Daily Current Affairs – 18-08-2023


    Two years of Taliban rule

    Syllabus: GS2/India and its Neighbourhood Relations


    • August 15, 2023 marked the second anniversary of Taliban taking control of Afghanistan on August 15, 2021.

    Current situation

    • In a country of about 40 million people, international aid agencies estimate that about 15 million people will face “crisis” levels of food insecurity this year, with 2.8 million in the “emergency” category, the fourth highest in the world.
    • The WHO also expressed concern about Afghans’ lack of access to basic health services, about 20% of the population suffer from mental health problems and 4 million from drug addiction and associated disorders. 
    • Most health facilities have poor infrastructure, and there are fewer qualified health care workers due to immigration, limits on women’s movement and employment, and reduced funds to pay salaries and keep facilities open. 
    • The ban on girls attending school beyond sixth grade is part of the series of regressive measures that now keep Afghan girls and women away from classrooms, most jobs and much of public life.

    Taliban Rule and India

    • Taliban’s ascent and their rule over the last two years is marked by disregard to norms of the world. It has put India in a tight spot, which has chosen to navigate its course in Afghanistan with humanitarian assistance for the people of the country.
    • In the last two decades, between 2001 and 2021, India became one of the top five donors to Afghanistan with pledges of more US$3 billion in aid. 
    • India had more than 500 projects spread across Afghanistan’s 34 provinces in five pillars: humanitarian assistance, infrastructure development, economic development, connectivity and capacity building.
    • But, post August 2021, it has only continued with humanitarian assistance as the sole pillar so far. India continued to supply medical and food aid for the Afghan people. 
    • India has partnered with the UNWFP for the internal distribution of wheat within Afghanistan. Under this partnership, they have supplied a total of 47,500 MTs of wheat assistance to UNWFP.
    • On the medical assistance side, India has so far supplied almost 200 tonnes of medical assistance consisting of essential medicines, COVID vaccines, anti-TB medicines and medical/surgical items like pediatric stethoscope, Sphygmomanometer etc. 
    • India has also continued its support for the Habibia School, Kabul and has sent assistance of winter clothing and stationary items for the primary students.
    • Recently, India also partnered with the UNODC in Afghanistan to ensure welfare of the Afghan drug user population, especially females. Under this partnership, they have supplied 1,100 units of female hygiene kits & blankets and medical assistance to UNODC, Kabul. 

    Policy of Cautious Engagement

    • India has been following a policy of cautious engagement, where its current focus has been on providing aid, but not grant recognition.
    • Engagement is not endorsement. Engaging the Taliban is not an exercise in evangelism but the cold and undeterred pursuit of national interest, which often requires supping with the devil — of course, with a long spoon.- Former Diplomat Vivek Katju.
    • The process to engage began in August 2021, when Indian envoy in Qatar Deepak Mittal met head of Taliban’s political office, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai in Doha at the latter’s request.
    • Thereafter, on June 2, 2022, a delegation visited Kabul to oversee the delivery operations of India’s humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. 
    • And on June 23, the government decided to send a technical team to monitor and coordinate the efforts of various stakeholders for the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance. 
    • This resumption of diplomatic activity has been a significant policy change, and in the last one year, they have operated without any security threat so far.

    What needs to be done?

    • For India it is important to have eyes and ears in Afghanistan and ensure that the country’s rulers have stakes in not harming Indian interests. 
    • India needs to fastrack its Afghan policy as per the UNSCR 2593, which urged international community to ensure Afghanistan is not used as a base to launch an attack on another country, and called on all parties to seek an “inclusive, negotiated political settlement, with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women.”

    Way Ahead

    • As India is hosting the G20 leaders’ summit, it is the high time India leads the international community to demand accountability from the Taliban.

    Source: IE

    AI Index Report, 2023

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions

    In News

    • India ranked fifth in Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based investments according to Stanford University’s annual AI Index report 2023.

    Index Highlights

    • Global rankings:
      • India ranked fifth in terms of investments received by startups offering artificial intelligence (AI)-based products and services in 2022.
      • Total investments in AI startups in India stood at $3.24 billion in 2022, placing it ahead of South Korea, Germany, Canada and Australia, among others. 
      • Those ahead of India in the list are the US, China, the UK and Israel.

