Daily Current Affairs – 15-06-2023

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    Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2023

    Syllabus: GS1/Society

    In News

    • The 12th edition Reuters Institute Digital News Report in collaboration with the Asian College of Journalism is released.

    About the Report

    • It  surveys the news consumption habits of consumers on six continents across 46 markets.
    • This year’s report comes against the backdrop of a global cost-of-living crisis, a continuing war in the heart of Europe, and further climate instability across the world. 

    Reuters Institute 

    • The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism is part of the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford, and affiliated with Green Templeton College. 
    • The core funding comes from the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 
    • The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism is dedicated to exploring the future of journalism worldwide through debate, engagement, and research.

    Major Findings of the Report

    • Structural Shifts: Various shocks of the last few years, including the war in Ukraine and the Coronavirus pandemic, have accelerated structural shifts towards more digital, mobile, and platform-dominated media environments.
      • Facebook remains one of the most-used social networks overall, but its influence on journalism is declining as it shifts its focus away from news. 
      • It also faces new challenges from established networks such as YouTube and vibrant youth-focused networks such as TikTok. 
    • Increasing relevance of Celebrities and Influencers: When it comes to news, audiences pay more attention to celebrities, influencers, and social media personalities than journalists in networks like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. 
    • Algorithms: Much of the public is sceptical of the algorithms used to select what they see via search engines, social media, and other platforms. Despite this, on average, users still slightly prefer news selected this way to that chosen by editors or journalists (27%).
    • Participation in online news: Despite hopes that the internet could widen democratic debate, fewer people are now participating in online news than in the recent past. Aggregated across markets, only around a fifth (22%) are now active participants, with around half (47%) not participating in news at all.
    • Trust in news: Trust in the news has fallen, across markets, by a further 2 percentage points in the last year, reversing – in many countries – the gains made at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic. 
      • Finland remains the country with the highest levels of overall trust (69%), while Greece (19%) has the lowest after a year characterised by heated arguments about press freedom and the independence of the media.
    • Traditional Media: Consumption of traditional media, such as TV and print, continues to fall in most markets, with online and social consumption not making up the gap.
      • Across countries the majority of online users say they still prefer to read the news rather than watch or listen to it. 
      • Video news consumption has been growing steadily across markets, with most video content now accessed via third-party platforms such as YouTube and Facebook.
    • News Podcast: News podcasting continues to resonate with educated and younger audiences but remains a minority activity overall. 
      • Around a third (34%) access a podcast monthly, with 12% accessing a show relating to news and current affairs.

    Indian Scenario

    • Access to online news: There was a sharp decrease in access to online news particularly through social media.
      • Television, popular among a large section of the population, also saw a decline as a news source with our younger and more urban-based sample. 
      • These falls in news use can be attributed, in part, to the reducing impact of the pandemic, with lockdown restrictions withdrawn.
    • Decrease in Trust: India registered a small decrease in overall trust in news compared to last year, and was ranked 24th among 46 countries in this regard. 
      • Among individual news brands, public broadcasters like DD India, All India Radio, and BBC News retained high levels of trust among survey respondents in India, emphasizing the importance of public service media.
    • Social Media: YouTube was the most preferred social media platform for news with 56% of the respondents accessing it.
      • WhatsApp (47%) and Facebook (39%) were the next two preferred social media platforms for news in India among the survey respondents. 

    Changing platforms and the implications for publishers

    • A running sore for news publishers over the last decade or more has been the increasing influence of tech platforms and other intermediaries on the way news is accessed and monetised. 
    • Although search and social media play different roles, news access has for some time been dominated by two giant companies: Google and Facebook (now Meta), who at their height accounted for just under half of online traffic to news sites. 
    • The growing popularity of digital audio and video is bringing new platforms into play while some consumers have adopted less toxic and more private messaging networks for communication. 
    • In some sense these changes represent a ‘new normal’ where publishers need to navigate an even more complex platform environment in which attention is fragmented, where trust is low, and where participation is even less open and representative.

    Source: TH

    Tamil Nadu Withdraws General Consent for CBI 

    Syllabus: GS2/ Important aspects of governance, Centre-State Relations

    In News

    More about the News

    • It was done hours after a Tamil Nadu minister was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over his alleged role in a job racket scandal.
    • Accordingly, the CBI has to henceforth get the Tamil Nadu government’s permission for conducting an investigation in the state.
    • It is noted that Mizoram withdrew its general consent to the CBI in July 2015, West Bengal did it in November 2018 and Chhattisgarh in January 2019. Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala, Jharkhand and Punjab withdrew their general consent in 2020. Meghalaya withdrew consent in 2022.

