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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 23rd Dec 2023

Today’s Current Affairs: 23rd Dec 2023 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

PM-AJAY Scheme:

The Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment informed the Rajya Sabha about the PM-AJAY scheme.

  • Pradhan Mantri Anusuchit Jaati Abhyuday Yojana (PM- AJAY) is a 100% Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
  • It is a merged scheme of three Centrally Sponsored Schemes, namely Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana(PMAGY), Special Central Assistance to Scheduled Castes Sub Plan (SCA to SCSP), and Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana (BJRCY).
  • The main objective of the scheme is to increase the income of the target population by way of various income generating schemes, skill development and infrastructure development.
  • To reduce the poverty among the target population and bring them above the poverty lines.
  • The Scheduled Castes persons living below the poverty lines are eligible for getting benefits under this scheme.
  • In case of Infrastructure Development, the villages having 50% or more SC population are eligible for grants under the Scheme.
  • It is being implemented since 2021-22 as three components, which are as under: –
    • Development of SC dominated villages into an ‘Adarsh Gram’
    • Grants-in-aid for District/State-level Projects for socio-economic betterment of SCs’
    • Construction of Hostels in Higher Educational Institutions

Winter Solstice : December 22

India prepares for the longest night of the year on December 22, a phenomenon known as the Winter Solstice.

  • The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year.
  • The Earth is tilted 23.4 degrees on its axis, so if the Earth’s pole is pointing towards or away from the Sun during the day, the arc the Sun travels through will rise and fall during the year.
  • Winter Solstice happens when one of the Earth’s poles is far away from the Sun.
  • It falls on December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere and June 20 or 21 in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • The word solstice is derived from the Latin word solstitium, where ‘sol’ means Sun and ‘stitium’ means to stop.
  • During the winter solstice, the days are the shortest.
  • The duration of daylight will vary across countries.
  • The winter solstice is significant in many cultures since it marks the symbolic death and rebirth of the Sun.
  • Ancient monuments like Stonehenge are aligned with the sunrise or sunset on the winter solstice.
  • December’s winter solstice is when the northern half of the Earth is tilted furthest away from the sun.
  • The northern hemisphere will experience the fewest hours of sunlight, making it the shortest day of the year while the night is the longest.
  • Every day after the winter solstice will grow longer in the northern hemisphere until it’s summer solstice, or the longest day of the year, between June 20 and 22.

Namdapha Flying Squirrel:

A Namdapha flying squirrel has resurfaced in Arunachal Pradesh after going missing for 42 years.

  • Namdapha flying squirrel is an arboreal, nocturnal flying squirrel endemic to Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It is one of the 43 known flying squirrel species in the world.
  • It was named the Namdapha Flying Squirrel after the location it was discovered in an area which falls under the Namdapha National Park.
  • These squirrels are not capable of flight like birds or bats; instead, they glide between trees.
  • They inhabit tall Mesua ferrea jungles, often on hill slopes in the catchment area of the Dihing River (particularly on the western slope of the Patkai range) in northeastern India.
  • They are herbivores (frugivores, granivores). They eat various fruits, nuts, seeds, fungi, flowers, and tree sap.
  • Conservation status:
    • UCN Red List: Critically Endangered
    • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: schedule II

Namdapha Tiger Reserve:

  • It is located in the Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Namdapha is the name of a river which originates from Daphabum and meets the Noa-Dehing river.
  • This river flows right across in a North-South direction of the National Park and hence the name Namdapha has been given.
  • This protected area is wedged between the Dapha Bum ridge of Mishmi Hills, of North Eastern Himalayas and the Patkai Ranges.

Channa Barca:

Assam Forest Department officials recently intercepted a smuggling attempt involving over 500 ‘Channa Barca’ fish valued at Rs 4.5 crore at Dibrugarh airport.

  • Channa Barca, also known as the Barca Snakehead, is a primitive predatory fish and member of the family Channidae.
  • “Pipli Cheng” or “Cheng Garaka” is the local name for Channa Barca.
  • It is endemic to the upper Brahmaputra river basin in northeastern India and Bangladesh.
  • In India It is restricted to the states of Assam and Nagaland in northeastern India but is scarce and never collected in numbers.
  • It inhabits vertical burrows around the margins of wetlands, which typically become dry during the winter months.
  • The fish use them as refuges during the dry winter months, emerging to hunt and breed while the habitat is flooded.
  • Since it is a rare, ornamental fish, it is in high demand in the international market and is susceptible to illegal trade.
  • Overall It has been assessed as data deficient by the IUCN, and in 2014.
  • It was assessed by the IUCN as critically endangered due to habitat loss.

