Daily Current Affairs – 06-07-2023

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    International Conference on Women In Physics (ICWIP)

    Syllabus :GS 1/Women Empowerment/GS3/Science and Technology 

    In News

    The eighth edition of the International Conference on Women In Physics (ICWIP) will be the first to be organised in India when it happens next week on July 10-14.

    About ICWIP

    • The conference is an event of The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) .
      • It was first held in 2002 in France, to address the gender imbalance in physics education and research worldwide.
    • 2023 edition : The Gender in Physics Working Group of the Indian Physics Association and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, are organising it together. 
    • Focus :  This edition will be “strongly focused on promoting quality and equity in science and mathematics education from primary school to introductory college levels.
    • Relevance : Organising ICWIP 2023 in India is a unique opportunity to further India’s commitment to the cause of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in physics in particular and science in general.

    The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) 

    • It is the only international physics organization that is organized and run by the physics community itself. 
    • Its members are identified in physics communities in countries or regions around the world.
    • The IUPAP was established in 1922 in Brussels with 13 Member countries and the first General Assembly was held in 1923 in Paris.
      •  It currently has 60 country members.
    • Aims Of The Union Are
      • Assist in the worldwide development of physics and promote physics as an essential tool for development and sustainability;
      • Increase diversity and inclusion in physics, enhancing the participation and recognition of women and of people from under-represented groups;
      • Foster international cooperation and sponsor suitable international physics meetings;

    Indian Government’s Initiatives for Promoting Science Among Women 

    • STEM: The government has set up programs and initiatives to provide women with access to education and training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects, and to support their professional development and advancement .
    • WISE-KIRAN : ‘Women in Science and Engineering-KIRAN (WISE-KIRAN)’ to ensure participation of women in the field of Science and Technology (S&T) through various gender-enabling programmes. ‘
    • STEMM: Indo-US Fellowship for Women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Medicine) encourages women scientists and technologists to undertake international collaborative research in premier institutions in the USA.  
    • CURIE Programme: DST also provides support for the development of research infrastructure and the creation of state-of-the-art research laboratories under the ‘Consolidation of University Research through Innovation and Excellence (CURIE) Programme’ in women’s institutions to enhance women’s participation in S&T domain. 
    • Vigyan Jyoti: DST has also started a new programme “Vigyan Jyoti” for meritorious girl students of Class 9-12 to encourage them to pursue education and career in science and technology, particularly in the areas where women are underrepresented.  
    • GATI: Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) aims to transform institutions for a more gender-sensitive approach and inclusiveness with the ultimate goal to improve gender equity in S&T. 
    • SERB-POWER (Promoting Opportunities for Women in Exploratory Research)”:  scheme of Science and Engineering Research Board of DST aims to address lower participation of women scientists in research activities and to mitigate gender disparity in science and engineering. 
    • BioCARe: DBT is also implementing ‘Biotechnology Career Advancement and Re-orientation Programme (BioCARe)’ to enhance the participation of Women Scientists in Biotechnology research 
    • WEST: Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology (WEST) – A new I-STEM (Indian Science Technology and Engineering facilities Map) initiative called “Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology (WEST)” was launched by the Government of India on 5th September 2022. 

