Daily Current Affairs – 28-06-2023

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    GOI Unveils Critical Mineral List 

    Syllabus: GS3: Indian Economy/ Science and Technology

    In News

    • The Government of India, through the Ministry of Mines, is set to unveil for the first time “the list of Critical Minerals for India”.

    Objective

    • To ensure reduced import dependencies, enhance supply chain resilience and support the country’s net zero objectives.

    Significance of the List

    • It will mark a milestone in India’s pursuit of self-reliance and security in the domain of mineral resources. 
    • The list is designed to identify and prioritize minerals that are essential for various industrial sectors such as high-tech electronics, telecommunications, transport and defence. 
    • The list will serve as a guiding framework for policy formulation, strategic planning and investment decisions in the mining sector.
    • This initiative aligns with the larger vision of achieving ‘Net Zero’ target for India through the Government’s commitment to creating a robust and resilient mineral sector. 

    What are Critical Minerals?

    • Critical minerals are elements that are the building blocks of essential modern-day technologies, and are at risk of supply chain disruptions. 
    • These minerals are now used everywhere from making mobile phones, computers to batteries, electric vehicles and green technologies like solar panels and wind turbines. 
    • Based on their individual needs and strategic considerations, different countries create their own lists.
    • However, such lists mostly include graphite, lithium and cobalt, which are used for making EV batteries; rare earths that are used for making magnets and silicon which is a key mineral for making computer chips and solar panels. 
    • Aerospace, communications and defence industries also rely on several such minerals as they are used in manufacturing fighter jets, drones, radio sets and other critical equipment.

    What Importance does Listing Critical Minerals Hold?

    • Transition to clean energy: As countries around the world scale up their transition towards clean energy and digital economy, these critical resources are key to the ecosystem that fuels this change. 
    • Avoid dependence on other countries: Any supply shock can severely imperil the economy and strategic autonomy of a country over-dependent on others to procure critical minerals.
      • But these supply risks exist due to rare availability, growing demand and complex processing value chain. Many times the complex supply chain can be disrupted by hostile regimes, or due to politically unstable regions.
    • Increase in Demand: As the world transitions to a clean energy economy, global demand for these critical minerals is set to skyrocket by 400-600 per cent over the next several decades, and, for minerals such as lithium and graphite used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries, demand will increase by even more.
    • Countries own list: Different countries may have their own unique lists of critical minerals based on their specific circumstances and priorities. The US has declared 50 minerals critical in light of their role in national security or economic development. The UK considers 18 minerals critical and Canada 31.

    Minerals Security Partnership

    • India recently joined the coveted critical minerals clubthe Mineral Security Partnership (MSP) — headed by the United States.
    • MSP is a strategic grouping of 13 member states including Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, US, the European Union, Italy and now India. 
    • It aims to catalyse public and private investment in critical mineral supply chains globally. 
    • India is already a member of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development, which supports the advancement of good mining governance. 

    Significance of India’s Inclusion into MSP

    • India’s inclusion in the club is vital for India to fulfill its ambition of shifting towards sustainable mobility through large, reliable fleets of electric public and private transport. 
    • Securing the supply chain of critical minerals will also provide the country with the necessary push towards a concerted indigenous electronics and semiconductor manufacturing. 
    • The inclusion will also pave the way for equitable sharing of resources across the globe. 
    • The MSP is elitist in its very idea of formation and induction of members. Countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have abundant reserves of critical minerals are not part of this strategic grouping formed by the US. 
      • The diplomatic strength India possesses can create space for other countries to be part of the partnership and reduce their dependence on China by building a robust and reliable supply chain of raw materials needed for clean energy.
    • India’s entry into MSP will foster several bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral agreements, specifically for the governance involving critical minerals and their strategic importance among the member countries. 

    Source: PIB

     

    Indian Ocean Dipole

    Syllabus: GS1/ Important Geophysical phenomena

    In Context

    • With the El Nino phenomenon almost certain to affect the Indian monsoon this year, high hopes are pinned on the development of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) and its ability to counterbalance the El Nino effect.

