Daily Current Affairs 08-05-2024

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    Syllabus: GS2/ Governance

    • An Australian parliamentary committee in its report has raised concerns over child labour in India referring to Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement.
    • The report has pointed out that Australia’s trade agreement with India does not recognise international labor rights.
    • India has a well-documented presence of child and (forced) labor, making significant contributions to the population of the world in modern slavery.
    • The International Labour Organization (ILO), defines child labour as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. 
    • India is home to about 1.01 crore working children between the age of five and fourteen years, as per 2011 census. 
    • As per an Indian parliamentary standing committee report, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, employ over half of India’s child labour. 
    • While the incidence of child labour declined between 2001 and 2011, it is more visible in rural areas due to migration.
    • Many families in India live below the poverty line, and children often have to work to supplement their family income.
    • In some cases, families become trapped in debt bondage, where they are forced to send their children to work to repay loans. This perpetuates a cycle of exploitation and poverty.
    • Conflict situations and mass migrations, whether due to internal strife, natural disasters, or economic instability, disrupt families and expose children to the harsh realities of labor.
    • The demand for cheap labour in various industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, and domestic work, perpetuates child labour.
    • Article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings, begar (forced labor) and other similar forms of forced labor. 
    • Article 24 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory, mine or other hazardous activities.
    • Article 21-A provides free and compulsory education for all children in the age group of six to fourteen years.
    • Child Labour Act (Prohibition and Regulation) 1986: It prohibits children under the age of 14 years to be working in hazardous industries and processes.
    • National Child Labour Project (NCLP) Scheme: Under the scheme children in the age group of 9-14 years are rescued from work and provided with education, vocational training, mid-day meal, stipend, health care, etc. 
    • PENCIL (Platform for Effective Enforcement of No Child Labour) Portal: It is an electronic platform that aims at involving Centre, State, District, Governments, civil society and the general public in achieving the target of child labour free society.
    • ILO conventions on child labour: In 2017 India ratified ILO Conventions No. 138 on Minimum Age to Employment  and No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. 
    • The United Nations made 2021 the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, calling for urgent action needed to meet a goal of ending the practice by 2025.
    • Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour.
      • ALLIANCE 8.7, an inclusive global partnership is committed to achieving Target 8.7 of SDGs.
    • Critics argue that Immediate imposition of international labor standards would lead to reduction in the total economic welfare worldwide in developing nations as well as developed nations.
    • However trade should not be a ‘race to the bottom on workers’ rights’ and inclusion of enforceable labor rights is important in setting a level playing field to ensure that companies cannot just locate themselves in jurisdictions with lower wages and conditions.

    Source: IE

    Syllabus: GS2/Governance

    • The Prime Minister’s vision to establish India as a prominent global gaming hub has received renewed attention as he engaged with seven of the top gamers in the country.
    • India is one of the largest gaming markets in the world. It is predominantly a home-grown start-up ecosystem growing at 27% Compound annual growth rate (CAGR). 
    • The Indian gaming industry’s revenue stands at 3.1 billion dollars in the financial year 2023. 
    • It is widely estimated that AI and online gaming can add up to $300 billion to India’s GDP by 2026-27. 
    • The sector attracts significant foreign and domestic investments along with direct and indirect employment. Leveraging India’s IT prowess, the industry holds natural potential for India.
    • The size of the global gaming industry crossed $300 billion in 2021, still the online gaming segment in India constitutes 1.1% of the global online gaming revenue.
    • Digital Gaming Research Initiative: The government has started a digital gaming research initiative, and the SERB-INAE Conclave was organized recently to support the Indian digital gaming research space and industry. 
    • The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) of the Department of Science and Technology has identified three main directions for its Digital Gaming Research Initiative;
      • R&D in learning and leisure gaming platforms, 
      • immersive game prototypes with an emphasis on Indian culture and values, and 
      • a collaborative technical design process, which was made by SERB Game Labs.
    • AVGC Promotion Task Force: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has established the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comic (AVGC) Promotion Task Force.
      • The government recognizes that the Indian AVGC industry has the ability to carry the “Make in India” and “Brand India” banners. 
    • At present, there is no uniform federal law regulating the skill gaming industry in India. 
    • The Public Gambling Act, 1867 and Prize Competitions Act, 1955 currently govern India’s online gaming industry at the federal level while varying legislation in different Indian states supersede these Acts. 
    • This is because state governments in India are empowered by the constitution to legislate on gambling. 
    • Recently the government decision to appoint the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) as the nodal ministry for online gaming in India has finally provided legitimacy to the sector. 
    • The government will shortly draft regulations for intermediaries in the online gambling industry and initiate a public consultation process.
    • The rise of online gaming has brought many concerns such as addiction, mental illness, suicides, financial frauds, privacy and data security concerns. 
    • The situation is further exacerbated by the growth of illegal offshore gambling and betting markets wherein the volume of digital transactions provides fertile ground for financial malpractices.
    • No mechanism exists for individuals to differentiate between legitimate gaming platforms and illegal gambling/betting sites.
      • In addition, in the absence of a specialized regulatory authority, enforcement is lacking.
    • The Goods and Services Tax Council decided to enforce a tax rate of 28% on the total face value of bets which was earlier 18%.
      • The measure has raised concerns about the industry’s sustainability in the long term and its consequential impact on jobs being created in this sector.
    • India stands at a distinctive juncture to emerge as a prominent global gaming hub. Also India has the advantage of tapping its rich cultural heritage (stories, legends, and folklore). 
    • As perceptions about gaming as a viable career option evolve, India stands to benefit from a growing pool of talented individuals driving innovation and pushing boundaries in the gaming landscape.
    • By fostering an enabling environment for skill gaming, promoting diversity and inclusion, and capitalizing on its rich cultural narratives, India can not only realize its vision of a $1-trillion digital economy but also shape the future of gaming on a global scale.

