Wednesday, 14th June 2023

Table of contents

1   Daily Current Affairs

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Indo-US Cooperation in Agriculture

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Tax Devolution - Edukemy Current Affairs

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Neurotechnology and Ethics - Edukemy Current Affairs

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RBI’s Regulation for Urban Co-operative Banks (UCBs)

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Interlocking System in Indian Railways

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Ram Prasad Bismil (1897- 1927)

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Sebi’s SCORES platform - Edukemy Current Affairs

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Taurine - Edukemy Current Affairs

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Captagon pills crisis - Edukemy Current Affairs

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Red giant star Betelgeuse - Edukemy Current Affairs

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe - Edukemy Current Affairs

2   Daily Editorial Analysis

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E-Education: Generative AI Chapter

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Daily Current Affairs

Indo-US Cooperation in Agriculture


In News: A brief history of the US role in independent India's agricultural development is useful in the context of the Prime Minister's upcoming visit to the US, for strengthening the “global strategic partnership” between the two countries.

About

The US has played a significant role in India's agricultural development since the 1950s and 1960s. The Rockefeller and Ford Foundations were instrumental in establishing agricultural universities in India, and the US government provided technical assistance and funding for the Green Revolution, which helped to increase agricultural productivity and food production. The Indo-US cooperation in agriculture has been mutually beneficial, and it has helped to improve food security in both countries.

The following are some of the lessons that can be learned from the Indo-US cooperation in agriculture:

  • The importance of technical assistance and training: The Rockefeller and Ford Foundations played a key role in establishing agricultural universities in India, and they also provided technical assistance to Indian farmers. This assistance helped to improve agricultural productivity and food production.
  • The importance of funding: The US government provided significant funding for the Green Revolution, which helped to make it a success. This funding helped to cover the costs of research, development, and implementation of new agricultural technologies.
  • The importance of cooperation: The Indo-US cooperation in agriculture has been mutually beneficial. Both countries have benefited from the exchange of knowledge, technology, and resources.

India’s agricultural development after Independence:

  • Pre-independent India food shortage: Agriculture was monsoon-dependent and unfavorable rains and natural calamities resulted in crop failures.
  • Post-independent Planning process: It identified agriculture as the most prioritized sector and emphasized that ‘everything can wait but agriculture’.
  • Increase in the food grain production: From merely 51 million tons (Mt) in 1950/51 increased over 6 times to over 314 Mt in 2022.
  • The country became the largest producer of milk, pulses, and jute and the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, cotton, fruits, and vegetables in the world.

key challenges facing Indian agriculture in the 21st century:

  • Climate change: Climate change is already having a significant impact on Indian agriculture, and this impact is expected to worsen in the future.
  • Population growth: India's population is expected to reach 1.6 billion by 2050, which will put a strain on the country's agricultural resources.
  • Urbanization: The urbanization of India is also putting a strain on the country's agricultural sector, as people move to cities and demand for food increases.
  • Farmer Income: The cost of inputs such as fertilizer, seed, and fuel has been rising in recent years, which has put a strain on farmer Income.

 

 

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-economics/the-lessons-of-indo-us-cooperation-in-agriculture-8657682/

Keywords: GS-3 Economy, agriculture
Daily Current Affairs

Tax Devolution - Edukemy Current Affairs


In News: The Centre has released Rs 1.18 lakh crore as the third regular instalment of tax devolution to the states in June. One advance instalment, in addition to the regular instalment due in June 2023, has also been released.

