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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 25 March 2023

InstaLinks :  help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions ina your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

  1. Western Disturbances: Science behind unseasonal rains and hailstorms

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. Press must remain free if a country is to remain a democracy’: CJI Chandrachud
  2. Online Gaming: A changing scenario on the cards

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Govt amends export policy for biofuels

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

  1. Abel Prize

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Sharda Peeth Corridor
  2. ‘Vedic Heritage Portal’ 
  3. Odisha introduces Bill to ease land acquisition
  4. Defamation
  5. Guillotine
  6. Canalisation
  7. Sticky Inflation
  8. Green Goods
  9. Oumuamua
  10. Long-Tailed and Smew Ducks

 


 

Western Disturbances: Science behind unseasonal rains and hailstorms

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: Geography – Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclones etc

 

Source: DTE

Context: Recently large parts of the country experienced hailstorms which were also accompanied by torrents of rain.

  • The hail and rains have led to extensive damage to standing crops in many states, such as Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Punjab.

 

Causes:

  • The rainfall and the storms were caused by multiple western disturbances (WD), other WD-associated weather systems and many troughs, which are extended low-pressure areas, formed due to the interaction of the WDs and associated systems with winds blowing in from the east, mainly the Bay of Bengal.
  • A warming Arabian Sea could also be responsible for the intense storm activity and rain.
  • The IMD also cited a strong subtropical westerly jet stream, a band of winds that circles the subtropical regions of the planet in the upper layers of the troposphere, as a reason for the storm activity.
  • This was aided by the incursion of moisture-laden winds from the Bay of Bengal and the lowering of the freezing level in the atmosphere, which helped in the formation of hail.

 

About Western Disturbances:

  • Western disturbances are extra-tropical storms that originate in the Caspian or Mediterranean Sea, which is an area of low pressure & bring sudden showers(non-monsoonal), snow and fog to northwest India.
  • These travel eastwards on high-altitude westerly jet streams– massive ribbons of fast winds traversing the earth from west to east.

 

Related News:

Climate change is causing Western Disturbances to weaken; here is how

 Source: DTE

Context: Recent studies have shown that the warming of the Arctic and the Mediterranean Sea means that Western Disturbances are striking India less in winter and more in summer; with catastrophic consequences.

 

Reason for weakening Western Disturbances:

  • Climate Change

One of the reasons for the abnormally hot February was the formation of a high-pressure area near the land surface, which caused the air to descend, compress and heat up.

Insta Links:

RSTV: IN-DEPTH- WESTERN DISTURBANCE

Press must remain free if a country is to remain a democracy’: CJI Chandrachud

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Indian Polity

 

Source: IE

 Context: The article is taken from a recent speech of the Chief Justice of India at the I6th Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards

 

India’s Ranking in Freedom of Press

 

Importance of Media:

ImportanceExplanation
Spreading InformationMedia has the ability to disseminate information rapidly and efficiently to the masses, providing access to news and current events across the globe.

E.g., the elections by news channels and newspapers

Promoting Debate and DiscussionThe media has the ability to raise important issues and encourage debate and discussion, which are essential for a functioning democracy.

E.g., Coverage of topics like climate change and human rights violations, #MeToo movement

AccountabilityThe media acts as a watchdog by monitoring the actions of those in power and holding them accountable for their actions.
Importance for democracyThe media is the fourth pillar of the State and an integral component of democracy.
Voice of the common manLocal or community-based journalism has played an important role in encouraging social cohesion and political activism.
Formation of Public Opinion The media has the ability to shape public opinion by providing information and analysis on important issues.
Education and AwarenessMedia plays a crucial role in educating people on a variety of subjects, from science and technology to health and wellness.
Social mediaIt has provided opportunities for individuals to launch their own online media channels. In that way, online platforms have led to the democratisation of the media.

 

Challenges faced by Media

ChallengeExample
EconomicDecreasing revenue and the decline of traditional business modelsPrint media struggling to stay afloat due to decreasing advertising revenue
PoliticalCensorship, government control, and repressionThe Chinese government’s strict control over the media in China
TechnologicalThe rise of fake news and the erosion of trust in the mediaThe spread of misinformation during the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections
EthicalPaid news, Biased Media, Maintaining objectivity, and conflicts of interestA journalist accepting a bribe from a source in exchange for positive coverage
Crimes against journalists

 

India is also one of the world’s most dangerous countries for media persons (World Freedom Index 2022)E.g. murder of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh (2017), Subhash Kumar Mahto (Bihar, 2022)

 

 

Provisions available for ‘Freedom of Press’:

