Daily Current Affairs – 08-09-2023

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    Marine Heatwaves

    Syllabus: GS1/ Geography

    In News

    • There’s a 50-80 percent chance that marine heat waves affecting oceans globally will extend to February 2024, according to an analysis by World Meteorological Organization agency World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).

    Marine heatwaves

    • Marine heatwaves can develop when ocean temperatures in a specific region are significantly higher than average for an extended period of time.
    • Climate change has contributed to the intensity and widespread coverage of current marine heatwaves.

    Main reasons the oceans are heating

    • The analysis pointed out three main reasons the oceans are heating — El Nino, North Atlantic Oscillation and oceans absorbing a majority of excess heat caused by human activities induced global warming.
    • El Nino conditions have recently emerged for the first time in seven years — redistributing the upper ocean heat content from west to east across the Pacific and warming it. 
    • The negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation, a natural pattern of atmospheric variability that can impact surface winds and influence ocean temperatures, is behind the heating of the North Atlantic.

    Implications

    • About 90 per cent of the excess heat associated with global warming has been absorbed by the ocean, causing the global ocean surface temperature to increase by about 0.9 degrees since pre-industrial times. 
    • If drastic mitigation and adaptation efforts are not undertaken, each increment of future warming may have serious consequences for biodiversity, the structure, and function of marine ecosystems.
    • The marine heatwaves could lead to rapidly intensifying cyclones and fluctuations in the monsoon rainfall and extreme warming in the tropical Atlantic could contribute to stronger storms.
    • The heatwaves are expected to impact marine ecosystems around the globe, resulting in billions of US dollars in damages to marine ecosystems and to industries such as fisheries or tourism. 

    Source: DTE

    20th ASEAN-India Summit

    Syllabus: GS2/International and Regional Groupings

    In News

    • The Prime Minister attended the 20th ASEAN-India Summit and the 18th East Asia Summit (EAS) in Jakarta, Indonesia.

    Highlights of the Summit

    • Prime Minister presented a 12-point proposal for strengthening India – ASEAN cooperation as follows:
      • Establishing multi-modal connectivity and economic corridor that links South-East Asia-India-West Asia-Europe.

    • Offered to share India’s Digital Public Infrastructure Stack with ASEAN partners.
    • Announced ASEAN-India fund for Digital Future focusing on cooperation in digital transformation and financial connectivity.
    • Announced renewal of support to Economic and Research Institute of ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) to act as knowledge partner for enhancing our engagement.
    • Called for collectively raising issues being faced by Global South in multilateral fora.
    • Invited ASEAN countries to join the Global Centre for Traditional Medicine being established by WHO in India.
    • Called for working together on Mission LiFE.
    • Offered to share India’s experience in providing affordable and quality medicines to people through Jan-Aushadhi Kendras.
    • Called for collective fight against terrorism, terror financing and cyber-disinformation.
    • Invited ASEAN countries to join the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
    • Called for cooperation in disaster management.
    • Called for enhanced cooperation on maritime safety, security and domain awareness.

    The East Asia Summit (EAS)

    • It was initiated in 2005 with the convening of the 1st East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 
    • Members: It comprises eighteen participating countries, including ten ASEAN Member States, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam, and Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America.
    • Objective: The East Asia Summit has identified six priority areas of cooperation, namely environment and energy, education, finance, global health issues and pandemic diseases, natural disaster management, and ASEAN Connectivity. 
      • Cooperation in emerging issues such as food security, trade and economics, maritime security and cooperation, and traditional and non-traditional security issues.

    ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)

    • It was established in 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the Founding Fathers of ASEAN: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. 
      • Brunei Darussalam joined in 1984, followed by Vietnam in 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999, making up the ten Member States of ASEAN.

    • ASEAN Day: 8th August.
    • ASEAN Summit: It is the highest policy-making body in ASEAN comprising the Head of States or Government of ASEAN Member States. 
      • It is held twice annually at a time to be determined by the Chair of the ASEAN Summit in consultation with other ASEAN Member States.
      • The First ASEAN Summit was held in Bali, Indonesia in 1976.
    • ASEAN Coordinating Council: Established in 2008, the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) comprises the ASEAN Foreign Ministers and meets at least twice a year to prepare for the ASEAN Summit. 
    • ASEAN Plus: India is part of the ASEAN Plus Six grouping, which includes China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia as well.

