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UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 11 June 2024

UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS 11 June 2024
UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS

UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 12 June 2024 covers important current affairs of the day, their backward linkages, their relevance for Prelims exam and MCQs on main articles

 

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 2: (UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 11 June 2024)

  1. Cooperative Societies are not subject to the RTI Act
  2. First Past the Post (FPTP) Vs Proportional Representation

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Global Plastic Treaty

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Gardi Sugdub (Panama)
  2. National Health Claim Exchange
  3. Sticky Inflation
  4. Large Action Models (LAMs)
  5. safeEXO-Cas

 

Mapping

  1. Subansiri Lower Hydro Electric Project (SLHEP)

 

UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 11 June 2024


GS Paper 2:


Cooperative Societies are not subject to the RTI Act

Syllabus: Governance: RTI Act

Source: TH

Context: The Madras High Court ruled that cooperative societies are not subject to the RTI Act. The court set aside a Tamil Nadu Information Commission order that had directed a cooperative society to disclose loan details.

Justice V. Bhavani Subbaroyan stated that cooperative societies do not qualify as ‘public authorities’ under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. The court’s decision aligns with previous rulings, including a 2013 Supreme Court verdict.

 

Positive Implications of the Judgement:

  1. Autonomy of Cooperative Societies: Reinforces the independence of cooperative societies by not categorizing them as public authorities under the RTI Act.
  2. Legal Clarity: Provides a clear legal interpretation that can guide similar cases in the future.
  3. Operational Efficiency: Cooperative societies can operate without the administrative burden of complying with RTI requests, potentially increasing efficiency.

 

Negative Implications:

  1. Reduced Transparency: Limits public access to information on cooperative societies, potentially reducing transparency and accountability.
  2. Potential for Misuse: Without RTI oversight, there may be a higher risk of corruption or misuse of funds within cooperative societies.
  3. Public Distrust: The decision might foster distrust among the public, particularly if cooperative societies are seen as non-transparent entities.

 

About RTI Act, 2005:

  1. Objective: Ensures transparency and accountability by providing citizens access to information from public authorities.
  2. Constitutional Basis: Rooted in the right to freedom of speech and expression (Article 19 of the Indian Constitution) [State of UP vs. Raj Narain Case (1975)].
  3. Key Provisions: Time limits for information provision, proactive disclosure, appointment of Public Information Officers (PIOs), and establishment of Central and State Information Commissions.

 

Public Authorities (PAs) under the RTI Act, 2005:

  1. Definition: Includes government bodies, state-controlled entities, and NGOs significantly funded by the government.
  2. Duties: Maintain organized records, regularly disclose information, and designate PIOs for information dissemination.

 

Exemptions under Section 8:

  1. Information affecting the sovereignty, integrity, or security of India.
  2. Information forbidden by courts or constituting contempt of court.
  3. Information breaching Parliament’s or State Legislature’s privilege.
  4. Commercial confidences, trade secrets, and intellectual property (unless public interest requires disclosure).
  5. Personal information invades privacy without public interest.

 

Cooperatives in India and issues faced by them: 

Meaning: Co-operatives are voluntary, democratic, and autonomous organisations controlled by their members who actively participate in their policies and decision-making.

 

Efforts to promote them:

  • After independence, the first five-year plan (1951-56) emphasised the adoption of co-operatives to cover various aspects of community development.
  • 97th Amendment (2011): It inserted Article 43B in the DPSP of the Indian Constitution inserted,
    • As per Article 43B. States shall endeavour to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of cooperative societies.

 

Issues faced by the co-operatives:

  • Inadequacies in governance
  • Politicisation and the excessive role of the government
  • Inability to ensure active membership
  • Lack of efforts for capital formation
  • Inability to attract and retain competent professionals
  • Elections to co-operative boards have been postponed indefinitely

 

What are Multi-state Co-operative Societies?

  • Regulated by the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act 2002these are societies that have operations in more than one state (like FPOs).
  • Part IXB (also inserted by the 97th amendment) of the Indian constitution is applicable only to multi-state co-operative societies (as per an SC verdict), as states have the jurisdiction to legislate over state co-operative societies.

