Daily Current Affairs 23-04-2024

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    Syllabus: GS2/IR

    • The new National Defence Strategy (NDS) 2024 released by Australia mentioned India as a top-tier security partner.
    • In deepening defense partnerships, the strategy identifies key partners across multiple regions in the Indo-Pacific, including Japan and India. 
    • The 2024 Integrated Investment Programme (IIP) was also released which sets out the specific defence capabilities Australia will invest in to give effect to the NDS. 
    • The national defence strategy aims to bolster the Australian Defence Force (ADF)’s deterrence and warfighting capabilities in the Indo-Pacific, including by building stronger partnerships with key countries. 
      • The document mentioned that Australia will support India’s role in the region and seek to drive practical bilateral and multilateral cooperation, defence industry opportunities and information sharing.
    • India and Australia upgraded their bilateral relationship from a ‘strategic partnership’ in 2009 to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ in 2020.  
    • Over the past few years, several institutional mechanisms have been implemented to promote bilateral cooperation.
      • Bilateral mechanisms include high-level visits, Annual Meetings of Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue, 2+2 Defence and Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue, Joint Trade & Commerce Ministerial Commission, Defence Policy Talks, Australia-India Education Council, Defence Services Staff Talks, Energy Dialogue, JWGs on different issues etc.
    • The two countries have expanded their strategic partnership, focusing on maritime security, counter-terrorism, and regional stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
    • QUAD: It is known as the ‘Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’ (QSD) and is an informal strategic forum comprising four nations, namely — United States of America (USA), India, Australia and Japan. 
      • One of the primary objectives of the Quad is to work for a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
    • Initiation of Strategic Dialogue: In 2020, Australia and India elevated their Secretaries 2+2 dialogue (Defence and Foreign Affairs) to the Ministerial level. Now the ministers meet once every two years to discuss the progress made under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. 
    • Two Navies had signed the ‘Joint Guidance for the India – Australia Navy to Navy Relationship’ document in 2021.
    • Malabar Exercise: In 2020, Australia participated in the MALABAR naval exercise and thus joined India, the U S and Japan.
      • The exercise united four regional defence partners and democracies, signifying a collective resolve to support an open and prosperous Indo-Pacific. 
    • AUSINDEX: It is a naval exercise between the Royal Australian Navy and the Indian Navy
    • The Pitch Black exercise: A significant beginning of defence rendezvous was traversed when, for the first time, the Indian Air Force joined Exercise Pitch Black in Darwin in 2018.
      • Australia’s multifaceted exercise encompasses air forces from several Australian allies and partner countries. 
    • Mutual Logistic Support Arrangement and Defence Science & Technology Implementing Arrangement: India and Australia clinched the Mutual Logistic Support Arrangement in 2020.
      • The pact enables more scholarly operational cooperation, enabling increasingly complex military engagement and excellent collective receptiveness to regional benevolent disasters. 
    • The shared military platforms: Indian and Australian militaries have become increasingly interoperable through the increasing number of shared media, thereby growing opportunities for shared training.
      • These include C-17 strategic transport aircraft, C-130 tactical transport aircraft, P-8 maritime reconnaissance aircraft, and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters.
    • The exchanges of military officials for training: India shapes its relations with its defence forces through regular personnel and training exchanges, such as short specialist courses and longer-term positions.
      • Every year, India and Australia send officers to attend each other’s premiere military educational institutions.
    • Defence and strategic cooperation between India and Australia has been transformative in recent years with a series of exchanges, high-level visits and exercises, both bilateral and multilateral. 
    • The document emphasises that Australia will continue to support India’s key role in the region by increasing the depth and complexity of defence cooperation.
    • Despite a certain amount of traditional wariness among Australian analysts about the prospects of the relationship, and vice versa, there has been rapid growth in the bilateral partnership, primarily driven by the growing threat that both sides perceive from China. 

