01 & 02 Aug 2023 – Current Affairs
Daily Current Capsules
1 and 2 August 2023
Offshore Areas Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023
- Lok Sabha passed the Offshore Areas Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill
- The Bill amends the Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002.
- The new bill regulates mining in maritime zones of India.
- It allows the government to reserve offshore areas that are not held under any operating right.
- The Bill also allows the administering authority to grant a composite licence or production lease to the government or a government company.
- This amendment will ensure transparency in the auction process.
- The Bill will provide a production lease under a composite licence, which will be valid for 50 years.
- It proposes to remove the provision for renewal of production lease and provide a fixed period of fifty years for production lease similar to the provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957.
- It also seeks to provide for the grant of production lease to the private sector only through auction by competitive bidding.
- It also provides for grant of operating rights without competitive bidding to a government or a government company, or a corporation in the mineral-bearing areas reserved by the central government.
- In the case of atomic minerals, the grant of exploration licence or production lease shall be made only to a government or a government or corporation.
- It aims to introduce a four-year timeline for commencement of production and dispatch after the execution of composite licence or production lease under and timeline of two years (extendable by one year) for re-commencement of production and dispatch after discontinuation.
- It will enable the central government to frame rules for the conservation and systematic development of minerals in offshore areas and for the protection of the environment by preventing or controlling any pollution which may be caused by exploration or production operations.
Impact of Climate Change upon the Indian subcontinent
- Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) in 2020 has published ‘Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region’, which contains a comprehensive assessment of the impact of climate change upon the Indian subcontinent.
The highlights of the report follows:
- India’s average temperature has risen by around 0.7 deg. C during 1901-2018.
- Frequency of daily precipitation extremes (rainfall intensities >150 mm per day) increased by about 75% during 1950-2015.
- The frequency and spatial extent of droughts over India has increased significantly during 1951-2015.
- Sea-level rise in the North Indian Ocean occurred at a rate of 3.3 mm per year in the last two and half decades (1993-2017).
- Frequency of Severe Cyclonic Storms over Arabian sea has increased during the post monsoon seasons of 1998-2018.
- India Meteorological Department (IMD) routinely monitors Climate over Indian Region and bring out yearly publication viz. “Annual Climate summary”.
- IMD issues monthly climate summary. Annual climate summary includes information about the temperature, Rainfall and extreme weather events occurring during the concerned period.
- National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has developed an application ‘MASI’ – Monitoring App for Seamless Inspection for real time monitoring of the Child Care Institutions (CCIs) and their inspection mechanism across the country.
- The app is linked to the monitoring Portal where the automatic reports are generated.
- ‘MASI’ enables unified inspections by Child Welfare Committees (CWCs), State Inspection Committees, District Inspection Committees, Members of Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) and State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) as laid down under the JJ Act, 2015.
- It serves as a single platform for inspections of all the CCIs across the country by any of the above stated authorities.
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, makes it mandatory to establish at least one Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in each district as the authority to dispose of cases for the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of children in need of care & protection and to provide for their basic needs and protection of human rights.
- PEHCHAN scheme was launched in 2016 to provide new identity to handicraft artisans so that the benefits of various schemes are provided to the deserving artisans.
- Aadhar linked Pehchan Cards are issued after due verification by field functionaries of Office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles.
- Pehchan card holders can avail the benefits of all the handicrafts schemes implemented by Ministry of Textiles.
- Registered artisans with Pehchan card can avail the benefits of the National Handicraft Development Programme (NHDP) and Comprehensive Handicrafts Cluster Development Scheme (CHCDS) of Ministry of Textiles.
- Union Health Minister recently informed the Rajya Sabha that the Centre’s telemedicine application eSanjeevani has completed 14,17,81,384 teleconsultations.
Know! about eSanjeevani
- It is a cloud-based integrated telemedicine solution of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India.
- It is a telemedicine app that provides both doctor-to-doctor and doctor-to-patient telecommunication.
- It is being designed, developed, deployed, and maintained by The Centre for Development and Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Mohali.
Two modules of eSanjeevani
- Rolled out in 2019 it is doctor-to-doctor telemedicine platform, being implemented at all the Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) in the country under the Ayushman Bharat (AB) Scheme of Government of India.
- It operates on a Hub-and-Spoke model wherein the ‘Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centers’ (HWCs) are set up at the state level, which is connected with the hub (comprising MBBS/ Specialty/Super-Specialty doctors) at the zonal level.
- It is the Patient-to-Doctor remote consultation services rolled out in 2020 amid the first lockdown imposed to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, while the Outpatient Departments (OPDs) in the country were closed.
