnetic storm effects: Infographics
Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States (Tele-MANAS)
- Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States (Tele-MANAS) initiative launched by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare on the occasion of World Mental Health Day.
More about the Tele-MANAS initiative:
- Acknowledging the mental health crisis in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and an urgent need to establish a digital mental health network that will withstand the challenges amplified by the pandemic, the Government of India announced National Tele Mental Health Programme (NTMHP) in the Union Budget 2022-23.
- Tele-MANAS aims to provide free tele-mental health services all over the country round the clock, particularly catering to people in remote or under-served areas.
- The programme includes a network of 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence, with NIMHANS being the nodal centre and the International Institute of Information Technology-Bangalore (IIITB) providing technology support. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bengaluru and the National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHRSC) will provide technical support.
- A toll-free, 24/7 helpline number (14416) has been set up across the country allowing callers to select the language of choice for availing services.
- Tele-MANAS will be organised in two-tier system;
- Tier 1 comprises of state Tele-MANAS cells which include trained counsellors and mental health specialists.
- Tier 2 will comprise of specialists at District Mental Health Programme (DMHP)/Medical College resources for physical consultation and/or e-Sanjeevani for audio-visual consultation.
- Presently there are 5 regional coordination centres along with 51 State/UT Tele MANAS cells.
National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS):
- The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences is a medical institution in Bangalore, India.
- NIMHANS is the apex centre for mental health and neuroscience education in the country. It is an Institute of National Importance that operates autonomously under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- NIMHANS is ranked 4th best medical institute in India, in the current National Institutional Ranking Framework.
Global Hunger Index
- In the 2022 Global Hunger Index, India ranks 107th out of the 121 countries with sufficient data to calculate 2022 GHI scores. With a score of 29.1, India has a level of hunger that is serious.
About Global Hunger Index:
- The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool for comprehensively measuring and tracking hunger at global, regional, and national levels.
- The GHI is prepared by European NGOs of Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe.
- GHI scores are based on the values of four component indicators:
- Undernourishment: the share of the population with insufficient caloric intake.
- Child stunting: the share of children under age five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition.
- Child wasting: the share of children under age five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition.
- Child mortality: the share of children who die before their fifth birthday, partly reflecting the fatal mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments.
- Based on the values of the four indicators, a GHI score is calculated on a 100-point scale reflecting the severity of hunger, where 0 is the best possible score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst.
- Each country’s GHI score is classified by severity, from low to extremely alarming.
India’s Performance in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) – 2022:
- Barring war-torn Afghanistan, India has performed worse than all the countries in the South Asian region. India has ranked 107 out of 121 countries.
- India ranked 101 out of 116 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021.
- India has a score of 29.1 which places it under ‘serious’ category.
- India and Neighboring Countries:
- Among the South Asian countries, India (107) is ranked below Sri Lanka (64), Nepal (81), Bangladesh (84), and Pakistan (99).
- Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Chile, China and Croatia are the top five countries in GHI 2022.
- Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, the Central African Republic and Yemen are the bottom (worst) five countries in GHI 2022.
Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) – 2022
- Recently, the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2022 – Unpacking deprivation bundles to reduce multidimensional poverty was released.
- It was released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).
- The MPI monitors deprivations in 10 indicators spanning health, education and standard of living and includes both incidences as well as the intensity of poverty.
- For the first time, the report dedicated a special section focusing on the 15-year trend of poverty in India.
- Over the past 15 years, the number of poor people has declined by 415 million.
- The incidence of poverty declined from 55.1 per cent to 16.4 per cent over the past 15 years.
- However, India still has the highest number of poor people in the world and Nigeria has the second-highest poor population.
Global Level Performance:
- In 111 countries, 1.2 billion people (19.1%) live in acute multidimensional poverty. 593 million (50%) of these people are minors under the age of 18.
- The developing region with the highest prevalence of multidimensional poverty is Sub- Saharan Africa (nearly 579 million), followed by South Asia (385 million).
- The pandemic has reversed the progress made in multidimensional poverty by 3 to 10 years.
Society and Education:
YUVA 2.0 Scheme
- The Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education launched the Prime Minister's Scheme for Mentoring Young Authors, known as YUVA 2.0 (Young, Upcoming and Versatile Authors).
More about the scheme:
- It is an Author Mentorship programme to train young and budding authors (below 30 years of age) in order to promote reading, writing and book culture in the country, and project India and Indian writings globally.
- In view of the significant impact of the first edition of YUVA with large-scale participation from young and budding authors in 22 different Indian languages and English, YUVA 2.0 is now being launched.
- The YUVA 2.0 is in tune with the Prime Minister’s vision to encourage the youth to understand and appreciate India's democracy.
- YUVA 2.0 is a part of India@75 Project (Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav) to bring to the fore the perspectives of the young generation of writers on the THEME: ‘Democracy (institutions, events, people, constitutional values – past, present, future)’ in an innovative and creative manner. This scheme will thus help to develop a stream of writers who can write on a spectrum of subjects to promote Indian heritage, culture and knowledge system.
- The scheme will help to develop a stream of writers who can write on various facets of Democracy in India encompassing the past, present and future.
- The National Book Trust, India, under the Ministry of Education as the Implementing Agency will ensure phase-wise execution of the Scheme under well-defined stages of mentorship.
- The books prepared under this scheme will be published by National Book Trust, India, and will also be translated into other Indian languages ensuring the exchange of culture and literature, thereby promoting 'Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat'.
- The selected young authors will interact with some of the best authors of the world, participate in literary festivals etc.
National Credit Framework(NCrF)
- In a bid to integrate academic and vocational or skill-based education, Union Education unveiled the draft report on the National Credits Framework (NCrF) and invited nationwide public consultations and suggestions on the proposed educational credits system.
About National Credit Framework(NCrF):
- Under this system school students in India can earn ‘credits’ from classroom learning as well as extracurricular activities and deposit them in a ‘bank’ — much like the system already being followed in some colleges and universities.
- Credits are defined as a “recognition that a learner has completed a prior course of learning, corresponding to a qualification at a given level” in this draft report.
- In other words, it is a way of quantifying learning outcomes.
- The proposed NCrF seeks to integrate all the frameworks under one umbrella. Moreover, it also brings the entire school education system under the ambit of credits for the first time.
- So far, only the National Institute of Open Schooling followed a credit system.
- The NCrF also covers skill and vocational education.
- It is launched as a part of the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
Related term – Notional Learning Hours:
- Notion learning hours in the context of NCRF means time spent not just in classroom teaching, but also in a range of co-curricular and extracurricular activities.
- The list of such activities includes sports, yoga, performing arts, music, social work, NCC, vocational education, as well as on-the-job training, internships or apprenticeships.
E-Baal Nidan Portal
- Recently, the online portal “E-Baal Nidan” for the redressal of grievances against violation of child rights was revamped by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
About E-Baal Nidan Portal:
- It is a Complaint Management System of NCPCR. It was launched in 2015.
- It is an online complaint mechanism which enables individuals to report violations committed against a child and track the progress of the redressal of the complaint in the Commission.
- It ensures the timely disposal of cases by the NCPCR.
- The portal segregates complaints based on their subject matters like juvenile justice, PSCSO, child labour, education etc.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR):
- It is a statutory body constituted under Section 3 of the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005 to protect child rights and other related matters in the country.
- The Commission is further mandated to monitor the proper and effective implementation of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012; Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.
- In one of the functions laid down under Section 13 of the CPCR Act, 2005, the Commission has been assigned with the function to examine and review the safeguards provided by or under any law for the time being in force for the protection of child rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation.
- The Congress organised a function to observe “Mukti Diwas”, marking the 70th anniversary of the repeal of the Criminal Tribes Act and de-notifying the DNTs as “Criminal Tribes”.
About Denotified Tribes:
- The term “De-notified Tribes” refers to all communities that were previously notified under the Criminal Tribes Acts, which were enforced by the British Raj between 1871 and 1947.
- The Independent Indian Government repealed these Acts in 1992, and these communities were “De-Notified.”
- 31 August is celebrated as Vimukta Jati day in India by the de-notified tribal communities.
- The Government in July 2014 had constituted National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNT) for a period of three years to prepare a State-wise list of castes belonging to Denotified and Nomadic Tribes.
- All nomadic tribes (NTs) are not DNTs, but all DNTs are NTs.
- Commissions for Denotified tribes in India:
- Idate Commission Report
- The Renke Commission (2008)
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U)
- Recently the PMAY-U Awards 2021 were declared.
About PMAY-U Awards 2021:
- In 2019, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs(MoHUA) established the PMAY-U Awards for Implementation and innovation under the Pradhan Mantri Awas yojana-Urban(PMAY-U).
- The awards have broadly been classified into 3 major levels:
- State Awards, Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayats Awards
- Special Category Awards
- Beneficiary Awards
- Awards are proposed to be evaluated on the basis of 4 broad parameters with the corresponding weightage.
- Winners are as follows:
- Uttar Pradesh(UP) has won the top honour at the Pradhan Mantri Awas yojana-Urban(PMAY-U) Awards 2021 under the “Best Performing State” category.
- Madhya Pradesh(MP) and Tamil Nadu(TN) have won the 2nd and 3rd Prizes under the Best Performing State category respectively.
- Gujarat has won the 5 PMAY-U awards for performance related to Affordable Rental Housing Complexes and ‘Convergence with other Missions’.
- Odisha has won the PMAY-U Awards 2021 under the special category ‘Best Policy Initiatives by State’
About Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U):
- Since June 2015, the MoHUA has been implementing the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U).
- The beneficiaries of the scheme include the Economically weaker section (EWS), low-income groups (LIGs) and Middle Income Groups (MIGs).
- PMAY-U is one of the largest housing schemes in the world.
Scheduled Caste Status for Converted Dalits
Context: The Centre has recently appointed a commission to examine the issue of whether Scheduled Caste (SC) status can be accorded to Dalits who have over the years converted to religions other than Sikhism or Buddhism.
- Members: The three-member commission is headed by former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan, along with Professor Sushma Yadav from UGC and retired IAS officer Ravinder Kumar Jain.
- Timeline: The committee has been given a two-year deadline to submit a report on the issue.
- The commission’s inquiry will look into :
- The changes an SC person goes through after converting to another religion.
- The implications of adding new persons to Scheduled Castes on the existing Scheduled Caste members.
- The changes they go through on converting to other religions in terms of customs, traditions, social and other discrimination, and deprivation.
- Earlier, the Ranganath Misra Commission (2004) recommended that SC status should be made fully religion-neutral like the Scheduled Tribes.
- Also, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Minorities also recommended providing SC status to Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians.
North Eastern Council
Context: The Plenary meeting of the North Eastern Council concluded recently.
- NEC is not a constitutional body, but a statutory organization established in 1971 under the North Eastern Council Act, 1971.
- Composition: It comprises Governors and Chief Ministers of all 8 North-Eastern States and three members
- nominated by the President.
- Functions :
- To function as Apex Regional Planning Body for the North Eastern Region.
- Implementing various projects through the State and Central agencies.
- Administration: In June 2018, the Union cabinet approved the nomination of the Home Minister as the ex-officio chairman and Minister for DoNER (Development of North-East Region) as the council’s vice chairman.
Context: Kerala governor warned ministers against making statements that lowered the dignity of his office and saying it would invite action, including their removal from office.
About the Governor's Post in India:
- Parallel to President: The Governors of the states of India have similar powers and functions at the state level as those of the President of India at the Central level. The Governor’s post finds its origin in the Government of India Act, of 1935.
- Nominal head: The Governor acts as the nominal head whereas the real power lies with the Chief Ministers of the states and her/his councils of ministers.
Constitutional Provisions related to the Governor:
- Article 154: The executive power of the state shall be vested in the Governor and shall be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with this Constitution.
- Article 163 (1): There shall be a council of ministers with the chief minister as the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is required to exercise his functions at his discretion.
- Article 163 (2): If any question arises whether a matter falls within the Governor’s discretion or not, the decision of the Governor is final and the validity of anything done by him cannot be called into question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion.
- Article 164: The Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, and the Ministers shall hold office at the pleasure of the Governor.
- Article 174: The Governor can also summon, prorogue, and dissolve the Legislative Assembly. By convention, he does this on the advice of the Council of Ministers while they enjoy the confidence of the Assembly.
- Article 200: Every Bill passed in an Assembly has to be sent to the Governor, after which he has four options:
- to assent to the Bill,
- withhold assent,
- reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President, or
- return the Bill to the legislature, asking it to reconsider the Bill or an aspect of it.
- the Governor can also suggest an amendment to the Bill.
Right to Privacy
- The Supreme Court described privacy and its importance in the landmark decision of K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India in 2017 that – Right to Privacy is a fundamental and inalienable right and attaches to the person covering all information about that person and the choices that he/ she makes.