    • Prediction of revival:
      • Though globally AI investment has declined since 2021 due to the recessionary conditions, experts are expecting a revival in Venture capital (VC) funding this year, especially due to the massive interest in generative AI products and OpenAI’s ChatGPT among enterprises and consumers.
    • Research & development on LLMs:
      • The report stated that 54% of researchers working on large language models (LLMs) were from American institutions. 
      • However, last year researchers from Canada, Germany, and India contributed to the development of LLMs for the first time.

    AI Index report

    • The AI Index is an independent initiative at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI).
    • The annual report tracks, collates, distills, and visualizes data relating to artificial intelligence, enabling decision-makers to take meaningful action to advance AI responsibly and ethically with humans in mind.

    About Artificial intelligence

    • About: It is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. 
      • It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable.
    • Significance: AI would not replace people but create new opportunities in various fields. 
      • It works on data, and if we could train our machines, it could do wonders for us in milliseconds by automating processes. 
      • AI is creating new opportunities which could not be achieved by traditional technology.
    • Generative AI: It is a cutting-edge technological advancement type of artificial intelligence that involves creating new, original content or data using machine learning algorithms. 
      • It can be used to generate text, images, music, or other types of media
      • Generative AI works by training a model on a large dataset and then using that model to generate new, previously unseen content that is similar to the training data. This can be done through techniques such as:
        • Neural machine translation, 
        • Image generation, and 
        • Music generation. 
    • Startups with AI models in India: Several Indian firms like Flipkart and MakeMyTrip are exploring the use of generative AI models
      • Startups such as GupShup and Exotel have also announced chatbot builder platforms powered by OpenAI’s GPT models, which can be used by enterprises to build ChatGPT like chatbots. 

    Source: LM


    Lokniti-CSDS Survey of Youth

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    In News

    • Lokniti-CSDS has released a survey that offers insights into youth’s career aspirations, job preferences, and expectations.

    Findings of the survey

    • The 2023 survey was conducted in 18 states with a sample of 9,316 respondents.
    • Biggest problems of the economy: More than one in three (36%) Indians between the ages of 15 and 34 believe unemployment is the biggest problem before the country. 
      • About one in six (16%) think it is poverty, and 13% think it is inflation.

    • As per education level: Also, as many as 40% of highly educated respondents (graduate and above) identified unemployment as the most pressing concern. 
      • In contrast, only 27% of non-literate individuals cited unemployment as their primary concern, likely due to their greater willingness to take on a range of jobs.
    • Gender wise: 42% of men said unemployment was the most significant problem; among young women, this number was 31%.
    • Poverty and price rise emerged as a more prominent problem for youth from lower economic backgrounds.
    • Occupational status: Almost half of respondents (49%) said they were engaged in some form of work — 40% had full-time jobs; 9% were working part-time. 
      • Almost a fourth (23%) of youth with jobs were self-employed. 16% were professionals such as doctors or engineers, 15% were involved in agriculture, and semi-unskilled and skilled workers made up 27% of the total. Only 6% were in government jobs .
      • About 20% of working youth chose their job out of an interest; an almost equal proportion (18%) took the only option they had.

    • Job aspirations: Almost 16% of youth mentioned jobs in the health sector, such as doctors, nurses, and other medical staff as their preferred job.
      • The education sector was the second most preferred (14%), followed by science and technology-related jobs and starting their own businesses (10% each). 
      • 6% wanted to be in a government job. Interestingly, only 2% of respondents said they would like to continue in their current jobs.
    • Govt job vs Private jobs: Three out of five respondents chose government jobs, and more than one out of four opted for their own business.
      • The preference for setting up an own business has grown consistently over this period — from 16% in 2007 to 27% in 2023.

    About Lokniti

    • Lokniti is a research programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) established in 1997.
      • Since its inception in 1963, the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies has been recognised as one of the leading intellectual institutions of the global south.
    • It houses a cluster of research initiatives that seeks to engage with national and global debates on democratic politics by initiating empirically grounded yet theoretically oriented studies. 

    Source: IE


    Drones to monitor MGNREGA worksites

    Syllabus: GS2/Governance; GS3/Application of S&T 


    • The Union government permits drone usage for investigating corruption complaints or other violations and to monitor the progress and quality of assets produced at MGNREGA worksites.