- It enables people to get outpatient services in the confines of their homes.
- Armies of India and the United States will begin another edition of their joint military exercise ‘Yudh Abhyas’ at Fort Wainwright in Alaska.
Know! about Yudh Abhyas
- Incepted in 2004, it is a joint military exercise conducted annually between the armies of India and USA.
- It is designed to promote cooperation between the two militaries while sharing training, cultural exchanges, and building joint operating skills.
Yudh Abhyas 2023 Highlights
- This marks the 19th edition of the joint exercise, which is hosted alternately between both countries.
- The training schedule focuses on the employment of an integrated battle group under Chapter VII of the UN Mandate.
- The schedule will include all operations related to peacekeeping and peace enforcement.
- The joint exercise will also focus on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.
- Troops from both nations will practice launching swift and coordinated relief
Exercises between India and USA
- Army: Yudh Abhyas and Vajra Prahar
- Navy: MALABAR (Multilateral)
- Air Force: Cope India, Red Flag (Multilateral)
PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) Scheme
- The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry recently set a new target for its PM SVANidhi scheme for street vendors
Know! about PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) Scheme
- It was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on June 01, 2020.
- It is implemented by Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI)
- PM SVANidhi Scheme provides affordable Working Capital loans to street vendors to resume their livelihoods that have been adversely affected due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
- It is a micro-credit facility that provides street vendors with a collateral-free loan of Rs 10,000 with low rates of interest (below 12%) for a period of one year, aiding the vendors in getting back on their feet financially.
- The duration of the scheme initially was until March 2022. It has been extended till December 2024, with a focus on enhanced collateral-free affordable loan corpus, increased adoption of digital transactions and holistic socio-economic development of the Street Vendors and their families.
- All vendors who have been vending from or before (March 24, 2020) and with a certificate of vending can avail the loan.
- As per the Street Vendors Act 2014, the Town Vending Committees(which comprises the local authorities and vendors from an area) issue a certificate of vending after a survey has been conducted of all the vendors
- Vendors can avail of a working capital loan of up to Rs. 10,000, which is repayable in monthly instalments in the tenure of one year.
- On timely/ early repayment of the loan, an interest subsidy @ 7% per annum will be credited to the bank accounts of beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer on a quarterly basis. There will be no penalty on early repayment of loan.
Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)
- The Aviation security body Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) recently informed all the airports across the country to not promote any kind of advertisement or commercial at security checks.
Know! about Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)
- The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is an attached office of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (India).
- It is the regulatory authority for civil aviation security in India.
- It is headed by an officer of the rank of Director general of Police and is designated as Director General of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.
- The BCAS was initially set up as a Cell in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation(DGCA) in January 1978 on the recommendation of the Pande Committee constituted in the wake of the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight on 10 September 1976.
- The role of the Cell was to coordinate, inspect, monitor and train personnel in Civil Aviation Security matters.
- The BCAS was reorganized into an independent department in April , 1987 under the Ministry of Civil Aviation as a sequel to the Kanishka Tragedy in June 1985.
- The main responsibility of BCAS is to lay down standards and measures in respect of security of civil flights at International and domestic airports in India.
- Objective – Laying down Aviation Security Standards in accordance with Annex 17 to the Chicago Convention of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for airport operators, airline operators, and their security agencies responsible for implementing AVSEC measures.
- The Chicago Convention (also known as the Convention on International Civil Aviation), established the International Civil Aviation Organisation(ICAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations charged with coordinating and regulating international air travel.
- The Convention was signed by 52 states on 7th December 1944 in Chicago, U.S., and came into effect on 4 April 1947.
- It establishes rules of airspace, aircraft registration and safety and details the rights of the signatories in relation to air travel.
- The Convention also exempts air fuels from tax.
- The Convention provided for the sovereignty of airspace above the territory of each state, together with five freedoms (later expanded to nine by the addition of four unofficial freedoms) which govern the freedom of states to operate air transport flights (including the carriage of passengers, cargo and mail) across, into and within the airspace of other states.
- The conservationists to script India’s first captive breeding success story of the Himalayan vultures inside the Assam State Zoo in Guwahati.
- It is the second instance (First was in France) in the world and first in India where this species has been kept for breeding.
- The captive breeding was a joint project undertaken by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and the Assam forest department
Know! about Himalayan vulture
- The Himalayan vulture (Gyps himalayensis ) or Himalayan griffon vulture is an Old World vulture.
- It is one of the two largest Old World vultures and true raptors.