    India and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)

    • Timeline: India began formal engagement with ASEAN in 1992 as a “Sectoral Dialogue Partner” and subsequently as a “Dialogue Partner” in 1995. 
      • It was further upgraded to the Summit level in 2002
      • At the 20 year Commemorative Summit Meeting in 2012 the Dialogue Partnership was further elevated to a Strategic Partnership.
      • At the 19th ASEAN-India Summit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations in 2022, the Strategic Partnership was elevated to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
      • India-ASEAN bilateral relationship started evolving since India introduced ‘Look East Policy’ in 1990s. This initiative was further transformed to ‘Act East Policy’ in 2014 mainly to develop economic and strategic relations with the nations of Southeast Asian countries. 
    • Policy Goals: 
      • enhancing connectivity between India and ASEAN in the broadest sense of the term (ie, physical, digital, people-to-people, business etc.);
      • strengthening the ASEAN organization;
      • expanding practical cooperation in the maritime domain.
    • Bilateral Trade: The bilateral trade was $ 57 billion in 2010-11, when the FTA came into effect, and rose to $ 131 billion in 2022-23. The trade with ASEAN accounted for 11.3% of India’s global trade in 2022-23.
      • Today, Asean and India are all set to review the FTA in goods. India’s interests would be to strengthen the production linkages, besides improving the market access in strategic trade areas. 
      • Asean’s interests would be to continue the expansion of export directed towards the Indian market. 
    • Multilateral and Bilateral Engagements: Bilaterally, India has signed ‘strategic partnerships’ with four ASEAN countries, namely, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. 
      • At the multilateral level, India is a member of multiple ASEAN-led fora, including the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting.
    • Maritime cooperation: India’s flagship MILAN naval exercise, started in the 1990s, includes several ASEAN members. 
      • India also conducts bilateral coordinated patrols with several ASEAN countries, as well as exercises such as the Singapore-India Maritime Exercise, which completed 25 years in 2018. 

    Areas of Differences

    • RCEP: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership appears to be a key issue of divergence between India and ASEAN due to the latter’s decision to withdraw from the trading bloc after eight years of negotiations.
    • China’s Influence: Geopolitically, China poses a geo-political puzzle for ASEAN and is the reason for divergence between India and several ASEAN countries. 
      • In Southeast Asia, while some countries like Cambodia and the Philippines have courted Chinese investment and geopolitical support, countries such as Vietnam have opposed it in certain political-security spaces such as the South China Sea.
    • QUAD: The ASEAN-India dynamics have been further complicated by the emergence of the Quadrilateral Security Initiative (the Quad), with India embracing it in its strategic lexicon. 
      • ASEAN is not comfortable with the rise of the Quad, comprising the US, Japan, Australia and India, as a significant security institution in the region. 
      • ASEAN does not wish to be entangled in a possible power transition taking place in the Indo-Pacific region.

    Way Ahead

    • The future is bright for India-ASEAN ties. While the two sides have made tremendous progress in the last few decades and built strong linkages with each other, the potential for further growth and connections is immense.
    • As with the US and China, the ASEAN states will need to seek to balance and pursue their interests in the developing India-China dynamic. 

    Source: PIB

     

    Pandharpur Temples Act of 1973

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government Interventions and Policies

    News: 

    • The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court recently that the Vitthal and Rukmini temples in Solapur are open to people of all faiths.

    About

    • The High Court directed the State government to file its reply to a petition, which claimed that the government had taken over the administration of the town’s temples perpetually in an arbitrary manner.
    • The petition contends, “By taking control over the Pandharpur Temples the government is ousting the rights of Hindus to profess, practice, and propagate their religion.
    • The Maharashtra government in its response said, the Pandharpur Temples Act of 1973 was introduced in the interest of the general public and intended to bring about changes in economic, financial, political or other secular activities as well as providing for social welfare and reform associated with religious practice. 

    The Pandharpur Temples Act

    • It was instituted in 1973 and abolished all hereditary rights and privileges of priests for the governance and administration of the temples of Lord Vitthal and Rukmini in Pandharpur. 
    • It also enabled the government to control its administration and management of funds.

