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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 12th Oct 2023

Today’s Current Affairs: 12th Oct 2023 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

Afghanistan Earthquake:

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck about 40km from the western city of Herat, Afghanistan recently.

  • In Afghanistan, the death toll from strong earthquakes has risen to over 2,400 as search and rescue efforts continue amid reports that some people may be trapped under collapsed buildings.
  • An earthquake is the shaking or trembling of the earth’s surface.
  • It is caused by the seismic waves or earthquake waves that are generated due to a sudden movement (sudden release of energy) in the earth’s crust (shallow-focus earthquakes) or upper mantle (some shallow-focus and all intermediate and deep-focus earthquakes).
  • A seismograph, or seismometer, is an instrument used to detect and record earthquakes.
  • Hypocentre/Focus: The point where the energy is released.
  • Epicentre: The point on the surface directly above the focus.

Back To School Program : Kerala

Kerala is launching a “back to school” program for 46 lakh women enrolled in the Kudumbashree poverty alleviation mission. Over the next two months, more than 2,000 schools will open on weekends to provide training on adapting to the digital age.

  • Kerala’s Kudumbashree mission is launching a “back to school” program for its 46 lakh enrolled women over the next two months.
  • More than 2,000 schools will open on weekends to provide training on adapting to the digital age and enhancing income through entrepreneurship.
  • The initiative aims to strengthen the mission’s three-tier system and empower neighborhood groups to undertake new projects.
  • Classes, covering topics like organizational strength and livelihood ideas, began on October 1 and will run until December 10, allowing all women in Kudumbashree’s groups to participate.

International Day Of The Girl 2023:

International Day of the Girl Child, observed annually on 11th October was first celebrated in 2012.

  • The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995, proposed an action plan to advance the rights of girls.
  • In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare 11th October as the International Day of the Girl Child.
  • Theme of International Day of the Girl 2023: “Invest in Girls’ Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being.”
  • The day aims to focus on the importance of girls’ education, their rights, and promoting gender equality.
  • It urges the global community to move beyond reaffirming commitments and invest boldly in the action needed to make changes that could empower girls.

Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II:

The Union Cabinet has approved the issue of further Terms of Reference (ToR) to the existing Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II (KWDT-II) under the ISRWD (Inter State River Water Disputes) Act, 1956 for its adjudication between the States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh (AP).

  • Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal-II was constituted by the Centre in April 2004 under Section 3 of the ISRWD Act, 1956 to adjudicate and resolve water-sharing disputes related to the Krishna River.
  • It was constituted to address the allocation of Krishna River waters among the riparian states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • KWDT-II made recommendations and allocations of Krishna River waters based on the availability of water, the demands of the states, and other relevant factors. It provided specific quantities of water to each state, outlining the share they were entitled to receive.
  • The Krishna Water Dispute centers on the equitable sharing of Krishna River waters among the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Krishna River flows through these states, and disputes arise due to differing needs, historical disagreements, and changes in the political and administrative landscape.
  • KWDT will provide new terms of reference under which the tribunal will divide the water of the Krishna River among both states, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, in the future.
  • It will allocate water on a project-wise basis for the proposed projects in both states that are intended for developmental or future purposes.

World Mental Health Day 2023:

10th October marks World Mental Health Day, a global initiative aimed at raising awareness about mental health issues and rallying support for mental health care worldwide.

  • In the context of India, this day serves as a crucial reminder of the urgent need to address the mental health challenges faced by the country’s burgeoning adolescent population (aged 10-19 years) which plays a pivotal role in its future prosperity and development.
  • Theme for World Mental Health Day 2023: Mental health is a universal human right.
  • In India, according to National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences data, more than 80% of people do not access care services for a multitude of reasons, ranging from lack of knowledge, stigma and high cost of care.
  • The economic loss due to mental health conditions, between 2012-2030, is estimated at USD 1.03 trillion (WHO).

Monetary Policy Committee Decisions: RBI

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its bimonthly Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) Meeting has retained benchmark interest rates unchanged for the 4th time in a row.

  • The MPC kept the policy Repo Rate Unchanged at 6.50%.

Key Highlights of the MPC Meeting:

  • The RBI decided unanimously to keep the policy repo rate unchanged at 6.5% to balance economic growth and inflation control.
  • The RBI retained its real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth forecast for 2023-24 at 6.5% and the average CPI inflation forecast for the current fiscal year FY24 at 5.4%.
  • The RBI Governor stressed the commitment to the 4% inflation target and highlighted the importance of being prepared to take timely actions to prevent spillovers from food and fuel price shocks to underlying inflation trends.
  • Liquidity in the system will be actively managed in line with the monetary policy stance.
  • The RBI will undertake Open Market Operations (OMO) sales as necessary. Financial stability is essential for price stability and growth.
  • The RBI announced doubling the lending limits for Gold Loans under the Bullet Repayment Scheme (BRS) for urban cooperative banks to Rs 4 lakh.
  • It has been decided in respect of Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs) who have met the overall target and sub-targets under the Priority Sector Lending (PSL) as on 31st March, 2023.
  • A BRS is one where a borrower repays interest and the principal amount at the end of a loan tenure without worrying about repayment during the loan tenure.

Coral Reef Breakthrough : International Coral Reef Initiative

The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), has launched the Coral Reef Breakthrough in partnership with the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) and the High-Level Climate Champions (HLCC).

  • The Initiative was launched at the 37th ICRI General Meeting, 2023.
  • The Coral Reef Breakthrough is a science-based initiative with clear goals for the state and non-state actors to collectively conserve, protect, and restore coral reefs, safeguarding their vital contributions to humanity’s future.
  • The Coral Reef Breakthrough aims to secure the future of at least 125,000 km2 of shallow-water tropical coral reefs with investments of at least USD 12 billion to support the resilience of more than half a billion people globally by 2030.

International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI):

  • It is a global partnership between Nations and organizations that strives to preserve coral reefs and related ecosystems around the world.
  • The Initiative was founded in 1994 by eight governments: Australia, France, Japan, Jamaica, the Philippines, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Indian Ocean Rim Association:

Sri Lanka set to take over chairmanship of Indian Ocean Rim Association during 23rd Council of Ministers’ Meeting.

  • Indian Ocean Rim Association was established in 1997 as an intergovernmental organisation of States on the rim of the Indian Ocean
  • It has members from Africa, West Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia , Europe and Oceania.
  • The Association’s membership has expanded to 23 member states and 11 dialogue partners.
  • Asia: India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Oman, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
  • Africa: Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Somalia , South Africa, Tanzania, Comoros, Mauritius, Seychelles.
  • Oceania: Australia.
  • Europe: France
  • Its apex body is the Council of Foreign Ministers (COM) which meets annually.
  • IORA has identified six priority areas namely: Trade and Investment, Maritime Safety and Security, Fisheries Management, Disaster Risk Management and Blue Economy.

Eumasia venefica : New Species Of Bagworm Moth

Researchers from the Zoology Department at St. Thomas College (Autonomous), Thrissur, have discovered a new species of bagworm moth, Wizard Bagworm, from near the Nariyampara falls in Idukki district.

  • The new species has been named due to the peculiar shape of its bag, which resembles a wizard’s hat.
  • It is the fourth species of this genus to be discovered from India.
  • It has the clever camouflage employed to escape predators.
  • Larval cases of this species are found attached to rocks covered with lichens.
  • The cases attach to each other and form a lichen covered colony.
  • The larval bags look like a ‘witch’s hat’ because of a disc-like anterior and a tubular posterior part.
  • It is not a polyphagous pest as its larvae only feed on the algae and mosses on the rocks.
  • Bagworm moth are a family of moths belonging to the order Lepidoptera and are known for their protective larval cases.
  • These moths are found worldwide, but primarily in North America and Africa.

Dancing Frogs: Threatened Amphibian Genus Of India

According to the Wildlife Trust of India the dancing frogs are the most threatened amphibian genus of India.

  • Dancing frogs are endemic to the Western Ghats.
  • The species was found to prefer habitats in areas with thick canopy cover of at least 70-80 per cent
  • It belongs to the Micrixalus genus.
  • It is also the fifth most threatened genus in the world with 92 per cent of its species in the threatened category
  • The dancing frogs that are found near the streams do a unique display to mate.
  • The males stretch up their hind legs one at a time and wave their webbed toes in the air in a rapid motion akin to a dance.
  • This is to attract mates as well as ward off competition, probably preferred because their mating calls are drowned out by the gurgling of the streams.
  • This act is called “foot flagging” and gives the species their name.
  • Frogs are valuable in the food chain and also provide other ecological services.
  • These species are threatened by invasive species like the mosquito fish, land use change, variation in temperature and humidity, extreme weather events such as floods and excess rainfall, infectious diseases, water pollution, light pollution, and infrastructure projects.

Full Siege Of The Gaza Strip:

Israel recently ordered a full siege of the Gaza Strip and vowed to obliterate Hamas after its all-out offensive entered the next phase.

  • Gaza Strip is a self-governing Palestinian territory located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The territory takes its name from Gaza, its main city.
  • It forms the smaller of the two Palestinian territories — the other being the West Bank.
  • It is bordered by Israel to the north and east and Egypt to the south.
  • It is a 41km (25-mile) long and 10km-wide territory.
  • It is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. More than 2 million people live in the territory.
  • The population is predominantly Palestinian, with the majority being Sunni Muslims.
  • Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist organisation, currently governs the Gaza Strip.
  • It took control in 2007 after it won elections there the year before. Since then, no elections have been held.

Lakhpati Didi Initiative:

Prime Minister recently chaired a high-level meeting to review the progress made in realising his dream of making 2 crore ‘Lakhpati Didis’ in India.

  • Lakhpati Didi Initiative was announced by the Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech on August 15, 2023.
  • Objective is to encourage women to start micro-enterprises within their villages.
  • Under the Lakhpati Didi Initiative, the government aims to train two crore women.
  • The programme is aimed at training women in self-help groups (SHGs) so that they can earn a sustainable income of at least Rs 1 lakh per annum per household.
  • The initiative has been initiated by DAY-NRLM, wherein each SHG household is encouraged to take up multiple livelihood activities coupled with value chain interventions, resulting in a sustainable income of Rs 1 lakh or more per year.
  • Under this scheme, women will be trained in various skills, such as plumbing, LED bulb making, drone operation and repair, and tailoring and weaving.
  • After completing the training, women will be provided with opportunities to earn income using their skills.
  • The ministry of rural development is adopting a whole-of-government approach for maximum impact through convergence to transform the rural economy with the enabling of ‘Lakhpati Didis’

Atlantic Puffin : Hybrid Species Discovered

A hybrid species of Atlantic puffins that formed in the last century was recently discovered by scientists.

  • Atlantic Puffin is a species of small seabird in the auk family.
  • It’s the only puffin species found in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Scientific Name: Fratercula arctica
  • It is found on rocky coasts in the Northern Atlantic Ocean during the breeding season and on the open ocean in the non-breeding season.
  • It is a migratory species, spending most of the time traveling back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean, returning every breeding season to its native breeding areas.
  • Sixty percent of the individuals inhabit the coast of Iceland during the breeding season.
  • It has also been found off the coast of Greenland, the United Kingdom, Eastern Canada, and the Netherlands, as well as Ireland.