Today’s Current Affairs: 16th February 2023 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
US Scientist Recently Discovered Quasicrystals:
A US scientist recently discovered quasicrystals.
- The major difference between an ordinary crystal and a quasi-crystal is that the atomic patterns in quasi-crystals do not repeat themselves as that of an ordinary crystal.
- They are rare to occur naturally.
- However, can be created artificially.
- So far, we have discovered only two naturally occurring quasicrystals.
- The recently discovered is the third naturally occurring quasicrystal and was formed accidentally from an electric discharge.
- This would have happened due to lightning strikes or power line downing.
- Quasicrystals are fascinating materials that possess a unique combination of properties.
- They are a testament to the beauty and power of irregularity in the natural world.
- The quasi-crystals are usually laboratory made.
- Quasi crystals require high pressure and temperature to form such patterns where the atomic structures do not repeat themselves.
- It is very rare to occur naturally.
- They are used in manufacturing non-stick frying pans, needles for acupuncture and surgery, dental instruments and razor blades.
- The discovery of quasicrystals was made by American-Israeli scientist Dan Shechtman in 1982 in the lab.
- Dan Shechtman received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering quasicrystals.
Millet International Initiative For Research And Awareness:
The Government of India is to launch Millet International Initiative for Research and Awareness.
- It is in line with the United Nations’ plans for the International Year of Millets, which is 2023.
- India brings in the concept of “SEED MONEY” in the initiative.
- Seed money, sometimes known as seed funding or seed capital, is a form of securities offering in which an investor invests capital in a startup company in exchange for an equity stake or convertible note stake in the company.
- Research activities on millet, and increasing their productivity will be focused on the initiative.
- Indian Institute of Millet Research located in Hyderabad will provide technical support to the initiative.
- Objectives of MIIRA:
- To coordinate the millet research programme
- To involve different countries and increase the skill set of the research activities
- To increase millet consumption in the world
- To increase investment in millet research
6.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits New Zealand:
After Cyclone Gabrielle, New Zealand faced yet another disastrous natural calamity.
- An earthquake of 6.1 Ritcher shook the country.
- The epicentre was at a depth of 57.4 km and 50 km from Paraparaumu.
- According to the US Geological Survey, the epicentre was right at the Cook Strait.
- The strait divides the two main landmasses of the country. No tsunami warnings were issued.
- As Turkey earthquake was caused by the pushing of African and Asian plates against the Eurasian plate.
- This means there were significant movements in the African plate.
- The Australian plate adjoins the African plate. So does the Indian plate.
- Experts believe that the recent Sikkim earthquake and the New Zealand earthquake may have common connections with the Turkey earthquake.
A research team from Italy has detected an elusive black galaxy, dubbed ‘invisible galaxy’ using ALMA.
- Dark Galaxy is a hypothesized galaxy with no, or very few, stars.
- They received their name because they have no visible stars, but may be detectable if they contain significant amounts of gas.
- Scientists used the Gravitational Lensing Technique to discover the galaxy. The technique is generally used to detect dark matter.
- ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) is a state-of-the-art telescope to study light from some of the coldest objects in the Universe.
- The telescope can catch the millimetre or submillimeter-sized wavelengths emitted by Cold objects (earliest and most distant galaxies in the Universe)
- The telescope (situated in the Atacama desert, Chile, South America) is an international collaboration including teams from Europe, Japan, the US, Canada, Chile
Driving Holistic Action For Urban Rivers (DHARA):
DHARA the annual meeting of the members of the River Cities Alliance (RCA), is being organised by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in association with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA)
- DHARA provides a platform to co-learn and discuss solutions for managing local water resources.
- River Cities Alliance is a dedicated platform for river cities to ideate, discuss and exchange information for sustainable management of urban rivers.
- It includes cities from both the Ganga basin and non-Ganga basin states.
- It is being implemented by a partnership of the Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
- River Cities Alliance (RCA) started with 30 cities in 2021 and currently has 95 cities as members across India
- It has strong synergies with the Urban20 (U20) initiative (under India’s G20 Presidency) to promulgate urban water security.
First Woman Astronaut Into Space : Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is set to send its first woman astronaut, Rayyana Barnawi, on a 10-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year, aboard a SpaceX Dragon.
- A Saudi Arabian woman will become the first woman astronaut from the country to go on a space mission later this year, AFP reported.
- Rayyana Barnawi will join fellow Saudi astronaut Ali Al-Qarni on a 10-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
- Barnawi and Al-Qarni will fly to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as part of a mission this spring by the private space company Axiom Space, according to Saudi Press Agency and Axiom. Peggy Whitson, a former NASA astronaut, will also be on board for her fourth flight to the ISS.
- Meanwhile, John Shoffner, a Tennessee businessman, will be the pilot.
- American private space transportation company SpaceX has developed and produced several spacecraft named Dragon.
- The first family member, now referred to as Dragon 1, flew 23 cargo missions to the ISS between 2010 and 2020 before being retired.
- With this first version not designed for carrying astronauts, it was funded by NASA with $396 million awarded through the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, with SpaceX being announced as a winner of the first round of funding on August 18, 2006.
- SpaceX developed its Dragon 2 spacecraft starting in 2014, with a cargo version and a crewed version.