    India’s Secular Model

    • While secularism as a notion denoting the separation of religion and state was accepted by the early Congress moderates in India, however, it underwent a change in later periods of time.
    • In post-independent India, secularism acquired a changed meaning: the idea that all religions shall be treated equal.
    • The Constituent Assembly emphasised the secular foundation of India, and declared that secularism is not an anti-religious concept, instead, it prevented discrimination against the citizens based on religion.
      • The State shall permit freedom of practising any religion;
      • The State shall not associate with any religion; and
      • The State shall honour all faiths of equality (an innovative idea for Indian secularism).
    • The idea of inter-religious equality is crucial to the Indian conception, with key features like ‘inter-religious tolerance’ focusing together on religious freedom of individuals and religious freedom of minority communities, with the idea of state-supported religious reform.
    • Thus, separation between state and religion is not water tight but there is a principled distance of state towards religion.

    Way Forward:

    • Broadly, all secular states are neither theocratic nor do they establish a religion, but separation of religion and state is understood as mutual and principled exclusion.
    • No policy of the state can have an exclusively religious rationale, and no religious classification can be the basis of any public policy.

    Source: TH

     

    G20 & Human-Centric Globalisation

    Syllabus: GS2/ Agreements Involving India &/or Affecting India’s Interests, GS 3/Environmental Pollution & Degradation 

    In News

    • The Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently wrote a column ahead of the Group of Twenty (G20) summit.
      • The column is titled, Human-Centric Globalisation: Taking G20 to the Last Mile, Leaving None Behind.

    Column highlights  

    • Climate action & climate finance:
      • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called on countries to match climate action ambitions with action on climate finance and transfer of technology
      • As noted by him, many countries of the Global South are at various stages of development and climate action must be a complementary pursuit.
      • Democratising climate action is the best way to impart momentum to the movement.
    • The post-pandemic world order is very different from the world before it. There are three important changes, among others.
      • There is a growing realisation that a shift away from a GDP-centric view of the world to a human-centric view is needed.
      • The world is recognizing the importance of resilience and reliability in global supply chains.
      • There is a collective call for boosting multilateralism through the reform of global institutions.
    • Climate impact & significance of millets:
      • He pointed out the challenges ahead due to climate impact and advocated for millets. 
      • Due to the impact of climate change, ensuring food and nutritional security will be crucial. Millets, or Shree Anna, can help with this while also boosting climate-smart agriculture. 
    • Need of less “restrictive approach”:
      • He also called for a less “restrictive approach”, asking people to “move away from a purely restrictive attitude of what should not be done, to a more constructive attitude focusing on what can be done to fight climate change”.
    • Green Hydrogen Innovation Centre:
      • According to him, a global ecosystem for clean and green hydrogen will emerge from India’s G20 presidency, along with a Green Hydrogen Innovation Centre.

    About G20

    • Origin: The G20 was formed in 1999 in the backdrop of the financial crisis of the late 1990s that hit East Asia and Southeast Asia in particular. 
      • Its aim was to secure global financial stability by involving middle-income countries. 
    • Objectives: Policy coordination between its members in order to achieve global economic stability, sustainable growth;
      • To promote financial regulations that reduce risks and prevent future financial crises; and
      • To create a new international financial architecture.
    • Members: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.  
      • Each year, the Presidency invites guest countries, which take full part in the G20 exercise.
    • India’s Presidency: The presidency of the G20 rotates every year among members.
      • India is holding the G20 Presidency from 1 December 2022 to 30 November 2023.
    • India’s Plan: According to the Ministry of External Affairs, India will strengthen international support for priorities of vital importance to developing countries in diverse social and economic sectors, ranging from 
      • Energy, agriculture, trade, digital economy, health and environment to 
      • Employment, tourism, anti-corruption and women empowerment, including in focus areas that impact the most vulnerable and disadvantaged

    Role of India’s G20 presidency:

    • Mobilising resources:  India’s G-20 presidency assumes critical importance in mobilising resources that will allow us to deliver on the international community’s resolve to ensure that every person has access to affordable, safe, sufficient and nutritious food
      • We can do this by 
        • Increasing digitisation, 
        • Making insurance attractive for farmers and insurers, 
        • Providing access to easy and discounted loans, 
        • Securing land rights and 
        • Strengthening farmers’ organisations.
    • India’s experiences & leadership: India is a crucial partner in the mission to end rural poverty and hunger. 
      • Leveraging the panchayat system, India has successfully built robust community institutions that have strengthened people’s ability to manage their own development
      • These experiences are an inspiration for countries attempting to become food secure. 
      • India has shown thoughtful leadership in advancing South-South and triangular cooperation. This has only deepened with its increasing economic weight.
    • G20’s path: The G-20 can set us on the course to much-needed structural change, mobilising commitments from governments, global financial institutions, investors and companies to invest in medium-term sustainable rural development and agriculture. 

