CrackitToday App

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 18th March 2024

Today’s Current Affairs: 18th March 2024 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

NATO’s DIANA Program:

Finland has joined NATO’s DIANA (Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic) program, marking a significant opportunity for Finnish companies to expand globally.

  • The DIANA program, established by NATO, aims to accelerate dual-use innovation capacity across the Alliance.
  • It offers resources, networks, and guidance to companies for developing deep technologies.
  • DIANA addresses critical defence and security challenges, including operating in denied environments and enhancing collective resilience.
  • All NATO nations are members of DIANA.

One Nation One Election : Committee Proposed Changes

The High-Level Committee on One Nation, One Election, led by former President Ram Nath Kovind, has proposed significant changes to enable synchronized elections across India.

  • One Nation One Election is a proposal to synchronize the timing of all elections in India, including those for the Lok Sabha, state legislative assemblies, and local bodies.
  • The aim is to streamline the electoral process, reduce campaign expenditures, minimize disruptions to governance, and enhance political stability by holding all elections simultaneously at regular intervals, typically once every five years.
  • One Nation One Election was the norm until 1967 but after that cycle was broken.
  • Earlier Law Commission also recommended the idea of ONOE in its report.

Key Recommendations of the High-Level Committee:

  • Synchronize Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies (SLA) elections first, followed by Municipalities and Panchayats elections (M&PE).
  • Amendments in Article 324A are required for this synchronization, but states’ ratification is not necessary.
  • The amendments needed for simultaneous elections are outside the scope of Article 368(2) and thus don’t require ratification by the states.
  • Municipal and Panchayat elections should be held within 100 days of Lok Sabha and State elections.
  • For Lok Sabha, fresh elections should be held with tenure limited to the unexpired term of the previous Lok Sabha.
  • For States, fresh elections should be held, continuing until the end of the full term of Lok Sabha.
  • Amendments in Article 83 and Article 172 are needed, but state ratification is not required.
  • An amendment to Article 325 is recommended, which will require states’ ratification.
  • A Presidential notification would set an “appointed date” for simultaneous elections.
  • The Constitution mainly entrusts Parliament, not states, with the power to conduct Assembly elections.
  • Under Article 328 of the Constitution States have only residual powers on conducting Assembly elections; the power is mainly entrusted to Parliament through Article 327.

Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction : Event

The Blue Leaders High-Level Event on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction took place in Belgium, encouraging nations to ratify the Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) treaty aimed at protecting the high seas from pollution, climate change, and overfishing.

  • The BBNJ treaty commonly referred to as the Treaty of the High Seas was agreed upon in March 2023 for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
  • It represents a crucial step towards conserving and sustainably managing marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
  • The treaty aims to address the challenges faced by the high seas, which constitute areas beyond 200 nautical miles from the exclusive economic zones of coastal countries.
  • So far, 88 countries have signed the treaty, with Chile and Palau being the only two to have ratified it.
  • However, at least 60 ratifications are necessary for it to come into force.
  • The treaty seeks to increase the percentage of protected areas on the high seas, which currently stands at a mere 1.44%, despite covering more than two-thirds of the global ocean.
  • It aims to ensure fair and equitable sharing of profits from marine genetic resources (MGR) and establish rules for conducting Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), which deal with identifying and evaluating the potential impacts an activity could have on the ocean.

PM-SURAJ Scheme:

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched the ‘Pradhan Mantri Samajik Utthan and Rozgar Adharit Jankalyan’ (PM-SURAJ) national portal online aimed at offering credit support to the marginalized segments of society, with the Prime Minister as the Chief Guest.

  • The PM distributed Ayushman Health Cards and Personal Protective Equipment to Safai Mitras(sewer and septic tank workers), under the National Action for Mechanised Sanitation Ecosystem (NAMASTE) scheme, which was previously a rehabilitation scheme for manual scavengers.
  • The ‘PM-SURAJ’ national portal aims to uplift the most marginalized sections of society and provide credit assistance to one lakh entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities.
  • It is implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and its departments.
  • The portal serves as a one-stop point where people from disadvantaged sections of society can apply for and monitor the progress of all loan and credit schemes already available to them.
  • The credit support will be facilitated through banks, Non-Banking Financial Companies Finance Institutions (NBFC-MFIs), and other organizations, ensuring accessibility across the country.
  • An NBFC MFI is a non-deposit taking NBFC with a minimum Net Owned Funds (NOF) of Rs. 5 crore (Rs. 2 crore for those registered in the North Eastern Region of the country) and having at least 85% of its net assets as “qualifying assets (intended use or sale)”.

