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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 18th February 2023

Today’s Current Affairs: 18th February 2023 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

Mammatus Clouds : Picture Released By NASA

NASA released a Picture of the day which was Mammatus Clouds.

  • Mammatus is a cellular pattern of pouches hanging underneath the base of a cloud, typically a cumulonimbus raincloud, although they may be attached to other classes of parent clouds.
  • Mammatus may appear as smooth, ragged or lumpy lobes and may be opaque or translucent.
  • Mammatus clouds are usually formed in association with large cumulonimbus clouds.
  • Typically, turbulence within the cumulonimbus cloud will cause Mammatus to form.
  • Cumulonimbus is a dense, towering vertical cloud, typically forming from water vapor condensing in the lower troposphere that builds upward carried by powerful buoyant air currents.

Aadi Mahotsav : Inauguration

The Prime Minister of India inaugurated the tribal festival “Aadi Mahotsav”, a two-week-long exhibition in New Delhi.

  • The Mahotsav celebrates the spirit of tribal culture, crafts, cuisine, commerce and traditional art is an annual initiative of the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation Limited (TRIFED) under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • TRIFED was established in 1987 under the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 1984 by the Government of India as a National level Cooperative body under the administrative control of the then Ministry of Welfare of India, with the basic mandate of bringing about socio-economic development of tribals of the country by institutionalizing the trade of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) & Surplus Agricultural Produce (SAP) collected/ cultivated by them.

First Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Framework : Puducherry

Puducherry has launched the country’s first Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) framework as part of a pact under the Indo-Norway Integrated Ocean Initiative.

  • Puducherry and Lakshadweep were chosen as coastlines to pilot the MSP initiative after a 2019 Memorandum of understanding (MoU) between India and Norway.
  • Marine Spatial Planning is an ecosystem-based spatial planning process for analysing current and anticipated ocean and coastal uses and identifying areas most suitable for various activities.
  • It provides a public policy process for society to better determine how the ocean and coasts are sustainably used and protected now and for future generations.
  • Ministry of Earth Sciences oversees the implementation of the MSP through National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, the Puducherry Coastal Zone Management Authority and Department of Science, Technology and Environment, Puducherry in collaboration with Norwegian Environment Agency.
  • The two nations have agreed to provide continued assistance towards the sustainable use of ocean resources, with the aim of promoting economic and social development in coastal regions.
  • After successful implementation of pilot project in Lakshadweep and Puducherry, the framework can be replicated to other coastal regions of the country.

MQ-9B Sea Guardian:

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will provide Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services for engines of US’s MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft System as India is in discussions to buy 30 MQ-9B drones to enhance its surveillance capabilities along the China border and the Indian Ocean region.

  • In another announcement, Germany based HENSOLDT and HAL announced a collaboration agreement covering design/IPR Transfer for design and manufacturing of Obstacle Avoidance System (OAS) for Indian helicopters.
  • The MQ-9B Sea Guardian has changed the game in maritime domain awareness.
  • It’s the first unmanned aerial system of its kind that can search the ocean surface and the depths in support of naval intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
  • It is designed to fly over the horizon via SATCOM for up to 30 hours (depending on configuration) in all types of weather.
  • General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI) of US is the manufacturer of the MQ-9Bs.
  • Indian Navy operates two MQ-9B Sea Guardians taken on lease in 2020.

National Organ Transplantation Guidelines:

The Central Government has recently made major changes in the organ transplant regulations in the country under its ‘one nation, one policy’ rule by removing the 65-year age cap for recipients and allowing them to register in any state and not just their state.

  • The primary legislation governing organ transplantation in India is the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, passed in 1994.
  • It provides a system to regulate the removal, storage, and transplantation of human organs for therapeutic purposes and for the prevention of commercial dealings in human organs.

Highlights of the New Guidelines:

  • The upper age limit has been removed as people are now living longer.
  • Earlier, according to the NOTTO (National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization) guidelines, an end-stage organ failure patient above 65 years of age was prohibited from registering to receive the organ.
  • The ministry has removed the domicile requirement to register as an organ recipient in a particular state under a ‘One Nation, One Policy’ move.
  • Now a needy patient can register to receive an organ in any state of his or her choice and will also be able to get the surgery done there.
  • There will be no registration fee that states used to charge for this purpose, the Centre has asked states that used to charge for such registration to not do so.
  • Among the states that sought money for registration were Gujarat, Telangana, Maharashtra, and Kerala.
  • Certain states asked for anything between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 to register a patient on the organ recipient waitlist.

National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO):

  • It is a National level organization set up under the Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
  • It functions as the apex center for coordinating all activities and networking for the procurement and distribution of organs and tissues and maintaining the registry of organs and tissue donation and transplantation in the country.

Pandora’s Cluster (Abell 2744):

Astronomers have recently revealed the latest deep field image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, featuring never-before-seen details in a region of space known as Pandora’s Cluster (Abell 2744).

