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.
ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 mission
Tag: GS-3 Science and Technology, Space Science
The Chandrayaan-3 lander made a successful soft landing on the surface of the moon, making India the first country to reach close to the lunar south pole. India has also become the fourth nation to land on the lunar surface, after the United States, the erstwhile Soviet Union, and China.
About Chandrayaan Mission:
- The Chandrayaan-1 mission was launched in 2008. The Moon Impact Probe was made to crash land on the lunar surface to leave India’s mark on the Moon. Chandrayaan-1’s orbiter also detected evidence of water on the Moon.
- Chandrayaan-2 was launched in 2019 with a lander, called Vikram. It was scheduled to make a soft-landing on the lunar surface but minutes before the scheduled touchdown, ISRO lost contact with the spacecraft. However, the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter continued to work fine.
- Chandrayaan-3 mission’s successful soft landing on the Moon marks India becoming the fourth nation after the United States, Russia, and China to reach the lunar surface and first to reach the South Pole.
- There were various instruments on Chandrayaan-3 to carry out several experiments:
- Lander Payloads:
- Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive Ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA) to study the electrons and ions near the moon’s surface, and changes over time.
- Chandra’s Surface Thermo Physical Experiment (ChaSTE) focuses on thermal properties of the lunar surface near the polar region assisting in understanding temperature variations.
- Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) measures lunar quakes near the landing site, analysing the composition of the Moon’s crust and mantle through seismic activity.
- LASER Retroreflector Array (LRA) provided by NASA, acts as a target for lasers, enabling precise measurements for future missions.
- Rover Payloads:
- LASER-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) determines the chemical and mineral composition of the lunar surface, offering insights into its geological makeup.
- Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) identifies elements on the lunar surface.
Reasons for exploring Moon’s South Pole:
- Focus on Equatorial region: All the previous spacecraft to have landed on the Moon have landed in the equatorial region, because:
- The terrain & temperature are more hospitable and conducive
- Presence of Sunlight offers a regular supply of energy to solar-powered instruments.
- Unexplored region: The polar regions of the Moon have difficult terrain with many parts lying in completely dark regions, and temperatures can go below 230 degrees Celsius.
- Insights into early history of the Solar System: Extreme cold temperatures in Polar Regions of the moon preserves objects as they remain frozen and undergo minimal change. Thus rocks and soil in the Moon’s poles offer valuable insights into early stages of the Solar System.
- Presence of water: These specific areas referred to as Permanently Shadowed Regions of the moon can have evidence for presence of water in the region at the surface.
- Technological Advancements: Undertaking missions to the lunar South Pole allows ISRO to develop and showcase innovative technologies.
Significance of Chandrayaan Mission:
- Progress in India’s space programme: The Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan signal a shift in India’s space science strategy. Earlier, ISRO focused on utilitarian objectives like satellite launches on enabling telecommunications, telemedicine etc. But now there is push towards space exploration.
- Future space exploration: The demonstration of India’s capability to launch, and successfully soft land on a planetary body can impact IRSO’s ability to carry out, or participate in, other space missions.
- Boost to the Indian space-tech ecosystem: The successful launch of Chandrayaan-3 could bolster investor confidence and attract more private investment in space technology to promote cost-efficient and highly reliable space-grade hardware.
- Confidence in LMV’s capability for Gaganyaan: With a human-rated Launch Vehicle Mark (LVM) to be used for the upcoming Gaganyaan mission, LVM-3’s success in Chandrayaan-3 has enhanced confidence over the launch vehicle.
- Nurturing startups: Success of ISRO’s mission also depended on contributions of private players and startups which provided critical components for the mission. This has increased reliability in the private sector and could attract business opportunities for Indian startups to in the global market.
- Strengthening international reputation: Success of Chandrayaan-3 could earn global recognition and lead to the cost-effective adoption of spacecraft manufactured by Indian companies and proof of its reliability.
- Strategic Positioning: The mission positions India as an important player in the international space race, potentially matching China’s influence. Together with Artemis Accords, it will enhance India’s ever-increasing space footprints.
