Today’s Current Affairs: 2nd Feb 2024 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
Sphaerotheca varshaabhu : Species Of Frog
Researchers from various national and international organisations have identified and documented a previously unknown species of frog which has been thriving amidst the urban landscape of Bengaluru.
- Sphaerotheca varshaabhu is a new frog species.
- Sphaerotheca Varshaabhu, meaning a genus of frog which welcomes rain, has been attributed to its behaviour of coming out of burrows during the early showers.
- The newly unearthed amphibian exhibits distinctive characteristics that set it apart from known frog species.
- It has adapted to its urban surroundings displaying behaviours and physical attributes that help it navigate challenges posed by urbanisation.
- The team utilised advanced genetic analysis, morphological studies and bioacoustics to confirm the distinctiveness of this newly discovered amphibian.
eROSITA : Data
The German eROSITA consortium has released the data for its share of the first all-sky survey by the soft X-ray imaging telescope.
- The eROSITA (extended ROentgen Survey with an Imaging Telescope Array) is a wide-field X-ray telescope on board the Russian-German “Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma” (SRG) observatory.
- It was developed under the leadership of the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany (DE).
- It is a sensitive X-ray telescope capable of delivering deep, sharp images over very large areas of the sky.
- The eROSITA telescope consists of seven identical Wolter-1 mirror modules.
- SRG was successfully launched from Baikonur on July 13 2019, and placed in a halo orbit around the L2 point.
- It has been performing an all-sky survey, in which the whole celestial sphere is mapped once every six months. Eight such all-sky charts are planned until December 2023.
- It is also expected to yield a sample of several million Active Galactic Nuclei, providing a unique view of the evolution of supermassive black holes within the emerging cosmic structure.
- The survey will also provide new insights into a wide range of astrophysical phenomena, including accreting binaries, active stars and diffuse emission within the Galaxy, as well as solar system bodies that emit X-rays via the charge exchange process.
China has banned the direct and indirect import of ruminants and its related products from Iraq due to an outbreak of bluetongue disease
- Bluetongue disease (BT) is a non-contagious, viral disease affecting domestic and wild ruminants (primarily sheep and including cattle, goats, buffalo, antelope, deer, elk and camels).
- It is transmitted by insects, particularly biting midges of the Culicoides species.
- The virus which causes BT is identified as a member of the Reoviridae family.
- Twenty-four (24) different serotypes have been identified and the ability of each strain to cause disease varies considerably.
- The severity of the disease varies among different species with symptoms being most severe in sheep resulting in deaths, weight loss and disruption in wool growth.
- It has a significant global distribution in regions where the insect vector is present, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and several islands in the tropics and subtropics.
- The virus is maintained in areas where the climate will allow biting midges to survive over winter.
- The insect vector is the key to the transmission of the BT virus between animals.
- Vectors are infected with BT virus after ingesting blood from infected animals.
- Without the vector, the disease cannot spread from animal to animal.
- BT virus transmission can occur throughout the year, particularly during rainy periods.
The United States government recently shut down a major China-backed hacking group dubbed “Volt Typhoon” that attacked hundreds of routers and had been working to compromise U.S. cyber infrastructure.
- Volt Typhoon is a state-sponsored hacking group based in China that has been active since at least 2021.
- The group typically focuses on espionage and information gathering.
- It has targeted critical infrastructure organisations in the US, including Guam.
- To achieve their objective, the threat actor puts a strong emphasis on stealth, relying almost exclusively on living-off-the-land techniquesand hands-on-keyboard activity.
- The recurring attack pattern of the Volt Typhoon begins with initial access via exploitation of public-facing devices or services.
- Volt Typhoon employs the comparatively uncommon practice of leveraging preinstalled utilities for most of their victim interactions.
- Compromised small office/home office (SOHO) devices are used by the attackers to proxy communications to and from the affected networks.
- They issue commands via the command line to (1) collect data, including credentials from local and network systems: (2) put the data into an archive file to stage it for exfiltration: and then (3) use the stolen valid credentials to maintain persistence.
- Volt Typhoon was a particularly quiet operator that hid its traffic by routing it through hacked network equipment, like home routers, and carefully expunging evidence of intrusions from the victim’s logs.
Payments Bank : Restriction
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently imposed restrictions on Paytm Payments Bank Ltd (PPBL), following a system audit report and subsequent compliance validation report of external auditors.
- A payments bank is like any other bank but operates on a smaller scalewithout involving any credit risk.
- It was set up based on the recommendations of the Nachiket Mor Committee.
- Objective is to advance financial inclusion by offering banking and financial services to the unbanked and underbanked areas, helping the migrant labour force, low-income households, small entrepreneurs, etc.
