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.
Efforts to reform the statistical system in India
Tag: GS-3 Economy
Recently, Central Government forms a new panel to review all National Statistical Office data.
The Indian government has taken a significant step to address concerns surrounding the accuracy and reliability of official data by forming a new panel. This move comes in response to growing skepticism and criticism from various sectors regarding the credibility of government-issued statistics.
Purpose of the Panel: The primary objective of the newly constituted panel is to review all official data released by the government and its affiliated agencies.
Addressing Data Quality Issues: The panel will undertake a comprehensive examination of data sources, methodologies, and processes employed in generating official statistics. It will also focus on assessing the consistency and coherence of data across various reports and publications.
Increasing Transparency and Trust: Government aims to enhance transparency and build trust among the public, businesses, and other stakeholders regarding the credibility of official data. The panel’s findings and subsequent actions will be made accessible to the public, fostering greater accountability and confidence in government statistics.
- The National Statistical Office (NSO) is a government agency responsible for collecting, compiling, analyzing, and disseminating statistical information about a country’s population, economy, society, and other relevant aspects.
- The primary mandate of the NSO is to provide accurate, reliable, and timely statistical data that can be used by policymakers, researchers, businesses, and the general public to make informed decisions and understand the overall state of the nation.
The key functions and mandates of the National Statistical Office typically include:
- Data Collection: The NSO collects data through various methods, including surveys, censuses, administrative records, and other data sources. These data collection exercises cover a wide range of topics, such as population demographics, economic indicators, labor force statistics, agriculture, health, education, and more.
- Data Compilation and Analysis: Once the data is collected, the NSO compiles and organizes it into meaningful datasets. The agency then performs rigorous statistical analysis to derive insights, identify trends, and understand the relationships between different variables.
- Publication and Dissemination: The NSO is responsible for publishing statistical reports, databases, and other data products to make the information accessible to the public and various stakeholders. These publications are often made available through the NSO’s website, public libraries, and other dissemination channels.
- National Accounts and Economic Indicators: The NSO calculates and maintains national accounts, which provide a comprehensive picture of a country’s economic performance, including Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Gross National Income (GNI), and other macroeconomic indicators.
- Social Indicators: Besides economic data, the NSO also focuses on social indicators that shed light on various aspects of society, such as poverty rates, health outcomes, education levels, crime rates, and housing conditions.
- Policy Support: The NSO plays a vital role in informing government policies and decision-making processes. By providing accurate and up-to-date data, policymakers can formulate evidence-based policies that address specific challenges and promote overall development.
- International Reporting: Many NSOs also collaborate with international organizations and participate in international data reporting exercises. This ensures that the country’s statistical data aligns with international standards and enables cross-country comparisons.
- Capacity Building and Training: NSOs often engage in capacity building activities, providing training and technical assistance to other government agencies, organizations, and researchers in the field of statistics and data analysis.
- Quality Assurance: Ensuring the quality and reliability of statistical data is a crucial responsibility of the NSO. The agency establishes strict protocols and standards for data collection, processing, and analysis to maintain credibility and trust in its outputs.
- Privacy and Confidentiality: The NSO handles sensitive personal and organizational information, and it must safeguard individual privacy and ensure that data is used only for statistical purposes, adhering to strict confidentiality norms.
Source: The Hindu
India’s attempt to expand G20 to increase Global South imprint
Tag: GS-2 Bilateral, Regional Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
While G-20 negotiators led by Indian Sherpa Amitabh Kant continue their discussions on the draft “Leader’s Declaration” for the Summit in September, India has proposed membership of the African Union (AU) in the G20.
About the membership of G20:
- The Group of Twenty (G20) comprises 19 countries and the European Union. It represents around 85% of the global GDP, over 75% of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.
- G20 has only one representative from the continent of Africa i.e. South Africa and is largely dominated by representation from Europe.
Significance of India’s push for AU’s representation:
- Diversion from global polarisation: India’s push to expand the imprint of Global South in G20 is a way of diverting attention and energies from the global polarisation over the war in Ukraine.
- Voice of Global South: With the proposal of inclusion of AU in G20, India has positioned itself as a voice of global south in international fora.
- Inclusion of additional issues in the draft: The proposal comes along with a slew of new proposals such as additions on gender-led development, digital public infrastructure and green hydrogen transitions.
What are the roadblocks in publishing the Leader’s Declaration or Communique?
- Statements from Bali G20 communique: The two paragraphs in Bali G20 statements have created rows during ministerial meets on education, research, agriculture, tourism and Urban 20.