    • According to a Parliamentary Standing Committee report submitted to the Lok Sabha in 2022, issues hampering the MGNREGA scheme are fake job cards, widespread corruption, late uploading of muster rolls, and huge pending payments for wages and materials etc.
      • There are complaints about corruption in MGNREGA works varying from machines being used in place of the workers, many receiving wages without doing work, or works beyond the approved list being undertaken etc.
    • The Ministry of Rural Development issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), and as per the SOP, the drones will be used for four types of monitoring:
    • Surveying the ongoing works;
    • Inspecting the completed works;
    • Impact assessment, and;
    • Special inspection in case of complaints.
    • The SOP stipulates that the drones will be used by the ombudsperson.
      • According to the MGNREGA, there should be one ombudsperson per district, responsible for registering suo-moto complaints and disposing of them within 30 days.
      • It has directed State governments to provide the facility to ombudspersons.
    • For efficient monitoring and redressal of grievances, ombudsperson may use drone technology facilities for verification of the works virtually.

    No extra funds

    • The Union government is not providing the States with any extra funds to deploy these drones, and has directed States to hire agencies specialising in drones for this purpose.
    • According to the guidelines, State governments are expected to draw the necessary funds from the administrative head, which is roughly 10% of a State’s MGNREGA budget.


    Kuwi and Desia Books


    Syllabus: GS1/Art and Culture


    • Union Ministers of Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Finance & Corporate Affairs launched ‘Kuwi and Desia’ books at Bhubaneswar in Odisha with the aim of shaping a strong educational foundation, preserving & fostering cultural, linguistic heritage and identity of tribal community of Odisha.

    About the books:

    • The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), in collaboration with the Central University of Odisha, and Department of Posts has developed the ‘Kuwi Primer’ and ‘Desia Primer’.
    • These books are specifically tailored for children speaking the Kuwi and Desia tribal languages in the undivided Koraput district of Odisha.
    • It aims to shape a strong educational foundation of children along with preserving and fostering the cultural, linguistic heritage and identity of the tribal community of Odisha.

    Do you know?

    • The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 envisioned that wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be in the mother tongue/local language/regional language.
    • Thereafter, the mother tongue/local language shall continue to be taught as a language wherever possible. This will be followed by both public and private schools.
      • Books like ‘Kuwi Primer’ and ‘Desia Primer’ assume to fulfil the objectives of NEP.

    Tribes in Odisha

    • As per the Census 2011, the state of Odisha has the third highest percentage of tribal population in the country.
    • They constitute about 23% of the total population of the state and contribute 9.17% to the total tribal population of the country.
    • Birhor, Bonda Poraja, Chuktia Bhunjia, Didayi, Dongria Kandha, Hill Kharia, Juang, Kutia Kandha, Lanjia Saora, Lodha, Mankirdia, Paudi Bhuyan and Saora etc are the famous tribal communities living in the Odisha.
      • So, it becomes necessary to teach students with the help of pictures, stories and songs based on their local nature and culture to improve their speaking skill, learning outcome and cognitive development.

    Meri Maati Mera Desh

    • Ministers visited Sand Art on Meri Maati Mera Deshby Padmashri Awardee Sand Artist Shri Sudarshan Patnaik at Puri Beach and dedicated Shilaphalakam (memorial plaques), planted saplings, administered Panch Pran pledge along with 1000 students.
    • A ‘Memorial Plaque’ in memory of Martyrs was installed under the ‘Dedication of Shilaphalakam’ and ‘Vasudha Vandan’ initiative of Meri Maati Mera Desh.
    • Ministers collected soil and rice in ‘amrit kalash’ from house to house from Biraharekrushnapur, village of Puri district, the birthplace of the Martyr Jayee Rajguru to create an ‘Amrit Vatika’ in Delhi.

    About Martyr Jayee Rajguru:

    • Jayakrushna Rajguru Mahapatra, popularly known as Jayee Rajguru was one of the early freedom fighters of India and perhaps the first from Odisha to have attained martyrdom by fighting against the British Raj.
    • He was born in 1739 in Biraharekrushnapur, near Puri in present Indian state of Odisha.
    • His ancestors by profession were the Rajguru of the royal family of Khordha who were the political, military and spiritual advisors to the king.
      • Jayakrushna was appointed Rajguru at the age of 41 by king Dibyasingha Dev II.
    • Though subordinate to the Mughals and subsequently to the Maratha rulers of Odisha, by custom the king of Khordha was the symbolic head of Odisha to whom other feudatory chiefs acknowledged their sovereignty.
    • The English East India Company after consolidating their power in Bengal and Madras, had set their covetous eyes on neighbour Khordha, which further led to confrontation of Jayee Rajguru with the British.


