Daily Current Affairs – 18-07-2023

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    Export Preparedness Index 2022 Report

    Syllabus :GS 3/Economy

    In News 

    • Recently ,NITI Aayog released the Export Preparedness Index 2022 report in New Delhi.

    About Export Preparedness Index 2022 report

    • EPI is a comprehensive tool which measures the export preparedness of the States and UTs in India. 
      • Exports are vital for simulating economic growth and development in a country, which necessitates understanding the factors which influence export performance. 
    • Pillars : The report presents a comprehensive analysis of India’s export performance in FY22, along with its sector-specific and district-level merchandise export trends. The EPI 2022 Report evaluates the performance of the states across four pillars 
      • Policy Pillar evaluates states and UTs’ performance based on its adoption of the export-related policy ecosystem at a state and district level as well as the institutional framework surrounding the ecosystem.
      • Business Ecosystem assesses the prevailing business environment in a state/UT, along with the extent of business-supportive infrastructure, and a state/UTs’ transport connectivity.
      • Export Ecosystem focuses on the export-related infrastructure in a state/UT along with the trade support provided to the exporters, and the prevalence of Research and Development in the state/UT to foster innovation.
      • Export Performance is an output-based indicator which gauges the growth of a state’s export over the previous year and analyses its export concentration and footprint on the global markets.

    Key Highlights 

    • The EPI 2022 Report observed that most ‘Coastal States’ have performed well, with the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat being the top-performers in the Export Preparedness Index across the country, in all categories of states.
    • The efforts of state governments in improving the policy ecosystem have led many states to create export promotion policies and district-level export action plans.
    • It said, 73 percent of districts in the country have an export action plan, and over 99 percent are covered under the One District One Product scheme.
    •  It states that 100 districts in the country are responsible for nearly 87 percent of the country’s exports.

    Concerns 

    •  Highlighting the lack of adequate transport connectivity, the report mentions that the absence of air connectivity hampers the movement of goods across regions especially in the landlocked states.

    Suggestions 

    • The report recommended that for the states which are lagging in terms of export commission, the central government should extend support to enable them to build the necessary ecosystem to facilitate their export. 
    • It is also recommended that Indian states need to invest in research and development for developing market-specific products and improving product quality.
    • The report further highlights the need to develop our districts as export hubs in the country and undertakes a district-level analysis of merchandise exports in the country.
    •  By improving collaboration among states, and between state and Centre, India can aspire to achieve sustained economic growth and leverage its heterogeneity to foster development at national and sub-national levels

    Source:News on air

    National Multidimensional Poverty Index 2023

    Syllabus: GS3/ Economy

    In News

    • NITI Aayog has released the National Multidimensional Poverty Index: A Progress Review 2023.

    About the Index

    • NITI Aayog, as the nodal agency for MPI, has been responsible for constructing an indigenized index for monitoring the performance of States and Union Territories in addressing multidimensional poverty.
    • The national MPI model retains the ten indicators of the global MPI model, staying closely aligned to the global methodology. 
      • It has three equally weighted dimensions – Health, Education, and Standard of living – which are represented by 12 indicators.
      • It also adds two indicators, viz., Maternal Health and Bank Accounts in line with national priorities. 

    • This is the second edition of the national MPI and is a follow-up to the Baseline Report published in November 2021. 
    • It provides multidimensional poverty estimates for India’s 36 States & Union Territories. 
    • These estimates have been computed using data from the 5th round of the NFHS (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-21.

    Key Highlights

    • Reduction in Poverty: India has registered a significant decline of 9.89 percentage points in the number of India’s multidimensionally poor from 24.85% in 2015-16 to 14.96% in 2019-2021. 
    • Decline in poverty in rural areas: The rural areas witnessed the fastest decline in poverty from 32.59% to 19.28%. 
      • During the same period, the urban areas saw a reduction in poverty from 8.65% to 5.27%. 
    • Decline in poverty in states: The fastest reduction in the proportion of multidimensional poor was observed in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Rajasthan.
      • Uttar Pradesh registered the largest decline in the number of poor with 3.43 crore people escaping multidimensional poverty. 
    • Aligned with SDG Target: Between 2015-16 and 2019-21, the MPI value has nearly halved from 0.117 to 0.066 and the intensity of poverty has reduced from 47% to 44%, thereby setting India on the path of achieving the SDG Target 1.2 (of reducing multidimensional poverty by at least half) much ahead of the stipulated timeline of 2030. 
    • Successful Government Initiatives:  Flagship programmes like the Poshan Abhiyan and Anaemia Mukt Bharat have contributed to reduced deprivations in health. Initiatives such as Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) have improved sanitation across the country. The impact of these efforts is evident in the swift 21.8 percentage points improvement in sanitation deprivations.
      • The provision of subsidized cooking fuel through the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) has positively transformed lives, with a 14.6 percentage points improvement in cooking fuel deprivations. 
      • Initiatives like Saubhagya, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), and Samagra Shiksha have also played a major role in significantly reducing multidimensional poverty in the country. 