  • Constitutional Provisions: Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression. However, this right is not absolute and is subject to reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2).
  • Supreme Court in Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras (1950) observed that freedom of the press lay at the foundation of all democratic organisations.
  • World Press Freedom Day (3rd May) by the UN
  • Windhoek Declaration (adopted by UNESCO) aimed towards the ‘development of a free, independent and pluralistic press’

 

Ways to Ensure robust Media and Freedom of the Press:

Examples
Protection of JournalistsEspecially in conflict areas, and providing legal assistance in case of attacks or threats to their lives.
Media LiteracyEducating the general public about media literacy and how to distinguish between fake news and credible news sources.
Fact-Checking MechanismFor example, the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) certifies fact-checking organizations that follow a specific code of principles.
TransparencyEnsuring transparency in media ownership and funding sources to maintain editorial independence.
Diversity and InclusionPromoting diversity and inclusion in newsroom culture and ensuring that their news content reflects diverse perspectives.
Legal ProtectionProviding legal protection to the media against defamation suits and other legal actions that may impede their work.
Protection of SourcesFor example, the Whistle-blower Protection Act in the US protects the identity of whistle-blowers.
Public AccountabilityFor example, the press councils of India and ombudsmen

 

Conclusion:

Free and robust media is essential for the functioning of a healthy democracy. It is important for journalists and media institutions to maintain their neutrality, fact-check news items, and ensure diversity in their newsroom culture.

 

Insta Link:

 

Mains Links

India’s poor ranking on Press Freedom Index reflects the growing threat to freedom of the press. Examine. (250 words)

Online Gaming: A changing scenario on the cards

GS Paper 2 

 Syllabus: Governance

 

Source: Th, Th 

Context: Tamil Nadu Assembly re-adopts Bill against online gambling

What is Online gaming?

It refers to video games/mobile games that are played over the internet through various devices. E.g., multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games, first-person shooter (FPS) games, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), and many others.

 

Types of online gaming:

  1. e-sports (well-organized electronic sports which include professional players),
  2. Fantasy sports
  3. Casual games: these can be either skill-based (mental skill) or chance based (based on a random activity like a roll of a dice) online games.

 

Differences between ‘games of skill’ and ‘games of chance’:

Game of SkillGame of Chance
DefinitionA game where the outcome is primarily determined by the skill of the playersA game where the outcome is primarily determined by luck or chance
ExamplesChess, poker, sportsSlot machines, roulette, lottery
StrategyStrategies and tactics can be used to improve one’s chances of winningNo strategy can guarantee a win
Probability of winningIt depends on the player’s skill levelDetermined by random events
Legal StatusGenerally legal in most countries including IndiaRegulated or prohibited in many countries. Mostly banned in India except, in a few states e.g., Casinos are allowed in Goa, Daman and Diu, and Sikkim.

 

Issues with online gaming

Issues with Online GamingDescription
AddictionOnline gaming addiction can lead to physical and psychological harm, as well as interfere with daily life activities.

Gambling addiction: Online gambling games can lead to addiction and financial problems.

CyberbullyingOnline gaming can involve communication with other players through chat or voice features, which can lead to cyberbullying and harassment.
Security risksOnline gaming platforms are at risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches, which can result in compromised personal and financial information.
Inappropriate contentIt can contain violent, sexual, or other inappropriate content that is not suitable for all ages.
Ethical ConcernsIt can perpetuate negative stereotypes and biases, particularly towards marginalized groups; In-game purchases can lead to overspending or exploiting vulnerable individuals
Cheating and hackingIt can be prone to cheating and hacking, which can ruin the gameplay experience for others.
Physical and health issuesLong periods of sitting and staring at a screen can cause physical health problems such as eyestrain, back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Social isolationExcessive online gaming can lead to social isolation and a lack of face-to-face communication with others.

 

Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has released the Draft Rules for Online Gaming (as an amendment to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021)

Provisions of the Draft RulesDescription
Self-Regulatory Body·        Online gaming companies must register with a self-regulatory body.

·        The body must have a board of directors with five members from diverse fields, including online gaming, public policy, IT, psychology, and medicine.

Due DiligenceOnline gaming companies must undertake additional due diligence, including KYC of users, transparent withdrawal and refund of money, and a fair distribution of winnings.
Random Number Generation CertificateGaming companies must secure a Random Number Generation Certificate, which is typically used by platforms that offer card games to ensure that game outputs are statistically random and unpredictable.
Restrictions on BettingOnline gaming companies will not be allowed to engage in betting on the outcome of games.
ComplianceOnline gaming platforms must appoint a compliance officer, a nodal officer, and a grievance officer.