- The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.
- Restrictions (as stated in the Judgement): The right may be restricted only by state action that passes each of the three tests:
- First, such state action must have a legislative mandate,
- Second, it must be pursuing a legitimate state purpose, and
- Third, it must be proportionate i.e., such state action- both in its nature and extent, must be necessary for a democratic society and the action ought to be the least intrusive of the available alternatives to accomplish the ends.
About the CCI:
- CCI is a statutory body under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and is responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, of 2002.
- It consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.
- Eliminating practices having an adverse effect on competition
- Promoting and sustaining competition
- Protecting the interests of consumers
- Ensuring the freedom of trade in the markets of India.
Context: The Supreme Court recently directed the police and authorities to immediately and suo motu register cases against hate speech makers without waiting for a complaint to be filed.
- There is no specific legal definition of ‘hate speech’.
- In general, hate speech is considered a limitation on free speech that seeks to prevent or bar speech that exposes a person or a group, or a section of society to hate, violence, ridicule, or indignity.
- Provisions in law criminalize speeches, writings, actions, signs, and representations that foment violence and spread disharmony between communities and groups, and these are understood to refer to ‘hate speech’.
- Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression to all citizens of India.
- This article is subjected to certain restrictions, namely, sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offense.
- Provisions in clauses (2) to (6) of Article 19 authorize the State to restrict the exercise of the freedom guaranteed under the article.
- Sections 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code are generally taken to be the main penal provisions that deal with inflammatory speeches and expressions that seek to punish ‘hate speech’.
- Under Section 153A, ‘promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, is an offense punishable with three years imprisonment.
- Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)makes it an offense to make “statements conducing to public mischief”.
- Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 disqualifies a person from contesting an election if he is convicted of indulging in acts amounting to the illegitimate use of freedom of speech and expression.
General Consent to CBI
Context: Recently, Maharashtra Government restored general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate cases in Maharashtra.
About General Consent:
- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is an independent body regulated by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act of 1946.
- This law mandates attaining the State Government’s consent for CBI investigation of any crime in that state.
- State Government consent can be either general or case-specific.
- State provides its general consent for an impeccable CBI investigation of corruption cases against central government employees in its territory.
- In case of absence of general consent, the CBI must ask for case-specific consent before taking each action, even the smallest ones.
- Telangana became the latest Indian state to withdraw general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a move that comes amid Opposition complaints about the misuse of central agencies by the present government to stifle political dissent.
- In the recent past, other states too have withdrawn general consent to the CBI, namely, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, and Mizoram.
- However, Maharashtra reversed the decision.
- In 2021, Calcutta High Court ruled that the withdrawal of the State’s general consent cannot stop CBI to proceed with investigating corruption cases.
- It also stated that the agency can probe against Central Government employees equally across the country.
- No one should be differentiated for being in a state with withdrawn general consent.
- CBI can apply this Calcutta High Court order to raise a fresh case in any state.
What Action Does CBI Take Against a General Consent Withdrawal?
- CBI can challenge a State’s decision of withdrawing its consent in a court. The agency must exhibit its progress in the investigation of the case.
- If any State withdraws its consent for CBI investigations, the agency can further request case-specific consent. For instance, it can appeal for a search warrant from a local court to conduct an investigation.
- CBI members can also utilize Section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). This permits one police officer to ask another officer of a different jurisdiction for an investigation on their behalf.
- To sum it up, despite several stumbling blocks, CBI can utilize different avenues to continue investigations.
- The CBI was set up in 1963 by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- Now, the CBI comes under the administrative control of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions.
- The establishment of the CBI was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962–1964).
- The CBI is not a statutory body.
- It derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, of 1946.
- The CBI is the main investigating agency of the Central Government.
- It also provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal.
- It is also the nodal police agency in India that coordinates investigations on behalf of Interpol Member countries.
One Nation one Police Uniform
Context: Addressing the first Chintan Shivir (brainstorming session) of state home ministers and top police officers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched the idea of “One Nation, One Uniform” for Indian police forces.
- Prime Minister Modi’s suggestion of “One Nation, One Uniform” is in line with his broader attempt to introduce a uniform set of policies across the country.
- This will not only ensure quality products due to the scale at which they’ll be produced but also give a common identity to law enforcement as citizens will recognize police personnel anywhere in the country.
- Law and order are a State Subject:
- The Indian Constitution puts police forces under the jurisdiction of state governments, and each of the 28 states has its own police force.
- Both ‘public order and the ‘police’ are placed in List II (State List) of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, which deals with the division of powers between the Union and States.
- While police personnel in India are often associated with the color khaki, their uniforms do differ in varying degrees in different regions and there are at times inconsistencies in their official attire
- The Kolkata Police wear white uniforms
- Puducherry Police constables wear bright red caps with their khaki uniforms.
- Delhi Traffic Police personnel wear white and blue.
- This is on the same lines as the “One Nation One Fertiliser” scheme of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers and the “One Nation One Ration Card” scheme introduced in 2019 and ‘one nation, one mobility’ card; ‘one nation, one grid’ and a ‘one nation, one sign language’.
Matadata Junction program
Context: Chief Election Commissioner Shri Rajiv Kumar along with Election Commissioner Shri Anup Chandra Pandey today launched a yearlong Voter Awareness Program – ‘Matdata Junction’ during an event organized at Akashvani Rang Bhavan, New Delhi. The ‘Matdata Junction’ is a 52-episode radio series produced by the Election Commission of India, in collaboration with All India Radio.
- It is a year-long voter awareness program.
- The Matadata Junction program will be broadcast in 23 languages across the country.
- The weekly program covers all aspects of the Voter ecosystem and shall be broadcast every Friday on the All India Radio network.
- Each Program will be based on a particular Theme in the Electoral process.
- All 52 Themes are aimed at encouraging all eligible citizens and especially young and first-time voters to vote and make an informed decision during the elections.
- The program includes a Citizen's Corner where any citizen can ask a query or suggest any aspects of the voting.
Election Commission Freezes Shiv Sena Symbol
Context: The Election Commission recently decided that the two factions of the Shiv Sena, led by Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde, would not be allowed to use the party name and symbol for the ongoing Andheri East by-poll till the EC passes a final order on the dispute between them.
How does the ECI decide who gets the symbol?
- Before 1968, the EC issued notifications and executive orders under the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.
- According to Para 15 of the Symbols Order, 1968, “When the Commission is satisfied… that there are rival sections or groups of a recognized political party each of whom claims to be that party. The Commission may decide that….one such rival section or group or none of such rival sections or groups is that recognized political party and the decision of the Commission shall be binding on all such rival sections or groups.”
- This applies to disputes in recognized national and state parties.
- Previous instances: The first case under the 1968 order was the split of the Indian National Congress in 1969.
How does the ECI resolve the symbol disputes?
- The ECI usually conducts the test of the majority to resolve a symbol dispute.
- In almost all disputes decided by the EC so far, a clear majority of party delegates/office bearers, MPs, and MLAs have supported one of the disputing factions.
- Whenever the EC could not test the strength of rival groups based on support within the party organization, it fell back on testing the majority only among elected MPs and MLAs.
Uniform Civil Code (UCC)
Context: The Gujarat government recently moved a proposal to constitute a committee to evaluate all aspects of implementing the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
- Uniform Civil Code seeks to replace personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in India with a common set of rules governing every citizen.
- The Constitution in Article 44 requires the State to strive to secure for its citizens a Uniform Civil Code(UCC) throughout India, but to date, no action has been taken in this regard.
- The Hindu personal laws were codified in the year 1956. However, there has been no attempt to frame a Uniform Civil Code applicable to all citizens of the country.
- Despite exhortations of this Court in the case of Shah Bano in 1985, the government has done nothing to bring the Uniform Civil Code.
- The Supreme Court hailed the State of Goa as a “shining example” where a “uniform civil code” is applicable to all, regardless of religion except while protecting certain limited rights.
- Goa has a common civil code called Portuguese civil code 1867, whereby:
- A Muslim man whose marriage is registered in the State cannot practice polygamy.
- A married couple shares property equally, pre-nuptial agreements are the order of the day, and assets are divided equally between the man and woman on divorce.
Context: Recently, the government informed that National Lok Adalat will be held on 12th November 2022 across the country to dispose of pending cases through settlement.
- National Lok Adalats are held at regular intervals where on a single day Lok Adalats are held throughout the country, in all the courts right from the Supreme Court to the District level wherein cases are disposed of in huge numbers.
- Considering the benefits of the Lok Adalat system and mutual settlement between parties a large number of consumer cases are expected to be disposed of.
- Department of Consumer Affairs is reaching out to consumers, companies, and organizations through SMS and emails to have maximum outreach and benefit consumers.
- With the help of technology, a separate link is being created and circulated amongst all stakeholders wherein one can enter their pending case number and commission where the case is pending and easily refer the matter to Lok Adalat.
- The link shall be circulated through email and SMS.
- Through data analytics, sector-wise distribution of pendency has been identified such as banking with a total number of 71379 pending cases, insurance with 168827, e-commerce with 1247, electricity with 33919, railways with 2316, etc.
- Steps are being taken toward the settlement of such consumer cases on priority.
- Department is in the process of collaborating with the National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) for referring the inclusion of pending consumer cases to be disposed of through the upcoming National Lok Adalat.
About Lok Adalats:
- Lok Adalat is one of the alternative dispute redressal mechanisms where disputes or cases pending in the court of law or at the pre-litigation stage are compromised amicably.
- Lok Adalats have been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, of 1987.
- The Act constitutes provisions to provide free legal services to the weaker sections of society according to Article 39A of the constitution.
- Under the said Act, the award made by the Lok Adalats is deemed to be a decree of a civil court and is final and binding on all parties and no appeal against such an award lies before any court of law.
- If the parties are not satisfied with the award of the Lok Adalat, there is no provision for an appeal against such an award, however, they are free to initiate litigation by approaching the court of appropriate jurisdiction.
- There is no court fee payable when a matter is filed in a Lok Adalat.
- If a matter pending in the court of law is referred to the Lok Adalat and is settled subsequently, the court fee originally paid in the court on the complaints/petition is also refunded back to the parties.
- Every Lok Adalat organized for an area shall consist of:
- A judicial officer as a chairman,
- and a lawyer and a social worker as members.
Context: The Supreme Court recently delivered a split verdict in the Karnataka hijab ban case. In view of the “divergence in opinion”, the apex court directed the matter to be placed before the Chief Justice of India for appropriate directions.
- Justice Hemant Gupta: “There is a divergence of opinion. In my order, I have framed 11 questions. First is, whether the appeal should be referred to the Constitution bench. Whether college management can take a call on the uniform of students and if wearing of Hijab and restricting it is violative of Article 25. Whether rights under Article 19 and Article 25 are mutually exclusive. Whether government order infringes upon the fundamental right. Can a student exert her fundamental right, is wearing right a part of essential religious practice under Islam, whether government order serves the purpose of access to education: the answer according to me is against the appellant.”
- Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia: “I have set aside the Karnataka High Court order and quashed the government order. Venturing into essential religious practice was not needed and the court took it the wrong way. It was just a question of choice. One thing which was topmost for me was the education of girl child.”
- Justice Hemant Gupta: “In view of divergent opinion, let the matter be placed before the Chief Justice of India for appropriate directions.”
About Split Verdicts:
- A split verdict is passed when the Bench cannot decide one way or the other in a case, either by a unanimous decision or by a majority verdict.
- Split verdicts can only happen when the Bench has an even number of judges. This is why judges usually sit in Benches of odd numbers (three, five, seven, etc.) for important cases, even though two-judge Benches — known as Division Benches — are not uncommon.
- In case of a split verdict, the case is heard by a larger Bench.
- The larger Bench to which a split verdict goes can be a three-judge Bench of the High Court, or an appeal can be preferred before the Supreme Court.
- In the case of the hijab verdict, the CJI, who is the ‘master of the roster, will constitute a new, larger Bench to hear the matter.
- Earlier examples of Split Verdicts include:
- A two-judge Bench of the Delhi High Court delivered a split verdict in petitions challenging the exception provided to marital rape in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- Madras High Court Division Bench order on the challenge to the disqualification of AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to TTV Dinakaran (2018).
Dialogues And Talks:
Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA)
Context: Minister of State for External Affairs has recently rejected Pakistan’s statement on the Kashmir issue at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) held in Astana.
- It is a multinational forum for strengthening cooperation toward promoting peace, security and stability in Asia.
- It was founded by Kazakhstan’s First President in 1992.
- Its first summit was held in 2002.
- Location of CICA Secretariat: Almaty (Kazakhstan).
- Meetings and Summits: The CICA Summit is convened every four years in order to conduct consultations, review the progress of, and set priorities for CICA activities.
- The Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs is required to be held every two years.