    What is the General Consent of CBI?

    • The CBI is governed by The Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, and it must mandatorily obtain the consent of the state government concerned before beginning to investigate a crime in a state.
    • General consent is normally given by states to help CBI to conduct a seamless investigation of corruption cases against central government employees in their states. This essentially means consent by default and CBI may begin investigations into a case in a state with the premise that consent has been already given to it.
    • Consent given to the CBI can come in two forms – either case specific or general. In the first form, the CBI has to apply for consent on a case-by-case basis and can’t act before the consent is given.
    • In the absence of general consent, CBI would have to apply to the state government for its consent in every individual case, and before taking even small actions.

    Why is consent needed?

    • The CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DPSEA). Under this law, the CBI is a special wing of the Delhi Police and hence, its original jurisdiction is restricted to the Capital.
    • Therefore, the CBI must mandatorily obtain the consent of the state government concerned before beginning to investigate a crime in a state.
    • Many states have alleged that the central government was using the CBI to unfairly target the opposition.

    Implications of  withdrawal of general consent

    • No registration of fresh cases: Withdrawal of general consent also means that the CBI will not be able to register any fresh case involving central government officials or private persons in a particular state without prior permission of that state government.
    • Loss of power: CBI officers will lose all powers of a police officer as soon as they enter the state unless the state government has allowed them.

    About the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

    • It is the premier investigating police agency in India. It has its origin in the Special Police Establishment set up in 1941 to probe bribery and corruption during World War II. Later, it was set up by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1963 after Santhanam committee recommendation.
    • The CBI is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public Grievances, Government of India. 
    • It is also the nodal police agency in India, which coordinates investigations on behalf of Interpol Member countries.
    • The CBI is different from the National Investigation Agency, which has jurisdiction all over the country.

    Source: TH

     World Blood Donor Day

    Syllabus: GS2/ Health

    News

    • Every year June 14 is observed as World Blood Donor Day.

    About:

    • Background: It is celebrated on the birthday anniversary of Karl Landsteiner  who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the ABO blood group system.
    • It was designated as an annual event by the World Health Assembly(WHO) in 2005.
    • Objective:Celebrate and thank individuals who donate blood and encourage more people to become new donors.
    • Slogan for 2023 World Blood Donor Day campaign: “Give blood, give plasma, share life, share often.”
    • Host country(2023):Algeria.

    Composition of blood

    Blood is a specialised body fluid which has four main components:

    • Plasma: It is the liquid component of the blood and a mixture of water, sugar, fat, protein and salts.
    • The main job of the plasma is to transport blood cells throughout the body along with nutrients, waste products, antibodies,clotting proteins, chemical messengers such as hormones, and proteins that help maintain the body’s fluid balance. 
    •  Red blood cells: These are the most abundant cells in the blood.
    • Blood appears red because of the large number of red blood cells
    • Red cells contain a special protein called haemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body and then returns carbon dioxide from the body to the lungs so it can be exhaled.
    • Production of red blood cells is controlled by erythropoietin, a hormone produced primarily by the kidneys.
    •  White blood cells: White blood cells protect the body from infection and  account for about 1 percent of human blood.
    •  Platelets:
    • Platelets are small, colourless cell fragments in our blood that help the blood clotting process (or coagulation) by gathering at the site of an injury.
    • A normal platelet count ranges from 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood.

     

                          

     

    Types of blood groups:

    • There are 4 main blood groups (types of blood) – A, B, AB and O.
    • The blood group is identified by antibodies and antigens in the blood.
    • Antibodies are proteins found in plasma. They’re part of the body’s natural defences. They recognise foreign substances, such as germs, and alert the immune system, which destroys them.
    • Antigens are protein molecules found on the surface of red blood cells.

    The ABO System:There are 4 main blood groups defined by the ABO system,

    • Blood group A:It has A antigens with anti-B antibodies.
    • Blood group B:It has B antigens with anti-A antibodies.
    • Blood group AB:It has both A and B antigens but no antibodies.
    • Blood group O:It has no antigens but both anti-A and anti-B antibodies.

    The Rh System:Red blood cells sometimes have another antigen, a protein known as the RhD antigen. If this is present, the blood group is RhD positive. If it’s absent, the blood group is RhD negative.

    The golden blood type or Rh null blood group contains no Rh antigens (proteins) in the red blood cells (RBCs). This is the rarest blood group in the world, with less than 50 individuals having this blood group. It was first seen in Aboriginal Australians.