    Source: TH

    Syllabus :GS 3/Space 

    • The White House directed NASA to establish a Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC) to standardise cislunar operations with the universal time followed on Earth.
    • The LTC will be the standard to measure cislunar operations — space activities between the moon and Earth — with Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the global time used to regulate time on Earth.
    • NASA has been directed to engage with the 39 nations who have signed the Artemis Accords for this project.
      • The White House has set a deadline of December 31, 2026, for NASA and its international partners to deliver a strategy to implement LTC.
    • The White House’s Celestial Time Standardization policy seeks to assign a time standard to each celestial body and its surrounding space environment, first focusing on the lunar surface and missions operating in cislunar space. 
    • It outlines the four features such a time standard must possess:
      • Traceability to UTC: Lunar Time is analogous to Terrestrial Time on Earth (TAI+ 32.184 seconds). Similar to Terrestrial Time, Lunar Time may be set through an ensemble of clocks on the moon.
        • This time standard, i.e., LTC may directly employ or distribute the UTC offsets required to maintain both local time and UTC time within tolerance limits.
      • Scalability beyond the Earth-Moon system: Conversion of LTC to UTC for operations involving interactions with Earth will be possible by using the above approach to set the LTC.
        • This approach is also extensible to space environments beyond the Earth-Moon system (for example, for Mars).
      • Accuracy for precision navigation and science: The LTC will give users in cislunar space a reference time standard near the gravitational environment in which they operate.
        • Space assets can synchronise with each other with precision for navigation.
      • Resilience to loss of contact with Earth: The reference time – LTC – must survive independently when contact to Earth is lost.
    Do you know ?

    – The idea for the UTC was formulated in the 1960s
    – The UTC was designed as a way to accommodate the difference between solar time and atomic time, and is kept within 0.9 seconds of solar time to follow Earth’s rotation variations and within an exact number of seconds of the International Atomic Time (TAI).
    – Currently, moon missions follow the time of the country which operates the spacecraft, while the International Space station (ISS) runs on the UTC.
    – However, a standardised time for space and the moon is not followed.
    • UTC cannot be used to determine time on the Moon. That is because time on the Moon flows differently than it does on the Earth.
      • On Earth, we use a 24-hour day based on the planet’s rotation.
        • However, the moon rotates much more slowly – every 29.5 Earth days.” Due to its slow rotation, it would be practical to have less than Earth’s 24 time zones 
    • Previous moon missions involved astronauts visiting the lunar surface, completing their work and flying home. 
    • However, with space agencies across the world aiming to establish a permanent human presence on the moon, LTC is required, 
    • The pressing need for LTC is due to the plan to create a dedicated global satellite navigation system (GNSS) for the moon by 2030.
      • This system will function similar to how the Global positioning system (GPS) and other navigation networks work on Earth.
    • Moon missions of various agencies will need an official lunar time to communicate with Earth-based stations and each other. 
    • Commercial operations on lunar surface involving transactions and logistics will be more reliable with the LTC
    • The process of defining lunar time is complicated by the effect of the moon’s gravitational pull. 
    • As per special relativity theory, due to the weaker gravitational pull of the moon, a clock on the moon would run faster than one on Earth.
    • A clock’s speed would also change depending on its position on the lunar surface, because of the moon’s rotation,
    • In November 2022, the need for a unified lunar time was voiced globally by space agencies and academic organizations at an ESA meeting in the Netherlands. 
    • In 2023, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched a project called ‘Moonlight’ to design satellites for astronauts and robotic explorers, which will be used to support NASA’s moon mission ‘Artemis.’
      • While working on the project, questions arose on setting a single time zone for the moon and how to go about it.
    • Several countries have lunar ambitions.
      • China has stated that it will put its astronauts on the moon by 2030, while
      • India plans to land in 2040. 
      • In January, Japan became the fifth country to land a spacecraft on the moon, after the US, Russia, India and China.
        • However, India is the only one to land a spacecraft near the lunar south pole.
    • In September 2025, NASA’s four-member Artemis crew is scheduled to fly around the moon in preparation for the space agency’s mission to land on the moon again.
      • To boost such scientific missions, there is a need to establish a Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC) to standardise cislunar operations with the universal time followed on Earth.
    • A consistent definition of time among operators in space is critical to successful space situational awareness capabilities, navigation, and communications.

