Daily Prelims Notes 26 December 2022
- December 26, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
26 December 2022
Table Of Contentss
- Inversion of US treasury yield
- United Nations Framework Classification for Resources
- WTO and e-com
- What is Bomb cyclone?
- Why Antarctica’s emperor penguins could be extinct by 2100
- Polar bears in key Canada region dying: Causes, effects
- Good while it lasted – III: Why this is a mass extinction
- A 225-km yatra to save the endangered sacred groves of Rajasthan
- ‘Floating’ solar farms on Delhi’s water bodies, the first one at Bawana lake
- Fewer polluted river stretches but worst stretches unchanged
- Putin says Russia ready for talk with Ukraine
- The window for FTAs shrinks as India braces for a set of non-tariff barriers
- Project Vaani
- National Waterways undergoes expansion
- Mental health helpline receives 20000 calls in two months
- 14 monuments and sites declared protected in 3 years: Minister
- Dark Patterns
- Emerging Omicron sub lineages across the world
The US does look headed for a recession — a key pointer is the inversion of US treasury yields.
- A recession typically involves the overall output in an economy contracting for at least two consecutive quarters, along with job losses and reduction in overall demand.
- The US National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) decides whether the economy is in a recession based on its assessment of the depth, diffusion, and duration of the impact on the economy.
- In any economy, the safest loans are those that are given to governments, typically do not default on their debt.
- The instrument by which the government borrows from the market is called a government bond.
- Example- In India they are called G-secs, in the UK they are called gilts, and in the US, they are called treasuries.
- A government bond comes with a pre-determined coupon payment/Rate of interest.
- Example- The government may “float” a 10-year bond with a face value of $100 and coupon payment of $5. This means, if one lends $100 to the government by buying this bond, he/she would get $5 each year for the next 10 years plus the whole sum of $100 at the end of 10 years. This would imply a yield of 5%.
- But since the bonds are traded in the secondary market–one can sell this bond to another investor, the yield will change depending on the price at which the bond is sold.
- If the price increases — say, the bond is sold for $110 — the yield will fall because the annual return ($5) remains the same. And if the price falls, the yield will rise.
The yield curve and recession:
- The yield curve is the graphical representation of yields from bonds (with an equal credit rating) over different time horizons.
- Example– if one was to take the US government bonds of different tenures and plot them according to the yields they provide, one would get the yield curve.
- Types of yield curve:
- Under normal circumstances, any economy would have an upward sloping yield curve. Meaning-as one buys bonds of longer tenure — one gets higher yields.
- Bond yield curve becomes inverted when bonds with a tenure of 2 years end up paying out higher yields than bonds with a 10 year tenure.Such an inversion of the yield curve essentially suggests that investors expect future growth to be weak.
- When investors suspect that the economy is heading for trouble, they pull out money from short-term risky assets (such as stock markets) and put them in long-term bonds. This causes the prices of the long-term bonds to rise and their yields to fall (bond prices and bond yields are inversely related).
- This process first leads to flattening and eventually the inversion of the yield curve.
How bond yield inversion predicts recession?
- Inversion of the bond yield curve has become a strong predictor of recessions.
- In the current instance, the US Fed has been raising short-term interest rates, which further increase the short-end of the yield curve while dampening economic activity.
Impact on India:
- Rising interest rates are likely to make the US dollar even more strong against the rupee.
- Indian imports will become costlier as a result, and could fuel domestic inflation.
- Higher returns in the US may also lead to reduction in the capital inflows coming to India.
- Indian exports may benefit due to a weaker rupee but a recession will dampen the demand for Indian exports.
- A slowdown or recession may lower crude oil prices for India.
NCLAT has set aside an order passed by the CCI and in another order also held that Competition Act 2002 does not provide that CCI must have a judicial member.
- The case pertains to CCI rejecting a complaint against a real estate firm for alleged abuse of the dominant position on the basis of a second/supplementary report from the Director General.
- The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal said CCI can pass the order on the basis of the first report filed by the DG office.
Competition Appellate Tribunal vs NCLAT authority over CCI:
- The Competition Act, 2007, was enacted after amending Competition Act, 2002, that led to the establishment of the CCI and the Competition Appellate Tribunal.
- The government replaced the Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) with the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in 2017.
- In 2017 an amendment was made through which the provision of Part XIV of Chapter VI of the Finance Act, 2017 came into operation.
National Company Law Appellate Tribunal
- National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) was constituted under Section 410 of the Companies Act, 2013 for hearing appeals against the orders of National Company Law Tribunal(s) (NCLT), with effect from 1st June, 2016.
- Hear appeals against the orders passed by NCLT(s) under Section 61 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC).
- Hear appeals against the orders passed by Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India under Section 202 and Section 211 of IBC.
- Hear and dispose of appeals against any direction issued or decision made or order passed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) – as per the amendment brought to Section 410 of the Companies Act, 2013.
- NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal to hear and dispose of appeals against the orders of the National Financial Reporting Authority.