    About

    • While El Nino is already firmly established in the Pacific Ocean this year, the IOD is still in the neutral phase.
    • According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the probability forecast for IOD indicates about 80% probability for positive IOD conditions and 15% of a neutral IOD during June-August 2023 season.
      • All international climate models surveyed also suggest a positive IOD event may develop in the coming months.

    Indian Ocean Dipole

    • The IOD is an ocean-atmosphere interaction very similar to the El Nino fluctuations in the Pacific Ocean, playing out, as the name shows, in the Indian Ocean. 
    • It is also a much weaker system than El Nino, and thus has relatively limited impacts.
      • But a positive IOD does have the potential to offset the impacts of El Nino to a small measure in neighbouring areas, and it has, at least once in the past (1997), delivered admirably on this potential.
    • How?
      • IOD, sometimes referred to as the Indian Nino, is a phenomenon similar to ENSO, playing out in the relatively smaller area of the Indian Ocean between the Indonesian and Malaysian coastline in the east and the African coastline near Somalia in the west. 
      • One side of the ocean, along the equator, gets warmer than the other. 
    • Positive & Negative IOD:
      • IOD is said to be positive when the western side of the Indian Ocean, near the Somalia coast, becomes warmer than the eastern Indian Ocean. 
      • It is negative when the western Indian Ocean is cooler.
    • Relations of ENSO & IOD:
      • A positive IOD event is often seen developing at times of an El Nino, while a negative IOD is sometimes associated with La Nina. 
        • During El Nino, the Pacific side of Indonesia is cooler than normal because of which the Indian Ocean side also gets cooler. That helps the development of a positive IOD. 
      • Many studies suggest that IOD events are actually induced by ENSO
      • But according to others, IOD events can have an independent existence.
    • Impact of IOD:
      • A positive IOD helps rainfall along the African coastline and also over the Indian sub-continent while suppressing rainfall over Indonesia, southeast Asia and Australia. The impacts are opposite during a negative IOD event.

    El Niño

    • El Niño is the warming of seawater in the central-east Equatorial Pacific that occurs every few years. 
    • In a normal year
      • The eastern side of the Pacific Ocean, near the northwestern coast of South America, is cooler than the western side near the islands of Philippines and Indonesia.
      • This happens because the prevailing wind systems that move from east to west sweep the warmer surface waters towards the Indonesian coast. 
      • The relatively cooler waters from below come up to replace the displaced water. 
    • An El Nino event is the result of a weakening of wind systems that leads to lesser displacement of warmer waters. 
      • This results in the eastern side of the Pacific becoming warmer than usual. 

    Outcomes

    • Disruptions in the food chain: The phenomena of upwelling, where nutrient-rich waters rise towards the surface, is reduced under El Niño. This in turn reduces phytoplankton. 
      • Thus, fish that eat phytoplankton are affected, followed by other organisms higher up the food chain. 
    • Disruptions in the overall ecosystem: Warm waters also carry tropical species towards colder areas, disrupting multiple ecosystems. 
    • Alterations in wind & weather patterns: Since the Pacific covers almost one-third of the earth, changes in its temperature and subsequent alteration of wind patterns disrupt global weather patterns. 
      • El Niño causes dry, warm winters in the Northern U.S. and Canada and increases the risk of flooding in the U.S. gulf coast and southeastern U.S. It also brings drought to Indonesia and Australia.

    La Niña

    • La Niña is the opposite of El Niño. La Niña sees cooler than average sea surface temperature (SST) in the equatorial Pacific region. 
    • Trade winds are stronger than usual, pushing warmer water towards Asia.
    • On the American west coast, upwelling increases, bringing nutrient-rich water to the surface. 
    • Pacific cold waters close to the Americas push jet streams — narrow bands of strong winds in the upper atmosphere — northwards. 
    • This leads to drier conditions in the Southern U.S., and heavy rainfall in Canada.
    • La Niña has also been associated with heavy floods in Australia. Two successive La Niña events in the last two years caused intense flooding in Australia, resulting in significant damage.

