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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 17th June 2023

Today’s Current Affairs: 17th Jun 2023 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

MQ-9B Predator Drone:

The Defence Ministry recently accorded its approval to procure 30 MQ-9B Predator drones (SeaGuardian variant) from the US to crank up the surveillance apparatus of the armed forces.

  • The MQ-9B drone is a variant of the MQ-9 “Reaper”, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations.
  • These are high-altitude long-endurance drones armed with strike missiles which can take out enemy targets with high accuracy.
  • It was developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems(GA-ASI), primarily for the United States Air Force (USAF).
  • The MQ-9B has two variants — SkyGuardian and its sibling SeaGuardian.
  • The Indian Navy has been operating the MQ-9B Sea Guardian since 2020.
  • MQ-9B SeaGuardian can carry up to 5,670 kg and has a fuel capacity of 2,721 kg.
  • The drone can operate at over 40,000 feet.
  • The Predator also has a maximum endurance of 40 hours, making it useful for long-hour surveillance.
  • It can support land, maritime surveillance, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, strike, electronic warfare and expeditionary roles.

Bangkok Vision 2030:

According to the Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit end of this year will adopt a Bangkok Vision 2030.

  • Thailand presented “BIMSTEC Bangkok Vision 2030” aiming to build a Prosperous, Resilient, and Open (PRO) BIMSTEC by 2030.
  • The Vision sets a clear direction and priorities as well as a goal for BIMSTEC collaboration to tackle challenges and seize opportunities for the coming decade.
  • The document aims to further promote BIMSTEC as a region of peace, stability, and economic sustainability.
  • The goals found in the vision are also in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and Thailand’s bio-circular-green economic model.
  • BIMSTEC is a regional organization that was established on 06 June 1997 with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration.
  • Member countries:Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal
  • The Chairmanship of BIMSTEC rotates according to the alphabetical order of the English names of the Member States.

Geminid Meteor Shower:

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission has shed new light on the origin of the intense Geminid meteor shower.

  • Geminid meteor shower peaks during mid-December each year and is considered to be one of the best and most reliable annual meteor showers.
  • Unlike most meteor showers that originate from comets, the Geminid stream appears to originate from an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon.
  • The new findings have perplexed scientists as asteroids are not typically influenced by the Sun’s heat and should not leave behind a trail.
  • Phaethon is an asteroid, but as it flies by the Sun, it seems to have some kind of temperature-driven activity.
  • The Parker data indicates that a powerful event such as a high-speed collision or a gaseous explosion likely caused the creation of the Geminid stream.
  • 3200 Phaethon is classified as an asteroid- the first to be discovered via satellite.
  • It was discovered on Oct. 11, 1983, using the Infrared Astronomical Satellite, and named after the Greek myth of Phaethon, son of the sun god Helios, due to its close approach to Sun.
  • It is blue in colour, which is rare for an asteroid.

Bio-Stimulants : Draft Guidelines Report By Agriculture Ministry

The agriculture ministry has come out with draft guidelines specifying efficacy data and trial reports required for registration of various categories of bio-stimulants under Schedule VI of the FCO Amendment order 2021.

  • Bio-stimulants are defined as substances or microorganisms that stimulate plant physiological processes and enhance growth, nutrient uptake, and stress tolerance, excluding pesticides and plant growth regulators regulated under the Insecticides Act, 1968.
  • India has introduced separate regulations for bio-stimulants, making it one of the few countries to do so.
  • The government issued the bio-stimulant regulation through the FCO Amendment Order in 2021, requiring bio-stimulants to be registered and demonstrate efficacy before being marketed.
  • Manufacturers must submit data on chemistry, bio-efficacy trials, and toxicity for each product. The Central Bio-stimulant Committee (CBC) will evaluate toxicity data based on safe use history or bio-safety data accepted by Indian or developed country government bodies.
  • Shelf-life studies, fortification restrictions, and tolerance limits for naturally occurring elements are defined.
  • Animal testing should be minimized, and scientifically validated in-vitro methods can be accepted.
  • The data submitted for provisional registration may not need to be resubmitted for regular registration if the composition and claims remain unchanged.

VAIBHAV Fellowships Programme:

The Government of India has launched a new fellowship programme to connect the Indian Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM)diaspora with Indian academic and R&D institutions.