    Universal Blood Groups:

    • Universal donor: O- blood,since no antigens are present and it has a negative Rh factor.
    • Universal receiver:AB+ blood,Since both A and B antigens are present and it has a positive Rh factor. 

    Blood donation in india

    • Status:There are 3840 licensed blood banks (blood centres) in the country. (till March 2022 ).
    • The first voluntary blood donation initiative in India started in 1942, during World War II and the first blood bank was established in Kolkata, West Bengal.
    • Steps:
      • 1st October is celebrated as the National Voluntary Blood Donation Day in India.
      • The National Blood Policy (2002):The NBP aims to ensure an easily accessible and adequate supply of safe and quality blood and blood components collected/procured from voluntary non-remunerated regular blood donors in well-equipped premises; the blood should be free from Transfusion Transmissible Infections (TTIs), be stored and transported under optimum conditions.
      • National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) and State Blood Transfusion Council (SBTCs) were established with the intention of planning Nationwide IEC(Information, Education and Communication) campaigns.
      • In response to the HIV pandemic, blood safety became an important component of National AIDS Control programme with key objectives:
    1. Modernization of blood banks.
    2. Promotion of voluntary blood donation.
    3. Quality systems in blood transfusion services(BTS).

    Source:WHO

    Transgenic crops in India 

    Syllabus: GS3/ Agriculture, Bio-technology

    In News

    • Three States, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana, have recently rejected a proposal, approved by the Centre’s Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), to test a new kind of transgenic cotton seed.

    More about the news

    • About:
      • The cotton seed has been developed by the Hyderabad-based Bioseed Research India with Cry2Ai which makes it resistant to pink bollworm. 
      • The first generations of transgenic cotton had been developed to insure cotton against a more widespread pest called the American bollworm
    • The GEAC recommendation: 
      • The Cry2Ai seed has passed preliminary, confined trials and was recommended by the GEAC to be tested in farmer’s fields in Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana. 
      • Agriculture being a State subject means that, in most cases, companies interested in testing their seeds need approvals from the States for conducting such tests. 
      • Only Haryana gave permission for such tests.

    About Genetically Modified Crops

    • About:
      • A Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is any living organism whose genetic material has been modified to include certain desirable techniques. 
      • Genetic modification has previously been used for the large-scale production of insulin, vaccines, and more.
      • In crops, genetic modification involves the manipulation of DNA instead of using controlled pollination— the conventional method to improve crops— to alter certain characteristics of the crop.
    • Advantages: 
      • It is useful in controlling the occurrence of certain diseases.
      • It grows faster than the foods that are grown traditionally. 
      • Probably because of this, the increased productivity provides the population with more food. 
      • At times, genetically engineered food crops can be grown at places with unfavourable climatic conditions too.
      • It is reported to be high in nutrients and contain more minerals and vitamins than those found in traditionally grown food.
    • Disadvantages: 
      • It may have harmful effects on the human body. 
      • It is believed that consumption of these genetically engineered foods can cause the development of diseases which may be immune to antibiotics.
      • This cross-pollination method can cause damage to other organisms that thrive in the environment.
      • The technology could be carcinogenic. It is a killer technology that kills soil, microbes, pollinators, almost all medicinal herbs and adversely affects crop diversity. It may also cause cancer in humans,

    Status of transgenic crops in India

    • About:
      • There is an array of crops — brinjal, tomato, maize, chickpea — in various stages of trials that employ transgenic technology. 
      • However, cotton remains the only transgenic crop that is being commercially cultivated in India. 
    • Mustard hybrid:
      • The GEAC, the apex technical body charged with evaluating proposals for testing genetically modified (GM) seeds, has recently approved the environmental release of Mustard hybrid DMH-11 and its parental lines.
    • However, the GEAC, which is under the Union Environment Ministry, isn’t the final arbiter in the case of GM crops. 
    • There is long-standing litigation in the Supreme Court on the permissibility of allowing transgenic food crops in farmer fields based on petitions filed by activist Aruna Rodrigues and Gene Campaign, an NGO.
    • Following the GEAC approval for DMH-11, the petitioners approached the Supreme Court asking for a stay on the release of the crop because it would encourage farmers to spray herbicides, which are banned in India. 
    • Hearings on this case are still ongoing. 
    • The process of regulating transgenic crops in India:
      • Development of crop:
        • The process of developing transgenic crops is an elaborate one as inserting transgenic genes into plants to elicit a sustained, protective response is a mix of both science and chance
      • Safety assessments:
        • There are multiple safety assessments done by committees before they are cleared for further tests in open plots of land which are located at either agricultural universities or plots controlled by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR). 
      • Commercial clearance:
        • A transgenic plant can apply for commercial clearance, only after it has proven to be demonstrably better than comparable non-GM variants on claimed parameters (for instance, drought tolerance or insect resistance) without posing ecological harm to other species that may be being cultivated in the vicinity. 
        • Open field trials often take place over multiple crop seasons and types of geographical conditions, to assess its suitability across different States.