    Pioneering Indian Women in STEMM

    • Kadambini (Basu) Ganguly (1861–1923):  She was not only the first female graduate of the British Empire, but also one of the first female physicians of South Asia to be trained in western medicine.  
      • She was the first woman to gain admission to Calcutta Medical College in 1884, subsequently trained in Scotland, and established a successful medical practice in India. 
      • She was also the first woman speaker in the Indian National Congress.
    • Anandi Gopal Joshi (1865–1887):  In the year 1886, another woman from India obtained a degree in Western medicine. Anandi Bai Joshi graduated from Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia, USA and thus became the first Indian to study medicine from abroad
      • Her thesis was on ‘Obstetrics among the Aryan Hindus’, wherein she used influences from both Ayurvedic and American medical textbooks
    • Rajeswari Chatterjee (1922-2010): She was the first Woman Scientist to pioneer in the Field of Microwave Engineering and Antennae Engineering in India. 
    • Dr. Indira Hinduja: She is the first Indian woman who delivered a test tube baby on August 6, 1986.
    • Kalpana Chawla: (1962–2003):  She was the first Indian-American astronaut and first Indian woman in space. She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. 
      • The NASA chief called her a “Terrific astronaut”.
    • Vanitha Muthayya, Ritu Karidhal and Swati Mohan: For the first time in India’s history, a space mission – Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to the moon, was led by two women scientists of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). 
    • Indian-American scientist Swati Mohan led the guidance, navigation, and control operations of the Mars 2020 mission. 

    Source:TH

    Data Protection Bill 2022

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    In News

    The Union Cabinet cleared the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill 2022, paving the way for it to be introduced in Parliament.

    Background

    • In 2017 the K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India judgement declared that right to privacy a fundamental right as part of right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.
    • To protect the personal data the data protection Bill has been in the works since 2018 when a panel led by Justice B N Srikrishna had prepared a draft version of the Bill.
    • It is India’s first attempt to domestically legislate on the issue of data protection.
    • The government has made several revisions to this draft and introduced it as the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022.
    • The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill outlines practices for entities on how personal data should be stored and processed to ensure there is no breach. 

    Provisions of the Bill

    • High penalties: Companies dealing in personal data of consumers that fail to take reasonable safeguards to prevent data breaches could end up facing penalties.Penalty of up to ₹250 crore could be levied for each instance of breach with an upward revision of ₹500 crore. Fines for individual offenses would begin from ₹10,000.
    • The Data Protection Board: It is an adjudicating body proposed to enforce the provisions of the Bill which is likely to be empowered to impose the fine after giving the companies an opportunity of being heard.
    • Personal data: The new Bill will only deal with safeguards around personal data and is learnt to have excluded non-personal data from its ambit. Non-personal data essentially means any data which cannot reveal the identity of an individual.
    • Global Data flow mechanism: It deals with cross-border data flows to international jurisdictions — moving from a ‘whitelisting’ approach to a ‘blacklisting’ mechanism. Hence the Bill allows global data flows by default to all jurisdictions other than a specified ‘negative list’ of countries. 

    Significance of Privacy law

    • The proposed law will apply to processing of digital personal data within India; and to data processing outside the country if it is done for offering goods or services, or for profiling individuals in India.
    • It requires entities that collect personal data — called data fiduciaries — to maintain the accuracy of data, keep data secure, and delete data once their purpose has been met.
    • The Bill is expected to allow “voluntary undertaking” — meaning that entities violating its provisions can bring it up with the data protection board, which can decide to bar proceedings against the entity by accepting settlement fees. Repeat offenses of the same nature could attract higher financial penalties,

    Concerns Around the Bill:

    • Government Control:The Bill is learnt to have prescribed that the central government can exempt “any instrumentality of the state” from adhering to the provisions on account of national security, relations with foreign governments, and maintenance of public order among other things.
      • The control of the central government in appointing members of the data protection board — an adjudicatory body that will deal with privacy-related grievances and disputes between two parties — is learnt to have been retained as well. 
    • Dilutes the Right to Information (RTI) Act as personal data of government functionaries is likely to be protected under it, making it difficult to be shared with an RTI applicant.

    Global Scenario:

    • An estimated 137 out of 194 countries have put in place legislation to secure the protection of data and privacy, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
    • EU model: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR ) focuses on a comprehensive data protection law for processing of personal data. It has been criticized for being excessively stringent, and imposing many obligations on organizations processing data, but it is still the template for most of the legislation drafted around the world.
    • US model: Privacy protection  defined as “liberty protection” focused on the protection of the individual’s personal space from the government. It is viewed as narrow in focus, because it enables collection of personal information as long as the individual is informed of such collection and use.
    • China model: It is the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), which gives Chinese data principals new rights to prevent the misuse of personal data.Also the Data Security Law (DSL), requires business data to be categorized by levels of importance, and puts new restrictions on cross-border transfers.

