Today Current Affairs: 24th February 2022 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA:
A committee constituted by the Union Home Ministry in December to study the withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, from Nagaland, slated to submit a report within 45 days as claimed by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, is yet to conclude its findings
- The panel was formed in the wake of growing civilian anger against the botched ambush by an elite unit of the Army that led to the killing of 13 civilians at Oting in Nagaland’s Mon district on December 4.
- The six-member committee, headed by Registrar-General of India Vivek Joshi, made a solitary visit to the State in January.
- The announcement of the constitution of the committee was made by the Nagaland Chief Minister in Kohima on December 26.
- Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is a law that gives enormous discretionary powers to the armed forces over a civilian population.
- Currently, AFSPA is in effect in Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (with the exception of the Imphal municipal area) and parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
- It has been retained in Arunachal for areas bordering Assam and Myanmar.
- In Arunachal Pradesh, the ‘disturbed area’ notification is confined to the districts of Tirap, Changlang and Longding, and the areas falling under Namsai and Mahadevpur police stations, bordering Assam.
Unlawful Activities Prevention Act:
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said it had blocked apps, website and social media accounts of Punjab Politics TV.
- The Ministry said the channel had close links with the banned outfit Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), and it attempted to use the online media to disturb public order during the ongoing Punjab Assembly election.
- The SFJ was proscribed by the government under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in 2019. Members of the organisation have been accused of trying to revive terrorism in Punjab.
- It’s chief, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, has also been declared a terrorist. Pannun also has alleged links with key functionaries of other banned pro-Khalistan outfits, including Babbar Khalsa International, Khalistan Tiger Force and International Sikh Youth Federation.
- The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) was enacted in 1967.
- The 2004 amendment was to ban organisations for terrorist activities, under which 34 outfits, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad, were banned.
- The 2019 amendment gave the Home Ministry the power to designate individuals as terrorists.
Meta To Build An AI Supercomputer:
Meta announced in January 2022 that it is building an AI supercomputer, the AI Research SuperCluster (RSC).
- Meta considers the RSC as a powerful supercomputer capable of quintillions of operations per second.
- It can perform tasks like translating text between languages and help identify potentially harmful content on Meta’s platform.
- The RSC, compared with Meta’s legacy production and research infrastructure, can run computer vision workflows up to 20 times faster, and train large-scale natural language processing (NLP) models three times faster.
- Meta estimates that a model with billions of parameters can finish training in three weeks, compared to the nine weeks it was before.
- RSC today comprises a total of 760 NVIDIA DGX A100 systems as its compute nodes, for a total of 6,080 GPUs.
- RSC’s storage tier has 175 petabytes of Pure Storage FlashArray, 46 petabytes of cache storage in Penguin Computing Altus systems, and 10 petabytes of Pure Storage FlashBlade.
- A supercomputer can perform high-level processing at a faster rate when compared to a normal computer.
- Supercomputers are made up of hundreds or thousands of powerful machines which use better artificial intelligence (AI) models to improve operations that process huge amounts of data in less time than normal computers.
- Supercomputers require high-speed and specialised chip architectures. The chip performs 660 operations per cycle and thus run up to 230 gigaflops at 350 MHz.
- AI supercomputers are built by combining multiple graphic processing units (GPUs) into compute nodes, which are then connected by a high-performance network fabric to allow fast communication between those GPUs.
National Means-Cum-Merit Scholarship (NMMSS):
Government has approved the continuation of Central Sector National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship (NMMSS) over the 15th Finance Commission cycle for a period of five years i.e. from 2021-22 to 2025-26 with financial outlay of Rs. 1827.00 crore.
- The scheme has been approved with minor modifications in eligibility criteria such as increasing income ceiling from Rs.1.5 lakh per annum to Rs.3.5 lakh per annum and revising the renewal criteria under the scheme.
- The objective of the scheme, launched in 2008-09, is to award scholarships to meritorious students of economically weaker sections to arrest their drop-out at class VIII and encourage them to continue their education at secondary stage.
- One lakh fresh scholarships of Rs.12,000/- per annum (Rs.1000/- per month) per student are awarded to selected students of class IX every year and their continuation/renewal in classes X to XII for study in State Government, Government-aided and Local body schools under the scheme.
- Students are selected for award of scholarships through an examination conducted by the State/ UT Governments. 100% funds under the scheme are provided by Central Government.