    Source: TH

    RBI’s Lending Guidelines

    Syllabus: GS 3/Indian Economy

    News

    • Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued guidelines enabling a borrower to transition from a floating interest rate-based loan to one with a fixed interest rate. 

    About

    • According to RBI, the endeavour was to address borrowers’ grievances pertaining to the elongation of loan tenure and/or an increase in the EMI amount in the event of an increase in the benchmark interest rate.
    • A lack of proper communication along with the absence of consent formed part of the concerns. 
    • The provisions would be extended to existing as well as new loans by the end of the current calendar year.

    What exactly has the RBI instructed?

    • The apex banking regulator has given borrowers the option to switch over to a fixed (interest) rate mechanism for their loans from floating rates. 
    • This would be based on a board-approved policy drafted by the lending entity. The policy must also specify the number of times such a switch would be allowed during the tenure.
    • The lender must also transparently communicate to the borrower all relevant charges alongside service charges or administrative costs associated with the transition.
    • The borrower would now also have the option to choose between enhancement of the EMI or elongation of the tenure or a combination of both. 
    • S/he might also opt to prepay the loan, either in part or full, at any point during the tenure. This would, however, still invite foreclosure charges or prepayment penalty.
    • Further, the regulator has sought that lending entities provide borrowers, through appropriate channels, a statement at the end of each quarter enumerating 
      • the principal and interest recovered till date, 
      • EMI amount, 
      • number of EMIs left and 
      • annualized rate of interest/ Annual Percentage Rate (APR) — for the entire tenure of the loan. 
    • RBI has asked for the statement to be “simple and easily understood by the borrower”.

    Difference between a fixed and floating interest rate:

    • Fixed interest rates are those that do not change during the tenure of the loan. 
    • On the other hand, floating interest rates are subject to market dynamics and the base rate — therefore, the risk differentiation. 
    • As also contended by several lending entities, floating interest rates are generally lower than fixed interest rates. For example, if the floating interest rate for home loans is 10.5%, the fixed interest rate would be 12%.
    • It has been widely argued that  preference for the floating rate-based regime is to better adjust their positions as per the evolving market dynamics. 
    • The advantages are transmitted onto the borrower’s savings pool, but the opposite also holds true in a rising benchmark rate regime.
    • Also noteworthy is the fact that floating interest rate loans do not draw any prepayment penalty— unlike fixed rate loans.
    • However, the fixed rate-based regime endows a borrower with greater certainty and security. This also helps in better planning and structuring of individual budgets

    RBI’s stance on assessing repayment capacity:

    • RBI stated in the circular that lending entities are required to consider the repayment capacity of the prospective borrower.
    • This is to allow borrowers adequate headroom/margin for elongation of tenure and/or increase in EMI. 
    • It would be necessary to “avoid unduly long elongation which sometime may go forward to camouflage the underlying stress in a particular loan. This, the extension must be for a “reasonable period”.
    • Ultimately it is a commercial decision that the banks have to take. RBI is just providing some broad guidelines.

    Source: TH

     

    Lab grown Human Embryo

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    News

    • Scientists have  grown a “human embryo” in the lab without using an egg or sperm.

    How was the embryo model created?

    • Scientists used a mix of stem cells — early cells that have the ability to differentiate into other types of cells — that were able to spontaneously assemble into an embryo-like structure, mimicking molecular characteristics of an early embryo.
    • The embryo-like structure has different types of cells that form the foetus, those that provide nutrients to the foetus, cells that lay out the plan for development of the body, and cells that create structures like placenta and umbilical cord to support the foetus.

    Significance

    • Understand genetic disorders: The research is crucial because the initial days of embryo development is when the majority of miscarriages and birth defects occur. Studying the initial stages may help understand genetic and inherited diseases better.
    •  In Vitro Fertilization: The understanding of why some embryos develop normally, retain the proper genetic code, and implant properly in the womb while others do not, may also help in improving success rates of In Vitro Fertilization.

    Future of lab-grown embryos 

    • These models are meant to study the early stages of development of a foetus.
    • It is generally accepted and legally supported in most countries that these embryo models will be destroyed after studying the first 14 days. Attempts to implant are not allowed.