- It entered service in 2019 with the Demo-1 flight, and performed its first flight with astronauts on May 30, 2020, during the Crew Dragon Demo-2 flight.
The Missing Deputy Speaker:
Supreme Court sought response from Centre on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that contends that not electing a Deputy Speaker to the 17th (present) Lok Sabha, since 2019, is “against the letter and spirit of the Constitution”.
- The post has also been lying vacant in the five state Assemblies including Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand.
- Article 93 says that the House of the People (Lok Sabha) shall, as soon as may be, choose two members to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker so often as the offices become vacant. However, it does not provide a specific time frame.
- Article 178 contains the corresponding position for Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of a state.
Uttarakhand’s Anti Cheating Law:
On February 11 2023, a protest in Dehradun over paper leaks and scams in government recruitment tests turned violent.
- On the following day, the Uttarakhand Governor gave his assent to the Uttarakhand Competitive Examination (Measures for Control and Prevention of Unfair Means in Recruitment) Ordinance, 2023 to prevent the use of unfair means in exams.
- The ordinance has provisions for fines up to Rs 10 crore and life imprisonment for the guilty
- The ordinance is aimed at preventing offences related to obstructing the sanctity of examinations, use of unfair means, leakage of question papers, and other irregularities.
- It covers public examinations for recruitment to posts under the state government, autonomous bodies run by the government, and authorities, corporations, and institutions operated with grants of the state government.
- The offences are cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable.
- The law is expected to prevent irregularities in recruitment exams and ensure that they are conducted transparently and fairly.
ChatGPT-Powered WhatsApp Chatbot:
The Ministry of Electronics and IT’s (MeitY) BHASHINI is working on a ChatGPT-Powered WhatsApp Chatbot to help Indian farmers learn about various government schemes.
- BHASHINI (BHASHa INterface for India) is India’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) led language translation platform.
- The launch of the WhatsApp chatbot may take time as ChatGPT currently relies on input in English, and the support for local languages is limited.
- It will let users send a question via voice notes.
- A user could simply ask a question using voice notes and receive a voice-based response generated by ChatGPT.
- The chatbot has been developing with the view of India’s rural and agrarian population that most depend on government schemes and subsidies.
- These potential users speak a wide range of languages, which makes it important to build a language model that can successfully identify and understand them.
- This will help numerous farmers in India who may not be familiar with typing on smartphones.
- The ChatGPT-powered WhatsApp chatbot will support 12 languages, including English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, Odia, and Assamese.
- The majority of those who will use this chatbot would not know English, for which the Government’s Bhasha Daan Initiative will be used.
- Bhasha Daan is an initiative to crowdsource language inputs for multiple Indian languages as part of Project BHASHINI.
- It calls upon citizens to help build an open repository of data to digitally enrich his/her own language.
Monkeypox : Report
According to a recent statement by the World Health Organization (WHO), as many as 85,765 confirmed and 1,382 probable cases of monkeypox were reported from 110 countries since January 1, 2022.
- Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus which belongs to the orthopoxvirus genus.
- The virus is normally seen in African countries.
- There are two clades of monkeypox virus, the West African clade and the Congo Basin (Central African) clade.
- Monkeypox is a viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals), for example, bites of infected rodents and squirrels and is also transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.
- The incubation period (the period between exposure to an infection and the appearance of the first symptoms) of monkeypox is usually from 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days.
- Symptoms:Fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to a range of medical complications.
- There is no effective vaccine available for Monkeypox infection.
Rail Kaushal Vikas Yojana:
To empower youth by providing them entry-level skill training in Railway Training Institutes, “Rail Kaushal Vikas Yojana” (RKVY) has been notified.
- Rail Kaushal Vikas Yojana is a skill development scheme with a special focus on providing training for jobs that are relevant to the Railways.
- It is a sub-scheme under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY).
- Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Railway.
- Key Features of the scheme:
- The training is imparted in fourteen (14) industry-relevant technical trades such as Electrician, Welder, Machinist, Fitter etc.
- The training is provided free of cost to the candidates and there is no provision for providing employment under this scheme.
- Participants will be selected from applications received online, following a transparent mechanism based on marks in matriculation.
- Eligibility Criteria: Candidates, who had passed class X and are aged between 18 and 35 are eligible to apply.
- After the end of the program, trainees have to pass a standardized assessment followed by a certificate in the allotted trade by the National Rail and Transportation Institute.
Custodial Death : Report
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the last five years, the highest number of custodial deaths have been reported in Gujarat at 80.
- Custodial death is a death that occurs while a person is in the custody of law enforcement officials or in a correctional facility.
- It can occur due to various causes such as use of excessive force, neglect, or abuse by the authorities.
- According to the Law commission of India, the crime by a public servant against the arrested or the detained person who is in custody amounts to custodial violence.
- Custodial Death in India:
- A total of 146 cases of death in police custody were reported during 2017-2018,
- 136 in 2018-2019,
- 112 in 2019-2020,
- 100 in 2020-2021,
- 175 in 2021-2022.
- In the last five years, the highest number of custodial deaths (80) has been reported in Gujarat, followed by Maharashtra (76), Uttar Pradesh (41), Tamil Nadu (40) and Bihar (38).
- National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended monetary relief in 201 cases, and disciplinary action in one case.