Daily Current Affairs – 14-06-2023

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    Cancel culture

    Syllabus: GS1/ Society

    In News

    • Recently, the term Cancel culture was in the news due to the debate of its impact on society.

    Cancel culture

    • What is it? Cancel culture’ is a widely used contemporary term to  describe a culture in which those who are deemed to have acted or spoken in an unacceptable manner are ostracised, boycotted or shunned.
    • How does it work?  When a large number of people on social media platforms collectively object to any action by a public figure, it leads to calls to ‘cancel’ the person.
    • This cancelling occurs by pressuring the individual’s workplace to fire them, pressuring brands to drop their association with the offending individual, using threats of boycott or engaging in any other action that impacts the individual’s reputation or finances.
    • Demanding accountability from people holding such problematic views is central to cancel culture.

    Recent examples

    • In 2020, J.K. Rowling faced a fierce backlash against her controversial tweets about the transgender community. 
    • Donald Trump was ‘cancelled’ because of his racist, inappropriate conduct and words towards women, people of colour and immigrants.
    • #Me too Movement, where many people took to social media to “cancel” or boycott celebrities and public personalities accused of sexual misconduct.
    • In Bollywood many prominent personalities were cancelled for allegedly promoting nepotism.

    Arguments in favour of cancel culture

    • The idea of cancel culture began as a tool for marginalised communities to assert their values and norms against public figures who continued to cling on to power despite wrongdoing.
    • For many people, such collective action has come to signify a form of social justice.

    Arguments against cancel culture

    • Critics argue that Cancel culture is no longer about holding people accountable, and has instead become an online form of vicious mob intimidation.
    • Individuals or organisations are presumed guilty without due process, leading to loss of employment, reputational damage, psychological distress and even legal actions.
    • Cancel culture  affects free speech and often signifies the lack of ability to forgive and move on. 
    • The goalposts of cancel culture keep changing, individuals and organisations are selectively targeted and face different degrees of outrage. 
    • It has led to people being constantly aggravated and frustrated with each other. They can’t seem to move beyond that, to actually initiate change of the kind they actually want to see.

    Concluding Remarks

    • Cancel culture began as a way to correct power imbalances, however it is also being used by those holding positions of power against those it intended to help.
    • Hence for some, it is a form of harassment, mob vigilantism and an act of censorship and for some a form of justice and a way to demand accountability.

    Source: TH

    Disinflation

    Syllabus: GS3/ Economy

    In News

    • Recently, the RBI Governor said that the disinflation process in India will be slow and protracted, with the 4% inflation target likely to be met only over the medium term.

    What is Disinflation?

    • Disinflation is a temporary slowing of the pace of price inflation and is used to describe instances when the inflation rate has reduced marginally over the short term.
    • Unlike inflation and deflation, which refer to the direction of prices, disinflation refers to the rate of change in the rate of inflation.
    • Disinflation has reemerged in 2023 after inflation reached its highest levels in four decades last year.

    What is Inflation?

    • Inflation is the rate of increase in prices over a given period of time,which decreases the purchasing power of the currency.
    • The overall impact of price change is measured for a diversified set of products and services.

    What is Deflation?

    • Deflation is a general decline in prices for goods and services, associated with a contraction in the supply of money and credit in the economy. 
    • During deflation, the purchasing power of currency rises over time.

    Causes of Disinflation

    • Tighter monetary policy: When the central bank follows Tight money policy,it reduces the supply of money in the economy,causing a disinflationary effect.
    • Contraction in the business cycle or a recession can also trigger disinflation. For example, businesses may choose not to increase prices to gain greater market share leading to disinflation.

    Effects of Disinflation

    • Positive Effects:The decrease in prices is favourable for consumers.Thus, it protects the value of their money and enables them to save more.
    • A healthy amount of disinflation is necessary since it prevents the economy from overheating.
    • Negative Effects:If disinflation is caused by moderate to severe economic recession, it might be dangerous to the economy.Hence, constant control and monitoring are required to maintain the balance between disinflation and deflation.

    Source:TH

    The Hiroshima AI Process

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    In News

    • During the annual Group of Seven (G-7) Summit,  Leaders initiated the Hiroshima AI Process (HAP) to regulate Artificial Intelligence (AI).

    What is the Hiroshima AI process?