 

Read about The Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill 2023: Here

 

Insta Links:

 


First Past the Post (FPTP) Vs Proportional Representation

Syllabus: Polity: Election

 Source: TH

 Context: In the recently concluded election to Lok Sabha, The ruling NDA won 293 seats with 43.3% of the vote, while the opposition INDIA bloc, with 41.6% of votes, secured only 234 seats. The article explores the potential benefits and challenges of adopting a Proportional Representation (PR) system in India’s electoral democracy.

 

First Past the Post (FPTP)Proportional Representation (PR)
An electoral method where the candidate with the most votes in a constituency wins. E.g., Used in the UK, Canada, and India for legislative elections.Allocates seats in the legislature based on the proportion of votes each party receives, unlike FPTP where the top candidate wins. It aims for an accurate reflection of voter preferences.
WorkingWorking
Single-Member Districts: Each constituency elects one representative.Party Lists: Voters vote for parties; seats are allocated based on vote share.
Plurality Wins: The highest vote-getter wins, not necessarily a majority.Multi-Member Districts: Allows proportional seat allocation.
Thresholds: Minimum vote percentage required to gain representation.
AdvantagesAdvantages
Simplicity: Easy for voters and straightforward counting.Fair Representation: Reflects voters’ preferences accurately.
Strong and Stable Governments: Often produce clear winners.Minority Inclusion: Better chances for smaller parties and minority groups.
Direct Representation: Ensures geographic areas have dedicated representatives.Reduced Wasted Votes: Most votes contribute to election results.
Accountability: Representatives can be easily voted out.Encourages Voter Turnout: Voters feel their votes have more impact.
DisadvantagesDisadvantages
Disproportionality: Vote-share may not match seat-share.Coalition Governments: This can lead to instability if coalitions disagree.
Wasted Votes: Votes for losing candidates don’t count.Complexity: Harder for voters and authorities to manage.
Minority Rule: Candidates can win with less than majority votes.Fragmentation: Many small parties can make consensus difficult.
Geographic Concentration: Can favour parties with concentrated support.Weaker Constituency Links: Representatives may not be tied to specific areas.
Encourages Gerrymandering: Boundaries can be manipulated to favour parties.Influence of Party Leadership: Party leaders control candidate lists, centralizing power.

 

Types of PR:

  1. List PR: Voters choose a party, and seats are filled by candidates from the party’s list based on vote share.
  2. Mixed-Member PR: Combines FPTP and PR; voters cast two votes—one for a candidate and one for a party.
  3. Single Transferable Vote (STV): Voters rank candidates in order of preference, with seats allocated based on the proportion of votes and transferred preferences.

 

Should India move towards a proportional representation?

Yes:

  • Vote wastage: There is little to no vote wastage of votes in this system as all parties get power according to to vote share.
  • Power sharing: Majority-based government demands power sharing among different parties which provides representation to all sections and voices within the country.
  • NCRWC: The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) had also recommended studying the feasibility of proportional representation to correct the downsides of the FPTP system.

 

No:

  • Representation: As there is no constituent representative in this system, people may have trouble holding leaders accountable.
  • Stability: Government would still require a majority which means changing alliances and complex coalitions can cause political instability. This can be seen in the case of Israel.
  • Methodologies: Complex methodology of voting puts pressure on voter awareness and turnout while deciding a threshold for minimum vote share can arbitrarily take out small parties from the picture.

  

International Practices:

  1. Brazil and Argentina: Use party list PR systems.
  2. South Africa, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain: Also use party list PR systems.
  3. Germany: Bundestag has 50% seats from constituencies (FPTP) and 50% from PR based on vote share (minimum 5% votes required).
  4. New Zealand: The House of Representatives has 60% seats from territorial constituencies (FPTP) and 40% from PR based on vote share (minimum 5% votes required).