    Concluding Remarks:

    • There is a need to find an adequate balance between the right to privacy of data principles and reasonable exceptions, especially where government processing of personal data is concerned. 
    • Also given the rate at which technology evolves, an optimum data protection law design needs to be future proof — it should not be unduly detailed and centred on providing solutions to contemporary concerns while ignoring problems that may emerge going forward. 

    Definitions under Bill

    • Data means a representation of information, facts, concepts, opinions or instructions in a manner suitable for communication, interpretation or processing by humans or by automated means.
    • Data Fiduciary means any person who alone or in conjunction with other persons determines the purpose and means of processing of personal data.
    • Data Principal means the individual to whom the personal data relates and where such individual is a child includes the parents or lawful guardian of such a child.

    Source:TH

    Internationalisation of Rupee

    Syllabus: GS3/Indian Economy

    In News

    Inter-Departmental Group of RBI has released the report & recommendations for Internationalisation of rupee.

    What is an International Currency?

    • A currency can be termed “international” if it is widely accepted worldwide as a medium of exchange.
    • Just like a domestic currency, an international currency performs the three functions of money – as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value. 
    • An international currency is used and held beyond the borders of the issuing country for transactions between residents and non-residents, and between residents of two countries other than the issuing country.

    What is Currency Internationalization?

    • Currency internationalization is the use of a currency outside the borders of its country of issue.
    • The level of currency internationalization for a currency is determined by the demand that users in other countries have for that currency. 
      • This demand can be driven by the use of the currency to settle international trade, to be held as a reserve currency or a safe-haven currency, or in general use as a medium of indirect exchange in other countries’ domestic economies via currency substitution.
    • The US dollar has been the dominant global currency for the better part of the last century. 
      • Its position is supported by a range of factors, including the size of the US economy, the reach of its trade and financial networks, the depth and liquidity of US financial markets, and a history of macroeconomic stability and currency convertibility.

    Benefits of Currency Internationalization

    • Limit Exchange Rate Risk: As the internationalisation of a country’s currency broadens and deepens its financial market, domestic firms may be able to invoice and settle their exports/imports in their currency, thus shifting exchange rate risk to their foreign counterparts.
    • Access to international financial markets: It permits domestic firms and financial institutions to access international financial markets without assuming exchange rate risk. 
    • New opportunities: It offers new profit opportunities to financial institutions, although this benefit may be offset in part by the entry of foreign financial institutions into the domestic financial market (to the extent that the government permits it). 
    • Boost capital formation: A larger, more efficient financial sector may serve the domestic non-financial sector better by reducing the cost of capital and widening the set of financial institutions that are willing and able to provide capital. This would boost capital formation in the economy thereby increasing growth and reducing unemployment. 
    • Finance Budget Deficit of Government: Currency internationalisation may, of course, allow a country’s government to finance part of its budget deficit by issuing domestic currency debt in international markets rather than issuing foreign currency instruments.
    • Foreign exchange reserves: The internationalisation of a currency reduces the requirement for the authorities to maintain and depend on large foreign exchange reserves in convertible currencies to manage external vulnerabilities. 
    • Repay external sovereign debt: At the macroeconomic level, internationalisation of a currency results in lowering the impact of sudden stops and reversals of capital flows and enhances the ability to repay external sovereign debt.

    Challenges

    • Conflict with domestic monetary policy: The obligation of a country to supply its currency to meet the global demand may come in conflict with its domestic monetary policies, popularly known as the Triffin dilemma. 
    • Highlight external shocks: The internationalisation of a currency may accentuate an external shock, given the open channel of the flow of funds into and out of the country and from one currency to another. 
    • Exchange rate volatility: The costs also emanate from the additional demand for money and also an increase in the volatility of the demand. With the advances in statistical reporting, most central banks can separate foreign demand for money, but with regard to some components, such as cash, uncertainty remains. 
      • The main costs of allowing greater international use of the currency emerge from the possible increased volatility in the exchange and money markets, thus making the conduct of monetary policy more complex.