    • Aim: Adoption of international technical standards for trustworthy artificial intelligence (AI).
    • The G7 leaders have agreed to create a ministerial forum known as the “Hiroshima AI Process” that will discuss issues regarding generative AI tools like ChatGPT, such as intellectual property rights and disinformation. It is scheduled to be formed by the end of this year.
    • Need: To advance international discussions on inclusive AI governance and interoperability to achieve common vision and goal of trustworthy AI.
      • To immediately take stock of the opportunities and challenges of generative AI, and encourage international organisations to analyse the impact of policy developments and Global Partnership on AI (GPAI) to conduct practical projects. 
    • Significance: It can help the countries develop a common understanding on some key regulatory issues while ensuring that any disagreement doesn’t result in complete discord.
      • The process can bring greater clarity to the role and scope of the ‘fair use’ doctrine in the use of AI for various purposes.
      • It can also differentiate use for machine-learning per se from other AI-related uses of copyrighted materials. This in turn could affect the global discourse and practice on the issue.

    What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

    • Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. Specific applications of AI include expert systems, natural language processing, speech recognition and machine vision.
    • AI programming focuses on cognitive skills that include the following:
      • Learning: Acquiring data and creating rules for how to turn it into actionable information. The rules, which are called algorithms, provide computing devices with step-by-step instructions for how to complete a specific task.
      • Reasoning:  This aspect of AI programming focuses on choosing the right algorithm to reach a desired outcome.
      • Self-correction: It is designed to continually fine-tune algorithms and ensure they provide the most accurate results possible.
      • Creativity: This aspect of AI uses neural networks, rules-based systems, statistical methods and other AI techniques to generate new images, new text, new music and new ideas.

    Why is AI important?

    • It has been effectively used in business to automate tasks done by humans, including customer service work, lead generation, fraud detection and quality control. 
    • In a number of areas, AI can perform tasks much better than humans. Particularly when it comes to repetitive, detail-oriented tasks, AI tools often complete jobs quickly and with relatively few errors. 
    • Advances in AI techniques have not only helped fuel an explosion in efficiency, but opened the door to entirely new business opportunities for some larger enterprises. 
    • AI has become central to many of today’s largest and most successful companies, including Alphabet, Apple, Microsoft and Meta, where AI technologies are used to improve operations and outpace competitors.

    What are the applications of AI?

    • AI in healthcare: Companies are applying machine learning to make better and faster medical diagnoses than humans.
    • AI in governance: Digital India on the back of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the future of e-governance in India. Digital technology-backed programs like Aadhar expansion, Common Services Centres, Direct Benefit Transfer, UMANG services, etc. have occupied a huge proportion of India’s e-governance model.
      • The launch of the ‘National AI Portal’ and ‘Responsible AI for Youth’ is expected to take Indian governance to an AI-powered future.
    • AI in education: AI can automate grading, giving educators more time for other tasks. It can assess students and adapt to their needs, helping them work at their own pace. AI tutors can provide additional support to students, ensuring they stay on track.
    • AI in business: Machine learning algorithms are being integrated into analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms to uncover information on how to better serve customers.
    • AI in manufacturing:  Manufacturing has been at the forefront of incorporating robots into the workflow. Smaller, multitasking robots that collaborate with humans and take on responsibility for more parts of the job in warehouses, factory floors and other workspaces.
    • AI in security: By analyzing data and using logic to identify similarities to known malicious code, AI can provide alerts to new and emerging attacks much sooner than human employees and previous technology iterations.
    • AI in transportation: AI technologies are used in transportation to manage traffic, predict flight delays, and make ocean shipping safer and more efficient. In supply chains, AI is replacing traditional methods of forecasting demand and predicting disruptions, a trend accelerated by COVID-19 when many companies were caught off guard by the effects of a global pandemic on the supply and demand of goods.

    Advantages of AI

    • Good at detail-oriented jobs: AI has proven to be as good or better than doctors at diagnosing certain cancers, including breast cancer and melanoma.
    • Reduced time for data-heavy tasks:  AI is widely used in data-heavy industries, including banking and securities, pharma and insurance, to reduce the time it takes to analyze big data sets. 
    • Delivers consistent results: The best AI translation tools deliver high levels of consistency, offering even small businesses the ability to reach customers in their native language.
    • Can improve customer satisfaction: AI can personalize content, messaging, ads, recommendations and websites to individual customers.
      • AI programs do not need to sleep or take breaks, providing 24/7 service.