- To be a member of CICA, a state must have at least a part of its territory in Asia.
- So far the CICA has 27 member countries, 9 observer states, and 5 international organizations.
- India is one of the founding members of CICA.
2nd United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress
Context: The Second United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress (UNWGIC 2022) was held in Hyderabad recently. The five-day conference was hosted by the Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, and convened by the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management.
- With the theme of ‘Geo-Enabling the Global Village: No one should be left behind,’ the Second UNWGIC 2022 reflects on the importance of integrated geospatial information infrastructure and knowledge services to support the implementation and monitoring of sustainable development goals.
- It also mirrors the well-being of society, addresses environmental and climate challenges, embraces digital transformation and technological development, and catalyzes a vibrant economy.
- The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, said: “There is a need for an institutional approach by the international community to help each other during a crisis”. Saying that “India is ensuring no one is left behind”, the Prime Minister cited that the geospatial technology has been driving inclusion and progress in national development projects like SVAMITVA, PM Gati Shakti master plan, JAM Trinity, etc. “Technology and talent are the two pillars that are key to India’s development journey and technology is not an agent of exclusion but an agent of inclusion. India is a young nation with a great innovative spirit,” the Prime Minister said, highlighting the role of talent as the second pillar in India’s journey. India is one of the top startup hubs in the world, he added, with the number of unicorn startups having almost doubled since 2021- a testimony to India’s young talent.
- The first UNWGIC was organized by China in October 2018.
- The conference is conducted every four years with the objective of enhancing international collaboration among the Member States and relevant stakeholders in Geospatial information management and capacities.
UN peacekeeping chief to visit India
Context: The United Nations peacekeeping chief is undertaking a visit to India, among the largest troop-contributing countries for its operations.
About the visit:
- The purpose of United Nations Peacekeeping Chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix's visit is to thank the countries for their contributions and support to UN peacekeeping and to update on progress enhancing the effectiveness of peacekeeping.
- Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, visited India, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and Japan.
- Lacroix participated in a two-day meeting organized by the Challenges Forum, which brings together leading policymakers, practitioners, and academics on key issues linked to peace operations.
- According to information on the website of Challenges Forum, the event CAF22 will “gather partners and key stakeholders” on October 6-7 to “discuss how future peace operations can remain relevant in a world of growing geopolitical friction”.
- The CAF22 was co-hosted by the organization’s Indian partner the United Service Institution of India (USI).
- Under the overarching theme “Future of Peace Operations”, the three sub-themes for the forum are “Place for Preventive Deployment in Diplomacy”, “Protection of Civilians in Peace Operation” and “Protecting the Protectors”.
- India is one of the largest troop and police contributing countries to UN peacekeeping missions and more than 5,700 Indian peacekeepers are deployed in nine out of 12 UN peacekeeping missions at present.
- Since the 1950s, India has cumulatively deployed more than 260,000 troops to the missions.
- Through the years, 177 Indian peacekeepers have made the supreme sacrifice, the highest from any troop-contributing country.
About UN Peace Keeping:
- UN peacekeepers provide security and political and peacebuilding support to help countries make the difficult, early transition from conflict to peace.
- There are three basic principles that continue to set UN peacekeeping operations apart as a tool for maintaining international peace and security.
- Consent of the parties
- Non-use of force except in self-defense and defense of the mandate.
- Role of Security Council:
- The United Nations Charter gives the United Nations Security Council the responsibility to maintain international peace.
- The Security Council authorizes peacekeeping operations through Chapter VII authorizations.
- As all UN Member States share the costs of peacekeeping, the General Assembly apportions these expenses based on a special scale of assessments, taking into account the relative economic wealth of Member States, with the permanent members of the Security Council required to pay a larger share.
- For its services, UN Peacekeeping has also received the Nobel Peace Prize.
- UN peacekeepers are often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets.
UN resolution on Sri Lanka
Context: A resolution on Sri Lanka which was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in September, has been presented to the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
About the Resolution:
- The UNHRC adopted the resolution titled ‘Promotion of Reconciliation Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka'.
- The resolution was adopted with 20 nations voting in favor of the 47-member UNHRC, seven against, including China and Pakistan, and 20 abstentions, including India, Japan, Nepal, and Qatar.
- The resolution accused Sri Lanka of war crimes.
- It promises to bring responsible personnel to the international courts along with imposing targeted sanctions on them.
- The resolution decided to create capacity at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It will collect, preserve and consolidate the evidence.
- Evidence can be not only on war crimes but also on other gross violations of human rights and serious violations of humanitarian law.
About UN Human Rights Council:
- It is an inter-governmental body within the UN system.
- It meets at the UN Office in Geneva.
- It was founded in 2006.
- It replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR).
- It investigates allegations of breaches of human rights in UN member states.
- It addresses important human rights issues such as freedom of expression, women's rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.
- The UNHRC works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
- The Council is made up of 47 Member States, which are elected by UN General Assembly through direct and secret ballots.
- The Council's Membership is based on equitable geographical distribution.
- Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
- In June 2018, the United States announced its withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council(UNHRC) terming it “hypocritical and self-serving”.
Automatic Exchange Of Information
Context: India has received the fourth set of Swiss bank account details of its nationals and organizations as part of an annual information exchange, under which Switzerland has shared particulars of nearly 34 lakh financial accounts with 101 countries.
- The guidelines and parameters for the AEOI are set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
- Development (OECD).
- In 2013, G20 countries endorsed AEOI as the new global standard for the exchange of information.
- G20 asked the OECD to develop a standard, as well as the required implementation and monitoring processes for AEOI.
- AEOI allows every country to obtain data from Financial Institutions (FIs) and “automatically” exchange it with countries with which AEOI agreements are in order, every year.
- The information exchanged relates to individuals, corporate (shell companies), and trusts.
- The information received under the annual exercise of AEOI is used extensively in probes of suspected tax evasion, money laundering, and terror funding.
- Under the OECD’s guidelines, no details of the quantum of funds or the names of account holders are to be publicized.
- In India, the information received is kept in the custody of and for action by the Central Board of Direct Taxes(CBDT).
- The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a Paris-based international organization of developed countries that discusses and develops economic and social policy.
- The OECD brings together Member countries and a range of partners that collaborate on key global issues at national, regional, and local levels.
- OECD is a group of 38 member countries and India is not a member.
Organizations And Conventions:
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
Context: Recently, according to the forecast by UNCTAD, India's economic growth is expected to decline to 5.7 percent this year from 8.2 percent in 2021.
- It was established in 1964 to promote trade, investment, and development in developing countries.
- It is a permanent organ of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
- It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
- UNCTAD has approximately 190 members.
- The highest policy-making body of UNCTAD is the Conference, which meets once every four years to set policy guidelines and formulate a work program.
- Comprehend options to address macro-level development challenges.
- Achieve beneficial integration into the international trading system
- Diversify economies to make them less dependent on commodities
- Limit their exposure to financial volatility and debt.
- Flagship reports :
- Trade and Development Report, World Investment Report, The Least Developed Countries Report, Economic Development in Africa Report, Information Economy Report, Technology and Innovation Report, Review of Maritime Transport.
International Monetary and Finance Committee (IMFC)
Context: Union Finance Minister recently attended the International Monetary and Financial Committee in Washington DC.
- The IMF Board of Governors is advised by two ministerial committees, the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) and the Development Committee.
- International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC):
- The IMFC has 24 members, drawn from a pool of 190 governors.
- Its structure mirrors that of the Executive Board and its 24 constituencies.
- As such, the IMFC represents all the member countries of the Fund.
- The IMFC meets twice a year, during the Spring and Annual Meetings.
- The Committee discusses matters of common concern affecting the global economy and also advises the IMF on the direction of its work.
- The Development Committee:
- It is a joint committee, tasked with advising the Boards of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank on issues related to economic development in emerging and developing countries.
- The committee has 24 members (usual ministers of finance or development).
- It represents the full membership of the IMF and the World Bank and mainly serves as a forum for building intergovernmental consensus on critical development issues.
2nd India-Africa Defence Dialogue
Context: The 2nd India-Africa Defence Dialogue (IADD) was held on the sidelines of DefExpo 2022 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
- Dialogue to help build on existing partnerships between African countries & India
- To explore new areas of convergence for mutual engagements.
- India and Africa share a close and historical relationship.
- The foundation of India–Africa defense relations are based on the two guiding principles namely ‘SAGAR’, Security and Growth for All in the Region’ and ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, The World is One Family.
- The first-ever India Africa Defence Ministers Conclave (IADMC) was held in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh in conjunction with DefExpo on February 06, 2020, co-organized by the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of External Affairs.
- This was the first in the series of Pan Africa events at the Ministerial level in the run-up to the India Africa Forum Summit IV.
- A Joint Declaration, the ‘Lucknow Declaration’ was adopted after the conclusion of IADMC 2020 as an outcome document of the Conclave.
- In furtherance of the declaration and in consultation with stakeholders, India proposes to institutionalize the India-Africa Defence Dialogue during successive DefExpos to be held once every two years.
- Institutionalization of the India-Africa Defence Dialogue will help build on the existing partnerships between African countries & India and to explore new areas of convergence for mutual engagements including areas like capacity building, training, cyber security, maritime security and counter terrorism.
- It has been decided that Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses shall be the knowledge partner of India Africa Defence Dialogue and will assist in providing necessary support for enhanced defense cooperation between India and Africa.
- The broad theme of this India-Africa Defence Dialogue will be ‘India – Africa: Adopting Strategy for Synergizing and Strengthening Defence and Security Cooperation'.
Financial Action Task Force
Context: Pakistan was taken off from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) “Grey list” after four years.
About Financial Action Task Force:
- The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog.
- The inter-governmental body sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to society.
- As a policy-making body, the FATF works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
- It was established in 1989 during the G7 Summit in Paris.
- The FATF has developed the FATF Recommendations, or FATF Standards, which ensure a coordinated global response to prevent organized crime, corruption, and terrorism.
- They help authorities go after the money of criminals dealing with illegal drugs, human trafficking, and other crimes.
- The FATF also works to stop funding for weapons of mass destruction.
- It also assesses the strength of a country’s anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing frameworks.
- It does not go by individual cases.
- Its Secretariat is located at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) headquarters in Paris.
- Member countries of FATF:
- The FATF currently has 39 members including two regional organizations – the European Commission and Gulf Cooperation Council.
- India is a member of the FATF.
- Various lists under FATF:
- Grey List: Countries that are considered safe havens for supporting terror funding and money laundering are put on the FATF grey list. Inclusion in this list means a warning to the country that it may enter the blacklist.
- Black List: Countries known as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs) are put on the blacklist. These countries support terror funding and money laundering activities. The FATF revises the blacklist regularly. Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) are under High-risk Jurisdiction or blacklist.
- Why Pakistan is in news due to FATF?
- Pakistan has not implemented the FATF Action Plan fully by September 2019.
- It is believed that the country’s anti-terror laws are still not in line with FATF standards.
- Also, Pakistan has failed to adhere to the latest UN resolution 2462 that directs to criminalize of terrorist financing.
- It has been on the FATF grey list since June 2018.
- It was in the same category from 2012 to 2015 too.
- The FATF seeks the freezing of funds, denial of weapons access, and travel ban.
- Consequences of being on the FATF grey list may include- economic sanctions from IMF, World Bank, and ADB; reduction in international trade, and international boycott.
G20 Religion Forum
Context: In a first-of-its-kind event, Indonesia will host a global summit of religious leaders modeled on the G20 forum.
- It was called the ‘G20 Religion Forum’, or R-20.
- The first summit is scheduled on November 2 and 3, 2022, in Bali, Indonesia.
- It will be a parallel event to the annual G20 summit that Indonesia will host in 2022.
- It will be organized and hosted by Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), one of Indonesia’s most influential Islamic think tanks.
- The R20 aims to facilitate harmonious relations between religious groups and to open new hopes for reconciliation, brotherhood, and peace.
- The R20 this year will focus on four major topics :
- Identifying and embracing values shared by the world’s major religions and civilizations;
- Historical grievances, truth-telling, reconciliation, and forgiveness;
- Recontextualisation of obsolete and problematic teachings of religion; and
- The values we need to develop to ensure peaceful co-existence.
Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) Group
Context: Recently, the Union Minister for Environment Forest and Climate Change virtually participated in the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) Ministerial meeting titled ‘Preparations for COP 26 on Climate Change – Expectations and Challenges'.
- This meeting has been hosted by Bolivia ahead of the 26th climate change conference to be held in Glasgow.
- A ministerial statement was endorsed by the LMDC Ministers during the meeting, expressing their full support for the COP26 Presidency.
- LMDC comprises around 25 developing countries from Asia and other regions.
- It organizes itself as a block of negotiators in international organizations such as the United Nations.