- The scheme is boarded on the National Scholarship Portal (NSP). Scholarships are disbursed directly into the bank accounts of students by electronic transfer through Public Financial Management System (PFMS) following DBT mode.-
Petition To Enforce The Fundamental Duties:
The Supreme Court asked the Union and the State governments to respond to a petition to enforce the fundamental duties of citizens, including patriotism and unity of the nation, through “comprehensive, well-defined laws”.
- The Fundamental Duties were incorporated in Part IV-A of the Constitution by the Constitution 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, during Emergency under Indira Gandhi’s government.
- The amendment came at a time when elections stood suspended and civil liberties curbed.
- Today, there are 11 Fundamental Duties described under Article 51-A, of which 10 were introduced by the 42nd Amendment and the 11th was added by the 86th Amendment in 2002, during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government.
- These are statutory duties, not enforceable by law, but a court may take them into account while adjudicating on a matter.
- The idea behind their incorporation was to emphasise the obligation of the citizen in exchange for the Fundamental Rights that he or she enjoys.
- The concept of Fundamental Duties is taken from the Constitution of Russia.
The 11 Fundamental Duties are:
- To abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem
- To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom
- To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India — it is one of the preeminent national obligations of all the citizens of India.
- To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so
- To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women
- To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture — our cultural heritage is one of the noblest and richest, it is also part of the heritage of the Earth
- To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures
- To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform
- To safeguard public property and to abjure violence
- To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement
- Who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years.
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY):
Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Giriraj Singh will launch Rural Connectivity GIS Data in Public Domain on 22nd February, 2022 in India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.
- Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) was launched in the year 2000, with an objective to provide all-weather road connectivity to eligible unconnected habitations throughout the nation.
- Later on upgradation and consolidation of through routes and major rural links was also included as its objective to give fillip to the rural economy.
- Since inception, 7.83 lakh Km roads have been sanctioned and 6.90 lakh Km have been constructed with an expenditure of Rs. 2.69 lakh crores.
- As part of the implementation of PMGSY, GIS data for 800,000+ rural facilities as points, 1 Million + habitations and 25,00,000+ km of rural roads have been collected and digitised using GIS platform developed for the scheme.
- The collected rural connectivity GIS data will be available to the public.
- NRIDA, the nodal implementation agency of PMGSY scheme will be signing
- MoU with 3 renowned GIS Firms & collaborating with Gati Shakti for releasing the Rural Connectivity GIS Data in Public Domain.
- Gati Shakti is a national master plan and digital platform to plan and execute infrastructure projects in India to reduce logistics costs and enhance infrastructure.
- NRIDA is collaborating with Gati Shakti with an objective to exchange the data for the better planning and implementation of both the schemes.
Who Was Shakuntala Choudhary?
The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has expressed deep grief over the passing away of noted Gandhian Shakuntala Choudhary Ji.
- Shakuntala Choudhary (1920 – 2022), also known as Shakunthala Baideo, was an Indian social worker. Born in Assam, she was known for her commitment and devotion to the popularization of the Gandhian way of life.
- At an early age, in 1947, Choudhary joined the Assam branch of the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust (KGNMT) and continued her association with the Trust for the rest of her life.
- Shakuntala Choudhary was closely associated with Vinoba Bhave who was the initiator of the Bhoodan Movement.
- At Vinoba Bhave’s instance, who was interested in promoting Devanagari script among different linguistic groups, Shakuntala Choudhary started a monthly magazine “Asomiya Vishwa Nagari” in Devanagari script which she edited for many years.
- Choudhary was also associated with of the “Ban Cow Slaughter Satyagraha” started by Vinoba Bhave in 1978.
- In 2022, the Government of India conferred the Padma Shri award.
Lavender Cultivation’ under CSIR-IIIM’s Aroma Mission will be started in Ramban district (Jammu Kashmir) as a part of Purple Revolution.
- Aromatic Plants include lavender, damask rose, mushk bala, etc.
- Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) is a contemporary R&D organization under the Ministry of Science and Technology.
- The Purple or Lavender Revolution was launched in 2016 by the Union Ministry of Science & Technology through the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Aroma Mission.
- Lavender cultivation is practiced in almost all the 20 districts of Jammu & Kashmir.
- Under the mission, first-time farmers were given free lavender saplings, while those who had cultivated lavender before were charged Rs. 5-6 per sapling.