    ENSO

    • Both these conditions, together called El Nino Southern Oscillation or ENSO, affect weather events across the world. 

     

    Way ahead

    • Compared to ENSO events, the impacts of IODs are much weaker
    • But, hope lingers, including this year when a strong El Nino is expected to develop in the Pacific Ocean. 

    Source: TH

    Status of India-U.S. Technology Trade

    Syllabus :GS 2/International Relations 

    In Context 

    • Technology was a major focus of PM Modi’s recent U.S. visit but  U.S tech firms are sceptical about digital trade with India.

    Status of India-U.S. technology trade

    • In FY2023, the U.S. emerged as India’s biggest overall trading partner with a 7.65% increase in bilateral trade to $128.55 billion in 2022-23. 
    • However, digital or technology services did not emerge as one of the sectors at the forefront of bilateral trade. 
    • Digital trade is also the area where some of the biggest U.S. tech companies have recently flagged multiple policy hurdles, including “India’s patently protectionist posture”.

    Initiatives 

    • The India-U.S. have been ramping up their tech partnership through moves like the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) announced by President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2022. 
      • Under the iCET, India and the U.S. agreed to cooperate on critical and emerging technologies in areas including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, semiconductors and wireless telecommunication. 
    • The ambitious MoU signed between the two states on the Semiconductor Supply Chain and Innovation Partnership, which includes a combined investment valued at $2.75 billion. 
    • On the telecommunications front, the two leaders launched two Joint Task Forces to focus on the Open RAN network and research and development in 5G/6G technologies. 

    Concerns of U.S. tech firms

    • The Washington D.C.-headquartered Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) flagged policy barriers to trading with India .
    • According to CCIA ,the U.S. ran a $27 billion deficit in trade in digital services with India in 2020”.
    • The U.S.’s extension of market access, trade and openness to Indian companies to operate and succeed in the U.S. has not been reciprocated by the Indian side.
    • The Indian government has deployed a range of “tools to champion their protectionist industrial policy”, tilting the playing field away from U.S. digital service providers in favour of domestic players.
      • To describe these “discriminatory regulation and policies”, it cites the example of India’s guidelines on the sharing of geospatial data, which it accuses of providing preferential treatment to Indian companies. 
    • It has also expressed discontent over India’s veering away from “longstanding democratic norms and values, and seeking greater government censorship and control over political speech”, which it argues has made it “extremely challenging for U.S. companies to operate in India”. 
    • Taxation measures :The equalisation levy, when it was first introduced in 2016, led to double taxation and further complicated the taxation framework. Besides, it also raised questions of constitutional validity and compliance with international obligations. 
    • The 2020 amendment again led the levy to become sweeping and vague in its scope. 
    • India’s IT Rules 2021: The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, has been flagged by the consortium of foreign tech firms under some of the most “problematic policies”.
    • New draft of the data protection law: Ambiguities about cross-border data flows, compliance timelines, and data localisation still remain.
    • The CCIA contends that the draft Telecommunications Bill, 2022, has a sweeping regulatory ambit .
    • The Parliamentary Committee on Finance  proposed the adoption of a “Digital Competition Act”. 
      • It would include estimated taxes for big or significant digital intermediaries, arguing that the proposal appeared “to be largely targeted at U.S. tech companies”. 

    Future Outlook 

    • The two countries are bullish on future tech such as AI and Quantum Computing, having put in place the Quantum Coordination Mechanism and a joint fund for the commercialization of Artificial Intelligence.
    • India-US partnership has been one of equals both at the people and trade levels.
    • Both should maximise the opportunity without sacrificing strategic autonomy. Be it geopolitics or trade relations.

    Source:TH

     

    Seven products from UP get GI Tag

     

    Syllabus: GS3/ Indian Economy & related issues

    In News

    • Seven products from Uttar Pradesh have got the Geographical Indication(GI) tag.                   

