Daily Current Affairs – 22-07-2023

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    Anticyclones and Heat Domes

    Syllabus: GS1/ Geography

    In News: 

    • The US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced recently that June was the Earth’s hottest June since the record-keeping of global temperatures began 174 years ago. 

    Factors behind soaring temperatures

    According to scientists and experts, a number of factors are fueling the soaring temperatures in different parts of the world. 

    1. El Nino conditions: It has developed for the first time in seven years, and is partly responsible for triggering extreme heat, caused by either formation of heat domes or arrival of anticyclones.
    2. Climate change: It has increased the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like heat waves and mass scale floods.

    About El Nino

    • El Niño(meaning “the little boy” in Spanish) is a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean
    • It is the “warm phase” of a larger phenomenon called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). 
    • La Niña, the “cool phase” of ENSO, is a pattern that describes the unusual cooling of the region’s surface waters. El Niño and La Niña are considered the ocean part of ENSO, while the Southern Oscillation is its atmospheric changes.
    • El Niño has an impact on ocean temperatures, the speed and strength of ocean currents, the health of coastal fisheries, and local weather patterns across the world. 
    • El Niño events occur irregularly at two- to seven-year intervals. However, El Niño is not a regular cycle, or predictable in the sense that ocean tides are.

    What are anticyclones and heat domes? How do they produce heat waves?

    1. An anticyclone
    • It is also known as a high-pressure system, is essentially an area of high pressure in which the air goes downwards towards the Earth’s surface. 
    • As the air sinks, its molecules get compressed, which increases the pressure, making it warmer. This causes dry and hot weather. 
    • The winds remain calm and gentle during an anticyclone, and there is almost no formation of clouds because here the air sinks rather than rises.

    1. A heat dome
    • It occurs when an area of high-pressure stays over a region for days and weeks. 
    • It traps warm air, just like a lid on a pot, for an extended period.
    • The longer that air remains trapped, the more the sun works to heat the air, producing warmer conditions with every passing day. 
    • Heat domes, if they last for a long period, may cause deadly heat waves.

    Relationship with Climate change:

    • Although heat domes and anticyclones don’t occur due to climate change, they have become more intense and longer as a result of soaring global temperatures, scientists and experts believe. 
    • As the planet continues to get warmer due to the unprecedented levels of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere, extreme weather events, much like those unfolding right now, will become more frequent. 
    • Moreover, if the Earth breaches the 1.5 degree Celsius global warming limit by the 2030s, there may be irrevocable damage to the ecosystem and geology, with millions of humans and other living beings severely impacted.
    • Also, El Nino conditions are exacerbating the extreme heat around the world.It is known to “greatly increase the likelihood of breaking temperature records and triggering more extreme heat in many parts of the world and in the ocean,” a WMO report said.

    Source: IE

    ‘China plus one’ Opportunity for India

    Syllabus: GS2/International Relation, 

    News:

    • The World Bank President said that India has an opportunity to create jobs in the manufacturing sector by tapping into ‘China plus one’ opportunity, but that window is available only for a short period of time.

    About:

    • There is a three-to-five-year opportunity when the supply chains start adding in India. It needs special focus in manufacturing and technology to add 15-20 million jobs.
    • India will have a very high share of its GDP come from domestic consumption, if there is a global slowdown.

    What is the ‘China Plus One’ Strategy?

    • It is a global business strategy, coined in 2013, in which companies avoid investing only in China and diversify their businesses to alternative destinations. It aims to encourage firms and enterprises to expand their operations outside of China.

    Background:

    • For the last 30 years, Western companies have invested heavily in China, attracted by its low labour and production costs, as well as the considerable and growing size of its domestic consumer market.
    • Leading to an overconcentration of their business interests in China. A lot of international companies as well as Chinese firms became part of the global supply chain.

    What are the issues/ concerns?

    • US – China trade tensions: Japan and the United States had begun a diversification strategy away from China as early as 2008, and gained steam as an alternative strategy for MNCs only at the peak of US-China trade tensions.
    • Strict data privacy law of China: Foreign technology companies have been exiting or downsizing their presence in mainland China because of China’s Personal Information Protection Law. The new regulation has raised compliance costs and created uncertainty.
    • Geopolitical reasons: The driving factors range from China’s cost advantage diminishing in recent years to growing geopolitical distrust between China and the West.
    • Zero – Covid Policy of China: China’s Zero-Covid Policy meant that there was industrial and supply chain disruption and associated container shortage. As a result, the US and Europe, with their sourcing dependence on China, were forced to look at other locations for both reliable supplies of components and materials and production cost advantages.