    Conclusion

    • The findings from the second edition of the National MPI will serve as a valuable resource for States and Union Territories to identify and amplify actions that have triggered progress since the findings of the Baseline Report, right upto the district level. 
    • It will also enable them to track the progress of the vulnerable hotspots and pinpoint areas that require further targeted policy interventions and programmatic action. 

     Source: TH

    Lightning not a natural disaster, says Centre

    Syllabus: GS3/ Disaster management

    In News

    • The Union government is not in favour of declaring lightning a natural disaster as deaths caused by it can be avoided through education and awareness.

    About

    • Lightning:
      • It is the electrical discharge between positively and negatively charged regions within clouds, cloud-to-ground, or cloud-to-air, and serves as an equalisation process.
      • It is influenced by moisture availability and instability in the atmosphere (rapidly rising air).
        • When there is an upward motion of air, causing the ground to become more positively charged, which can cause a discharge of electricity from a thundercloud, which is negatively charged.

    What are the concerns?

    • Since the 1960s, lightning is the biggest killer accounting for the most number of natural hazard deaths in India has largely gone unnoticed and is steadily on the rise.
    • The rise in lightning strikes can be attributed to higher levels of moisture, rapidly rising air, and higher temperatures, resulting in more thunderstorms.
    • Climate change is leading to more lightning strikes.
      • As per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, Global mean surface temperatures have risen by 1.1 °C since pre-industrial levels, and Every degree Celsius of warming brings with it a 7% increase in moisture.
    • Even though lightning is the most fatal of natural hazards in India, lightning isn’t classified as a natural disaster by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
    • States like Bihar and West Bengal have demanded that “lightning” be declared as a “natural disaster” because deaths caused by it surpass any other disaster in the country.

    What are the Natural Disasters?

    • Natural disasters are relatively sudden that cause large-scale, widespread death, loss of property and disturbance to social systems and life over which people have little or no control. Thus, any event can be classed as a disaster when the magnitude of destruction and damage caused by it is very high.

    Broadly, natural disasters can be classified under four categories:

    • Atmospheric: Blizzards, Thunderstorms, Lightning, Tornadoes, Tropical Cyclone, Drought, Hailstorm, Frost, Heat Wave or Loo, and Cold Waves, etc.
    • Terrestrial: Earthquakes, Volcanic Eruptions, Landslides, Avalanches, Subsidence, and Soil Erosion etc.
    • Aquatic: Floods, Tidal Waves, Ocean Currents, Storm Surge, and Tsunami etc.
    • Biological: Plants and Animals as colonisers (Locusts, etc.) Insects infestation— fungal, bacterial and viral diseases such as bird flu, and dengue, etc.
    • According to present norms, cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloudburst, pest attack, frost and cold waves are considered disasters that are covered under the SDRF.

    Impacts of Lightning in India

    • According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB):
      • Lightning deaths are recorded under the ‘accidental deaths’ category by the NCRB.
      • There were 2880 people who died in 2021, comprising 40% of all accidental deaths caused by “forces of nature”, followed by 2,862 in 2020, and 2,876 in 2019.
      • Death by lightning, affecting rural areas and tribal populations most acutely, more than doubled between 1967 and 2021.
    • Besides the loss of human life, lightning adversely impacts the agriculture, aviation, power, and communication sectors.

    Issues related to mitigation of Lightning Casualties

    • Lack of national level policy: Lightning characteristics are different for different regions, the prevalence is more at night and the early hours in hilly States and more during the day in the plains. That is why deaths occur more in the plains.
    • Inadequate mitigation measures: Farmers are the most affected and the number of deaths are more during the rainy season.
      • As per the Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council (CROPC), there are only 16 states in India that have declared lightning a state disaster. And, these policies are not adequate to minimise deaths due to lightning.
    • Lack of funding: The biggest hindrance is lack of government funding to carry out workshops and drives for people who are most vulnerable to dying by lightning strikes, and who may not have smartphones to connect to early warning systems.