    Products that get GI tag are:

    • Amroha Dholak: The Amroha Dholak is a musical instrument made of natural wood of mango, jackfruit and teakwood.
      • Wood is used to carve the multiple sized and shaped hollow blocks, which are later fitted with animal skin, mostly goatskin, to create the instrument.     
    • Baghpat Home Furnishings: Baghpat is famous for their exclusive handloom home furnishing product and running fabrics in cotton yarn for generations, and only cotton yarn is used in the handloom weaving process. 
    • Barabanki Handloom Product: Barabanki  is known for fabric knitting through handloom.The main products are scarves, shawls, stoles and the basic raw materials are silk, zari, cotton, polyester, jacquard loom and dori.                          
    • Kalpi Handmade Paper: Kalpi has historically been a centre of handmade paper manufacturing. Munnalal ‘Khaddari’, a Gandhian, formally introduced the craft here in the 1940s.
      • The craft is made from waste paper and cloth strings. This paper is used to make a variety of products such as office files, carry bags, absorption papers, visiting cards and more.
    • Mahoba Gaura Patthar Hastashlip: It is a stone craft and is made of radiant white-coloured stone (Pyro Flight Stone) that is predominantly found in this region. It is cut into several pieces, which are then used for making various craft items.
    • Mainpuri Tarkashi: Tarkashi is a technique of inlaying brass, copper or silver wires in wood. Usually, Sheesham wood is used for this art.
    • It is used for decorating jewellery boxes, name plaque ,door panels, lamps, sandook, decorative pieces, tables, flower pots etc.It was mainly used for khadaous (wooden sandals), since leather was considered unclean.                             
    • Sambhal Horn Craft: Sambhal offers a wide range of decorative horn-bone handicrafts.The raw material used for making these craft items is procured from dead animals that makes this industry environment friendly. 

                       

     

          Amroha Dholak             Barabanki Handloom     Sambhal Horn Craft

                                                                Product

     Mahoba Gaura Patthar              Mainpuri Tarkashi        Kalpi Handmade Paper               

           Hastashlip 

                                                             

    What is Geographical Indication (GI)?

    • A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
    • In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.
    • Geographical indications are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts, and industrial products.

    Governing laws:

    • Under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of Intellectual property rights (IPRs).
    • They are covered under the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the Agreements concluding the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.
    • Geographical indication is also defined in the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications.

    GI Tags and India:

    • The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,1999 seeks to provide for the registration and better protection of geographical indications relating to goods in India.
    • The Act is administered by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and TradeMarks- who is the Registrar of Geographical Indications. The Geographical Indications Registry would be located at Chennai.
    • The registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years.

    What rights does a geographical indication provide?

    • The right to use a protected geographical indication belongs to producers in the geographical area defined, who comply with the specific conditions of production for the product.
    • A geographical indication right enables those who have the right to use the indication to prevent its use by a third party whose product does not conform to the applicable standards.
    • However, a protected geographical indication does not enable the holder to prevent someone from making a product using the same techniques as those set out in the standards for that indication.

    Geographical indication vs Trademark:

    • Geographical indications identify a good as originating from a particular place. By contrast, a trademark identifies a good or service as originating from a particular company.A trademark can be assigned or licensed to anyone, anywhere in the world, because it is linked to a specific company and not to a particular place. 
    • A trademark often consists of a fanciful or arbitrary sign. In contrast, the name used as a geographical indication is usually predetermined by the name of a geographical area.

    Geographical indication vs Appellation of origin:

    • Appellations of origin are a special kind of geographical indication (GI). Both inform consumers about a product’s geographical origin and a quality or characteristic of the product linked to its place of origin.
    • The basic difference between the two concepts is that the link with the place of origin must be stronger in the case of an appellation of origin.
    • The quality or characteristics of a product protected as an appellation of origin must result exclusively or essentially from its geographical origin. Thus, the raw materials should be sourced in the place of origin and that the processing of the product should also take place there.
    • In the case of GIs, a single criterion attributable to geographical origin is sufficient – be it a quality or other characteristic of the product – or even just its reputation.