    Source: TH

    Syllabus: GS3/Environment

    • Europe is the world’s fastest-warming continent as per the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organisation and the European Union’s climate agency.
    • Europe is the fastest-warming continent and its temperatures are rising at roughly twice the global average.
      • The latest five-year averages show temperatures in Europe are now running 2.3 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, compared to 1.3 degrees C higher globally.
    • Extreme Heat Stress: The continent experienced the most number of days with ‘extreme heat stress’ and a decrease in the number of days with ‘cold stress’.
      • The global meteorological agency defines ‘extreme heat stress’ as the condition when the ‘feel like’ temperature is higher than 46°C.
    • Loss of Glacier Volume: Because of the consistent and rapid heating, the Alps mountain range, which consists of Europe’s highest peak Mont Blanc, lost 10 percent of its glacier volume in the last two years, 2022 and 2023. 
      • In 2023, the glacier’s on the range reduced in volume by 4.4 percent compared to the previous year. 
    • More energy in Europe was generated from renewables than from fossil fuels for the second year running.
      • The continent generated 43% of its electricity from renewable resources last year, up from 36% the year before.
    • The report focuses this year on the impact of high temperatures on human health, noting that deaths related to heat have risen across the continent.
      • More than 150 lives were lost directly last year in connection with storms, floods and wildfires. 
      • The cost of weather- and climate-related economic losses in 2023 were estimated at more than 13.4 billion euros.
    • Climate change refers to long-term shifts in global or regional climate patterns. 
    • It’s primarily driven by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and industrial processes, which release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane into the atmosphere. 
    • These gases trap heat, causing the Earth’s temperature to rise—a phenomenon known as global warming.
    • Impact: It threatens the essential ingredients of good health – clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply and safe shelter – and has the potential to undermine decades of progress in global health.
    Greenhouse Gases

    – Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. The gases act like the glass walls of a greenhouse – hence the name, greenhouse gases. 
    – Without this greenhouse effect, temperatures would drop to as low as -18˚C (-0.4˚F); too cold to sustain life on earth.
    CO2 accounts for 64 percent of the global warming effect, while methane accounts for 16 percent and nitrous oxide accounts for 7 percent.
    Three industrial fluorinated gases – hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) – are solely man-made during industrial processes and do not occur in nature. 
    a. Though they are present in very small concentrations in the atmosphere, they trap heat very effectively, meaning they are extremely potent.
    • It is an international treaty established to address the global challenge that came into force in 1994.
    • Aim: To stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.
    • Parties and Membership: The Convention has 198 members.
    • Conference of the Parties (COP): It is the supreme decision-making body of the UNFCCC and COP meetings are held annually.
    • Funds to Developing Countries: Industrialized nations agree under the Convention to support climate change activities in developing countries by providing financial support for action on climate change– above and beyond any financial assistance they already provide to these countries. 
    • Kyoto Protocol: It was adopted in 1997 and establishes legally binding emission reduction targets for developed countries.
      • It operates under the framework of the UNFCCC and has its own decision-making body, the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP). 
    • Paris Agreement: Adopted in 2015 at COP21 in Paris, it is an international treaty that builds upon the UNFCCC.
      • It aims to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 
      • The Paris Agreement emphasizes nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and encourages all countries to take climate action.
    • Renewable Energy Expansion: India has set ambitious targets for renewable energy generation, aiming to increase its capacity significantly.
      • The country has invested heavily in solar and wind energy projects, with the goal of reducing reliance on fossil fuels and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
    • International Commitments: India is a signatory to the Paris Agreement, committing to reduce its carbon intensity and increase the share of non-fossil fuel energy sources in its total energy mix.
      • India has announced its aim to meet 50% of its electricity demands from renewable energy sources by 2030.
    • Afforestation and Forest Conservation: Recognizing the role of forests in carbon sequestration and climate regulation, India has initiated programs to increase forest cover, restore degraded lands, and promote sustainable forest management practices.
    • Clean Transportation: India is promoting the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and has set a target of 30% EV market share by 2030.
      • The government has introduced incentives and subsidies to support the production and adoption of EVs.
    • Climate Resilience: India is investing in measures to enhance climate resilience and adaptation, particularly in vulnerable sectors such as agriculture, water resources, and coastal areas.
      • This includes the development of climate-resilient crop varieties, water conservation techniques, and disaster preparedness measures.
    • International Cooperation: India actively participates in international forums and collaborations on climate change, engaging in initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