- The President of the Tribunal and the chairperson and Judicial Members of the Appellate Tribunal shall be appointed after consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
- The Members of the Tribunal and the Technical Members shall be appointed on the recommendation of a Selection Committee consisting of:
- Chief Justice of India or his nominee—Chairperson.
- A senior Judge of the Supreme Court or a Chief Justice of High Court— Member.
- Secretary in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs—Member.
- Secretary in the Ministry of Law and Justice—Member.
- Secretary in the Department of Financial Services in the Ministry of Finance— Member.
- Chairperson – Should be/been judge of the Supreme Court or should be/been Chief Justice of the High Court.
- Judicial Member – Is/has been a judge of a High Court or is a judicial member of a tribunal for 5 years or more.
- Technical member– Person with proven ability, integrity and standing having special knowledge and experience of 25 years or more (in specified areas).
- Term of office of chairperson and members is 5 years and they can be reappointed for additional 5 years.
Composition of the CCI:
- Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a statutory body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002, it was duly constituted in March 2009.
- The commission is a quasi-judicial body which gives opinions to statutory authorities and also deals with other cases.
- The Commission consists of one Chairperson and six Members as per the Competition Act who shall be appointed by the Central Government.
- The Chairperson and other Members shall be whole-time Members.
- Eligibility of members: The Chairperson and every other Member shall be a person of ability, integrity and standing and who, has been, or is qualified to be a judge of a High Court, or, has special knowledge of, and professional experience of not less than fifteen years in international trade, economics, business, commerce, law, finance, accountancy, management, industry, public affairs, administration or in any other matter which, in the opinion of the Central Government, may be useful to the Commission.
Industry body Assocham has sought reduction in basic customs duty and correction of inverted duty structure on critical raw materials for the aluminium industry.
- Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) are those raw materials that are economically and strategically important for the economy but have a high-risk associated with their supply.
- Used in environmental technologies, consumer electronics, health, steel-making, defence, space exploration, and aviation, these materials are not only ‘critical’ for key industry sectors and future applications, but also for the sustainable functioning of the economy.
- They include the rare earth elements and other metals such as lithium, indium, tellurium, gallium, and platinum group elements.
- Based on their individual needs and strategic considerations, different countries create their own lists.
Assessing the criticality
- India has resources of nickel, cobalt, molybdenum and heavy rare earth elements, but further exploration is needed to evaluate the quantities of their reserves.
- India does not produce some of the key minerals for making photo-voltaic cells, such as silicon, silver, indium, arsenic, gallium, germanium, and tellurium;
- India also does not produce key minerals needed to make EV batteries, including lithium and cobalt;
- Lithium, strontium and niobium have relatively high economic importance for India, and heavy rare earth elements, niobium and silicon have relatively high supply risks;
- Titanium, lead, and manganese face relatively low levels of supply risks;
- Nine minerals have relatively low economic importance: titanium, graphite, silver, vanadium, zinc, lead, cerium, neodymium, and indium; and
- Most minerals have some degree of substitutability, except for niobium and silver, for which there are no good substitutes.
The United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC):
- It is an international scheme for classifying and reporting energy and raw material resources.
- It is a global classification and management system applicable to mineral, petroleum, nuclear fuel, renewable energy and anthropogenic resources, as well as water and injection projects for geological storage.
- UNFC is a policy tool to provide harmonized social, environmental, and economic data for policymakers to create resilient supply chains.
- Data can then provide the basis for resource management decisions as part of the United Nations Resource Management System, in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals.
- The Expert Group on Resource Management is responsible for the promotion and further development of the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) and the United Nations Resource Management System (UNRMS).
Subject :International Organisation
India seeks comments from WTO members on consumer protection in e-commerce such as countering fakes and counterfeits, data protection, management of returns and dispute resolution, and the role the WTO can play in the area.
WTO and e-com:
- When e-commerce was still at a nascent stage, in September 1998, the work programme on e-commerce was adopted by the General Council of the WTO.
- The programme was largely exploratory in nature, focussing on examining all trade issues relating to global ecommerce, considering the economic, financial and development needs of developing countries.
- Under the programme, WTO members agreed to continue the practice of not imposing Customs duties on electronic transmissions.
- Also known as “moratorium on Customs duties”, this has been renewed regularly at each Ministerial Conference.
WTO Moratorium on Customs Duties on Electronic Transmissions:
- The WTO e-commerce moratorium, which bans countries from imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions.
- The WTO Work Programme on Electronic Commerce defines “electronic commerce” as the “production, distribution, marketing, sale or delivery of goods and services by electronic means.” While the term is not defined uniformly, it is commonly held to encompass anything from software, emails, and text messages to digital music, movies and videogames.
- It is any form of communication that does not directly involve the physical transmission of paper that creates a record that may be retained, retrieved and reviewed by a recipient thereof and that may be directly reproduced in paper form by such a recipient through an automated process.
- It dates back to 1998 when ministers at the Second Ministerial Conference adopted the Declaration on Global Electronic Commerce, led the establishment of a work programme on e-commerce, which was adopted later that year.