    Reason of a 14-day limit 

    • The 14-day period is equivalent to when embryos naturally finish implantation. It is also when cells start becoming an “individual”, often referred to as the Primitive Streak.
    • Primitive Streak is a linear structure that appears in the embryo that marks its transition from having a radial symmetry (like an egg) to the bilateral symmetry of our bodies (marked by left and right hands and legs).

    Concluding remark

    • The development allows the manipulation of genes to understand their developmental roles in a model system. This will help to test the function of specific factors, which is difficult to do in the natural embryo.

    Source:IE

    Heat Index

    Syllabus: GS3/Environment

    News

    • Iran experienced extreme heat with a heat index of 70°C in August, leading to public holidays being declared due to the unprecedented heat.

    What is the Heat Index?

    • Heat index, also known as apparent temperature, is a measure of how the temperature feels to humans. Relative humidity is an important factor that determines heat index, along with air temperature.
    • A heat index value of 67°C or above can be extremely dangerous for people and animals who have direct and prolonged exposure.

    Calculation of heat index

    • The formula to calculate heat index was published by Dr. Robert Steadman, in 1979. He published two papers describing his calculations of heat index.
    • Dr. Steadman’s study used 14 °C as the dew point in his calculations, which is an important factor in the calculation of heat index.
    • Dew point is the temperature at which gas is transformed into a liquid state. In terms of atmospheric moisture, it’s the temperature at which air cannot hold any more water vapor, and droplets of water begin to form. 

    Humidity: Factor of heat index

    • Hot air can hold more moisture than cold air. Therefore, when temperature rises, the air’s capacity to hold moisture also increases, thus affecting the apparent temperature or heat index. 
    • Humidity is typically higher during heat waves — which is why the heat index at the time is usually higher than just the temperature because humid air can feel hotter to humans.

    Impact of humidity on the human body

    • Humans usually maintain a core temperature in the range of 36.1 to 37.2 °C. At high temperatures, the human body can lose excess heat through perspiration and cool itself.
    • High Humidity:But when humidity is high, it is difficult to sweat and then for that sweat to evaporate because the air around is already saturated with moisture. This makes it difficult for the body to lose heat.
      • When the body is unable to get rid of excess heat, the heart rate increases due to a rise in core temperature, leading to heat-related exhaustion and rashes, among other symptoms. It can also be fatal if not addressed promptly.
    • Low Humidity:If the humidity is low, evaporation of sweat is easier, thus making the apparent temperature feel close to the actual air temperature.

    Concluding remarks

    • With climate change, it is likely that the earth will continue to witness record-breaking heat index values across the world. 
    • There is a need to prepare and adapt to such extreme conditions by investing in early warning, making changes to work timings, and finding sustainable cooling solutions.

    Source:TH

    Formation of Self-Regulatory Organisation (SRO) 

    Syllabus:GS 3/Economy 

    In News 

    Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das has asked fintech entities to form a Self-Regulatory Organisation (SRO). 

    What is an SRO?

    • It is a non-governmental organisation that sets and enforces rules and standards relating to the conduct of entities in the industry (members) .
    • It is  aimed at protecting the customer and promoting ethics, equality, and professionalism.
    •  It typically collaborates with all stakeholders in framing rules and regulations.
    • Those entities who are interested in being recognised as SROs will have to apply to the RBI. 
    • Once the regulator finds an entity suitable, it will issue a letter of recognition

    Features 

    • It is expected to address concerns beyond the narrow self-interests of the industry, such as to protect workers, customers or other participants in the ecosystem.
    • Regulations, standards, and dispute resolution and enforcement by an SRO get legitimacy not just by mutual agreement of its members, but also by the efficiency with which self-regulation is perceived to be administered. 
      • Such regulations supplement, but do not replace, applicable laws or regulations, according to the Reserve Bank of India.
    • The recognised SRO will serve as a two-way communication channel between its members and the RBI. 
    • It will work towards establishing minimum benchmarks, and standards and help instil professional and healthy market behaviour among its members. 
    • Itwill impart training to the staff of its members and others and will conduct awareness programmes.
    •  It will establish a uniform grievance redressal and dispute management framework across its members

    Benefits of an SRO

    • SROs are widely considered experts in their fields and so have in-depth knowledge of the markets they operate in. 
      • This is helpful to their members as they can be called in to participate in deliberations and learn more about the nuances of the industry.
    • It ensures member organisations follow a certain standard of conduct that helps promote ethical ways of doing business, which can lead to enhanced confidence in the ecosystem
    • It can serve as a watchdog to guard against unprofessional practices within an industry or profession
    • It could play a pivotal role in the fintech industry by promoting responsible practices and maintaining ethical standards.
    • It can help in establishing codes of conduct for its members that foster transparency, fair competition, and consumer protection.
    •  It can act as a watchdog and encourage members to adopt responsible and ethical practices. 
    • It can provide a link between the regulator and market participants through a less formal set-up.

