Today’s Current Affairs: 21st Nov 2023 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
SATHI Programme : Update
The Centre’s move to cancel a call for proposals under the Department of Science and Technology (DST)’s SATHI programme has sparked fears among higher education institutions
- Sophisticated Analytical & Technical Help Institutes (SATHI) is an initiative by the Department of Science and Technology to boost access to research and testing facilities and address problems of accessibility, maintenance, redundancy, and duplication of expensive equipment in Institutions.
- It aims to set up a shared, professionally managed Science and Technology (S&T) infrastructure facility which can be readily accessible to academia, start-ups, manufacturing units, industries, and R&D labs.
- Such S&T infrastructure will be known as the Sophisticated Analytical & Technical Help Institute (SATHI).
- These Centres will be equipped with major analytical instruments and advanced manufacturing facilities which are usually not available at Institutes / Organisations.
- It would encourage and ensure the establishment of a National Network of Laboratories and testing facilities tightly linked to global standards.
- SATHI facilities will be used for 80% of their available time by external users, e. outside of the host institutes and the remaining 20% of their available time by internal users of the host institute.
- The usage of the facility will be guided by the basic principle of maximum and effective utilization and accessibility for all.
- The facilities provided by the SATHI may be utilized by any user or organization upon payment of nominal charges.
- Proposals from well-established, internationally competitive S&T host institutes / R&D Centres / Organizations irrespective of their status as Government / NonGovernment, from State/ Central Universities, are invited through networking and a cluster approach.
Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana : Women Entrepreneurs First Priority
The Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister recently said women entrepreneurs are accorded first priority under the Centre’s flagship Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana scheme.
- Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) is a flagship scheme of the Government of India to extend affordable credit to micro and small enterprises.
- Mudra schemes are designed to bring enterprises into the formal financial system or to “fund the unfunded”.
- It enables a small borrower to borrow from all Public Sector Banks such as PSU Banks, Regional Rural Banks and Cooperative Banks, Private Sector Banks, Foreign Banks, Micro Finance Institutions (MFI), and Non Banking Finance Companies (NBFC) for loans upto Rs 10 lakhs for non-farm income-generating activities.
- Any Indian citizen who has a business plan for a non-farm sector income-generating activity such as manufacturing, processing, trading, or the service sector and whose credit need is less than Rs 10 lakh can approach either a bank, MFI, or NBFC for availing of Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd. (MUDRA) loans under PMMY.
- Types of loans provided: Under the aegis of PMMY, MUDRA has already created the following products
- Shishu: covering loans up to 50,000/-
- Kishor: covering loans above 50,000/- and up to 5 lakh
- Tarun: covering loans above 5 lakh and up to 10 lakh
Scattered Spiders : Hacking Group
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently issued a warning to organisations about a hacking group called Scattered Spiders.
- Scattered Spiders is a hacking group notorious for invading various organisations across the world.
- This hacker group is known by other aliases as well, including Starfraud, UNC3944, Scatter Swine, and Muddled Libra.
- The members are as young as 16 years old and primary English speakers.
- They break into the IT environments of victims, exfiltrate as much valuable data as possible, and then demand payment to keep a lid on that information and not leak or sell it.
- They use fake profiles and impersonations to trick a victim organisation’s help desk into giving them access.
- After gaining access to an organisation’s systems, hackers keep an eye on internal communication channels.
- They also keep a tab on emails or conversations that might show if their breach has been discovered.
- The criminals “frequently join incident remediation and response calls and teleconferences, likely to identify how security teams are hunting them and proactively develop new avenues of intrusion in response to victim defenses.
What Is Greenwashing?
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) recently proposed guidelines that aim to check Greenwashing in ads.
- Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or misleading information about how a company’s products are environmentally sound.
- Greenwashing involves making an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly or have a greater positive environmental impact than they actually do.
- Greenwashing may occur when a company attempts to emphasize sustainable aspects of a product to overshadow its involvement in environmentally damaging practices.
- Companies can also greenwash initiatives with vague claims that don’t provide real data or scientific validation for the claims.
Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI):
- It is a voluntary self-regulatory organisation of the advertising industry in India.
- Established in 1985, ASCI is registered as a non-profit company under Section 25 of the Company Act.
- It comprises members from marketing, creative, media, and allied companies in India.
- It is committed to the cause of self-regulation in advertising, ensuring the protection of the interests of consumers.
Indira Gandhi Peace Prize 2022:
The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and Development 2022 was jointly awarded to the Indian Medical Association and the Trained Nurses Association of India as representatives of the COVID-19 warriors in the country.
- Indira Gandhi Peace Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and Development was instituted in the memory of the former prime minister by a trust in her name in 1986.
- It consists of a monetary award of 25 lakh rupees along with a citation.
- The award is given to individuals or organisations that work towards ensuring international peace and development, ensuring that scientific discoveries are used to further the scope of freedom and better humanity, and creating a new international economic order.
Myristica Swamps : Live Fossils
The Myristica swamps, which are endemic to many species, are critically in need of conservation; currently, there is no consistent monitoring system in place to detect changes.
- Myristica swamps are called live fossils, a biodiversity hotspot dominated by evergreen trees belonging to the Myristicaceae family, one of the oldest flowering plants on earth.
- These are freshwater swamps.
- These forests are characterised by trees with large, protruding roots jutting out of waterlogged soil, which remains inundated throughout the year.
- They have evolved over millions of years and are comprised of old-growth trees.
- In India, these unique habitats occur in the Western Ghats and a smaller distribution exists in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- The formation of these swamps is dependent on abiotic conditions like the shape of the valley between the forested hills, the amount of rainfall a place receives (with an average of 3000 mm), and water availability throughout the year.