- It is registered as a public limited company under the Companies Act 2013 and licensed under Section 22 of the Banking Regulation Act 1949.
- It is governed by a host of legislation, such as the Banking Regulation Act, 1949; RBI Act, 1934; Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999, etc.
India’s Core Industries Performance:
The combined Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) in India exhibited a provisional growth of 3.8% in December 2023 compared to 2022. Except crude oil, all other sectors have majorly performed well.
- The ICI serves as a crucial metric, encompassing Cement, Coal, Crude Oil, Electricity, Fertilizers, Natural Gas, Refinery Products, and Steel, collectively constituting 40.27% of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
- IIP is a prime indicator of economic development for the measurement of trends in the behaviour of Industrial Production over a period of time with reference to a chosen base year.
- Current base year for the IIP in India is 2011-12.
- The weaker core sector growth in December was largely due to an unfavourable base, with with the overall index of the eight core industries having surged by 10.1 percent month-on-month in December 2022 – the period on whose basis the year-on-year growth in output in the last month of 2023 is calculated.As such, all but two of the sectors saw poorer growth performance in December compared to the growth numbers they had posted in November.
Mission To Eradicate Filariasis : UP Government
The Uttar Pradesh government led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has launched a mission to eradicate filariasis from the state. As part of this, the government will conduct the Annual Mass Drug Administration (MDA) Campaign from February 5th to 15th, 2024.
- Filariasis is a disease caused by parasitic worms transmitted through mosquito bites.
- It can lead to conditions like swelling of limbs and genitals.
- The government aims to eliminate this disease from the country by 2027.
- The 15-day campaign will cover 17 districts in UP. These are Amethi, Azamgarh, Ballia, Banda, Barabanki, Bareilly, Hamirpur, Jaunpur, Jalaun, Lucknow, Pilibhit, Shahjahanpur, Prayagraj, Pratapgarh, Sonbhadra, Unnao, and Varanasi.
- Presently, 51 districts in UP are affected by filariasis. The MDA will expand to cover the rest of the districts from August 10, 2024
- Health workers will go door-to-door to administer preventive medication to all residents except children under 2 years, pregnant women and seriously ill people.
Discovery Of Coltan Deposits : Kenya
Kenya has officially announced the discovery of coltan deposits within its borders for the first time.
- Coltan, short for columbite-tantalite, is a valuable mineral composed of niobium and tantalum that is integral to producing electronics like smartphones and electric car batteries.
- Tantalum is a key component derived from coltan used to make capacitors essential parts found in almost every modern tech device. Capacitors help regulate and store energy in electronic circuits.
- The recent find marks a potential economic boost for Kenya.
- Demand for coltan to steadily rise in tandem with production of electronics and electric vehicle batteries.
- With tantalum being a rare earth metal, findings of easily-accessible, high-grade coltan could be highly lucrative.
Electricity 2024 Report : IEA
According to the latest International Energy Agency (IEA) projections in Electricity 2024 Report, India’s electricity demand will outpace China’s and have the world’s fastest growth rate by 2026.
- India’s annual average electricity demand growth is pegged at 6.5% over 2024-2026. The robust expansion will make India’s additional electricity demand over the next three years almost equivalent to the UK’s total demand.
- Coal will meet 68% of India’s electricity needs in 2026, as per IEA forecasts.
- While lower than coal’s 74% share in 2023, this highlights its continued dominance despite renewable growth.
- India added 21 GW of renewable energy capacity in 2023.
- But renewables stagnated at a 21% generation share as reduced hydropower output offset solar and wind growth.
- Rapid economic expansion and increased cooling needs are major electricity demand growth drivers.
- Weather fluctuations also periodically spike demand a hot and dry August 2022 led to record power consumption exceeding 240 GW.
- To guarantee supply amidst peaks, the government mandated blending at least 6% imported coal until March 2024. Domestic coal remains the mainstay for baseline generation.
- With China and India leading new reactor construction, Asia’s nuclear generation will exceed North America’s by 2026.
- China started the world’s first fourth-generation reactor in 2023, highlighting its advances.
- India powered up its largest 700 MW domestic reactor last June and expects rapid nuclear growth.
Ungalai Thedi, Ungal Ooril’ Scheme : Tamil Nadu Government
The government of Tamil Nadu has introduced guidelines for the “Ungalai Thedi, Ungal Ooril” (Come Look For You, In Your Village) outreach program, an initiative spearheaded by Chief Minister M.K. Stalin aimed at strengthening public services and scheme implementation across the state.
- As part of the program, Collectors and senior district officials will spend 24 hours in one taluk (sub-district) every month to inspect infrastructure, review project functioning, and collect public feedback.
- The first visits will occur this Wednesday.
- Teams will split up to cover as many sites as possible within the taluk.