    Source: DTE

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    • India’s net direct tax collections grew 17.7% in 2023-24 to hit ₹19.58 lakh crore.
    • The Budget Estimates (BE) for Direct Tax revenue in the Union Budget for FY 2023- 24 were fixed at Rs. 18.23 lakh crore which were revised and the Revised Estimates (RE) were fixed at Rs. 19.45 lakh crore. 
    • The provisional Direct Tax collections (net of the refunds) have exceeded the BE by 7.40% and RE by 0.67%.
    • The Net collections (provisional) of Direct Tax collections for the FY 2023-24 show that Net collections are at Rs. 19.58 lakh crore, compared to Rs. 16.64 lakh crore in the preceding Financial Year i.e. FY 2022-23, representing an increase of 17.70%.
    • The Gross collection (provisional) of Direct Taxes (before adjusting for refunds) for the FY 2023-24 stands at Rs. 23.37 lakh crore showing a growth of 18.48% over the gross collection of Rs. 19.72 lakh crore in FY 2022-23.
    • The Gross Corporate Tax collection (provisional) in FY 2023-24 is at Rs. 11.32 lakh crore and has shown a growth of 13.06% over the gross corporate tax collection of Rs. 10 lakh crore of the preceding year. 
    • The Net Corporate Tax collection (provisional) in FY 2023- 24 is at Rs. 9.11 lakh crore and has shown a growth of 10.26% over the net corporate tax collection of Rs. 8.26 lakh crore of the preceding year.
    • The Gross Personal Income Tax collection (including STT) (provisional) in FY 2023- 24 is at Rs. 12.01 lakh crore and has shown a growth of 24.26% over the Gross Personal Income Tax collection (including STT) of Rs. 9.67 lakh crore of the preceding year. 
    • The Net Personal Income Tax collection (including STT) (provisional) in FY 2023-24 is at Rs. 10.44 lakh crore and has shown a growth of 25.23% over the Net Personal Income Tax collection (including STT) of Rs. 8.33 lakh crore of the preceding year.
    • Refunds of Rs. 3.79 lakh crore have been issued in the FY 2023-24 showing an increase of 22.74% over the refunds of Rs. 3.09 lakh crore issued in FY 2022-23.
    What is Direct Taxes?

    – Direct taxes are imposed on the basis of individuals ability to pay principle, which says that those individuals or entities having access to more resources and earning a higher income need to pay higher taxes. 
    – The direct rules are framed such that taxes turn out to be a method to redistribute money in the country.

    Types of Direct Taxes

    Estate Tax: It is also called Inheritance Tax and is paid based on the value of the estate or the money that an individual has left after his/her death.
    Income tax: It is a tax charged on the annual income of an individual or business earned in a financial year. 
    Wealth Tax: The tax must be paid on a yearly basis and depends on the ownership of properties and the market value of the property.
    Corporate Tax: A corporate tax is a tax on the profits or net income of a corporation. 
    a. Corporate tax is paid on a company’s taxable income which includes company’s revenue after deductions such as cost of goods sold (COGS), general and administrative (G&A) expenses, selling and marketing, depreciation, research & development etc.
    Capital Gains Tax: It is a form of direct tax that is paid due to the income that is earned from the sale of assets or investments. Investments in farms, bonds, shares, businesses, art, and home come under capital assets.

    Source: PIB

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    • Aditya L1 solar mission of the ISRO is continuously sending data about the Sun.
    • Aditya-L1 is the first space-based Indian observatory to study the Sun. It was launched on September 2, 2023 by the PSLV-C57.
    • Solar observatory is placed at Lagrangian point L1 for “Observing and understanding the chromospheric and coronal dynamics of the Sun” in a continuous manner. 
    • Placing the Aditya-L1 in a halo orbit around L1 point has advantages as compared to placing in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO):
      • It provides a smooth Sun-spacecraft velocity change throughout the orbit, appropriate for helioseismology.
      • It is outside of the magnetosphere of Earth, thus suitable for the “in situ” sampling of the solar wind and particles.
      • It allows unobstructed, continuous observation of the Sun, and view of earth for enabling continuous communication to ground stations.
    • It is equipped with seven payloads (instruments) on board with four of them carrying out remote sensing of the Sun and three of them carrying in-situ observation.
    • The Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) will study the Corona, imaging and spectroscopy, and Coronal mass ejections.
    • The Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT) will focus upon the Photosphere and Chromosphere imaging- narrow and broadband. It will also measure the solar irradiance variations. 
    • The Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS) and High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS) will study the soft and hard X-ray flares from the Sun over a wide X-ray energy range.
    • The Aditya Solar wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) and Plasma Analyser Package For Aditya (PAPA) will analyze the electrons and protons in the Solar wind or particles. It will also study the energetic ions.
    • The Advanced Tri-axial High Resolution Digital Magnetometers will study the interplanetary magnetic field at L1 point.
    What is a Lagrange Point?

    Lagrange points are positions in space where objects sent there tend to stay put. At Lagrange points, the gravitational pull of two large masses precisely equals the centripetal force required for a small object to move with them. 
    – There are five Lagrange points, three are unstable and two are stable. The unstable Lagrange points are labeled L1, L2 and L3. The stable Lagrange points are labeled L4 and L5.
    The L1 point of the Earth-Sun system affords an uninterrupted view of the sun and is currently home to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Satellite SOHO.

