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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 4th Sep 2023

Today’s Current Affairs: 4th sep 2023 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc

Centre’s Fiscal Deficit : Report

The Centre’s fiscal deficit in the first four months of 2023-24 touched 33.9% of the full-year target.

  • In the Union Budget, the government projected to bring down the fiscal deficit to 5.9% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the current FY.
  • The deficit was 6.4% of the GDP in 2022-23 against the earlier estimate of 6.71%.

Fiscal Deficit:

  • Fiscal deficit is the difference between the government’s total expenditure and its total revenue (excluding borrowings).
  • It is an indicator of the extent to which the government must borrow in order to finance its operations and is expressed as a percentage of the country’s GDP.
  • A high fiscal deficit can lead to inflation, devaluation of the currency and an increase in the debt burden.
  • While a lower fiscal deficit is seen as a positive sign of fiscal discipline and a healthy economy.

Red Sand Boa : WCS Report

A report by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)-India titled ‘Illegal Trade of Red Sand Boa in India 2016-2021’ has exposed the trade of red sand boa.

  • It is concern about the illegal trade of Red Sand Boas and the urgency for conservation efforts.
  • The report documents a total of 172 incidents of seizures involving red sand boas between 2016 and 2021, revealing the alarming extent of illegal trade.
  • Illegal trade spans 18 Indian states, 1 Union Territory, and 87 districts; Maharashtra and UP record the highest incidents.
  • Maharashtra dominates with 59 cases, including urban areas like Pune, Thane, Mumbai Suburban.
  • Uttar Pradesh closely follows 33 incidents, often near Nepal’s border in districts like Bahraich, and Lakhimpur-Kheri.
  • Social media, especially YouTube, aids illegal trade, with 200 sales-promoting videos in 2021.
  • The report’s findings underscore the urgent need for conservation efforts to prevent the further decline of the red sand boa population and protect India’s biodiversity.

The Red Sand Boa:

  • Red Sand Boa (Eryx johnii), commonly called the Indian Sand Boa, is a non-venomous species.
  • It is a primarily reddish-brown and thick-set snake that grows to an average length of 75 cm.
  • Unlike most snakes, the tail is almost as thick as the body and gives the reptile the appearance of being “double-headed”.
  • The Red Sand Boa is the largest of the sand boa in the world. Nocturnal and spends the majority of its time under the ground.
  • Found in the whole of India excluding North-east states and North-Bengal; also not found in Indian islands.
  • Status:
    • IUCN Red List: Near Threatened
    • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): Appendix II.
    • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972: Schedule IV.

Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana : Update

The Central Government’s innovative employment incentive scheme, the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana (ABRY), has exceeded its initial employment generation goals, showcasing its success in fostering job creation and recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana was launched in 2020.
  • This was designed to stimulate the creation of new job opportunities by extending financial support to employers of establishments registered with the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO).
  • This scheme aimed to incentivise employment of unemployed individuals, including those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, by covering both the employee and employer contributions (24% of wages) for establishments with up to 1000 employees.
  • For establishments with over 1000 employees, only the employee’s EPF contributions (12% of wages) were covered in respect of new employees.
  • As of July 31, 2023, the ABRY has already achieved an enrolment of over 7.58 million new employees, surpassing its initial employment generation target.
  • It contributed to the job market’s revival, underscoring its role in boosting economic recovery during these challenging times.

Employees’ Provident Fund Organization:

  • It is a statutory body that came into existence under the Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act of 1952.
  • The Act and Schemes framed there under are administered by a tripartite Board known as the Central Board of Trustees, Employees’ Provident Fund, consisting of representatives of Government (Both Central and State), Employers, and Employees.

State Of Food Security And Nutrition In The World (SOFI) 2023 : Report

State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World’ (SOFI) 2023, a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has shed light on a concerning issue in India.

  • It highlights the growing disparity between the cost of a nutritious meal and the economic realities faced by a significant portion of the Indian population.

Highlights of the Report:

