Today’s Current Affairs: 13th February 2023 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
TARKASH : Indo-US joint exercise
It is an ongoing Indo-US joint exercise (TARKASH) by the National Security Guard (NSG) and US Special Operations Forces (SOF) has for the first time included “Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) terror response” in its drill
- The exercise comes against the backdrop of Russian allegations against Ukraine last year that Kyiv had orchestrated a chemical attack in Kharkiv to blame Russia and get military aid from the West
- CBRN weapons, which are also classified as weapons of mass destruction, have been used by States and terror elements in the past.
- The most recent use of CBRN in the form of a sarin gas attack was witnessed in Syria in 2017 when more than 100 people died.
UPI Payment For Foreign Travellers To India:
The RBI has decided to permit all inbound foreign travellers to use UPI payments for their merchant payments while they are in India.
- Initially, it will be limited to travellers from G20 countries arriving at select international airports
- They will be able to use UPI while carrying out P2M (person-to-merchant) transactions.
- It will scale up the use of digital payments in India
- It will improve their payment experience of foreigners (good for tourism)
- Ease the payment process for foreign tourists
- UPI is an instant payment system developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI, RBI regulated entity).
- It is built over IMPS (Immediate Payment Service) infrastructure and allows instant transfer of money between any two parties’ bank accounts.
First Sundarban Bird Festival:
145 different bird species were sighted during the first Sundarban Bird Festival.
- The first-ever festival was organised by the Sundarban Tiger Reserve (STR) division of the West Bengal Forest Department, where several teams visited different areas inside the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve.
- The Bird Festival provides baseline data on Sundarbans’ bird species diversity.
- The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) in 2021, had recorded 428 bird species in the Sundarbans which is one-third of all the avian species (derived from birds) found in the country.
Sundarban Biosphere Reserve:
- The Sundarbans is located on the delta of the Ganga, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers in the Bay of Bengal.
- This Biosphere Reserve includes Sundarban Tiger Reserve, Sundarban National Park (core area), Halliday Island and Lothian Island Wildlife Sanctuaries with Sajnakhali Wildlife Sanctuary forming its buffer area.
- It is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Flora: The vegetation of the area is moist tropical forests and tidal forests.
- Fauna: It is home to Royal Bengal Tiger, Estuarine Crocodile, Gangetic Dolphin, Water Monitor Lizard etc.
What Is Crony Capitalism?
Parliament witnessed sharp exchanges over the Adani-Hindenburg issue and the opposition is accusing it of crony capitalism and raising demands for a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee or a Chief Justice of India (CJI)-designated committee.
- Crony capitalism is a term used to describe a capitalist economic system in which individuals or businesses with close ties to political leaders and government officials use their political connections to gain an unfair advantage in the marketplace.
- In the Crony Capitalism Index 2021 published by The Economist; India was ranked at 7th position where crony sector wealth accounted for 8% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
- Crony capitalism can lead to corruption as businesses use their political connections to gain an unfair advantage in the marketplace, often by bribing government officials.
- This can undermine the rule of law and erode public trust in government institutions.
- When some businesses are given an unfair advantage through their political connections, it distorts market competition and makes it difficult for smaller businesses and entrepreneurs to succeed.
- This can lead to a concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few individuals or corporations.
- The dominant position of large businesses often erodes competition and discourages them to further innovate or improvise their products/services.
- This can stifle innovation in the overall economy and lead to a decline in competitiveness.
- Widespread crony capitalism can lead to a loss of public trust in government institutions and the economic system.
- This can make it difficult for policymakers to implement reforms and for businesses to operate effectively.
Baiga Tribe : Praised By Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi
The Prime Minister of India appreciated the efforts of Lahari Bai, of the Baiga tribe who has been engaged in the conservation of more than 150 varieties of millet.
- The Baiga Tribe is one of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
- They reside in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
- Traditionally, the Baiga lived a semi-nomadic life and practised slash-and-burn cultivation. Now, they are mainly dependent on minor forest produce for their livelihood.
- They practice a form of shifting cultivation called, “Bewar.”
- Mahua is an important aspect of Baiga’s food and drink. It is an intoxicant prepared from the fermentation and distillation of the flowers of the Mahua tree.
- Tattooing is an integral part of Baiga culture, every age and body part has a specific tattoo reserved for the occasion.
3rd ASEAN Digital Ministers (ADGMIN) Meeting:
The 3rd ASEAN Digital Ministers (ADGMIN) meeting was held on a virtual platform.
- ASEAN Digital Ministers (ADGMIN) meeting is an annual meeting of telecom ministers of 10 ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) countries and dialogue partner countries.
- The 3rd ministers meeting approved the India-ASEAN Digital Work Plan 2023.
- The work plan includes capacity building and knowledge sharing in emerging areas in the field of Information and Communication Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence in Cyber Security, Application of IoT & AI in Next Generation Smart City & Society 5.0, etc.
- The ongoing and proposed projects in ICTs will strengthen collaboration between India and ASEAN by leveraging complementary strengths of each other.
- It is a group of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which was established in 1967 with the signing of the Bangkok declaration.
- Founding members: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
- Presently ASEAN comprises 10 member states namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.
199145 (2005 YY128) : Giant Asteroid
Experts at NASA are tracking a giant asteroid named 199145 (2005 YY128) which is just days away from entering Earth’s orbit.
- 199145 (2005 YY128) is an asteroid whose orbit crosses the orbit of Earth.
- It orbits the sun every 774 days (2.12 years) in an elliptical orbit.
