1 Feb 2024 : Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs

1-February-2024- Top News of the Day

Stay updated with the Latest 1st February 2024 Current Affairs. Covering topics: New Chief Justice of India- P. S. Dinesh Kumar, Panel on environment, Modi government lost the plot on structural reforms, scientists fuse brain, musk says first human has received Neuralink implant, Centre propose stringent Legislation to combat exam irregularities, second driest January since 1901, and Antarctic Penguins Face Lethal Threat- Bird Flu H5N1 detected

1. Justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar appointed Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court.

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity – judiciary
Crucial for UPSC: Judges’ appointment process knowledge – tests understanding of legal frameworks, reforms, and constitutional principles.
●     Justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar appointed Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, retiring on February 24 after a short tenure.

 Additional information on this news:

  • Justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar appointed Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, as per Law Ministry notification.
  • However, his tenure will be less than a month as he retires on February 24.
Appointment of High Court and Supreme Court Judges in India

  • Collegium System: Currently, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and four senior-most Supreme Court judges recommend appointments and transfers of judges.
  • Government’s Role: The government receives the recommendations and can return them with comments for reconsideration. However, they cannot reject directly.
  • President’s Role: Finally, the President appoints judges based on the collegium’s recommendations (after considering any government objections).


  • Lack of Transparency: The process lacks public scrutiny, raising concerns about potential bias and favouritism.
  • Overload on CJI: The CJI shoulders a heavy burden, potentially impacting objectivity.
  • Government’s Objections: Concerns exist about the government’s ability to stall appointments due to disagreements with the collegium.
  • Diversity Concerns: Representation of certain demographics and geographic regions remains a challenge.
  • Timely Filling of Vacancies: Delays in appointments lead to pendency of cases and strain on the judiciary.

Way Forward:

  • Enhanced Transparency: Open deliberations and publication of collegium recommendations could bring accountability.
  • Structured Criteria: Setting objective criteria for selection can promote merit-based decisions.
  • Fixed Timelines: Establishing time limits for processing recommendations can expedite appointments.
  • Evolving Collegium Composition: Expanding the collegium with eminent jurists and representatives from civil society could broaden perspectives.
  • National Judicial Commission: Considering a National Judicial Commission for greater stakeholder involvement and wider oversight is debated.
PYQ: Critically examine the Supreme Court’s judgement on ‘National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014’ with reference to appointment of judges of higher judiciary in India. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2017)
Practice Question:  Evaluate the existing system for appointment of High Court and Supreme Court judges in India, highlighting its merits and demerits. Suggest reforms to ensure an independent, transparent, and efficient selection process. (250 words/15 m)

2. Top court upholds empowered panel on environment.

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity – Statutory Bodies, Regulatory Bodies,  Quasi-Judicial bodies.

UPSC relevance: Understanding regulatory challenges vital – tests governance knowledge, policy insights, and reform strategies in India.

  • The Supreme Court expressed concerns about the perceived inadequacy in scrutiny by India’s various environmental regulators and authorities.
  • It emphasized the need for institutionalization, directing specific mandates, public notification, defined procedures, and accountability.
  • The verdict upheld the establishment of a permanent Central Empowered Committee.

 Additional information on this news:

  • The Supreme Court expressed concerns over the perceived insufficient scrutiny of India’s numerous regulators, bodies, and authorities dedicated to environmental protection.
  • A three-judge Bench, led by Justice B.R. Gavai, noted a lack of confidence in the judgment, review, and consideration of these entities.
  • The court emphasized the need for “institutionalization” in environmental governance, directing clear demarcation of mandates, public notification of rules, defined procedures, norms for public participation, appeals, accountability, and regular audits.
  • The judgment highlighted that these bodies, constituting the backbone of environmental governance, must adhere to institutional norms of efficiency, integrity, and independence.
Issues with regulators, statutory bodies and authorities India
Insufficient Scrutiny:

  • Limited Public Oversight: Many regulatory bodies lack transparency and accountability mechanisms, hindering public scrutiny of their decisions.
  • Inadequate Internal Checks: Weak internal controls and audit mechanisms can create vulnerabilities to corruption and inefficiency.
  • Lack of Independent Reviews: Limited external review processes make it difficult to identify and address shortcomings in regulatory functioning.

Other Key Issues:

  • Regulatory Capture: Concerns exist about industries influencing regulators, compromising their independence and effectiveness.
  • Skill Gaps and Expertise: Shortages of qualified personnel and specialized knowledge can hinder effective regulation.
  • Overlapping Mandates: Conflicting jurisdictions and unclear demarcation of responsibilities can lead to regulatory gaps and inefficiencies.
  • Outdated Laws and Regulations: Regulatory frameworks may not keep pace with evolving economic, environmental and technological landscapes, hindering their effectiveness.