 

Conclusion:

Therefore, it can be concluded that no one system is perfect and the selection of a suitable electoral system is important in deciding the nature of democracy in a country. India is often known as the survivor of dangerous decades and an island of democracy in the third world, showing the effectiveness of the FPTP system. Thus, reforms can be initiated within it rather than radically moving to an entirely new system.

  

What is Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMPR)?

MMPR combines elements of both Proportional Representation (PR) and First Past the Post (FPTP) systems. For example, Germany’s Bundestag fills 299 of its 598 seats through FPTP, while the remaining seats are allocated based on PR. This system is also used in South Africa, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain.

 

Significance of MMPR

  1. Stability: MMPR balances the stability of FPTP with the fair representation of PR.
  2. Representation to Smaller States: It mitigates disenchantment among smaller states by avoiding purely population-based seat allocation.
  3. Law Commission Recommendation: The 1999 report by the Law Commission of India suggested introducing MMPR on an experimental basis.

 

Mains Link:

 Discuss the role of the Election Commission of India in the light of the evolution of the Model Code of Conduct. (USPC 2022)

 

Prelims Links:

Consider the following statements: (USPC 2017)

  1. The Election Commission of India is a five-member body.
  2. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs decides the election schedule for the conduct of both general elections and bye-elections.
  3. Election Commission resolves the disputes relating to splits/mergers of recognised political parties.

 

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

 

Ans: (d)

 


(UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 11 June 2024) GS Paper 3:


Global Plastic Treaty

Syllabus: Environment Conservation

 Source: Th

 Context:  The ongoing discussions in the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4) of the United Nations Environment Agency (UNEA) for a global treaty on plastic pollution prompt considerations for a fair transition for informal waste workers.

  

What is the Global Plastic Treaty? 

The Global Plastics Treaty, initiated in 2021, is a pivotal international effort aimed at combatting plastic pollution on a global scale. Established during the fifth UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, the treaty has progressed through various meetings worldwide, including Dakar, Senegal; Uruguay; Paris, France; Nairobi, Kenya; and Canada, with the final meeting set for South Korea.

Notably, the International Alliance of Waste Pickers has played a significant role, advocating for the inclusion of informal waste pickers in the treaty discussions to promote sustainable waste management and equitable policies.

  

What are Plastics? 

Plastics are materials that can be shaped when soft and then hardened to maintain their form. They are polymers, composed of many repeating units. Plastics fall into two main categories: thermoplastics, which can be melted and reshaped repeatedly, and thermosets, which become rigid when heated and cannot be remelted.

  

 

Issues with the Plastics:

Global Plastics ProblemFacts
Increase in Plastic WasteProduction reached 353M tonnes in 2019, expected to triple by 2060
Low Recycling RatesOnly 9% recycled globally, 50% sent to landfills, 19% incinerated
Informal Sector’s RoleRecycles 85% of the 9% that is recycled, reducing landfill waste
Vulnerability of WorkersFace job losses due to privatization, exclusion from policy discussions
Environmental Impact60M tonnes of plastic pollute the environment annually without the informal sector

 

What should the Global Plastic Treaty contain? 

  1. Global Objectives: The treaty targets marine and environmental pollution caused by plastics, focusing on global goals and ecosystem impact assessment.
  2. Guidelines for International Cooperation: It may outline support mechanisms for wealthier nations to assist poorer ones in achieving plastic reduction objectives.
  3. Prohibitions and Targets: Expect bans on specific plastics, products, and additives, alongside binding targets for recycling and recycled content in consumer goods.
  4. Chemical Testing Mandates: The treaty might mandate testing certain chemicals in plastics for safety and environmental protection.
  5. Consideration for Vulnerable Workers: Details may address a just transition for waste pickers and workers in developing countries reliant on the plastic industry for livelihoods.
  6. Progress Assessment: Provisions for evaluating member states’ progress in implementing plastic pollution reduction measures will ensure accountability and drive continuous improvement.