Paat-Mitro : Mobile Application For Jute Farmers

The Ministry of Textiles recently launched the “Paat-Mitro” mobile application to provide important information about MSP and agronomy to jute farmers.

  • Paat Mitro is a mobile application developed by the Jute Corporation of India Limited (JCI).
  • Purpose is to provide important information about Minimum Support Prices (MSP) and agronomy to jute farmers.
  • Features is available in six languages.
  • All the functionalities are made available to the users free of cost.
  • In addition to the latest agronomic practices and MSP, Jute Gradation Parameters, Farmer-centric schemes like ‘Jute-ICARE’, weather forecasts, JCI’s Purchase Centres’ locations, and Procurement Policies are also made available in the app.
  • Farmers will also be able to track the status of their payments for the raw jute sold to JCI under MSP Operation.

Jute Corporation of India Limited (JCI):

  • It was set up in 1971 as an official agency by the Government of India with the aim to provide minimum support price (MSP) to jute cultivators.
  • It is the implementing agency of various projects of the Government of India for the enhancement and betterment of the Jute crop and the lives of Jute growers.
  • It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Textiles.

CAG Audits:

Calendar year 2023, only 18 audit reports on the Union government’s accounts, prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), were tabled in Parliament.

  • A year-wise analysis shows that the number of audits on the Union Government tabled in Parliament has been decreasing.
  • On average, 22 reports were tabled each year between 2019 and 2023, compared to the 40 reports tabled between 2014 and 2018
  • Comptroller and Auditor General of India, is a constitutional authority which heads the Indian Audit and Accounts Department (IA&AD).
  • The two entities are known as the Supreme Audit Institution of India (SAI).
  • Article 148 provides for an independent office of the CAG
  • The CAG is appointed by the president of India by a warrant under his hand and seal

FAME II Scheme : Extended

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry has recommended extending the Faster Adoption & Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) – II Scheme by at least three more years.

  • The committee suggests broadening the scope of the FAME-II Scheme to support more electric vehicles, making it more inclusive.
  • The committee recommends restoring subsidies on electric two-wheelers
  • The committee advises increasing the number of electric vehicles supported in the four-wheelers category and including private electric four-wheelers in the FAME II Scheme, with a cap based on the cost and battery capacity of the vehicle.
  • The committee suggests incentivizing the installation of charging stations and extending support to individual investors, women’s self-help groups, and cooperative societies.
  • It also recommends allocating more funds to entities like Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) to popularize EV mobility.
  • There is a need for a consistent and stable national policy on electric mobility.

FAME Scheme:

  • FAME India is part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan, aiming to encourage electric vehicles through subsidies across all vehicle segments.
  • Phases of the Scheme Phase I started in 2015 and completed on March 31, 2019.
  • Phase II started in April 2019 and concluded on March 31, 2022.
  • Technologies Covered Hybrid and electric technologies, including Mild Hybrid, Strong Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid and Battery Electric Vehicles.
  • Monitoring Authority is Department of Heavy Industries, Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.
  • Focus Areas of the Scheme is Technology development; Demand creation; Pilot projects; Charging infrastructure
  • Objectives of the Scheme Encourage faster adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles through upfront incentives; Establish necessary charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
  • Features of Phase II of FAME Emphasis on electrification of public transportation, including shared transport; Incentives primarily for vehicles used in public transport or registered for commercial purposes; Benefits extended to vehicles with advanced batteries like Lithium-Ion batteries.

Rozgar Melas:

Rozgar Melas events are being held across the country recently.

  • New appointees are inducted into various Central Ministries/ Departments/ Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs)/ Autonomous Bodies including Health and education Institutes, Public Sector Banks etc.
  • Filling up vacant posts in various Ministries/Departments is a continuous process. All vacant posts are being filled in a Mission Mode.
  • 1st Edition of National Rozgar Mela: October 22, 2022
  • Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
  • Objective is to give impetus to the employment initiatives in the country, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) under the aegis of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Government of India has been organizing Rozgar Melas across the nation to provide suitable job opportunities in the private sector to the unemployed youth.
  • A Rozgar Mela is a 1/2-day event where several employers and job seekers come together for the purpose of applying and interviewing for jobs.
  • These Rozgar Melas generally cater to the youth in the age group of 18-35 Years with an academic qualification covering 8th/10th/12th Pass, ITI, Diploma, Graduates etc. including the trained and certified candidates conforming to National Skills Qualifications Framework.
  • The jobseekers for the Rozgar Mela are sensitized & mobilized through various channels including Print Advertisement, Bulk SMS, Social Media & workshops at the College and university Level in & around the districts of the Rozgar Mela.
  • Under the Rozgar Mela Scheme, 10 lakh jobs will be available for candidates to apply in Group A and B Gazetted Posts, Group B Non-Gazetted and Group C Non-Gazetted posts.