Way Forward:

  • Enhance Transparency: Proactive disclosure of information, public hearings, and regular reporting can improve accountability.
  • Strengthen Internal Controls: Robust internal audit mechanisms and whistleblower protection can deter wrongdoings.
  • Independent Oversight: Establishing independent review bodies can provide external scrutiny and ensure adherence to best practices.
  • Address Regulatory Capture: Measures like cooling-off periods for regulators moving to industry and stricter lobbying regulations can be considered.
  • Invest in Capacity Building: Training programs and knowledge-sharing initiatives can equip regulators with necessary skills and expertise.
  • Rationalize Regulatory Landscape: Streamlining overlapping mandates and clarifying jurisdictional boundaries can enhance efficiency.
  • Regular Review and Update: Periodic review and updates of laws and regulations can ensure they remain relevant and effective.
PYQ:  For achieving the desired objectives, it is necessary to ensure that the regulatory institutions remain independent and autonomous.” Discuss in the light of the experiences in recent past. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2015)
Practice Question:   In light of challenges like regulatory capture and insufficient enforcement, discuss reforms needed for enhancing the effectiveness of statutory bodies in India. (150 words/10 m)

3. ‘Modi government has lost the plot on structural reforms’.

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy.

Crucial for UPSC: Examining government’s economic policies, structural reforms, credibility challenges, and $5 trillion economy goal offers comprehensive insights.
  • The article features former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s critique of the NDA government’s economic policies, highlighting the absence of structural reforms since 2014.
  • He questions the credibility of economic data and challenges the $5 trillion economy goal, emphasizing rising inequalities and economic challenges.

Additional information on this news:
Structural Reforms and Governance:

  • Criticism is directed at the government for its perceived failure to implement significant structural reforms since 2014.
  • The absence of substantial changes is underscored, and challenges faced by initiatives like GST and IBC are acknowledged.

Economic Recovery and Growth Figures:

  • Doubt is cast on the government’s assertion of a V-shaped economic recovery post-pandemic.
  • The discrepancy between robust GDP growth figures and crucial indicators such as per capita income and real wages is emphasized.

Credibility of Economic Data:

  • Skepticism is expressed regarding the reliability of government economic data, pointing to frequent revisions by agencies like MoSPI and CSO.
  • The dependability of NITI Aayog’s poverty decline figures is questioned.

$5 Trillion Economy Goal:

  • Dismissal of the government’s claim of achieving a $5 trillion economy, with an emphasis on considering per capita income and real living standards.
  • Critique of the government’s pursuit of becoming the third-largest economy, accompanied by references to lower rankings in global indices like the Global Hunger Index.

Economic Challenges and Inequality:

  • The importance of achieving higher growth rates to address challenges such as rising unemployment and inequality is underscored.
  • Concern is expressed about India’s escalating economic inequalities and their potential impact on overall development.


  • In conclusion, P. Chidambaram’s critique sheds light on the NDA government’s economic policies, urging a reevaluation of structural reforms, addressing credibility concerns, and reconsidering the ambitious $5 trillion economy goal for holistic economic development.
PYQ: Most of the unemployment in India is structural in nature. Examine the methodology adopted to compute unemployment in the country and suggest improvements. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2023)
Practice Question:  Discuss the critiques raised regarding economic policies, structural reforms, and credibility challenges in recent governance, emphasizing implications for India’s economic trajectory and development goals.” (150 words/10 m)

4. Scientists fuse brain-like tissue with electronics to make computer.

Topic: GS3 – Science and technology – Development & their applications

The integration of brain-like tissue with electronics in ‘Brainoware’ poses ethical and technological implications, relevant for UPSC’s multidisciplinary understanding of scientific advancements.
  • Scientists have developed ‘Brainoware,’ a system integrating brain-like tissue with electronics, creating an ‘organoid neural network.’
  • This innovative biocomputing approach combines live brain organoids with a reservoir computer, demonstrating capabilities in voice recognition and solving complex mathematical problems

 Additional information on this news:

  • Scientists combined brain-like tissue with electronics to create an ‘organoid neural network.’
  • The system, named ‘Brainoware,’ integrated a live brain organoid into a reservoir computer for neuromorphic computing.
  • Brainoware demonstrated the ability to recognize voices and solve complex mathematical problems.
  • Brain organoids, three-dimensional aggregates of brain cells, were connected to microelectrodes to form the organoid neural network.
  • The system achieved comparable accuracy to artificial neural networks but with significantly less training.
  • Brainoware showcased potential applications in predicting mathematical functions and identifying voiced Japanese vowels.
  • The study marks a significant advance in biocomputing, combining biological components with computational processes.
  • Ethical concerns, such as the dignity of organoids and their state of consciousness, are raised by such innovative research.
  • The interdisciplinary approach involves tissue engineering, electrophysiology, and neural computation, offering foundational insights into learning mechanisms and cognitive implications.
  • The study opens possibilities at the intersection of biology and computing, showcasing potential future applications.