    Disadvantages of AI

    • Expensive.
    • Requires deep technical expertise.
    • Limited supply of qualified workers to build AI tools.
    • Reflects the biases of its training data, at scale.
    • Lack of ability to generalize from one task to another.
    • Eliminates human jobs, increasing unemployment rates.
    • Ethical use of artificial intelligence.

    Ethical Use of AI

    • While AI tools present a range of new functionality for businesses, the use of AI also raises ethical questions because, for better or worse, an AI system will reinforce what it has already learned.
    • This can be problematic because machine learning algorithms, which underpin many of the most advanced AI tools, are only as smart as the data they are given in training. Because a human being selects what data is used to train an AI program, the potential for machine learning bias is inherent and must be monitored closely.
    • AI’s ethical challenges include the following: bias due to improperly trained algorithms and human bias; misuse due to deep fakes and phishing; legal concerns including AI libel and copyright issues; elimination of jobs; and data privacy concerns, particularly in the banking, healthcare and legal fields.

    Way Ahead

    • A “whole of society” approach to AI governance will enable us to develop broad-based ethical principles, cultures and codes of conduct, to ensure the needed harm-mitigating measures, reviews and audits during design, development and deployment phases, and to inculcate the transparency, accountability, inclusion and societal trust for AI to flourish and bring about the extraordinary breakthroughs it promises.

    Source: TH

    Decrease in Punjab’s cotton cultivation

    Syllabus: GS3/ Agriculture

    In News

    • Punjab has recently recorded its lowest-ever area under cotton cultivation in over six decades.

    More about the news

    • Decrease in cultivation:
      • This year Punjab managed to bring 1.75 lakh hectares of land under cotton cultivation, falling short of the state government’s target of 3 lakh hectares by 42%, with the lowest-ever area recorded under cotton farming. 
      • The state’s cotton yield has decreased by 45% compared to the previous year. 
      • MSP for Cotton:
        • The Minimum Support Price (MSP) for cotton this year is Rs. 6,600, while the market rate is Rs. 7,000 per quintal.
    • Reasons behind the decreasing area under cotton:
      • Whiteflies:
        • The decline began in 2015, when the cotton crop was severely attacked by whiteflies. 
        • These are tiny white insects that suck sap from the cotton plant’s phloem or living tissue, which transports food made in the leaves (through photosynthesis) to other parts.
      • Leaf curl virus:
        • The whiteflies insect is also a carrier for the leaf curl virus
        • The disease-affected plants get stunted and lead to reduced yields.
      • Pink Bollworm insect:
        • The Pink Bollworm insect also caused disease among the crop in 2021 and farmers were unaware of the means to deal with it. 
        • The information on controlling the disease reached them after a delay, causing substantial losses.
    • Outcomes:
      • Shift to other crops:
        • Consecutive disease attacks have burdened many farmers with substantial financial losses, forcing them to switch to paddy and Basmati crops.
      • Loss of farmer confidence:
        • Experts believe that farmers have lost confidence in the crop due to its lower yield of late
        • Since then, the area under cotton has stayed under 3 lakh hectares, except in 2019.
        • After the whitefly infestation, which prevented farmers from expanding their cotton cultivation for the next 3-4 years, there was more optimism over its chances in 2020.
    • Neighbouring states:
      • The decrease in the cotton area has been noted in the last seven to eight years, even as neighbouring states like Haryana and Rajasthan show better results in terms of production of the cotton crop.

    Suggestions

    • Government could assist farmers by aiding them with relevant information for improving cotton cultivation.
    • The Punjab government should establish a Cotton Research Centre where farmers should have access to soil and seed testing facilities. 
      • It could provide farmers with technical knowledge about the crop and raise awareness about diseases.

    About Cotton Crop

    • About:
      • It is a Kharif Crop that comes from the natural fibers of cotton plants, which are native to tropical and subtropical regions.
      • Being renewable and biodegradable, cotton is the most environmentally friendly raw material for the textile industry as compared to its synthetic alternatives.
      • Cotton plants have a large growing period which can extend up to 200 days. 
      • Growing cotton starts between December and March. These plants require a relatively high temperature (21-30°C) over a long growing season.
      • The cotton is not a thirsty crop as it is a xerophyte, which can grow in dry, arid environments.
    • Cotton production:
      • The top five cotton producing countries are China, India, the United States of America, Brazil and Pakistan, which together account for more than three-quarters of global production.
      • Only 3 percent of the world’s land is used for growing cotton. Yet, it meets 27 percent of the world’s textile demands.