 

Challenges to such a treaty:

ChallengesDescription
Differences Among CountriesThe “High Ambition Coalition (HAC)” advocates for ambitious goals like ending plastic pollution by 2040 and phasing out single-use plastics. Whereas, the US diverges by promoting voluntary measures over binding commitments. Influence of Industry Interests
Oil-producing countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Iran oppose plastic production caps, using delay tactics to hinder discussions
Scope of the AgreementDeciding the agreement’s scope involves questions like coverage of plastic creation and disposal, types of pollution, and ban considerations.
Fossil fuel and chemical corporations seek to weaken the treaty’s impact, opposing production cuts and framing the issue as solely a waste management concern.
Reporting and MonitoringEstablishing a reliable reporting and monitoring system faces challenges, such as concerns over national self-reporting accuracy.
Strategic Financing and GovernanceIncluding strategic financing, circularity support, and governance approaches requires alignment across participating countries.

 

India’s Stance at INC:

  1. India advocates for reaffirming states’ sovereign rights to sustainable development.
  2. India proposes objectives to safeguard human health and the environment from plastic pollution while ensuring sustainable development, emphasizing principles like equity.
  3. Restrictions on Plastic Production: India opposes limitations on primary plastic polymers, arguing they exceed UNEA resolution 5/14’s scope.
  4. Chemicals and Polymers of Concern: India advocates for evidence-based decisions on chemicals.
  5. Midstream Measures: Advocates for nationally determined approaches for downstream measures like Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).
  6. Emissions and Releases: Emphasizes eliminating plastic waste leakage, excluding manufacturing and recycling emissions.
  7. Prioritizing Waste Management: Advocates prioritizing plastic waste management, excluding manufacturing and recycling emissions.
  8. Cross-Cutting Issues: Expresses concerns about cross-cutting issues like trade and financing, insisting on comprehensive assistance and technology transfer.

 

About Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC)

It was formed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in March 2022 to create a global binding agreement on plastic pollution. Its goal is to address plastic’s entire life cycle, including its impact on marine environments and may employ both voluntary and binding measures. The INC has held meetings, including INC-1 in Uruguay in November 2022, INC-2 in France in May-June 2023, and INC-3 in Nairobi in December 2023.

 

Insta Links:

 

Mains Link: 

Q: What are the impediments in disposing the huge quantities of discarded solid waste which are continuously being generated? How do we remove safely the toxic wastes that have been accumulating in our habitable environment? (UPSC 2018)

 

Prelims Links:

Why is there a great concern about the ‘microbeads’ that are released into the environment? (UPSC 2019)

(a) They are considered harmful to marine ecosystems.
(b) They are considered to cause skin cancer in children.
(c) They are small enough to be absorbed by crop plants in irrigated fields.
(d) They are often found to be used as food adulterants.

 

Ans: (a)

 

In India, ‘extend producer responsibility’ was introduced as an important feature in which of the following? (UPSC 2019)

(a) The Bio-medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998

(b) The Recycled Plastic (Manufacturing and Usage) Rules, 1999

(c) The e-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011

(d) The Food Safety and Standard Regulations, 2011

 

 

Ans: (c)

 


(UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 11 June 2024) Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Gardi Sugdub (Panama)

Source: CNBC

Context:  Hundreds of Indigenous families have relocated from Gardi Sugdub due to rising sea levels, becoming Panama’s first climate change-induced displacement. Panama also becomes first nation to evacuate its island community over climate change impact

About Panama: 

It is situated in Latin America at the southern tip of Central America, sharing borders with South America. It is flanked by Costa Rica to the west and Colombia to the southeast, with the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. Panama City, its capital, is the largest city, housing nearly half of its over 4 million inhabitants. Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903 with U.S. support, facilitating the construction of the Panama Canal. The canal’s revenue remains a significant contributor to Panama’s economy, along with commerce, banking, and tourism.

 


National Health Claim Exchange

 Source: TH

Context: The Health Ministry and IRDAI are collaborating to launch the National Health Claim Exchange (NHCX), aiming to streamline healthcare access and claims processing.

 

What is NHCX?

