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UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 3 June 2024

InstaLinks :  Insta Links help you think beyond the  current affairs issue and help you think multidimensionally to develop depth in your understanding of these issues. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in 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.

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 3:

  1. US-China Trade War and its impact on India

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

  1. Cryonics Practice for Freezing the Human Body

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Dag Hammarskjold medal
  2. Stromatolites
  3. Automatic Weather Station (AWS)
  4. High Court Judge Registers Goa’s First “Living Will”
  5. Implementation Manual of Tobacco-Free Educational Institutions (ToFEI)
  6. Variable Rate Repo (VRR)
  7. FDI inflows into India decreased
  8. Recombinant Proteins
  9. Assam’s Hollangapar Gibbon Sanctuary

 

Mapping

  1. Techo Funan Canal (Cambodia)

 


US-China Trade War and its impact on India

 GS2/GS3

 Syllabus: International Relations

 Context: A potential US-China trade war presents both opportunities and challenges for India.

 

Background:

The US-China trade tensions have escalated with President Biden’s decision to increase tariffs on $18 billion worth of Chinese imports. These tariffs target various sectors, including steel, aluminium, semiconductors, batteries, critical minerals, solar cells, and cranes. The move aims to bolster American industries and reduce reliance on Chinese imports, with significant tariff hikes planned for electric vehicles and lithium-ion batteries. This escalation underscores the ongoing trade disputes between the two economic giants.

Notably, tariffs on electric vehicles will surge from 25% to 100%, and tariffs on lithium-ion EV batteries will rise from 7.5% to 25%. Further tariff increases are anticipated in the future, impacting sectors like semiconductors and solar panels.

 

Reasons behind the Tariff:

These proposals are part of the US’s broader strategy outlined in Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The reasons behind these tariff increases include China’s unfair practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, innovation, and its large manufacturing capacities. Additionally, China’s dumping of low-priced exports into global markets has negatively impacted American businesses and workers. In response, Chinese officials have vowed to retaliate, warning that this could severely impact bilateral cooperation with the US.

 

Economic and Political Implications

AspectsDescription
Domestic IndustryThe tariffs will bolster U.S. domestic manufacturing by making Chinese imports less competitive.
Election PoliticsWith an election looming, President Biden is likely aiming to appeal to voters sceptical of his economic policies.
Inflation ConcernsWhile intended to protect American jobs, tariffs could lead to higher consumer prices and contribute to inflation.
Companies may find it difficult to operate with huge taxes, leading to increased product prices, and burdening consumers.
On developing Countries The trade war between the U.S. and China could hurt the economic prospects across developing countries.
On Global EconomyA trade war could weaken investment, depress spending, unsettle financial markets, and slow the global economy.
Other countries could face disruptions in their supply chains, and multinational companies may need to rethink their production and sourcing strategies.

 

Implications for India:

  1. Positives:
    1. Indian exporters stand to benefit from the trade war, especially in categories like face masks, syringes, medical gloves, and natural graphite, where both China and India have a significant presence in the US market.
    2. India can seize opportunities to enhance its exports to the US and bridge the trade deficit by focusing on sectors like information and communication technology, eCommerce, chemicals, outsourcing, and automotive.
  2. Negatives:
    1. Indian authorities must ramp up efforts to prevent the influx of low-priced Chinese goods into India, which could harm domestic manufacturing.
    2. The risk of cheap electric vehicles (EVs) flooding the Indian market due to potential EU tariffs on Chinese EV imports could negatively impact Indian businesses.
    3. US tariffs on products like lithium-ion batteries and semiconductors from China might divert these goods to India, impacting local industries.
    4. India’s significant trade relationship with China, which already faces a trade deficit, could pose challenges in managing the repercussions of the US-China trade war.

 

Protection measures available with India:

India has measures in place to address imports sold below the country of origin’s price, with the Directorate General of Trade Remedies imposing anti-dumping duties. However, there are delays in accessing and analyzing trade data, hindering prompt action.

 

Way forward:

To address the new US-China trade tensions, both sides have agreed to engage in talks. However, China has not committed to specific actions to address American concerns yet. China defends its cheap solar panels and green products as crucial in the fight against climate change. Nonetheless, Beijing recognizes challenges such as manufacturing overcapacity and weak consumer spending, hindering sustainable growth. The rapid growth in electric vehicle (EV) production has led to intense price competition, potentially causing some manufacturers to exit the market. Consequently, China requires better policy coordination to foster new technology development without causing overinvestment or regional disparities.

US tariffs on Chinese imports may impact global trade, prompting vigilance from DGTR. Establishing a department for daily trade data analysis could expedite action. A trade policy strengthening India’s manufacturing growth while diversifying from China warrants attention for India’s ‘China plus one’ strategy.