Renouncing Indian citizenship
Tags: GS – 2: Indian Polity (Citizenship)
Why in News:
A growing number of Indians are opting to surrender their passports, eventually renouncing their citizenship. Last month, the Central government told Parliament that more than 15 lakh Indians had relinquished their citizenship in the past decade, including around 87,000 this year, with most headed to the United States of America.
Statistics of Renouncing Citizenship:
- Over 17.5 lakh Indians have given up their citizenship in the past decade, with many heading to the United States.
- High-net-worth individuals are also leaving India (through investment migration), with around 6,500 expected to move out this year, making it the second-highest net outflow globally after China.
- The USA remains the most preferred destination, followed by Canada, Australia, and the UK.
- The MEA estimated the number of Indian nationals living abroad to be around 1.2 crore in 2021.
- Currently, India has the largest emigrant population in the world. It is the top origin country with nearly 1.8 crore people living outside their homeland, according to the World Migration Report 2022.
Reasons for renouncing citizenship:
- Better Economic Opportunities: Seeking improved job prospects and higher income abroad.
- Improved Social Security: Looking for better healthcare, education, and social welfare benefits in the new country.
- Lifestyle Considerations: Pursuing a better quality of life, safety, and overall living standards.
- Friendly Tax Legislation: Opting for countries with favourable tax laws and reduced financial burdens.
- Education Opportunities: Accessing higher education and specialized programs is not available in the home country.
- Ease of Mobility: Obtaining a passport that allows visa-free travel to more destinations globally.
- Political Stability: Escaping political instability, conflict, or governance issues in the home country.
- Investment and Business Opportunities: Exploring entrepreneurial ventures or investment opportunities abroad.
- Citizenship is the legal and social relationship between an individual and a state, signifying full membership and allegiance to that state.
- The Citizenship Act of 1955 prescribes five ways of acquiring citizenship, viz, birth, descent, registration, naturalisation and incorporation of territory.
- Renouncing Indian Citizenship:
- Voluntary Renunciation: An Indian citizen of full age and capacity can relinquish citizenship through their will. When an individual gives up citizenship, minor children also lose Indian citizenship but can regain it at 18.
- By Termination: If a person becomes a citizen of another country, Indian citizenship automatically ends, except during war.
- Deprivation by Government: Government can terminate citizenship if a citizen:
- Disrespects the Constitution
- Acquired citizenship through fraud
- Illegally traded or communicated with the enemy during war
- Is sentenced to over 2 years in prison within 5 years of registration or naturalization
- Lives outside India for 7 consecutive years
Source: The Hindu
India’s protectionist Industrial Policy
Tags: GS – 3: Indian Economy (Industrial Policy and impact on Industrial Growth)
Why in News:
India’s protectionist policies in manufacturing and electronics, contrasting them with targeted approaches in the US and EU. They emphasize the benefits of trade liberalization, using Asia’s success in electronics as an example, and suggest India should integrate more with global value chains for competitiveness.
- It refers to economic policies and actions taken by a country to protect its domestic industries, businesses, and workers from foreign competition.
- These measures can include tariffs, quotas, subsidies, and other barriers that make imported goods more expensive or difficult to access, thereby promoting domestic production and consumption.
- The goal is to shield domestic industries from foreign competition and support local economic growth.
Challenges with India’s Protectionist policy:
- High Tariffs: Import restrictions and high tariffs on electronic goods like laptops and tablets, make tariffs the highest among competing economies.
- Broad Protectionism: While the US and EU have targeted strategies for specific sectors, India’s protective measures span across 14 sectors. Some of these sectors, like textiles and food processing, don’t seem to have a strategic basis.
- Challenges in the Electronics Sector: The electronics sector is marked by swift technological changes. India’s protective measures in this sector reflect the challenges of domestic manufacturing keeping pace with global advancements.
- Lack of Targeted Strategies: India’s industrial policy lacks targeted sector-specific strategies, unlike the US and EU’s approaches.
- Trade Barriers for Innovation: Excessive protectionism can hinder exposure to global competition and restrict innovation and efficiency.