- Every two years governments agree to extend the moratorium at the biennial WTO Ministerial Conference.
- The moratorium has enabled exponential growth in use of the Internet and the flourishing of the digital economy.
- The storm pummelling large swaths of the United States and Canada is what forecasters call a “bomb cyclone.” While this kind of storm is not exceedingly rare, this one is very strong, with high winds that are bringing heavy snow or rain to many areas.
What is Bomb Cyclone:
- A bomb cyclone is a large, intense midlatitude storm that has low pressure at its centre, weather fronts and an array of associated weather, from blizzards to severe thunderstorms to heavy precipitation.
Reason for its formation:
- Storms can form when a mass of low-pressure air meets a high-pressure mass.
- The air flows from high pressure to low, creating winds.
- In a Bomb cyclone, the pressure drops very rapidly in the low-pressure mass- by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.
- This quickly increases the pressure difference, or gradient, between the two air masses, making the winds stronger.
- This process of rapid intensification has a name: bombogenesis.
Formation at the great lake region:
- The conditions for the formation of a bomb cyclone had been met over the Great Lakes, where frigid Arctic air from the meandering polar vortex met very warm air to the east.
- Air pressure dropped to at least 962 millibars, while elsewhere it was as high as 1,047 millibars.
How does a Bomb Cyclone differ from a Hurricane?
- Hurricanes tend to form in tropical areas and are powered by warm seas. For this reason, they’re most common in summer or early fall, when seawater is warmest.
- Bomb cyclones generally occur during colder months because cyclones occur due to cold and warm air meetings. During the summer, there’s generally not much cold air across the atmosphere; this means a bomb cyclone is much less likely to occur.
- Hurricanes form in tropical waters, while bomb cyclones form over the northwestern Atlantic, northwestern Pacific and sometimes the Mediterranean Sea.
- Greater conservation efforts are needed to protect Antarctic ecosystems, and the populations of up to 97 per cent of land-based Antarctic species could decline by 2100 if we don’t change tack, our new research has found.
Threats to Antarctic biodiversity:
- Antarctica’s land-based species have adapted to survive the coldest, windiest, highest, and driest continent on Earth.
- The species includes two flowering plants, hardy moss and lichens, numerous microbes, tough invertebrates and hundreds of thousands of breeding seabirds, including the emperor and Adélie penguins.
- Antarctica helps regulate the global climate by driving atmospheric circulation and ocean currents and absorbing heat and carbon dioxide. Antarctica even drives weather patterns in Australia.
Climate change impact on Antarctica:
- Antarctica’s ice-free areas are predicted to expand, rapidly changing the habitat available for wildlife.
- As extreme weather events such as heat waves become more frequent, Antarctica’s plants and animals are expected to suffer.
- Nematode worm Scottnema lindsayae: The species lives in extremely dry soils, and is at risk as warming and ice-melt increases soil moisture.
- Some may benefit initially. These include the two Antarctic plants, some mosses and the gentoo penguin.
- These species may increase their populations and become more widely distributed in the event of more liquid water (as opposed to ice), more ice-free land and warmer temperatures.
What to do?
- Strategies include:
- “Influence external policy” strategy
- “Managing non-native species and disease”
- “Managing and protecting species”.
- These strategies include measures such as granting special protections to species and increasing biosecurity to prevent the introduction of non-native species.
- It is the largest member of the penguin order (Sphenisciformes). It is also the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species.
- Geographical Presence: Endemic to Antarctica
- IUCN Status: Near threatened.
- The emperor penguin relies on ice for breeding and is the most vulnerable of Antarctica’s species.
- The emperor penguin is at risk of extinction by 2100.
- Mosses are common flowerless plants found in all regions, especially in damp (humid) or shady locations.
- It generally absorbs water and nutrients from their immediate environments, so it can reflect changes to ecosystems.
- So it can be used as a potential bioindicator to monitor urban pollution and to measure the impact of atmospheric change.
- As a bioindicator, mosses respond to pollution or drought stress by changing their shape, and density or disappearing.
- This characteristic will allow scientists to calculate atmospheric alterations and air pollution.
- Drought stress tends to occur in mosses found in areas with high levels of nitrogen pollution, which has a negative impact on health and biodiversity.
- Polar bears in Canada’s Western Hudson Bay, an inland sea connected to the Arctic Ocean, are dying at a fast rate, according to a new government survey. It also revealed that females and younger polar bears are the worst affected.
Details of the survey:
- The population has declined from 842 in 2016 to 618 in 2021 in Western Hudson Bay — the region includes Churchill, the town that is known as ‘the Polar Bear Capital of the World’.
- Western Hudson Bay has witnessed a drop of around 50% in the population of polar bears since the 1980s.
Significance of polar bears:
- Polar bears are one of the most significant predators in the Arctic region and they keep biological populations in balance.
- The big kills made by them serve as a food resource for scavengers like Arctic foxes and Arctic birds.
- If polar bears aren’t able to hunt animals like seals, it can severely impact the food chain and the health of the ecosystem.