 

Insta Links:

 

Mains Links:

What are the key areas of reform if the WTO has to survive in the present context of the ‘Trade War’, especially keeping in mind the interest of India? (UPSC 2018)

 


Cryonics Practice for Freezing the Human Body

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

 

Source: LM

 Context: Southern Cryonics, an Australian company, has successfully frozen its first client in hopes of reviving him in the future. The process involves cryonics, where the body is preserved at -196°C, aiming for eventual restoration using advanced medical technologies.

The first client, an 80-year-old man from Sydney, underwent the procedure after his death, involving cooling, perfusion with cryoprotective solution, and storage in dry ice before reaching the final temperature of around -200°C in a specialized cooling chamber.

 

The experiment involving cryonics raises several ethical concerns.

  1. Firstly, there’s the issue of consent, as the decision to freeze one’s body after death may not fully reflect the wishes of the individual or their loved ones.
  2. Secondly, there’s uncertainty about the efficacy of the procedure and whether it can truly revive individuals in the future, potentially leading to false hope and exploitation of vulnerable individuals.
  3. Additionally, the high cost of cryonics raises questions about equity and access to potentially life-saving technologies.
  4. Moreover, the long-term impact on society and the environment of storing frozen bodies indefinitely is uncertain and raises broader ethical questions about the manipulation of life and death.

 


Dag Hammarskjold medal

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: Th

 Context: Naik Dhananjay Kumar Singh, an Indian peacekeeper who served with the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), will be posthumously honoured with the prestigious Dag Hammarskjold medal.

 

Dag Hammarskjöld Medal:

  1. Purpose: The Dag Hammarskjöld Medal is a posthumous award given to members of peacekeeping operations who have lost their lives in service under the UN flag.
  2. Inception: The first medal was presented in 1998 to the family of Dag Hammarskjöld.
  3. Namesake: Dag Hammarskjöld served as the Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1953 until his death in 1961.

India, the second-largest contributor to UN Peacekeeping, has deployed over 6,000 personnel across various missions and has seen nearly 180 peacekeepers make the ultimate sacrifice.

 

International Day of UN Peacekeepers

  1. Established: By the UN General Assembly in 2002
  2. Purpose: To honour all peacekeepers and those who have lost their lives in the line of duty
  3. 2024 Theme: ‘Fit for the future, building better together’ focuses on the adaptability of UN Peacekeeping for future conflicts

 

About MONUSCO 

  1. Establishment: By the UN Security Council.
  2. Transition: It took over in 2010, from an earlier UN peacekeeping operation that is the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC)
  3. Scale: Employs approximately 16,300 individuals, making it one of the largest UN peacekeeping efforts.
  4. Primary Role: Protects civilians from violence, especially in conflict-prone areas like North Kivu.
  5. Innovation: First UN mission to use UAVs for monitoring.
  6. Intervention Brigade: Authorized in 2013 for targeted offensive operations against armed groups.

 


Stromatolites

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: Phys org

 Context: Researchers have discovered living stromatolites on Sheybarah Island in the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia.

 

What are Stromatolites?

Stromatolites are layered rock formations created by microbial communities, representing some of the earliest evidence of life on Earth. These structures are formed as layers of sediment accumulated over time, trapping and binding microorganisms like cyanobacteria.

As these microorganisms grow and photosynthesize, they produce layers of carbonate minerals, gradually building up the stromatolite structure. Despite their simple appearance, stromatolites played a crucial role in shaping Earth’s early environment and are considered significant in the study of early life and evolutionary history.

Stromatolites
Stromatolites

Modern stromatolites are rare, found mostly in extreme environments like Shark Bay, Australia. The discovery on Sheybarah Island provides a new site for studying these ancient life forms. Understanding these stromatolites can offer insights into early life on Earth and aid in the search for life on other planets like Mars.

 


Automatic Weather Station (AWS)

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: DH

 Context: Recently, an automatic weather station (AWS) in Mungeshpur, Delhi, recorded a temperature of 52.9°C, which quickly made headlines. However, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) discovered that this reading was 3°C higher than the actual temperature due to a faulty sensor.

 

What is AWS?

An Automated Weather Station (AWS) is a meteorological station that transmits observations automatically. It uses four main sensors: wind, temperature/humidity, pressure, and rainfall. Air temperature is measured in degrees Celsius using an electrical resistance thermometer, which operates on the principle that electrical resistance varies with temperature changes.

Challenges with AWS: AWS accuracy becomes unreliable beyond certain temperature thresholds. Issues include improper calibration, incorrect placement on concrete structures, and lack of regular maintenance.