- It is a typical vulture which has a bald white head, wings that are very wide and short tail feathers.
- It is native to the Himalayas and the adjoining Tibetan Plateau and also found in the Central Asian mountains.
- Conservation status – IUCN: Near Threatened
Other Vulture species found in India
- India is home to 9 species of Vulture namely the Oriental white-backed, Long-billed, Slender-billed, Himalayan, Red-headed, Egyptian, Bearded, Cinereous and Eurasian Griffon.
Infrastructure investment trust (InvIT)
- The Central government is working on a proposal to launch a fresh InvIT for national highways where domestic retail investors can hold units of the trust.
Know! about Infrastructure investment trust (InvIT)
- It is Collective Investment Scheme similar to a mutual fund, which enables direct investment of money from individual and institutional investors in infrastructure projects
- These are like mutual funds in structure which can be established as a trust and registered with Sebi.
- An InvIT has 4 parties namely; Trustee, Sponsor(s) and Investment Manager and Project Manager.
- While the trustee (certified by Sebi) has the responsibility of inspecting the performance of an InvIT, sponsor(s) are promoters of the company that set up the InvIT.
Know! about NHAI InvIT
- It is the infrastructure investment trust sponsored by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to support the government’s National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP).
- It is a Trust established by NHAI under the Indian Trusts Act, 1882 and SEBI (Security and Exchange Board of India) regulations.
Know! about National Highways Authority of India
- It was constituted by an Act of Parliament in 1988 under the administrative control of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
- It has been set up as a Central Authority to develop, maintain and manage the National Highways entrusted to it by the Government of India.
- The Authority consists of a full-time Chairman and not more than five full-time Members and four part-time Members who are appointed by the Central Government.
Gender Inclusion Fund (GIF)
- The Minister of State for Education informed the Lok Sabha about the Gender Inclusion Fund (GIF), mentioned in the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020.
Know! about Gender Inclusion Fund (GIF)
- The fund will be utilised to ensure that all kids receive a high-quality education.
- It will also be used to guarantee that amenities such as secure and sanitary vending machines are included on GIF’s infrastructure checklist.
- The NEP focuses on ‘Equitable and Inclusive Education’ which reverberates the idea that no child should be left behind in terms of educational opportunity because of their background and socio-cultural identities.
- It has taken into account the concerns of the Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs) which includes female and transgender individuals.
- NEP prescribes to approach gender as a cross-cutting priority to achieve gender equality in education with the partnership of states and local community organizations.
- The objectives of NEP for equitable and quality education for girl children are being met through specific provisions under Samagra Shiksha 2.0 by allocating dedicated resources for Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs).
Under Samagra Shiksha, various interventions have been targeted for providing quality education to girls, which include:
- Opening of schools in the neighbourhood to make access easier for girls,
- Free uniform and text-books to girls up to class VIII,
- Additional teachers and residential quarters for teachers in remote/hilly areas,
- Appointment of additional teachers including women teachers,
- Stipend to CWSN girls from class I to class XII, separate toilets for girls,
- Teachers’ sensitization programmes to promote girls participation,
- Gender-sensitive teaching-learning materials including text books etc.
- To reduce gender gaps at all levels of school education, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs), which are residential schools from class VI to XII for girls belonging to disadvantaged groups such as SC, ST, OBC, Minority and Below Poverty Line (BPL), are sanctioned in Educationally Backward Blocks.
Metaverse users to surpass over 600 million by 2026 due to generative AI
- A new report has shown that Metaverse users will surpass 600 million by 2026 due to generative artificial intelligence (AI).
Know! about Metaverse
- It refers to a virtual or digital universe where people can interact with each other and digital objects in a shared online space.
- Origin of the term: The term “metaverse” first appeared in author Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science-fiction novel Snowcrash, which describes a future where millions of people use virtual avatars to participate in a cyberspace realm.
- The metaverse is essentially an interconnected network of virtual worlds, augmented reality, and virtual reality environments accessible through the internet.
- In this digital realm, users can create avatars, socialize with others, engage in various activities, explore virtual landscapes, and even conduct business or trade virtual goods and services.
- Elements of the metaverse include virtual reality (VR) platforms, augmented reality (AR) experiences, online games, social media, virtual commerce, and virtual art galleries, among others.
- The metaverse aims to offer a seamless and immersive experience, blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds.
- Companies such as Meta (formerly Facebook), Microsoft, and Roblox are all investing heavily in the metaverse, and it is seen as a potential major driver of growth in the technology industry in the coming years.
