In today’s daily current affairs briefing for UPSC aspirants, we explore the latest developments that hold relevance for the upcoming civil services examination. Our focus today includes a critical analysis of recent policy changes, international affairs, and national developments, all of which play a pivotal role in shaping the socio-political and economic landscape of India. Stay informed and stay ahead in your UPSC preparations with our daily current affairs updates, as we provide you with concise, well-researched insights to help you connect the dots between contemporary events and the broader canvas of the civil services syllabus.
Flood Plain Zoning
Tag: GS-1 Important Geophysical phenomena, Geography
Punjab has been reeling under floods for well over a month and people settled in the villages lying in the sensitive flood plains are worst affected. The concrete encroachments in these areas have further exacerbated the devastation caused by flooding.
About Flood Plain Zoning:
- Floodplain zoning is a non-structural measure to mitigate flood disasters by preventing development in the floodplains. Encroachment and unauthorised development in floodplains reduces the carrying capacity of rivers and exacerbates the effects of floods.
- It is a land use planning strategy that designates specific areas along rivers and water bodies for various uses based on their susceptibility to flooding.
- A river expands and contracts naturally over seasons and in different years. A flood plain is an area adjacent to the river which normally gets flooded when the river swells.
- Zoning involves demarcating areas around rivers likely to be affected by floods of different magnitudes and frequencies, in order to specify the types of permissible developments there.
- As per guidelines of the NDMA, defence installations, industries, and public utilities like hospitals, electricity installations, water supply, telephone exchanges, railway stations, etc. should be located above the levels corresponding to the maximum observed flood levels.
Need for Flood Plain Zoning:
- Defence against flooding: Well-maintained flood plains, free from wanton construction and concrete, are natural defences against flooding farther inland.
- Groundwater recharge: They are also useful for recharging groundwater levels and maintaining the water table.
- Better land use planning: Identification of flood plains based on topography helps in better land use planning.
- Prevention of loss of life and property: Floods cause massive loss of life and property along with large scale migration. Adoption of flood plain zoning would resolve such crises.
Status of Flood plain zoning:
- Punjab is yet to carry out flood plain zoning, despite NGT’s directions for the same.
- Despite the Centre’s directions, so far only four states namely Manipur, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand have adopted the act on paper. On ground implementation still remains unsatisfactory.
- Environmental activists and NGOs have been demanding flood plain zoning, but no progress is seen.
- India’s high risk and vulnerability is highlighted by the fact that 40 million hectares out of a geographical area of 3290 lakh hectares is prone to floods.
Impacts of lack of zoning and haphazard development:
- Encroachment and mismanagement of flood plains lead to non-suitable construction activity and concretization of flood plains.
- Unsuitable constructions result in pushing floods further inland, increasing the area harmed and damage caused during floods.
- Concretisation also leads to floods taking longer to subside as the water simply does not drain.
- Such kind of flooding is not good for flood plains themselves, affecting the fertility and quality of the soil as well.
Source: Indian Express
9 years of PM Jhan Dhan Yojana
Tags: GS – 2: Governance (Government Policies and Intervention)
Why in News:
The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) – the National Mission for Financial Inclusion – has completed nine years of successful implementation.
Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJAY):
- It is a National Mission for Financial Inclusion. Financial Inclusion can be defined as the process or provision which ensures access to financial services and credit for vulnerable groups at an affordable cost.
- It was launched in 2014 to ensure universal access to financial services namely, Banking/ Savings & Deposit Accounts, Remittance, Credit, Insurance, Pension in an affordable manner through the use of technology.
- The scheme was launched based upon the following 6 pillars:
- Universal access to banking services
- Basic savings bank accounts with overdraft (OD) facility of Rs. 10,000/- to every household
- Financial Literacy Program– Promoting savings, use of ATMs, getting ready for credit, availing insurance and pensions, using basic mobile phones for banking.
- Creation of Credit Guarantee Fund – To provide banks some guarantee against defaults.
- Insurance – Accident cover up to Rs. 1,00,000 and life cover of Rs. 30,000 on account opened between 15 Aug 2014 to 31 January 2015
- Pension scheme for Unorganized sector.