    Government responses

    • India was among only five countries in the world that had an early warning system for lightning, the forecast is available from five days to up to three hours in advance of the predicted event.
      • In 2020, ‘Damini’, an early warning system was launched in partnership with the IMD, that can send lightning warnings within a 20 km radius.

    Way Ahead

    • Experts largely agree that death by lightning is preventable, with early warning and awareness drives going a long way.
      • More than 70% of deaths from lightning occurred amongst people standing under tall trees; therefore, training and community awareness programs are essential measures to minimise deaths due to lightning.
    • The Union government should include lightning as a “natural disaster” to minimise lightning-related deaths. This would help States prepare long-term mitigation through coordinated efforts with local agencies and reconstruction activities to build disaster-resilient infrastructure.

    Source: TH

    New guidelines for senior advocates in the Supreme Court

    Syllabus:GS2/Polity

    News

    • The Supreme Court has published new guidelines for the designation of senior advocates practicing in the Apex Court. 

    Background

    • These guidelines come after the recent ruling delivered by a three-judge bench in a case seeking modification in the conferment of ‘senior advocate’ designation guidelines.
    • The Bench modified the guidelines issued by the SC in 2018, in the aftermath of ruling in Indira Jaisingh v. Union of India ,2017.

    Indira Jaisingh v. Union of India case

    • In October 2018, the Apex Court released a list of “Guidelines to Regulate the Conferment of Designation of Senior Advocates” while acting on a plea filed by Indira Jaising, for greater transparency in the designation process.
    • The guidelines discouraged the system of voting by secret ballot, except in cases where it was “unavoidable.”
    •  The ruling that decided the setting up of a “permanent committee” and a “permanent secretariat”.
    • Permanent secretariat:A body tasked with receiving and compiling all applications for designation with relevant data, information, and the number of reported and unreported judgments. After this, the proposal for designation is to be published by it on the official website of the concerned court, inviting suggestions and views, which shall then be forwarded to the permanent committee for scrutiny.
    • Permanent committee:The CJI-chaired committee was to consist of two senior-most SC judges, the Attorney General of India, and a “member of the Bar” nominated by the chair and other members. The Committee was to meet twice a year, at least.
    • The committee then interviewed the candidate and made an overall evaluation based on a point system that gave marks for years of practice( be it as an advocate, district judge, or judicial member of an Indian tribunal), pro-bono work undertaken, judgements, publications, and a personality test.
    • Once a candidate’s name was approved, it was forwarded to the Full Court to decide on the basis of the majority. The Full Court could also recall the designation of a senior advocate.

    Why are the guidelines being changed? 

    • In February 2023, the Central Government filed an application for modification  of guidelines for the designation of senior lawyers, issued by the Supreme Court after the 2017 ruling. 
    • The 2017 guidelines were  based on a point-based system which awarded 40% weightage to publications, personality, and suitability gauged through the interview. The Centre argued that this system is subjective, ineffective, and dilutes the “esteem and dignity of the honour being conferred traditionally.”

    What do the new guidelines say?

    • The new guidelines prescribe the minimum age as 45 years to apply for the ‘senior advocate’ designation. However,this age limit may be relaxed by the Permanent Committee, the Chief Justice of India, or a Supreme Court judge if they have recommended an advocate’s name.
    • Previously, the guidelines stated that 15 marks were set aside for publications. However,the new guidelines state that only 5 marks will be given for “publication of academic articles, experience of teaching assignments in the field of law,” and “guest lectures delivered in law schools and professional institutions connected with law” combined.
    •  The 2023 guidelines specify that the CJI along with “any Judge of the Supreme Court” may recommend in writing the name of an advocate for designation.
    • Besides this, the weightage given to reported and unreported judgements (excluding orders that do not lay down any principle of law) has increased from 40 to 50 points in the new guidelines.

    Source:IE

    Project Cheetah: Status

    Syllabus: GS3/ Conservation

    In News

    • As more deaths of cheetahs have been reported recently from the Kuno National Park (KNP), Madhya Pradesh, an expert committee charged with managing the Project Cheetah programme has recommended that all animals undergo a thorough medical review.

