Daily Current Affairs – 10-05-2023

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    Assam to Ban Polygamy

    Syllabus: GS1/Diversity of India, GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions, Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions & Bodies for Protection & Betterment of these Sections

    In News

    • The Assam government will soon move to ban the practice of polygamy through “legislative action”.

    More about the News

    • Constituting “expert committee”:
      • Assam Chief Minister recently said that an “expert committee” would be formed to examine whether the state legislature was empowered to prohibit polygamy. 
      • This committee, comprising legal experts and scholars, would examine the provisions of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Act, 1937 read with Article 25 of the Constitution of India.
    • Significance:
      • Recently, the authorities found that many aged men got “married multiple times”, and often to minor girls. 
      • Therefore crackdown against child marriage is not the only solution, banning polygamy is also important.

    More about the Polygamy 

    • About:
      • Polygamy is defined as “the act or custom of maintaining more than one spouse at the same time”.
    • Polygamy under Hindu Law:
      • The Hindu Marriage Act, which came into effect on May 18, 1955, made it clear that Hindu polygamy would be abolished and criminalised
        • Monogamy was the sole option available to Hindus. 
      • The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 states that polygamous marriages are void.
        • It was made explicit that a Hindu spouse may not marry again until the first one is terminated, either through a divorce or the death of one of the spouses.
      • Because Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs are all considered Hindus and do not have their own laws, the provisions in the Hindu Marriage Act apply to these three religious denominations as well. 
    • Polygamy under the Muslim personal law:
      • Crucially, while the Hindu personal law outlaws bigamy and polygamy, the Muslim personal law does not. 
      • The clauses under the ‘Muslim Personal Law Application Act (Shariat) of 1937, as construed by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, apply to Muslims in India.
      • A Muslim man can marry and maintain four women or spouses at the same time, according to Muslim personal law. 
        • Under Muslim personal law, such a relationship is recognised and legal
      • While a Muslim man can have four wives at the same time, however, the same is not applicable to a Muslim woman.
        • A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry more than one individual.
    • Global practice:
      • Polygamy is permissible and legal exclusively for Muslims in nations such as India, Singapore, as well as Malaysia.
      • Polygamy is still recognised and practiced in nations such as Algeria, Egypt, and Cameroon.

    Personal laws

    • Personal laws are a set of laws that govern and regulate relations arising out of certain factors connecting two persons or over two persons. 
      • Moreover, personal law governs and regulates subjects or areas of a private sphere such as marriage, divorce, maintenance, succession, minority, and guardianship, etc. 
    • While the Indian Constitution guarantees equality before the law, and equal protection of the law, India’s personal laws apply to individuals differently because they are effectuated based on the religion of such individuals.

    Right to Freedom of religion in India

    • The Indian Constitution allows individuals the freedom to live by their religious beliefs and practices as they interpret these. 
    • In keeping with this idea of religious freedom for all, India also adopted a strategy of separating the power of religion and the power of the State
    • Constitutional Provisions:
      • Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion
      • Article 26:  Freedom to manage religious affairs
      • Article 27: Freedom to pay taxes for promotion of any particular religion
      • Article 28: Freedom to attend religious instruction or worship in certain educational institutions

    Issues & criticisms

    • In conflict with constitutional values:
      • Article 14 states that the state shall not refuse any individual under India’s territory equal treatment under the law and equal protection under the law. The state is prohibited from discriminating against any person solely based on faith, ethnicity, gender, religion, or birthplace, according to Article 15(1) of the Indian Constitution.
      • Only because polygamy has already been embraced among the Islamic culture since the ancient period and has been adjusted as a topic of personal laws.
    • Discriminatory in nature:
      • According to academicians and some other knowledgeable people, permitting polygamy in one faith while condemning others is discriminatory, and this prejudice must be addressed by the law. 
    • Barbarous consequences:
      • As a man cannot please all of his women emotionally or economically, it creates a purely barbarous consequence in a poygamous relationship. 
      • When the male partner dies, polygamy causes property disputes. 
    • Impact on children:
      • Polygamy has an impact not only on the married couple but also on the offspring who are the result of such a relationship. 
      • This troubling issue causes trauma in youngsters, which has an impact on their education and interpersonal attitudes towards life.
    • Gender discrimination:
      • Polygamy regulations vary depending on a person’s gender within a single faith. Governments, on the other hand, have failed to consider the situation of women, particularly those who embrace Islam.
    • Not a religious duty:
      • Polygamy is not at all a preferred lifestyle choice & comes with several drawbacks. It is not at all a religious duty or religious conduct, as the court system has often acknowledged.