- Myristica swamps are seen next to rivers and help in retaining water and act as a sponge, ensuring perennial water availability.
- These swamps are home to many vertebrate and invertebrate faunal species. This is due to stable macroecological conditions like high humidity, moderate temperature, and macrohabitat availability.
Greenhouse Gas Concentrations : United Nations Issued Warning
The United Nations issued a warning highlighting the unprecedented surge in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, setting new records in 2022.
- UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO)’s 19th Annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin outlines the concerning implications, foreseeing heightened temperatures, intensified extreme weather events, and elevated sea levels as a consequence.
- WMO in its 19th annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin stated that levels of the three main greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, all surpassed previous records, marking an escalation in their atmospheric presence.
- In 2022, carbon dioxide concentrations reached 418 parts per million, methane at 1,923 parts per billion, and nitrous oxide at 336 parts per billion, significantly surpassing pre-industrial levels by 150%, 264%, and 124%, respectively.
- Of the three major greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2) accounts for about 64% of the warming effect on the climate.
- Methane ranks as the second-largest contributor to climate change, causing about 16% of warming.
- Nitrous oxide contributes around 7% to the warming effect.
Ixchiq Vaccine For Chikungunya:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States approved the world’s inaugural vaccine for chikungunya.
- This novel vaccine, named Ixchiq and developed by European vaccine manufacturer Valneva, marks a significant leap in combating the chikungunya virus (CHIKV).
- Ixchiq Vaccine is administered as a single dose via injection into the muscle.
- It contains a live, weakened version of the chikungunya virus, potentially causing symptoms akin to the disease in vaccine recipients.
- The vaccine has been approved for administration in people who are 18 years or older, and are at increased risk of exposure to the virus.
- Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease. It was first recognized in 1952 during an outbreak in southern Tanzania.
- It is a ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus that belongs to the alphavirus genus of the family Togaviridae.
- Symptoms: Chikungunya causes fever and severe joint pain, which is often debilitating and varies in duration.
- Dengue and Zika have similar symptoms to chikungunya, making chikungunya easy to misdiagnose.
Amazon WoW : Networking Platform For Women Engineering Students In India
Amazon Women of the World (WoW) programme is a networking platform for women engineering students in India, connecting them with Amazon leaders and recruiters. Each session will have limited number of slots and will be filled through RSVP. Participants will have to register for each session to be part of the live session.
- They will also have access to recordings of the session post completion of each session.
- It offers skill-building sessions, career insights from alumni, and information about Amazon’s culture.
- It aims to foster optimising resource utilisation, upskilling and promoting tech careers among women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
- Amazon WoW is open to all women students across engineering campuses in India. Any women student who is currently pursuing a four-year B.Tech/BE or two-year MCA, M.Tech/ME program or five year Dual Degree can participate.
2nd Voice Of Global South Summit:
2nd Voice of Global South Summit, hosted by India, focused on condemning the Hamas attacks of October 7 and called for restraint, dialogue, and diplomacy to resolve the Israel-Hamas conflict.
- Voice of Global South Summit is a platform where countries from the Global South, often described as developing or less developed, come together to share perspectives and priorities.
- The summit focuses on sustaining momentum toward a more inclusive, representative, and progressive world order.
- Indian PM unveils DAKSHIN (Global South Centre of Excellence) and calls for 5 ‘Cs’ for the Global South: Consultation, Cooperation, Communication, Creativity, and Capacity building.
- The term “Global South” refers to various countries often described as “developing,” “less developed” or “underdeveloped.”
- The concept of the Global South can be traced to the Brandt report of 1980.
- India has taken several initiatives for South-South cooperation, including the induction of the African Union into the G20 Grouping, International Solar Alliance, Global Biofuel Alliance, and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure
Birth Anniversary Of Rani Lakshmibai:
The Prime Minister has paid tributes to the symbol of the bravery of Indian women power, Rani Lakshmibai on her birth anniversary(19th November 1828 in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh).
- Rani Lakshmibai, originally named Manikarnika was one of the brave warriors of India’s struggle for Independence and the Queen of the Maratha-ruled princely state of Jhansi.
- She married Maharaja Gangadhar Rao at the age of 14, adopting the name Laxmibai. Her son died, and she later adopted Damodar Rao.
- In 1853, when the Maharaja of Jhansi died, Lord Dalhousie refused to acknowledge the child and applied the Doctrine of Lapse, and annexed the state.
- According to this, any princely state that was under the direct or indirect control of the East India Company where the ruler did not have a legal male heir would be annexed by the company.
- She was one of the leading figures of the Indian Revolt of 1857.
- Rani Lakshmibai fought bravely against the British to save her empire from annexation.
- She died fighting on the battlefield on 17th June 1858.
- When the Indian National Army started its first female unit (in 1943), it was named after the valiant queen of Jhansi.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Summit 2023:
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit 2023 took place in San Francisco, United States.
Key Highlights of the APEC Leaders’ Summit 2023:
- The APEC 2023 summit’s theme is “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All”.
- APEC reaffirmed their commitment to free, fair, and open trade and investment, and to advancing inclusive and sustainable growth in the region.
- The summit concluded with the adoption of the Golden Gate Declaration.
- The declaration underscores the commitment to creating a resilient and sustainable future for all member economies.
- The APEC leaders endorsed the APEC Action Agenda on Climate Change and Energy Security, which outlined a set of concrete actions and targets to enhance cooperation and coordination on addressing the climate crisis and ensuring energy security.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation:
- The APEC is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific.
- APEC aims to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.
- The APEC process is supported by a permanent secretariat based in Singapore.
- Members: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States.
India currently has the ‘observer’ status.