Volcano Erupted In Iceland’s Reykjavik:

A volcano erupted in Iceland’s Reykjavik with lava fountains reaching high up in the air recently.

  • In just the past two years, there have been four eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland’s most populated corner and home to its capital.
  • Iceland volcano is an opening in the Earth’s crust that allows molten rock, gases, and debris to escape to the surface.
  • Movement of molten rock in the mantle, caused by thermal convection currents, coupled with gravitational effects of changes on the earth’s surface (erosion, deposition, even asteroid impact and patterns of post-glacial rebound) drive plate tectonic motion and ultimately volcanism.

3D-Printed Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine : NASA

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully testing a novel 3D-printed Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine (RDRE).

  • The 251-second burn marks a significant achievement, showcasing the RDRE’s capability for extended propulsion needs.
  • The RDRE is 3D-printed, demonstrating NASA’s advancements in additive manufacturing for cutting-edge propulsion systems.
  • The test is a result of collaboration between NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, In Space LLC, and Purdue University.
  • The partnerships aim to push the boundaries of propulsion technology.
  • RDRE has the ability to enable a significant leap in design efficiency.
  • The technology represents a step closer to creating lightweight propulsion systems that can send more mass and payload further into deep space, aligning with NASA’s Moon to Mars vision.

World’s Oldest Known Fort:

An international team of archaeologists has uncovered is believed to be the world’s oldest-known fort in a remote region of Siberia.

  • The fortified settlement, named Amnya, is located along the Amnya River in western Siberia.
  • It features around 20 scattered pit-house depressions divided into two sections, Amnya I and Amnya II.
  • Radiocarbon dating of samples collected at the site places the fort’s construction around 8,000 years ago, making it the oldest-known fort in the world.
  • This predates the prevailing notion that fortresses emerged with the advent of agriculture.
  • The study challenges stereotypes depicting early societies as basic and nomadic, revealing the capacity of these hunter-gatherers to construct intricate structures.
  • The fort’s construction suggests advanced architectural and defensive capabilities.
  • Archaeological examinations and analysis of samples indicate that the inhabitants of Western Siberia led a sophisticated lifestyle based on abundant resources from the taiga environment.
  • The site’s location provided access to fish, elk, and reindeer.
  • The researchers propose that the strategic location overlooking the river made Amnya an ideal lookout point for potential threats.
  • It would also allow the inhabitants to monitor fishing and hunting grounds.
  • While the researchers are uncertain about the motivation behind fortifying the structures, they speculate that it could have been to protect people and valuables.
  • The study does not determine whether the construction was ordered by an authority or a collaborative effort of the community.
  • The discovery challenges the traditional view that permanent settlements with defensive structures only emerged with farming societies.
  • It suggests that agriculture and animal husbandry were not prerequisites for societal complexity.

Leif Erikson Lunar Prize: ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been honored with the prestigious Leif Erikson Lunar Prize in recognition of its groundbreaking Chandrayaan-3 mission.

  • The award, presented by the Exploration Museum in Húsavík, Iceland, acknowledges ISRO’s exceptional contributions to lunar exploration and understanding celestial phenomena.
  • The Chandrayaan-3 mission, executed by ISRO, achieved a historic soft landing near the Moon’s South Pole on August 23, 2023. This remarkable achievement established India as the first nation to successfully land in this region, showcasing the country’s prowess in space exploration on a global scale.
  • The success of Chandrayaan-3 can be attributed to significant technological innovations, including advanced navigation algorithms, state-of-the-art guidance systems, and fault tolerance mechanisms.
  • These engineering advancements played a crucial role in ensuring a smooth descent and precision landing on the lunar surface.
  • Leif Erikson Lunar Prize named after the legendary Norse explorer Leif Erikson, the Leif Erikson Lunar Prize is presented by the Exploration Museum to celebrate extraordinary achievements in lunar exploration.