Impact of climate change on polar bears:
- Due to climate change led to ice melting, they are not able to hunt seals, their chief food, which may lead to a rise in the population of seals, which may threaten the existence of crustaceans.
- Of the 4 billion species that have evolved over the last 3.5 billion years, some 99 per cent have disappeared in a series of extinctions
- The Earth has experienced five mass extinctions so far; one every 100 million years on average. Each extinction period has lasted from 50,000 to 2.76 million years.
- we are currently experiencing the sixth mass extinction.
- Fossil records of earlier species and extinction studies suggest a species exists for around 1 million years before it goes extinct.
- This is called the background extinction rate, and is expressed as “one species extinction per million species-years”.
- It is used to establish whether an extinction rate is unusual or faster.
Sixth mass extinction:
- Today’s extinctions per million species-years are between 10 and 10,000 times higher than the background rate.
- The ongoing sixth mass extinction is different from the previous events.
- While the earlier extinction periods were triggered by the planet’s warming, the ice age or even volcanic eruptions, the current one is being driven by just one species—Homo sapiens.
- The “age of humans” or the Anthropocene (Anthropos is Greek for human and -cene is a substantial geological time period within the current 66-million-year-old Cenozoic era) is the third and fundamentally new stage of evolution for the planet.
- Simple single-cell microbial organisms were at the core of the first stage of evolution, spanning over 3.5 billion to 650 million years ago.
- The second stage started some 540 million years ago with multi-cellular life springing widespread biodiversity.
- The third stage is all about the Homo sapiens.
Census of the biomass on Earth:
- The one-of-its-kind exercise was conducted in 2018 by scientists Ron Milo and Yinon M Bar-On of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, and Rob Phillips of the California Institute of Technology, US.
- The census involved deciphering the composition of the 550 gigatonnes of biomass distributed across all kingdoms of life on Earth.
- According to the census, the 7.6 billion humans account for just 0.01 per cent of all biomass on Earth.
- In contrast, bacteria account for 13 per cent of the total biomass; plants 82 per cent and all other forms of life just around 5 per cent.
- The census also attributes humans to the annihilation of 83 per cent of all wild mammals and half of all plants.
- Of the birds left in the world, 70 per cent are poultry chickens and other farmed birds. And of all the mammals, 60 per cent are livestock (cattle and pigs), 36 per cent are humans, and a mere 4 per cent is wild.
- A unique 225-km-long yatra taken out through remote villages and hamlets in western Rajasthan, a powerful voice to the demand for protection of orans or sacred groves facing the threat of destruction with their land being allotted for renewable energy infrastructure and high-tension power lines.
- Named after local deities and medieval warriors, orans hold religious and social significance as small forest patches in the middle of the mighty Thar desert.
- Orans also form the natural habitat for India’s most critically endangered bird, the Great Indian Bustard (GIB), a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act, which is also the State bird of Rajasthan.
- Orans ensured food and fodder for the community and the herds of camels, sheep and goats during drought.
- These orans are hotspots of biodiversity with trees and flowers like rohida, bordi, kumbhat, and desi babool in large numbers.
- There are different varieties of grasses like sevan and murath as well, making these grasslands home to more than 250 species of birds and animals, including the great Indian bustard, McQueen bustard, chinkara, Indian desert cat, desert fox, etc
- Tradition dictates that no tree or plant in the groves is cut and only seasonal grazing of livestock is allowed.
Why the protest is happening?
- The allotment of their land to solar and wind energy, mining and other industries was affecting the ecology of the region. The land was also diverted for agriculture and other projects of the administration.
- solar power companies have felled khejri and other trees to install their big projects.
The demand of the protesters:
- The orans are listed as ‘wastelands’ in the revenue records. The Degrai Oran is around 10,000 hectares (60,000 bighas), but only 4,000 hectares are recognised as oran, which is listed as common land. The rest is categorised as the wasteland.
- Demand for an urgent action to register orans as “protected land” in the revenue records of the State government.
- After rooftop panels, the Delhi government has come up with a new proposal to generate electricity through solar energy by installing ‘floating solar farms’ in lakes, water bodies and ponds across the city.
About the project:
- The project has been started in Outer Delhi’s Bawana lake.
- A proposal has been made to install floating solar panels on water bodies such as on the Yamuna at Wazirabad and several ponds and lakes.
- The Bawana power plant has a 1,500-1,600 MW capacity.
- Floating solar panels are cheaper and more efficient than rooftop ones.
What are Floating Solar Panels?
- These are Photovoltaic (PV) modules mounted on platforms that float on water reservoirs, lakes, and where conditions are right seas and oceans.
- These platforms are typically moored on calmer bodies of water, such as ponds, lakes or reservoirs.
- These installations are relatively quick to construct, silent to run and require no land levelling or removal of vegetation.
- The 100 MW Ramagundam floating solar PV project in Telangana, is the largest floating solar power plant in India.
What are the Environment Benefits of the Project?
- The most obvious advantage is the minimum land requirement mostly for associated evacuation arrangements.
- Further, with the presence of floating solar panels, the evaporation rate from water bodies is reduced, thus helping in water conservation.