    Way Ahead

    • In patriarchal societies, religious laws have often been lopsided, favouring men. 
    • Laws such as polygamy, triple talaq and nikah halala are not only archaic, but they are also debilitating for Muslim women
    • The legality of such laws needs to be challenged and subsequently discarded.

    Source: IE
     

    IBM’s New Geospatial Foundation Model

    Syllabus: GS 3/Science  and Technology

    In News

    • Recently, IBM in collaboration with NASA unveiled a new geospatial foundation model.

    About the new geospatial foundation model,

    • It is designed to convert satellite data into high-resolution maps of floods, fires, and other landscape changes to reveal our planet’s past and hint at its future.
      • This model would be part of IBM’s watsonx.ai, a next-generation enterprise studio for AI builders to train, test, tune, and deploy both traditional machine learning and new-generation AI capabilities.
    • Potential applications include: helping to estimate climate-related risks to crops, buildings, and other infrastructure, valuing and monitoring forests for carbon-offset programs, and developing predictive models to help enterprises create strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
    • It is planned to be available in preview to IBM clients through (EIS) IBM Environmental Intelligence Suite during the second half of this year. 

    Objectives and Need

    • Nearly a quarter of the world’s population now lives in a flood zone, and that number is expected to climb as rising seas and heavier storms triggered by a changing climate put more people at risk. 
    • The ability to accurately map flooding events can be key to not only protecting people and property now but steering development to less-risky areas in the future.
    • It could speed up geospatial analysis by three to four times and can help reduce the amount of data cleaning and labeling required in training a traditional deep-learning model.
    • It can also help a large agribusiness to measure, track and mitigate the impact of their farming practices on the local environments and surrounding communities by better understanding soil degradation, water conservation activities, or how to reduce pollution caused by run-off from fields to local bodies of water.

    India’s the National Geospatial Policy

    • The new Geospatial Policy will replace the National Map Policy, of 2005.
    •  It aims to strengthen the location-centric industry to support the information economy. 
    • It uses guidelines for acquiring and producing geospatial data and related services including maps, issued by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in February 2021, as its foundation. 
      • The DST guidelines deregulated the geospatial sector and liberalised the acquisition, production, and access of data in the field.
      •  Building on it, the 2022 policy lays down a framework for the development of a geospatial ecosystem, including goals and strategies to achieve it.

    Do you Know?

    • Geospatial data are descriptions of events or occurrences with a location on or near the surface of the earth. This location can be static – relating to earthquakes, vegetation, etc., or dynamic – a person walking on the road, a package being tracked, etc.
    • The location data obtained is usually combined with other characteristic attributes or recorded parameters to provide meaningful insights in the form of geospatial data.

    Source: TH

    Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) & How to minimize the Threats?

    Syllabus: GS3/ Security

    In News

    • Recently, an IED (improvised explosive device) killed security personnel of the District Reserve Guard in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada area. The jawans were out on an anti-Maoist mission when they were ambushed.

    What are Improvised explosive devices (IEDs)?

    • Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are devices that are designed and constructed in an improvised manner using commonly available materials. They can be made using anything from fireworks to military-grade explosives and can be detonated remotely or by a person nearby. IEDs are often used as a weapon by insurgent or terrorist groups to target military, government, or civilian targets.

    Challenges faced by Indian armed forces

    • The security forces are dealing with an enemy who is faceless, unidentifiable and hidden among the people. 
    • Security personnel can open fire only in self-defence, not on apprehension, giving militants the ‘first mover advantage’.
    • The reaction or the response time available for what is called “Immediate Action (IA) or Counter Ambush drill” is a few seconds.

    How can challenges be minimized?