- They represent more than 50% of the world’s population.
- Member countries: Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.
About COP 26:
- The COP26 is the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference.
- It is scheduled to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, between 31 October and 12 November 2021, under the presidency of the United Kingdom.
- The conference comes months after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its assessment report on Earth’s climate, highlighting heat waves, droughts, extreme rainfall, and sea-level rise in the coming decades.
- The CoP comes under the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention (UNFCCC) which was formed in 1994.
- The UNFCCC was established to work towards the “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.”
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
Context: Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman recently attended the 7th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of AIIB via video conference. The theme of this year’s Annual Meeting was “Sustainable Infrastructure Toward a Connected World”.
- AIIB is a multilateral development bank that aims to improve economic and social outcomes in Asia.
- Headquarters: Beijing, China.
- Board of Governors: All powers of the Bank are vested in our Board of Governors, which is the highest decision-making body under our Articles of Agreement.
- Membership: AIIB has 105 members. China is the AIIB’s largest shareholder with a 26.5% voting share. India is the second-largest, with 7.5%, followed by Russia, which has a 5.97% voting share.
- India is a Founding Member of AIIB.
- India also has the largest project portfolio within AIIB.
7th ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting
Context: Recently, the 7th ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting (AIMMAF) on Agriculture and Forestry was held virtually.
- In the meeting, the progress in the implementation of various programs and activities under the Medium Term Action Plan of ASEAN-India Cooperation (Year 2021-2025) was reviewed.
- The meeting also welcomed the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-India relations.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN):
- It is a regional grouping that promotes economic, political, and security cooperation.
- It was established in August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the founding fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
- Its chairmanship rotates annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States.
- ASEAN countries have a total population of 650 million people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD 2.8 trillion.
- Commodity trade between India and ASEAN region has reached 98.39 billion in the period April 2021- February 2022. India’s main trading ties are with Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand.
- Members: ASEAN brings together ten Southeast Asian states – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – into one organization.
Banking And Finance:
Small Savings Schemes
Context: The government announced minor upticks of 0.1% to 0.3% in the interest rates payable on five small savings instruments (SSIs), including the Kisan Vikas Patra, Senior Citizens’ Savings scheme, and time deposits for 2 and 3 years.
- Small savings instruments help citizens to achieve their financial goals over a particular time period.
- The small savings instruments include:
- Public Provident Fund Account (PPF)
- Sukanya Samriddhi Scheme
- Senior Citizen Savings Scheme
- Post Office Savings Account
- 5-Year Post Office Recurring Deposit Account (RD)
- National Savings Certificates (NSC)
- They are the major source of household savings in India.
- The small savings schemes basket can be classified under three categories:
- Postal deposits: Post Office Savings Account(SB), National Savings Recurring Deposit Account(RD), National Savings Time Deposit Account(TD), etc.
- Savings certificates: National Savings Certificates (VIIIth Issue), Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP), etc.
- Social security schemes: Public Provident Fund (PPF), Senior Citizens ‘Savings Scheme (SCSS), etc.
- Interest rates are reviewed every quarter by the Government for these schemes.
- They are popular as they not only provide returns that are generally higher than bank fixed deposits but also come with a sovereign guarantee and tax benefits.
- All deposits received under various small savings schemes are pooled in the National Small Savings Fund.
- The money in the fund is used by the central government to finance its fiscal deficit.
Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH)
Context: India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) and Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH) collaborate for innovations in Financial Products and Services.
- The Reserve Bank Innovation Hub is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) set up to promote and facilitate an environment that accelerates innovation across the financial sector.
- The aim is to foster and evangelize innovation across the financial sector to enable access to suitable, sustainable financial products to a billion Indians in a secure frictionless manner.
- In addition, RBIH would create internal capabilities by building applied research and expertise in the latest technology.
- The hub will collaborate with financial sector institutions, policy bodies, the technology industry, and academic institutions and coordinate efforts for the exchange of ideas and the development of prototypes related to financial innovations.
Textiles listed in the UNESCO document
Context: UNESCO has released a list of 50 exclusive and iconic heritage textile crafts of India under the title “Handmade for the 21st Century: Safeguarding Traditional Indian Textile”.
- Handmade for the 21st Century: Safeguarding Traditional Indian Textile outlines the origins and lore of the textiles, explains the intricate and closely guarded techniques used to create them, discusses the reasons for their waning appeal, and offers preservation tactics.
- Major obstacles to preservation: According to UNESCO, the absence of good inventory and documentation is one of the major obstacles to the preservation of intangible cultural heritage in South Asia.
- The publication aims to bridge this gap and bring together years of research on the 50 selected textiles.
- Some of the traditional crafts published in the list include:
- Khes from Panipat, Chamba rumals from Himachal Pradesh, Thigma or wool tie and dye from Ladakh, and Awadh Jamdani from Varanasi are a few of the famous handcrafted textiles from north India that have been documented.
- Ilkal and Lambadi or Banjara needlework from Karnataka, Sikalnayakanpet Kalamkari from Thanjavur, and other southern textiles have been added.
- The list of 50 famous textiles also includes Kunbi weaves from Goa, Mashru weaves and Patola from Gujarat, Himroo from Maharashtra, and Garad-Koirial from West Bengal.
Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) signaled that it would not extend the October 1, deadline for the implementation of the tokenization of card-based payments.
- Tokenization is the process of replacing your card details with a unique code or token, allowing you to make online purchases without revealing sensitive card details.
- Tokenization services generate unique alternate codes to facilitate card transactions.
- The 16-digit customer card number is replaced with a non-sensitive value called a token.
- This means that a customer’s card information is no longer available to the merchant, payment gateway, or third-party provider who assists in processing digital transactions today.
- With card tokenization, consumers no longer need to be afraid to store their card details.
- Cardholders must provide explicit consent to be collected for tokenization.
Benefits of Tokenization:
- Customers’ card details are stored by merchants and poor security measures put all customers at risk.
- There have been several instances in the past of merchants’ websites being hacked and debit and credit card details leaked. RBI wants to eliminate it.
- By requiring card tokenization, the burden of security falls on payment processors and banks, not on merchants.
- Tokenized card transactions are therefore considered more secure as the actual card details are not shared with merchants during transaction processing.
- Tokenization ensures the standardization of card-stored transactions through an irreversible higher security standard compared to existing reversible encryption standards.
- In addition to this, it provides faster checkout, simple card management, relief from false rejections, etc.
Context: The Impossible Trinity or trilemma has come under focus recently as the U.S. Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates to fight rising prices.
- The impossible trinity, or the trilemma, refers to the idea that an economy cannot pursue independent monetary policy, maintain a fixed exchange rate, and allow the free flow of capital across its borders at the same time.
- According to economists, any economy can choose to pursue only two out of the three policy options noted above simultaneously in the long run.
- The idea was proposed independently by Canadian economist Robert Mundell and British economist Marcus Fleming in the early 1960s.
- Practically speaking, in today’s world in which capital is largely free to move across borders with ease, the choice before policymakers is between maintaining a fixed exchange rate and pursuing an independent monetary policy.
- If policymakers choose to peg or maintain the value of their currency at a certain level against a foreign currency, this decision will limit the kind of monetary policy they can adopt in the long run.
- This is because the decision to peg the exchange value of the currency can tie down the hands of central bankers when it comes to their domestic monetary policy stance.
- For example, if a country’s policymakers want their currency to appreciate, or become stronger, against foreign currencies, they cannot achieve this goal and maintain the external strength of the currency over a considerable period of time without adopting a tight domestic monetary policy stance which will weaken domestic demand.
- This is because loose monetary policy will put pressure on the country’s currency to depreciate in value.
- Thus, policymakers will have to choose between maintaining the strength of their currency and upholding nominal demand in the domestic economy which is heavily influenced by monetary policy.
Credit Guarantee Scheme for Startups
Context: The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry has notified the establishment of the Credit Guarantee Scheme for Startups (CGSS).
- The scheme will provide credit guarantees for Startups to loans extended by Scheduled Commercial Banks, NonBanking Financial Companies, and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) registered Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs).
- Objective: Providing credit guarantees up to a specified limit against loans extended by Member Institutions (MIs) to finance eligible borrowers.
- Eligibility: To all the startups as defined in the Gazette Notification issued by DPIIT.
- Credit guarantee cover:
- The cover under the Scheme would be transaction-based and umbrella based.
- The exposure to individual cases would be capped at Rs. 10 crores per case or the actual outstanding credit amount, whichever is less.
- Transaction-based guarantees will promote lending by Banks/ NBFCs to eligible startups.
- On the other hand, umbrella-based guarantee cover will provide a guarantee to Venture Debt Funds (VDF) registered under the AIF regulations of SEBI.
- Operational oversight: DPIIT will be constituting a Management Committee (MC) and a Risk Evaluation Committee (REC) for reviewing, supervising, and operational oversight of the Scheme.
- Operating agency: The National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Limited (NCGTC) will be operating the Scheme.
Context: According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India’s forex reserves have fallen by USD 110 billion in the last 13 months.
- Forex reserves are assets held on reserve by a central bank in foreign currencies, which can include bonds, treasury bills, and other government securities.
- Most foreign exchange reserves are held in US dollars.
- Components: Foreign Currency Assets, Gold reserves, Special Drawing Rights, Reserve position with theInternational Monetary Fund (IMF).
- Significance of Forex Reserves :
- Supporting and maintaining confidence in the policies for monetary and exchange rate management.
- Provides the capacity to intervene in support of the national or union currency.
- Limits external vulnerability by maintaining foreign currency liquidity to absorb shocks during times of crisis or when access to borrowing is curtailed.
Digital Banking Units
Context: The Prime Minister has dedicated 75 Digital Banking Units(DBU) across 75 districts to the nation.
- A digital banking unit is a specialized fixed point business unit or hub housing a certain minimum digital infrastructure for delivering digital banking products and services as well as servicing existing financial products and services digitally in self-service mode at any time.
- Commercial banks (other than regional rural banks, payment banks, and local area banks) with past digital banking experience are permitted to open DBUs in tier 1 to tier 6 centers, unless otherwise specifically restricted, without having the need to take permission from the RBI in each case.
- Services to be provided by the DBUs include:
- DBUs will be brick-and-mortar outlets that will provide a variety of digital banking facilities to people such as opening savings accounts, transfer of funds, investment in fixed deposits, loan applications, stop payment instructions for cheques issued, applying for credit/debit cards, viewing statement of account, pay taxes, pay bills among others.
- They will also spread Digital Financial Literacy and special emphasis will be given to customer education on cyber security awareness and safeguards.
World Economic Outlook Report
Context: Recently, the International Monetary Fund released its latest edition of the World Economic Outlook Report (WEO) 2022. It is a comprehensive report published twice a year by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
- Global Growth Projections:
- According to projections, global growth will drop from 6.0 percent in 2021 to 3.2 percent in 2022 and 2.7 percent in 2023.
- With the exception of the global financial crisis and the severe phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the worst growth profile since 2001.
- In 2023, the rate of global growth is anticipated to further slow. The worst is still to come, and for many, 2023 will seem like a recession.
- The growth rate in China is anticipated to reach its lowest level in decades in 2023, except for the initial coronavirus outbreak, while the slowdown in the Euro area is anticipated to worsen.
- Forecasts predict that the global inflation rate of global inflation would increase from 4.7 percent in 2021 to 8.8 percent in 2022 before falling to 6.5 percent in 2023 and 4.1 percent by 2024.
- Most advanced economies have experienced upside inflation surprises, whereas emerging markets and underdeveloped nations have experienced greater fluctuation.
- Global Economic Challenges:
- A slowdown in major economies: The world’s biggest economies is currently experiencing substantial slowdowns e.g. decline in the US economy in the first half of 2022, and a decline in the Euro in the second half of 2022.
- Extended COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns in China with an escalating crisis in the real estate market.
- Three major factors:
- The Russian invasion of Ukraine,
- A cost-of-living problem brought on by persistent and expanding inflation pressures and China’s slowdown, all have a significant impact on the current global economic situation.
- China property crisis: If the crisis in China’s real estate market worsens, it might have significant cross-border implications on the banking industry as well as the economy of the country.
- World Economic Outlook Report 2022 on India:
- The IMF has reduced its Financial Year 2023 growth forecast for India from its July projection of 7.4 percent to 6.8 percent.
- For 2023, India has been projected to grow at 6.1%.
- This is the largest reduction it has made for any major economy other than the USA.
- The IMF’s action comes after the World Bank lowered its FY23 growth prediction for India from 7.5 percent to 6.5 percent.
Context: Pokkali farmers met on the sidelines of a pokkali rice harvest festival organized in Kochi with sustainability-dominating sessions addressed by agricultural officers and farmers.