- Approximately 32.5 lakh cubic meters per year of water evaporation can be avoided.
- Efficient in Reducing Co2 Emission.
- The number of polluted stretches in India’s rivers has fallen from 351 in 2018 to 311 in 2022 though the number of most polluted stretches is practically unchanged, according to a report from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
Identification of Polluted river stretch:
- Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) exceeding 3.0 mg/L (milligram per litre) is identified as a polluted location.
- Two or more polluted locations identified on a river in a continuous sequence are considered a “polluted river stretch.”
- A BOD less than 3 mg/L means the river stretch is fit for ‘Outdoor Bathing.’
- Further, stretches with a BOD exceeding 30 mg/L are considered ‘Priority 1,’ meaning, the most polluted and thus needing the most urgent remediation.
- There are five such categories with ‘Priority 2’ indicating a BOD of 20-30 mg/L and ‘Priority 5’ indicating 3-6 mg/L.
- The success of river-cleaning programmes is measured by the number of stretches moving from 1 to 2, 2 to 3 until those in 5 (requiring the least action) to reduce.
CPCB report on the status of polluted river stretches:
- The CPCB network monitors water quality at 4,484 locations in 28 States and seven Union Territories including rivers, lakes, creeks, drains and canals.
- n 2018, when the CPCB published its report, there were 45 stretches categorised in Priority 1, 16 in Priority 2, 43 in Priority 3, 72 in Priority 4 and 175 in Priority 5.
- The latest report counts 46 in P1, 16 in P2, 39 in P3, 65 in P4 and 145 in P5.
- All of the improvements thus were in river stretches that required relatively lesser intervention.
- There is no change/ slight change in the Priority I & II category of polluted river stretches.
States-wise status of polluted rivers:
- While Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh had the maximum number of ‘Priority 1’ river stretches (6).
- Maharashtra had the maximum number of polluted river stretches i.e. 55, followed by Madhya Pradesh (19), Bihar (18), Kerala (18), Karnataka (17) and Uttar Pradesh (17).
- Every State had to ensure that at least one river stretch was “restored” to the extent that it was at least fit for bathing.
Biological Oxygen Demand:
- Biological Oxygen Demand is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by microorganisms to decompose organic matter (waste or pollutants) under aerobic reaction (in the presence of oxygen).
- The more organic matter there is (e.g., in sewage and polluted bodies of water), the greater is the BOD.
- Greater BOD, the lower the amount of dissolved oxygen available for higher animals such as fishes.
- The BOD is therefore a reliable gauge of the organic pollution of a water body.
- One of the main reasons for treating wastewater prior to its discharge into a water resource is to lower its BOD i.e. to reduce its need of oxygen and thereby lessen its demand from the streams, lakes, rivers, or estuaries into which it is released.
- It is the amount of dissolved oxygen present in the water which is needed for aquatic life to survive. The quality of water increases with an increase in DO levels.
A DO level of 5 mg/l or above is the recommended level for bathing in a river.
Subject :International Relations
- Russian President Putin in a recent interview said that Russia is ready to negotiate with all parties involved in the war in Ukraine but Kyiv and its Western backers have refused to engage in talks.
More about the news:
- Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine has triggered the most deadly conflict in Europe since World War II and the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Russian President Putin in a recent interview said that Russia is ready to negotiate with all parties involved in the war in Ukraine but Kyiv and its Western backers have refused to engage in talks.
- Mr. Putin has used the concept of “historical Russia” to argue that Ukrainians and Russians are one people while undermining Kyiv’s sovereignty and justifying his 10-month offensive in Ukraine.
Major cities of Ukraine affected in war:
- Kyiv:It is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine and seventh most populous in Europe.It lies in north-central Ukraine along the Dnieper River. It is located on the border of the Polesia woodland ecological zone, a part of the European mixed woods area, and the East European forest steppe biome.It is the only city that has double jurisdiction. The Head of City State Administration i.e the city’s governor is appointed by the president of Ukraine, while the Head of the City Council i.e the mayor of Kyiv is elected by local popular vote.
- Kharkiv:-It is the second-largest city and municipality in Ukraine.It is located in the northeast of the country.It is the administrative centre of Kharkiv Oblast and of the surrounding Kharkiv Raion.It is a major cultural, scientific, educational, transport and industrial centre of Ukraine.It is located at the banks of the Kharkiv, Lopan, and Udy rivers, which further flow into the Seversky Donets watershed in the north-eastern region of Ukraine.
- Donetsk:- It is the fifth-largest city of Ukraine and is situated in the eastern part of Ukraine on the Kalmius River in Donetsk Oblast.It is an industrial hub.
- Odesa:-It is the third most populous city and municipality in Ukraine and a major seaport and transport hub located in the south-west of the country, on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea. It is a warm-water port. The city of Odesa hosts both the Port of Odesa and Port Pivdennyi, a significant oil terminal situated in the city’s suburbs.
- Dnipro:-It is the fourth-largest city of Ukraine. It is located in the eastern part of Ukraine, southeast of Kyiv on the Dnieper River.