Industrial Policy approach in other countries:
- United States of America: The USA introduced the CHIPS and Science Act to promote domestic research and manufacturing in semiconductors and electric vehicles. This billion-dollar initiative aims for “strategic autonomy,” reducing dependence on countries like China and Russia. The US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) further boosts regional economic integration.
- European Union: The EU unveiled the Green Deal Industrial Plan, targeting carbon neutrality by 2050. A key tool, the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), imposes taxes on imports from high carbon-output sectors, affecting major exporters like China and Russia.
- Both the US and EU use selective protectionist measures. The US emphasizes technological advancement and reducing geopolitical risks, while the EU targets environmental sustainability. Their strategies have specific goals, unlike India’s broader approach.
- Embrace Open Trade in Electronics: Rapid technological changes in the electronics sector make import substitution difficult. Given global value chains and the success of top exporters as importers, India should adopt open trade policies for smoother cross-border transactions.
- Learn from Asian Economies: China and Vietnam’s success in the electronics sector stems from open trade policies. China’s dual trade regime, allowing duty-free entry for components, boosted exports. India could benefit by adopting similar strategies.
- Combine Incentives with Trade Liberalization: Following countries like South Korea, India should merge financial incentives with trade liberalization. Shifting from import substitution to export expansion can enhance competition, efficiency, and innovation.
Source: Business Standard
Rail-Sea-Rail (RSR) Initiative
Tags: GS-III: Infrastructure
Government launches steps for integration of transportation for efficient coal Transportation
About Rail-Sea-Rail (RSR) Initiative
- The Rail-Sea-Rail (RSR) Initiative is a strategic approach introduced by the Ministry of Coal to optimize the movement of coal across various stages of transportation.
- This innovative approach involves seamlessly integrating rail and sea routes for efficient coal evacuation.
- It aims to address the increasing demand for coal and focusing on establishing a well-organized and efficient coal evacuation system.
- Key features:
- RSR involves a combination of rail and sea transportation modes, creating a holistic and efficient coal evacuation process.
- Coal is transported from mines to ports via railways, ensuring a smooth flow of raw material from the production centers.
- From ports, coal is further transported via sea routes to reach end-users and powerhouses, reducing transit times and costs.
- By providing an alternative route for coal evacuation, RSR helps alleviate congestion on all-rail routes, ensuring uninterrupted supply.
- RSR enhances the overall logistic efficiency by minimizing delays and bottlenecks in the coal transportation process.
- The integration of rail and sea transportation modes leads to cost savings, optimization of infrastructure for future coal exports, opening up additional revenue streams.
- Compared to an all-rail route, RSR has a lower carbon footprint, contributing to more sustainable coal transportation.
- However, the implementation of RSR requires careful planning and collaboration between government agencies, railways, and port authorities.
- The RSR Initiative is expected to increase coal transportation capacity significantly, reaching 112 MT by 2030, up from the existing 40 MT.
- The strategy will not only improve coal evacuation but also strengthens India’s position in the global coal market.
- By reducing transportation bottlenecks and costs, RSR will help support the energy sector’s sustainability and reliability.
- Overall, the Rail-Sea-Rail (RSR) Initiative aligns with the government’s focus on enhancing infrastructure and logistics all of which are critical for India’s energy and economic growth.
Source: Economic Times
Rural India shift to sugars and processed foods
Tags: GS-II: Important reports
ICRISAT deliberates on challenges in accessing Nutrient-Rich Foods and promotion of Processed Foods
About Rural India shift to sugars and processed foods
- The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has recently conducted research highlighting the shift in dietary preferences among rural Indian families.
- The study reveals that carbohydrates and sugary processed foods are being favoured over protein and micronutrient-rich options.
- In this regard, the ICRISAT report aims to present more solutions to address these dietary shifts and promote better nutrition outcomes in rural India.
- Key highlights:
- Traditional food systems in rural India are undergoing changes due to accessibility issues and limited availability of protein and micronutrient-rich foods.
- Rural households are increasingly favouring carbohydrates and sugary processed foods over protein and nutrient-rich options.