    Source:The HIndu

     

    CHAMPIONS 2.0 Portal

    Syllabus: GS3/Indian Economy

    In News

    • On the occasion of International MSME Day (June 27), The Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, MSME  launched ‘CHAMPIONS 2.0 Portal’ and ‘Mobile App for Geo-tagging of Cluster Projects and Technology Centers’.

    About

    • The Champions 2.0 Portal and app are designed to address the challenges faced by MSMEs in managing their cluster projects efficiently. 
    • Geo tagging will enable real-time monitoring, tracking, and evaluation of projects, ensuring transparency and effective resource utilization.

    Other Initiatives

    • Results for ‘MSME Idea Hackathon 2.0’ were declared and ‘MSME Idea Hackathon 3.0’ for Women Entrepreneurs was launched.
    • MSME Idea Hackathon: An innovator who has an innovative idea can submit his/her idea(s) through online mode. 
      • These ideas will be further evaluated by five respective Domain Expert Selection Committees (DESCs) composed of experts from the Industry/Academia/Government. 
      • After detailed evaluation by the DESCs, the recommended ideas are forwarded to the Project Monitoring & Advisory Committee (PMAC) for final approval.
      • The approved ideas will be granted financial assistance as per scheme guidelines for further development

    Objective of the Initiatives

    • The objective of the ministry through its schemes and initiatives is to improve the business environment for MSMEs, encourage innovation and development of new products and services, promote regional development and reduce regional disparities, create market opportunities in both domestic and global market and also to encourage MSMEs to adopt sustainable practices.

    MSME Sector In India 

    • About: Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), are small-sized business enterprises defined in terms of their investment.
    • Significance of the sector:
      • Contribution to GDP: In India, the sector has gained significant importance due to its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country and exports.
      • Contribution in Development: The sector is a major contributor to the socioeconomic development of the country. The sector has also contributed immensely with respect to entrepreneurship development, especially in semi-urban and rural areas of India.
      • Resilience in disruptions:
        • Despite concerns of a looming global recession, supply disruptions and the Russia-Ukraine war, India has stood out as a bright spot, growing faster than most major emerging markets.
        • The 6.3 crore micro, small and medium enterprises which account for 30 percent of GDP and employ nearly 11 crore people have demonstrated this spirit of resilience. 
        • With sales in several industries across the MSME sector reaching 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels, India’s small businesses are scripting a turnaround.

    Source: PIB

     

    Facts In News

    Hajj Pilgrimage

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions

    In News

    • Many Muslims are taking part in Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

    What is Hajj Pilgrimage?

    • The Haj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest city for Muslims. 
    • It is considered to be a mandatory religious duty for all adult Muslims physically and financially capable of doing so. 
      • The rites of pilgrimage are performed over five to six days, in Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar.
    • Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is considered a central part of Muslim religious life. The other pillars are: 
      • Shahadah (Faith) – A declaration of faith that every Muslim has to make
      • Salat (Prayer)  – Muslims pray at specific times five times a day
      • Zakat (Charity)  – Those within the faith give away a portion of their income to help those in need
      • Sawm (Fasting) – Muslims fast for a month during Ramadan.
    • The Hajj takes place during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah (twelfth and final month) and involves several rituals.

    Why is Mecca so important?

    • Mecca is the place where the Islamic religion started. It is where the Prophet Muhammad was born and received the first revelations from Allah (Allah is the Arabic word for God) that went on to become the Koran – the holy book read by Muslims.
    • The city is home to the Ka’bah, built by prophet Abraham and his son prophet Ishmael. Muslims pray in the direction of this sacred building, which is found within the Great Mosque of Mecca.
    • Muslims do not worship the Kaaba, a cube-shaped structure covered in a black, gold-embroidered cloth, but view it as their most sacred place and a powerful symbol of unity and monotheism.

    Promotion of Hajj Pilgrimage

    • The Ministry of Minority Affairs is the nodal ministry to conduct Haj pilgrimage in India. 
    • Haj pilgrimage for the Indian Pilgrims is conducted either through Haj Committee of India or through the Hajj Group Organisers (HGOs) duly approved by the ministry.
    • India recently signed the Haj 2023 bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has allocated Haj quota of 1,75,025 to India.
    • India has digitised the Hajj process by providing the Hajj mobile app, health facility – e-MASIHA, e-luggage pre-tagging, and linking the HGOs (Hajj Group Organisers) with the digital system.