    • Avoid travel by vehicle: The safest mode of travel is on foot in a region where left-wing extremism is active.
    • Patrolling: Routine operations like area domination, cordon-and-search, long range patrolling, ambush-cum-patrolling and so forth should only be undertaken on foot. 
    • Vehicle Patrolling: Vehicle travel should be undertaken rarely and that too, only for urgent operational reasons, after exercising due diligence.
    • If vehicle travel is absolutely essential, the onward and return journeys should never be by the same route, nor undertaken during the day time. 
    • Night traveling: A little-known fact is that Maoists, to avoid the risk of civilian casualties, neither trigger IEDs during night time, nor use anti-personnel/pressure induced mines. The exact timing of triggering IEDs is also an issue during night time. Hence, night travel by vehicles is relatively safe for security forces.
    • Camouflaging with Civilians: To avoid easy identification, forces must travel with civilians in mufti with weapons carefully concealed.
    • Armoured vehicles and other protective gear: Security forces should be equipped with appropriate protective gear and their vehicles should be equipped with V-shaped and armour-plated hull, blast-resistant technology, and proper sandbagging to minimize damage in the event of an explosion.

    Other measures that need to be undertaken

    • Several measures need to be undertaken at the government level, both at the Centre and States. These include collaboration with international organisations, NGOs, and other countries to share information, resources, and best practices for landmine and IED prevention, detection, and clearance
    • Implementation and enforcement of national and international laws, policies, and regulations aimed at preventing the use, production, and trade of landmines and IEDs.
    • Legislative measures are required for mandatory addition of odoriferous chemicals and/or biosensors to explosives used in industry and mining etc. for their easy detection during transport. Likewise, legislative measures are required for stricter controls on manufacture, supply and sale of explosives and detonators. 
    • Other countries have taken several counter-IED measures, such as the U.S. setting up the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization and spending about $20 billion on counter-IED measures since 2005.
    • It is high time that an overarching agency is created under the Ministry of Home Affairs to coordinate the efforts of both the Government of India and the State governments, and to provide legislative, technological and procedural support to law enforcement agencies.

    Source: TH

    Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC)

    Syllabus:GS3/Indian Economy/Investment Model

    In News

    • The ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce) is gradually challenging the dominance of Zomato and Swiggy by offering users cheaper prices for the same food items.

    What is the ONDC Project?

    • Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) is an initiative aiming at promoting open networks for all aspects of exchange of goods and services over digital or electronic networks. 
    • ONDC is to be based on open-sourced methodology, using open specifications and open network protocols independent of any specific platform.
    • It is a non-profit initiative of the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce.
    • Currently, grocery and food items merchants are mostly part of it, but beauty, fashion, personal care products, and electronics, among others, are gradually joining in
    • Currently, there are partners like Paytm, Meesho, Magicpin, Mystore, Craftsvilla, and Spice Money, which act as online storefronts, allowing users to order food or any other product from a business listed on the ONDC platform.

    Need of the ONDC

    • India’s e-commerce landscape: Despite the high internet speeds and widespread smartphone usage, the majority of participants in e-commerce are unable to reap the benefits of this digital revolution.
      • India has the 3rd-largest online shoppers base only behind China and the USA. Yet e-retail penetration in India is only 4.3% as compared to 25% in China and 26% in South Korea.
    • Platform-centric challenges: A single entity has full control over managing all operations in the e-commerce value chain.
      • Sellers face challenges including high margin costs and a need to maintain presence at various platforms.
      • Buyers and sellers can only transact only if they are part of the same platform.
      • The rise of monopolies creates barriers to the entry for the population scale adoption of e-commerce.

    Significance of ONDC

    • Suitable Platform for small businesses: ONDC protocols would standardize operations like cataloging, inventory management, order management and order fulfillment. Thus, small businesses would be able to use any ONDC compatible applications instead of being governed by specific platform centric policies. 
      • This will provide multiple options to small businesses to be discoverable over network and conduct business. It would also encourage easy adoption of digital means by those currently not on digital commerce networks. 
    • Inclusivity for e-Commerce:  ONDC is expected to make e-Commerce more inclusive and accessible for consumers. Consumers can potentially discover any seller, product or service by using any compatible application or platform, thus increasing freedom of choice for consumers. 
    • Growth of startups: By facilitating scalable and cost-effective e-commerce through the open protocol, ONDC will empower startups to grow collaboratively.