- The pokkali variety of rice is known for its saltwater resistance and flourishes in the rice paddies of the coastal Alappuzha, Ernakulam, and Thrissur districts of Kerala.
- The single-season paddy is raised in saltwater fields between June and November followed by a season of fish farming.
- The uniqueness of the rice has brought it the Geographical Indication (GI) tag and is the subject of continuing research.
- Several foreign research institutes, including the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, have been studying pokkali’s gene pools and have identified a portion of DNA on one of its chromosomes that is crucial for salt tolerance.
- Given its ability to thrive under harsh climatic conditions and produce a high yield, it can help in promoting climate-resilient agriculture.
- Pokkali has medicinal properties and its higher value of antioxidants and low carbohydrate content makes it preferable to those on a low-sugar diet.
- Vyttila-11 is the latest variety of pokkali developed by the Kerala Agricultural University.
- It yields about 5 tonnes per hectare.
- The crop duration is about 110 days.
Context: Recently, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change recommended the “environmental release” of the transgenic hybrid mustard DMH-11 for seed production and conduct of field demonstration studies with respect to its effects, if any, on honey bees and other pollinating insects.
- Scientists at Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) have developed the hybrid mustard DMH-11 by genetic modification (GM) containing two alien genes isolated from a soil bacterium called Bacillus amyloliquefaciens.
- The first gene (‘barnase’) codes for a protein that impairs pollen production and renders the plant into which it is incorporated male-sterile.
- This plant is then crossed with a fertile parental line containing, in turn, the second ‘barstar’ gene that blocks the action of the barnase gene.
- The resultant F1 progeny is both high-yielding and also capable of producing seed/ grain, thanks to the barstar gene in the second fertile line.
- The CGMCP scientists have deployed the barnase-barstar GM technology to create what they say is a robust and viable hybridization system in mustard.
- This system was used to develop DMH-11 by crossing a popular Indian mustard variety ‘Varuna’ (the barnase line) with an East European ‘Early Heera-2’ mutant (barstar).
- DMH-11 is claimed to have shown an average 28% yield increase over Varuna in contained field trials carried out by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
Context: Indian Agriculture Research Institute has successfully tested two new dwarf varieties in Uttar Pradesh that give double the yield of the traditional variety of Kalanamak rice.
- Kalanamak is a traditional variety of paddy with black husk and a strong fragrance.
- It is considered a gift from Lord Buddha to the people of Sravasti when he visited the region after enlightenment.
- Grown in 11 districts of the Terai region of north-eastern Uttar Pradesh and in Nepal, the traditional variety has been prone to ‘lodging’( Lodging is a condition in which the top of the plant becomes heavy because of grain formation, the stem becomes weak, and the plant falls on the ground), a reason for its low yield.
- Its yield is barely two to 2.5 tonnes per hectare.
- Geographical Indication (GI) tag: The traditional Kalanamak rice is protected under the Geographical Indication (GI) tag system
- Addressing the problem, the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) has successfully developed two dwarf varieties of Kalanamak rice.
- They have been named:
- Pusa Narendra Kalanamak 1638 and
- Pusa Narendra Kalanamak 1652.
- The yield of the new varieties is double that of the traditional variety.
- The IARI and the Uttar Pradesh Council of Agriculture are working together to make the seeds available to farmers at the earliest.
Global Innovation Index
Context: The Global Innovation Index (GII) 2022 was recently released. The GII helps create an environment that evaluates innovation factors continuously.
- The 15th edition of the Global Innovation Index was launched globally on September 30, 2022.
- India has climbed six positions and has scored 40th rank in the Global Innovation Index, 2022.
- India enters the top 40 for the first time and overtakes Vietnam (48th) as the top lower middle-income economy for innovation.
- The GII 2022 finds that India continues to lead the world in the ICT services exports indicator with the first rank while holding top rankings in other indicators, including Venture capital recipients’ value (6th), Finance for startups and scaleups (8th), Graduates in science and engineering (11th), Labor productivity growth (12th) and Domestic industry diversification (14th).
- Only a few economies have consistently delivered peak innovation performance:
- Switzerland, Sweden, the U.S., and the U.K. have all ranked among the top 5 in the past three years, while the Republic of Korea joins the top 5 of the GII for the first time in 2021.
- The majority of the GII top 25 most innovative economies continue to be from Europe.
- New segment – Global Innovation Tracker:
- This new segment of GII aims to provide a perspective on global innovation performance, drawing on a select set of indicators.
- GII 2021 provides detailed innovation metrics for 132 economies.
- Top three innovation economies by income group:
- High Income:
- United States of America
- United Kingdoms
- The Netherlands.
- Upper Middle Income:
- Lower Middle income:
- Low Income:
- High Income:
About the Index:
- It is released by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) annually.
- Aim: To track the most recent global innovation trends against the background of an ongoing COVID-19
- pandemic, slowing productivity growth, and other evolving challenges.
- Parameters -The index is calculated as the average of two sub-indices:
- Innovation Input Sub-Index: It gauges elements of the economy that enable and facilitate innovative activities and is grouped into five pillars:
- Human capital and research
- Market sophistication
- Business Sophistication.
- Innovation Output Sub-Index: It captures the actual result of innovative activities within the economy and is divided into two pillars:
- Knowledge and technology outputs
- Creative outputs.
- Innovation Input Sub-Index: It gauges elements of the economy that enable and facilitate innovative activities and is grouped into five pillars:
Telecom Technology Development Fund (TTDF) Scheme
Context: Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), a body under the Department of Telecommunications, officially launched Telecom Technology Development Fund (TTDF) Scheme.
- Telecom Technology Development Fund (TTDF) Scheme is aimed at domestic companies and institutions involved in the technology design, development, and commercialization of telecommunication products and solutions, to enable affordable broadband and mobile services in rural and remote areas.
- Telecommunication technology products require significantly large funding and long gestation periods for R&D and commercialization including the additional efforts and resources for the products to move from prototype to commercial grade.
- Government is willing to support the industry to build high-impact deep-tech projects at an affordable cost to enable state-of-the-art services for rural areas in the country.
- Apart from the existing R&D funding mechanisms, an allocation of 5% of annual collections from USOF will be available for funding R&D in the Telecom sector, starting with the funds collected in the financial year 2021-22.
- The Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) was formed by an Act of Parliament and was established in April 2002 under the Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act 2003.
- It aims to provide financial support for the provision of telecom services in commercially unviable rural and remote areas of the country.
- It is an attached office of the Department of Telecom and is headed by the administrator, who is appointed by the central government.
- Funding Pattern:
- USOF is a non-lapsable Fund.
- The Levy amount is credited to the Consolidated Fund of India.
- The fund is made available to USOF after due appropriation by the Parliament.
Context: Recently, an inter-ministerial meeting of the Environment, Agriculture, and Power Ministries to review the progress of biomass co-firing in thermal power plants was held in New Delhi.
- Biomass co-firing is the practice of substituting a part of the fuel with biomass at coal thermal plants.
- Biomass co-firing stands for adding biomass as a partial substitute fuel in high-efficiency coal boilers.
- Coal and biomass are combusted together in boilers that have been designed to burn coal. For this purpose, the existing coal power plant has to be partly reconstructed and retrofitted.
- Co-firing is an option to convert biomass to electricity, in an efficient and clean way, and to reduce GHG (Greenhouse Gases) emissions of the power plant.
- Biomass co-firing is a globally accepted cost-effective method for decarbonizing a coal fleet.
- India is a country where biomass is usually burnt on the field which reflects apathy toward resolving the problem of clean coal using a very simple solution that is readily available.
- The Union Ministry of Power, while presenting the Union Budget in February 2022, mandated 5-10 % co-firing at every thermal power plant in the country.
- Biomass Pellets are a popular type of biomass fuel, generally made from wood wastes, agricultural biomass, commercial grasses, and forestry residues.
- The unavailability of Biomass Pellets of agricultural residues is slowing down the implementation of the Ministry of Powers' direction to Co-Fire biomass with coal in thermal power plants.
India’s Sugar Industry
Context: In Sugar Season (Oct-Sep) 2021-22, India emerged as the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar and the world’s 2nd largest exporter of sugar.
- India has surpassed Brazil to become both the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar.
- During the marketing year 2021–2022, 35.8 million tonnes were produced in India.
- It is anticipated to reach 36.5 million tonnes in the marketing year 2022–2023.
- Maharashtra surpassed Uttar Pradesh in 2022 to reclaim India’s top spot for sugar production.
- The cheapest sources of energy, which account for 10% of daily caloric intake, are sugar and jaggery.
- There are about 27 million tonnes of domestic demand annually.
- In addition to producing sugar, sugarcane is also used to make ethanol.
- In India, sugarcane is mostly grown in two separate agro-climatic regions:
- The tropical sugarcane region encompasses the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Pondicherry, and Kerala. It also includes the peninsular and coastal regions.
- The subtropical sugarcane region includes Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, and Punjab.
- Challenges faced by the Sugar Industries include:
- Water-intensive nature of the crop, groundwater depletion, sugar price stagnation, low mechanization, problems of arrears, etc.
Context: The President of India recently launched ‘herSTART’, an initiative of the Gujarat University Startup and Entrepreneurship Council (GUSEC) aimed at supporting women-led startups.
- The platform will include a digital platform to provide resources and training modules free of cost to aspiring women entrepreneurs, a digital community for them, and a digital publication to spread their success stories.
- The Platform encompasses the herSTART Incubator, a dedicated full-fledged Startup incubator for women entrepreneurs and innovators, and the herSTART Accelerator, a round-the-year accelerator programme for high-impact women-led startups.
- Gujarat is the first state in the country to form the Garima Cell with the aim of giving new energy and direction to the higher education system of the state.
- The ‘herSTART’ platform will boost the innovation and start-up efforts of women entrepreneurs and also help them connect with various government and private enterprises.
- Employment generation: through 450 Startup projects operational in Gujarat University. Of these, 125 startups especially inspired by entrepreneurial women are giving a new direction to entrepreneurship and innovative ideas in women.
- India has moved from 81st position to 40th position in the Global Innovation Index (GII) of 2022 as a result of the Startup program.
- Reduction in the drop-out rate among the students of the tribal community due to Vanabandhu Kalyan Yojana, Eklavya Model Residential School, and Kanya Nivasi Shala.
- Real-time monitoring of the education system of more than 55,000 schools in the state by the Vidya Review Centre.
- Upgrading the infrastructure of about 20,000 schools in the state through Mission School of Excellence.
India Mobile Congress
Context: The 6th edition of Asia’s largest telecom festival, India Mobile Congress 2022 concluded with grand success.
- Brand India Mobile Congress (IMC) under the Company Mobipro Innovation Pvt. Ltd. is the largest telecom, media, and technology forum in Asia, jointly organized by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).
- IMC has, since its inception, established itself as a leading forum for bringing together industry, government, academia, and other ecosystem players to discuss. deliberate, demonstrate and display the latest in the world of TMT and ICT.
- Not only is the India Mobile Congress the biggest technology event in Asia, but it is also the biggest networking event in India in the technology space.
- IMC also includes India’s biggest technology exhibition and is a bedrock of technology demos with thought leadership participation from across the globe, and grows from strength to strength every year.
- At the India Mobile Congress in Delhi, Prime Minister announced the 5G services will be rolled out in a phased manner. In the first phase, the 5G services are launched in thirteen cities.
Purse Seine Nets
Context: Recently, fishermen of Tamil Nadu protested against the blanket ban on purse seine nets and demanded to regulate it in order to protect the interest of small and traditional fishermen.
- A purse seine is a non-selective fishing method that captures everything that it surrounds.
- A purse seine net is a large net used in an entire area.
- The seine floats along the top line with a lead line threaded through rings along the bottom.
- Once a school of fish is located, a skiff encircles them.
- The lead line is then pulled in, pursing the net closed on the bottom, preventing fish from escaping.
- Other types of fishing nets include:
- Gill nets: They are set up to be a wall with holes in them. Fish unknowingly swim into it and get stuck.
- Bull trawling: In bull trawling or pair trawling, a net is tied between two mechanized boats and it is dragged for some kilometers to catch fish.
- Bottom trawler: This involves weighing a net down to the seafloor and then dragging it across the bottom to scoop up fish.
Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences 2022
Context: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 2022 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel to Ben S. Bernanke, Douglas W. Diamond, and Philip H. Dybvig “for research on banks and financial crises.
- Modern banking research clarifies why we have banks, how to make them less vulnerable to crises and how bank collapses exacerbate financial crises.
- The foundations of this research were laid by Ben Bernanke, Douglas Diamond, and Philip Dybvig in the early 1980s.
- Their analyses have been of great practical importance in regulating financial markets and dealing with financial crises.
- For the economy to function, savings must be channeled to investments.
- However, there is a conflict here: savers want instant access to their money in case of unexpected outlays, while businesses and homeowners need to know they will not be forced to repay their loans prematurely.