     

    Source: TH

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    • Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank focus on reforming Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) to address 21st-century challenges. 
    • MDBs play a crucial role in global economic development, providing financial and technical assistance to developing countries for development programs by promoting economic growth, particularly in low and middle-income countries.
    • India, as one of the largest economies in the world, has a significant relationship with MDBs, which has evolved over time.
    • India has been actively engaging with MDBs to address its development needs and to contribute to global economic stability.
    • The country has been a recipient of financial and technical assistance from MDBs for various development projects, including infrastructure development, poverty reduction, and climate change mitigation.
    • The current legal and institutional framework of MDBs, established in the aftermath of World War II, is increasingly seen as outdated and inadequate to deal with the complexities of the 21st-century global ecosystem.
    • The framework does not reflect the contemporary realities and aspirations of developing countries, especially those of the Global South.
    • MDBs are facing several challenges that affect their relevance and performance.
      • These include the need to enhance coordination among MDBs, address the rising demand for their resources, and evolve their operational strategies and business models.
    • It encompasses efforts being undertaken by various MDBs to evolve their vision, incentive structures, operational approaches, and financial capacities.
    • The aim is to equip MDBs to address the challenges of the 21st century in addition to the development needs of low and middle income countries.
    • A key element of the reform agenda is to enhance coordination among MDBs.
      • Addressing new global challenges will require resources and capabilities of a magnitude beyond the capability of any single MDB.
    • The current dynamism on the reform agenda stems primarily from the pressure exerted by the shareholders via various forums, including the UN, the G7, and the G20.
      • Among these, the role of the G20 has been particularly crucial.
    • The G20 has set up an Independent Expert Group (IEG) to construct a roadmap for ‘Multilateralism 2.0’.
      • It proposed a ‘Triple Agenda’ for MDBs.
    Triple Agenda

    – The Independent Expert Group (IEG) has proposed a triple agenda for MDBs.
    – It includes:
    a. Efforts to tackle global challenges, alongside their core mission of poverty reduction and shared prosperity;
    b. To triple their sustainable lending level by 2030; and
    c. To enhance their financial strength through capital adequacy improvements and general capital increases.
    • During its G20 presidency in 2023, India emphasised the need for comprehensive reforms of MDBs.
    • It highlighted the importance of strengthening MDBs to address shared global challenges, such as climate change and sustainable development.
    • Under the aegis of India’s G20 Presidency, an Expert Group on ‘Strengthening Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs)’ was constituted.
    • India has leveraged MDBs’ resources and expertise to achieve its development goals.
      • It has sought MDBs’ assistance for various development projects, including infrastructure development, poverty reduction, and climate change mitigation.
    • India has reached out to MDBs to draw a roadmap for becoming a developed nation by 2047.
      • It has asked MDBs to share their project implementation expertise and help in this endeavour.
    • India’s relationship with MDBs is a strategic partnership that has evolved over time and has leveraged MDBs’ resources and expertise to achieve its development goals and contribute to global economic stability.
    • The reform of MDBs is a complex and challenging task that requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including MDBs themselves, their shareholders, and the international community.
    • However, with the right vision, strategies, and actions, MDBs can be transformed into more effective and responsive institutions, better equipped to address the development challenges of the 21st century.

    Source: ET

    Syllabus: GS1/Geography

    Context

    • Recently researchers discovered that the Ross Ice Shelf makes sudden jumps twice a day.

    About

    • The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest ice shelf in Antarctica, about the same size as the country of France. 
    • It is located in the Ross Sea and extends into the Southern Ocean. 
    • The ice shelf is named after British explorer Sir James Clark Ross, who discovered it in the 19th century.

    What’s causing the Ross Ice Shelf jump?

    • The movement of ice causes the sudden shifts. 
    • Two sections of ice press against each other, just as tectonic plates on Earth cause earthquakes. This rubbing creates tension, which is released in the  jumps.
    • The jump might cause “icequakes” – seismic disturbances that occur within the ice. 

    Source: IT

    Syllabus: GS3/ S&T

    In News

    • Singapore recalls India’s spice product over alleged presence of a pesticide called ethylene oxide.

    About Ethylene Oxide (EtO)

    • It is a highly reactive compound that has not only been found to be carcinogenic but can also be mutagenic if inhaled.
    • It is a flammable, colorless gas with a sweet, ether-like odor.
    • Ethylene oxide is a food fumigant that prevents microbial contamination, including bacteria, virus, and fungi. 
    • Long-term exposure or high concentrations can lead to severe health risks including mutagenicity (changes in DNA), reproductive effects, and carcinogenicity.