ETHANOL 100 : Launched

The Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas and Housing and Urban Affairs, launched ‘ETHANOL 100’.

  • ETHANOL 100 fuel has high-octane rating, typically between 100-105. It proves ideal for high-performance engines, ensuring improved efficiency and power output all while minimizing environmental impact.
  • ETHANOL 100’s versatility shines through, as it can be used in a wide array of vehicles, including flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) designed to run on gasoline, ethanol or any blend of the two.
  • Its practicality and potential to become a mainstream fuel option with the right infrastructure in place.
  • It includes 93-93.5 percent ethanol blended with 5 percent petrol and 1.5 percent co-solvent, which is a binder.
  • It stands as a cleaner, greener alternative to gasoline, boasting lower emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants, thus aiding in combating climate change and enhancing air quality in our communities.

Pandavula Gutta : Geo-heritage Site In Telangana

Pandavula Gutta has been officially recognised as the sole Geo-heritage site in Telangana. “Geoheritage” is a generic but descriptive term applied to sites or areas of geologic features with significant scientific, educational, cultural or aesthetic value.

  • Pandavula Gutta is a geological marvel older than the Himalayan hills.
  • It is located in Jayashankar Bhupalpally district in Telangana is home to many prehistoric habitation sites.
  • It is rich in terms of number of paintings, rock shelters and its habitation, right from the mesolithic to medieval times.
  • The paintings feature geometrical designs and impressions in green, red, yellow and white pigment colours.
  • These cave paintings offer a rare glimpse into the prehistoric man’s rock art identified on walls and ceilings of caves, rock shelters and isolated boulders.
  • The rock art paintings depict wild life like Bison, Antelope, Tiger, Leopard etc. Other shapes like swastika symbol, circles and squares, weapons such as bows, arrows, sword and lancer etc are present in these paintings.

Noctis Volcano : Massive Volcano On Mars

Scientists recently discovered a massive volcano on Mars, temporarily designated ‘Noctis volcano’, with the possible remains of a relict glacier at its base.

  • Noctis Volcano is a newly-discovered volcano located just south of Mars’ equator, in Eastern Noctis Labyrinthus, west of Valles Marineris, the planet’s vast canyon system.
  • The volcano sits on the eastern edge of a broad regional topographic rise called Tharsis, home to three other well-known giant volcanoes: Ascraeus Mons, Pavonis Mons, and Arsia Mons.
  • The central summit area is marked by several elevated mesas forming an arc, reaching a regional high and sloping downhill away from the summit area.
  • The caldera remnant–the remains of a collapsed volcanic crater once host to a lava lake–can be seen near the centre of the structure.
  • Lava flows, pyroclastic deposits (made of volcanic particulate materials such as ash, cinders, pumice and tephra), and hydrated mineral deposits occur in several areas within the structure’s perimeter.
  • It was active for a very long time on the Red Planet, and in its southeastern part lies a thin, recent volcanic deposit beneath which glacier ice is likely still present.

Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) Test:

According to a nationwide study, India is estimated to have 10.13 crore people with diabetes and another 13.6 crore people who are pre-diabetic.

  • Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) Test is one of the most commonly-used tests to diagnose pre-diabetes and diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) and to help manage diabetes.
  • It is also known as the glycated haemoglobin or glycosylated haemoglobin test.
  • It is an important blood test that gives a good indication of how well your diabetes is being controlled.
  • Hemoglobin is the part of your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.
  • Sugar enters your bloodstream from the food you eat.
  • The sugar or glucose, attaches to the haemoglobin in your red blood cells.
  • Haemoglobin is a protein that transports oxygen to all the cells of your body.
  • Everybody has some sugar attached to their haemoglobin.
  • Those with pre-diabetes and diabetes, however, have more.
  • The HbA1C test measures the percentage of your red blood cells that have sugar-coated, or glycated, haemoglobin.

ULLAS Initiative:

The Ministry of Education is set to conduct the Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Assessment Test (FLNAT) as part of the ULLAS – Nav Bharat Saaksharta Karyakram.