Know! about Augmented Reality (AR)
- It is an enhanced version of the real physical world that is achieved through the use of digital visual elements, sound, or other sensory stimuli and delivered via technology.
- It overlays digital content onto real-life environments and objects.
- AR works by superimposing digital information onto real-world objects to create a 3D experience that allows users to interact with both the physical and digital worlds.
- Unlike Virtual Reality (VR), which creates its own cyber environment, AR adds to the existing world as it is.
Know! about Virtual Reality (VR)
- It is a simulated 3D environment that enables users to explore and interact with virtual surroundings in a way that approximates reality as it is perceived through the users’ senses.
- The environment is created with computer hardware and software, and the users need to wear devices such as helmets or goggles (Virtual Reality headsets or helmets) to interact with the environment.
Lokmanya Tilak National Award
- Prime Minister honoured with the Lokmanya Tilak National Award on his visit to Pune.
Know! about Lokmanya Tilak National Award
- The award was instituted in 1983 by the Tilak Smarak Mandir Trust.
- This award is given every year on 1st August, the death anniversary of Lokmanya Tilak, to persons who have made remarkable and extraordinary contributions, working for the progress and development of the nation.
Know! about Lokmanya Tilak
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak, commonly known as Lokmanya Tilak, was a prominent Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, social reformer, and political leader during the Indian independence movement.
- He was one of the prime architects of modern India and probably the strongest advocate of Swaraj or Self Rule for India.
- He is known for his slogan, “Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it.”
- He was born as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak and his followers bequeathed upon him the title of ‘Lokmanya’, meaning he who is revered by the people.
- He was considered a radical Nationalist.
- The British Government termed him the “Father of Indian Unrest”.
- He joined the Indian National Congress Party in the year 1890.
- He also helped found the All India Home Rule League in 1916–18 with G. S. Khaparde and Annie Besant.
- Tilak started his Home Rule League in Maharashtra, Central Provinces, and Karnataka and Berar region. Besant’s League was active in the rest part of India. It aimed to advocate for self-rule and raise public awareness about India’s right to govern itself.
- Tilak was a prolific writer and journalist. He used his newspaper, “Kesari” (meaning Lion) in Marathi and later “Maratha” in English to disseminate nationalist ideas.
- Some of his notable literary works include “The Arctic Home in the Vedas,” where he presented his theory that the Vedas originated in the Arctic region, and “Shrimad Bhagavad Gita Rahasya,” an interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita from a nationalist perspective.
- Tilak established the Deccan Education Society in Pune in 1884.
- Tilak actively supported the eradication of social evils like untouchability and child marriage and promoted education for women.
- He had popular leaders such as Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai as his political companions, and the three were popularly known as the ‘Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate.’
- He was arrested for sedition on multiple occasions. His most prolonged incarceration lasted from 1908 to 1914, during which he wrote the famous book “Gita Rahasya” (The Secret of the Bhagavad Gita).
- In 1916 he concluded the Lucknow Pact with Mohammed Ali Jinnah, which provided for Hindu-Muslim unity in the nationalist struggle.
Railway Protection Force
- Recently, A constable of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) allegedly shot and killed four people on board the Mumbai-bound Superfast Express train.
Know! about Railway Protection Force
- The history of the RPF dates back to 1882 when various Railway companies appointed their own guards for protection of Railway property.
- It was declared as statutory force in the year 1957 by an enactment of Parliament and subsequently declared as an armed force of the Union of India in the year 1985.
- In 2003, the RPF partially took up the duties of escorting of passenger trains and access control at the railway stations”.
- It is led by a director-general.
- It is an armed force under the operational and administrative control of the Union Ministry of Railways.
- It is tasked with protecting and securing railway property, the passenger areas, and the passengers themselves.
Know! about Government Railway Police (GRP)
- The GRP is a part of the district police force, reporting to the state government.
- It works alongside the RPF, and should, under ideal circumstances, complement and strengthens its operations.
- They responsible generally for the prevention and detection of crime on railways.
- Recently, the Prime Minister of India, in 103rd edition of ‘Mann ki Baat programme highlighted the business of ‘bhojpatra calligraphy’ by the women of Mana village near Badrinath.
Know! about Bhojpatra Tree
- It is also known as Himalayan Birch and it is widely found in the Himalayas.
- It is a deciduous tree native to the Western Himalayas that grows at elevations of up to 4,500 metres
- It has a high freezing tolerance potential, allowing it to form a treeline in the Himalayan region.
- It is a long-lived species which can survive up to 400 years and the only angiosperm in the Himalaya which dominates an extensive area at sub – alpine altitudes.
