Daily Current Affairs – 07-09-2023

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    Trade Relations between India and US

    Syllabus :GS 2/International Relations 

    In News

    • India has dropped the retaliatory customs tariffs it had imposed on imports of some American goods such as almonds and lentils.

    Overview of Trade Relations 

    • The US is the largest trading partner of India. In 2022-23, the bilateral goods trade increased to $128.8 billion as against $119.5 billion in 2021-22.
    • The US is a significant destination for India’s software exports.
    • The US is the third largest source of foreign investment for India, with over $60 billion invested between 2000 and 2023
    • India’s key exports to the US are: Textiles and apparel, cut and polished diamonds, pharmaceuticals , petroleum products, machinery , electronics , steel , automobiles , gold jewellery, shrimp, smartphones .
    • On the import side, the US is India’s third largest partner, exporting goods of value $51.3 billion to India in 2022. 
      • India’s essential imports from the US are petroleum crude, petroleum products, LNG , rough diamonds , coking coal, etc., machinery, electronics , medical equipment, etc., aeroplanes , and gold.

    Issues and Challenges 

    • In 2018, the US imposed 25 per cent and 10 per cent import duties on certain steel and aluminium products respectively on grounds of national security.
      •  In retaliation, India in June 2019 imposed customs duties on 28 American products, including chickpeas, lentils, almonds, walnuts, apples, boric acid, and diagnostic reagents.
    • The US had filed a complaint in the WTO about India’s support measures to its export sector under different schemes.
      •  In 2019, a WTO dispute panel ruled that India’s export measures are inconsistent with global trade norms.
    • The U.S. has  flagged concerns over India’s decision to impose import restrictions on certain electronic devices.

    Developments 

    • In June 2023 ,India and the US have agreed to end six trade disputes at the World Trade Organization (WTO) while New Delhi will also remove retaliatory customs duties on 28 American products such as almonds, walnuts, and apples.
      • These tariff cuts will restore and expand market opportunities for US agricultural producers and manufacturers.
      • The move will strengthen trade relationships .
    • India, the US and 12 other countries are negotiating the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). 
      • The negotiations centre around four subjects called pillars. These are trade, supply chain, clean economy and fair economy. 
        • India has not joined the trade pillar but agreed to be an observer. 
    • U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to India to participate in the G20 Summit and will have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines .

    Future Outlook 

    • Both countries can resolve the disputes on mutually agreed terms and later inform the Geneva-based WTO about the same.
    • Experts believe that the trend of increasing bilateral trade with the U.S. will continue in the coming years also as New Delhi and Washington are engaged in further strengthening the economic ties.
    • India-US partnership has been one of equals both at the people and trade levels.
      • Both should maximise the opportunity without sacrificing strategic

    Source:TH

    Reviewing 50% Cap of Reservation 

    Syllabus: GS2/Governance

    Context

    • Opposition asked the Union government to remove the 50% cap on reservation, by raising it by 15-16% to accommodate more communities.

    Caste based reservation in India

    • It was originally conceived in 1882 by William Hunter and Jyotirao Phule, and after the independence of India, only Scheduled Caste (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) were included for reservation.
    • Other Backward Classes (OBCs) were included only after the recommendations of the Mandal Commission in 1991.

    Mandal Commission

    • In 1980, the BP Mandal-led Second Backward Classes Committee, often called the Mandal Commission, had recommended 27% reservation for OBCs and 22.5% for the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes.
    • In 1990, the Congress government had granted 27% reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes.
    • In 1991, the government issued another notification providing an additional reservation of 10% for other economically backward sections.
      • However, the 10% quota based on economic criteria was quashed by the Supreme Court, and upheld the 27% quota (as per Mandal commission).
      • The court observed that a backward class cannot be determined exclusively based on economic criteria and noted that backward classes could be identified based on castes.

    Indra Sawhney Judgement (1992)

    • Indra Sawhney v Union of India case, in a 1992 nine-judge bench, held that the Supreme Court accepted a 50% cap on reservations while deciding on reservations for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
    • The Supreme Court of India capped caste-based reservation, ruling that “no provision of reservation or preference can be so vigorously pursued as to destroy the very concept of equality”.
      • However, the court held that this reservation could be breached in ‘extraordinary situations’ with ‘extreme caution’.
      • The court also ruled that total reservation provided under different categories must not cross the 50%. The court had also asked the government to separate creamy layers suitably.
    • In May 2021, the Supreme Court had held the reservation for Marathas to be unconstitutional as it violated the apex court orders stating that reservation in any State should not exceed 50%.