    Can the Rupee become an International Currency?

    • During the last two decades, India has emerged as one of the world’s fastest growing economies and also a preferred destination for global investors. The Indian economy has also shown remarkable resilience against adverse global developments, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
    • There is some anecdotal evidence that INR is accepted to some extent in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Kingdom (UK), among others, while it is legal tender in Nepal and Bhutan.
    • Looking ahead, the conditions seem opportune for the emergence of INR as an international currency. It is argued that the bilateral currency swap arrangements may provide a blueprint for reducing the dependence on the US dollar for settling trade transactions. 
      • Interestingly, China has followed a similar approach by using a large number of bilateral swaps and Lines of Credit (LoC) to encourage the use of the Renminbi for international trade transactions. 

    Recommendations as per the Report

    • The recommendations have been divided as per the expected time required for implementation. 
    • The timeframe of these recommendations has been determined based on the institutional capacity, macroeconomic priority and suitability of accompanying prerequisites.

    Short Term

    • Designing a template and adopting a standardised approach for examining the proposals on bilateral and multilateral trade arrangements for invoicing, settlement and payment in INR and local currencies. 
    • Making efforts to enable INR as an additional settlement currency in existing multilateral mechanisms such as Asian Clearing Union (ACU). 
    • Facilitating Local Currency Settlement (LCS) framework for bilateral transactions and operationalising bilateral swap arrangements with the counterpart countries in local currencies.
    • Encouraging opening of INR accounts for non-residents (other than nostro accounts of overseas banks) both in India and outside India.
    • Integrating Indian payment systems with other countries for cross-border transactions. 
    • Strengthening financial markets by fostering a global 24×5 INR market and promoting India as the hub for INR transactions and price discovery. 
    • Providing equitable incentives to exporters for INR trade settlement.

    Medium Term

    • A review of taxes on Masala bonds (Masala bonds are rupee-denominated bonds issued outside India by Indian entity).
    • International use of Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) for cross border trade transactions and inclusion of INR as a direct settlement currency in the Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS) system. 
    • Examination of taxation issues in financial markets to harmonise tax regimes of India and other financial centres. 
    • Allowing banking services in INR outside India through off-shore branches of Indian banks.

    Long Term

    • Over the long term, India will achieve higher levels of trade linkages with other countries and improved macro-economic parameters, and INR may ascend to a level where it would be widely used and preferred by other economies as a “vehicle currency”. Thus, the IDG recommends that in the long run, efforts should be made for inclusion of INR in the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket.

    Way Ahead

    • Overall, the benefits of internationalisation in terms of limited exchange rate risk, lower cost of capital due to better access to international financial markets, and reduced requirement of foreign exchange reserves far outweigh the concerns. 
    • Further, as the internationalisation of a currency is a long-drawn process involving continuous change and incremental progress, it would enable timely redressal of the associated concerns and challenges as we move forward. 

    Source: News on Air

    Ambergris 

    Syllabus: GS3/Environment

    In News

    Ambergris worth Rs 4 crore has been found in the stomach of a dead sperm whale in Canary Island of La Palma, Spain.

    What is Ambergris?

    • Ambergris means grey amber in French, is a waxy substance that originates from the digestive system of sperm whales.
    • While it is incorrectly referred to as ‘whale vomit,’ one of the theories about its formation suggests that it is produced in the gastrointestinal tract of some sperm whales for the passage of hard, sharp objects that are ingested when the whale eats large quantities of marine animals.
    • The ambergris is said to be passed like faeces and has a very strong faecal odour combined with a strong marine odour. 
    • The freshly passed ambergris is a light yellowish substance and is fatty but as it ages it turns waxy and gets red-brownish, sometimes with shades of grey and black in colour and attains a mild, earthy, sweet smell but still with notes of mild marine odour.
    • Due to its high value in the market, ambergris is often called the ‘floating gold’ and ‘treasure of the sea’.