NHCX is a communication protocol facilitating the exchange of health claim information between payers, providers, and beneficiaries. NHCX will centralize health claims, enabling seamless interoperability, improving efficiency, and reducing administrative burdens on hospitals. Twelve insurance companies and one TPA have integrated with NHCX. Under the Digital Health Incentive Scheme, hospitals receive financial incentives for digital health transactions through NHCX.

Current Claim Processing: The existing process lacks standardization and is mostly manual, leading to inefficiencies and variations across insurers and providers.

 

About IRDAI: 

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is a statutory body under the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, regulating the insurance industry. Established in 1999, it’s headquartered in Hyderabad, Telangana. Recently, IRDAI directed health insurance providers to create specialized policies for senior citizens and removed the age limit for purchasing health insurance policies, effective April 1, 2024. It operates with a 10-member body appointed by the government, including a chairman and both full-time and part-time members.

 


Sticky Inflation

 Source: IE

 Context: Recently RBI has refrained from cutting interest rates despite declining retail inflation rates, which have hovered near the 4% mark since September 2023.

 

What is Sticky Inflation?

Sticky inflation refers to a situation where inflation rates remain relatively high or stable over time, despite changes in economic conditions or monetary policy. This phenomenon is characterized by a slow decline in inflation rates and resistance to central bank efforts to lower them through measures like interest rate cuts.

Reasons: Rising wages and prices for consumer goods and services are typically the main factors behind inflation stickiness.

Implications: It can push monetary authorities to tighten monetary policy and raise interest rates.

 


Large Action Models (LAMs)

 Source: TH

Context: Global companies are increasingly adopting Large Action Models (LAMs) to streamline operations and reduce costs.

 

What are LAMs? 

Large Action Models (LAMs) are advanced AI models that can understand complex goals communicated in natural language and autonomously perform tasks in the real world. They go beyond generating and interpreting text like ChatGPT and can handle tasks like vacation planning, job application automation, and personalized content creation.

Examples include automating claims processing in insurance firms, enhancing customer interactions in airlines, and boosting sales conversions in retail through personalized recommendations. LAMs are expected to become integral to businesses, similar to SAAS applications or hyper-scale cloud enablement, and may lead to job displacement but also create new roles and opportunities.

 


safeEXO-Cas

 Source: Columbia University

 Context: Scientists at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine have developed a new gene editing platform called “safeEXO-Cas,” using exosomes as delivery vehicles for CRISPR/Cas9 components.

This platform enhances precision in targeting specific cells and tissues, overcoming the limitations of current delivery methods.

 

What are Exosomes?

Exosomes are naturally occurring vesicles that act as vehicles for transporting molecules, such as proteins and genetic material, between cells. These tiny membrane-bound structures play a crucial role in cell-to-cell communication and have potential applications in drug delivery, diagnostics, and therapeutics.

Structures of Exosomes
Structures of Exosomes

 

About CRISPR/Cas9 technology:

It is a genome editing tool, that works as a cut-and-paste mechanism on DNA strands, allowing targeted modifications to the genome. Its applications include editing genes in human embryos, improving crop resilience, and treating diseases like sickle cell disease.

 


(UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 11 June 2024) Mapping


Subansiri Lower Hydro Electric Project (SLHEP)

 Source: India Today

 Context: A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) has been signed for the implementation of a fisheries management plan at the 2000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydro Electric Project (SLP) in Assam.

 

About SLHEP:

The Subansiri Lower Hydro Electric Project (SLHEP) is a 2000 MW gravity dam under construction on the Subansiri River, a trans-Himalayan river known for its gold dust, flowing through Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tibet. It’s the largest tributary of the Brahmaputra, contributing about 8% of its flow. SLHEP, run by NHPC, will be India’s largest hydroelectric plant, utilizing the river’s potential for hydropower.

Subansiri Lower Hydro Electric Project (SLHEP)
Subansiri Lower Hydro Electric Project (SLHEP)

 

 

UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS – 11 June 2024 [PDF]

 


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