    Constitutional Provisions

    • Article 15(1) generally prohibits any discrimination against any citizen on the grounds of religion, caste, sex or place of birth.
      • Articles 15(4) and 16(4) state that the equality provisions do not prevent the government from making special provisions in matters of admission to educational institutions or jobs in favour of backward classes, particularly the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs).
    • Article 16(1) and 16(2) assure citizens equality of opportunity in employment or appointment to any government office.
      • Article 16(4A) allows reservations to SCs and STs in promotions, as long as the government believes that they are not adequately represented in government services.

    Why is caste-based reservation important in India?

    • Equality of status and opportunity and tools against social oppression and injustice: Historical injustice and discrimination faced by backward classes like Dalits and Scheduled Tribes on the basis of birth.
    • Social upliftment: Securing employment by reserving seats in public service, and to ensure adequate representation by securing seats in Lok Sabha, State Legislatures and Panchayats.

    What are the associated issues?

    • Caste based reservations are impediments on building a casteless society.
    • Reservation in India causes a ‘race to backwardness’ within and across the communities by strengthening casteism and ever widening quotas. It loses the original purpose envisaged and by time becomes a redundant and inefficient system.

    TH

    Measuring Unemployment 

    Syllabus: GS3/Indian Economy and Issues related to Employment

    News:

    • The Periodic Labour Force Survey(PLFS) of 2021-22 showed the unemployment rate in India being 4.1%.

    About: 

    • As per Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2017, the unemployment rate of India was 6.1%, the highest ever recorded in India. 
    • The PLFS of 2021-22 showed unemployment reducing to 4.1%, much lower than before, but higher than some developed economies. The U.S unemployment rate fluctuated between 3.5% in July 2022 to 3.7% in July 2023.

    Defining Unemployment

    • Unemployment is not synonymous with joblessness. The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines unemployment as being out of a job; being available to take a job; and actively engaged in searching for work. 
      • Therefore, an individual who has lost work but does not look for another job is not unemployed.
    • The labour force is defined as the sum of the employed and the unemployed. Those neither employed nor unemployed — such as students and those engaged in unpaid domestic work — are considered out of the labour force. 
    • The unemployment rate is measured as the ratio of the unemployed to the labour force. The unemployment rate could also fall if an economy is not generating enough jobs, or if people decide not to search for work.

    Measuring unemployment in India

    • The NSSO adopts two major measures for classifying the working status of individuals in India,
      • The Usual Principal and Subsidiary Status (UPSS) and 
      • The Current Weekly Status (CWS). 

    1. The Usual Principal and Subsidiary Status (UPSS):
    • An individual’s principal status, whether employed, unemployed or out of the labour force, is based on the activity in which they spent relatively a long time in the previous year. 
    • A person who is not a worker, according to the principal status, would still be counted as employed, if they were engaged in some economic activity in a subsidiary role for a period “…not less than 30 days”. 
    • Thus, an individual unemployed for five months and working for seven months in the previous year would be considered a worker.
    1. The Current Weekly Status (CWS):
    • The CWS adopts a shorter reference period of a week. An individual is counted as being employed if they have worked for “…at least one hour on at least one day during the seven days preceding the date of survey.” 
    • UPSS unemployment rates will always be lower than CWS rates because there is a greater probability that an individual would find work over a year as compared to a week.
    • The low bar for classifying an individual as employed explains why unemployment rates are lower in rural areas than urban. 
      • In agrarian economies, where individuals have access to family farms, there is greater probability of finding some kind of work when compared to urban areas. 
    • These definitions may ‘underestimate’ unemployment, but they were largely designed to capture the extent of the informal economy.
    • The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy classifies individuals based on their activity in the day preceding the interview. They, therefore, estimate a higher unemployment rate, but lower labour force participation rates. 
      • This is because in an informal economy, there is a lower chance of an individual having work on any given day as compared to longer periods of a week or a year.
    • One cannot say which of the above frameworks is “right” or “wrong” for this represents an unavoidable trade-off in a developing economy.
    • Adopt too short a reference period, and one gets higher rates of the unemployed and lower of the employed, and vice versa. This dilemma does not arise in developed nations where work is largely regular over the year.