  • While global hunger numbers have remained stagnant between 2021 and 2022, the number of people facing hunger worldwide has increased by over 122 million since 2019 due to the pandemic, repeated weather shocks, and conflicts, including the war in Ukraine.
  • Approximately 2.4 billion individuals, largely women, and residents of rural areas, did not have consistent access to nutritious, safe, and sufficient food in 2022.
  • Child malnutrition is still alarmingly high. In 2021, 22.3% (148.1 million) children were stunted, 6.8% (45 million) were wasted, and 5.6% (37 million) were overweight.
  • As urbanization accelerates, there is a noticeable increase in the consumption of processed and convenience foods, leading to a spike in overweight and obesity rates across urban, peri-urban, and rural areas.
  • Previously self-sustaining rural regions, especially in Africa and Asia, are now found to be increasingly dependent on national and global food markets.
  • The SOFI report also tracks changes in the cost of a healthy diet and affordability across regions.
  • Between 2019 and 2021, Asia witnessed the highest increase in the cost of maintaining a healthy diet, rising by almost 9%.
  • The growth in the number of people unable to afford a nutritious diet was highest in Asia and Africa, with South Asia and Eastern and Western Africa facing the greatest challenges.
  • South Asia, with 1.4 billion people, recorded the highest number (72%) of individuals unable to afford a healthy diet.
  • In Africa, Eastern and Western Africa were particularly affected, with 85% of the population unable to afford a healthy diet.
  • These two continents (Asia and Africa) accounted for 92% of the global increase in this statistic, underscoring the severity of the issue on the African continent.
  • By 2050, it’s projected that 70% of the global population will reside in cities. This significant demographic shift necessitates a reorientation of food systems to cater to these new urban populations and eradicate hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.
  • According to the SOFI report, India has the lowest cost of a healthy diet among BRICS nations and its neighbours.
  • In 2021, a healthy diet in India costs approximately 3.066 Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) per person per day, making it seemingly affordable on the surface.
  • A diet is considered unaffordable if it costs more than 52% of a nation’s average income. India has a low average income compared to other countries.
  • The report also highlights a specific case study in Mumbai, where the cost of meals has risen by a staggering 65% in just five years. In contrast, salaries and wages have only increased by 28%-37% during the same period.
  • Mumbai, chosen for its consistent data availability, serves as a stark example of the challenges faced by urban populations in India.
  • Comparing India to other countries in the report, it becomes evident that while the cost of a healthy diet in India remains relatively low, it remains unattainable for a substantial portion of the population due to income disparities.
  • In 2021, 74% of Indians could not afford a healthy diet, ranking India fourth among the nations considered.

New Comic Book : Developed By NCERT And UNESCO

The Ministry of Education, unveiled a new comic book, “Let’s Move Forward”, developed jointly by NCERT and UNESCO in New Delhi.

  • This partnership marks a step towards advancing the objectives of the School Health and Wellness Programme (SHWP).
  • It was launched in 2018 as part of the Ayushman Bharat campaign and jointly administered by the MoE and the MoHFW.
  • The aim is to provide health education, prevent diseases, and improve access to health services.
  • The comic covers information related to the 11 thematic components (emotional well-being, interpersonal relationships, gender equality, nutrition and health, prevention of substance abuse, promoting healthy lifestyles, reproductive health, internet safety, and more) of the SHWP.
  • It is accessible in multiple languages; Hindi, English, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Tamil, and Telugu.

Special Session Of Parliament:

The government has announced a “special session” of Parliament from September 18 to 22, and this has raised questions about the legislative agenda for the session.

  • The term “special session” is not defined in the Constitution but is often used for sessions convened for specific occasions or commemorating milestones.
  • The term “special session” may refer to sessions convened for specific occasions or purposes, often with limitations on parliamentary procedures. Presiding officers chair these sessions.
  • Article 352 of the Constitution mentions a “special sitting of the House” in the context of a Proclamation of Emergency.
  • If Parliament is not in session, one-tenth of Lok Sabha MPs can request a special meeting to disapprove the Emergency.
  • The government, through the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, decides when Parliament meets, including session dates and durations.
  • The President is informed of the Committee’s decisions, and MPs are summoned for the session.
  • Article 85 mandates that there should not be more than a six-month gap between two parliamentary sessions.
  • This provision was adapted from the Government of India Act of 1935
  • India does not have a fixed parliamentary calendar.
  • Traditionally, Parliament meets for three sessions in a year:
    • Budget Session (February-May)
    • Monsoon Session (July-August)
    • Winter Session (November-December)

Personalised Adaptive Learning (PAL) : Integrated In DIKSHA Platform

The National eGovernance Division (NeGD) plans to integrate Personalised Adaptive Learning (PAL) into the Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) platform (Ministry of Education), aiming to offer individualized learning experiences for students.

  • Personalised Adaptive Learning (PAL) is an educational approach that uses technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), to customize the learning experience for individual students based on their unique needs, abilities, and progress.
  • PAL can provide more challenging subject related problems while offering additional resources and explanations for science topics.
  • It may suggest additional readings, practice exercises, or video tutorials based on a student’s weaknesses or areas that need improvement.
  • A fast learner can progress quickly through topics, while a student who needs more time can review and practice until they are confident.
  • It can provide audio descriptions for visually impaired students or offer additional support and resources for students with learning disabilities.

Stem Cell Therapy For Autism:

The Delhi High Court has allowed two children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to undergo stem cell therapy for their condition.