- Zaporizhzhya:-It is a city in southeast Ukraine, situated on the banks of the Dnieper river. There are many small rivers in the city, which enter the Dnieper like Sukha and Mokra Moskovka, Kushuhum, and Verkhnia Khortytsia.It has the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant which is the largest nuclear power station in Europe.
- Lviv: It is the sixth-largest city in Ukraine situated in the western part around 70 kilometers from the border with Poland. It is situated on the edge of the Roztochia Upland.It is one of the main cultural centres of Ukraine.
- Mykolaiv:-It is situated in southern Ukraine and is located on the Southern Bug River with access to the Black Sea.The city is one of the main shipbuilding centers of the Black Sea.
- Sebastopol:-It is the largest city in Crimea and a major port on the Black Sea.It is located at the southwestern tip of the Crimean peninsula in a headland known as Heracles peninsula.
- Luhansk:-It is the easternmost province of Ukraine.The region is located in the valley of the Siversky Donets river.All of the oblast is under the occupation of Russia, which claims the oblast as the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), a self-declared state turned Russian federal subject.
- Chernihiv:-It is a city situated in the northern part of Ukraine on the Desna River.
- Sumy:- It is situated in northeastern Ukraine on the banks of the Psel River.
- Kherson:-It is a port city of Ukraine situated on the Black Sea and on the Dnieper River.
- Chernobyl:It is a partially abandoned city in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, situated in the Vyshhorod Raion of northern Kyiv Oblast.The city is famous for the Chernobyl disaster that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the No. 4 reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant,
- Mariupol:- It is a city on the north coast of the Sea of Azov at the mouth of the Kalmius river, in the Pryazovia region of Ukraine.It was the tenth-largest city in Ukraine and the second-largest in Donetsk Oblast before the Russian invasion.
- As India pushes the pedal on free trade agreements , non-tariff issues such as carbon emission norms, climate action, labour and gender balance standards, that comprise an increasingly substantive part of these new pacts, are weighing on these ongoing negotiations.
What is Free Trade Agreements:
- It is a pact between two or more nations to reduce barriers to imports and exports among them.
- Under a free trade policy, goods and services can be bought and sold across international borders with little or no government tariffs, quotas, subsidies, or prohibitions to inhibit their exchange.
- The concept of free trade is the opposite of trade protectionism or economic isolationism.
- FTAs can be categorized as Preferential Trade Agreements, Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPA).
What is the current issue:
- Issues like climate action, carbon emissions, and labor issues are taking precedence over pure trade issues due to trade negotiations.
- There are chances that the focus might get shifted to a series of events linked to the G20 presidency, so India needs to act fast.
- The political lobbying from influential lobby groups such as farmer unions and the auto sector could intensify in the run-up to the 2024 national elections.
What is the differences between the old and the new FTAs
- Earlier, predominantly trade-related issues used to dominate like rules, operations, tariffs measures etc.There used to be about a dozen chapters but now in the new FTAs, the number of chapters has doubled with non-trade issues dominating these FTAs.
What is the concern:
- India needs to be cautious in the FTA negotiation, in the future as we may benefit from the Generalised System of Preferences(GSP), but if the developed nations put in a non-tariff barrier by citing labour or environment, then it becomes an issue.For example European Union has purposed CBAM to tax carbon-intensive products, from 2026.
- An interim Trade Agreement or early harvest trade agreement is used to liberalize tariffs on the trade of certain goods between two countries or trading blocs before a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement is concluded.
- The problem is that these early harvest schemes potentially target the low-hanging fruits, leaving the tougher goods and services for later.
- Recession in the developed world also stokes protectionist tendencies there, to which they respond by erecting walls not necessarily based on tariffs to stall imports from other countries.
What are Non – Tariff Trade Barriers:
- A nontariff barrier is a way to restrict trade using trade barriers in a form other than a tariff.
- Nontariff barriers include quotas, embargoes, sanctions, and levies.
- As part of their political or economic strategy, some countries frequently use nontariff barriers to restrict the amount of trade they conduct with other countries.
What are different types of Non Tariff Barriers:
- Licenses : Countries may use licenses to limit imported goods to specific businesses. If a business is granted a trade license, it is permitted to import goods that would otherwise be restricted for trade in the country.
- Quotas : Countries often issue quotas for importing and exporting both goods and services. With quotas, countries agree on specified limits for products and services allowed for importation to a country.
- Embargoes : Embargoes are when a country–or several countries–officially ban the trade of specified goods and services with another country.
- Sanctions : Countries impose sanctions on other countries to limit their trade activity. Sanctions can include increased administrative actions–or additional customs and trade procedures–that slow or limit a country’s ability to trade.
- Voluntary Export Restraints : Exporting countries sometimes use voluntary export restraints. Voluntary export restraints set limits on the number of goods and services a country can export to specified countries.
Subject :Government Scheme
Context: Project Vaani scales decibels as it maps language landscape of India.