 

Other regulations:

  • State subject: Online gaming so far has been a state subject, but state governments are finding it extremely difficult to enforce certain rules like geo-blocking certain apps or websites within the territory of their state.
  • Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022 prohibits all forms of online gambling and allows for the regulation of online games that are not considered gambling.
    • The bill prohibits minors from participating in online games and prohibits the promotion of online gambling and gaming through advertising or other means.
  • Karnataka government had previously banned all forms of online gaming where the transfer of money is involved
  • GST: A proposed 28% Goods and Services Tax that may soon be imposed on deposits
  • The Puducherry government will ban online gaming soon

 

Way forward:

Clear and consistent regulations, responsible gaming measures, industry self-regulation, public awareness campaigns, and collaboration between industry and government can all help to create a sustainable and responsible online gaming industry in India.

 

Conclusion:

The online gaming industry in India can continue to grow and provide entertainment and employment opportunities while also protecting players and promoting responsible gaming practices

 

Insta Links

Online gaming

Mains Links:

“Internet gaming has turned worse than drugs”. Do you agree? Critically examine the statement in light of the announcement made by the World Health Organization (WHO) to include “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition. (250 words)

How does gaming addiction, impact children? Do you think China’s recent imposition of a three-hour limit on gaming, is a good way to tackle it? (150 words)

Govt amends export policy for biofuels

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Science and Technology – Biotechnology

 

Source: Economic Times

 Context: The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has amended a notification of 2018 – “to the extent that export of biofuel from special economic zones/export-oriented units are allowed for fuel as well as non-fuel purpose without any restriction when produced using only imported feedstock”.

  • A licence is required for both exports and imports of biofuels. Biofuels include ethyl alcohol, petroleum oil and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, bio-diesel and mixtures.

About Biofuels:

  • Any hydrocarbon fuel that is produced from an organic matter (living or once living material) in a short period of time (days, weeks, or even months) is considered a biofuel.
  • Biofuels may be solid, liquid or gaseous in nature.
  • These can be used to replace or can be used in addition to diesel, petrol or other fossil fuels for transport, stationary, portable and other applications.
  • Some of the main reasons for shifting to biofuels are the rising prices of oil, the emission of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and the interest in obtaining fuel from agricultural crops for the benefit of farmers.

 

Classification of Biofuels:

 

 

Importance of Biofuels:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are a renewable source of energy.
  • Helps double farmers’ income.

 

Government policies to promote Biofuels:

 

Insta Links:

Biofuels

 

Prelims Link: (UPSC 2011)

Recently, “oil zapper” was in the news. What is it?

(a) It is an eco-friendly technology for the remediation of oily sludge and oil spills

(b) It is the latest technology developed for under-sea oil exploration

(c) It is a genetically engineered high biofuel-yielding maize variety

(d) It is the latest technology to control the accidentally caused flames from oil wells

 

Solution: A

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)


Abel Prize

 Source: IE

Luis Caffarelli, a 74-year-old mathematician from Argentina, has been awarded the 2023 Abel Prize for his contributions to regularity theory for nonlinear partial differential equations, including free-boundary problems and the Monge-Ampère equation.

 

Ethical lessons we can learn from Luis Caffarelli’s life:

  • Persistence and perseverance: Abel faced many challenges and obstacles throughout his life, including poverty, illness, and a lack of recognition for his work.
  • Intellectual honesty: Abel was known for his honesty and integrity in his work. He never claimed credit for the work of others and always acknowledged the contributions of his colleagues and predecessors.
  • Creativity and innovation: Abel was a pioneer in the field of mathematics, and his work laid the foundation for many future developments in the field.

 

About the Abel Prize

 It was first awarded in 2003 and recognizes pioneering achievements in mathematics, named after Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel.

The prize includes a monetary award of roughly $720,000 and a glass plaque designed by Norwegian artist Henrik Haugan.

 


Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Sharda Peeth Corridor

Source: The Print

 Context: Union Home Minister said the government would move forward to open a corridor to the Sharda Peeth in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) on the lines of the Kartarpur corridor.

 

About Sharada Peeth:

  • Sharada Peeth is a ruined Hindu temple and ancient centre of learning located in the Neelum Valley of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.
  • It is situated in the valley of Mount Harmukh, believed by Kashmiri Pandits to be the abode of Shiva.
  • It was probably commissioned by Lalitaditya Muktapida though no definitive evidence exists in favour.
  • Al-Biruni recorded the place for the first time, as a revered shrine housing a wooden image of Sharda.