    How can India benefit from China Plus One strategy?

    • China was a world leader in several sectors, including textiles and cotton apparel. But the changing dynamics of the global supply chain have resulted in a significant shift in its production strategy.
      • Unlike India or Pakistan, China does not have an adequate supply of cotton yarn, which discourages some of its domestic giants from investing further in this sector. This scarcity has increased Chinese manufacturers’ interest in man-made fibres.
      • In India, this opportunity could result in additional demand and, as a result, additional Capex to the tune of ₹120 billion over the next ten years.
    • Chinese majors are gradually shifting away from APIs and toward formulations. This opens up a huge opportunity for Indian players to replace imported players.
      • India is expected to move in both directions – APIs and complex drugs – in order to maintain its self-sufficiency.
    • In addition, a new world of opportunities has opened up for India’s footwear sector and a few South Asian players as Chinese competitors lost traction and began focusing elsewhere, driven by both low-value addition and wage pressures.

    Challenges ahead:

    • India’s declining participation in global value chains has been one of the reasons. Its trade policy has been more protectionist than the other developing countries and has not been driven by the objective of integrating with global value chains.
    • India has also been hesitant in forging preferential trade agreements. It shied away from regional trading arrangements. Clearly, India must reorient its trade policy to take advantage of the increasingly popular China-plus-one strategy. 
    • Given the size of Chinese exports, it is a tremendous opportunity for Indian manufacturers. Multinational corporations cannot avoid India because they have to consider de-risking their supply chain.

    Way ahead:

    • The Indian government has already made significant progress, particularly in enhancing corporate accessibility. The PLI initiative is a major push for local production and technology localization, boosting our own manufacturing.
    • A clear roadmap is needed for establishing collective supply chains that would be resilient in the long term, including steps to counter supply chain dependencies and vulnerabilities.  

    Source: TH

     

    India-Sri Lanka Bilateral Talks

    Syllabus: GS2/ India & Foreign Relations

    In News

    • Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe recently visited India. Bilateral talks were held between both PMs at the Hyderabad House.

    Highlights of Bilateral talks

    • Documents on cooperation:
      • The two sides exchanged documents on cooperation in the field of animal husbandry, renewable energy, development projects in Trincomalee district in eastern Sri Lanka, and online payment services between the two sides. 
      • The MoU on Trincomalee is aimed at developing the port and its nearby areas as a “regional hub for industry, energy, including renewable energy. 
    • Agreement on digital transaction:
      • The agreement on digital transactions was signed between Lanka Pay and ECI International to facilitate acceptance of India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in Sri Lanka
    • Connectivity:
      • The two sides adopted a vision document to enhance maritime, energy and people to people connectivity. 
      • PM Modi announced that a passenger ferry service will be launched soon to connect Tamilnadu’s’ Nagapattinam ‘and northern Sri Lanka’s Kankesanthurai.
      • India and Sri Lanka are exploring possibilities of connecting southern India with Trincomalee, Batticaloa and other destinations in the island nation. 
      • President Wickremesinghe presented his ideas to boost inflow of Indian tourists into Sri Lanka. 
        • In this regard, promotion of Ramayana trail and the Buddhist-Hindu pilgrimage circuits were discussed.
    • Thirteenth Amendment & dignit for Tamil population:
      • The Indian PM called for Sri Lanka to implement the Thirteenth Amendment and ensure a “life of respect and dignity” for its Tamil population.
      • He also announced a development assistance package for the Tamils of Indian origin who are marking the 200th anniversary of their arrival into the island nation. 
      • The PM also hoped that Sri Lanka will hold provincial council elections in the country.
    • Issue of fishermen:
      • PM Modi informed that the two sides discussed the issue of fishermen and urged the matter should be viewed through a “humanitarian perspective”.
    • India’s assistance during Sri Lankan Crisis:
      • Mr. Wickremesinghe expressed his government’s “profound appreciation” for the support that India extended to Sri Lanka over the last year that he described as the “most challenging period in Sri Lanka’s modern history”.
      • India will also contribute additionally for development programmes in the northern and the eastern parts of Sri Lanka. 

    The 13th Amendment 

    • The 13th Amendment is a three-decade-old Sri Lankan legislation that pledged devolution of power to the nine provinces which is yet to be fulfilled. 