- Collectors have received instructions to map out annual calendars guaranteeing that all taluks receive monitoring visits.
- Additionally, districts must heavily publicize visits so citizens can fully utilize officials’ temporary presence.
Mascot Of 2024 Khelo India Winter Games : Sheen-e She
The mascot and logo for the 2024 Khelo India Winter Games were unveiled recently.
- A snow leopard named ‘Sheen-e She’ or Shan has been declared the official mascot.
- The logo integrates the Indian tricolor and symbols of Ladakh.
- The Khelo India Games are an initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to promote Olympic sports and cultivate grassroots sporting talent in India.
- The Games will be held in two legs – first in Ladakh from February 2-6, followed by the second leg in Gulmarg, Jammu & Kashmir from February 21-25.
- The Ladakh leg will feature Ice Hockey and Speed Skating events.
- The J&K leg will host Ski Mountaineering, Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding, Nordic Ski and Gondola competitions.
- This is the first time the annual Khelo India Winter Games are being hosted in Ladakh.
- Previous editions since 2020 took place only in J&K.
Interim Union Budget Of India 2024-25:
The Finance Minister, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman delivered the Union Budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 in the new Parliament Building on February 1, 2024.This budget presentation represents her sixth consecutive budget, following those of 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023.
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman mentioned the goal of making India ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047 and emphasized the focus on inclusive development with the motto “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas”.
- The government’s efforts are aimed at creating a developed and prosperous India in the years to come.
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman outlined the government’s focus on four major groups: the poor, women, youth, and farmers.
- She highlighted the impact of the PM Janman Yojana, specifically aiding tribal groups that have historically been outside the realm of development.
- Sitharaman stated that the government has assisted 25 crore people in breaking free from poverty over the last decade, emphasizing the commitment to uplifting various sections of the population.
- She expressed her hope that the people of the country will once again choose the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with a resounding mandate in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman highlighted the impact of Goods and Services Tax (GST), stating that it has enabled ‘one nation, one market, one tax.’
- She emphasized that tax reforms have led to the deepening and widening of the tax base.
- Sitharaman also mentioned the government’s focus on comprehensive governance, development, and performance, represented by ‘GDP’ (Governance, Development, Performance). This underscores the government’s commitment to holistic and impactful policies for the nation’s growth.
- The government aims to provide 1 crore households with 300 units of free electricity per month through rooftop solarization. This move emphasizes the promotion of clean and sustainable energy.
- The benefits of Ayushman Bharat, a health insurance scheme, will be extended to all Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and Anganwadi workers.
- This step is aimed at providing health coverage to those involved in grassroots healthcare.
- The government will assist “deserving” sections of the middle class in building their own houses.
- This initiative aims to address housing needs and promote homeownership among the middle class.
- The establishment of a corpus of ₹1 lakh crore through a 50-year interest-free loan.
- This corpus is intended to provide long-term financing with extended tenure and minimal or no interest rates.
- The measure aims to support specific sectors or initiatives that require sustained financial assistance for their development.
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasized a shift in the meaning of FDI to “First Develop India.”
- She highlighted the focus on encouraging bilateral trade treaties to boost Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the country.
- This signals an intention to attract more investments that contribute to the development and growth of India’s economy.
- FY24 fiscal deficit seen at 5.8% of GDP
- FY24 total expenditure revised to ₹ 44.90 lakh crore
- FY 24 total receipts other than borrowings is ₹ 27.56 lakh crore
- FY24 tax receipts are ₹ 23.24 lakh crore
- FY25 fiscal deficit seen at 5.1%
- Aim to reduce fiscal deficit to below 4.5% by FY26
- FY25 gross market borrowing seen at ₹ 14.13 lakh crore
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that there will be no proposals to change tax rates, whether direct or indirect.
- She also mentioned the extension of tax benefits for startups and investments made by sovereign wealth and pension funds until March 2025.
- Furthermore, the withdrawal of outstanding direct tax demands up to ₹25,000 for the period up to the financial year 2009-10, and up to ₹10,000 for financial years 2010-11 to 2014-15, was announced.
- This move is expected to benefit around one crore taxpayers, providing them with relief from outstanding tax liabilities.
- New Scheme for Strengthening Deep-Tech Technologies for Defence Purposes: A new scheme focusing on enhancing deep-tech technologies for defense purposes.
- Capital expenditure has been increased by 11.1% to over ₹11.18 lakh crore, which represents 3.4% of the GDP.
- Conversion of Rail Bogies to Vande Bharat Standards: 40,000 normal rail bogies will be converted to Vande Bharat standards, aiming to improve and modernize the railway infrastructure.
- 2 Crore More Houses Under PM Awas Yojana: The government aims to build 2 crore more houses in the next five years under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, focusing on affordable housing.