 

Educational Centre:

  • Between the 6th and 12th centuries CE, it was among the most prominent temple universities in the Indian subcontinent.
  • It played a key role in the development and popularisation of the Sharada script in North India, causing the script to be named after it, and Kashmir to acquire the moniker “Sharada Desh”, meaning “country of Sharada”.

 

‘Vedic Heritage Portal’

 Source: TH

 Context: The government has launched Vedic Heritage Portal and virtual museum Kala Vaibhav for securing knowledge of India’s ancient scriptures and manuscripts for the future through technology.

FeaturesDescription
OrganizationIndira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA; est 1985; HQ: New Delhi) created the Vedic Heritage Portal
MinistryMinistry of Culture overlooks the IGNCA
ObjectiveTo secure knowledge from ancient scriptures and manuscripts for future generations through technology
Benefits·        The younger generation can carry forward the knowledge and tradition of Vedas and Upanishads;

·        The world can be more familiar with India’s rich history and culture

·        The Vedic Heritage Portal is a one-stop solution for common users and researchers seeking information about Vedic heritage in the form of oral and textual traditions, and published books/manuscripts and implements.

About the Virtual MuseumKala Vaibhav, based on 64 arts, showcases India’s architecture, painting, drama, and music

 

Odisha introduces Bill to ease land acquisition

 Source: Indian Express

 Context: The Odisha government has proposed to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 to ease the land acquisition process for various industrial and infrastructure projects.

 

More about the bill:

  • The Odisha government aims to do away with the mandatory provision of social impact assessment (SIA) study before the land acquisition, which, it says, is a time-consuming process.
  • The state government through the ‘Make in Odisha’ initiative intends to attract private investments in mega projects across sectors to fast-track the development process. Providing hassle-free land to the project proponents is one of the basic requirements for industrial and infrastructure development.
  • Projects like affordable housing, industrial corridors set up by the state government, infrastructure projects, including highways and railways and industrial projects involving displacement of 100 families or less, or acquisition of private land of 500 acres or less will also be exempt from conducting mandatory SIA.

Odisha will be the fourth state to amend the legislation as Gujarat (2016), Maharashtra (2018) and Karnataka (2019) have already made the amendment and received the assent of the President of India.

 

Defamation

 Source: TH, IE

 Context: Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification comes a day after he was sentenced to two years in jail in a defamation case, triggering the process of his disqualification as an MP.

Note: This is a continuation of yesterday’s FFP (Lily Thomas SC verdict)

AboutDescription
DefamationAny false and unprivileged statement published or spoken with the intention to damage someone’s reputation.
Defamation in the ConstitutionArticle 19(2) has imposed reasonable exemption to freedom of speech and expression granted under Article 19(1)(a). Defamation is one of the exceptions.
Types of DefamationDefamation could be both a criminal offence and a civil wrong. Criminal defamation has been defined as an offence under Indian Penal Code (IPC) (Sections 499 and 500) whereas civil defamation is based on tort law (civil wrongs or injuries)
Section 500 of the IPCIt prescribes defamation as a criminal offence with a punishment of up to two years in prison or a fine.
Disqualification of MPs and MLAs can be for three reasons1.      Articles 102(1) and 191(1): For holding an office of profit, being of unsound mind or insolvent, or not having valid citizenship

2.      10th Schedule: Disqualification of the members on grounds of defection

3.      RPA 1951 provides for disqualification for conviction in criminal cases

Disqualification in RPA, 1951Section 8(3) of the RPA mandates that an MP can be disqualified if convicted and sentenced to not less than two years of imprisonment (from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release)—i.e., Immediate Effect (unless the conviction is stayed by a higher court) (SC in  Lily Thomas vs. Union of India case and Lok Prahari vs. Union of India (2018))

 

Guillotine

 Source: IE

 Context: The ongoing stalemate in the Indian Parliament has led to the possibility of the government using ‘guillotine’ to fast-track the passage of the Finance Bill without any discussion in the Lok Sabha.

About GuillotineDescription
Literal meaningLarge, weighted blade raised to the top of a tall, erect frame and released to fall on the neck of a condemned person (execution by beheading)
OriginDeveloped in France during the Enlightenment era
Legislative MeaningTo bunch together and fast-track the passage of financial business (a common procedural exercise in Lok Sabha during the Budget Session.)
ProcedureAfter debates on Demands for Grants àthe Business Advisory Committee (BAC) draws up a schedule for discussions on the Demands for Grantsà Given the limitation of time, the House cannot take up the expenditure demands of all Ministriesà Usually on the last day of discussion, Speaker applies the “guillotine” and all outstanding demands for grants are put to vote at once

 

Canalisation

 Source: HBL

 Context: The government has extended the tenure of Indian Potash Limited (IPL) as a canalising agency for the import of urea by a year until March 31, 2024.