    Impact of lockdown

    • The lockdown announced in March 2020 was a profound disruption to the Indian economy. But this wasn’t reflected in the PLFS unemployment rates, which covers a period between July of one year to June of the next. 
    • The lockdown would have been covered in the last quarter of the 2019-20 PLFS, its after-effects seen in the 2020-21 PLFS. However, unemployment rates measured both by the UPSS and CWS standards fell in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

    Way Ahead:

    • India needs to constantly upgrade its approaches to measure unemployment in the country to get the true picture of the economy.
    • Alongwith, India needs to gradually move towards formalization, which will ease the collection of accurate data regarding employment and unemployment in the country.

    Source: TH

    Zero Draft of Global Treaty to End Plastic Pollution  

    Syllabus: GS3/Environment degradation & Pollution, Conservation

    In News

    • The Intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, recently released a zero draft.

    More about the ‘zero draft’

    • The text is divided into four parts:
      • Part I: It covers the objectives of the instrument and leaves placeholders, as requested at the second session of the committee from May 29-June 2 for elements that Members may wish to include but were not discussed at the second session.
      • Part II: Elements in this Part are broadly structured around the life cycle of plastics and plastic products with the aim of addressing plastic pollution.
        • It aims to collectively promote the sustainable production and consumption of plastics through product design and environmentally sound waste management, including through resource efficiency and circular economy approaches.
      • Part III & IV: The third and fourth parts outline different options of measures aimed at collectively addressing the implementation of the instrument.
    • UNEA’s objectives:
      • The draft reflects the objective and mandate of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA).

    Zero draft & INC

    • The text of the draft, prepared by the INC Chair, is guided by the views expressed at the INC’s first and second sessions. 
      • INC- 1 was held in Uruguay’s Punta Del Este. It ended in December 2022. The session implicitly endorsed the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)’s position that plastic pollution is rooted in the material’s lifecycle.  
      • INC- 2 was held in June 2023 in Paris.
      • INC- 3 The third session is to be held in Nairobi from November 13-19, 2023.
    • Member States will be invited to start INC-3 negotiations in Nairobi on the basis of the zero draft text. 

    Plastic & pollution  

    • Plastic refers to a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a main ingredient with their defining quality being their plasticity – the ability of a solid material to undergo permanent deformation in response to applied forces. 
      • This makes them extremely adaptable, capable of being shaped as per requirement.
    • Most modern plastics are derived from fossil fuel-based chemicals like natural gas or petroleum. 
    • However, recently, variants made from renewable materials, such as corn or cotton derivatives have also emerged.

    Data on plastic pollution

    • According to UN data, more than 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year worldwide, half of which is designed to be used only once. 
    • Of that, less than 10 per cent is recycled. Consequently, an estimated 19-23 million tonnes end up in lakes, rivers and seas annually.
    • Around the world, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, while up to five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. 
    • In total, half of all plastic produced is designed for single-use purposes – used just once and then thrown away.

    Hazards of Plastic waste

    • Environmental pollution & Climate change: Millions of tonnes of plastic waste are lost to the environment or sometimes shipped thousands of kilometres to destinations where it is mostly burned or dumped. 
      • Plastic, which is a petroleum product, also contributes to global warming
        • If incinerated, its toxic compounds are spewed into the atmosphere to be accumulated in biotic forms throughout the surrounding ecosystems.
        • If incinerated, it also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thereby increasing carbon emissions.
    • Soil, water & ocean pollution: When buried in a landfill, plastic lies untreated for years. 
      • In the process, toxic chemicals from plastics drain and seep into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers. 
      • The seeping of plastic also causes soil pollution due to the presence of microplastics in the soil.
      • Rivers and lakes also carry plastic waste from deep inland to the sea, making them major contributors to ocean pollution.
    • Slow decomposition rate: Plastics are hard to eradicate due to their slow decomposition rate in natural ecosystems.
      • Decomposition rate refers to the rate at which a material breaks down into its constituent parts through chemical processes – plastics are remarkably durable in this sense. 
    • Effect on Human Health: Microplastics contain a number of toxic chemicals which pose severe risks to human health. The biggest health risk associated is with the chemical BPA or Bisphenol A , which is used to harden the plastic. 
      • BPA contaminates food and drinks, causing alterations in liver function, insulin resistance, foetal development in pregnant women, the reproductive system and brain function.
    • Tourism: Plastic waste damages the aesthetic value of tourist destinations, leading to decreased tourism-related incomes and major economic costs related to the cleaning and maintenance of the sites.