    What is Project Cheetah?

    • Project Cheetah is India’s cheetah relocation programme and is perhaps among the most ambitious of its kind in the world. 
    • The attempt is to, over the next decade, bring in 5-10 animals every year until a self-sustaining population of about 35 cheetahs is established. 
    • Unlike cheetahs in South Africa and Namibia that are living in fenced reserves, India’s plan is to have them grow in natural, unfenced, wild conditions.
    • 11 of the translocated cheetahs are in the true wild with four in specially designed one-square-kilometre enclosures called ‘bomas,’ to help the animals acclimatise to Indian conditions.
    • Five of the translocated animals and three of four cubs born in India have died as of July 2023.

    About Cheetah or Acinonyx Jubatus: 

    • It is the fastest terrestrial animal on earth. 
    • The cheetah is the only large carnivore that got completely wiped out from India, mainly due to over-hunting and habitat loss.
    • The word ‘Cheetah’ is of Sanskrit origin meaning ‘variegated’, ‘adorned’ or ‘painted’.
    • Central India, particularly the Gwalior region, had cheetahs for a very long time. Various states including Gwalior and Jaipur used to hunt cheetahs.
    • The country’s last spotted cheetah died in Sal forests of Chhattisgarh’s Koriya district in 1948 and the wild animal was declared extinct in the country in 1952.
    • The 1st plan to reintroduce the cheetah was taken in the 1970s, during negotiations with Iran. Iran’s cheetahs were Asiatic, like India’s extinct animals. The plan was to exchange Asiatic lions for Asiatic cheetahs.

    Kuno National Park

    • Kuno National Park is a national park in Madhya Pradesh established in 1981 as a wildlife sanctuary. 
    • In 2018, it was given the status of a national park.
    • It is part of the Khathiar-Gir dry deciduous forests, dominated by the “Kardhai”, “Khair” and “Salai” trees.
    • The Kuno river flows through the national park.
    • The place is full of ancient forts and structures It is located in the Vindhyan Hills of Central India.

    How successful has Project Cheetah been so far?

    • In September 2023, it will be one year since a batch of eight cheetahs from Namibia arrived in India. They were followed by 12 others from South Africa in February 2023. 
    • While conceived as an experiment that is susceptible to failure in the initial years, independent critics have argued that there are some basic flaws in the project.
      • For one, it is a mistake to have had all 20 cheetahs in KNP as it’s too little space and prey, given that the animal is a courser and needs large distances. 
      • Moreover, having cheetahs for extended periods in quarantine has affected their adaptive capabilities and caused them to have psychological adjustment problems, making them more vulnerable. 
      • Unlike tigers and leopards, cheetahs are relatively delicate animals and are more likely to be fatally injured in the wild.
      • Currently, Indian cheetahs face no competition from other comparable predators such as lions and leopards. So, it remains to be seen if the animals can successfully establish themselves in India, over time.

    While officials say that there is enough space and prey in the Kuno reserve, there are plans to develop a second reserve in Gandhisagar, Madhya Pradesh and also establish a cheetah rehabilitation centre. 

    Source: TH

    Facts In News

    ‘Bharat Dal’

    Syllabus: GS 3/Economy

    In News

    • Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Textiles and Commerce and Industry launched the sale of subsidised Chana Dal under the brand name ‘Bharat Dal’.

    About  ‘Bharat Dal’ Initiative

    • The retail outlets of the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (Nafed) in the Delhi-NCR region will be responsible for selling the subsidised chana dal.
    • Objectives:  The introduction of ‘Bharat Dal’ is a major step taken by the Centre Government towards making pulses available to consumers at affordable prices by converting chana stock of the government into chana dal.

    Do you Know ?

    • Chana, also known as chickpeas, is one of the most commonly consumed pulses in India.
    • Chana, a crucial rabi pulses variety, accounts for India’s half pulses basket and 5% in the total foodgrains basket.
    • Utility : Chana whole is soaked and boiled to make salad and roasted chana is served as snacks. 
      • Fried chana dal can also be used as an alternative to tur dal, curries and soups. Chana besan is a major raw material for namkeens and sweets. 
    • Health benefits : Chana has multiple nutritional health benefits as it is rich in fibre, iron, potassium, vitamin B, selenium beta carotene and choline which are required by the human body for controlling anaemia, blood sugar, bone health etc. and even for mental health.