- Disagreement of Russia and China: Both the countries have disassociated themselves from the language of Bali meet, which states national positions of various countries on Ukraine war. They refuse to support any reference of the war in Ukraine in a G20 document, meant for economic and development issues.
- Adamant G7 countries: G-7 countries are adamant that the Russian war in Ukraine must be included as it is affecting the global economy including energy prices, food security etc.
- Inclusion of economic sanctions: G-7 countries are also not keen for economic sanctions imposed by the west to be included in the official document
A joint communique has not been witnessed since 2008 for G-20 countries, and coming together of all countries with a Leader’s Declaration or Communique would be unprecedented in the G20’s summit history.
Support for India’s proposal on AU:
- Troika of developing countries: G20 hosted by India represents the first time that developing countries form the troika (hosts for 2022-2023-2024) of Indonesia-India-Brazil, and India has championed the voice of the global south in its deliberations.
- Over representation of Europe: G20 at present is “over-represented” by Europe, as a quarter of the grouping is made up of the UK, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union (Spain- permanent special invitee).
- Inclusion of large chunk of global population: Inducting AU will not change the composition of the invitee list, as AU is a special invitee every year, but it will bring a large chunk of the global population currently being kept “out of the tent”.
- 90% of global population: With inclusion of AU, 90% of the global population will be represented by the grouping, which will be unique.
Challenges to providing Membership for African Union
- Several other contenders want G20 membership such as ASEAN, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), as well as countries like Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, which are not permanent members of the G20, but are in the world’s top 20 economies.
- Difficulty in consensus building as it will lead to an exponential rise in the number of countries for building consensus over a G20 document, which is already paralyzed by the Ukraine war.
Source: The Hindu
Lightening is not a Natural Disaster
Tags: GS – 3: Disaster Management (Lightening)
Why in News:
The Union Government is not in favour of declaring Lightning a natural disaster as deaths caused by it can be prevented by making people aware of safety steps.
- A disaster is a result of natural or man-made causes that leads to sudden disruption of normal life, causing severe damage to life and property to an extent that available social and economic protection mechanisms are inadequate to cope.
- In India, the criteria for declaring a disaster as a natural disaster are typically based on the guidelines provided by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
- Lightning is a very rapid and massive discharge of electricity in the atmosphere.
- It is the process of occurrence of a natural ‘electrical discharge of very short duration and high voltage between a cloud and the ground or within a cloud.
- India currently has an early warning system for lightning, providing forecasts from five days to up to three hours in advance.
- Some states like Bihar and West Bengal have been urging the government to classify lightning deaths as natural disasters. If declared, victims would be eligible for compensation from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), with the central government contributing 75% to the fund.
- Cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslip, avalanche, cloudburst, pest attack, frost and cold wave are now considered disasters under the SDRF.
Source: The Hindu
Endogamy and Harmful genetic variants in India
Tags: GS – 3: Science and Technology (Biotechnology)
Why in News:
A study by researchers at the Institute for Human Genetics, University of California found stark genetic differences between people of South Asian regions even at the level of smaller geographies within India.
- It is the practice of marrying within a specific social, cultural, or ethnic group, often with the aim of preserving traditions, customs, and identity within that group.
Key Findings of the Research:
- The researchers found distinct genetic patterns among different regions, including smaller geographies within India, attributed to endogamous practices like caste-based and region-based marriages.
- It also revealed a worrying trend of higher frequency of homozygous genotypes in the South Asian cohort, which can increase the risk of genetic disorders.
- It pointed the need for a detailed map of the Indian genome to understand the country’s incredible diversity and address major hereditary disorders.
Source: The Hindu
Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)
Tags: GS-II: International Bodies
The United Kingdom has formally signed a treaty to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)
- The CPTPP is a trade agreement signed in 2018 among 11 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
- The agreement aims to reduce trade barriers by eliminating or significantly reducing tariffs and making commitments to open services and investment markets.
- It includes provisions for tariff reductions, market access, trade facilitation and covers a wide range of sectors, including goods, services, investment, intellectual property, and e-commerce.
- It is considered one of the largest free trade agreements in the world, covering a combined GDP of around $13.5 trillion.
- It also includes rules addressing competition, intellectual property rights, and protections for foreign companies.
- The CPTPP is seen as a counterbalance to China’s dominance in the region, although China, Taiwan, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Ecuador have applied to join.