- In their theory, Diamond and Dybvig show how banks offer an optimal solution to this problem.
- By acting as intermediaries that accept deposits from many savers, banks can allow depositors to access their money when they wish, while also offering long-term loans to borrowers.
- However, their analysis also showed how the combination of these two activities makes banks vulnerable to rumors about their imminent collapse.
- If a large number of savers simultaneously run to the bank to withdraw their money, the rumor may become a self-fulfilling prophecy – a bank run occurs and the bank collapses.
- These dangerous dynamics can be prevented through the government providing deposit insurance and acting as a lender of last resort to banks.
- Diamond demonstrated how banks perform another societally important function.
- As intermediaries between many savers and borrowers, banks are better suited to assessing borrowers’ creditworthiness and ensuring that loans are used for good investments.
- Ben Bernanke analyzed the Great Depression of the 1930s, the worst economic crisis in modern history.
- Among other things, he showed how bank runs were a decisive factor in the crisis becoming so deep and prolonged.
- When the banks collapsed, valuable information about borrowers was lost and could not be recreated quickly. Society’s ability to channel savings to productive investments was thus severely diminished.
- “The laureates’ insights have improved our ability to avoid both serious crises and expensive bailouts,” says Tore Ellingsen, Chair of the Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences.
National Highways Infra Trust (NHAI InvIT)
Context: According to the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, National Highways Infra Trust (NHAI InvIT) is looking to raise an additional ₹3,800 crores and around Rs, 1,500 crore was being garnered through an issue of non-convertible debentures (NCDs) with a long-dated maturity of 24 years.
About Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvIT):
- InvITs are instruments that work like mutual funds.
- They are designed to pool small sums of money from a number of investors to invest in assets that give cash flow over a period of time.
- Part of this cash flow would be distributed as dividends back to investors.
- InvITs are listed on exchanges just like stocks — through IPOs.
- The InvITs listed on the stock exchange are IRB InvIT Fund and India Grid Trust.
- InvITs are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) (Infrastructure Investment Trusts) Regulations, 2014.
- Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are similar to InvITs but they are present only in the Real estate sector.
About NHAI InvIT:
- The infrastructure investment trust is sponsored by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to support the Government of India’s National Monetization Pipeline.
- It will have a minimum investment amount of Rs.10,000 and will be open to institutional investors, non-institutional investors, high-net-worth individuals, and retail investors including the common man.
- NHAI launched its InvIT to facilitate the monetization of roads and also to attract foreign and domestic institutional investors to invest in the roads sector.
- The advantages of an InvIT instrument are that it has stable and predictable cash flows and experienced professionals manage the InvIT and operate and maintain the roads.
Living Planet Report 2022
- There has been a 69% decline in the wildlife populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish, across the globe in the last 50 years, according to the Living Planet Report 2022 by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
- This report is released every two years.
- What are the Key Findings of the Report?
- Region-wise Decline in Wildlife Populations:
- The highest decline in the wildlife populations (94%) was in the Latin America and the Caribbean region.
- Africa recorded a 66% fall in its wildlife populations from 1970-2018 whereas the Asia-Pacific recorded a decline of 55%.
- Decline in Freshwater Species:
- Freshwater Species populations globally reduced by 83%.
- Habitat loss and barriers to migration routes were responsible for about half of the threats to monitored migratory fish species.
- Collapsing Vertebrate Wildlife Populations:
- Living Planet Index (LPI) showed that vertebrate wildlife populations are collapsing at a particularly staggering rate in tropical regions of the world.
- Featuring about 32,000 populations of 5,230 species across the world, LPI is a measure of the state of the world's biological diversity based on population trends of vertebrate species from terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats.
- Mangrove Degradation:
- Mangroves continue to be lost to aquaculture, agriculture and coastal development at a rate of 0.13% per year.
- Many mangroves are also degraded by overexploitation and pollution, alongside natural stressors such as storms and coastal erosion.
- Around 137 square kilometres of the Sundarbans mangrove forest in India and Bangladesh has been eroded since 1985, reducing land and ecosystem services for many of the 10 million people who live there.
- Key Threats to Biodiversity:
- WWF identified six key threats to biodiversity to highlight ‘threat hotspots' for terrestrial vertebrates:
- Invasive Species
- Climate Change
- What is World Wildlife Fund for Nature?
- It is the world’s leading conservation organization and works in more than 100 countries.
- It was established in 1961 and is headquartered at Gland, Switzerland.
- Its mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.
- WWF collaborates at every level with people around the world to develop and deliver innovative solutions that protect communities, wildlife, and the places in which they live.
- What are the Recommendations of the Report?
- The planet is experiencing double emergencies of human-induced climate change and biodiversity loss, threatening the well-being of current and future generations. Biodiversity loss and climate crisis should be dealt with as one instead of two different issues as they are intertwined.
- A nature-positive future needs transformative, game-changing shifts in how we produce, how we consume, how we govern and what we finance.
- An all-inclusive collective approach towards a more sustainable path must be adopted. It will ensure that the costs and benefits from our actions are socially just and equitably shared.
Tipping points of global warming
- Context: A study has found that even at the current levels of warming in the world, several climate ‘tipping points’ could be crossed, setting off irreversible, catastrophic, and self-perpetuating changes.
- Visible changes: Several studies in the past 15 years have identified different tipping points such as the disintegration of the Greenland ice sheet, a spontaneous reduction in Amazon forest cover, melting of glaciers, or softening of the permanently frozen grounds in the polar regions that have large amounts of carbon trapped in them.
- Each of these tipping points is correlated with each other with different levels of temperature rise.
- The latest study has identified nine global and seven regional tipping points
- Tipping points at work
- Rising temperatures are causing large-scale changes in the climatic systems.
- It has also intensified the Glacial melt, thinning of Arctic ice, and rise in sea levels.
- However, it is still possible, at least theoretically, to arrest these changes, or even reverse them over time.
- According to the IPCC assessment report, with the current level of efforts, the world is on the path to becoming more than 2 degrees warmer by the year 2100.
- Threats to permafrost: The softening or melting of permafrost layers is already releasing some carbon into the atmosphere.
- Permafrost layers hold as much as 1,700 billion tonnes of carbon, mainly in the form of carbon dioxide and methane.
- In comparison, the global emissions of carbon in a year are in the range of 40 billion tonnes.
- Self-sustaining and cyclic system: Once the tipping point is crossed, this becomes a self-sustaining and cyclic system. The system does not reverse even if the global temperatures stop rising.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), sixth assessment reports suggest that most of these tipping points would be crossed between 1 and 2 degree Celsius temperature rise.
- Policy response
- Increase efforts to restrict global warming.
- Take the initiative to study the effects of rising temperatures.
- Countries need to increase the ambition of their climate action in the next few years.
- Because of the impacts of the Ukraine war on the energy supply chains across the world progress is likely to slow down.
- Impact on India
- A one-metre rise in sea level will displace 7.1 million people in India.
- The sixth assessment report of the IPCC released earlier this year said that global emissions of greenhouse gases needed to peak by 2025 and reduce by 43 per cent from current levels by 2030 if the 1.5 degree Celsius target was to be achieved.
- What are Climate tipping points?
- Climate Tipping Points or CTPs are markers of a larger climate system that when triggered beyond a threshold, perpetuates warming on its own.
Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment)
- Mission LiFe is a global initiative by India to help the world in its fight against climate change and lead to a sustainable way of life to achieve the sustainable development goals set by the U.N.
- The idea of LiFE was introduced by India during the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in 2021.
- The idea promotes an environmentally conscious lifestyle that focuses on ‘mindful and deliberate utilization’ instead of ‘mindless and wasteful consumption.
- On 5 June 2022, on World Environment Day, India furthered the vision of LiFE by launching the LiFE Global Movement, inviting academicians, researchers, and start-ups across the world to think about specific and scientific ways in which the full potential of collective action can be harnessed to address the environmental crisis.
- The Mission emboldens the spirit of the P3 model, i.e., Pro Planet People, as it is premised on the basic principles of ‘Lifestyle of the planet, for the planet and by the planet’.
- It advocates for the circular economy where the concept of ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ can help in striking a balance between development, economic growth, and sustainability.
- Mission LiFE makes everyone trustees of the environment. A trustee is someone who does not allow indiscriminate use of resources. A trustee works as a nurturer and not as an exploiter.
- Mission LiFE aims at following a three-pronged strategy for changing our collective approach toward sustainability.
- First is by nudging individuals to practice simple yet effective environment-friendly actions in their daily lives (demand);
- Second is by enabling industries and markets to respond swiftly to the changing demand (supply) and;
- The third is to influence government and industrial policy to support both sustainable consumption and production (policy).
- With the launch of the Mission, the prevalent “use-and-dispose” economy governed by mindless and destructive consumption will be replaced by a circular economy, defined by conscious and deliberate consumption.
- Mission LiFE is designed to mobilize at least one billion Indians and other global citizens to take individual and collective action for protecting and preserving the environment in the period 2022 to 2027.
- India’s commitment to Mission LiFE:
- Mission LiFE will action the ideas and ideals of LiFE through a mission-mode, scientific and measurable programme and demonstrate India’s commitment to walk the talk on climate change.
- The annual per capita carbon footprint in the country is only about 1.5 tons, compared to the world average of 4 tons per year while India has the fourth largest capacity for renewable energy in the world.
- India is ranked fourth in wind energy and fifth in solar energy.
- India’s renewable energy capacity has increased by about 290 % in the last 7-8 years.
- The country has also achieved the target of 40% of the electric capacity from non-fossil-fuel sources nine years ahead of the deadline.
- Through the National Hydrogen Mission, India has moved towards an environment-friendly energy source. This will help India and many countries of the world to achieve their goal of a net zero carbon footprint.
- India’s initiative with the International Solar Alliance proves that the country is pursuing environmentally sound policies to promote renewable energy and reduce the usage of fossil fuels.
- By leading the creation of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, India has conveyed its concept of environmental protection to the world. Mission LiFE is the next step in this series.
- India had launched several initiatives to support the fight against climate change:
- National Afforestation Programme (NAP)
- National Mission for a Green India (GIM)
- National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)
- National Biodiversity Action Plan
- Recently, the Delhi government announced that it would spray Pusa bio-decomposer free of cost over 5,000 acres of paddy fields in the city as this would help in controlling stubble burning and air pollution during winter.
- What is Stubble Burning?
- Stubble (parali) burning is a method of removing paddy crop residues from the field to sow wheat from the last week of September to November, coinciding with the withdrawal of southwest monsoon.
- Stubble burning is a process of setting on fire the straw stubble, left after the harvesting of grains, like paddy, wheat, etc. It is usually required in areas that use the combined harvesting method which leaves crop residue behind.
- It is a common practice in October and November across North West India, but primarily in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
- Effects of Stubble Burning:
- Emits large amounts of toxic pollutants in the atmosphere which contain harmful gases like methane (CH4), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Volatile Organic compounds (VOC) and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
- These pollutants disperse in the surroundings, may undergo a physical and chemical transformation and eventually adversely affect human health by causing a thick blanket of smog.
- Soil Fertility:
- Burning husk on the ground destroys the nutrients in the soil, making it less fertile.
- Heat Penetration:
- The heat generated by stubble burning penetrates into the soil, leading to the loss of moisture and useful microbes.
- Alternatives to Stubble Burning:
- In-Situ Treatment of Stubble: For example, crop residue management by zero-tiller machine and Use of bio-decomposers.
- Ex-Situ (off-site) Treatment: For example, Use of rice straw as cattle fodder.
- Use of Technology- For example Turbo Happy Seeder (THS) machine, which can uproot the stubble and also sow seeds in the area cleared. The stubble can then be used as mulch for the field.
- What is Other Related Initiative?
- The State Governments of Punjab, National Capital Region (NCR) States and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) have developed detailed monitorable action plans based on the framework by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) to tackle the problem of air pollution.
- Way Forward
- As we know, burning stubble destroys a helpful raw material, pollutes the air, causes respiratory diseases and worsens greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the need of the hour is to make constructive use of stubble as animal feed and further utilise technology by enabling various alternatives like Turbo-Happy Seeder Machine and Bio-Decomposer etc.
Graded Response Action Plan
- Context: Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has recently said that GRAP will be enforced in Delhi NCR with immediate effect to combat deteriorating AQI in the region.
- What is GRAP?
- A graded Response Action Plan is a set of emergency measures that kick in to prevent further deterioration of air quality once it reaches a certain threshold.
- It is based on a plan that was submitted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in November 2016. The GRAP was first notified in January 2017 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- Various stages:
- Stage 1 of GRAP is activated when the AQI is in the ‘poor’ category (201 to 300), and On Wednesday, for instance, the AQI in Delhi was 211.