    Source: IE

    Meira Paibis

    Syllabus: GS2/ Governance, Civil Society Organisations

    In News

    • In the recent visit to Manipur, Home Minister met with the Meira Paibis as part of his meetings with various civil society groups.

    Who are the Meira Paibis of Manipur?

    • The Meira Paibi was formed in 1977
    • The Meira Paibis, also known as Imas or Mothers of Manipur, are Meitei women who come from all sections of society in the Imphal valley, are widely respected, and represent a powerful moral force. 
    • The Meira Paibis are loosely organised, usually led by groups of senior women, but have no rigid hierarchy or structure, or any overt political leanings.
    • Their role as society’s conscience keepers is widely acknowledged.

    What social role do the Meira Paibis play?

    • One of the largest grassroots movements in the world, its initial focus of fighting alcoholism and drug abuse has now expanded to countering human rights violations and the development of society at large.
    • Over the decades, the Meira Paibis have led numerous social and political movements in the state, including some powerful protests against alleged atrocities by Indian security forces, leveraging their strong position in society in the interest of the causes they have espoused.

    Major actions undertaken by these women

    • The Meira Paibi women were the active support base of Irom Sharmila, the activist who remained on a hunger strike in the state from 2000 to 2016 to protest against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)
    • The Meira Paibis played an active role in 2015, over demands for the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system to be introduced there.

    Source: IE

     

     Youth Co:Lab 

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government policies & intervention

    In News

    • Twelve start-ups received seed funding of up to $5,000 at the 5th Edition of Youth Co:Lab National Innovation Dialogue India.

    Youth Co:Lab

    • Co-created in 2017 by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation. 
    • It aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth, so that they can accelerate the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation, and entrepreneurship.
    • Youth Co:Lab was launched in India in 2019 in partnership with Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog. 
    • Youth Co:Lab India 2022-23 focused on 6 thematic areas; 
      • Digital and Financial Literacy for Youth, 
      • Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment, 
      • Developing FinTech Solutions focused on Biodiversity Conservation, 
      • Promoting Biodiversity-friendly Lifestyles through Technological Solutions in Finance, 
      • Accelerating Circular Economy through Upcycling Innovations and 
      • Behavioural Nudges for LiFE ( Lifestyle For Environment).

    Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)

    • The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) was set up by NITI Aayog in 2016  to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in India.
    • Its objective is to serve as a platform for promoting world-class innovation hubs, grand challenges, start-up businesses, and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology-driven areas. 
      • AIM has created four programs to support these functions:
      • Atal Tinkering Labs
      • Atal Incubation Centers
      • Atal New India Challenges and Atal Grand Challenges
      • Mentor India.

    United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

    • The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)is a United Nations agency tasked with helping countries to eliminate poverty and achieve sustainable economic growth and human development.
    • Headquarters:New York
    • Formation: UNDP is based on the merging of the United Nations Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance, created in 1949, and the United Nations Special Fund, established in 1958. UNDP, as we know it now, was established in 1966 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
    • Important reports:
    1. Human Development Report (HDR)
    2. Gender  Social Norms Index (GSNI)

    Source:PIB

    ‘Sagar Samajik Sahayyog’

    Syllabus :GS 2/Government Policies and Interventions 

    In News 

    • The Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways launched ‘Sagar Samajik Sahayyog’.

    About  ‘Sagar Samajik Sahayyog’

    • It is the new guidelines of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways. 
    • It empowers ports to undertake CSR activities directly.
    • It allows ports to initiate, undertake and expedite projects for community welfare through a framework where local communities can also become partners of development & change.