- The agreement has attracted interest from other countries and regions, including the South Korea, and Taiwan, who have expressed their desire to join.
- It has also faced criticism regarding its impact on certain industries and concerns about its provisions on intellectual property rights.
- Overall, the CPTPP is considered a landmark agreement in the Asia-Pacific region and is expected to boost UK growth and open doors for business in the Indo-Pacific region.
Source: Indian Express
Export Preparedness Index (EPI) Report, 2022
Tags: GS-II: Important reports
NITI Aayog releases report on export performance of states for the year 2022
About Export Preparedness Index (EPI) Report, 2022:
- NITI Aayog has recently released the third edition of the Export Preparedness Index (EPI) for States/UTs of India.
- The report discusses India’s export performance in FY22 within the global trade context and provides an overview of sector-specific export performance.
- The report focuses on India’s export performance and sector-specific analysis in the global trade context of FY22.
- It highlights the importance of developing districts as export hubs and provides a district-level analysis of merchandise exports.
- It is a comprehensive tool that measures the export preparedness of States and UTs in India and emphasizes achievements and promotes collaboration between states and the central government.
- The index assesses states and UTs based on four pillars: Policy, Business Ecosystem, Export Ecosystem, and Export Performance.
- The Policy Pillar evaluates the adoption of export-related policies and the institutional framework.
- The Business Ecosystem assesses the business environment, infrastructure, and transport connectivity.
- The Export Ecosystem focuses on export-related infrastructure, trade support, and research and development.
- The Export Performance indicator measures a state’s export growth, concentration, and global footprint.
- The report aims to present a comprehensive picture of a state’s export preparedness and encourage peer-learning among states.
- Overall, the release of the report by NITI Aayog with help to foster sustained economic growth and development at national and sub-national levels through improved export strategies.
Source: PIB Gov.
Tags: General Studies – 2 E-Governance, Local Self Governance
Why in news?
Recently, The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has launched the Action Taken Report (ATR) Module of AuditOnline through a virtual event.
- AuditOnline is open-source software developed by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj as part of the Panchayat Enterprise Suite (PES) under the e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project (as part of the Digital India Programme).
- Along with AuditOnline, the ministry also launched eGramSwaraj, another user-friendly accounting application.
- It facilitates the financial audit of accounts at all the three levels of Panchayats viz District, Block and Village Panchayats, Urban Local Bodies (ULB) and Line department by Auditors.
- It not only facilitates the online and offline audit of accounts but also serves the purpose of maintaining the past audit records of the auditee with associated list of the auditors and audit team involved in the audit.
- Also, the information remains available in public domain and for usage by other PES applications.
- The application aims to promote transparency and accountability in the financial management of Panchayats.
Source: PIB Gov.
NASA’s Perseverance rover finds diverse organic matter on Mars
Tags: General Studies – 3 Space Technology, Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology
Why in news?
Recently, NASA’s Perseverance rover has discovered evidence of organic compounds in a Martian crater, offering clues on the potential habitability of the planet.
- The research featuring data from the rover was published in the journal Nature.
- The results reveal that Mars has a more complex organic geochemical cycle than previously thought, implying the existence of multiple reservoirs of potential organic molecules on the planet.
- The findings suggest that water may have been a significant factor in Mars’s vast range of organic matter.
- The rover’s landing site in Jezero Crater, which was once a lake basin, shows a high potential for past habitability, as it contains minerals such as carbonates, clays, and sulphates that could preserve organic compounds and traces of prehistoric life.
- The scientists used a first-of-its-kind instrument called the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) to map the distribution of organic molecules and minerals on rock surfaces.
- Organic compounds are molecules that primarily contain carbon and hydrogen, and often other elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur.
- They are the key building blocks of life on Earth, as they form the basis of proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, lipids and other biomolecules.
- They can also be produced by non-biological processes, such as volcanic activity, meteorite impacts, lightning strikes and cosmic radiation.
|It is a robotic explorer to land on Mars as part of NASA’s ongoing Mars 2020 Mission. It was launched in July 2020, from Cape Canaveral, Florida and successfully landed on the surface of Mar’s Jezero Crater on February 2021. Its main work to seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for possible return to Earth. The rover collects samples of rock and soil, encase them in tubes, and leave them on the planet’s surface to be returned to Earth at a future date.|
Source: Down to Earth
Salsola oppositifolia Desfontania
Tags: General Studies –3 Environment
Why in news?
Recently, A team of researchers has discovered a new species of saltwort called Salsola oppositifolia Desfontania in the Kutch district of Gujarat, India.