About Project Vaani:
- Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc), ARTPARK (AI and Robotics Technology Park) and Google have come together for mapping the language diversity of India.
- Aim is to create data corpora of over 150,000 hours of speech, part of which will be transcribed in local scripts.
- The Project diligently collects and curates datasets of natural speech and text from about 1 million people across all 773 districts of India will be open-sourced.
- Open source is done through platforms like Bhashini (under the National Language Translation Mission, MeiTY).
- Funding is done by Google.
- Greater objective is to boost the development of technologies such as automatic speech recognition (ASR), speech to speech translation (SST), and natural language understanding (NLU) that reflect the ground realities of how Indians speak.
Context: Inland Waterways Authority of India is spreading the scope of the National Waterways (NW) as it plans to develop and operationalise NW 5 and a part of NW 64.
About National Waterways:
- National Waterways are an important mode of transport for both passengers and cargo. In India, the National Waterways include Inland waterways and sea routes for trade purposes.
- India has about 14,500 kilometers of navigable waterways, although they only contribute to around 1% of the country’s transportation.
- National Waterways Act aids in the management of the country’s waterways. Out of the 111 national waterways proclaimed by the National Waterways Act, 13 are active for shipping and navigation and are used by cargo or passenger vessels.
- The government of India established the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) in accordance with the National Waterways Act to regulate and develop the inland waterways used for navigation and shipping.
About Inland Waterways Authority of India:
- The body was created by the government of India in 1986 for regulating and developing inland waterways for shipping and navigation.
- The body chiefly undertakes development and maintenance projects of IWT infrastructure on national waterways.
Subject :Government Schemes
- Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States (MANAS), a toll-free 24/7 number which was launched on October 10 on World Mental Health Day by the Union government, has received over 20,000 calls to date, reported the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIITB).
- Tele Manas under the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) now has 24 States and Union Territories on board, and provides basic support and counselling along with emergency psychiatric facilities.
- While the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) was appointed as the nodal centre for the helpline, IIITB has been providing technical support for it.
About the news
- While stress, sleep disorders and anxiety have been the main issues for which help is being sought, the highest number of calls have been received from Tamil Nadu (3,631).
- The data also showed that people in the age group of 18-45 years called the helpline the most. Apart from the aforementioned issues, emergency cases were also dealt with by the e-counsellors through the helpline, IIITB said.
- Apart from Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Telangana were the top regions from where more people reached out to the helpline, according to the recorded data.
National Mental Health Programme
- National Mental Health Program (NMHP) aims to address the huge burden of mental disorders and shortage of qualified professionals in the field of mental health, the government has been implementing the National Mental Health Program (NMHP) since 1982.
- The Program was re-strategize in 2003 to include two schemes, viz. Modernization of State Mental Hospitals and Up-gradation of Psychiatric Wings of Medical Colleges/General Hospitals.
- District Mental Health Programme (DMHP), 1996 was also launched to provide community mental health services at the primary health care level.
- Tele-MANAS is a toll-free 24/7 number (14416) launched on October 10 2022 on World Mental Health Day by the Union government.
- It aims to provide free tele-mental health services all over the country round the clock, its focus is on catering to people in remote or under-served areas.
- It is based on Karnataka government’s e-Manas service, which was launched during the first wave of COVID-19.
- Tele-MANAS works under the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP).
Working of Tele-MANAS
- Tele-MANAS has been organised into a two-tier system;
- Tier 1 comprises of state Tele-MANAS cells which will include trained counsellors and mental health specialists.
- Tier 2 will include specialists at District Mental Health Programme (DMHP)/Medical College resources for physical consultation and/or e-Sanjeevani for audio visual consultation.
- Tele-MANAS will be linked to other services like National tele-consultation service, e-Sanjeevani, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, mental health professionals, Ayushman Bharat health and wellness centres and emergency psychiatric facilities for specialised care.
National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS)
- The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) is a multidisciplinary institute for patient care and academic pursuit in the field of mental health and neurosciences.
- Headquarter: National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences is a premier medical institution located in Bengaluru, India.
- NIMHANS is the apex centre for mental health and neuroscience education in the country.
- NIMHANS Institute operates autonomously under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- An Institute of National Importance: NIMHANS, Bangalore Act 2012 declares NIMHANS to be an Institute of National Importance and provides for its incorporation and matters connected therewith.
- Earlier, the Central Government recognized NIMHANS’s eminent academic position, growth and contributions, and declared it a ‘Deemed University in 1994.
- Janardana temple in kerala, the Haveli of Agah khan in Agra and Gonpa complex in Ladakh are among the sites which have been declared under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958
- The AMASR Act provides for preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
- It provides for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects.
- The Archaeological Survey of India functions under the provisions of this act.
- The Act prohibits construction in ‘prohibited area’, an area of 100 meters around protected monument.
- It does not permit construction in such prohibited areas even if it is for public purposes, except under certain conditions.
- The central government can extend the prohibited area beyond 100 meters.
- The iconic monuments in India, Taj Mahal, Ajanta Caves, The Great Stupa at Sanchi and the Sun Temple of Konark, among others are designated as “ancient monuments of national importance” and protected under the AMASR Act.