    India’s Efforts In Tackling Plastic Waste

    • The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016: It clearly stipulates that urban local bodies (ULBs) should ban less than 50 micron thick plastic bags and not allow the usage of recycled plastics for packing food, beverage or any other eatables.
      • It introduced the concept of EPR(Extended Producer Responsibility) to manage plastics in India.
    • Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022: The guidelines on EPR(Extended Producer Responsibility) coupled with the prohibition of identified single-use plastic items.
      • It banned the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than seventy-five microns
      • The Central Pollution Control Board, along with state pollution bodies, will monitor the ban, identify violations, and impose penalties already prescribed under the Environmental Protection Act.
    • Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban 2.0: 
      • Segregation and sorting: 
        • Under this, every Urban Local Bodies (ULB) is required to adopt 100% source segregation of waste, and have access to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) for sorting the dry waste (including plastic waste) into further fractions for recycling and/ or processing into value-added products. 
      • Reuse:
        • States and ULBs have also been advised to enter into MoUs with nearby cement plants or other industrial units as well to ensure that a part of the plastic waste generated is used either as an alternative fuel in cement plants or for road construction purposes
    • Plastic Parks: India has set up Plastic Parks, which are specialized industrial zones for recycling and processing plastic waste.

    Way ahead

    • Government ministries at the national and local levels must collaborate in the development, implementation and oversight of policies, which includes participation from industrial firms, non-governmental organisations and volunteer organisations.
    • Need is to develop tools and technology to assist governments and organisations in measuring and monitoring plastic garbage in cities.

    Source: DTE

    Special Protection Group (SPG) 

    Syllabus: GS3/Various Security Forces and Their Mandate

    Context:

    • Special Protection Group (SPG) Director Arun Kumar Sinha, a 1987-batch Kerala-cadre IPS officer, died.
      • He was appointed as 12th Director of SPG in 2016, and was designated to serve till May 31, 2024, in the rank and pay of Director-General of Police.

    The Special Protection Group (SPG):

    • It was established through an act of Parliament i.e ‘Special Protection Group Act, 1988’.

           (Fig: SPG Emblem)

    Constitution and Regulations:

    • The SPG Act provides for the constitution and regulation of an armed force of the Union called the Special Protection Group for providing ‘proximate security’ to:
      • the Prime Minister and the members of his immediate family; and
      • any former Prime Minister or to the members of his immediate family.
      • However, any former Prime Minister or any member of the immediate family of the Prime Minister or of a former Prime Minister may decline proximate security.

    Control and Direction:

    • The Union Government exercised the general superintendence, direction and control and the power to command and supervision are vested in an officer, as the Director of the Group, appointed by the Union Government.
      • The Director, to discharge his duties under this Act, be assisted by Inspectors General, Deputy Inspectors General, Assistant Inspectors General and other officers as may be appointed by the Central Government.

    Liability for service in and outside India:

    • Every member of the SPG shall be liable to serve in any part of India as well as outside India.

    Resignation and withdrawal from the post:

    • No member of the Group can:
      • resign his appointment during the terms of his engagement; or
      • withdraw himself from all or any of the duties of his appointment, except with the previous permission in writing of the prescribed authority.

    Tenure of service:

    • Every member of the Group holds office during the pleasure of the President.

    Restrictions:

    • No member of the Group shall, without the previous sanction in writing of the Central Government or of the prescribed authority:
      • be a member of, or be associated in any way with, any trade union, labour union, political association; or
      • be a member of, or be associated in any way with, any society, institution, association or organisation that is not of a purely social, recreational or religious nature; or
      • communicate with the press or publish or cause to be published any book, letter or other document except where such communication or publication is in the bona fide discharge of his duties or is of a purely literary, artistic or scientific character or is of a prescribed nature.