Description
Definition of CanalisationIt refers to the importing and exporting of certain commodities through specified government agencies.
PurposeThe purpose of canalisation is to stabilize prices, ensure the availability of supplies for domestic consumers, control the flow of commodities, and improve bargaining power.
Designated AgencyIt is done through designated State Trading Enterprises (STEs) or entities authorized by relevant departments.

E.g. Indian Potash Limited (IPL), Rashtriya Chemicals Fertilizers (RCF) and National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) are the canalising agency for the import of urea.

Major CommoditiesThe major canalised commodities include precious metals, arms and ammunition, and agricultural products like onions and fertilizers.

 

Sticky Inflation

 Source: IE

 Context: India’s inflation rate has been above the 4% level in the last five years. (4% inflation is the target level under the current monetary policy regime)

 

About Sticky Inflation

Description
Definition of Sticky InflationIt refers to a phenomenon where prices do not adjust quickly to changes in supply and demand, leading to persistent inflation.
CausesHigher food and fuel prices; firms passed on higher input costs to consumers; twin shocks of the Covid pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war
Impact on consumersErodes purchasing power of consumers, particularly those with low incomes
Impact on businessesCentral bank raises interest rates to keep inflation low. Higher interest rates make borrowing more expensive for businesses and impact investment and job creation
ExamplesIndia, the US, and countries in the eurozone are facing sticky inflation currently

 

Green Goods/Products

 Source: DTE

 Context: As per the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the trade in manufactured goods has declined (1st Quarter of 2023), but green goods trade continued to increase.

Description
Green ProductA product that has a minimal negative impact on the environment throughout its entire life cycle, from production to disposal.
ExamplesRenewable energy sources (solar panels, wind turbines), energy-efficient appliances, organic food, non-toxic cleaning products, and electric vehicles.
Trend in TradeThe global market for green energy and hydrogen technologies is projected to reach $2.2 trillion by 2023. Electric and hybrid vehicles, non-plastic packaging, and wind turbines show significant growth.
AdvantagesReduces negative environmental impact, promotes sustainability, encourages innovation in eco-friendly technology, helps preserve natural resources, and can provide a marketing advantage for businesses.
ChallengesCan be more expensive to produce, may not always be as accessible or convenient as traditional products, may require changes in consumer behaviour and attitudes towards sustainability, and there can be difficulties in verifying and regulating green claims.
About UNCTADIt is an intergovernmental organization (est. 1964; HQ: Geneva) within the United Nations Secretariat that promotes the interests of developing countries in world trade.

 

Oumuamua

 Source: Science

 Context: Astronomers have solved the mystery behind Oumuamua

FeatureDescription
What is OumuamuaOumuamua is a comet. It is the first interstellar object found visiting our solar system.
Name‘Oumuamua’ is Hawaiian for “a messenger from afar arriving first
Previous assumptionOumuamua may have been an alien probe (2018 study) due to its unexpected acceleration and it lacks the tail of gas and dust characteristic of many comets.
The shape of the CometElongated, cigar-like shape between 100-400 meters long
Reason for unexpected AccelerationThe comet sped up slightly as it left the Solar System, due to the release of trapped hydrogen
CompositionMade up of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen-rich ice
OriginPossibly ejected from a nearby star system due to gravitational interactions
DiscoveredFirst spotted in 2017, by a telescope in Hawaii
StatusNo longer observable, as it has left the Solar System

 

Long-Tailed and Smew Ducks

 Source: ANI 

Context: Long-tailed Ducks were seen in Kashmir after 84 years and were last seen at Hokersar.

  • Smew Duck species spotted in Kashmir after 116 years.

About Long-Tailed Ducks

  • Long-tailed ducks are slim, colourful sea ducks with long tails. That occurs around the Arctic and Antarctic.
  • Prefer to spend winter near major bodies of water.
  • Diet: Marine invertebrates like crabs & molluscs.
  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable.

 

About Smew Duck:

  • They are among the most migratory birds, with arrivals at breeding grounds beginning in April.
  • Inhabit freshwater lakes, reservoirs, flooded woods, ice-free rivers, sheltered bays, estuaries, lagoons and tidal creeks.
  • LocationFound in both Eurasia and Europe. They rarely visit different parts of the Indian subcontinent.
  • IUCN Status: Least Concern.

 

Optional

 Law/Polity

 

Economy

 

Agriculture:

 

Governance

 

State PSC

RJ PSC

TN PSC

 

Read the Daily CA in PDF Format here:

 


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