    Why is it so expensive? 

    • Ambergris is a rare substance, which contributes to its high demand and high price in the international market. 
    • Traditionally, it is used to produce perfumes which have notes of musk. 
    • While there are records of it being used to flavour food, alcoholic beverages and tobacco in some cultures in the past, it is rarely used for these purposes presently.
    • There is a ban on the possession and trade of ambergris in countries like the USA, Australia and India but in several other countries it is a tradable commodity, though with limitations in some of them. 

    About Sperm Whale

    • Name: Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus).
      • Sperm whales got their name because the semi-liquid, waxy substance in their head was first believed to be sperm. 
    • Distribution: The sperm whale occurs throughout the world’s oceans and in the Mediterranean Sea.
    • Appearance: The sperm whale is a large, dark-colored, toothed whale with a massive, square-shaped head that can make up more than a third of its body length.

    • Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales. 
    • Life Span: Sperm whales have a lifespan similar to humans, living about 70 years. Males do not reach full size until they are about 50.
    • Threats: Deep-sea oil and gas exploration can cause multiple issues for sperm whales such as loss of hearing, water pollution from hydrocarbons, and increased risk of being hit by ocean vessels.
    • Conservation Status: IUCN Vulnerable.
      • Sperm whales are a protected species under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act and possession or trade of any of its by-products, including Ambergris and its byproducts, is illegal under provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. 
      • Sperm Whales are listed in Appendix I of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). However, ambergris is not covered in CITES provisions as it is considered a naturally excreted waste product and trade of which is legal in many countries.

    Source:IE

     Chinkara

    In News

    Recently a sessions court in Rajasthan has ordered the payment of half of the fine amount, in a chinkara killing case, to the informer as a prize.     

    Chinkara(Indian Gazelle)

    • The chinkara (Gazella bennettii), also known as the Indian gazelle, is a gazelle species native to India,Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.
    • State animal:Rajasthan.

    • Habitat: Arid plains and hills, deserts, dry scrub and light forests. They inhabit more than 80 protected areas in India.
    • Diet: They are herbivores (folivores, frugivores). They feed on grasses, different leaves, and fruits (melon, pumpkin). 
      • These gazelles can go without water for many days and can get fluids from plants they feed on and dew.
    • Most active time: Chinkara prefer to feed at nighttime and are most active just before the sunset and during the night.
    • Population: In India (in 2011) there were more than 100,000 animals with 80,000 animals living in the Thar Desert.
    • Threat: Over hunting for meat and habitat loss due to agricultural and industrial expansion, and overgrazing.
    • Conservation Status: IUCN – Least Concern (LC)   
      • It is  protected under Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.                    

    Verdict and Justification:

    • The court fined the convict under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, for killing a chinkara. The act declares the hunting of scheduled species of wild animals a serious offense.
    • Section 55(c) of the Wildlife Protection Act empowered the court to take cognisance of an offense on the complaint of a private person. 
    • Article 51A (g) of the Constitution had laid down that the protection of wildlife and having compassion for living creatures was a fundamental duty of the citizens.

    Scheduled species under Wildlife Protection Act

    • The act has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection to the species of animals and plants.
    • Schedule I and part II of Schedule II provide absolute protection – offenses under these are prescribed the highest penalties. 
    • Species listed in Schedule III and Schedule IV are also protected, but the penalties are much lower. 
    • Animals under Schedule V,e.g. common crows, fruit bats, rats and mice, are legally considered vermin and may be hunted freely. 
    • The specified endemic plants in Schedule VI are prohibited from cultivation and planting.

    Source:TH

    Cucumber Mosaic Virus (CMV) and Tomato Mosaic Virus (ToMV)

    In News

    The farmers in Maharashtra and Karnataka have mentioned two ‘mosaic’ viruses namely CMV and ToMV for the loss of tomato crops.