    Facts In News

    Reforms for Mobile User Protection 

    Syllabus:GS3/science and Technology


    • Two reforms introduced for Mobile User Protection to promote a cleaner and safer digital ecosystem.


    • The two reforms are in the direction of earlier reforms introduced with a launch of Sanchar Saathi, a citizen centric portal that has empowered India’s fight against the menace of cybercrimes and financial frauds.
    • The reforms are as;
      • KYC Reforms
      • Point of Sale(POS) registration Reform

    KYC Reforms

    • KYC is a process to uniquely identify a customer and enable his traceability before providing him telecom services. 
    • To prevent misuse of printed Aadhaar, the demographic details will mandatorily be captured by scanning QR code of printed Aadhaar.  In case of disconnection of a mobile number, it will not be allocated to any other new customer till expiry of 90 days.
    • In addition to thumb impression and iris-based authentication in Aadhaar E-KYC process, facial based biometric authentication is also permitted.

    Point-of-Sale (POS) Registration Reforms

    • This reform introduces the process for mandatory registration of Franchisee, Agents and Distributors (PoS) by Licensees.It mandates a  written agreement between the PoS and the Licensees.
    • This will help in eliminating the rogue PoS who by fraudulent practices issue SIMs to anti-social/anti-national elements.
    • If a PoS indulges in any illegal activities, it will be terminated and blacklisted for a period of 3 years. 

    Sanchar Saathi

    • Sanchar Saathi portal is an initiative of the Department of Telecommunications for the protection of mobile users.
    • Sanchar Saathi portal empowers mobile subscribers to:
      • Find out mobile connections registered in their name,
      • Report connections registered fraudulently in their name, if any, and
      • Report stolen/ lost mobile handsets & block them.


    Tachymenoides Harrisonfordi 

    Syllabus:GS3/Environment, Species in News


    • Researchers have named a recently discovered species of snake after actor Harrison Ford.


    • The snake was discovered in May 2022 by a team of researchers from the Otishi National Park area in Peru’s Andes.
    • The snake measures 16 inches (40.6 centimeters) in length and is yellowish-brown with scattered black blotches,a black belly and a vertical streak over its copper-colored eye.
    • The new species is named after Ford in recognition of his long environmental advocacy through his role as the vice chair of Conservation International and for raising his voice for nature.
    • This is the third animal species to be named after Ford. Earlier, an ant (Pheidole harrisonfordi) and a spider (Calponia harrisonfordi) were named after him.


    Otishi National Park 

    • It is a protected area in Peru, located in the regions of Junín and Cusco.
    • It protects part of the Vilcabamba mountain range, preserving the wildlife and geological formations in this area.


    Seven Volcanic Summits

    Syllabus: GS-1/World Geography


    • An Indian woman named Milasha Joseph is on a quest to climb all seven of the world’s tallest volcanoes.


    • She has successfully climbed 3 Mountains- Kilimanjaro, Damavand, and Elbrus.
    • She has to climb four more Mountains- Mount Sidley in Antarctica, Mount Giluwe in Papua New Guinea, and Ojos del Salado on the Argentina-Chile border.
    • Two of the Volcanic Seven Summits, Kilimanjaro and Elbrus, are also members of the Seven Summits.

    What are Seven Volcanic Summits?

    • The  Seven Volcanic Summits are the highest volcanoes on each continent, just as the Seven Summits are the highest peaks on each continent. 

    Seven Volcanic Summits (Highest to Lowest)

    S No. 

    Name of the Volcanoes




    Ojos del Salado

    South America

    • It is the Highest Volcano (6893 Meters) in the world.
    • It is the second highest peak in South America after Aconcagua in Argentina.
    • It is located in the Andes mountain range on the border between Chile and Argentina.

    Mount Kilimanjaro


    • It is a dormant volcano in Tanzania.
    • It is considered the Highest of the African Peaks (5895 Meters).
    • It is the world’s highest free standing mountain.

    Mount Elbrus


    • It is the highest mountain (5642 Meters) in Europe.
    • It is located in the Caucasus range in Russia.

    Pico de Orizaba

    North America

    • Its height is 5636 Meters.
    • It is a stratovolcano located in the eastern end of the Trans-mexican Volcanic Belt.
    • It is the overall highest peak in Mexico and third highest peak in North America.

    Mount Damavand


    • It is the Highest (5609 Meters) peak in Iran and highest volcano in Asia.

    Mount Giluwe


    • It is Highest peak (4368 meters) in Papua New Guinea.
    • It has been dormant for centuries and is the highest volcano in Oceania (Australian Continent).

    Mountain Sidley


    • Its height is 4285 Meters.
    • It is one of the remote peaks in the world.
    • It is located in Marie Byrd Land Region and is only accessible by plane.

    Source: TH

    World Heritage Railway Lines of India

    Syllabus: Prelims/Current Events of national importance


    • Heavy rain and floods in Himachal Pradesh have battered the 94-km-long Kalka-Shimla railway line, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    About the UNESCO World Heritage Sites

    • These are various areas or objects inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List. 
    • The sites are designated as having “outstanding universal value” under the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. This document was adopted by UNESCO in 1972 and formally took effect in 1975. 
    • It provides a framework for international cooperation in preserving and protecting cultural treasures and natural areas throughout the world.
    • Designating World Heritage sites: There are three types of sites: cultural, natural, and mixed. 
      • Cultural heritage sites include hundreds of historic buildings and town sites, important archaeological sites, and works of monumental sculpture or painting. 
      • Natural heritage sites are restricted to those natural areas that 

    (1) furnish outstanding examples of Earth’s record of life or its geologic processes, 

    (2) provide excellent examples of ongoing ecological and biological evolutionary processes, 

    (3) contain natural phenomena that are rare, unique, superlative, or of outstanding beauty, or 

    (4) furnish habitats for rare or endangered animals or plants or are sites of exceptional biodiversity. 

    • Mixed heritage sites contain elements of both natural and cultural significance. 

    World Heritage Railway Lines of India

    Following are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Indian Railways 

    A. Mountain Railways of India: 

    (i)  Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR) – inscribed by UNESCO in 1999 

    (ii) Nilgiri Mountain Railways (NMR) inscribed in 2005.

    (iii) Kalka Shimla Railway (KSR) inscribed in 2008.

    B. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Mumbai (CSMT) inscribed in 2004.

    • The building is an outstanding example of late 19th century railway architecture in the British commonwealth characterized by Victoria Gothic Revival and traditional Indian features as well as its advanced structural and technical features.

    Source: TH

    INS ‘Vindhyagiri’

    Syllabus: GS3/Defence

    In News

    • President Droupadi Murmu launched INS Vindhyagiri, a Nilgiri-class frigate.

    Project 17A

    • INS Vindhyagiri has been constructed under Project 17A (Alpha) and is built by the Indian Navy at Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers ( GRSE).

    INS Vindhyagiri is the sixth ship of the Project 17A program.

    • Project 17A ships have been designed in-house by the Indian Navy’s Warship Design Bureau, the pioneer organisation for all warship design activities. 
      • Project 17A showcases India’s commitment to self-sufficiency and technological advancement, showcasing indigenous innovation in cutting-edge technology.

    Source: PIB

     VS Arunachalam

    Syllabus: GS-3/Achievement of Indians in S&T


    • Recently, DRDO’s former Director General VS Arunachalam passed away.
      • He became the first DRDO scientist to lead the organisation.

    Contributions of V S Arunachalam

    • He is a prominent scientist and instrumental figure in India’s nuclear program
    • Arunachalam helmed the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and was the Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister from 1982-92.
    • He was well-known for his executive positions at the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), where he was instrumental in establishing India’s defense capabilities.
    • His distinguished career spanned across Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), National Aeronautical Laboratory, and Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory.
    • The first Indian Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (UK), he served as a member of the advisory and editorial boards of several universities and foundations, including the Materials Research Society Bulletin.
    • During his tenure, he initiated three significant programs:
      • Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) through the autonomous Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA);
      • the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) Program; and 
      • the Integrated Guided Missiles Development Programme (IGMDP), aimed at creating a range of strategic and tactical guided missiles