- Limited access to protein and micronutrient-rich foods is driving this shift, as these options are becoming harder to source.
- Traditional food systems are evolving due to difficulties in accessing nutritious foods and the declining availability of wild fruits and forest-sourced foods.
- People migrating from rural to urban areas are exposed to packaged and processed foods due to widespread promotions, leading to changes in dietary choices.
- The shift towards sugars and processed foods is linked to rising concerns about malnutrition and obesity in rural regions.
- Policy measures are needed to strengthen nutrition-sensitive food supply chains with the food processing industry to make nutritious products more appealing and accessible.
- The study highlights the role of traditional farming practices and local markets in providing access to healthier food options.
- The study’s findings are particularly relevant due to regional imbalances in nutritional health, with higher rates of stunting observed in rural areas.
- Balancing regional nutritional disparities remains a critical endeavour for India’s overall health and well-being.
- Overall, ICRISAT research highlights the need for policy measures needed to prioritize nutrition-sensitive food supply chains and promote awareness about healthy dietary choices in rural India.
Source: Down To Earth
Indian Ocean Dipole
Tags: GS – 1 Geography
Why in news?
Recently, a report by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said that the IOD index has risen beyond the positive threshold.
- Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is an atmosphere-ocean coupled phenomenon in the Indian Ocean, characterised by a difference in sea-surface temperatures.
- IOD is the difference between the temperature of eastern (Bay of Bengal) and the western Indian Ocean (Arabian Sea).
- A positive IOD event, characterized by warmer temperatures in the western basin, can enhance India’s South-West monsoon.
- For Australia, a positive IOD event often leads to low rainfall between October and December, delayed monsoon onset, and reduced tropical cyclone activity.
- Indian monsoon depends upon not only El Nino, La Nina but also IOD and other such ocean phenomena.
Two phases of IOD:
- Positive IOD:
- During this phase the Westerly winds weaken along the equator, allowing warm water to move to Africa.
- Changes in the winds also allow a rise of cool water from the deep ocean in the east.
- This creates a temperature difference across the tropical Indian Ocean with cooler than normal water in the east and warmer than normal water in the west. This event has been found to be beneficial for the monsoon.
- Negative IOD:
- During this phase westerly winds intensify along the equator, allowing the concentration of warmer waters near Australia.
- This creates a temperature difference across the tropical Indian Ocean, with warmer than normal water in the east and cooler than normal water in the west. This event obstructs the progression of monsoon over India.
Source: The Hindu Business line
Methane Eating Bacteria
Tags: GS – 3 Environment, Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology
Why in news?
Recently, a study has found that a specific bacteria named Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C could help reduce methane emissions from places like landfills and oil wells.
Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C
- Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C is a bacterial strain that consumes methane.
- The bacteria’s ability to consume methane at low concentrations, as low as 200 ppm, makes it a promising candidate for methane removal technology.
- While other Methane-eating bacteria (methanotrophs) grow best when the methane concentration is around 5,000-10,000 parts per million (ppm).
- Methylotuvimicrobium buryatense 5GB1C, if used on a large scale, could prevent 240 million tonnes of methane from entering the atmosphere by 2050.
- It can also help reduce the global temperature rise by about 0.21-0.22 degrees Celsius by 2050 by removing a substantial amount of methane.
- Unlike many other proposed methane reduction strategies, this method doesn’t produce nitrous oxide emissions, which have a significant global warming potential.
- Methane is a potent greenhouse gas emitted from various sources including energy production, industry, agriculture, and waste management.
- It is over 85 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) on a 20-year timescale.
- It is responsible for nearly 30 percent of the total global warming.
Source: The Guardian
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
Tags: GS – 2 Health
Why in news?
Recently, The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first vaccine (ABRYSVO), that protects newborns from Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
- ABRYSVO’s approval is the first and only maternal immunization to help protect newborns immediately at birth through six months.
- It is made by Pfizers.
- Abrysvo has been authorized for use in adults aged 60 and above to protect them from RSV.