    Cotton in India

    • About:
      • India is the largest producer of cotton in the world and the third largest exporter. It is also the largest consumer of cotton in the world.
      • Top Cotton Producing States in India are Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh.
    • India is the country to grow all four species of cultivated cotton:
      • G.arboreum and Herbaceum (Asian cotton), G.barbadense (Egyptian cotton) and G. hirsutum (American Upland cotton). 
      • G.hirsutum represents 94% of the hybrid cotton production in India and all the current Bt cotton hybrids are G. hirsutum.
      • Now India’s Cotton would be known as ‘Kasturi Cotton’ in the world cotton Trade.
    • Bt cotton hybrids:
      • The pest-resistant Genetically Modified (GM) Bt cotton hybrids have captured the Indian market (covering over 95% of the area under cotton) since their introduction in 2002.
        • These now cover over 95% of the area under cotton, with the seeds produced entirely by the private sector.
        • India is the only country that grows cotton as hybrids and the first to develop hybrid cotton back in 1970. 

    World Cotton Day

    • Cotton Four & the Cotton day:
      • The first World Cotton Day was proposed by the World Trade Organization on October 7, 2019, by the Cotton Four, four sub-Saharan African cotton producers Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mali, collectively known as the Cotton Four (WTO).
        • The Cotton-4 countries` initiative to organise World Cotton Day was welcomed by the WTO on October 7, 2019.
    • Significance: 
      • The day presents a brilliant opportunity to raise awareness about cotton and cotton-related products as well as the need for developing nations to have greater access to international markets in order to sell their cotton-related goods. 
      • It promotes ethical trade practices and makes it possible for developing nations to profit from each stage of the cotton value chain.
      • The event gives farmers and emerging countries a boost in terms of economic development.

    Source: IE

    US to rejoin UNESCO

    Syllabus: GS2/International Relations

    In News

    • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) announced that the United States will rejoin it in July.

    About UNESCO

    • It is a UN agency tasked with furthering international cooperation and peace through the promotion of educational, scientific and cultural causes. 
    • The United States was a founding member of UNESCO in 1945.
    • It designates locations globally as World Heritage Sites, which means international recognition and possible funding.
    • UNESCO’s programmes contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in the 2030 Agenda, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.
    • It has 195 member states and ten associate members. India is among the founding members of the Organisation.

    Why did the US Exit UNESCO?

    • In 2011, UNESCO inducted Palestine as a member. This led to the US halting the agency’s funding, worth millions of dollars, under then President Barack Obama.
    • Palestine is not recognised as a sovereign state by the United Nations. It was included as a non-member observer State over Israel’s objections in 2012, meaning it could participate in General Assembly proceedings but lacked voting rights.
    • The Palestinians claim the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip — territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war — for an independent state. Israel says the Palestinians’ efforts to win recognition at the UN are aimed at circumventing a negotiated settlement and meant to pressure Israel into concessions.
    • US laws, owing to the country’s historical ties with Israel, prohibit funding to any UN agency that implies recognition of the Palestinians’ demands for their own state. But this was negotiated recently through an agreement in 2022 that allowed for giving UNESCO funds again.

    Why has the USA rejoined it?

    • The US absence from UNESCO had strengthened China’s position. The decision to return was also due to China filling the gap left by the US in UNESCO policy making, such as in setting standards for artificial intelligence and technology education around the world.

    Souce: IE

     

    Anti-submarine Warfare Ship ‘Anjadip’

    Syllabus: GS3/ Defence

    In News

    • An anti-submarine warfare shallow water craft vessel built by Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), for the Navy was launched at Kattupalli Port.
      • Anjadip, is the third of the eight ships of the contract that was signed between Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Kolkata and Ministry of Defence in April 2019.

    About 

    • The vessel was named after the island of Anjadip, located off Karwar Port, Karnataka, signifying its strategic maritime importance.
    • It is designed to undertake anti-submarine operations in coastal waters, low intensity maritime operations and subsurface surveillance among others.
    • The ship is a 900-ton, 77-metre-long vessel powered by water-jet propulsion.
    • It features a fire control system (FCS), an integrated Platform Management system, an Atomic Power Management system, and a Battle Damage control system.

    Source: ET