- 2005 YY128 is probably between 566 to 1.265 kilometers in diameter.
- Its orbit is 0.03 astronomical unit from Earth’s orbit at its closest point.
- Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the sun.
- Although asteroids orbit the sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets.
- Most of them live in the main asteroid belt—a region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
ISRO successfully launches SSLV-D2
ISRO’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle SSLV-D2 carrying EOS-07, Janus-1 and AzaadiSAT-2 satellites was successfully launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Station, in Sriharikota.
- AzaadiSAT-2 has been developed by about 750 girl students across India.
- They contributed to the design and construction of the satellite built by Chennai-based startup Space Kidz India.
- The girls received training both online and, in some cases, in-person.
- Experiment materials were sent to these girls and they were guided on how to use it.
- “SpaceKidz developed basic and simple experiments that students can learn and assemble with the simultaneous support of their science teachers.
- It aims to measure various health data like temperature and reset count from 75 student experiments installed inside the satellite.
Solar Prominence Near Sun’s North Pole:
Scientists recently observed a large prominence near Sun’s north pole
- Large, loop-like structures on the edge of the solar disk sometimes stand out brightly against the dark background of space.
- These enormous structures are called solar prominences.
- Prominences are anchored to the Sun’s surface in the photosphere, and extend outwards into the Sun’s hot outer atmosphere, called the corona.
- They are much cooler and denser than the surrounding plasma in the Sun’s corona.
- Prominences are shaped by the Sun’s complex magnetic field, often forming loops with each end anchored to the Sun’s surface.
- Prominences are enormous, extending out for many thousands of kilometers.
- They can last for several days or up to several months.
- Some prominences erupt and break apart, giving rise to coronal mass ejections (CMEs).
- Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are large expulsions of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun’s corona that propagates outward into interplanetary space.
- The blast of a CME carries about a billion tons of material out from the Sun at very high speeds of hundreds of kilometers per second.
Forever Chemicals : Alarming Levels In Ice Around Svalbard, Norway
An Oxford University-led recent study found alarming levels of toxic PFAS also known as “forever chemicals” in ice around Svalbard, Norway which pose a risk to the region’s wildlife.
- PFAS (Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances), also known as the Forever Chemicals, are a large chemical family of over 4,700 highly persistent man-made chemicals.
- They are the most persistent synthetic chemicals to date.
- These were first developed in the 1940s and are now found in a variety of products, including nonstick pans, water-resistant textiles and fire suppression foams.
- PFAS don’t easily degrade in the environment and are very mobile in water.
- PFAS’ indestructability comes from their carbon-flouride bonds, one of the strongest types of bonds in organic chemistry.
- Over time, these pollutants have accumulated in the environment, entering the air, soil, groundwater and lakes and rivers as a result of industrial processes and from leaching through landfills.
- PFAS have been found in the environment all around the world, even in the most remote areas such as the Arctic.
- They have also been detected in the blood and breastmilk of people and wildlife globally.
- Chronic exposure to even low levels of PFAS has been linked to liver damage, high cholesterol, reduced immune responses, low birth weights and several kinds of cancer.
Union minister for electronics and information technology recently said that Mission Bhashini’s capabilities have been integrated with the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to make digital payments through the UPI 123 Pay available in more than 20 local Indian languages.
- Bhashini Mission is a local language translation mission that aims to break the barrier between various Indian tongues by using available technology.
- BHASHINI4 aims to build a National Public Digital Platform for languages.
- This government platform aims to make Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing (NLP) resources available in the public domain to be used by — Indian MSMEs, startups an and individual innovators.
- This will help developers to offer all Indians easy access to the internet and digital services in their native languages.
- This online platform also has a separate ‘Bhasadaan’ section which allows individuals to contribute to multiple crowdsourcing initiatives and it is also accessible via respective Android and iOS apps.
- UPI 123 Pay is an instant payment system which will allow users to make UPI transactions without an internet connection.
Renovation Of Shree Saptakoteshwar Temple : Goa
The Prime Minister has recently expressed happiness over the renovation of Shree Saptakoteshwar Devasthan, Narve, Bicholim in Goa.
- The original Saptakoteshwar Temple was built around the twelfth century by the Kadamba dynasty in Narve on Divar Island.
- There is a small entrance marked with bells, while the main five pillared halls are decorated with arches.
- Intricate designs adorn the ceiling while the sanctorum wall is composed of plain wood.
- The mandapa of the temple is built in a distinctly European style.
- Laterite and stone caves surround the temple.
- Maratha King Shivaji ordered the rebuilding of the Saptakoteshwar temple and the installation of the linga in its proper location.
- This order is still mentioned on a stone plaque near the temple’s entrance.
The Minister for Communications recently inaugurated AMRITPEX 2023 in New Delhi.
- Themes of AMRITPEX 2023: Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, Women Power, Youth Power, Nature and Wildlife and Culture and History.
- AMRITPEX 2023 is a National Philatelic Exhibition organised by the Department of Posts under the Ministry of Communications.
- Stakeholders of AMRITPEX 2023: Ministry of Culture, Government of India and Philatelic Congress of India.
- Objective: National Philately Exhibition aims to introduce the new generation of Philately. This exhibition will include India’s History, Culture, Art and Heritage through stamps.
- This exhibition will also include digital exhibits.
- Some of the attractions are the Wall of Philately, Mascot – VR Rooms, and Digital Charkha. Digital Kiosks – digital postcard, quiz and design are also a highlight.