- To support domestic aromatic crop based agro economy by moving from imported aromatic oils to homegrown varieties.
- Main product is Lavender oil which sells for at least Rs. 10,000 per litre.
- Lavender water, which separates from lavender oil, is used to make incense sticks.
- Hydrosol, which is formed after distillation from the flowers, is used to make soaps and room fresheners.
Non Fungible Tokens:
According to a report, the sales of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) surged USD 25 billion in 2021 as the crypto asset exploded in popularity. However, some experts believe NFTs are a bubble that might pop.
- NFTs are Anything that can be converted into a digital form can be an NFT.
- Everything from drawings, photos, videos, GIFs, music, in-game items, selfies, and even a tweet can be turned into an NFT, which can then be traded online using cryptocurrency.
- If anyone converts its digital asset to an NFT, he/she will get proof of ownership, powered by Blockchain.
- There is a need for a cryptocurrency wallet and an NFT marketplace where one can buy and sell NFTs.
- Some of the NFT marketplaces are OpenSea.io, Rarible, Foundation.
- NFTs are different from other digital forms in that they are backed by Blockchain technology.
- NFTs can have only one owner at a time.
- Apart from exclusive ownership, NFT owners can also digitally sign their artwork and store specific information in their NFTs metadata.
- This will be only viewable to the individual who bought the NFT.
- Terra Nulius was the first NFT(started in 2015) on Ethereum Blockchain, although this project was merely an idea that only allowed to customise a short message which was then recorded on the blockchain.
- Then came Curio Cards, CryptoPunks and CryptoCats in 2017, before NFTS slowly moved into public awareness, then expanding into mainstream adoption in early 2021.
Fast Radio Burst (FRB):
The Astronomers of National Center of Radio Astrophysics (NCRA-TIFR) in Pune and the University of California in the US have used the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) to map the distribution of atomic hydrogen gas from the host galaxy of a Fast Radio Burst (FRB) for the first time.
- The first FRB was discovered in 2007, since when scientists have been working towards finding the source of their origin.
- Essentially, FRBs are bright bursts of radio waves (radio waves can be produced by astronomical objects with changing magnetic fields) whose durations lie in the millisecond-scale, because of which it is difficult to detect them and determine their position in the sky.
- These extraordinary events generate as much energy in a thousandth of a second as the Sun does in a year.
- Locating where these blasts are coming from, and in particular, what galaxies they originate from, is important in determining what kinds of astronomical events trigger such intense flashes of energy.
- One of the best-known fast radio bursts is FRB20180916B.
- This FRB was discovered in 2018 and is only 500 million light-years away from us in another galaxy.
- The FRB is the closest so far and has a burst pattern that repeats every 16 days: four days of bursts, 12 days of relative quiet.
- That predictability makes it an ideal object for researchers to study.
What Is Leprosy?
According to the latest report by the Leprosy Mission Trust India, the Covid-19 pandemic and its ensuing recommendations on social distancing and lockdowns caused a fall of 62.5% in the detection of active leprosy cases between April and September 2020 in four States — Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.
- The second wave has put brakes on the Leprosy Case Detection Campaign and the scope for getting healthcare and disability management services in institutional setup reduced.
- Further, the pandemic highlighted that the ‘vulnerable population’ is not a homogenous entity.
- Their vulnerability is sometimes a complex intersection of different social variables: poverty, disability, stigma, exclusion, etc.
- Leprosy is Bacterial Infection
- Leprosy is a chronic, progressive bacterial infection. It is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium Leprae, which is an acid-fast rod-shaped bacillus.
- It is also known as Hansen’s Disease.
- It is one of the oldest diseases in recorded history, afflicting humanity since time immemorial.
Areas of Infection: Skin, Peripheral nerves, Upper respiratory tract and Lining of the nose
- It is a disease that leaves a terrifying image in its wake of mutilation, rejection, and exclusion from society.
- Mode of Transmission: Mainly by breathing airborne droplets from the affected individuals. It can be contacted at any age.
- Red patches on the skin.
- Skin Lesion
- Numbness in arms, hands, and legs.
- Ulcers on the soles of feet.
- Muscle Weakness and excessive weight loss.
- Long Incubation Period: It usually takes about 3-5 years for symptoms to appear after coming into contact with Leprosy causing bacteria.
- The long incubation period makes it difficult for doctors to determine when and where the person got infected.
- Cure: Leprosy is curable with the combination of drugs known as Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT)