Daily Current Affairs 10-04-2024

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    Syllabus: GS2/Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests

    • Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) is going to organise Clean Economy Investor Forum in Singapore.
    • The Forum will have opportunities for the Indian industry in the two following tracks.
      • Climate Tech Track:  Under this track the Forum is holding an open call that aims to recognise the top climate tech companies and start-ups among the member countries and present them to global investors.
      • Infrastructure Track: Under this track, India will showcase selected investible sustainable infrastructure projects. The sectors of focus are-energy transition, transport and logistics, waste management/waste to energy.
    • The Department of Commerce is the nodal agency for the IPEF engagements, and the IPEF Clean Economy Investor Forum is managed by Invest India, India’s National Investment Promotion Agency.
    • It was launched in 2022 and currently includes 14 partners – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United States and Vietnam. 
    • It provides a platform for countries in the region to collaborate on advancing resilient, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth, and aims to contribute to cooperation, stability and prosperity in the region. 
    • The IPEF comprises four pillars of cooperation namely: Trade, Supply Chain, Clean Economy and Fair Economy.
    • The IPEF Clean Economy Investor Forum is one of the initiatives under the IPEF.
      • It brings together the region’s top investors, philanthropies, financial institutions, innovative companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs. 
      • The Forum aims to mobilize investments into sustainable infrastructure, climate technology and renewable energy projects. 
    • The Indo-Pacific is home to more than half of the world’s people and nearly two-thirds of the world’s economy.
    • The Persian Gulf produces nearly one third of the world’s oil and holds over half of the world’s crude oil reserves, as well as a significant portion of the world’s natural gas reserves.
      • The region also produces some of the world’s most critical minerals.
    • About 60 percent of the world’s maritime trade goes through the region, which also has nine out of the world’s top ten ports.
    • The Indo-Pacific has thus become the global centre of interest in the recent past with a number of countries publicly articulating their approaches and strategy towards the region.

    Source: PIB

    Syllabus: GS3/Infrastructure; Island Development

    • Recently, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands saw a major military infrastructure upgrade with revamped airfields to a robust surveillance infrastructure.
    Andaman & Nicobar Islands

    Location: They are a group of islands of India, located in the Bay of Bengal.
    Extent: These islands form an arcuate chain (convex to the west) and extend from 6° 45′ N to 13° 41′ N and from 92° 12′ E to 93° 57′ E.Major Islands in the Group: It is composed of more than 500 big and small islands, which are divided into two distinct groups of islands – The Andaman Islands and the Nicobar Islands.
    a. There are 836 islands/islets/rocky outcrops, of which 31 are inhabited.
    – The islands are divided into 3 districts and 9 tehsils.
    • The islands’ strategic location enables India to play an important role in the region, both in disaster situations and in dealing with maritime security threats.
    • With these islands as their base, India, in concert with other countries, can be a net security provider to the region and the Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs).
    • The islands give India a commanding position over the considerable traffic that flows to and fro between the  Andaman Sea (Indian Ocean) and South China Sea (Pacific Ocean) through the Malacca Strait.
    • The Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) is the first and only tri-service command in the islands and was established in 2001.
    • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands constitute just 0.2% of India’s landmass but account for 30% of the country’s 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
    • The blue economy of this island will have an important contribution to the development of India’s economy.
    • Revamped Airfields and Jetties: Work on increasing the length of an airstrip at a vital naval air station is being carried out in phases to enable landing of larger aircraft like P8Is and fighter jets.
      • The jetty at this location is also being enlarged to accommodate bigger ships.
    • Additional Logistics and Storage Facilities: The improved infrastructure is aimed to facilitate deployment of additional military forces, facilities for larger and more warships, aircraft, missile batteries, and troops.
      • It includes plans to expand the runway to nearly 3,000 metres and creation of infrastructure for maintenance of assets.
    • Habitat for Troops: There are plans to significantly enhance the surveillance infrastructure at one of the northern islands of A&N, and to construct a permanent habitat for troops in the Islands.
    • Robust Surveillance Infrastructure: The ongoing large-scale construction activities come amid growing Chinese attempts to expand its influence in the region, which includes construction of a military facility at Myanmar’s Coco Islands lying 55 km north of A&N Islands.
    • Ecological Impact of Development Projects: Developmental Projects pose a grave threat to the islands’ fragile ecosystem and the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) inhabiting these islands.
    • Protection of Indigenous Tribes: Protecting indigenous tribes, preserving the fragile ecology, providing basic amenities such as drinking water, and preventing illegal migration and encroachments are some of the main challenges confronting Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
    • Infrastructure and Industrialisation Challenges: The islands face infrastructure challenges, including slow and interrupted internet speed, transportation bottlenecks, lack of skilled manpower, low population density, scattering of population in scattered islands, lack of market, and lack of raw materials.
    • Climate Change Vulnerability: The islands’ unique ecosystems are vulnerable to climate change events and anthropogenic developments.
      • Key sectors such as forests and biodiversity, coastal ecosystem and marine resources, agriculture and animal husbandry, fisheries, water resources, and energy are all vulnerable to climate change.
    • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are of great strategic importance to India, serving as a significant point for trade, commerce, and strategic cooperation.
    • These are a core component of India’s Act East Policy that aims to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties, and develop strategic relationships with countries in the Asia-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional, and multilateral levels.
    • The strategic military infrastructure upgrade in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a significant step towards strengthening India’s defence capabilities and maintaining a strong presence in the region.
    • The development of these islands must be carried out responsibly, keeping in mind the need to protect their unique ecology and indigenous populations.

    Source: IE

    Syllabus: GS3/Disaster Management

    • Russia has demanded Western Countries to respond to Ukraine’s strike on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station controlled by Russian forces.
    • The International Atomic Energy Agency, said it was the first time the nuclear plant was directly targeted since 2022 and said the attack had endangered nuclear safety.
    • Russian forces took control of the plant in 2022 shortly after their full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 
    • Both Russia and Ukraine have repeatedly accused each other of risking a nuclear accident by attacking the plant.
    • The Zaporizhzhia plant, in southern Ukraine, is the largest nuclear plant in Europe. 
    • The facility stopped generating power in 2022, but needs a constant supply of electricity to cool one of its reactors which is in a state of “hot conservation”, meaning it is not fully offline.
    • A nuclear disaster is damage caused by the abnormal emission of radiation or radioactive material resulting from an accident, etc. at a nuclear facility.
      • It causes lethal effects to individuals, large radioactivity release to the environment, or reactor core melt.
    • Worldwide there have been 99 accidents at nuclear power plants.
      • Fifty-seven accidents have occurred since the Chernobyl disaster, and 57% of all nuclear-related accidents have occurred in the USA.
      • Serious nuclear power plant accidents include the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (2011), Chernobyl disaster (1986), Three Mile Island accident (1979), and the SL-1 accident (1961).
    • Radiation Exposure: Exposure to ionizing radiation released during a nuclear disaster leads to acute and chronic health effects, including radiation sickness, cancer, genetic mutations, and reproductive problems.
    • Contamination of Air, Water, and Soil: Radioactive particles released into the atmosphere contaminate the air, water bodies, and soil, posing risks to ecosystems, agriculture, and human health through ingestion, inhalation, or absorption.
    • Displacement and Evacuation: Nuclear disasters often result in the evacuation and displacement of large populations from affected areas.
    • Economic Costs: The economic costs associated with nuclear disasters are substantial, including cleanup and decontamination efforts, healthcare expenses, loss of livelihoods, and long-term environmental remediation.
    • Intergenerational Impact: The effects of nuclear disasters can span generations, with potential genetic mutations and health issues affecting not only the exposed population but also their descendants.
      • Some doctors in Europe advised pregnant women to undergo abortions on account of radiation exposure due to the Chernobyl accident.
    • Psychological Impact: Stigmatisation of both exposed and evacuated populations following the Nuclear accidents has strongly contributed to a significant rise in alcoholism, depression, anxiety, bullying and suicides.
    • Challenges in Disaster Response and Management: Responding to nuclear disasters presents unique challenges, including the need for specialized equipment, trained personnel, and coordinated international efforts to mitigate the spread of radiation and manage the aftermath effectively.
    • Stringent Regulatory Framework: Governments should establish and enforce comprehensive regulatory frameworks governing nuclear safety, including licensing, operational standards, emergency preparedness, and environmental protection.
    • Risk Assessment and Management: Authorities should conduct thorough risk assessments to identify potential hazards and vulnerabilities at nuclear facilities, and implement risk management strategies to mitigate risks effectively.
    • Design and Engineering Standards: Ensure that nuclear facilities are designed, constructed, and maintained according to rigorous engineering standards to prevent accidents and withstand natural disasters.
    • Safety Systems: Install multiple layers of safety systems to prevent and mitigate accidents, including reactor shutdown systems, containment structures, emergency cooling systems, and backup power supplies.
    • Operator Training: Provide comprehensive training for nuclear plant operators and personnel, ensuring they have the knowledge, skills, and competence to operate facilities safely and respond effectively to emergencies.
    • Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS): The CNS is a legally binding international treaty that establishes fundamental safety principles and obligations for the safe operation of nuclear power plants.
      • Participating states are required to submit national reports on the implementation of safety measures and undergo peer review by other parties to assess compliance with safety standards.
    • Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management: This convention addresses the safe management and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, aiming to prevent accidents and minimize environmental and health risks associated with radioactive materials.
      • Participating states commit to implementing safety measures throughout the entire lifecycle of radioactive waste, from generation to disposal.
    • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): The IAEA plays a central role in promoting nuclear safety worldwide through its safety standards, guidelines, and technical assistance programs.
      • The Agency conducts safety reviews, assessments, and peer reviews of nuclear facilities to evaluate compliance with international safety standards and identify areas for improvement.
    • Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency: It adopted in 1986 following the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident, sets out an international framework for co-operation among States Parties and with the IAEA to facilitate prompt assistance and support in the event of nuclear accidents or radiological emergencies. 
    Regulation in India

    – Activities concerning establishment and utilisation of nuclear facilities and use of radioactive sources are carried out in India in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962.
    – The environment protection aspects are governed by the Environmental Protection Act, 1986.
    – The regulations for radiation protection aspects are as governed by the Radiation Protection Rules, 1962. 
    – Safety aspects in mining and milling of prescribed substances are governed by the Mines Minerals Prescribed Substance Rules, 1984. 
    – Safe waste disposal is ensured by implementation of the Atomic Energy Safe Disposal of Radioactive Waste Rules, 1987.

    Source: IE

    Syllabus: GS 3/Economy

    • Recently, the Indian steel industry has expressed concern over India becoming a net importer of steel in 2023-24.
    • Steel has traditionally occupied a top spot among metals. 
    • Steel production and consumption are frequently seen as measures of a country’s economic development because it is both a raw material and an intermediary product. 
    • The Indian steel industry is classified into three categories – major producers, main producers and secondary producers.
    • India has set a target of having an installed steel manufacturing capacity of 300 MT by 2030.
    • The steel sector plays a pivotal role in crucial sectors such as construction, infrastructure, automobile, engineering and defence. 
    • Over the years, the steel sector has witnessed tremendous growth and India has emerged as a global force in steel production and the 2nd largest producer of steel in the world.
      • The growth in the Indian steel sector has been driven by the domestic availability of raw materials such as iron ore and cost-effective labour.
    • The Indian steel industry is modern, with state-of-the-art steel mills.
      • It has always strived for continuous modernisation of older plants and up-gradation to higher energy efficiency levels.
    • Consequently, the steel sector has been a major contributor to India’s manufacturing output.
    • The Union Cabinet gave its approval for National Steel Policy (NSP) 2017 which enshrines the long term vision of the Government to give impetus to the steel sector.
      • It seeks to enhance domestic steel consumption and ensure high quality steel production and create a technologically advanced and globally competitive steel industry.
    • In October 2021, the government announced guidelines for the approved specialty steel production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme.
    • FDI: The Government has allowed 100% FDI through automatic route for the steel sector in India.
    • Low investment in technology and Infrastructure 
    • Raw material availability is the key challenge for the steel industry.
    • India has registered a 38% surge in imports of finished steel to 8.319 million tonnes (MnT) over 6.022 MnT imported during the preceding 2022-23 fiscal.
      • The surge in predatory imports from China is a big threat to the Atma Nirbharta in steel. 
    • Health and safety are the most neglected concerns in Indian steel sector.
    • Steel production is an energy intensive process that has a significant environmental impact.
    • The steel industry has emerged as a major focus area given the dependence of a diverse range of sectors on its output as India works to become a manufacturing powerhouse through policy initiatives like Make in India. 
    • There is a need to ensure a sustainable supply of crucial raw materials, such as iron ore and coking coal, along with enhancing export competitiveness that will be vital for achieving this ambitious goal.
    • India’s steel industry faces threat from predatory imports. 
      • Restricting steel imports is crucial to safeguard investments and ensure robust GDP growth.
      • It becomes imperative for the industry to strategize ways to enhance the cost competitiveness of products.

    Source:ET

    Syllabus: GS3/Renewable Energy

    • Recently, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) made an attempt to increase local sourcing of solar modules to support India’s renewables manufacturing ecosystem.
    • These are building blocks of solar panels, and have been at the forefront of renewable energy solutions.
    • They convert sunlight directly into electricity, offering a sustainable and environmentally friendly energy source.
    • India’s solar industry, despite its claims of indigeneity, heavily relies on imports of cheaper and comparable-quality solar modules from China and Vietnam.

    • The modules, which are multiple solar panels joined together, are primarily made up of solar cells.
    • Despite being among the top manufacturers in the world, local production of these cells and modules is much below demand.
    • India has imported about $11.17 billion worth of solar cells and modules in the past five years.
      • However, with 110 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV module capacity set to come online in the next three years, India is poised to become self-sufficient and will be the second-largest PV manufacturing country after China.
    Do You Know?

    – India has set an enhanced target at the COP26 of 500 GW of non-fossil fuel-based energy by 2030.
    a. It is part of the world’s largest expansion plan in renewable energy.
    – India’s installed non-fossil fuel capacity has increased 396% in the last 8.5 years and stands at more than 190.97 GW (including large Hydro and nuclear), about 44% of the country’s total capacity (as of Feb 2024).

    Solar Energy:

    – The installed solar energy capacity has increased by 30 times in the last 9 years and stands at 75.57 GW as of Feb 2024.
    India’s solar energy potential is estimated to be 748 GWp as estimated by National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE).
    – Earlier, India had pledged a target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy of which 100 GW from solar energy by 2022.
    a. It consists of 40 GW Rooftop and 60 GW through Large and Medium Scale Grid Connected Solar Power Projects.
    • Import Restrictions on Solar PV Cells: The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s (MNRE) ordered re-implement of its 2021 notification of an ‘Approved List of Models and Manufacturers of Solar Photovoltaic Module (ALMM list) to support the country’s solar module manufacturing industry.
    What is the ALMM?

    – The ALMM list consists of manufacturers who are eligible for use in Government Projects / Government Assisted Projects / Projects under Government Schemes & Programmes.
    – It consists two lists:
    a. LIST-I: For Solar PV Modules and;
    b. LIST-II: For Solar PV Cells.

    Why was the ALMM implemented?
    – It was implemented to ensure that the products used in solar PV power installations, which are generally set up for a period of 25 years, are indeed made in units in which production has been claimed.
    – The reliability of the producer is essential to protect consumer interests and ensure larger energy security of the country.
    • Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme: It aims to achieve domestic manufacturing capacity of Giga Watt (GW) scale in High Efficiency Solar PV Modules, with an outlay of Rs. 24,000 crore.
      • It provides incentives to selected solar PV module manufacturers for five years post commissioning, on manufacture and sale of High Efficiency Solar PV modules.
    • Rooftop Solarisation: One crore households are enabled to obtain up to 300 units free electricity every month through rooftop solarisation (Interim Budget 2024-25).
    • Solar Park Scheme, VGF Schemes, CPSU Scheme, Defence Scheme, Canal Bank & Canal Top Scheme, Bundling Scheme, Grid Connected Solar Rooftop Scheme: These are various schemes launched by the government to encourage generation of solar power in the country.
      • These aim to build an ecosystem for manufacturing high efficiency solar PV modules in India, reduce import dependence in the area of Renewable Energy, and promote the setting up of integrated plants for better quality control and competitiveness.
    • Furthermore, the government has imposed Basic Customs Duty (BCD) on the import of solar PV cells and modules, effective from April 1, 2022. It is expected to further boost domestic manufacturing.
    • India has ambitious plans of sourcing about 500 GW, nearly half its requirement of electricity, from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.

    • It means at least 280 GW from solar power by that year or at least 40 GW of solar capacity being annually added until 2030.
      • However, meeting these targets requires many more solar panels and component cells than India’s domestic industry can supply.
    • As India continues to invest in renewable energy, the future of Solar PV cells in the country looks promising. The country’s commitment to scaling solar installation four-fold by 2030 signals a bright future for solar PV cells.

    Source: TH

    Syllabus: GS1/Culture

    Context

    • Recently, Gudi Padwa was celebrated on the first day of the month of Chaitra, which synchronises with the first day of the new moon.

    About the Gudi Padwa

    • It is a spring festival celebrated predominantly in Maharashtra and Goa, marking the start of the new year for Marathi and Konkani Hindus.

    • It falls on the first day of the Chaitra month in the Hindu calendar, is a vibrant celebration filled with rituals, festivities, and a sense of community.
    • The term ‘Gudi Padwa’ is derived from two words – ‘Gudi’ which means flag, and ‘Padwa’ which represents the first day of the lunar fortnight.
      • A Gudi is hoisted on this day, giving the festival its name.

    Significance

    • Gudi Padwa signifies the arrival of spring and the reaping of Rabi crops.
    • It is believed that on this day, Lord Brahma created the universe.
    • It marks the beginning of the harvest season in Maharashtra.
    • It promotes the traditional arts, as the making of the Gudi and the drawing of rangoli require creativity and artistic skills.

    Source: TH

    Syllabus: GS1/Geography

    Context

    • Recently, Russia declared an emergency in the Orenburg region near Kazakhstan after the Ural River (Europe’s third longest river) burst through a dam embankment in the city of Orsk.

    About the Ural River

    • It originates in the southern Ural Mountains.
    • It embarks on a journey of 2,428 kilometres, making it the third-longest river in Europe after the Volga and the Danube.

    • It flows south along the eastern flank of the Ural Mountains, passing through cities like Magnitogorsk. At Orsk, it cuts westward across the southern end of the Urals, past Orenburg, and turns south again across a lowland of semi-desert to enter the Caspian Sea at Atyraū.
    • It is historically known as the Yaik, is a significant geographical feature that courses through Russia and Kazakhstan.
    • It serves as a natural boundary between Europe and Asia, marking it as a geographical landmark of immense importance.

    Economic Importance

    • The Ural River provides a natural waterway that supports trade and transportation.
      • The river is navigable up to the city of Oral in Kazakhstan.
    • Furthermore, a dam and hydroelectric station have been built at Iriklinsky, south of Magnitogorsk, harnessing the river’s power for energy production.

    Source: TOI

    Syllabus: GS1/Society

    Context

    • NTPC Limited, India’s largest integrated power company, is gearing up to launch the latest edition of Girl Empowerment Mission (GEM).

    About

    • It is a flagship Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, initiated as a pilot project in 2018 for children belonging to underprivileged sections of the society.
    • The program aligns with the Government of India’s Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao initiative and aims to tackle gender inequality by nurturing girls’ imaginations and fostering their ability to explore opportunities. 
    • Under the mission a 1-month workshop for young girls during summer holidays is offered for their all-round upliftment and development.
      • The workshop focuses on health, hygiene, safety, fitness, sports and yoga.
    Corporate Social Responsibility

    – It is a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. 
    – CSR can help improve society and promote a positive brand image for companies.
    CSR includes four categories: environmental impacts, ethical responsibility, philanthropic endeavors, and financial responsibilities.
    – In India, Enactment of Companies Act, 2013 by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, introduced the CSR as a mandatory provision by imposing statutory obligation on Companies to take up CSR projects towards social welfare activities. 

    Source: PIB

    Syllabus: GS 3/S&T

    In News

    • Nobel prize-winning physicist Peter Higgs has passed away recently.

    About Peter Higgs

    • Born in England on May 29, 1929
    • He proposed the Higgs boson in 1964  which is also known as “the God particle” along with François Englert, and four other theorists to explain why certain particles have mass.
      • He theorised that there must be a subatomic particle of a certain dimension that would explain how other particles — and therefore all the stars and planets in the universe — acquired mass. 
    • Scientists confirmed its existence in 2012 through the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland. 

    Essence 

    • Higgs’ work helps scientists understand one of the most fundamental riddles of the universe: how the Big Bang created something out of nothing 13.8 billion years ago.

    Awards 

    • Higgs won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work, alongside Francois Englert of Belgium, who independently came up with the same theory.
    Do you know ?

    – According to modern physics, matter consists of a set of particles that act as building blocks. 
    – Between these particles lie forces that are mediated by another set of particles.
    a. A fundamental property of the majority of particles is that they have a mass

    Source: TH

    Syllabus: GS 3/Economy/Environment 

    In News

    • CSIR’s scientific interventions have led to the phenomenal growth of lavender cultivation and development of lavender products.

    About Lavender 

    • Lavenders are small evergreen shrubs with gray-green hoary linear leaves. 
    • The purple flowers are sparsely arranged on spikes at the tips of long bare stalks and produce small nutlet fruits. 
    • Distribution : It is native to the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and southern Europe through northern and eastern Africa and Middle Eastern countries to southwest Asia and southeast India.
      • The variety of Lavender is highly suitable for cultivation in the rainfed temperate regions of India.
    • The success of Lavender cultivation in J&K earned it the sobriquet, ‘Purple Revolution’.
      •  In 2016, the central government launched the ‘Aroma Mission’ to boost cultivation of plants like lavender that have aromatic medicinal properties

    Benefits 

    • Lavender shows promising potential as a therapeutic and aromatic herb that can positively contribute towards India’s economic and medical prospects. 
    • Kashmir’s lavender is captivating both domestic and international markets.
    • Lavender farming can prove profitable for farmers given a sustained demand and organised farmer activities.

    Source:IE