    Tomato mosaic virus (ToMV)

    • Family: It belongs to the Virgaviridae family and is closely related to the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). ToMV was first reported in the United States in 1909.
    • Hosts: Tomato, tobacco, peppers, and certain ornamental plants.
    • Spread: ToMV spreads mainly through infected seeds, saplings, agricultural tools and often, through the hands of nursery workers who have failed to sanitize themselves properly.
    • Effect: It causes foliage of plants to show alternating yellowish and dark green areas, which often appear as blisters on the leaves. 
      • It also causes distortion of leaves and twisting of younger leaves.
      • The fruit develops necrotic spots, which leads to overripening. 
      • Younger plants are dwarfed, and fruit setting is affected.

    Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV)

    • Family: It belongs to the Bromoviridae family and was identified in cucumbers in 1934.
    • Host: Cucumber, melon, eggplant, tomato, carrot, lettuce, celery, cucurbits (members of the gourd family, including squash, pumpkin, zucchini, some gourds, etc.), and some ornamentals. 
    • Spread: CMV is spread by aphids, which are sap-sucking insects. CMV too can spread through human touch, but the chances of that are extremely low.
      • Conditions of high temperature followed by intermittent rain, which allow aphids to multiply, are conducive to the spread of CMV.
    • Effect: CMV too causes distortion of leaves, but the pattern is different. Often leaves at the top and bottom are distorted while those in the middle remain relatively blemish-free.
    • While specific effects vary depending on the host, overall, CMV causes stunting and lower production.
    • In cucumber, the virus causes a mosaic-like pattern of alternating yellow and green spots. In tomatoes, fruit formation is affected, and in some cases the fruit is distorted and small.

    Prevention

    • Following biosafety standards in nurseries, and compulsory seed treatment to stop the spread of ToMV. 
    • Fields must be cleared of weeds and plant material before fresh planting as ToMV can remain dormant in weeds and plant remains around the field, and come back later.
    • To control CMV the best way is to stop the aphids, by spraying quick acting insecticides or mineral oils on the plants.

    Sources:IE

    Facts In News

    Santa Fe frog

    Syllabus :GS 3/Species In News

    In News

    Argentinian scientists have discovered a  frog named the Santa Fe frog.

    About Santa Fe frog

    • Scientific Name : Leptodactylus laticeps
    • It is a rare species and a  leopard-print frog.
    • Distribution: It occurs in the Gran Chaco of Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.
    • IUCN status : Near Threatened

    The Gran Chaco 

    • It is the largest dry forest globally and the second-largest forest biome in South America, after the Amazon.
    • It largely consists of shrubs and hardwood trees that provide habitat for thousands of plant species and hundreds of animal species.

    Burmese Peacock Softshell Turtle 

    Syllabus :GS 3/Species In News

     

    In News

    Recently ,conservationists at Indawgyi Lake captured the first known videos of rare Burmese peacock turtles hatching.

    About Burmese Peacock Softshell

    • Scientific Name: Nilssonia formosa
    • It is a highly aquatic turtle that is associated with large rivers with a sandy substrate.
    • Distribution:It is endemic to Myanmar, where it is found in three main rivers:
      •  the Ayeyarwady River, the Chindwin River and the Sittaung River.
    • IUCN status :  Critically Endangered

    Blue Pansy 

    Syllabus :GS 3/Species In News

    In News

     The Jammu and Kashmir government has officially declared the Blue Pansy  as the official butterfly of the union territory.

    About Blue Pansy

    • Scientific Name : Junonia orithya 
    • It is a species of vibrant blue butterflies.
    • It is known for its territorial nature and  these butterflies exhibit 26 local subspecies across their range.
    • Distribution :  Various parts of Southeast Asian countries, Australia, and Africa. 
      • With its presence in the Himalayan region, the Blue Pansy contributes to the pollination process and plays a crucial role in maintaining the ecosystem’s health.
    • IUCN status : Least Concern.