    What Is Financial Technology (Fintech)?

    • Financial technology is used to describe new technology that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services.
    •  â€‹â€‹â€‹At its core, fintech is utilized to help companies, business owners, and consumers better manage their financial operations, processes, and lives. 
    • It is composed of specialized software and algorithms that are used on computers and smartphones. 

    Relevance 

    • Fintech, the application of digital technology to financial services, is reshaping the future of finance– a process that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated. The ongoing digitization of financial services and money creates opportunities to build more inclusive and efficient financial services and promote economic development. Fintech is transforming the financial sector landscape rapidly and is blurring the boundaries of both financial firms and the financial sector.
    • India’s financial technology, or fintech, sector is experiencing rapid evolution but it exemplifies the nation’s striking contrasts.

    What are RBI’s expectations from fintech players?

    • Fintechs need to evolve industry best practices, privacy and data protection norms in sync with the laws of the land, set standards to avoid mis-selling, promote ethical business practices and transparency of pricing.
    • In the context of a new and evolving sector like fintech, it is the industry participants who possess the deepest understanding of the processes and practices within the trade. 
      • Therefore, they are best suited to establish common rules, enforce them, and effectively handle disputes that may arise from non-compliance with these rules.

    Source :IE

    Draft Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns

    Syllabus:GS 3/Science & Technology 

    In News 

    The Department of Consumer Affairs has sought public comments on Draft Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns. 

    About the guidelines 

    • They have been framed after detailed deliberations with all stakeholders including e-commerce platforms, law firms, Government and Voluntary Consumer Organizations (VCO’s).
    • Proposed Guidelines shall be issued under section 18 (2) (l) of the Consumer Protection Act 2019.
    • Guidelines would be made applicable to all the persons and online platforms including sellers and advertisers.

    Major Highlights 

    • Dark patterns :The draft guidelines define dark patterns as any practices or deceptive design patterns using UI/UX (user interface/user experience) interactions on any platform; designed to mislead or trick users to do something they originally did not intend or want to do; by subverting or impairing the consumer autonomy, decision making or choice; amounting to misleading advertisement or unfair trade practice or violation of consumer rights.
    • Under the Guidelines, following Dark patterns have been specified
      • False Urgency” means falsely stating or implying the sense of urgency or scarcity so as to mislead a user into making an immediate purchase or take an immediate action, which may lead to a purchase
      • Basket sneaking” means inclusion of additional items such as products, services, payments to charity/donation at the time of checkout from a platform, without the consent of the user, such that the total amount payable by the user is more than the amount payable for the product(s) and/or service(s) chosen by the user
      • Confirm shaming” means using a phrase, video, audio or any other means to create a sense of fear or shame or ridicule or guilt in the mind of the user, so as to nudge the user to act in a certain way that results in the user purchasing a product or service from the platform or continuing a subscription of a service.
      • Forced action” shall mean forcing a user into taking an action that would require the user to buy any additional good(s) or subscribe or sign up for an unrelated service, in order to buy or subscribe to the product/service originally intended by the user
      • Subscription trap” means the process of making cancellation of a paid subscription impossible or a complex and lengthy process including similar other practices
      • Interface interference” means a design element that manipulates the user interface in ways that (a) highlights certain specific information; and (b) obscures other relevant information relative to the other information; to misdirect a user from taking an action desired by her.
      • Bait and switch” means the practice of advertising a particular outcome based on the user’s action but deceptively serving an alternate outcome
      • Drip pricing” means a practice whereby-elements of prices are not revealed upfront or are revealed surreptitiously within the user experience; and/or other such practices
      • Disguised advertisement” means a practice of posing, masking advertisements as other types of content such as user generated content or new articles or false advertisements.
      • Nagging”shall mean a dark pattern due to which users face an overload of requests, information, options, or interruptions; unrelated to the intended purchase of goods or services, which disrupts the intended transaction.

    Objectives 

    • The objective of the Guidelines is to identify and regulate such practices which tend to manipulate or alter consumer choices, often by using deceptive or misleading techniques or manipulated user interfaces/web designs. 
    • Thus, the proposed Guidelines seek to oversee such practices which are prejudicial to the consumer interests.
    • The proposed guidelines will further strengthen the industry and protect consumer interests.

    Source:PIB

    Facts In News

    African Union

    Syllabus: GS2/ International Fora affecting India’s interest

    News

    • The African Union (AU) is set to join the G-20 as negotiators agreed on clearing its membership.

    About

    • It will mean the 55-member AU will join the European Union as the only two regional bodies in the G-20
    • While it is still unclear whether the G-20 will be renamed as the “G-21” after the induction of the AU, Indian officials said the announcement would help “leave a lasting imprint” on the work of the Indian Presidency. 

    About African Union: 

    • The African Union (AU) is a continental body consisting of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African Continent. 
    • It was officially launched in 2002, in Durban, South Africa, as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU, 1963-1999).
    • The decision to re-launch Africa’s pan-African organisation was a shift from the fight for decolonisation and ridding the continent of apartheid, towards increased cooperation and integration of African states to drive Africa’s growth and economic development.
    • The AU is guided by its vision of “An Integrated, Prosperous and Peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”

    Implications of African Union joining G-20

    • It is regarded as India’s G-20 opportunity for an African Renaissance.
    • India as a leader of the South is becoming successful  in bringing in the Global South’s ambitions to the economic grouping.
    • It will also help to make governance of the G20 more inclusive by incorporating the views and perspectives of African Union leaders.
    • Further, this decision of including the African Union in one of the prominent groupings of the world today, will pave the way for reforming the dilapidated United Nations.

    Way Ahead: 

    • The Sherpas, who are the personal representatives of each of the G-20 leaders, will move their discussions forward, but negotiations will continue until there is agreement for a draft declaration.

    Source: TH

    Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya & Airbus sign MoU on Education

    Syllabus: GS-3/Economy,Infrastructure

    Context

    • Recently, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between Indian Railways’ Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya (GSV) Vadodara and Airbus (world’s largest commercial aircraft manufacturer), for aerospace teaching and research.

    About

    • This collaboration aims  to develop a C295 aircraft production facility in Vadodara, Gujarat, indicating a renewed commitment to India’s aerospace sector.
    • It is poised to create abundant job opportunities for students aligned with the ever evolving aviation industry, further strengthening India’s position in the Global aviation landscape.

    About Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya (GSV) 

    • It is a central university sponsored by the Ministry of Railways. Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya (GSV) Vadodara was established through an Act of Parliament in 2022.
    • It is a “first of its kind” university aiming to fulfill the mandate of the National Developmental Plans (PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan 2021 and National Logistics Policy 2022) across railways, shipping, ports, highways , roads, waterways, and aviation etc. 

    PM Gati Shakti

    • About: Gati Shakti — a digital platform — will bring 16 Ministries including Railways and Roadways together for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects.
    • Cooperation:
      • It will incorporate the infrastructure schemes of various Ministries and State Governments like Bharatmala, Sagarmala, inland waterways, dry/land ports, UDAN etc. 
      • Economic Zones like textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, defence corridors, electronic parks, industrial corridors, fishing clusters, agri zones will be covered to improve connectivity & make Indian businesses more competitive. 
      • It will also leverage technology extensively including spatial planning tools with ISRO imagery developed by BiSAG-N (Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics).

    Source: PIB

    World Physiotherapy Day (World PT Day)

    Syllabus:GS2/ Health

    News

    • The 8th of September has been observed as World Physiotherapy Day to honor the Physiotherapists and Spotlighting Arthritis Awareness.

    About

    • History: In 1996, 8 September was designated as World PT Day. The date was chosen to commemorate the foundation day of the International Confederation of Physiotherapy (WCPT) in 1951, which was later known as World Physiotherapy. 
    • Significance: The day marks the unity and solidarity of the global physiotherapy community. It is an opportunity to recognise the work that physiotherapists do for their patients and community. 

    World PT Day : 2023

    • The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), will observe World Physiotherapy Day. This observance will entail conducting a range of events across the nation through affiliated institutions.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis and axial spondyloarthritis are two types of inflammatory arthritis that will be highlighted on the day this year.
    • Theme:Arthritis 

    Source:PIB

    Vaginismus Awareness Day

    Syllabus: GS2/Health

    In News 

    • Vaginismus awareness day is observed on 15th of september.