  • This is overturning a previous recommendation by the Ethics and Medical Registration Board (EMRB) of the National Medical Commission (NMC) against the use of stem cell treatment for autism spectrum disorder.
  • The EMRB recommended against the use of stem cell therapy for ASD due to concerns about “predatory marketing” and false hope, as well as the lack of a well-established protocol for its use.
  • Stem cells are cells from which all other cells in the body, with specialized functions, are generated.
  • There are two main categories: pluripotent stem cells, which can differentiate into any cell type in the adult body, and adult stem cells, which are tissue-specific and can only generate cells for a particular organ.
  • Stem cells have been used in medicine, particularly in regenerative medicine, for over 90 years.
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, for instance, is used to treat conditions like leukaemia and lymphoma, where healthy stem cells are introduced to replace damaged cells.
  • Autism spectrum disorder is a neurological and developmental disorder affecting communication, behaviour, and learning.
  • While there is no cure for ASD, various therapies are used to manage symptoms and improve the individual’s quality of life.

Air Quality Life Index : Report

The recently released Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report suggests that air pollution shortens the lives of the residents of Delhi by around 11.9 years.

Highlights of the report:-

  • On account of the number of people that high particulate matter levels affect in India, the country faces the greatest health burden from air pollution among all the countries in the world.
  • In South Asia, particulate pollution has increased by 9.7 percent from 2013 to 2021.
  • In India, 5 levels rose 9.5 percent.
  • Particulate matter( PM): particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets that remain suspended in the air for long periods of time.
  • According to PM2.5 data for 2021 derived from satellites, pollution in India has increased from 56.2 µg/m3 in 2020 to 58.7 µg/m3 in 2021.
  • This is more than 10 times the WHO guideline of 5 µg/m3.
  • Delhi’s annual average PM2.5 level in 2021 was found to be 126.5 µg/m3, which is more than 25 times the World Health Organization (WHO) ( Delhi and Air Pollution)
  • The report said particulate matter pollution is also the biggest threat to human health in India in terms of lowering life expectancy, beating cardiovascular diseases, and child and maternal malnutrition.
  • The average Indian resident is set to lose 5.3 years of life expectancy if the WHO guideline is not met.

Air Quality Life Index (AQLI):-

  • Produced by: Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).
  • Published: Annually.
  • The Air Quality Life Index ( AQLI), provides details of impact of air pollution on life expectancy.

Sagar Parikrama : Phase-VIII

Sagar Parikrama Phase-VIII commenced at Thengapattanam Fishing Harbour in Kanyakumari recently.

  • Ministry: Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying.
  • First phase Began :5th March 2022 .
  • First phase location: Mandvi, Gujarat.
  • Eight-phase location: Thengapattanam, Tamil Nadu.
  • Organized by: Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, and National Fisheries
  • Objective is to address the challenges faced by fishers and stakeholders while uplifting their economic prospects through various fisheries schemes and programs, such as Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) & and Kisan Credit Cards (KCC).
  • Sagar Parikrama is a navigation journey to be conducted in all coastal states/UTs through a pre-decided sea route to demonstrate solidarity with all fisherfolk, fish farmers, and concerned stakeholders.
  • It is envisioned as a part of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsava’ saluting our great freedom fighters, sailors, and fishers.
  • The Parikrama shall be accompanied by the State Fisheries officials, Fishermen representatives, Fish-Farmers entrepreneurs, stakeholders, professionals, officials, and Scientists from across the nation.
  • It is to be celebrated through a pre-decided sea route down right from Gujarat, Diu, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands.
  • The Sagar Parikrama Program is to have an interaction with fishermen, fisher communities, and stakeholders in these locations and districts.

Spamouflage : Chinese Spam Operation

Meta recently, claimed that it is fighting a Chinese ‘Spamouflage‘ operation.

  • Spamouflage is an online Chinese spam operation.
  • It pushes positive narratives about China and negative commentary about the United States, Western foreign policies, and critics of the Chinese government.
  • Origin: China.
  • Targets: Taiwan, the United States, Australia, Britain, Japan, and global Chinese-speaking audiences.
  • It mimicked websites of mainstream news outlets in Europe and posted stories about Russia’s war on Ukraine and then spread it online.
  • The accounts in the campaign have a tendency to intersperse political posts.
  • It has been active on over 50 platforms and forums, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter.
  • Companies involved in the campaign were recently sanctioned by the European Union.

Men’s Hockey 5s Asia Cup 2023:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the Indian Men’s Hockey team on winning the Men’s Hockey 5s Asia Cup.

  • Men’s Hockey5s Asia Cup 2023 held between 9 August to 2 September 2023.
  • Venue: Salalah, Oman.
  • Host nation: Oman.
  • It was the first-ever Men’s Hockey5s Asia Cup 2023.
  • It was a historic event in the world of field hockey.
  • Elite group: India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Japan, Oman, and Bangladesh.
  • Challenger group: Hong Kong China, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and Iran.
  • This tournament was the qualifier for the FIH Hockey5s World Cup 2024.