Other Heat Measuring Devices: High temperatures can be measured using a thermometer in a Stevenson Screen, a wooden enclosure that protects instruments from precipitation and direct heat radiation while allowing air circulation.

About India Meteorological Department (IMD): Established in 1875, IMD is the principal government agency for meteorology and related subjects. It is one of six Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres of the World Meteorological Organization, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. Headquarters are in New Delhi, with six regional meteorological centres.

 


High Court Judge Registers Goa’s First “Living Will”

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE

 Context: Justice M.S. Sonak, of the Bombay High Court’s Goa Bench, became the first person in Goa to register a “living will”—an advance medical directive specifying actions for when he cannot make decisions.

 

About Living Will (Advance Medical Directive):

A living will is a written document where a person outlines their medical treatment preferences in advance, to be followed if they become incapacitated or unable to communicate. It’s a voluntary decision. The Supreme Court, in the Common Cause vs. Union of India & Anr. (2018) case, ruled that a person in a persistent vegetative state can opt for passive euthanasia, such as withdrawing life support. A living will allows individuals to refuse medical treatment in the event of a terminal illness.

 

Goa is the first state to implement these directives formally. The living will must be drafted in the presence of two witnesses, certified by a gazetted officer or notary, and sent to the District Collector for safekeeping.

 


Implementation Manual of Tobacco-Free Educational Institutions (ToFEI)

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: PIB

 Context: The Ministry of Education launched the Implementation Manual of Tobacco-Free Educational Institutions (ToFEI) on World No Tobacco Day 2024 (May 31), in collaboration with the Socio-Economic and Educational Development Society (SEEDS).

Aligned with the theme “Protecting children from tobacco industry interference,” the manual aims to assist schools in adhering to ToFEI guidelines, creating a healthier environment, and empowering stakeholders to protect students from tobacco dangers. Event highlights include dignitaries taking an oath against tobacco use and participation from senior officials.

Initiatives to prevent tobacco consumption include the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which was adopted in 2003 and includes measures such as price and tax increases, graphic warnings on packages, smoke-free public spaces, marketing bans, and support for quitting. MPOWER, introduced by WHO, provides technical measures corresponding to FCTC provisions. Additionally, the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in India aims to raise awareness, reduce production and supply, enforce regulations, assist with quitting, and implement WHO-recommended strategies.

 


Variable Rate Repo (VRR)

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: Hindu BL

 Context: The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) variable rate repo (VRR) auction attracted significant interest from banks, with bids totalling ₹1,13,915 crore, surpassing the RBI’s offer of ₹50,000 crore.

This underscores the growing demand for liquidity in the banking sector amid an estimated deficit of around ₹1.54-lakh crore.

 

What is VRR, or Variable Rate Repo? 

It is a mechanism where the RBI permits banks to borrow funds at rates determined by the market, differing from the fixed Repo Rate at which banks borrow directly from the RBI.

Typically lasting up to 14 days, VRR serves as a means to inject short-term liquidity into the banking system. Conversely, Variable Rate Reverse Repo (VRRR) is employed to absorb surplus liquidity from the system.

 


FDI inflows into India decreased

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: ET

 Context: Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows into India fell 3.5% to $44 billion in FY24 due to reduced investments in services, telecom, and pharma sectors.

However, January-March FY24 saw a 33.4% rise to $12.38 billion. Total FDI, including reinvested earnings, declined marginally to $70.95 billion from $71.35 billion in FY23. Notably, Maharashtra (which received the highest FDI) and Gujarat saw increased inflows, while Karnataka and several other states experienced declines.

In FY 2023-24, Singapore was the top source of FDI inflows into India, followed by Mauritius and the USA. From 2000-2024, the top five countries for FDI were Mauritius, Singapore, the USA, the Netherlands, and Japan. The leading sectors for FDI in FY 2023-24 were Computer Software & Hardware, Services, and Construction. Over the 2000-2024 period, the top sectors were Services, Computer Software & Hardware, Trading, Telecommunications, and the Automobile Industry.

 

About FDI 

  1. Definition: Investment by a company or individual in one country into business interests in another country.
  2. Policy: Formulated by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
  3. Routes:
  4. Automatic Route: No government approval is required.
  5. Government Route: Approval required.
  6. Inclusions: Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds, Foreign Institutional Investment (with conditions), and Global Depository Receipts.
  7. Prohibitions: Lottery Business, Gambling and Betting, Chit Funds, Nidhi Company, Trading in Transferable Development Rights, etc.