    Way ahead

    • The GEAC has asked the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the ICAR to “jointly organise capacity-building activities with regard to GM crops for appraising the State/UT Government(s) about the technology involved and the regulatory framework in place for evaluation of these GM crops.
    • To resolve the issue of States not following approvals on testing, because of differing attitudes to GM crops, the GEAC is considering a proposal by the DBT to declare some regions across India as ‘notified testing sites. 
      • There are 42 such proposed sites and, if it goes through, companies and institutions wanting to conduct trials of GM crops at these locations won’t need the permission of States for trials.

    The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) 

    • About:
      • It is the statutory committee constituted under the “Rules for the Manufacture, Use/Import/Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells (Rules, 1989)” framed under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. 
        • Every set of applications has specific form and pre-requisite documents along with recommendations, wherever needed.
      • Clearance of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is mandatory for the environmental release of Genetically Modified (GM) crops. 
    • Ministry:
      • GEAC functions in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). 
    • Members:
      • The GEAC consists of a panel of plant biotechnologists and is headed by a senior official of the Environment Ministry and co-chaired by the scientist of the DBT. 

     

    Source: TH

      Global Food Security Crisis

    Syllabus: GS3/ Economy

    In News

    • The world is in the grip of the most devastating hunger crisis ever, with unprecedented levels of acute hunger being experienced worldwide.

    Basic concepts

    • Hunger: It is the physical sensation experienced by the body. It signals a lack of nutrients and a need for nourishment. When food security (i.e., dependable and consistent access to healthy food) is disrupted, hunger becomes chronic.
    • Food insecurity: It is defined as not having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of nutritious food that allows a person to remain healthy and lead an active life.
    • Malnutrition:Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and nutrients.The term malnutrition covers 2 broad groups of conditions;
    • One is undernutrition, which includes stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies.
    • The other is overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer). 

    Present Status of Hunger:The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 report

    • World:
    • The number of people affected by hunger globally rose to as many as 828 million in 2021.
    • Gender gap in food insecurity in 2021-31.9% of women in the world were moderately or severely food insecure, compared to 27.6% of men. 
    • India:
    • In India, people who were unable to afford a healthy diet touched 973.3 million in 2020.
    • The number of children under 5 years of age who are stunted is 36.1 million in 2020.
    • The number of undernourished people in 2019–21 is 224.3 million
    • The Global Hunger Report 2022 released by Concern Worldwide and Welt Hunger Hilfe, has ranked India at 107 among 121 countries.

    Reasons of the Food Crisis

    • Poverty and inequality are the main causes of hunger and all the forms of malnutrition across the world, including Asia. But several events since 2020 have come together to create a food crisis unlike any seen since World War. These events include:
    • COVID-9 Pandemic:The pandemic and enforced lockdowns to control its spread shut down their ability to work. 
    • Soaring Inflation: While affecting everyone in the world, inflation has hit the poorest families the most, making it impossible for them to afford a sufficient amount of nutritious food.
    • War in Ukraine: The war  has caused serious shortages in wheat, fuel and fertilisers that many low-income countries depend on.
    • Extreme Weather events:Climate shocks destroy lives, crops and livelihoods, and undermine people’s ability to feed themselves. 
    • Conflict: 70 percent of the world’s hungry people living in areas affected by war and violence.
    • Global fertiliser prices increase: The effects of the war in Ukraine, including higher natural gas prices, have disrupted global fertiliser production and exports. High fertiliser prices could turn the current food affordability crisis into a food availability crisis.

    Global Initiatives

    • Sustainable Development Goal(SDG)2: It aims to create a world free of hunger and malnutrition by 2030. 
    • Black Sea Grain Initiative:The deal provides for a safe humanitarian corridor for the export of Ukrainian grains through the Black Sea, to tackle rising food prices due to the geopolitical conflict.
    • International Year of Millets (IYM 2023):It was declared by the United Nations General Assembly at its 75th session to promote millets as a source of nutritional security.Further, millets are tolerant to drought and other extreme weather conditions which ensures food security also.
    • Multilateral institutions:
    • World Food Programme: It is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation that provides food assistance worldwide and  brings food assistance to more than 80 million people in 80 countries.
    • World Bank:It aims to invest in agriculture and rural development to boost food production and nutritional status.
    • Food and Agriculture Organization: It ensures people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active and healthy lives.