5. Musk says first human has received Neuralink implant.

Topic: GS3 – Science and technology – Development & their applications

Neuralink’s successful human implant marks a breakthrough in brain-computer interface technology, vital for understanding and advancing neuroscientific applications.
  • Elon Musk’s Neuralink implanted its brain-computer interface in a human for the first time. Musk reported promising results with the patient “recovering well” and “neuron spike detection.”

 Additional information on this news:

  • Elon Musk confirms the first human received an implant from Neuralink, his computer-brain interface company.
  • The patient is reported to be “recovering well,” with “promising neuron spike detection” according to initial results.
  • Neuralink aims to link the nervous system to computers, potentially treating brain disorders and overcoming injuries.
  • FDA had approved Neuralink’s “investigational device exemption” in January, allowing clinical studies in eligible patients.
  • Neuralink’s device, about the size of a large coin, is designed to be implanted in the skull, enabling direct connections to the brain.
  • Musk introduces the first Neuralink product called “Telepathy,” allowing users to control devices by thinking.
  • The safety and effectiveness of such brain-computer interfaces remain subjects of ongoing clinical trials.

6. Centre Proposes Stringent Legislation to Combat Exam Irregularities with the Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024

Topic: GS2 – Polity –

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of provisions of the bill
  • The Centre is set to introduce the Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, during the ongoing session of Parliament.
  • This legislative initiative aims to address issues related to paper leaks and organized cheating in various public examinations, including those conducted by UPSC, SSC, Railways, and prominent entrance exams such as NEET, JEE, and CUET.

More about the news:
Scope and Approval of the Bill:

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the draft of the Bill, which is expected to be presented in Parliament.
  • The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), operating under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions, is leading the initiative.
  • The proposed legislation will encompass all recruitment and entrance exams conducted by entities like UPSC, SSC, Railways, banking recruitment exams, CUET, NEET, JEE, and computer-based examinations by the National Testing Agency (NTA).

Stringent Measures and Penalties:

  • The Bill outlines strict measures and penalties for individuals and entities involved in unfair practices.
  • It proposes a minimum imprisonment period of three to five years, with a higher range of five to ten years for organized crimes.
  • Additionally, the Bill suggests a minimum fine of Rs 1 crore for organized crimes.
  • Service provider firms may face fines up to Rs 1 crore, and the recovery of proportionate examination costs, with a four-year ban on conducting public examinations.

Protection for Candidates:

  • While imposing stringent measures, the Bill ensures protection for candidates.
  • It specifies that candidates, as defined in the Bill, will not be held liable for actions within its purview and will continue to be covered under existing administrative provisions of the relevant public examination authority.

Presidential Acknowledgment and National Technical Committee:

  • Addressing both Houses of Parliament, President Droupadi Murmu emphasized the government’s awareness of youth concerns regarding examination irregularities.
  • The Bill reflects the government’s commitment to addressing such malpractices.
  • Additionally, the legislation proposes the establishment of a high-level National Technical Committee on Public Examinations.
  • This committee will focus on developing protocols for securing digital platforms, ensuring fool-proof IT security systems, comprehensive electronic surveillance of examination centers, and formulating national standards for both IT and physical infrastructure used in conducting examinations.
Practice Question:  Critically evaluate the significance of the proposed Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Bill, 2024, in addressing malpractices in public examinations in India. (150 words/10 m)

7. Historic Dry Spell Grips Northwestern India: Second Driest January Since 1901 Raises Concerns Over Water Scarcity and Agricultural Impact

Topic: GS1 – Geography – Climate Change

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of broader impact of such climatic patterns on agriculture, environment, or governance.
  • The Northwestern regions of India witnessed the second driest January since 1901, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
  • The rainfall deficit in the region during January stood at a staggering 91 percent, raising concerns about the impact on the local environment and agriculture.
  • The combined rainfall for December and January was recorded at a mere 7.8mm, further emphasizing the severity of the dry spell.

More about the news:
Snowfall Absence Heightens Concerns:

  • A notable cause for concern has been the complete absence of snowfall, particularly in the higher reaches of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and neighboring hilly terrains.
  • This lack of snowfall can have significant repercussions on water availability and ecological balance in the region.
  • However, a recent western disturbance system brought the season’s first snowfall over some areas in the extreme northern regions, providing some relief.

Alarming Rainfall Deficits:

  • The data revealed a substantial departure from normal rainfall patterns.
  • In December, the recorded rainfall in northwest India was only 6 mm, significantly lower than the normal of 18.9mm, reflecting a deficit of 65 percent.
  • January reported a meager 2mm of rainfall against the normal of 32.5mm (till January 30), indicating a staggering deficit of 96 percent.
  • This alarming rainfall deficit has implications for water resources, agriculture, and overall environmental health.