    Indian e-commerce Industry

    • Growth: The Indian e-commerce industry has been on an upward growth trajectory. The Indian e-commerce market was estimated to be worth over $55 Bn in Gross Merchandise Value in 2021. 
      • By 2030, it is expected to have an annual gross merchandise value of $350 Bn. 
    • Factors of Growth: Fuelling e-commerce growth, India is expected to have over 907 million internet users by 2023, which accounts for ~64% of the total population of the country.
      • The e-commerce industry in India is growing on levers such as increased smartphone penetration, increased affluence and low data prices, providing impetus for e-retail growth. India is the 2nd largest internet market in the world with ~62 billion UPI transactions in 2022.
      • Electronics and apparel make up nearly 70 per cent of the e-commerce market, when evaluated against transaction value. Other new upcoming categories within e-commerce include ed-tech, hyperlocal and food-tech. 
    • Gaining Popularity in tier-2 and tier-3 cities: The e-commerce trend is gaining major popularity even in tier-2 and tier– 3 cities as they now make up nearly half of all shoppers and contribute three of every five orders for leading e-retail platforms. 
      • The average selling price (ASP) in tier-2 and smaller towns is only marginally lower than in tier-1/metro cities. 
    • ONDC: A network launched by the Government of India in 2022, aims to provide equal opportunities to MSMEs to thrive in digital commerce and democratize e-commerce.

    Source: IE

    Status of India’s Gold Reserves

    Syllabus: GS 3/Economy

    In News

    • The Reserve Bank’s gold reserves increased by 34.22 tonnes year-on-year to reach 794.64 tonnes in March-end 2023.

    About the status of gold reserves

    • The RBI bought 34.22 tonnes of gold in fiscal 2023; in fiscal 2022, it had accumulated 65.11 tonnes of gold. 
    • 437.22 tonnes of gold is held overseas in safe custody with the Bank of England and the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), and 301.10 tonnes of gold is held domestically.
    • As on March 31, 2023, the country’s total foreign exchange reserves stood at $578.449 billion, and gold reserves were pegged at $45.2 billion
    • In value terms (USD), the share of gold in the total foreign exchange reserves increased from about 7 percent at the end of March 2022 to about 7.81 percent at the end of March 2023.
      •  It was 7.06 percent as of end-September 2022.

    Why is the RBI purchasing so much gold?

    • The RBI has been stepping up its gold purchases over the last few years in order to diversify its overall reserves. 
    • This change in strategy has been driven by negative interest rates in the past, the weakening of the dollar, and growing geopolitical uncertainty.
    • Central banks want security, safety, liquidity, and return.
      •  Gold is a safe asset to have as it is liquid, has an international price that is transparent, and as it can be traded anytime. 
      • So, central banks are buying gold

    Status of other central banks 

    • Many other central banks, including the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), and the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey have been buying gold. 
    • In the calendar year 2022, central banks around the world purchased 1,136 tonnes of gold, which was a record high.
    • The two key drivers of central banks’ decisions to hold gold are its performance during times of crisis, and its role as a long-term store of value
    • In January-March 2023, the Monetary Authority of Singapore was the largest single buyer of gold after it added 69 tonnes to its gold reserves.

    Do you know?

    • Foreign exchange reserves are an important component of the balance of payments and an essential element in the analysis of an economy’s external position.
    • The level of India’s foreign exchange reserves comprising foreign currency assets (FCA), gold, SDRs, and reserve tranche position (RTP) in the IMF

     

    To know about the Gold & Economy Linkage. Kindly follow https://www.nextias.com/current-affairs/20-10-2021/world-gold-council

     

    Source: IE

    Army to have Common uniforms at higher ranks

    Syllabus: GS3/ Defence

    In News

    • The Army has decided in the recently concluded Army Commanders Conference that brigadiers and above rank officers will have a common uniform from August 1, 2023 irrespective of their parent cadre and appointment.

    About

    • Shoulder Ranks, Headgear, Gorget Patches, Belts and Shoes of Senior officers of flag ranks who are brigadier and above will be now in a standard and common outfit.
    • They will no longer wear regimental lanyards (cords) on their shoulders. They will also not wear any shoulder flashes like ‘Special Forces’, ‘Arunachal Scouts’, ‘Dogra Scouts’, etc.
    • Like Infantry officers and Military Intelligence officers wear dark green berets; armoured corps officers wear black berets; Artillery, Engineers, Signals, Air Defence, EME, ASC, AOC, AMC, and some minor corps officers wear dark blue berets; Parachute Regiment officers wear maroon berets; and Army Aviation Corps officers wear grey berets.
    • There will be no change to the uniform worn by Colonels and below-rank officers.

    What is the reason for making the change?