About Tax Devolution:

  • Tax devolution refers to the distribution of tax revenues between the central government and the state governments. It is a constitutional mechanism established to allocate the proceeds of certain taxes among the Union and the states in a fair and equitable manner.
  • The Finance Commission established by Article 280 of the constitution is assigned with the task of making recommendations regarding the division of the net proceeds of taxes between the Union and the states.
  • The 15th Finance Commission, headed by N K Singh, recommended vertical devolution at 41% to states against 14th FC recommendation of 42% in order to adjust for the change in status of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • For horizontal devolution, it has suggested 12.5% weightage to demographic performance, 45% to income, 15% each to population and area, 10% to forest and ecology and 2.5% to tax and fiscal efforts.
  • Finance Commission recommended post-devolution revenue deficit grants amounting to about Rs. 3 trillion over the five-year period ending FY26, to help fiscally stressed states by COVID
  • An advance instalment was released in June, 2023 in order to enable the states
    • To speed up capital spending, finance their development/welfare-related expenditure
    • To make available resources for priority projects/ schemes.

Source:

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-releases-118-lakh-cr-as-third-instalment-of-tax-devolution-to-states-in-june/article66960453.ece

Keywords: GS-2 Centre State Relationship, Co-operative Federalism
Daily Current Affairs

Neurotechnology and Ethics - Edukemy Current Affairs


In News: The UNESCO is all set to host an international conference to develop an ethical framework for the usage of neurotech devices that feed brain-wave data to computers through dry electrodes and implants.

About Neurotechnology:

  • Neurotechnology is defined as the assembly of methods and instruments that enable a direct connection of technical components with the nervous system. It encompasses all technologies developed to understand the brain, visualise its processes and even control, repair or improve its functions.
  • These technical components include electrodes, computers, or intelligent prostheses which are meant to either record signals from the brain or “translate” them into technical control commands, or to manipulate brain activity by applying electrical or optical stimuli.
  • Neurotechnology uses different techniques to record brain activity and stimulate parts of the brain at will.
    • Non-invasive techniques are those that allow action from the outside, while invasive techniques require the implantation of electrodes through surgery.

UNESCO’s effort in Regulating Neurotechnology:

  • Neurotechnology could help solve many health issues, but it also poses a threat of identity theft, privacy, manipulation of people’s brains & emotions, cognitive enhancements & inequality etc.
  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is approved neurotech to treat a number of conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, epilepsy, OCD etc. However its side effects range from surgery complications, hardware complications and stimulation-related complications.
  • The conference aims to lay the foundation for a global ethical framework guided by a report of UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee on the “Ethical Issues of Neurotechnology”.
  • UNESCO strives to develop a framework similar to the established global ethical frameworks on the human genome (1997), human genetic data (2003) and artificial intelligence (2021).

Source:

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/world/privacy-unesco-to-develop-ethical-framework-on-neurotech-devices-89925

Keywords: GS-4 Ethics and Human Interface, GS-3 Biotechnology
Daily Current Affairs

RBI’s Regulation for Urban Co-operative Banks (UCBs)


In News: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) notifies 4 Key measures to strengthen Urban Co-operative Banks(UCBs) of India

About RBI’s Regulation for UCBs

  • RBI has recently announced four key measures to strengthen, enhance operations and support the growth of 1,514 urban co-operative banks (UCBs) of India.

Key Measures

Features

Opening New Branches

UCBs can now open new branches up to 10% (maximum 5 branches) without prior approval from the RBI

UCBs must comply with the Financially Sound and Well Managed (FSWM) norms

One-Time Settlement

UCBs can undertake a One-Time Settlement (OTS) at par with commercial banks.

Co-operative banks can provide a process for technical write-off and settlement with borrowers through board-approved policies.

Priority Sector Lending (PSL) Targets

The RBI has extended the timeline for UCBs to achieve PSL targets by two years, until March 31, 2026.

The deadline to achieve a PSL target of 60% has been extended from March 31, 2023, to March 31, 2024.

Excess deposits after clearing the PSL shortfall to be refunded to the UCBs.

Nodal Officer for Cooperative Sector

RBI to appoint a nodal officer for closer coordination and focused interaction with the cooperative sector

  • Overall, these initiatives will enhance the role of UCBs and promote their development in alignment with the government's vision.