    Amendment in SPG Act:

    • ‘Special Protection Group Act, 1988’ was amended in 1999 by the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Act, 1999, in which the ‘proximate security’ is withdrawn from a former Prime Minister, and immediate family members of such former Prime Minister:
      • Provided that where the level of threat faced by any member of the immediate family of a former Prime Minister warrants proximate security or any other security, such security shall be provided to that member.

    Proximate Security:

    • It means protection provided from close quarters, during journey by road, rail, aircraft, watercraft or on foot or any other means of transport.
    • It includes the places of functions, engagements, residence or halt and shall comprise ring round teams, isolation cordons, the sterile zone around, and the rostrum and access control to the person or members of his immediate family.

    TH

    Aditya ‘Dicky’ Singh

    Syllabus: GS3/Conservation Efforts; GS4/ Case Study

    Context:

    • Adiya ‘Dicky’ Singh died of a heart attack.

    About:

    • He was a noted wildlife photographer and conservationist, known for developing a forest reserve on the outskirts of the Ranthambore National Park of Rajasthan.
    • He left the Indian Administrative Service in 1998 and shifted to Ranthambore to pursue his passion for wildlife photography and work on documentaries and conservation projects.
    • Mr. Singh leased a government property and created a forest reserve on the boundary of Ranthambore National Park to stop illegal stone mining and rampant woodcutting.
      • Today, the lush green piece of land stands in sharp contrast to its surroundings.

    Award and honour:

    • Mr. Singh worked as a field assistant for wildlife documentaries produced for BBC, National Geographic, Japan’s NHK Broadcasting Service and several other institutions.
    • He was a recipient of several awards, including the prestigious Carl Zeiss Award for Conservation in 2012 and the Sanctuary Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2011.

    Governance of Forests in India:

    • The governance over forests was originally placed in the State List (Schedule VII of Constitution of India) but it was placed in the Concurrent list by the 76th Amendment. Therefore, the forests in India are governed by both the Union and the States.

    Forest Reserves:

    • The Indian Forest Act, 1927 enables the State government to exercise the power to issue a notification through an Official Gazette under Section 4 of the Act to declare any forest or a piece of land a ‘reserved forest’.
    • The State Government by notification may regulate or prohibit the clearing of land for agrarian activities and cultivation, or grazing of cattle, pasture for cattle or clearing of land for protection against storms, flood, winds or avalanches to save such a land from soil erosion.
      • These forests are under the direct supervision of the government and no public entry is allowed for collection of timber or grazing of cattle.

    Ranthambore National Park:

    • It is located at the junction of the Aravali and Vindhya hill ranges in the district of Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan.
    • It comes under the dry-deciduous forest system and home to varieties of flora and fauna.
      • The landscape is dominated by the 10th century fortress of Ranthambore while the valleys have numerous cenotaphs, ruins and abandoned settlements overcome by nature.
    • Tigers at Ranthambore National park have been known to even hunt in full view of human visitors.

    History:

    • Ranthambore National Park was established initially as Sawai Madhopur Game Sanctuary in 1955 by the Government of India.
    • In 1973, it was declared as one of the Project Tiger reserves in India, and declared a National Park in 1980.

    TH

    Facts In News

    Kunbis

    Syllabus: GS2/Government Policies and Interventions

    News: 

    • The Maharashtra Cabinet recently decided that Kunbi caste certificates will be issued to members of the Maratha community who hail from the Marathwada region.

    About:

    • Kunbis, the community associated with agriculture are grouped under the Other Backward Class category in Maharashtra.
    • Those belonging to the Maratha community in Marathwada region of Maharashtra with references of being Kunbis in the Nizam-era revenue and education documents will get Kunbi certificates.

    • The Marathwada region was part of the erstwhile Hyderabad kingdom before it became a part of Maharashtra.
    • A five-member panel headed by (retired) judge Sandeep Shinde will determine the Standard Operating Procedure for giving caste certificates to members of the community referred to as Kunbis in Nizam-era documents. 

    Source: TH

    CDSCO’s Alert for Antacid syrup Digene Gel

    Syllabus :GS 2/Health 

    In News 

    The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has warned about the voluntary recall of Abbott India’s popular antacid syrup Digene Gel.

    • Drug manufacturer Abbott India  had voluntarily recalled the antacid medicine manufactured at the Goa site due to isolated customer complaints on taste and odour. 