 

Significance of FDI

  1. Stimulates economic growth.
  2. Promotes development in backward areas.
  3. Ensures exchange rate stability.

 


Recombinant Proteins

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: Th

 Context: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, have devised a groundbreaking method for mass-producing recombinant proteins, which include vital substances like vaccine antigens, insulin, and monoclonal antibodies.

 

What are Recombinant Proteins?

Recombinant proteins are proteins that are artificially produced through genetic engineering techniques. These proteins are created by introducing specific DNA sequences, encoding desired protein products, into host organisms such as bacteria, yeast, or mammalian cells. The host cells then use their own cellular machinery to produce the recombinant proteins according to the inserted genetic instructions.

Recombinant
Recombinant

Recombinant proteins have a wide range of applications, including in medicine (such as vaccine antigens, insulin, and therapeutic antibodies), agriculture, industry, and research. They are crucial for various biotechnological and pharmaceutical purposes due to their precise control over protein structure and function.

 

What are Proteins?

Proteins serve as the backbone of biological systems, driving essential processes like gene expression, cell growth, and communication within cells. The blueprint for protein synthesis resides in DNA, guiding the tightly regulated transcription process to generate messenger RNA (mRNA) for protein production.

 


Assam’s Hollangapar Gibbon Sanctuary

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: TH

 Context:  The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) plans to construct canopy bridges in Assam’s Hollangapar Gibbon Sanctuary to help India’s only ape, the hoolock gibbon, safely cross railway tracks dividing its habitat.

The sanctuary, home to about 125 gibbons, faces fragmentation due to a railway track. These bridges, designed by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and NFR, will facilitate the arboreal species’ movement. Safety measures, including nets, will be implemented to prevent accidents.

 

Key Facts about Hoolock Gibbon:

FactsDescription
AboutGibbons, the smallest and fastest of all apes, inhabit tropical and subtropical forests in Southeast Asia. They have high intelligence, distinct personalities, and strong family bonds. They are one of the 20 gibbon species found worldwide.
apes img
apes img
apes
Population and HabitatThe current population of hoolock gibbons is around 12,000. They are found in Northeast India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Southern China.
Gibbon Species in IndiaTwo distinct species in India’s northeast: the eastern hoolock gibbon (Hoolock leuconedys) and the western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock).
ThreatsAll 20 gibbon species, including hoolock gibbons, are at high risk of extinction due to conservation challenges. Significant population and habitat decline due to deforestation for infrastructure projects in India.
Conservation StatusInternational Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List: Western Hoolock Gibbon: Endangered; Eastern Hoolock Gibbon: Vulnerable. Both species are listed on Schedule 1 of the Indian (Wildlife) Protection Act 1972.
 The Global Gibbon Network (GGN) recently convened its inaugural meeting in Haikou, China’s Hainan province, to address its critical situation. The GGN was initiated at the International Gibbon Day 2020 event, with representatives from 20 gibbon conservation organizations.
About Hollongapar Gibbon SanctuaryThe Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary, formerly known as the Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary or Hollongapar Reserved Forest, is an isolated evergreen forest in Assam, India. Established in 1997, the sanctuary was initially set aside in 1881, with its forests once extending to the Patkai mountain foothills. It is home to India’s only ape and gibbon species, the hoolock gibbons, and the Bengal slow loris, Northeastern India’s only nocturnal primate. The forest’s upper canopy is dominated by hollong trees, the middle by nahar trees, and the lower by evergreen shrubs and herbs.

 

Prelims Link:

Consider the following pairs: (UPSC 2010)

Protected areaWell-known for
1.Bhiterkanika, OrissaSalt Water Crocodile
2.Desert National Park, RajasthanGreat Indian Bustard
3.Eravikulam, KeralaHoolock Gibbon

Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?

(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 2 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

 


Techo Funan Canal (Cambodia)

Mapping

 

Source: Business Times

 Context: Cambodia will start constructing the Chinese-backed Techo Funan Canal. The 180-km canal aims to connect the Mekong River basin to the Cambodian coast. Despite tensions with Vietnam and concerns about potential military use by China, Cambodia asserts the canal will reduce reliance on Vietnamese ports, lower transportation costs, and benefit millions of people through improved irrigation.

 

About Cambodia:

It is a Southeast Asian country bordering Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, with a coastline along the Gulf of Thailand. A 1997 coup established Hun Sen and the Cambodian People’s Party’s dominance, making Cambodia a de facto one-party state despite being constitutionally multi-party. Designated a least developed country by the UN, Cambodia is a member of ASEAN, WTO, and other international organizations. Its economy is primarily agricultural, with growing sectors in textiles, construction, garments, and tourism, making it vulnerable to climate change.

Cambodiaimg
Cambodia

Daily Current Affairs + PIB Summary 3 June 2024)

 


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