- Salsola oppositifolia Desfontania is a species that belongs to the family of Amaranthaceae.
- It is a perennial shrub that grows in saline, arid to semi-arid environments.
- It is a succulent shrub that can grow one to two metres tall and have a smooth, cylindrical, woody base.
- It is rarely prostrate and unlike other species of Salsola, does not have any hairs.
- As the name oppositifolia suggests, the leaves of this plant grow opposite each other in the stem.
- It is a halophyte plant -a plant adapted to growing in saline conditions.
- They are known for their salty juice stored in their leaves.
- The plants of the Salsola genus have various uses, including manufacturing soda ash, lye, soaps, and pharmaceutical products.
- This species, earlier known from Italy, Northern Africa, Palestine, Spain and Western Sahara.
- It has been reported for the first time from India based on the collection made from Khadir Bet, Kutch, Gujarat at 15.5-m altitude.
- It is the sixth species of Salsola genus to be discovered in India.
- Five other species of Salsola genus which have been recorded in India are Salsola kali, Salsola hatmanii, Salsola monoptera, Caroxylon imbricatum (Salsola baryosma) and Halogeton glomeratus (Salsola glomerata).
Source: Indian Express
Tags: General Studies –3 Environment, Conservation
Why in news?
Recently, Researchers have discovered that the population of ospreys, a fish-eating bird, is facing a decline due to the decreasing numbers of Atlantic menhaden, their primary food source.
- Atlantic menhaden, scientifically known as Brevoortia tyrannus, is a species of fish belonging to the Clupeidae family.
- Menhaden live in coastal and estuarine waters from Nova Scotia to northern Florida.
- They support a significant commercial fishery along the Atlantic Coast of the United States.
- They are filter feeders, primarily consuming phytoplankton and zooplankton in the water column.
- Menhaden are harvested for use as fertilizers, animal feed, and bait for fisheries including blue crab and lobster.
- In estuaries like Chesapeake Bay, menhaden serve as food for striped bass, fish, osprey, and eagles.
- They are a major source of omega-3 fatty acids, so they are also used to develop human and animal supplements.
- Menhaden are silvery in color with a distinct black shoulder spot behind their gill opening and they can live to be 10 to 12 years old and reach 15 inches in length.
Source: Indian Express
Kaas Plateau (Maharastra)
Tags: General Studies – 1 Geography
Why in news?
A recent study conducted by the Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) and the National Centre for Earth Sciences has shed light on significant climate shifts in the Kaas Plateau during the Early-Mid-Holocene and late Holocene Periods.
- The Kas Plateau is a plateau situated 25 kilometres west of Satara city in Maharashtra, India. It falls under the Sahyadri Sub-Cluster of the Western Ghats.
- It is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site (2012) and a designated biodiversity hotspot.
- It is known as Kaas Pathar in Marathi, its name is derived from the Kaasa tree, botanically known as Elaeocarpus glandulosus (rudraksha family).
- The plateau have various seasonal flowers forming a floral carpet over the entire lateritic crust during August and September.
Source: PIB Gov.
Agri Infra Fund
Tags: General Studies –2 Government Policies & Interventions
Why in news?
Recently, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare today launched a new campaign for banks under Agri Infra Fund titled BHARAT (Banks Heralding Accelerated Rural & Agriculture Transformation).
- Agri Infra Fund is a financing facility launched in July 2020 to provide all-around financial support to farmers, agri-entrepreneurs, FPOs, PACS, Cooperatives, SHGs etc, to create post-harvest management infrastructure and build community farming assets throughout the country.
- These assets will enable farmers to get greater value for their produce as they will be able to store and sell at higher prices, reduce wastage and increase processing and value addition.
- The AIF is a medium – long term debt financing facility for investment in viable projects for post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets through interest subvention and credit guarantee.
- The duration of the scheme shall be from FY2020 to FY2029 (10 years).
- Under it, 1 Lakh Crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans with interest subvention of 3% per annum.
- It also provides credit guarantee support through the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme for loans of up to Rs 2 crore.
- The fund will be managed and monitored through an online Management Information System (MIS) platform.
- It will enable all the qualified entities to apply for loans under the Fund.
- The National, State and District level monitoring committees will be set up to ensure real-time monitoring and effective feedback.
- The one-month-long campaign aims to raise Rs 7200 crore and will run from July 15, 2023, to August 15, 2023.
Source: PIB Gov.
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