Dry Spell Impact on India’s Capital:

  • New Delhi, the national capital, also experienced an exceptionally dry January, marking the driest January since 2016, as reported by the IMD.
  • The data from IMD revealed that since 2009, Delhi witnessed dry January conditions only in 2016 and 2024, underscoring the rarity and severity of the ongoing dry spell.


  • The unprecedented dry spell in Northwestern India, coupled with the absence of snowfall in key regions, raises concerns about water scarcity, agricultural productivity, and environmental sustainability.
  • The significant departure from normal rainfall patterns highlights the need for monitoring and mitigation strategies to address the potential impact on various sectors in the affected regions
PYQ: Discuss the consequences of climate change on the food security in tropical countries. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2023)
Practice Question:  Examine the environmental and agricultural consequences of the historic dry spell witnessed in Northwestern India during January 2024. Discuss the potential challenges and policy measures required to mitigate the impact of such extreme climatic events on the region’s sustainability. (250 words/15 m)

8. Antarctic Penguins Face Lethal Threat as Highly Pathogenic Bird Flu H5N1 Detected – Global Concerns Rise Over Potential Ecological Impact

Topic: GS3 – Environment – Conservation

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of ecological impact of the H5N1 virus on Antarctic penguins and other wildlife.
  • For the first time, a highly lethal form of bird flu, identified as H5N1, has been detected in Antarctic penguins.
  • The confirmation came after two gentoo penguins were found dead on Sea Lion Island in the Falkland Islands, a British territory.
  • The gravity of the situation is emphasized by the Falkland Islands government, who reported over 200 dead or dying gentoo chicks.

More about the news:
Alarming Significance of Penguin Deaths:

  • Penguins, already under various pressures such as climate change, pollution, and commercial fishing, face a new and potentially devastating threat with the emergence of H5N1.
  • Of particular concern are three Antarctic penguin species—emperor penguins, southern rockhopper penguins, and macaroni penguins—which are already listed as vulnerable or near threatened due to existing challenges.

Unknown Extent of the Virus Spread:

  • Before the arrival of H5N1, highly pathogenic bird flu viruses had never been documented in the Antarctic region.
  • The penguins in this region are likely to have little existing immunity, and the virus could spread rapidly, especially considering the large, crowded colonies in which they breed.
  • While the extent of the virus’ spread in Antarctic penguin populations remains unclear, concerns arise from the rapid spread observed in South America last year, particularly impacting Humboldt penguins in Chile.

Global Concerns for Antarctic Wildlife:

  • Scientists have expressed deep concerns about the potential impact of the virus on Antarctica’s diverse wildlife, including over 100 million birds, seals, sea lions, and marine mammals.
  • The Antarctic region serves as critical breeding territory for these species, and the introduction of the virus could have immense consequences.
  • The virus’s detection in brown skuas in South Georgia and subsequent infections in various bird species, elephant seals, and fur seals heightens worries about the broader implications for Antarctica’s ecological balance.

Urgent Need for Monitoring and Protection Measures:

  • The emergence of H5N1 in Antarctic penguins underscores the urgency of monitoring and implementing protective measures in the region.
  • With the potential for mass mortalities and the virus spreading through colonies, the need for international cooperation and coordinated efforts to safeguard Antarctic wildlife becomes paramount.
  • The alarming scenario also raises questions about the vulnerability of seals and sea lions in Antarctica as the virus continues to spread.
  • Scientists and conservationists are on high alert, emphasizing the need for proactive measures to mitigate the potential catastrophic impact on the region’s unique biodiversity.
About Avian Influenza
  • It is a highly contagious viral disease which has swept populations of birds and mammals across the world.
  • Since 2021, its variant known as HPAI H5N1 clade has been dominated and caused outbreaks, leading to the deaths of millions of birds in the United Kingdom, South America, Europe and South Africa.
  • In October 2023, bird flu arrived in the sub-Antarctic region after travelling from South America through sea birds.
  • It infected elephants and fur seals, brown skua, penguins, pelicans, sea lions and kelp gulls among others, resulting in mass infection and mortality.
  • In December 2023, the first death of a polar bear due to avian flu was reported from the Arctic.
PYQ: H1N1 virus is sometimes mentioned in the news with reference to which one of the following diseases? (2015)
(a) AIDS
(b) Bird flu
(c) Dengue
(d) Swine flu
Ans: (d)
Practice Question:  Examine the potential ecological ramifications of the recent detection of the H5N1 virus in Antarctic penguins. Discuss the challenges faced by Antarctic wildlife, particularly penguin populations, and the broader implications for biodiversity and the delicate ecological balance in the region.. (250 words/15 m)

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