    What is Vaginismus?

    • Vaginismus causes involuntary contractions of the vaginal muscles making penetration of any kind; sexual or otherwise impossible or accompanied by excruciating pain, irrespective of the woman’s desire. 
    • Vaginismus can be classified into two types – primary and secondary. 
      • It is primary when a woman has never been able to engage in penetration of any kind; be it either tampons, menstrual cups, gynaecology exams, or intercourse.
      • It is secondary when a woman who previously tolerated penetration is suddenly unable to do so. 
    • Causes: Childhood abuse, sexual trauma, religious upbringing, and sexual ignorance are contributing factors.
      • Secondary vaginismus could be due to physical or emotional factors. Repeated painful internal examinations or vaginal infections, traumatic childbirth, radiation and surgery around the vagina, and conflicts within a relationship are the causes of secondary vaginismus. 
    • People affected: Vaginismus is estimated to affect 5-17% of individuals in a clinical setting based on studies conducted in the 1990s. The numbers vary across countries. The statistics of women dealing with vaginismus in India are unclear. 
    • Therapy: Doctors who deal with vaginismus have a single or multi-level approach involving therapy, serial dilators, and pelvic floor exercises.
      • It is necessary for the brain to disassociate pain from penetration. 
      • Apart from healing emotional trauma, learning to relax the mind and listening to the body is crucial. 
    • Lack of awareness is one reason that vaginismus remains one of the most under-researched female sexual health disorders despite its prevalence. 
    • There is a need to initiate open dialogues around sexual health, inculcate age-specific sex education, and introduce government schemes that explain sexual health in regional languages.

    Source: TH

    Amendment in the GST rules for Casino and Online Games

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions; GS3/ Indian Economy & Related Issues

    In News

    • The Ministry of Finance had issued a notification detailing amendments to the Goods and Services tax (GST) rules about online gaming and casinos.

    Key Amendments

    • The Individuals who visit a casino must now pay GST on the entire value of the chips they initially purchase.
    • The government introduced two new clauses – 31B and 31C in GST rules specifying that for taxation purposes, authorities will consider the value of supply in online gaming and casinos as the total amount paid or payable, including payments made by virtual digital assets.
    • If a player returns some of the chips they initially acquired and receives a cash refund, the GST will not be refunded to them.
    • Any player’s winnings will be tax-free. This is due to the fact that the entire GST is already collected at the beginning, ensuring that winners are not subject to further taxation. 

    About Goods and Services Tax (GST)

    • Goods and Services Tax is an indirect tax used in India on the supply of goods and services.
    • It is a value-added tax levied on most goods and services sold for domestic consumption.
    • It was launched in India in 2017 as a comprehensive indirect tax for the entire country.
    • It is a comprehensive, multistage, destination-based tax- 
      • Comprehensive because it has subsumed almost all the indirect taxes except a few state taxes. 
    • It is paid by the consumers and is remitted to the government by the businesses selling the goods and services.
    • It is of three types i.e. 
      • CGST to be levied by the Centre, 
      • SGST to be levied by the States and 
      • IGST a tax levied on all Inter-State supplies of goods and/or services.  
        • All these taxes are levied at rates mutually agreed upon by the Centre and the States. 
    • Governance: The GST Council headed by the Union Finance Minister is the governing and key decision-making body for GST. 

    Source: TH

    Horizon Europe research programme

    Syllabus :GS 3/Science and Technology 

    In News 

    The UK has rejoined the flagship Horizon Europe research programme, to the widespread relief of the scientific community. 

    • Along with Horizon Europe, the UK has joined Copernicus.

    What is Horizon Europe?

    • Horizon Europe is the world’s largest transnational research and innovation programme. 
    • It is open to EU member states and countries that associate to the programme, as the UK has now done after leaving it due to Brexit.
    • The funding supports international collaborations focused on a wide range of issues, from cancer and infectious diseases to the climate crisis, food security, artificial intelligence and robotics.

    What about Copernicus?

    • Copernicus is the Earth observation component of the European Union’s Space programme, looking at our planet and its environment to benefit all European citizens. 
    • It offers information services that draw from satellite Earth Observation and in-situ (non-space) data.
    • The European Commission manages the Programme.
    •  It is implemented in partnership with the Member States, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), EU Agencies and Mercator Océan.

    Source:TH