    Concerns

    • The discovery of this compound in Indian spice exports underscores the considerable gap in oversight and regulatory alignment between the production standards practiced in India and the standards demanded by international markets.

    Source: TH

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy; Industrial Growth

    Context

    • Recently, India’s gems and jewellery sector found to be on a bright spot amidst gold price surge.

    About the India’s Gems & Jewellery Sector

    • It is a significant contributor to the country’s economy, contributing around 6-7% of the country’s GDP.
    • It employs over 4.64 million workers and is expected to employ 8.23 million by 2022. 
    • It is one of the fastest-growing segments in the Indian economy, with an annual growth rate of approximately 16%.
    • As per the India Development Update by the World Bank, India emerged as one of the fastest-growing major economies in FY 2022/23, boasting a growth rate of 7.2 per cent.
      • Forecasts suggest continued growth, with a projected expansion of 6.3 per cent in FY 2023/24.

    A Global Leader

    • India is deemed to be the hub of the global jewellery market because of its low costs and availability of high-skilled labour.
    • The country is the world’s largest cutting and polishing centre for diamonds, with the cutting and polishing industry being well supported by government policies.
    • Moreover, India exports 75% of the world’s polished diamonds, as per statistics from the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).
      • India’s gems and jewellery exports soared to USD 37.73 billion in 2022-23, reaffirming its position as a global leader in the industry.
    • In 2022, India ranked first among exporters in cut and polished diamonds and second in gold jewellery, silver jewellery, and lab-grown diamonds.

    Source: DD News

    Syllabus: GS3/Environment; Conservation

    Context:

    • The Chipko movement, a landmark environmental movement, marked  its 50th anniversary.

    About the Chipko Movement

    • It was a forest conservation movement that created a precedent for starting non-violent protest against deforestation and commercial logging, where villagers, particularly women, embraced trees to prevent them from being cut down.

    • It began in 1973 in Uttarakhand, then a part of Uttar Pradesh (at the foothills of Himalayas) and went on to become a rallying point for many future environmental movements all over the world. 

    Causes for Movement

    • There was reckless deforestation which denuded much of the forest cover, resulting in the devastating Alaknanda River floods of July 1970. 
    • The incidences of landslides and land subsidence due to rapid increase in civil engineering projects.

    Impact and Spread of the Movement:

    • It quickly spread throughout the Indian Himalayas, inspiring a nationwide environmental concern and influencing policy formulation to balance economic development with environmental protection.

    Role of Women

    • Women were not only the backbone of the Chipko Movement but also its mainstay, as they were the ones most affected by the rampant deforestation.
    • The movement is seen as an ecofeminist movement, where women stood up to protect their environment with a message to loggers: ‘Our bodies before our trees’.

    Source: DTE

    Syllabus: GS3/Environment

    Context

    • World Earth Day, also known as International Mother Earth Day, is Celebrated annually on April 22.

    About

    • It is a globally recognised event dedicated to raising awareness and promoting the sustainability of the planet.
    • Origin: The concept of Earth Day can be traced back to the late 1960s, which saw a surge in public debate over environmental issues.
      • It was first celebrated across US college campuses in 1970 — months after a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara. The movement has since mobilised more than a billion individuals in over 192 countries.
    • Theme: The themes for each Earth Day vary, focusing on different aspects of environmental protection and sustainability.
      • The theme for 2024 is ‘Planet vs. Plastics.
      • It highlights the threat plastics pose to the planet and human health, thereby calling an end to all plastic waste by demanding a 60% reduction in the production of plastics by the year 2040.

    Source: LM

    Syllabus: GS3/Agriculture

    Context

    • The number of States that implement the Centre’s flagship crop insurance scheme Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) may jump to 22 as Jharkhand and Telangana are likely to start enrolment for the ensuing kharif season. 

    About

    • It was launched in 2016 by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers welfare.
    • Objectives: It is a crop insurance scheme that provides financial support to farmers in case of crop failure or damage due to natural calamities, pests, or diseases.
      • to stabilize the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming;
      •  to encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices;
      • to ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector.
    • Coverage: All farmers including sharecroppers and tenant farmers growing the notified crops in the notified areas are eligible for coverage.
    • Coverage of Crops: Food crops (Cereals, Millets & Pulses), Oilseeds and Annual Commercial / Horticultural crops.

    Share between Centre and State: As the States have major role in implementation of the scheme the premium subsidy is  shared by the Central and State Government on 50 : 50 basis and  for North-Eastern States sharing pattern has been made 90 : 10. 

    Source: TH