    Features 

    • It will impact projects and programmes relating to activities specified in Section 70 of the Major Port Authorities Act, 2021. 
    • For the purpose of planning and implementing CSR projects, a Corporate Social Responsibility Committee shall be constituted in each major port. 
      • The Committee shall be headed by the Dy. Chairperson of the Major Port and shall have 2 other Members. 
    • CSR Budget will be mandatorily created through a Board Resolution as a percentage of net profit. 
      • A port with an annual net profit of ₹100 crores or less can fix between 3% – 5% for CSR expenses. 
      • Similarly, ports with a net profit between ₹100 crores to ₹500 crores annually, can fix its CSR expenses between 2% and 3% of its net profit, subject to a minimum of ₹3 crores. 
      • For ports, whose annual net profit is above ₹500 crores per year, the CSR expenses can be between 0.5% and 2% of its net profit. 

    Objectives

    •  The guidelines aim to empower ports to address local community issues in a more cooperative and swift manner.
    • CSR has the ability to become a major agent of change in a location or on an activity to bring positive change in the lives of the people. 
    • It aims to ensure that ports of all sizes contribute to community welfare initiatives.

    Do you Know ?

    • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a means through which a company incorporates environmental, social and human development concerns into its planning and actions to ensure that its operations are ethical and beneficial for society. 
      • CSR in India has traditionally been seen as a philanthropic activity. However, with the introduction of Section 135 in the Companies Act 2013, India became the first country to have statutorily mandated CSR for specified companies.
      • The Act requires companies with a net worth of ₹500 crore or more, or turnover of ₹1,000 crore or more, or a net profit of ₹5 crore or more during the immediately preceding financial year, to spend 2 percent of the average net profits of the immediately preceding three years on CSR activities.
      • It enumerates the activities that can be undertaken and the manner in which the companies can undertake CSR projects/programmes.

    Source:PIB

    Tam Pà Ling

    In News

    • In a new study, researchers have reported more human remains found in Tam Pà Ling in Laos. 

    About Tam Pà Ling

    • It  is a cave in the Annamite Mountains in north-eastern Laos.
    • It is very close to Cobra Cave where researchers  found a tooth some 150,000 years old belonging to a Denisovan, the now-extinct human relatives otherwise known only from remains found in Siberia and Tibet.
    • Research Findings : Humans were present in the vicinity of Tam Pà Ling Cave for roughly 56,000 years.
      •  It also confirmed that, far from reflecting a rapid dump of sediments, the site contains sediments that accumulated steadily over some 86,000 years.
      • The evidence from Tam Pà Ling has pushed back the timing of Homo sapiens’ arrival in Southeast Asia.

    Laos

    • It is officially known as  the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
    • Capital :Vientiane which is located along the banks of the Mekong River.
    • It is a landlocked country located in the southeast of the Asian continent in the centre of the Indo-china Peninsula. 
    • It has borders with Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China. 
    • It stretches along the Northern Hemisphere from the equator and is in the warm climate. 
    • The landscape is high in the north and slopes down to the south, with the Mekong River flowing through it from north to south.
    • The Annamite Mountains and Luang Prabang Mountains are two of the important mountain chains in the country.
      • The highest point of Laos is Phou Bia.

    Source: TH

    E Sewa Kendras

    Syllabus: GS2/ Governance

    In News

    • 815 eSewa Kendras have been made under 25 High Courts,till 31 May to ensure justice for citizens.

    E Sewa Kendras:

    • E Sewa Kendras have been rolled out to bridge the digital divide by providing e filing services to lawyers and litigants.It helps to avail citizen-centric services of courts and case-related information conveniently.
    • Covering all High Courts and one District Court as a pilot project, it is being expanded to cover all court complexes. 
    • The eSewa Kendras are being set up at the entry point of the court complexes with the intention of facilitating the lawyer or litigant who needs any kind of assistance ranging from information to facilitation and e filing.

    E-Resource Center:

    • India’s first e-Resource Center “Nyay Kaushal”  was inaugurated at Nagpur, Maharashtra in 2020.
    • Following facilities are available in e-Resource Centre;
    1.  E-filing
    2. Conducting matters in Virtual Courts through Video Conferencing.
    3. Access to e-Courts Services.

    Source:PIB