    Source:TH

    Syllabus: GS2/ International Relations

    • India and Australia during the first Joint Committee Meeting (JCM) under the Economic Co-operation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), have agreed to several key initiatives.
    • The JCM under India-Australia Economic Co-operation and Trade  Agreement (Ind-Aus ECTA) intends to serve as a vital platform for both the nations to further strengthen economic cooperation.
    • Both the nations committed to creating an institutional mechanism for sharing preferential import data and exploring innovative areas to ensure the successful completion of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) negotiations.
    • The JCM meeting also addressed certain critical services issues, including the consideration of India’s request for facilitation of cross border e-payments and mutual recognition agreements in professions like nursing and dentistry.
    India-Australia Economic Co-operation and Trade  Agreement (Ind-Aus ECTA)

    – The Ind-Aus ECTA provides an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve trade between the two countries.
    a. It entered into force on 29 December 2022.
    – India will benefit from preferential market access provided by Australia on 100% of its tariff lines, including all the labor-intensive sectors of export interest to India.
    – On the other hand, India will be offering preferential access to Australia on over 70% of its tariff lines, including lines of export interest to Australia, which are primarily raw materials and intermediaries such as coal, mineral ores and wines.
    • Australia is an important trading partner of India in the Oceania region and the merchandise trade between them is reaching around $24 billion in 2023-24.
    • FDI from Australia during January-September 2023 was $307.2 million, seven times the $42.43 million received in the whole of 2022.
      • FDI in consultancy services was $248 million from $0.15 million in 2022.
    • In FY23, India was Australia’s 9th largest trading partner, and Australia was India’s 13th largest trading partner.
    • Trade between India and Australia is expected to cross $45-50 billion by 2035.
    • India and Australia are Indo-Pacific partners with a shared vision for a resilient, inclusive, open region. 
    • Both nations are part of the Quad group and the 14-member Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). Both have joined the trilateral Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) along with Japan. 
    • In recent times, investor-friendly policies and game-changing reforms has made India an even more attractive destination for Australian businesses.

    Source: PIB

    Syllabus  :GS 1/Geography

    In News

    Positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) or Indian Nino  may re-emerge for the second consecutive year in the latter half of 2024.

    • It is for the first time since 1960 that the event is recurring for a second consecutive year since record-keeping began. 
    Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) 

    About Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)

    • It is a climate pattern affecting the Indian Ocean and it  results in irregular oscillations of sea surface temperatures .
      • During a positive phase, warm waters are pushed to the Western part of the Indian Ocean, while cold deep waters are brought up to the surface in the Eastern Indian Ocean.
        • This pattern is reversed during the negative phase of the IOD.
    • Impact: The IOD influences the local weather causing heavy rains and/or droughts in Africa and Australia. 
      • The associated sea-level changes can also lead to increased threats of coastal flooding and associated impacts.
      • A positive IOD can help rainfall in the Indian subcontinent and along the African coastline, while reducing rainfall in Australia, south-east Asia, and Indonesia. 
    • How it affects India :  A positive IOD can boost the performance of India’s southwest monsoon, depending on when it develops.
      • For example, in 2019, a strong IOD event that developed during the late monsoon season compensated for a 30 per cent rainfall deficit in June
      • The development IOD will likely boost the Indian agriculture sector.
      •  Also, it is likely to recharge reservoirs and other water sources, where the storage level is precarious.