    About Antacid syrup Digene Gel

    • It is usually pink with a sweetish taste.
    • It is known to relieve acidity and its symptoms such as heartburn, stomach discomfort, abdominal pain and gas. 
    • It can be prescribed for gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) and acid reflux (a condition where stomach acid flows back to the food pipe). 
    • It uses basic compounds like magnesium hydroxide to neutralise the stomach acid.

    About Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation(CDSCO)

    • It works under the Directorate General of Health Services,Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
    • It is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.
    •  Its headquarter is located in New Delhi and also has six zonal offices.

    Functions 

    • Under Drugs & Cosmetics Act,1940 , CDSCO is responsible for approval of Drugs, Conduct of Clinical Trials, laying down the standards for Drugs, control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country and coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations .
    • CDSCO along with state regulators, is jointly responsible for grant of licenses of certain specialized categories of critical Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine and Sera.

    Source:TH

    New Payment Options by NPCI

    Syllabus: GS-3/Economy

    Context

    • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced the launch of the products by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) at the Global Fintech Festival.

    About

    • Credit Line on UPI: This product enables customers to access pre-sanctioned credit lines from banks  through UPI, promoting financial inclusion and innovation.
    • UPI LITE X: Under this, users can now both send and receive money offline even in areas with poor connectivity. UPI LITE payments are faster and require less processing time.
    • UPI Tap & Pay facility: Alongside traditional scan and pay, it lets customers to simply tap Near Field Communication(NFC)-enabled QR codes at merchant locations for swift payments.
    • Hello! UPI-Conversational Payments on UPI: It will enable users to make voice-enabled UPI payments via apps, telecom calls, and IoT devices in Hindi and English, with more regional languages to come.
    • BillPay Connect- Conversational Bill Payments: Bharat Bill pay has introduced a nationalised number for Bill Payments. With this, Customers can fetch and pay their bills by sending a simple message or by giving a missed call, even  without smartphones or mobile data access. Voice Assisted Bill Payments facility is also available.
    Global Fintech Festival (GFF) 2023

    • This event is being organised through the collaborative efforts of the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI), the Payments Council of India (PCI) and the Fintech Convergence Council (FCC).
    • Its main objective is to provide a uniform platform for leaders in the fintech sector to come together and build a roadmap for the future of industry.
    • The theme for GFF 2023 is ‘Global Collaboration for a Responsible Financial Ecosystem’.

    National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)

    • It is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India, established by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) in 2008 under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
    • It has been incorporated as a “Not for Profit” Company under the provisions of Section 25 of Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of Companies Act 2013), with an intention to provide infrastructure to the entire Banking system in India for physical as well as electronic payment and settlement systems. 

    Source: Live Mint

    Schizostachyum andamanicum

    Syllabus: GS3/Conservation of Environment

    News

    • The patent office of Government of India has granted a patent to Botanical Survey of India for ‘reusable straw and its manufacturing’. 

    About:

    • The reusable straw is developed from a species of endemic bamboo plant(Schizostachyum andamanicum) which is found in the Andamans and Nicobar Islands.
    • The Schizostachyum andamanicum was discovered on the island about three decades ago and now its economic potential has received a boost with the granting of the patent for reusable straw and its manufacture.
    • This species of bamboo is characterized by a thin large hollow erect culm (stem) with long internodes and has potential for developing into a straw.
    • The morpho-anatomical structure of culm internodes of the endemic bamboo were identical to modern synthetic drinking straws which led to the idea for this novel invention.
    • It is a novel way to replace plastic straws with an organic alternative. This is a future technology to enhance the economy of farmers and bamboo growers of the island, if they cultivate this endemic bamboo species at a commercial level.

    Source: TH

    Pirola

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    In News

    • The rise of Covid-19 infections in multiple countries is driven by a new Coronavirus variant called BA.2.86, which is informally being termed ‘Pirola’.

    About

    • Pirola has been witnessed in the US, the UK, and other countries, in unrelated cases.
    • So far, no deaths have been reported among cases, according to the WHO.
    • There is not enough evidence right now to conclude whether Pirola could lead to more severe disease, death, or hospitalisation.