    • The primary reason for the decision to adopt a common uniform for senior officers is to promote a common identity and approach in service matters among the force’s senior leadership. 
      • Since appointments at higher ranks can often mean commanding troops of mixed regimental lineage, it is only appropriate that the senior officers commanding these troops should present themselves in a neutral uniform rather than a regimental one.
      • Regimental service in the Army ends at the rank of Colonel for most officers.
    • The move will help move beyond the boundaries of regimentation and create a sense of unity among the senior officers. 
    • This will also reinforce the Indian Army’s character to be a fair and equitable organisation.

    Image: Ranks in the Indian Army

    Source: IE

    Persona Non Grata

    Syllabus:GS2/International Relations

    In News

    • Recently, China has declared a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai as persona non grata.

    What is persona non grata?

    • Persona non grata is a Latin phrase which means “unwelcome person.” As a legal term, it refers to the practice of a state prohibiting a diplomat from entering the country as a diplomat, or censuring a diplomat already resident in the country for conduct of the status of a diplomat.
    • The designation received diplomatic meaning at the 1961 Vienna Convention for Diplomatic Relations. 
    • Article 9 of the treaty mentions that a country can declare any member of a diplomatic staff persona non grata at any time and without having to explain its decision.
    • Soon after the declaration, the person concerned usually returns to their home nation. In case they fail to do so within a reasonable period, the country may refuse to recognise the person concerned as a member of the mission.
    • A person can be declared persona non grata even before arriving in a country.

    On whom it applies?

    • The imposition of persona non grata designation isn’t just limited to diplomats. Hollywood actor Brad Pitt was declared persona non grata by China and Donald Trump, was also labelled as persona non grata way before he was the President of USA by Panama.

    When is it used?

    • There aren’t any fixed rules regarding when a country can declare a foreign person persona non grata as it doesn’t need to give an explanation according to Article 9 of the Vienna Convention.
    • Countries have used it to express their discontent with the actions of other nations. During the Cold War, it became a “tit-for-tat” sanction as both the US and the Soviet Union liberally declared each other’s diplomats persona non grata.
    • India also labelled a Pakistan High Commission staffer persona non-grata for espionage activities in 2016.

    Source: IE

     

    Molecular Motor

    Syllabus: GS3/ Science & Technology

    News 

    • An international team of researchers, including from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru, has reported a new kind of molecular motor. 

    Molecular Motor

    • Molecular motors are a class of proteins that drive intracellular movement by converting chemical energy to mechanical work along cytoskeletal filaments.
    • They are very important as Cells need to move things, such as pull two organelles together, move cargo towards and away from the nucleus, and power the movement of molecules inside cells.
    • Disruption or deregulation in these processes can lead to different diseases. 

    Recent study

    • Earlier, in a 2016 paper, researchers reported that when an enzyme called Rab5 binds to a long protein called EEA1, the protein loses its taut and rigid shape and becomes floppy. This ‘collapse’ pulls two membranes inside a cell closer to each other.
    • Now, in a new study published in May 2023, researchers have reported that EEA1 regains its rigid shape in another mechanism so that it can become floppy again to pull the membranes closer, creating a new kind of two-part molecular motor.
    • EEA1 draws energy from a reaction called GTP hydrolysis to become rigid again. GTP hydrolysis is mediated by enzymes called GTPases. Rab5 is one such.

    Significance of findings

    • They have reported several novelties in their findings. The motor does not produce a lever-like back-and-forth action, as most motors do, but allows a molecule to change its flexibility between two states. 
    • Also, most molecular motors get their energy from another molecule called ATP, whereas the Rab5-EEA1 motor uses GTP.
    • The finding opens the door to previously unanticipated cellular processes and potential applications in biology and medicine.

    Source: TH

     

    Doha Diamond League

    Syllabus: GS2/ Miscellaneous, Sports

    In News

    • Neeraj Chopra clinched the top spot in the javelin event of the Doha Diamond League with a throw of 88.67 m. 

    About

    • What is it? The Diamond League is an annual series of elite track and field competitions. 
    • Background: It was started in 2010 as a replacement for the previous IAAF Golden League and IAAF World Athletics Final events. 
    • Organizers: The Diamond League is organised by World Athletics (formerly IAAF or International Association of Athletics Federations), the international governing body for athletics.
    • Format: This year, it consists of 14 (13 series meetings plus one final), one-day meets, to be held between May and September, with men and women competing in a total of 32 disciplines. The host cities include Doha, Rabat, Rome/Florence, Paris, Oslo, Lausanne, Stockholm, Silesia, Monaco, London, Zurich, Shenzhen, Brussels, and Eugene.

    Source: IE