- The Archaeological Survey of India is the custodian of these monuments.
- National Monument Authority will make a recommendation, for construction of public works to the central government, only if it is satisfied that there is no reasonable possibility of moving the construction outside the prohibited area.
- According to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, any structure, sculpture, inscription, etc., which is in existence for not less than 100 years is termed ancient.
- Janardana Swami Temple is a 2000+ year-old temple situated in the municipality of Varkala city in Trivandrum. It is also known as Varkala Temple.
- Janardana Swami is a form of Lord Vishnu. It is a very well known temple in Kerala.
- It is situated near the Arabian sea shore.It is referred to as Dakshin Kashi (Benares of the south).
- The temple is located close to the Varkala Beach, which is considered to have medicinal properties since the waters wash the nearby medicinal plants. It is also an important Ayurveda treatment center.
Subject :Science and Technology
- Recently, it is been found that some Internet ¬based firms have been tricking users into agreeing to certain conditions or clicking a few links.
- Different Big Tech companies, like Apple, Amazon, Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Google, employ dark patterns to downgrade the user experience for their own benefit.
About Dark Patterns:
- It is a user interface that has been crafted to trick or manipulate users into making choices that are detrimental to their interests.
- The term ‘Dark Patterns’ was coined by user experience designer Harry Brignull in 2010.
- Dark patterns endanger the experience of internet users and make them more vulnerable to financial and data exploitation by BigTech firms.
- Dark patterns confuse users, introduce online obstacles, make simple tasks time-consuming, have users sign up for unwanted services or products and force them to pay more money or share more personal information than they intended.
- In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken note of dark patterns and the risks they pose. In a report released in September, 2022, the regulatory body listed over 30 dark patterns.
- The FTC report outlined its legal action against Amazon in 2014, for a supposedly free children’s app that fooled its young users into making in-app purchases that their parents had to pay later for.
Types of dark patterns
- In India, The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has recognised four dark patterns and these are the proposed areas of extension to the ASCI code on misleading ads.
- Drip pricing: It is a pattern when the total price is only revealed at the very end of the buying process.
- Bait and switch: It is a pattern that occurs when a user takes an action expecting one outcome, but instead is served an outcome they didn’t want.
- False urgency: It is a dark pattern that refers to misleading information on quantities of a particular product.
- Disguised advertising: It is a pattern when an advertisement mimics editorial content.
How do dark patterns affect user experience?
- Dark patterns jeopardise Internet users’ experiences and increase their susceptibility to data and financial exploitation by Big Tech companies.
- Dark patterns trick consumers, present online barriers, lengthen the completion of routine tasks, get them to sign up for undesirable services or products, and coerce them into paying more money or disclosing more personal information than they had originally meant.
- According to the FTC, dark patterns will likely follow augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) platforms and devices as they grow in usage.
Subject :Science and Technology
- Recombination is a process of producing new combinations of alleles by the recombination of DNA molecules.
- It is also referred to as genetic recombination, as there is an exchange of genetic material (DNA) between two different chromosomes or between different regions of the same chromosome.
- This process is observed in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes. It increases the genetic diversity of sexually reproducing organisms.
Types of Recombination
- Recombination can be of the following two types:
- Homologous Recombination: This type of recombination occurs between chromosomes of similar sequences and is carried out during meiosis.
- Non-homologous Recombination: This occurs between chromosomes that are not similar.
- Site-specific Recombination: This is observed between very short sequences that usually contain similarities.
- Mitotic Recombination: Mitotic recombination occurs during interphase. However, this type of recombination is usually harmful and can result in tumors. It increases when the cells are exposed to radiation.
- The prokaryotic cells undergo recombination through one of the three processes:
Recombinant Lineage XBB
- Only 30 sequences of SARS-CoV 2 are available on GISAID Website from china.
- These belong to 14 different lineages of SARS-CoV2, all of which are omicron sublineages including recombinant lineage XBB.
- Recombinant XBB Lineage resulted from recombinant between omicron sublineages BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75.
- Though there has been no observed association of the lineage with a sustained increase in new cases in India, it has become the dominant variant in many countries now including China.
- It has a growth advantage over other lineages even in highly vaccinated regions, thus making it important to monitor the spread and evolution of this lineage.
What is GISAID?
- It is a public platform started by the WHO in 2008 for countries to share genome sequences.
- Created as an alternative to the public domain sharing model, GISAID’s sharing mechanism took into account the concerns of Member States by providing a publicly accessible database designed by scientist for scientist, to improve the sharing of influenza data.
- In 2010 the Federal Republic of Germany became the official host of the GISAID platform.
- In 2013 the European Commission recognized GISAID as a research organization and partner in the PREDEMICS consortium, a project on the Preparedness, Prediction and the Prevention of Emerging Zoonotic Viruses with Pandemic Potential using multidisciplinary approaches.
- GISAID’s database access agreement ensures that contributors of genetic sequence data do not forfeit their intellectual property rights to the data.