    Steps taken by India to ensure food security

    • National Food Security Act ,(NFSA) 2013:It ensured the approach to food security from welfare to right based approach.The act legally entitled 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidised food grains under a targeted public distribution system.
    • Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY): The scheme provides 5kg food grain per person per month free of cost to 80 crore people covered by the National food security act.It is over and above the monthly quota of NFSA.
    • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS): It started in 1975 as an early childhood care and development program.The aim is to improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years,pregnant women and lactating mothers.
    • Export Ban: India banned wheat exports in May 2022 to control rising domestic prices amid concerns over production due to the heatwave and uncertainty about existing reserves due to private sector hoarding.

    Recommendation

    • Promote diversification:To improve food security there is a need for diversification of crops that can show climate resilience and can sustain extreme weather events.
    • Reduce food wastage:According to the FAO each year the food wasted globally is about 1.3 billion tonnes.
    • Improve existing infrastructure:Some farmers fail to get their produce to the market because of poor infrastructure including roads, storage facilities, and food processing equipment.

    Source: TH

    Janjatiya Khel Mahotsav 

    Syllabus: GS1/Indian Culture

    In News

    • Recently the first Janjatiya Khel Mahotsav was organized  at the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, Bhubaneswar.

    About

    • It was a coordinated effort between the Ministry of Culture, the Odisha Government, and KIIT University.
    • It witnessed the assemblage of 5,000 tribal athletes and 1,000 officials from 26 states.

    Indigenous Sports

    • ‘Sports’ being a state subject, the responsibility to promote indigenous sports in the country and conduct special training programmes for the development and promotion of traditional sports rests primarily with the respective State/Union Territory Governments. The Union Government supplements their efforts.
    • Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports runs a Central Sector Scheme, namely, the ‘Khelo India – National Programme for Development of Sports’ Scheme (Khelo India Scheme), of which one of the Components, namely, ‘Promotion of rural and indigenous/tribal games’, is specifically dedicated to the development and promotion of rural and indigenous/tribal games in the country. 
    • Indigenous games of Mallakhamb, Kalaripayattu, Gatka, Thang-Ta, Yogasana and Silambam have been identified for promotion under this Component. 
    • Further, the Ministry has also made documentaries of various indigenous games in order to showcase and promote/revive them, namely, Gatka, Roll Ball, Tug of War, Kalaripayattu, Thang-Ta, Kho-Kho, Mallakhamb, Shooting Ball, Sqay, Kabaddi, Gilli Danda, Sikkim Archery, Dhoop Khel and Cowrie Khel, Paika Akhada and Chhau and Akhada Kushti, Hekko, Mizoram Games, Silabam, Lagori and Langadi.

     Source: PIB

     

    Borealis Mud Volcano

    Syllabus: GS1/ Places in News

    In News

    • Geologists have discovered an underwater volcano at the bottom of the Barents Sea off the coast of Norway. 

    About

    • The volcano erupts mud, fluids and gas from the planet’s interior, giving new insight into Earth science.
    • It lies approximately 70 nautical miles south of Bear Island and at 400m deep.
    • The newly discovered volcano was found by the team of researchers onboard the research vessel Kronprins Haakon with the piloted submersible vehicle ROV Aurora.
    • The Borealis Mud Volcano measures roughly 23 feet (7 meters) in diameter and is about 8 feet (2.5 m) tall. 

     

    Source: TH

     

    Fraser Island

    Syllabus: GS1/ Places in News

    In News

    • The government of the Australian state of Queensland has changed the name of the Fraser island to its traditional name K’gari(pronounced “Gurri”).

    About:

    • Fraser Island is located off the southeastern coast of Queensland, Australia, separated from the mainland and the port of Maryborough by Hervey Bay and Great Sandy Strait.
    • It is the largest sand island in the world, with golden sand dunes that date back to ancient times. 
    • The island’s traditional name, K’gari, means paradise in the native tongue of the Butchella People who inhabited the island for thousands of years. 
    • The name Fraser island was coined in 1836 when a group of 11 shipwreck survivors made their way to the island.
    • The name change highlights the importance of respecting, acknowledging, and celebrating K’gari’s indigenous culture.