Pandora’s Cluster (Abell 2744):

  • It is a giant galaxy cluster.
  • It appears to be the result of a simultaneous pile-up of at least four separate, smaller galaxy clusters.
  • The crash took place over a span of 350 million years.
  • The galaxies in the cluster make up less than five percent of its mass.
  • The gas (around 20 percent) is so hot that it shines only in X-rays.
  • Dark mattermakes up around 75 percent of the cluster’s mass.
  • It is located around 4 billion light years from earth.

Primary Agricultural Credit Societies : Approved

Union Cabinet recently approved the establishment of new Primary Agricultural Credit Society in 2 lakh panchayats in the next five years.

  • PACS are village-level cooperative credit societies that serve as the last link in a three-tier cooperative credit structure headed by the State Cooperative Banks (SCB) at the state level.
  • Credit from the SCBs is transferred to the district central cooperative banks (DCCBs) that operate at the district level. The DCCBs work with PACS, which deals directly with farmers.
  • Individual farmers are members of the PACS, and office-bearers are elected from within them.
  • There are 02 lakh PACS in India (As per the RBI report of December 2022).
  • Functions:
    • To provide short and medium-term purpose loans to farmers for various agricultural purposes.
    • Borrowing adequate funds from central financial agencies to help its members on time.
    • Maintaining the supply of the hired light machinery for agricultural purposes.
    • To promote savings habits among its members.
    • To arrange for supplying agricultural inputs.
    • Provide marketing facilities to members that could enhance the sale of their agricultural products in the market at reasonable prices.

Payment Aggregator Licenses : RBI

Payment Aggregator (PA) is a third-party service provider that allows merchants to accept payment from customers by integrating it into their websites or apps.

  • It facilitates different types of payment transactions, including cash/cheque, online payments through multiple payment sources, or offline touchpoints.
  • It allows merchants to accept bank transfers without setting up a bank-based merchant account. It means a merchant need not have a merchant account directly with the bank.
  • A PA in India is incorporated under the Companies Act 2013.
  • A PA can be a bank or a non-bank entity.
  • Since a PA handles funds, it requires a license from the RBI.
  • Only non-bank payment aggregators require unique authorization from RBI as ‘handling funds’ is considered a part of the normal banking relationships for bank PAs.
  • Examples: Amazon (Pay) India, Google India, Razorpay, Pine Labs, etc.
  • Payment Gateway is a software service that connects your bank account to the platform where you need to transfer your money.
  • It authorizes you to conduct an online transaction through different payment modes like net banking, credit card, debit card, UPI, or other online wallets.
  • A Payment gateway plays the role of a third party that securely transfers your money from the bank account to the merchant’s payment portal.

Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI) : India’s Ranking

In the recent services trade restrictiveness index (STRI), India’s rank improved a notch to 47 from 48 among 50 countries surveyed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Highlights of the Survey:

  • The 2022 STRI of India is above the OECD average and high compared to all countries in the STRI sample.
  • India had been progressively introducing reforms over the past years, contributing to a slight liberalisation of services trade in some sectors, most notably between 2018 and 2021.
  • Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI) was launched in 2014 and provides information on regulations affecting trade in services in 22 sectors across all member countries.
  • The regulatory database and indices are updated annually in December.
  • There is also a Digital STRI that identifies, catalogues, and quantifies cross-cutting barriers that affect services traded digitally.
  • This index takes values between zero and one, one representing a totally closed and zeros a fully open sector.

Thyreus narendrani : New Species Of Cuckoo Bee

Researchers from Kerala has been discovered a new species of cuckoo bee from the Kole wetlands and named it Thyreus narendrani.

Thyreus narendrani:

  • The new species belongs to the family Apidae of the order Hymenoptera.
  • The genus Thyreus consists of cuckoo bees or cleptoparasitic bees.
  • Cuckoo bees parasitise the nest of other bees by breaking and entering and laying their eggs.
  • Unlike other female bees, cuckoo bees lack pollen-collecting structures.
  • Once the cuckoo bee’s larva hatches out in the nest of the host bee, it consumes the food stored by the host for its own growing larva.
  • Kole wetland is the largest brackish, humid tropical wetland ecosystem located in the state of Kerala.
  • Extending from the northern bank of Chalakudy River in the south to the southern bank of Bharathapuzha River in the north
  • It is situated in the central Asian Flyway of migratory birds.

Exercise Dharma Guardian-2023:

A joint military exercise Dharma Guardian between India and Japan to begin from 17 February 2023 at Camp Imazu in Japan.

  • Exercise Dharma Guardian-2023: is the 4th joint military exercise between India and Japan which is being conducted since 2018.
  • The scope of this exercise covers platoon-level joint training on operations in jungle and semi-urban or urban terrain.
  • Troops of the Garhwal Rifles Regiment of the Indian Army and an Infantry Regiment from the Middle Army of the Japan Ground Self Defence Force are participating in the exercise.
  • This joint exercise will enable the two armies to share best practices in tactics, techniques and procedures for conducting tactical operations under a UN Mandate.