 

https://www.business-standard.com/finance/news/rbi-notifies-4-key-measures-to-strengthen-1-514-urban-co-operative-banks-123060900842_1.html

Keywords: GS-3: Economy
Daily Current Affairs

Interlocking System in Indian Railways


In News: Train tragedy and the electronic interlocking system in Indian railways

About Interlocking System in Indian Railways:

  • The interlocking system is an integral part of railway signalling in Indian Railways to ensure the safe movement of trains and manages track configurations at stations and junctions.
  • It uses computer-based systems and electronic equipment to control signals, points, and level-crossing gates.
  • Indian Railways uses an advanced version of interlocking called the electronic interlocking (EI) system.
    • It is a microprocessor-based and processes inputs in a fail-safe manner.
    • It relies on software and electronic components to manage interlocking logic, ensuring proper sequencing of elements for safe train movement.
    • Trains are given signals to pass only if the track direction is set correctly and the divergent track is free of obstructions.
  • Components:
    • Signal: Light signals indicate whether a train should stop (red), proceed (green), or exercise caution (yellow) based on the track ahead and in case of system failure, it shows a red light indicating that the route ahead is not clear or safe.
    • Point: These are moveable sections of track that guide trains to change lines which remain locked until a train has crossed a particular section of track or the signal to proceed has been withdrawn.
    • Track circuit: These are electrical circuits installed on tracks to detect the presence of a train and prevents multiple trains from running on the same block to avoid collisions.
  • Electronic systems and communication devices control the signalling equipment and are kept in relay rooms with access control where all activities of the system are recorded in a data logger.
  • Overall, this system prevents conflicting movements by allowing a train to proceed only when its route is set, locked, and verified as safe.

Rail track system of India:

  • The Indian Railways is the fourth largest railway network globally, with around eight billion passengers annually.
  • The network stretches over 68,000 km and comprises more than 7,000 stations.
  • The running track length is 1,02,831 km, while the total track length, including sidings, yards, and crossings, is 1,28,305 km.
  • By the year ending 2022, almost 2,888 stations, covering over 45% of the Indian Railways, were equipped with electronic interlocking systems.

 

 

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/explained-what-is-the-electronic-interlocking-system-in-railways/article66933809.ece

Keywords: GS-3 : Infrastructure : Railways
Daily Current Affairs

Ram Prasad Bismil (1897- 1927)


Why in news? On his 126th birth anniversary, we remember Ram Prasad Bismil, whose words and actions have inspired generations of Indians.

About:

  • Ram Prasad Bismil was born in Shahjahanpur district, UP.
  • He is considered a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity.
  • He was deeply influenced by the Arya Samaj.
    • He joined the Arya Samaj and became a prolific writer and poet, penning patriotic verses in Hindi and Urdu under pen names like ‘Agyat’, ‘Ram’, and ‘Bismil’ (meaning ‘wounded’, ‘restless’).
  • He penned the poem Mera Janm (My Birth), venting out his anger over the death sentence handed out to Arya Samaj missionary Bhai Parmanand.
  • He actively fought against British Raj and participated in notable events like the Mainpuri Conspiracy of 1918 and the Kakori Train Action of 1925.
  • In 1922, he founded a party named Hindustan Republican Association with an aim to establish a federal Republic of United States of India by an organized and armed revolution.
  • He started a revolutionary organisation called Matrivedi (The Altar of the Motherland) and joined forces with fellow revolutionary Genda Lal Dixit.
  • Literary Contribution:
    • One of his most famous works is the poem "Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna" (The Desire for Martyrdom), which he wrote during the Kakori Conspiracy in 1925.
    • Bismil's other notable compositions include "Mainpuri Ki Pratigya" (The Pledge of Mainpuri) and "Krishna-Kunj Galah Khand Kao" (The Hanging of the Krishna-Kunj).
    • He also released a collection of poems called Man ki Lahar and also translated works such as Bolshevikon ki Kartoot (from Bengali).
  • After an eighteen-month long trial in in the Kakori Train Action, Bismil along with Ashfaqullah and Rajendranath Lahiri, was sentenced to death in 1927 at an early age of 30 years.

 

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-history/a-ram-prasad-bismil-revolutionary-poet-8656213/

 

Keywords: General Studies –1 Modern History, Personalities
Daily Current Affairs

Sebi’s SCORES platform - Edukemy Current Affairs


Why in news? Recently, In May, Sebi’s SCORES platform resolved 2,457 complaints against companies and market intermediaries.

About:

  • SEBI’s Complaints Redress System (SCORES) is a grievance redressal system that was launched in June 2011.
  • It is designed to help investors lodge their complaints online with SEBI, pertaining to the securities market, against companies, intermediaries and market infrastructure institutions.
  • These complaints were related to investment advisers, research analysts, corporate governance/listing conditions, minimum public shareholding, venture capital funds and takeover/restructuring.
  • The average resolution time for a complaint was 31 days.
  • SCORES doesn’t deal with complaints against companies including Unlisted/delisted companies, sick companies or a company where a moratorium order is passed, or where the company is struck off by the Registrar of Companies (RoC).
  • Complaints arising out of issues that are covered under the SEBI Act, Securities Contract Regulation Act, Depositories Act and rules and regulations made there under relevant provisions of the Companies Act, 2013.
  • The complaint shall be lodged on SCORES within one year from the date of the cause of action.

SEBI:

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (est. 1988; HQ: Mumbai) is a statutory regulatory body for securities and commodity markets in India under the ownership of the Ministry of Finance.

 

 

https://m.economictimes.com/markets/stocks/news/sebis-scores-platform-disposes-of-2457-complaints-in-may/articleshow/100915364.cms

Keywords: General Studies –3 Economy
Daily Current Affairs

Taurine - Edukemy Current Affairs


Why in news? Recently, A recent study has shown that Taurine – a nutrient found in meat, and fish and sold as a supplement – extends life and boosts health in a range of animal species.

About:

  • Taurine is an amino acid that has a few important roles in your body, including supporting immune health and nervous system function.
  • The scientific report suggests taurine plays a role in reducing cellular senescence – where cells in the body stop dividing – a hallmark of ageing.
  • It occurs naturally in foods with protein. For instance, high amounts of are found in meat and fish.
  • The nutrient also appeared to keep mitochondria (the power stations in the body’s cells)
  • Taurine is virtually non-existent in plants. So, the nutrient either comes from the animal protein in the diet or is manufactured by the body.

More Information

  • Experiments on middle-aged animals showed boosting taurine to youthful levels extended life by over 10% and improved physical and brain health.
  • It might also benefit people with heart failure by lowering blood pressure and calming the nervous system.
  • It’s also sometimes sold as a supplement, which is popular with bodybuilders and athletes, who believe it may help them to control their body temperature and reduce muscular fatigue during exercise.

Keywords: General Studies –3 Health, environment
Daily Current Affairs

Captagon pills crisis - Edukemy Current Affairs


Why in news? Recently, Reports suggested that the Islamic State (IS) and Syrian fighters widely consumed Captagon to increase alertness and suppress appetite during their gruelling battles.

About:

  • Captagon is a highly addictive amphetamine-type drug, which is produced mainly in Syria and widely smuggled across West Asia.
  • The original Captagon contained fenetylline, a synthetic drug of the phenethylamine family to which amphetamine also belongs.
  • It was banned in the 1980s due to concerns about its addictive nature.
  • Amphetamine-based drugs like Captagon stimulate the central nervous system, providing a boost of energy, increased focus, and a feeling of euphoria. However, they do not confer superhuman abilities.
    • These type drugs usually stay in the blood for around 36 hours.
    • When taken orally, their peak effect occurs one to three hours after consumption, and effects last for as long as seven to 12 hours.
  • Side effects of these drugs can include loss of appetite, heart problems, high body temperature, memory loss, and addiction.