- The vaccine generates passive immunity by producing antibodies against RSV in pregnant individuals, which are then passed on to their foetuses in the uterus.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) belongs to the family of viruses called Paramyxoviridae and is a leading cause of lower respiratory tract infections, such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia, especially in children under the age of two.
- It is a negative-sense, single-stranded RNA virus.
- It usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.
- But infants, young children and people older than 65 can develop severe disease and potentially die from the virus.
- These infections include bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lung, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs.
- The virus spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and it can also be transmitted through direct contact with contaminated surfaces.
- The symptoms of RSV infection usually start about 4 to 6 days after infection.
- They include Runny nose, Decrease in appetite, Cough, Sneezing, Fever, Wheezing.
Source: Live Science
Tags: GS – 2 Health
Why in news?
A report jointly released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) highlights a significant and concerning increase in the sales of ultra-processed foods in India over the past decade.
- Ultra-processed foods are defined as those with a long shelf life and containing multiple ingredients, including additives like preservatives, emulsifiers, sweeteners, and artificial colors and flavors.
- These foods typically contain minimal whole or natural ingredients.
- They often lack nutritional value and are linked to various health risks.
More About the News:
- The study shows that sales of items like chocolate and sugar confectioneries dropped from 10% in 2019 to 1% in 2020 due to the pandemic, but then quickly recovered to 9% in 2021. Similarly, retail sales of salty snacks and beverages reduced from 14% each in 2019 to 9% and 1% in 2021, respectively.
- The report suggests that by 2032, despite a decline in market share, ultra-processed foods such as chocolate, sugar confectioneries, salty snacks, and ready-made food will continue to dominate the market.
Source: The Times of India
Dholpur-Karauli tiger reserve in Rajasthan
Tags: GS – Environment, Conservation
Why in news?
Recently, The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) approved Dholpur-Karauli in Rajasthan as a new tiger reserve.
- This is India’s 54th tiger reserve and Rajasthan’s fifth tiger reserve after Ranthambore, Sariska, Mukundra Hills and Ramgarh Vishdhari.
- Tiger Reserves are notified by State Governments as per provisions of Section 38V of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 on advice of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
status of tiger population in India
- Over recent years, India has seen an increase in tiger population, rising from 2,967 in 2018 to 3,682 in 2022, signifying an annual growth rate of 6%.
- Madhya Pradesh has the maximum number of tigers in the country (785), followed by Karnataka (563), Uttarakhand (560), and Maharashtra (444).
- The number of tigers in Rajasthan has increased from 32 in 2006 to 88 in 2022.
Source: Economic Times
C.R. Rao (1920-2023)
Tags: GS – 3 Achievements of Indians in science & technology
Why in news?
Recently, Renowned statistician Calyampudi Radhakrishnan Rao, known as C.R. Rao, has passed away at the age of 102.
- C.R. Rao was among the world’s most eminent statisticians and spent a significant part of his career in India.
- C.R. Rao was born in 1920, in Hadagali, Bellary district in a Telugu family.
- Various theorems: Rao-Blackwell Theorem, Cramér–Rao inequality, Fisher–Rao theorem, Orthogonal arrays, Multivariate statistical analysis, Biometry etc.
- Rao formulated the Cramer-Rao bound in 1945, setting a benchmark for assessing statistical techniques. His Rao-Blackwellisation concept in 1948 improved estimator efficiency.
- Rao’s work in multivariate analysis, estimation theory, and differential geometry was groundbreaking. His Fisher-Rao metric is widely used in probability and physics.
- Over his career, Rao authored roughly 500 papers and 14 books, addressing complex statistical problems.
- He played a key role in developing statistical education and research in India, serving on various government committees and contributing to the field’s growth.
- He received numerous awards, including India’s Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.
- He served as chairman of the Committee on Statistics and Demographic and Communication for Population Control.
- His famous book is “Statistics and Truth: Putting Chance to Work”.
- Ethical values: C.R. Rao’s life embodied ethical values such as dedication to education, professionalism, pioneering statistical concepts, and contributing to society through his work in statistics.
Source: The Hindu
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