    Source:BL

    Syllabus: GS2/Health

    Context

    • Kerala’s health department has reported West Nile fever cases.

    About

    • West Nile Virus (WNV) is a member of the flavivirus genus and belongs to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the family Flaviviridae.
    • The single-stranded RNA virusoriginates in birds and is propagated via the bite of infected Culex mosquitoes among humans and animals. 
      • The chances of human-to-human transmission are low.
    • It mostly impacts adults and was first detected in Uganda in 1937. In Kerala, it was first detected in 2011.
    • The WNV can cause a fatal neurological disease in humans, however, most of the persons who are infected by it may not show any symptoms. 
    • WNV is majorly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and West Asia.
    • There is no vaccine available for the infection caused by the West Nile virus. 

    Source: TM

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    Context

    • Recently, the Department of Consumer Affairs (under the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs) warned about ‘drip pricing’ saying it can surprise consumers with ‘hidden charges’.

    Drip Pricing

    • It is a pricing strategy and a technique where only a part of an item’s price is advertised, with the total amount revealed at the end of the buying process.
    • It refers to the practice of advertising a basic price at the outset and then incrementally disclosing additional costs associated with the product or service.
      • It is commonly used in the hospitality and travel markets.

    Impact on Consumers

    • The price listed in a newspaper advertisement, in an email, or on a website (the ‘headline price’) may not be what a good or service ultimately costs the consumer.
    • Drip pricing can make comparison shopping more difficult and penalize sellers who are more transparent with their pricing.

    Source: HT

    Syllabus: GS3/Defence

    Context

    • Recently, Russia conducted tactical nuclear weapons drills near Ukraine.

    Tactical Nuclear Weapons (aka non-strategic nuclear weapons)

    • These are a type of nuclear weapon designed for use on the battlefield during military operations.
    • Unlike strategic nuclear weapons, which are designed to destroy large areas and population centers, tactical nuclear weapons are intended for smaller, more immediate military objectives.
    • These are often mounted on missiles, air-dropped bombs, or even artillery shells that have a relatively short range, far less than the huge intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
    • Unlike strategic nuclear weapons, tactical nuclear weapons have never been limited by arms control agreements between major powers like Moscow and Washington. 

    Countries with Tactical Nuclear Weapons

    • Many of the world’s nuclear powers have weapons that are considered low-yield or meant to be used on the battlefield.
    • According to a report, the United States has approximately 230 non-strategic nuclear weapons, including about 100 B61 bombs deployed with aircraft in Europe.
    • Russia has 1,000 to 2,000 warheads for non-strategic nuclear weapons in its arsenal.

    Source: TOI

    Syllabus: GS3/ Science and Technology

    Context

    • Scientists have used a human gene editing tool, CRISPR-Cas9, to restore vision in people with a rare form of inherited or congenital blindness.

    About

    • The trial was called “BRILLIANCE” and people who had a rare form of inherited blindness, known as Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), participated in it.
    • The LCA is caused by a gene mutation that prevents a protein, CEP290, from functioning properly which is critical for sight.

    CRISPR-Cas9

    • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) is a DNA sequence which is part of the bacterial defense system.
    • Cas9 (CRISPR-associated) is the name of the protein that transfers resistance.
      • It is an enzyme that acts like a pair of molecular scissors, capable of cutting strands of DNA.
      • It allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function.
    • In 2020, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for discovering CRISPR-Cas9.

    Source: IE

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    Context

    • The Department of Pharmaceuticals launched the MEDITECH STACKATHON 2024 in collaboration with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

    About

    • The Stackathon was aimed to address critical challenges, foster domestic manufacturing, and reduce import dependence, thereby positioning India as a global leader in medical technology.
    • At present India ranks as the 4th largest market for medical devices in Asia and stands among the top 20 globally.
    • India’s MedTech industry is set to reach USD 50 bn by 2030 from the current USD 14 billion.

    Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)

    • It is a non-government, not-for-profit, industry-led and industry-managed business association organization playing a proactive role in India’s development process. 
    • Founded in 1895, CII has members from the private and public sectors.
    • CII suggests change by working closely with governments and thought leaders and enhancing efficiency, competitiveness and business opportunities for industry. 

    Source: PIB