- The second, third and fourth stages will be activated three days ahead of the AQI reaching the ‘very poor’ category (301 to 400), ‘severe’ category (401 to 450) and ‘severe +’ category (above 450)
- Data Source: For this, the CAQM is relying on air quality and meteorological forecasts by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
- How is it different this year:
- Implementing agency: From 2021 onwards, the GRAP is being implemented by the
- The orders and directions of the CAQM will prevail in case of any conflict between directions issued by the State governments and the CAQM.
- Measures under the different categories of the plan are to be enforced by the pollution control boards of the NCR states and the concerned departments and agencies, including the traffic police, the Transport Department and road-owning and construction agencies.
- Pre-emptive measures: In the version of the GRAP 2017, measures kicked in after pollution concentrations reached a certain level.
- This year, measures are pre-emptive and will kick in based on forecasts in an attempt to prevent the AQI from deteriorating further.
- Wider pollutants range: The older version of the GRAP was enforced based only on the concentration of 5 and PM10.
- This year, GRAP is being enforced based on the AQI, which takes other pollutants also into accounts, such as ozone, sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen.
- Measures that will be enforced this year:
- For the first time, it specifies that State governments in the NCR may impose restrictions on BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel four-wheelers under Stage-3 (severe category).
- Restrictions on some construction activities will also be set in earlier in the revised GRAP, i.e in the ‘severe category’ stage instead of “severe +” compared to earlier.
- Construction activities on linear public projects like highways, roads, flyovers, pipelines and power transmission, will be banned under the ‘severe +’ category this year.
- Also under the ‘severe +’ category, State governments may consider additional emergency measures like the closure of schools, plying of vehicles on an odd-even basis etc.
- Guidelines for the public: The revised GRAP also has a set of measures for the public to follow under various categories of pollution levels.
Health Impact of Climate Change
Recent Lancet Report stated that over 3,30,000 people died in India due to exposure to particulate matter from fossil fuel combustion in 2020.
- Key Findings
- The Report is named Countdown on health and climate change: health at the mercy of fossil fuels
- It is the seventh annual global report.
- Effect on Temperature:
- From 2000-2004 to 2017-2021, heat-related deaths increased by 55% in India.
- Problematic actions of Government and Companies:
- They continue to follow strategies that increasingly threaten the health and survival of all people alive today, and of future generations.
- In 2019, India had a net negative carbon price, indicating that the government was effectively subsidising fossil fuels.
- India allocated a net 34 billion USD [around ?2,80,000 crore] to this in 2019 alone, equivalent to 37.5% of the country’s national health spending that year.
- Biomass and fossil fuels:
- Accounted for 61% of household energy in 2019, while fossil fuels accounted for another 20%.
- With this high reliance on these fuels, average household concentrations of particulate matter exceeded the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation by 27-fold nationally and 35-fold in rural homes.
- Urban Centres:
- In India, 45% of urban centres are classified as moderately green or above.
- Economic Loss:
- In 2021, Indians lost 16,720 crore potential labour hours due to heat exposure with income losses equivalent to about 5.4% of the national GDP.
- Health Impacts:
- For India, from 1951-1960 to 2012-2021, the number of months suitable for dengue transmission by Aedes Aegypti rose by 1.69%, reaching 5.6 months each year.
- From 2012-2021, infants under one year old experienced a higher number of heatwave days.
- For the same period, adults over 65 experienced 301 million more person-days.
- This means that, on average, from 2012-2021, each infant experienced an additional 0.9 heatwave days per year while adults over 65 experienced an additional 3.7 per person, compared to 1986-2021.
- From 2000-2004 to 2017-2021, heat-related deaths increased by 55% in India.
- The duration of the growing season for maize has decreased by 2%, compared to a 1981-2010 baseline.
- Rice and winter wheat have each decreased by 1%.
- Negative exposure:
- Households are exposed to energy poverty and dangerous levels of air pollution
- Way Ahead
- An urban redesign that puts health first can provide increased green space that reduces urban heat, improves air quality, and benefits physical and mental health.
- Improvement in air quality will help to prevent deaths resulting from exposure to fossil fuel-derived particulate matter.
- States should start adapting and implementing heat action plans in each city. For instance, the Ahmedabad heat action plan that has shown mortality can be reduced should be adapted everywhere.
- The burning of dirty fuels needs to be minimised as soon as possible to reduce the accompanying health impacts.
- Global warming and climate change are intricately related to human health and India needs to do something serious in this space.
Science And Technology
Floods on Mars
- China’s Zhurong rover that landed on Mars in 2021 has found evidence of major floods that took place billions of years ago by studying underground layers.
- The rover studied its landing site – Utopia Planitia – vast plains in Mars’s northern hemisphere.
- These are the rover’s first results of the radar imager. Radio waves from the radar bounce off underground materials to reveal their grain size and ability to hold an electric charge. Stronger signals typically indicate larger objects.
- What are the Findings?
- The radar did not find any evidence of liquid water down to 80 metres, but it did detect two horizontal layers with interesting patterns.
- In a layer between 10 and 30 metres deep, the reflection signals strengthened with increasing depth.
- An older, thicker layer between 30 and 80 metres down showed a similar pattern.
- The older layers (30 and 80 metres) are probably the result of rapid flooding that carried sediments to the region more than three billion years ago, when there was a lot of water activity on Mars.
- The upper layer (between 10 and 30 metres deep) could have been created by another flood some 1.6 billion years ago, when there was lots of glacial activity.
- Radar data is not enough to discern if the underground materials were sediments or volcanic remnants.
- What is Zhurong Rover?
- Zhurong named after a Chinese mythical fire god, is China's first Mars rover carried by China's Tianwen-1 spacecraft in 2021.
- During the mission, Zhurong will explore the colossal basin of Utopia Planitia on Mars' northern hemisphere, which was probably formed by an impact early in the planet's history.
- Weighing about 240 kilograms, the ‘Zhurong’ rover is slightly heavier than NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers, but only one-fourth the weight of Perseverance and Curiosity (NASA).
- It is powered by retractable solar panels and fitted with seven primary instruments — cameras, ground-penetrating radar, a magnetic field detector and a weather station.
- The purpose of the radar is to look for signs of ancient life as well as subsurface water.
Commercial Cultivation of GM Mustard
- Recently, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) that functions under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has approved seed production prior to commercial release of genetically modified (GM) mustard.
- What are Genetically Modified (GM) Crops?
- GM crops are derived from plants whose genes are artificially modified, usually by inserting genetic material from another organism, in order to give it new properties, such as increased yield, tolerance to a herbicide, resistance to disease or drought, or improved nutritional value.
- Probably the best-known variety of GM rice is golden rice.
- Golden rice involves the insertion of genes from a plant – both daffodils and maize have been used – and a soil bacterium to create a grain that is enriched with Vitamin A.
- Earlier, India approved the commercial cultivation of only one GM crop, Bt cotton, but GEAC has recommended GM Mustard for commercial use.
- Increased Yield: Genetically modified seeds dramatically increase the yield of the plant. This means that with the same plot of land, a farmer can now produce noticeably more crops.
- Beneficial in Specific Climates: Genetically modified seeds can also be produced for specific conditions or climates. For example, drought-resistant seeds can be used in places with little water to ensure healthy crop growth.
- Manipulation of Seeds Cost: Only a few companies are in charge of creating and selling modified seeds. With a near monopoly, this means that there are few choices available to those buying seeds.
- Seeds can’t be Replanted: Genetically modified seeds do not create viable seed offspring by design. This means that every time you want to plant a new crop, you have to go to the company you originally bought the seeds from.
- Environmental Concern: They can decrease species diversity. For example, insect-resistant plants might harm insects that are not their intended target and destroy that particular insect species.
- Ethical Concern: GM crop is the violation of natural organisms’ intrinsic values by mixing among species.
- There have also been concerns of mixing animal genes in plants.
- What is GM Mustard?
- Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH-11) is an indigenously developed transgenic mustard. It is a genetically modified variant of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) mustard.
- It contains two alien genes (‘barnase’ and ‘barstar’) isolated from a soil bacterium called Bacillus amyloliquefaciens that enable breeding of high-yielding commercial mustard hybrids.
- It has been developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) at Delhi University.
- In 2017, the GEAC recommended the commercial approval of the HT Mustard crop. However, the Supreme Court stayed its release and asked the central government to seek public opinion.
- India produces only 8.5-9 million tonnes (mt) of edible oil annually while it imports 14-14.5 mt which entailed a record foreign exchange outgo of USD 18.99 billion in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2022. Further, GM mustard would make India self-reliant in oil production and help in saving forex.
- Mustard varieties in India have a narrow genetic base. The barnase-barstar system enables breeding of hybrids from a wider range of mustards, including those of East European origin such as ‘Heera’ and ‘Donskaja’.
- What is the Status of other GM Crops in India?
- BT Cotton:
- In order to tackle the bollworm attack that had devastated cotton crops in the past, Bt cotton was introduced which was jointly developed by the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco) and the US seed company Monsanto.
- In 2002, the GEAC approved Bt Cotton for commercial cultivation in 6 states such as Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. It has to be noted that, Bt cotton is the first and only transgenic crop approved by the GEAC.
- BT Brinjal:
- Mahyco jointly developed Bt Brinjal with the Dharwad University of Agricultural Sciences and the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.
- Even though GEAC 2007 had recommended the commercial release of Bt Brinjal, the initiative was blocked in 2010.
5G technology launched in India
- The government has launched commercial 5G Services
- Key Highlights from the launch event:
- PM called the launch “a revolution”: A new India – the country is no longer just a consumer of technology but a contributor to its development too.
- At the time of the launch of 2G, 3G and 4G services, India was dependent on other countries. But with 5G, the country is setting foot in a new historical era and is leading globally.
- 5G technology will provide seamless coverage, high data rate, low latency, and highly reliable It will increase energy efficiency, spectrum efficiency and network efficiency.
- 5G as technology multiplier: 5G is much more than the next generation of technology. It actually unlocks the potential of other technologies like Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Robotics, Blockchain, and Metaverse.
- Other applications: 5G will help in real-time monitoring of disasters, precision agriculture, and minimising the role of humans in dangerous industrial operations such as in deep mines, and offshore activities, the government has underlined.
- National Digital Communications Policy 2018: Emphasis on integration of digital ecosystem (including 5G) with economic and societal growth.
- Focus area for India should be: Price of the device, digital connectivity, cost of data, and the idea of ‘digital first’
- Demonstration of practical use of 5G services:
- Education: 5G facilitate education by bringing teachers closer to students (through effective virtual classes), obliviating the physical distance between them.
- Education: A girl from Uttar Pradesh will witness a lively and immersive education experience to learn about the solar system with the help of Virtual reality and Augmented reality.
- Safety: Safety of workers in an under-construction tunnel of Delhi Metro through the creation of a Digital Twin of the tunnel on the.
- What is 5G?
- 5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace, or at least augment 4G LTE connection.
- Features and benefits of the 5G technology:
- Operate in the millimetre wave spectrum (30-300 GHz) which has the advantage of sending large amounts of data at very high speeds.
- Operate in 3 bands, namely low, mid and high-frequency spectrum.
- Reduced latency (means higher speed) will support new applications that leverage the power of 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence.
- Increased capacity on 5G networks can minimize the impact of load spikes, like those that take place during sporting events and news events.
Securing India’s Cyberspace
- Context: The world is moving towards an era in which the applications of quantum physics in strategic domains will soon become a reality, increasing cybersecurity risks.
- What is the current threat to cyber security?
- Outdated protocols: Current protocols like the RSA will quickly become outdated.
- This means that quantum cyberattacks can potentially breach any hardened target.
- Threat to digital infrastructure: China’s quantum advances expand the spectre of quantum cyberattacks against India’s digital infrastructure, which already faces a barrage of attacks from Chinese state-sponsored hackers.
- Particularly worrying for India is the fact that China now hosts two of the world’s fastest quantum computers.
- India’s dependence on foreign, particularly Chinese hardware, is an additional vulnerability.
- Ongoing Development in India?
- India is getting there slowly but steadily. In February 2022, a joint team of the DRDO and IIT-Delhi successfully demonstrated a QKD link between two cities in UP — Prayagraj and Vindhyachal.
- In 2019, the Centre declared quantum technology a “mission of national importance”.
- The Union Budget 2020-21 had proposed to spend Rs 8,000 crore on the newly launched National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications.
- The Army has collaborated with industry and academia to build secure communications and cryptography applications.
- How to make India’s cyberspace resilient?
- Procurement from other nations: India must consider procuring the United States National Security Agency’s (NSA) Suite B Cryptography Quantum-Resistant Suite as its official encryption mechanism.