Impacts of PMJAY:
- PMJDY has been the foundation stone for people-centric economic initiatives. Whether it is direct benefit transfers, COVID-19 assistance, PM-KISAN, wages under MGNREGA, the first step of all these initiatives is to provide every adult with a bank account, which PMJDY has nearly completed.
- One in 2 accounts opened between March 2014 to March 2020 was a PMJDY account.
- Within 10 days of nationwide lockdown more than about 20 crore women PMJDY accounts were credited with financial assistance of Rs 500 per month for three months through DBT in each women PMJDY account.
Achievements of PMJAY:
- Number of total PMJDY Accounts: 50.09 crore, of which 55.6% account holders are women and 66.7% accounts are in rural and semi-urban areas.
- Deposits: Deposits have increased about 13 times which is over Rs 2 lakh crore. Average deposit per account has increased over 3.8 times. Increase in average deposit is another indication of increased usage of accounts and inculcation of saving habits among account holders.
- DBT transactions: About 6.26 crore PMJDY account holders receive direct benefit transfer (DBT) from the Government under various schemes. Digital transactions in India have experienced remarkable growth due to various initiatives:
- The issuance of over 33.98 crore RuPay debit cards through the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY).
- The installation of 79.61 lakh Point of Sale (PoS) and mobile Point of Sale (mPoS) machines.
- The introduction of mobile-based payment systems like UPI (Unified Payments Interface).
- Jan Dhan Darshak App (JDD App): JDD App is a mobile application which provides a citizen centric platform for locating banking touch points such as bank branches, ATMs, Banking Correspondents (BCs), Indian Post Payment Banks etc in the country.
Source: Hindustan Times
Somatic Genetic Variants
Tags: GS – 3: Science and Technology (Bio-Technology)
Why in News:
Scientists have known of somatic variants for many years, but recently advances in genome sequencing unveil the impact of somatic genetic variants on human health, from cancer development to immune disorders, driving innovation in disease detection and treatment strategies.
Somatic Genetic Variants or Somatic Mutation:
- It refers to alterations in the DNA sequence that occur specifically within the cells of an individual’s body (somatic cells), excluding the germline cells (sperm and egg cells).
- Somatic genetic mutations occur after birth during development and are not inherited from parents.
- Somatic mutations can occur for various reasons, such as errors during DNA replication, exposure to environmental factors (like radiation or chemicals).
Impacts of Somatic Mutation on Human Health:
- Cancer Development: Somatic genetic variants can drive the uncontrolled cell growth and division characteristic of cancer, leading to tumour formation.
- Neurological Disorders: Accumulated somatic mutations in brain cells can contribute to neurological conditions, affecting cognitive and motor functions.
- Aging and Tissue Function: Gradual accumulation of somatic mutations with age can impair tissue function and contribute to age-related diseases.
- Immune System Dysfunction: Somatic variants can disrupt immune cell development and function, leading to autoimmune disorders and immunodeficiencies.
Potential Utilization of Somatic Genetic Variants:
- Early Detection of Diseases: Somatic variants can serve as diagnostic and prognostic markers for diseases in a very early stage.
- Personalized Treatment Plans: Knowledge of an individual’s somatic mutations allows personalized treatment plans.
- Healthier Aging: Studying somatic mutations associated with aging can shed light on the aging process and age-related diseases, potentially leading to interventions for healthier aging.
Source: The Hindu
National Carbon Registry
Tags: GS-II: International Relations
UNDP deliberates on a transformative tool National Carbon Registry for climate action
About National Carbon Registry
- The National Carbon Registry is an innovative digital platform developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to enhance global climate action efforts.
- It is the result of ongoing collaboration within the Digital4Climate (D4C) Working Group, comprising UNDP, the World Bank, UNFCCC, EBRD, and others.
- It has been accredited as a Digital Public Good (DPG) as an open-source software is designed to facilitate the management of carbon credits and revolutionizing the carbon credit ecosystem.
- Key Features:
- The National Carbon Registry utilizes open-source code, allowing countries to customize it to meet their specific needs and contexts.
- Its modular structure and technical documentation enable easy adaptation, potentially reducing production costs and implementation timelines for nations.
- It is aligned with the Global Goals for sustainable development, the registry promotes integration and collaboration across different sectors and stakeholders.