    Mutation in Viruses

    • It is natural for all viruses to mutate over time and such changes are particularly common in viruses that have RNA as their genetic material, as in the case of coronaviruses and influenza viruses.
    • Once a virus enters the human body, its genetic material — RNA or DNA — enters the cells and starts making copies of itself which can infect the other cells. Whenever an error occurs during this copying process, it triggers a mutation.
    • Whenever a virus is widely circulating in a population, the more it spreads and replicates, its chances of mutating increases.

    Source: IE

    Fujianvenator prodigiosus

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    In News

    • Scientists said they have unearthed the fossil of a Jurassic Period dinosaur named Fujianvenator prodigiosus in Fujian Province.

    About

    • It is considered as a creature that sheds light on a critical evolutionary stage in the origin of birds.
    • Fujianvenator is a member of a grouping called avialans that includes all birds and their closest non-avian dinosaur relatives. 
    • The Fujianvenator fossil is fairly complete but lacks the animal’s skull and parts of its feet, making it hard to interpret its diet and lifestyle.
    • Physical Features: Fujianvenator’s lower leg bone – the tibia – was twice as long as its thigh bone – the femur. 
      • Such dimensions are unique among theropods; it also had a long bony tail.
      • The forelimb is generally built like a bird’s wing, but with three claws on the fingers, which are absent from modern birds. So one can call it wing. 
      • It cannot be determined whether it could fly or not. The fossil itself does not preserve feathers. 
      • However, its closest relatives and nearly all the known avialan theropods have feathers. Therefore, it would not be a surprise if Fujianvenator had feathers.

    Study on the Origin of Birds

    • Despite their modest beginnings, birds survived the asteroid strike 66 million years ago that doomed their non-avian dinosaur comrades.
    • A remarkable event in dinosaur evolution came when small feathered two-legged dinosaurs from a lineage known as theropods gave rise to birds late in the Jurassic, with the oldest-known bird – Archaeopteryx – dating to roughly 150 million years ago in Germany.
    • Scientists are seeking a better understanding of the origin of birds as well as non-avian dinosaurs with bird-like traits.
    • The earliest chapters in the history of birds remain murky due a fossils shortage. 

    Source: TH

    DD Sports is DD Sports HD Now

    Syllabus: GS3/ Science & Technology

    In News

    • DD Sports is DD Sports high-definition (HD) now and started the telecasting of Asia Cup cricket matches.
      • DD Sports made its debut on March 18, 1998, initially airing sports programs for 6 hours daily, which was subsequently extended to 12 hours in 1999. 

    What is resolution?

    • Resolution quality refers to the number of pixels in an image.The more pixels, the more detailed that image can be, and the higher the resolution.
    • A 1080p resolution means the image has 1920 pixels horizontally by 1080 vertically (1920×1080). 

    What is high-definition (HD)?

    • HD is just another term for 1080p or 1920×1080, and those are all ways of referring to the same resolution.
    • 4K has a resolution of 3840×2160. That’s a lot more pixels in the overall image — totaling over 8 million pixels. As always, the higher the resolution, the sharper the picture will be.

    Source: PIB

    Trans-Lagrangian1 Insertion Manoeuvre

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology, Space

    Context:

    • The second earth-bound manoeuvre of the Aditya L-1 mission was performed successfully by the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru.

    About:

    • The manoeuvre was performed by ISTRAC to attain a new orbit.
    • Three more manoeuvres are scheduled, and after the final manoeuvre, Aditya-L1 will undergo a trans-Lagrangian1 insertion manoeuvre, marking the beginning of its 110-day trajectory to the destination around the L1 Lagrange point.
    • Upon arrival at the L1 point, another manoeuvre will bind Aditya-L1 to an orbit around L1, a balanced gravitational location between the earth and the sun.
    • The satellite spends its whole mission life orbiting around L1 in an irregularly shaped orbit in a plane roughly perpendicular to the line joining the earth and the sun. 

    ISRO’s Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC):

    • ISTRAC is entrusted with the major responsibility to provide tracking support for all the satellite and launch vehicle missions of ISRO.
    • It has established a network of ground stations at Bengaluru, Lucknow, Mauritius, Sriharikota, Port Blair, Thiruvananthapuram, Brunei, Biak (Indonesia) and the Deep Space Network Stations to achieve the following objectives:
    • Carrying out mission operations of all operational remote sensing and scientific satellites, providing Telemetry, Tracking and Command (TTC) services from launch vehicle lift-off till injection of satellite into orbit;
    • To estimate its preliminary orbit in space and hardware and software developmental activities that enhance the capabilities of ISTRAC for providing flawless TTC and Mission Operations services.