- Distribution: It is widely distributed in the altitudinal range from 3100 – 3800 min North-western Himalaya.
- It contributes to the preservation of the Himalayan ecosystem by reducing soil erosion and creating a bio-shield for the remaining forests and sub-alpine meadows below the treeline.
- The bark of this tree was used for centuries in our Country for writing lengthy scriptures and texts in Sanskrit and other scripts, particularly in historical Uttarkhand and Kashmir.
- Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) of Papua New Guinea signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for sharing India Stack.
Know! about India Stack
- It is a set of Application Programming Interface (APIs) that allows governments, businesses, startups and developers to utilise a unique digital Infrastructure.
- India Stack consists of three layers of open APIs: identity, payments, and data.
- Although the name of this project bears the word India, the vision of India Stack is not limited to one country.
- It can be applied to any nation, be it a developed one or an emerging one.
The four distinct technology layers provided are
- Presenceless layer: Where a universal biometric digital identity allows people to participate in any service from anywhere in the country.
- Paperless layer: Where digital records move with an individual’s digital identity, eliminating the need for massive amount of paper collection and storage.
- Cashless layer: Where a single interface to all the country’s bank accounts and wallets to democratize payments.
- Consent layer: Which allows data to move freely and securely to democratize the market for data
- Some of the APIs that are a central part of India Stack: Aadhaar Proof, Aadhaar e-KYC, e-Sign, Digital Locker, Unified Payment Interface
- The Open API team at iSPIRT has been a pro-bono partner in the development, evolution, and evangelisation of these APIs and systems.
Know! about API
- In the context of APIs, the word Application refers to any software with a distinct function.
- Interface can be thought of as a contract of service between two applications.
- This contract defines how the two communicate with each other using requests and responses.
- Their API documentation contains information on how developers are to structure those requests and responses.
- There has been a gradual increase in the population of Western Tragopan at Himachal Pradesh’s Sarahan pheasantry, the conservation breeding centre, bringing a glimmer of hope for its survival and growth.
Know! about Western Tragopan
- It is also known as the western horned tragopan, is amongst the rarest of all living pheasants.
- Due to its beautiful plumage and large size, this bird is locally known as ‘jujurana’or ‘king of birds’.
- It is the state bird of Himachal Pradesh.
- Distribution: It is endemic to the northwest Himalaya, within a narrow range from Hazara in north Pakistan through Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, to the western part of Garhwal.
- The upper part of Great Himalayan National Park’s (GHNP) forest zone holds the world’s largest known population of western tragopan.
- It prefers a habitat of ringal (dwarf) bamboo beneath dense forest.
- Diet: It feeds mostly on leaves, shoots and seeds, but also consumes insects and other invertebrates.
- Threats: Habitat loss, hunting pressure and anthropogenic disturbances which includes livestock grazing, minor forest produce collection like medicinal herbs etc.
- Conservation status – IUCN: Vulnerable
- Recently, the Computer Emergency Response Team of India issued an alert for ransomware dubbed Akira.
Know! about Akira Ransomware
- It is designed to encrypt data, create a ransomware note and delete Windows Shadow Volume copies on affected devices.
- The ransomware gets its name due to its ability to modify filenames of all encrypted files by appending them with the “.akira” extension.
- The ransomware is designed to close processes or shut down Windows services that may keep it from encrypting files on the affected system.
- It uses VPN services, especially when users have not enabled two-factor authentication, to trick users into downloading malicious files.
- The ransomware also terminates active Windows services using the Windows Restart Manager API, preventing any interference with the encryption process.
- It is designed to not encrypt Program Data, Recycle Bin, Boot, System Volume information, and other folders instrumental in system stability.
- It also avoids modifying Windows system files with extensions like .syn. .msl and .exe.
- Once sensitive data is stolen and encrypted, the ransomware leaves behind a note named akira_readme.txt which includes information about the attack and the link to Akira’s leak and negotiation site.
- Each victim is given a unique negotiation password to be entered into the threat actor’s Tor site.
- Unlike other ransomware operations, this negotiation site just includes a chat system that the victim can use to communicate with the ransomware gang.
How does ransomware infect devices?
- Ransomware is typically spread through spear phishing emails that contain malicious attachments in the form of archived content (zip/rar) files.
- Other methods used to infect devices include drive-by-download, a cyber-attack that unintentionally downloads malicious code onto a device, and specially crafted web links in emails, clicking on which downloads malicious code.
- The ransomware reportedly also spreads through insecure Remote Desktop connections.
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