- The registry adheres to national and international best practices, incorporating inputs from various countries.
- It is designed as an interoperable digital system, it seamlessly integrates with national measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) systems.
- It also interfaces with international digital systems like UNDP’s cooperation platform and the World Bank’s Climate Action Data Trust (CAD Trust), expanding its capabilities.
- Digital market infrastructure is significant to amplify high-integrity and transparent carbon markets recognised by World Bank’s Climate Warehouse program.
- By offering an open-source carbon registry platform, it enables countries to elevate their climate action and ambition levels.
- National Carbon Registry can address broader issues related to nature, climate, and energy especially for countries striving to meet their climate targets and contribute to a sustainable future.
- To achieve effective climate action, developing countries require over US$6 trillion by 2030 to fund their climate goals outlined in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
- Carbon finance is instrumental in NDC implementation, and the Paris Agreement’s Article 6 provisions enable the use of market mechanisms.
- Overall, the National Carbon Registry can help fill critical gaps in climate financing and will help in accelerating global climate action and supporting the transition to a low-carbon world.
Hollongapar Gibbon sanctuary
Tags: GS-III: Conservation
Primatologists raises concerns against a proposed railway track trough western hoolock gibbon’s sanctuary
About Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary
- The Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary located in the eastern Indian state of Assam and stands as a vital refuge for the western hoolock gibbon or Hoolock hoolock.
- The sanctuary spans approximately 21 square kilometers and plays a pivotal role in the conservation of this endangered primate.
- The western hoolock gibbon is the only ape species found in India, making it a species of utmost significance for conservation efforts.
- It is categorized as “endangered” due to habitat loss and fragmentation, making sanctuaries like Hollongapar crucial for its survival.
- The Gibbon Sanctuary has a unique ecosystem characterized by its lush greenery and diverse flora providing a haven for a variety of wildlife with hoolock gibbons being the flagship species.
- Like many other gibbon species worldwide, the western hoolock gibbons face the threat of habitat loss, primarily due to deforestation and human encroachment.
- In recent years, the sanctuary has been affected by habitat fragmentation, leading to isolated populations of gibbons.
- In this regard, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has proposed artificial canopy bridges to facilitate the movement of hoolock gibbons across a railway track that divides their habitat.
- Beyond gibbons, the Hollongapar Sanctuary is also a biodiversity hotspot being home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including various bird species, reptiles, and plant species.
- Overall, preservation of gibbon sanctuary through steps such as canopy bridge and railway track rerouting are vital to secure the sanctuary’s future and the survival of this endangered primate species.
Source: The Hindu
Fire Prevention Zone
Tags: GS – 3 Environment
Why in news?
A well-constructed fire prevention zone created by a local Indigenous logging company played an important role in protecting a community from a wildfire in Canada.
- Fire prevention zones are designated areas meticulously managed to mitigate the risk of wildfire spread and associated damage.
- These zones are typically created in or around communities, especially those located in wildfire-prone areas.
- The primary goal of Fire Prevention Zones is to create a buffer or barrier that hinders the advance of wildfires, protecting lives, property, and natural ecosystems.
- Indigenous logging company in Canada named Ntityix Development, created a fire prevention zone using traditional Indigenous forestry practices.
- These practices encompassed activities such as forest thinning, clearing debris from the ground, and controlled burning of debris and ground cover. This approach aimed to curtail the availability of fuel for wildfires.
Source: Indian Express
India’s First Solar Roof Cycling Track
Tags: GS – 2 Government Policies & Interventions
Why in news?
Recently, Hyderabad is embracing a sustainable shift towards cycling, with the introduction of an innovative solar roof cycling track (23 KM long) near the city’s Outer Ring Road (ORR).
- Cycling in a big city can be a real challenge with the pollution, uncontrollable traffic and the risk of being knocked down by passing cars.
- Now, Hyderabad is leading the way with a first-of-its-kind sustainable solar roof cycling track near the Outer Ring Road.
- The track encompasses three lanes and consists of two segments.
- Distinguished by its 16MW solar panels fixed on the roof, this project sets an impressive sustainability precedent.
Source: The Hindu
Tags: GS – 2 Government Policies & Interventions
Why in news?