  • The Understanding Lifelong Learning for All in Society (ULLAS) initiative is poised to revolutionise education and literacy across the nation.
  • It is done by fostering a learning ecosystem that reaches every individual, bridging the gaps in basic literacy and critical life skills.
  • It imparts basic education, digital and financial literacy and critical life skills to citizens aged 15 and above who lost on the opportunity to go to school. It is being implemented through volunteerism.
  • Its objective is to impart not only Foundational Literacy and Numeracy but also to cover other components which are necessary for a citizen of 21st century such as
    • Critical Life Skills(including financial literacy, digital literacy, commercial skills, health care and awareness, child care and education, and family welfare);
    • Vocational Skills Development(with a view towards obtaining local employment);
    • Basic Education(including preparatory, middle, and secondary stage equivalency)
    • Continuing Education(including engaging holistic adult education courses in arts, sciences, technology, culture, sports, and recreation, as well as other topics of interest or use to local learners, such as more advanced material on critical life skills).
  • The ULLAS app can be used for registration of learners and volunteers either through self-registration or by surveyors.
  • It will serve as a digital gateway for learners to engage in diverse learning resources through the DIKSHA portal of NCERT.

T+0 settlement : SEBI

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) recently approved the launch of the beta version of the T+0 settlement on an optional basis.

  • T+0 Settlement means that the funds and securities for a transaction will be settled on the day the trade was entered.
  • At present, the Indian securities markets operate on a T+1 settlement cycle, where the settlement happens on the next day of trade.
  • In 2002, the regulator cut down the settlement period from T+5 to T+3, and in 2003, SEBI further reduced it to T+2. In 2021, the T+1 settlement started and was gradually implemented, with the final phase completed in January 2023.
  • Instant receipt of funds and securities to the investor. It will eliminate the risk of any kind of settlement shortage and give greater control over funds and securities to the investor.
  • There is expected to be lower counterparty risk and increased liquidity in the market.

Grievance Redressal Assessment Index : Ranking

The Ministry of Home Affairs has consistently ranked amongst the top 10 Ministries in 2023-24 in the grievance redressal assessment index (GRAI).

  • Grievance Redressal Assessment Index was conceptualised and designed by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Government of India.
  • Objective is to present an organisation-wise comparative picture and provide valuable insights about strengths and areas of improvement regarding the grievance redressal mechanism.
  • It is based on a comprehensive index in the dimensions of Efficiency, Feedback, Domain and Organisational Commitment.
  • It uses data from the Centralised Public Grievance Redressal and Management System (CPGRAMS).
  • CPGRAMS is an online platform available to the citizens 24×7 to lodge their grievances to the public authorities on any subject related to service delivery.
  • It is a single portal connected to all the Ministries/Departments of Government of India and States.

Eastern Maritime Corridor:

The Red Sea crisis has shifted attention to the Eastern Maritime Corridor (EMC) – the proposed trade route for coking coal, crude oil, LNG, fertilizers and containers.

  • Eastern Maritime Corridor (EMC) is a proposed sea route between the Indian port of Chennai and the Russian port of Vladivostok.
  • Once complete, it will take 24 days, down from presently over 40 days, to transport goods from India to Far East Russia.
  • The EMC will cover a distance of about 5,600 nautical miles, which is significantly shorter than the current route via the Suez Canal.
  • For India, it will provide a shorter and more efficient route to access the markets of the Far East, such as China and Japan.

Ban On Exports Of De-Oiled Rice Bran:

The Central Government has extended the ban on exports of de-oiled rice bran by another four months.

  • Rice Bran is one of the main byproducts in the process of rice milling. It is the outer brown layer of brown rice and is separated during the milling process.
  • The bran fraction contains 14-18% oil.
  • Rice bran oil is popular as a “healthy oil” in Japan, Asia, and particularly India.
  • It is a pale yellow, odourless, nutty-flavoured oil with a sweet taste.
  • It is a good source of unsaturated fats, vitamin E and other important nutrients.
  • The nutrient composition of rice bran depends on the rice variety and the efficiency of the milling system.
  • It is currently mostly used as animal feed. The oily nature makes bran an excellent binder for animal feeds.
  • It has anti-diabetic, lipid-lowering, hypotensive, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, while its consumption also improves bowel function.
  • It contains substances that might decrease how much cholesterol the body absorbs.
  • It might also decrease calcium absorption, which might help prevent certain types of kidney stones from forming.