 

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-global/captagon-pills-crisis-what-are-amphetamine-based-drugs-and-why-have-they-been-used-by-militaries-around-the-world-8656184/

Keywords: General Studies –3 Science & Technology, Health
Daily Current Affairs

Red giant star Betelgeuse - Edukemy Current Affairs


Why in news? Recent research on the massive red giant star Betelgeuse suggests that it is in its late carbon-burning stage (near the end of its life) and may explode as a supernova within a few decades.

About:

  • A red giant star is a large, ageing star that has expanded and cooled down, causing it to appear red in colour.
  • It occurs in the later stages of a star’s life cycle when it exhausts its hydrogen fuel and starts burning heavier elements.

Betelgeuse

  • It is a bright red star known as “Thiruvathirai” or “Ardra” in Indian astronomy, located in the constellation Orion.
  • It is one of the largest known stars, measuring more than 700 million miles (1.2 billion kilometres) in diameter, 764 times as large as the Sun.
  • It is known for its periodic dimming and brightening up.
  • It is a massive star that undergoes the carbon-burning stage, leading to its eventual collapse into a supernova.
  • The star is approximately 650 light-years from Earth.

More Information:

Life Cycle of a Star

  • A star is born from a dense cloud of gas and dust called a nebula.
  • Through the process of nuclear fusion, it converts hydrogen into helium, releasing energy and emitting light.
  • As the star exhausts its hydrogen fuel, it expands and becomes a red giant.
  • In this phase, it fuses helium into heavier elements like carbon and oxygen.
  • While smaller stars, like our Sun, eventually shed their outer layers and form a white dwarf.
  • Larger stars undergo a supernova explosion, where their cores collapse and release an immense amount of energy.
  • This explosion disperses heavy elements into space and may result in the formation of a neutron star or a black hole.

Supernova

  • A supernova is the name given to the cataclysmic explosion of a massive star.
  • They are the largest explosion that takes place in space.
  • A star can go supernova in one of two ways:
    • Type I supernova: Star accumulates matter from a nearby neighbour until a runaway nuclear reaction ignites.
    • Type II supernova: Star runs out of nuclear fuel and collapses under its own gravity.
  • It can emit more energy in a few seconds than our sun will radiate in its lifetime of billions of years.
  • They're also the primary source of heavy elements in the universe.
  • On average, a supernova will occur once every 50 years in a galaxy the size of the Milky Way.

 

https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/betelgeuse-red-giant-supernova-study-dispute/article66957274.ece

 

Keywords: General Studies –3 Space Technology
Daily Current Affairs

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe - Edukemy Current Affairs


Why in news? Recently, the latest data collected by the Parker Solar Probe (PSP) have revealed the origin of "fast" solar wind, one of two know states which can escape Sun's gravity and fill the entire heliosphere.

About:

  • The Parker Solar Probe is a NASA spacecraft launched in 2018 to study the outermost layer of the Sun's atmosphere.
  • The mission aims to unlock the mysteries of the Sun’s atmosphere, understand the solar storm, and investigate the processes that accelerate energetic particles.
  • Findings:
    • The probe revealed that coronal holes — darker, cooler regions that open in the sun’s outer atmosphere — are shaped like “showerheads” made up of mostly evenly spaced funnels of material.
    • Magnetic reconnection within funnel structures in coronal holes is responsible for generating the fast solar wind.

Solar storm

  • A solar storm refers to a disturbance on the Sun that releases a large amount of energy in the form of solar flares, coronal mass ejections (CMEs), or high-speed solar winds.
  • These events can cause disruptions in Earth’s magnetosphere, leading to geomagnetic storms that impact communication systems, power grids, and satellite operations.

 

https://www.techspot.com/news/99031-nasa-parker-solar-probe-discovers-origin-fast-solar.html

 

Keywords: General Studies –3 Space Technology
Daily Editorial Analysis

E-Education: Generative AI Chapter


Exam View: Scaling up of education sector; MOOCs; India and MOOCs; Issues with MOOCs; Generative AI.

Context: Global online education brands are experimenting with regenerative AI tools.

Decoding the editorial: Scaling up of education sector

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

  • Their institutional origins can be traced to three free online courses offered by Peter Norvig, Sebastian Thrun, Jennifer Widom and Andrew Ng of Stanford University in 2011.
    • Buoyed by the large turnout of learners for these ‘pilot’ courses, Thrun launched his online education outfit, ‘Udacity’, in late 2011 as a for-profit company.
    • A year later, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller followed suit with their venture ‘Coursera’, which was also registered as a ‘for-profit’ company.
    • MIT and Harvard joined forces to create ‘edX’ in May 2012, as a non-profit MOOCS Company. Anant Agarwal, the visionary founder of edX, is widely credited with open sourcing and internationalising the company’s ‘open edX tech stack’.
    • These MOOCs were launched in partnership with the world’s leading universities and institutions.
    • As of 2021, there existed nearly 35 MOOCS Learning Management Systems (LMS) spread across North America, Asia and Europe.

India and MOOCs:

  • Both Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore offer a variety of MOOCS courses through the edX platform.
  • The list of large LMS platforms from the developing world includes India’s ‘Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’ (SWAYAM) launched in 2017 by the Ministry of Education, Government of India.
    • It is one of the world’s largest learning e-portals.
    • According to ‘Class Central’, the number of MOOCS learners in the world (excluding China) was 220 million in 2021. Coursera accounted for 97 million learners, while edX and India’s SWAYAM had enrolments of 42 million and 22 million, respectively.

Issues with MOOCs

  • High expense of MOOCs: Despite their seemingly high enrolment numbers, the operating expenses of a MOOCS platform are high, due to
    • maintenance expenses associated with the LMS tech stack, and
    • steep marketing costs incurred for enlarging the learner base.
  • Low receipt of MOOCs:
    • On the revenue side, the practice of offering entry-level courses gratis (or at low fees) aggravated the financial crunch faced by these platforms.
    • Although MOOCS platforms rely on degree-earning courses to earn revenue, such courses have few takers.
  • Other issues with MOOCs:
    • Low probability of potential learners discovering LMS platforms
      • Even when a learner stumbles on a platform of her choice, she would still struggle to locate courses that suit her needs from the crowded portfolios of Coursera, edX and Udacity.
    • High rate of dropouts by entry-level learners
      • Drop-outs reduce the catchment of learners for degree granting programmes.
    • Coursera, edX and Khan Academy have gone in for generative AI due to these factors.

Generative AI

  • edX’s Chat GPT plug-in helps aspiring learners to successfully locate platforms and courses that suit their requirements.
  • The Khan Academy’s chat box ‘Khanmigo’ challenges learners with thought-provoking questions, while edX’s ‘edX Xpert’ and Coursera’s ‘AI Coursera Coach’ function as virtual assistants that answer queries, provide feedback on assignments, generate quick summaries of voluminous content, and swiftly turn out exam scores.
  • As learning gets interesting and engaging, drop-outs are bound to come down, resulting in more learners progressing to degree granting programmes.
  • India’s SWAYAM has yet to spell out its approach to AI.
    • The SWAYAM-user community will drastically scale up by 2025, when India’s active Internet users become 900 million strong.
    • This rapid scale up will necessitate the utilisation of AI-based learning and teaching services by institutes affiliated to the platform.
    • Unlike the other platforms, SWAYAM is publicly funded and is driven by the National Education Policies tenets of inclusivity and cross-disciplinary learning.
    • SWAYAM is thus ideally positioned to derive benefits from the evolving semantic web.

Source:

https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/e-education-platforms-their-generative-ai-chapter/article66961863.ece/amp/

Keywords: GS Paper-3: IT & Computers, Growth & Development: Artificial Intelligence., GS Paper-2: Education.
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