Recently, SVAMITVA Scheme of Ministry of Panchayati Raj has been conferred with the prestigious National Award for e-Governance 2023 (Gold) for its innovative use of emerging technologies to provide citizen-centric services.
- The award was presented at the 26th National Conference on e-Governance (NCeG), organized by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Government of India in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
- SVAMITVA stands for Survey of Villages Abadi and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas.
- The scheme employs advanced technologies such as drones and GIS (Geographic Information System) to conduct surveys and mapping of inhabited areas in villages.
- This allows property owners in rural regions to receive official ownership documents, known as Property Cards.
- The Scheme is implemented with the collaborative efforts of Survey of India being the technology implementation partner, State Revenue and Panchayati Raj Departments, and NIC–GIS.
- These cards have multiple benefits, including enabling property owners to access bank loans and other financial opportunities using their rural residential assets as collateral.
- The technology aids in resolving land-related disputes through the creation of highly accurate maps with 5cm precision.
Source: PIB Gov.
National Space Day
Tags: GS – 3 Science and Tech
Why in news?
Recently, The Prime Minister visited the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru and addressed the ISRO team about the success of Chandrayaan-3.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi commended ISRO scientists for inspiring a generation and creating a lasting impression on children’s brains.
- He announced that August 23rd will be observed as ‘National Space Day’ to celebrate science, technology, and innovation.
- The Prime Minister celebrated the achievement of Chandrayaan-3 as a significant scientific milestone that demonstrates India’s prowess in space exploration.
- He also announced that the point of Chandrayaan-3’s landing would be known as ‘Shiv Shakti.’
- According to experts, India’s space sector would grow to $16 billion in a few years from $8 billion, said PM Modi.
- He acknowledged the contribution of women scientists and referred to the Chandrayaan-2 landing site as ‘Tiranga,’ highlighting its significance in inspiring efforts and overcoming failures.
- He emphasized the role of space technology in governance, linking it to initiatives like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, education, healthcare, and disaster management.
- He encouraged ISRO to organize hackathons on ‘Space Technology in Governance’ to make governance more effective.
Source: PIB Gov.
6th Census Report on Minor Irrigation (MI) Schemes
Tags: GS – 1 Geography
Why in news?
Recently, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation released the report on the 6th census on minor irrigation schemes.
Key Highlights of the Report:
- The census reveals that there are a total of 23.14 million minor irrigation schemes in India, with 94.8% (21.93 million) being Ground Water (GW) schemes and 5.2% (1.21 million) being Surface Water (SW) schemes.
- Uttar Pradesh holds the highest number of Minor Irrigation (MI) Schemes, followed by Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.
- The report indicates a growth of 1.42 million MI schemes compared to the previous census, with a 6.9% increase in GW schemes and a 1.2% increase in SW schemes.
- The ownership of MI schemes is primarily private (96.6%), with a notable finding that 18.1% of individually owned schemes are owned by women.
More About the News:
- Leading States in GW schemes are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
- GW schemes comprise dugwells, shallow tube wells, medium tube wells and deep tube wells.
- In SW schemes Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Odisha and Jharkhand have the highest share.
- The SW schemes comprise surface flow and surface lift schemes.
- So far, five censuses were conducted in 1986-87, 1993-94, 2000-01, 2006-07, and 2013-14.
Source: PIB Gov.
IUCN’s Tiger Programme
Tags: GS – 3 Environment, Conservation
Why in news?
In a significant step towards preserving the world’s big cats and their habitats, the Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP) has launched a Call for Concept Notes for Phase IV of the Tiger Programme.
- This phase will expand eligibility to include species beyond tigers.
- Leopards and both mainland and Sunda clouded leopards are now eligible for funding.
- Countries eligible under this call for concept notes include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand, focusing on specific conservation areas.
- The Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP), launched in 2014, is a strategic funding mechanism supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
- The ITHCP’s success in increasing tiger populations by 40% since 2015 highlights the effectiveness of such initiatives.
- This phase signifies a vital step towards safeguarding diverse species, their habitats, and surrounding communities.
- Project grant size can vary from a minimum of € 500,000 to a maximum of € 2 million, and sites currently being funded under ongoing ITHCP projects are not eligible for funding under this call.
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