    Source:PIB

    Endometriosis 

    Syllabus: GS2/Health/GS3/Science and Technology

    In News

    • Researchers have found that a species of Fusobacterium bacteria had a role in the formation and aggravation of endometrial lesions.

    What is Endometriosis?

    • It is a reproductive disease involving the growth of lesions on pelvic organs such as the ovaries.
    • These lesions are composed of endometrium, a layer of tissue lining the uterus. Endometriosis can start at a person’s first menstrual period and last until menopause.
    • Symptoms: Pain in the pelvis, infertility, nausea and fatigue.
    • The cause of endometriosis is unknown. There is no known way to prevent endometriosis. There is no cure, but its symptoms can be treated with medicines or, in some cases, surgery.

    Source: TH

    Hwasong-18

    Syllabus: GS3/ Defence

    News:

    • The General Missile Bureau of North Korea conducted the test fire of the Hwasong – 18, an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

    About:

    What is the Hwasong-18 ICBM?

    • The Hwasong – 18 is a solid-fuelled ICBM, which is believed to have a range of 15,000 km or more, and could potentially carry three or four warheads, rather than only one.
    • ICBMs are particularly worrying because of their long range, including the mainland of the United States.

    What are ICBMs?

    • These are land-based missiles having nuclear weapons delivery technology with a range over 5,500 km.
    • Presently, Russia, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, India and Israel, in addition to North Korea, are the only countries that are in documented possession of land – based ICBMs.

    Significance of test:

    • The test fire was conducted according to the strategic judgement and crucial decision of the country at a grave period when the military security situation on the Korean peninsula.
    • North Korea mentioned that it is in response to the use of nuclear weapons by the US – Japan – South Korea, collectively known as “tripartite nuclear alliance”. 
      • In June, the US deployed a nuclear powered submarine to Busan, a port city in South Korea. 
    • The move of the US is pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula to armed conflict, and negatively impact on the regional military and political situation and security structure

    Advantages of Solid Fuel:

    • Solid propellants are a mixture of fuel and oxidiser.
      • Metallic powders such as aluminium often serve as the fuel, and ammonium perchlorate is the most common oxidizer.
    • When solid propellant burns, oxygen from the ammonium perchlorate combines with aluminium to generate enormous amounts of energy and temperature of more than 5,000 °F (2,760 °C), creating thrust and lifting the missile.
    • It allows for faster deployment of missiles, and can fire and accelerate more quickly at liftoff.
    • It can be stored for longer periods without degradation or breakdown, which is a common problem with liquid fuel.
      • However, according to the US Centennial of Flight Commission, solid fuels were used for many military applications, such as short-range rockets, but they were not used for any long-range applications, and certainly not for spaceflight due to their comparative lack of power. Despite this, solid propellants were extremely attractive for military missile use primarily because they were storable.

    Who has the technology of solid fuel in missile systems?

    • Solid fuel dates back to fireworks developed by the Chinese centuries ago, but made dramatic progress in the mid-20th century, when the USA developed more powerful propellants.
    • The Soviet Union fielded its first solid-fuel ICBM in the early 1970s, followed by France’s development of its S3, also known as SSBS, a medium-range ballistic missile.
    • China started testing solid-fuel ICBMs in the late 1990s.
    • South Korea had already secured “efficient and advanced” solid-propellant ballistic missile technology.

    Source: IE

    Mangala Narikar

     Syllabus: GS3/ Achievements of Indian in S&T

    News

    • Noted mathematician and scientist Dr. Mangala Narlikar, wife of renowned astrophysicist Dr. Jayant Narlikar, passed away recently.

    About Mangala Narlikar

    • Dr. Narlikar completed her graduation and post-graduation from Mumbai University. 
    • She was an associate researcher in the Mathematics School of the Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai between 1964 to 1966. 
    • Between 1967 and 1969, she taught mathematics at Cambridge University in England.
    • She authored several books in English and Marathi, including Ganitachyaa Sopya Vata, a book in Marathi for schoolchildren, An Easy Access to Basic Mathematics, a book for school children and A Cosmic Adventure, translation of a book on Astronomy by Professor J. V. Narlikar.
    • She was adept at demystifying mathematics to children.
    • In 1989, she moved to Pune where she worked in the mathematics department of the University of Pune.

    Source: TH