    TH

    Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE)

    Syllabus: GS3/Defense

    Context:

    • Raksha Rajya Mantri visited DRDO’s Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE) of DRDO in Avadi, Chennai. 
      • He got familiarised with the advanced features of this indigenously developed Main Battle Tank (Arjun Mk I A).

    Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE):

    • It is committed to the development of the manned and unmanned variants of Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) and combat aircraft line-replaceable units.
      • It has capabilities in system integration & field evaluation of various AFVs and its systems.
    • Vision of CVRDE: To be a Centre for Design & Development of State-of-the-art Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) for the Army & Spin-offs for other services (Air force, Navy & CAPF).

    India’s Main Battle Tank (Arjun Mk IA):

    • It is developed indigenously with modern battle tank technologies, and has enhanced the country’s self-reliance in Armoured Fighting Vehicles.
    • It is a state-of-the-art weapon platform with superior firepower, excellent mobility, increased protection and crew comfort with 14 major upgrades over Arjun MBT Mk I already in service with the Indian Army.
    • After extensive field trial evaluation by the Users, two regiments of Arjun MBT Mk IA have been ordered on Armoured Vehicles Nigam Limited (a Defence PSU).

    PIB

    BHARAT DRONE SHAKTI 2023

    Syllabus: GS3/ Defence

    News

    • Bharat Drone Shakti, a two-day event is going to be held at the Indian Air Force airbase in Hindan (Ghaziabad), Uttar Pradesh.

    About

    • The two-day event will showcase survey drones, agriculture drones, fire suppression drones, and tactical surveillance drones and witness participation from more than 75 drone start-ups and corporates.
    • Host:Indian Air Force (IAF) and Drone Federation of India will co-host Bharat Drone Shakti – 2023, where the Indian drone industry shall give live aerial demonstrations.
    • Benefit: Bharat Drone Shakti will give a fillip to India’s commitment to becoming a global drone hub by 2030, reaffirming its commitment to advancing in the field of drone technology.

    Government Initiatives in Drone Sector

    • Drones Rules, 2021 provide the necessary regulatory framework for commercial use of drones. These rules cover various aspects like type certification, registration and operation of drones, airspace restrictions, research, development and testing of drones, training and licensing, offences and penalties etc.
    • Drone Airspace Map published in 2021, has opened nearly 90% of Indian airspace as a green zone for drones flying up to 400 feet.
    • Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme to promote the growth of drone manufacturing by private companies. The scheme provides for an incentive of Rs 120 crores, spread over three financial years. The PLI rate is 20% of the value addition over three financial years. 
    • Drone certification scheme 2022, making it easier to obtain type certificates by drone manufacturers.
    • Drone import policy 2022, banning import of foreign drones and freeing up import of drone components.
    • Drone (Amendment) Rules, 2022 abolished the requirement of a drone pilot license.

    Source:PIB

    Industrial Development Scheme for Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand

    Syllabus: GS3/Infrastructure

    News

    • The Cabinet has approved an amount of Rs. 1164.53 cr. for Industrial Development Scheme (IDS), 2017 for Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

    About

    • The government of India announced Industrial Development Scheme, 2017, in 2018 for the state of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
    • Expenditure involved: The financial outlay of IDS, 2017 was only Rs.131.90 crore,which was released during 2021-2022. Further, to meet the committed liabilities through the additional requirement of funds under the scheme up to 2028-29, the cabinet has approved the additional financial outlay amounting to Rs.1164.53 crore under the scheme.
    • As per the approval of additional funds the following incentives would be benefitted under the scheme:
      • Central Capital Investment Incentive for Access to Credit (CCIIAC): All eligible new industrial units and existing industrial units on their substantial expansion in the manufacturing and service sector will be provided Central Capital Investment Incentive for access to credit @ 30% of the investment in Plant and Machinery with an upper limit of Rs.5.00 crore.
      • Central Comprehensive Insurance Incentive (CCII): All eligible new and existing industrial units on their substantial expansion located anywhere in the states will be eligible for reimbursement of 100% insurance premium on insurance of building and Plant & Machinery for a maximum period of 5 years from the date of commencement of commercial production / operation.

    Source:PIB