    Sri Lankan Crisis

    • The financial difficulty that Sri Lanka has been facing since last summer when the country was brought to a standstill by an unprecedented energy crisis which was accompanied by high inflation and near depletion of its foreign currency reserve.

    Problems faced by Indian fishermen

    • Indian fishermen face highly restricted access to traditional fishing grounds, increased harassment by the Sri Lankan Navy, and arrests by the Sri Lankan Navy on trespassing charges. 

    India – Sri Lanka Relations 

    • About: 
      • India and Sri Lanka have a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious and linguistic interaction and the relationship between the two countries are more than 2500 years old. 
      • Trade and investment have grown and there is cooperation in the fields of development, education, culture and defence.
      • In recent years, significant progress in the implementation of developmental assistance projects for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and disadvantaged sections of the population in Sri Lanka has helped further cement the bonds of friendship. 
      • The nearly three-decade long armed conflict between Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE came to an end in May 2009. 
      • During the conflict, India supported the right of the Government of Sri Lanka to act against terrorist forces. 
    • Commercial Partnership: 
      • Both countries enjoy a vibrant and growing economic and commercial partnership, which has witnessed considerable expansion over the years. 
      • In 2020, India was Sri Lanka’s 2nd largest trading partner with the bilateral merchandise trade amounting to about USD 3.6 billion.  
      • India is also one of the largest contributors to Foreign Direct Investment in Sri Lanka.
    • Projects under Lines of Credit: 
      • 11 Lines of credit (LOC) have been extended to Sri Lanka by the Export-Import Bank of India in the last 15 years. 
      • Important sectors in which Projects have been executed/ are under execution, under these LOCs include Railway, transport, connectivity, defence, solar.  
      • A US$ 100 million LoC for undertaking solar projects in Sri Lanka has been signed between the Government of Sri Lanka and EXIM Bank in June 2021.  
    • People-to-people ties: 
      • Buddhism is one of the strongest pillars connecting the two nations and civilizations from the time when the Great Indian Emperor Ashoka sent his children Arahat Mahinda and Their Sangamitta to spread the teachings of Lord Buddha at the request of King DevanampiyaTissa of Sri Lanka.  
    • Human Resource Development: 
      • India now offers about 710 scholarship slots annually to Sri Lankan students. 
      • In addition, under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Program, India offers 402 fully-funded slots every year to officials in various Ministries of Government of Sri Lanka and also to other eligible citizens for short term training programs in a wide variety of technical and professional disciplines to enhance skill sets.
      • Indian institutes under the ‘Study in India’ Program provide technical expertise across a diverse range of courses and include programs in niche disciplines such as Ayurveda, Yoga, and Buddhist Studies. 
    • Defence:
      • India and Sri Lanka conduct a joint Military exercise named  ‘Mitra Shakti’ and a Naval exercise named SLINEX.  
    • Support during the recent Srilankan crisis: 
      • Sri Lanka recently faced an acute economic and energy crisis triggered due to a shortage of foreign exchange. 
      • India has provided a $2.4-bn package of financial assistance in February and March. 
      • India also appointed experts to assist Sri Lanka’s economic recovery, and for various joint projects. 
      • India extended a $400-million currency swap and a $500-million credit line for fuel purchases to Sri Lanka earlier this year.
      • Since January 2022, India has also signed several key bilateral agreements with Sri Lanka, including the joint development of the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farms, and three major power projects in the north and east, involving the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and the Adani Group, apart from the recent pacts on maritime security.

    Source: TH

    Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes)

    Syllabus:GS2/Health

    News

    • The Health Ministry has launched an online portal to report violations of the ban on e-cigarettes.

    About

    • The Indian government has banned E-cigarettes under the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Act (PECA) which came into force in 2019.
    • Despite a formal ban, e-cigarettes and vapes are available at cigarette shops and various online marketplaces.The online portal has been launched to facilitate reporting of violations under the act.

    Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes)

    • E-cigarettes are electric devices that produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine—the addictive drug in regular cigarettes—flavorings, and other chemicals that help to make the aerosol. Users inhale this aerosol into their lungs.
    • E-cigarettes are also known as “e-cigs,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” “tank systems,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).”
    • E-cigarette are less harmful than regular cigarettes as they contain aerosol with fewer toxic chemicals than the deadly Mix of 7000 chemicals in smoke from regular cigarettes. 

    Problems with the E-cigarettes 

    • The possibilities of the product exploding (incidents have been reported globally) and accidental consumption of the liquid inside the e-cigarette, which leads to death.
    • They can contain some  harmful substances such as nicotine, heavy metals like lead, volatile organic compounds, and cancer-causing agents. According to a study, it can damage immunity, disable cells in the lungs and cause inflammation.
    • These products are sold without appropriate or sometimes even incorrect health warnings. Most e-commerce websites sell e-cigarettes as therapeutic products which enable people to quit smoking.

    India’s Position

    • As e-cigarettes contain nicotine and not tobacco, these do not fall within the ambit of the  Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003.
      • Section 4 of the COTPA: Prohibition of smoking in public places; b) Section 5: Prohibition of advertisement of cigarettes and other tobacco products; 
      • Section 6: Prohibition of sale of cigarettes or other tobacco products to anyone below the age of 18 years and in a particular area.
    • According to a report the compound annual growth rate of the Indian e-cigarette industry was at 63.38 per cent in the period 2013-2019.

    Way Forward

    • The Indian government should impose appropriate restrictions on the sale and advertisement of e-cigarettes, including proper health warnings, in order to plug the existing regulatory vacuum.

    Source:IE

    Self Healing Metals

    Syllabus: GS3/ Science & Technology, 

    News

    • The researchers from Sandia National Laboratories and Texas A&M University published their findings in the journal Nature about the “Self-Healing Mechanism” in metals.

    Findings

    • Scientists have observed for the first time pieces of metal self-healing as it cracked, then fuse back together without any human intervention. The researchers called this healing “cold welding.”
    • The self-healing was observed at least in the case of fatigue damage at the nanoscale, in a very specific environment using a device called an electron microscope.
    • Metal pieces were about 40 nanometers thick and a few micrometers wide. While the healing was observed in the experiments only in platinum and copper, simulations indicated that self-healing can occur in other metals and alloys like steel.

    Fatigue damage

    • Metal fatigue occurs when metal – including parts in machines, vehicles and structures – sustains microscopic cracks after being exposed to repeated stress or motion, damage that tends to worsen over time. 
    • Metal fatigue can cause catastrophic failures in areas including aviation (jet engines) and infrastructure (bridges and other structures).
    • The economic impact of these failures is worth hundreds of billions of dollars every year for the U.S.

    Significance

    • The ground-breaking discovery, if harnessed, could lead to the creation of self-healing engines, bridges, and airplanes, reversing damage caused by wear and tear, thereby enhancing safety and longevity of structures.

    Challenges

    • Scientists showed this happening in nanocrystalline metals in ‘vacuum’. But they don’t know if this can also be induced in conventional metals in ‘air’.
    • But even if it only occurs in vacuum, it still has important ramifications for fatigue in space vehicles, or fatigue associated with subsurface cracks that are not exposed to the atmosphere.

    Source: India Today

    Biofortified Foods

    Syllabus: GS3/ Science & Technology, Economy  GS2/ Health, Government policies & interventions.

    In News

    • The Global Market wants biofortified foods to be branded separately, just like “organic” products.

    What are Biofortified foods?

    • Biofortification is an agricultural nutrition intervention that boosts the concentration of vitamins and minerals in food crops using conventional breeding, agronomic, and transgenic methods.
    • Biofortification is different from fortification as it involves the selection of crops that have high nutrient content. Fortification normally involves the addition of nutrients during processing.

    Why do we need Biofortification?

    • According to the Global Food Policy Report, 21.9% of the population lives in extreme poverty and 15.2% of the people are undernourished in India.
    • As per National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 38.4% children in India are stunted , 21.0% are wasted and 35.7% of children are under-weight.
    • Based on the report Harvest Plus-India, 70% of children are iron deficient, 38.4% children are estimated to be deficient in Zinc. 
      • A lack of iron can lead to mental retardation, increased frailty, and an increased chance of maternal death during childbirth. Lack of zinc affects immunity, growth and appetite, and increases the risk of respiratory and diarrheal illnesses.

    Benefits of Biofortification

    • Reaching the undernourished in rural regions effectively: The biofortification plan aims to incorporate the micronutrient-dense feature in the highest-yielding and most lucrative varieties to benefit farmers and  poor people.
    • For Welfare Motto: Under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, the micronutrient value of the meals can be greatly increased by incorporating biofortified crops.
      • The nutritional status of those living below the poverty line could be  impacted by the inclusion of biofortified crops in the PDS.
    • Sustainability of biofortification: Unlike other techniques of supplementation, once the crop is introduced with a nutritionally better trait, its seeds and products will contain the same genotype and the cycle will continue without much more expenditure
    • Cost-effective: By incorporating some nutritionally better features into their seed variety, biofortified seeds improve the variety of crop. Therefore, for the same cost of seed, farmers can obtain nutritionally better seed for the production.

    Challenges related to Biofortification

    • The following concerns arise with biofortification and the introduction of biofortified cereal grains into India’s everyday diet.
    • Because the grain’s color changes, people are cautious to accept biofortified foods like golden rice.
    • More time is required to develop a viable crop.
    • Farmers should also put this into practice broadly.
    • Implementation may also be hindered by the upfront costs.

    Initiatives of the Government

    • ICAR has published several biofortified crop types that are high in micronutrients including iron, zinc, and beta-carotene through its various research.
      • Examples include sweet potatoes strong in vitamin A (Bhu Sona), high-zinc wheat (WB 02), and zinc and iron-rich rice cultivars (DRR Dhan 45, CR Dhan 310). 
    • Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs)These KVKs, developed by ICAR, act as information and resource hubs for agricultural innovations in biofortification.
    • Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) program has been crucial in promoting biofortified crops by providing finance for development, research, and marketing initiatives.

    Source: BL

    Open Network for Digital Commerce Academy

    Syllabus: GS3/ Economy

    News:

    • The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) recently introduced the ONDC Academy.

    About ONDC Academy

    • It is a DPIIT(Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade) initiative to create a facilitative model to help small retailers take advantage of digital commerce. 
    • The academy was launched by ONDC in collaboration with NSE Academy Ltd, a subsidiary of the National Stock Exchange.
    • It is not an application, platform, intermediary, or software but a set of specifications designed to foster open, unbundled, and interoperable open networks.
    • The repository is stored on an ONDC website as well as on YouTube, with assistance received from the National Stock Exchange. 
    • The academy is a repository of educational and informative textual and video content programmes in multiple Indian languages. It will provide a curated learning experience providing guidance and best practices for a successful e-commerce journey for merchants. 
    • Any person without any knowledge of e-commerce can learn how to make a seller app with a technology service provider to aggregate all sellers from a nearby marketplace to make these products available online.
    • It would also enable certification issued by NSE Academy to individuals completing an assessment developed by the institute.

    About ONDC 

    • The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) is a Section 8 company, under the initiative of DPIIT, with a mission to democratize digital commerce. 
    • ONDC develops and maintains the ONDC Protocol, an open technical standard similar to UPI, HTTP and   SMTP. 
    • Any two platforms that are compliant with the ONDC Protocol can interoperate without speciï¬cally integrating with each other’s  systems. 
    • The ONDC Protocol compliant applications  together constitute the ONDC Network. 
    • Just as UPI enables interoperability of banks and payment platforms to transfer money, or SMTP allows  people to exchange emails without worrying about which email service the recipient uses, the ONDC Protocol allows buyers and sellers to  trade goods or services no matter which /platform they use.
    • ONDC Registry is like a phonebook which one can use to ï¬nd other ONDC Protocol-compliant platforms. 
    • The beneï¬ts of the ONDC Network include lower entry-barriers to digital commerce, providing Level playing ï¬eld for all e- Commerce models and unbundling of various stages of e-commerce transactions to allow new business models and opportunities. 

    Source: TH

    Facts In News

     

    55th Youth Parliament Competition

     

    Syllabus: GS2/Polity and Governance; GS4/Inculcating Values

    News:

    • The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs organised the Prize Distribution Function of 55th National Youth Parliament Competition, 2022-23 for Schools under the Directorate of Education, Government of NCT of Delhi and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC).

    National Youth Parliament Scheme:

    • The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has been implementing it since 1966, on an annual basis in each academic year, in Schools under the Directorate of Education, Government of NCT of Delhi and other institutions.
    • So far, around 8000 educational institutions and more than 4,00,000 students have been covered under the Youth Parliament programme of the Ministry.

    Objectives of the Scheme:

    • It aims to spread the spirit of democracy to every nook and corner of the country.
    • It aims at inculcating among the younger generations the spirit of self-discipline, tolerance of diverse opinion, righteous expression of views and other virtues of a democratic way of life.
    • Besides, the scheme also acquaints the students with the practices and procedures of Parliament, techniques of discussion and debate and develops in them self-confidence, quality of leadership and the art and skill of effective oratory.

    Eligibility for entry in the Competition:

    • All the Universities/Colleges recognized by UGC/Government of India/State Government who sponsor their nominees for attending the Orientation Course conducted by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs prior to the start of the Competition would be eligible for participation.
    • The Ministry may add any additional institution for participation in the competition.
    • After successful registration, the educational institutions will be able to conduct youth parliament sittings in their respective institutions.

    Salient features of National Youth Parliament Scheme (NYPS):

    • Participation Based: Registration through web portal.
    • Kishore Sabha: For the students of Class IX to Class XII.
    • Tarun Sabha: For the students of Under Graduate/Post Graduate level.
    • E-training modules, videos, photographs and scripts are available on the portal for online self-learning of the participants.

    Source: PIB

    International Myeloma Foundation (IMF)

    Syllabus: GS2/ Health

    News

    • Recently S. Vincent Rajkumar has been appointed chairman-elect of the Board of Directors of the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF).

    About

    • The International Myeloma Foundation is an American non-profit organization serving patients with myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow. 
    • Founded: 1990
    • Headquarters:California ,USA
    • Objective:The organization is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all myeloma patients by focusing on four key areas: research, education, support, and advocacy.
      • The IMF also provides support and information for family members, caregivers of myeloma patients, physicians and nurses.
    • The IMF was the first organization dedicated solely to multiple myeloma.

    Source:TH

    Solar Technology Application Resource Centre [STAR C] Initiative

    Syllabus: GS3/ Science & Technology

    In News

    • India is considering expanding its solar STAR-C initiative, run by the International Solar Alliance, to a number of Pacific Island countries.

    About

    • The programme aims to boost solar power ecosystems in the poorest countries. In the Pacific, it currently runs in Tonga. 
    • India’s efforts will primarily be focused on economic development, connectivity and climate change. 

    About Solar Technology Application Resource Centre [STAR C] Initiative 

    • It is a project to build STAR centres which will act as hubs of technology, knowledge, and expertise on solar energy.
    • The International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), with funding from the Government of France, are implementing the project.
    • The overall objective is to create a strong network of institutional capacities within ISA Member States to enhance quality infrastructure (QI) for the uptake of solar energy product and service markets, particularly in least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS)

    Source: ET

    Fact-Check Unit

    Syllabus:GS2/Governance

    News

    • Recently, the Union government said that the Fact Check Unit (FCU), set up to identify ‘fake news’ will not be notified till September 4. 

    About

    • The provision of The Fact Check Unit (FCU) is stipulated under the  new Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023.
    • FCU was to identify fake or false or misleading online content related to the government.
    • The content marked by the Fact Check Unit as ‘fake or misleading’ will have to be taken down by online intermediaries if they wish to enjoy legal immunity or ‘safe harbour‘ protections in Section 79 of the IT Act Against third-party content.

    Concerns

    • Journalist’s bodies, rights activists and those keeping a watch on internet freedom have all decried this as a move approaching censorship.
    • India has already slipped to the 161st rank in 2023 in terms of press freedom out of 180 countries ranked by Reporters Without Borders.The move will further deteriorate India’s position.

    Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023

    • The aim of these amendments is to enforce greater due diligence by online gaming and social media intermediaries in respect of online games & fake or false misleading information related to Government business.

    Amended rules

    • Verification of Online Games: Intermediaries have been obligated to not host, publish or share any online game that can harm users, and has not been verified by an self-regulatory body designated by the Central Government. Promotion and advertising such games has also been barred.
    • Safeguards ensured by the Self-regulatory body: It will have the authority to inquire and satisfy itself that the online game does not involve any risky outcome and the game complies with the rules and the framework regarding safeguards against user harm.
    • Games involving real money: Display of verification mark by the self-regulatory body on such games; informing their users of the policy for withdrawal or refund of deposit, manner of determination and distribution of winnings, fees and other charges payable; obtaining the KYC details of the users; and not giving credit or enabling financing by third parties to the users.
    • Structure of regulating authority: The Government may notify multiple self-regulatory bodies, which shall be representative of the online gaming industry but it will function at arm’s length from their members, and a Board consisting of Directors who are free from conflict of interest and represent all relevant stakeholders and experts.
    • Fake Information: Obligation on the intermediaries to not to publish, share or host fake, false or misleading information identified by the notified Fact Check Unit of the Central Government in respect of any business of the Central Government. 
    • Application of Rules: The rules provide for the obligations to become applicable once a sufficient number of self-regulatory bodies have been designated, so that the online gaming industry has adequate time to comply with its obligations.

    Source:TH