    Awards Conferred

    • Arunachalam won the Padma Bhushan(1985), the Padma Vibhushan (1990), and the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award (1980) for his significant contributions to engineering, science, and technology. 
    • In 2015, he received the DRDO’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)

    • DRDO is the R&D wing of the Ministry of Defence, Govt of India, with a vision to empower India with cutting-edge defence technologies .
    • Role & Functions:
      • It promotes military welfare and demonstrates a technical solution for combat effectiveness.
      • It has the responsibility of creating a qualified workforce and the necessary infrastructure for the nation’s defence services and systems.
      • To provide the Defence Minister with information and advice regarding how national security would affect future advances in science and technology.
      • It is responsible for management of laboratories, shooting ranges, facilities, projects and work together on affairs of National and International Importance involving science and technology.

    Source: TH

    NDMA starts testing emergency cell broadcast tech

    Syllabus: GS3/ Disaster Management

    In News

    • The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has started testing the emergency cell broadcast technology developed by Centre For Development Of Telematics (C-DOT).


    • It will be implemented by NDMA for sending out alerts at the time of disaster directly on the mobile phone screens. 
    • It aims to enhance public safety and provide timely alerts during emergencies.

    National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) 

    • About: 
      • It is the apex statutory body for Disaster Management in India, established through the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
      • It is headed by the Prime Minister.
    • Functions:
      • Lay down policies on disaster management.
      • Approve plans prepared by the ministries or departments of the Government of India in accordance with the National Plan
      • Lay down guidelines to be followed by the state authorities in drawing up the State Plan
      • Coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plans for disaster management

    Source: TH

    Floodwatch App

    Syllabus: GS-3/Disaster and Disaster Management


    • The Central Water Commission launched Flood Watch app, to forecast the chances of floods.

    About the Floodwatch App

    • The app has real-time flood monitoring where users can check up-to-date flood situations throughout the country. 
    • The app uses data from various sources. The app also provides flood forecasts at the nearest location where users can check the flood advisory at the station nearest to them.
    • This app lets  users check the CWC Flood Forecast (up to 24 hours) or Flood Advisory (up to 7 days) either by  selecting the station from the map.
    • The app will also provide State-wise/Basin-wise Flood Forecast (up to 24 hours) or Flood Advisory (up to 7 days) which can be accessed by selecting specific stations, state wise or basin wise from the dropdown menu.
    • It utilizes advanced technologies such as satellite data analysis, mathematical modelling, and real-time monitoring to deliver accurate and timely flood forecasts. 

     Central Water Commission (CWC)

    • It is a leading technical organization in India’s water resources sector. 
    • Headquarters: New Delhi
    • Currently, it serves as an associated office of the Ministry of Jal Shakti within the Indian government’s Department of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation. 
    • It is led by a Chairman who serves as the Government of India’s Ex-Officio Secretary. 
    • The Commission is charged with the general duties or purposes of navigation, drinking water supply, flood control, irrigation, and water power development. 

    Source: TH

    Reconstructing Brain Activity

    Syllabus: GS3/Developments in Science and Technology


    • A new study has made inroads in understanding what happens inside the human brain by successfully managing to “decode” the brain’s electrical activity to reconstitute it as recognisable music.


    • Using advanced AI models, researchers were able to reconstruct the song simply from the electrical activity recorded.
    • In the past, there have been successful attempts at recreating words and images using signals recorded by implanted electrodes.
    • However, this is the first time scientists have managed to reconstruct a recognisable, even if somewhat distorted, song purely from neural recordings.
    • They focused on auditory regions for reproducing speech. They were able to identify which parts of the brain respond to which kind of stimuli. 
    • They found that certain portions of superior temporal gyrus – located just behind and above the ear and associated with auditory processing – respond to the onset of speech, while other areas respond to other elements of the music.
    • The study also found that music perception relied on both hemispheres, with a preference for the right hemisphere.

    Why does this matter? 

    • Irrespective of the language, speech contains melodic nuances, including tempo, stress, accents and intonation, which carry the meaning that we can’t communicate with words alone.
    • The results of this study might help create better brain-computer interfaces and assistive devices that translate brainwaves into speech for those unable to speak due to paralysis caused by stroke.
    • Consider the late Stephen Hawking, who lost his ability to speak due to a motor-neurone disease which left him paralysed. After he was unable to speak, he communicated via a speech generating device which improved over the years.

    Source: IE