- Emulating cryptographic standards: the Indian defence establishment can consider emulating the cryptographic standards set by the US’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which has developed a series of encryption tools to handle quantum computer attacks.
- Develop quantum-resistant systems: India should start implementing and developing capabilities in quantum-resistant communications, specifically for critical strategic sectors.
- Funding: government can fund and encourage existing open-source projects related to post-quantum cryptography.
- Participating in the global initiative: India can participate in the Open Quantum Safe project — a global initiative started in 2016 for prototyping and integrating quantum-resistant cryptographic algorithms.
- Prioritising QKDs over long distances, especially connecting military outposts for sensitive communications, can be prioritised to ensure secure communications whilst protecting key intelligence from potential quantum cyberattacks.
- Diplomatic partnerships with other “techno-democracies” — countries with top technology sectors, advanced economies, and a commitment to liberal democracy — can help India pool resources and mitigate emerging quantum cyber threats.
- India needs a holistic approach to tackle these challenges. At the heart of this approach should be the focus on post-quantum cybersecurity.
Nobel Prize 2022 in Medicine/ Physiology
- Recently, the 2022 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to Swedish geneticist Svante Pääbo for his research in the field of genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution.
- In 2021, the honour went to two United States-based scientists, David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.
- What are the Key Highlights of Svante Paabo’s Research?
- Human Evolution: Homo sapiens, first appeared in Africa approximately 300,000 years ago, while closest known relatives, Neanderthals, developed outside Africa and populated Europe and Western Asia from around 400,000 years until 30,000 years ago, at which point they went extinct.
- Genome Sequencing of Neanderthals: After sequencing Neanderthals' genes it is found that archaic gene sequences from our extinct relatives influence the physiology of present-day humans.
- For e.g., the Denisovan version of the gene EPAS1 confers an advantage for survival at high altitudes and is common among present-day Tibetans.
- Other examples are Neanderthal genes that affect our immune response to different types of infections.
- Discovery of Denisova: In 2008, a 40,000-year-old fragment from a finger bone was discovered in the Denisova cave in the southern part of Siberia.
- The DNA Sequencing of this bone had led to the discovery of a previously unknown hominin, which was given the name Denisova.
- Coexistence of Different Human Species: The ancestors of modern humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans co-existed for about 20,000 years, during which they not only interacted with each other but also inter-bred.
- In modern day humans with European or Asian descent, approximately 1-4% of the genome originates from the Neanderthals.
- Further, gene flow had also occurred between Denisova and Homo sapiens. This relationship was first seen in populations in Melanesia and other parts of South East Asia, where individuals carry up to 6% Denisova DNA.
- Novel Methodology:
- It is not easy to amplify and sequence ancient DNA because it is highly fragmented and full of contamination from microbes like fungi and bacteria. Over time, DNA tends to degrade and become chemically modified.
- Therefore, Pääbo decided to study mitochondrial DNA from Neanderthals.
- Mitochondria, popularly called the powerhouse of the cell, is an organelle inside the cell that has its own DNA.
- Although the mitochondrial genome is small and only contains a fraction of genetic information in the cell, it is present in thousands of copies. This increases the chance of its successful sequencing.
- The conceptual breakthrough is of paramount importance in understanding human evolution.
- Dr Pääbo’s research has resulted in the rise of a new scientific disciple called Paleogenomics, which is the study and analysis of genes of ancient or extinct organisms.
Super Apps in India
- Recently, the Tata Group is planning to get into aggregating its consumer offerings in an all-in-one super app.
- Key Points
- A super app is an omnichannel digital platform, i.e.- a platform developed by a company offering various services and products under one umbrella.
- For example, China’s WeChat, which started out as a messaging app, expanded into payments, cabs, shopping, food ordering, cab services to become a super app.
- A physical world analogy of a super app would be a mall, which allows retail space to various brands and shops across businesses and verticals.
- There are two concept of super app emergence:
- The concept of super app first emerged in China and southeast Asia where internet companies like WeChat, Go-Jek and Grab evolved their apps into versatile feature apps.
- Customer Traffic to Services: These companies used the opportunity of customer traffic on their platforms that originally came as social media by offering additional services leading to increased revenue realisations.
- A different approach is followed in the west Asia region.
- Services to Target Customer: The traditional business conglomerates with a large portfolio with a presence in shopping malls, grocery and entertainment are building digital assets. These businesses observe high customer footfall and high repeat purchase frequency.
- Advantages of Super Apps
- For Businesses:
- Higher Revenue: It ensures increased revenue realization due to consolidation of services at one place.
- Control over Data: It provides to companies a large amount of consumer data.
- Such a large amount of data can be harnessed to learn more about user behaviour.
- Market Access: It enables domestic and foreign retailers to easily get access to the market.
- For consumers:
- Convenience: It shortens the way to the desired action.
- Diverse Services: It offers a variety of services.
- Easy experience: It allows for a uniform and individual user experience.
- Less Load on Phone: It saves phone memory compared to what it is in the case of multiple apps.
- Concerns about Super Apps
- Monopoly: The very concept of a conglomerate trying to keep a customer within its own ecosystem for most services they might require increases the possibility of a monopoly.
- The data collected by the master app could then be used to train machines in artificial intelligence which can be used either way.
- Risk to Financial Systems: Super Apps are disintermediating banks from their customers, which is not healthy for a financial system unless formal regulations are not in place concerning such apps.
- Issue with Device: A large chunk of India's smartphone market belongs to lower-end smartphones, most of which come with a space crunch.
- Language Issue: India is a multi-linguistic nation. So a super app must use vernacular language to increase consumer reach.
- Privacy: Concerns of privacy in cases where a super app has onboarded third-party service providers.
- Recently, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested a Bolivian woman from Mumbai airport for allegedly carrying black cocaine.
- It is a rare drug, which is a mixture of regular cocaine and other chemicals. This turns it into turn black in colour.
- It is used by drug peddlers coming to India from South American countries.
- A mixture of cocaine hydrochloride with pigments can make drug-sniffing dogs undetectable.
- It neutralises the smell of cocaine so that it can pass through checkpoints easily.
- Pure cocaine bases can be recovered from the mixture by extraction of methylene chloride or acetone.
- Mumbai is one of the landing points from where it is distributed especially to other metro cities and Goa.
- An analytical study of medicinal fungi using MeFSAT carried out by researchers from Chennai shows that some chemicals they secrete may find use as novel drugs.
- MeFSAT (Medicinal Fungi Secondary Metabolites and Therapeutics) is a database that compiles information on 184 medicinal fungi, including mushrooms.
- It is a manually curated database that compiles information on secondary metabolites and reported therapeutic uses of medicinal fungi from published research articles and specialized books on the subject.
- Medicinal fungi
- Medicinal fungi belong to two taxonomic divisions namely, basidiomycota and ascomycota.
- Mushrooms belong to the basidiomycota division. An example is Agaricus bisporus, the button mushroom, which can be consumed.
- Fungi belonging to the ascomycota division are generally not mushrooms.
- Examples of fungi-based medicines
- Cordycepin, a secondary metabolite produced by Cordyceps species of fungus, is known to have anti-tumor properties.
- Not only cordycepin, in general, but several secondary metabolites are also known to be beneficial for humans in terms of both therapy and health.
Swachh Survekshan Ranking 2022
- President Droupadi Murmu has recently presented awards as part of Azadi@75 Swachh Survekshan 2022.
- Swachh Survekshan is a Competitive Monitoring Framework for accelerating Hygiene outcomes in Urban India.
- The mission started in 2014 by vision of a Swachh Bharat within the timeframe of five years.
- A framework is to bring competition amongst cities and States to improve their performance in cleanliness.
- It helps India to achieve the goal of sustainable sanitation and waste management.
- The ‘Prerak DAUUR Samman’ is a new award category, given based on performance of cities.
- This Samman will be given to cities for five levels of achievement in Swachhata ➔ Divya (Platinum), Anupam (Gold), Ujjwal (Silver), Udit (Bronze), Aarohi (Aspiring).
- The annual cleanliness survey is conducted by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
India’s First Solar-Powered Village – Modhera
- Recently, Prime Minister declared Modhera, in Gujarat as India’s first round-the-clock solar-powered village involving a ground-mounted solar power plant and more than 1,300 rooftop solar systems.
- Modhera village is in Mehsana district in Gujarat.
- Modhera will be India’s first village to become a net renewable energy generator. It will be the first modern village to have a solar-based ultra-modern electric vehicle charging station.
- It is India’s first grid-connected megawatt-hours (MWh) scale battery energy storage system. People in Modhera would be saving 60% to 100 % on electricity bills.
- Modhera was well known for the Sun temple, now it will also be known as a solar-powered village. The heritage lighting and 3-D projection at the Sun Temple would operate on solar energy. The 3-D projection will inform visitors about the history of Modhera.
- Modhera Sun Temple
- The Sun temple in Modhera is situated on the bank of the Pushpavati River.
- The temple was built after 1026-27 CE during the reign of Bhima I of the Solanki or Chalukya dynasty.
- The temple was attacked and invaded twice, first by Mehmood Ghazni during his raid of Gujarat and then by Allauddin Khilji.
- The magnificent temple is built in the Solanki type Maru-Gurjara Style of architecture.
- Maru-Gurjara architecture – It is a style of north Indian temple architecture that originated in Gujarat and Rajasthan from the 11th to 13th centuries, under the Chaulukya dynasty.
- The temple was completely built of sandstone and it consists of three main components –
- The main temple consists of a Garbagriha and a mandapa called Gudamandapa.
- UNESCO inscribed the Culture of Ukrainian borscht cooking on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in July 2022.
- Borscht is a sour soup common in Eastern Europe and the word is associated with the soup’s variant of Ukrainian origin.
- Ukrainian borscht is cooked with broth combined with beetroot, sugar beet or fermented beet juice.
- Ukrainian borscht unites people of all ages, genders and backgrounds at the table. It is also used in ritual practices such as in the region of Podillia, where the third day of the wedding has maintained its ritual name do nevistky – na borshch meaning ‘visit daughter-in-law to eat borscht’.
- Threats faced by this traditional soup of Ukraine: This soup has been threatened by various factors since the beginning of the armed conflict including the displacement of bearers from their communities of origin and from the cultural contexts necessary for the cooking and consumption of borscht in Ukraine.
- The Embassy of Japan, New Delhi, has filed an application seeking a Geographical Indication (GI) tag for nihonshu/Japanese sake, an alcoholic beverage.
- About Nihonshu
- Nihonshu is an alcoholic beverage. It is regarded as a special and valuable beverage made from fermenting rice.
- People traditionally drink nihonshu on special occasions, such as festivals, weddings or funerals, but it is also consumed on a daily basis. Thus, it is an integral part of the lifestyle and culture in Japan.
- For making nihonshu three main raw materials – rice, koji-kin (a type of fungal spore) and water – are required.
- The production of nihonshu follows an alcoholic fermentation method called parallel multiple fermentation and involves the raw material treatment, koji making, starter culture-making, mash making, pressing, heat sterilization and bottling.
- Geographical Indication (GI) Tag
- Geographical Indication (GI) is an indication used to identify goods having special characteristics originating from a definite geographical territory.
- The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 seeks to provide for the registration and better protection of geographical indications relating to goods in India.
- It is governed and directed by the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights(TRIPS).
- It was decided and also stated under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention that the protection of industrial Property and Geographical Indication are elements of Intellectual Property.
- It is primarily an agricultural, natural or manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods).
- Validity: This tag is valid for a period of 10 years following which it can be renewed
- In modern society, Commodity Fetishism is accentuated by the use of brand names over the quality or use-value of the product.
- Introduced in the first chapter of Karl Marx’s most ambitious project, Das Kapital, or Capital: A Critique of Political Economy,
- He applied his analysis of commodities in capitalism to society as a whole through the concept of commodity fetishism.
- The term describes how the social relationships of production and exchange among people take the form of relationships between things (money and commodities) under capitalism.
- The term fetishism in anthropology refers to the belief among indigenous cultures of inanimate objects (such as totems) possessing godly or mystical powers.
- Marx separates the religious connotation of the term and uses it to understand how commodities possess mystical powers once in the market as it severs ties with the production process.
Places in News
|Place in News||Why In News, And Some Information About the Place|
Maheshwar Dam: Narmada River
Index in News
Grievance Redressal Index
Global Hunger Index 2022
GHI, published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerlife, is computed on four indicators:
Issues raised by India:
GHI website explanation to allegations:
Schemes in News
|YUVA 2.0- PM’s Scheme for Mentoring Young Authors||Ministry of Education||
|‘One Nation, One Fertilizer’ Scheme
||Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare||
”One Nation, One Fertilizer Scheme”: What is the ‘One Nation One Fertiliser’ scheme?
”One Nation, One Fertilizer Scheme”: Why did the government introduce this scheme?
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