  • The fellowship would be awarded to outstanding scientists/technologists of Indian origin (NRI/OCI/PIO) who are engaged in research activities in their respective countries.
  • The VAIBHAV Fellow would identify an Indian Institution for collaboration and may spend up to two months in a year for a maximum of 3 years.
  • The government offers the researchers an amount of INR 4,00,000 per month for the entire period.
  • Aim is Improving the research ecosystem of India’s Higher Educational Institutions by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian Institutions and the best institutions in the world.
  • This is done through the mobility of faculty/researchers from overseas institutions to India.
  • Researchers from institutions featuring in the top 500 QS World University Rankings will be eligible for the fellowship.
  • The applicant must have obtained Ph.D./M.D/M.S degree from a recognized University.

Global Wind Day :15th June 2023

Global Wind Day celebrated on 15th Jun June 2023 by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) with the theme of “Pawan – Urja: Powering the Future of India”.

  • MNRE has set the target of 500 GW renewable energy capacity by 2030 and Wind Atlas at 150 meter above ground level was also launched by National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE), estimating the onshore wind potential at 1,164 GW.
  • Global Wind Day is an annual event since 2007 to promote wind energy as a clean and renewable source of power.
  • It was started by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and later joined by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
  • GWEC is a member-based organisation that represents the entire wind energy sector.
  • Wind energy is a form of renewable energy that uses the kinetic energy of the air to generate electricity.
  • Wind energy is created using wind turbines, which are devices that have blades that rotate when the wind blows.
  • The rotation of the blades drives a generator that produces electricity.
  • Wind energy can be generated on land or offshore, where there are stronger and more consistent winds.
  • Wind energy is a clean and renewable source of power that does not emit greenhouse gases or other pollutants.
  • Wind energy can be used for homes, businesses, farms, and other applications. Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy sources in the world.

Skill Impact Bond Initiative:

Under the Skill Impact Bond (SIB) initiative, nearly 18,000 first-time job seekers have been skilled, with 72% of them being women

  • The Skill Impact Bond (SIB) is India’s first development impact bond for skilling and employment.
  • Launched by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in collaboration with global partners
  • Aim is To benefit 50,000 young Indians (over 4 years), with a focus on empowering women (60% of beneficiaries)
  • It is a public-private partnership (PPP) model that emphasizes providing employment opportunities to trainees rather than just issuing training certificates.
  • The SIB addresses the impact of the pandemic on women and employment, removes barriers to women’s workforce retention, and leverages private sector capital and expertise.
  • It also works towards strengthening India’s technical and vocational education ecosystem through knowledge exchange and mainstreaming good practices.

Enceladus : Small Moon Of Saturn

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft discovers ‘phosphorous on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

  • It is the second nearest of the major regular moons of Saturn and the brightest of all its moons.
  • It was discovered in 1789 by the English astronomer William Herschel and named for one of the Giants (Gigantes) of Greek mythology.
  • It is an active moon that hides a global ocean of liquid salty water beneath its crust.
  • Its icy surface is remarkably smooth in some places, and bright white all over and it is the most reflective body in the solar system.
  • Cassini spacecraft mission was launched by NASA in 1997 and orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017, circling the planet 294 times.
  • It measured the structure of Saturn’s atmosphere and rings, as well as how they interact with the planet’s moons.
  • It also discovered six named moons and revealed Enceladus and Titan as promising locations to search for extraterrestrial life.

Execution Only Platform:

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) directed existing Mutual Funds ‘Execution-Only Platforms’ (EOPs) to obtain registration within three months.

  • Execution only platform (EOP )is a digital or online platform which facilitates transactions such as subscription, redemption and switch transactions in direct plans of schemes of mutual funds.
  • Mutual funds is a financial vehicle that pools assets from shareholders to invest in securities like stocks, bonds, money market instruments, and other assets.
  • Mutual funds are operated by professional money managers, who allocate the fund’s assets and attempt to produce capital gains or income for the fund’s investors.
  • Till now, there was no specific framework available for technology/digital platforms to provide execution-only services in direct plans of mutual fund schemes.
  • As per the new SEBI’s new guidelines, no entity would be allowed to operate as an EOP without obtaining registration from SEBI or the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI).