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Daily Current Affairs

21-March -2024- Top News of the Day

1. India's Income Inequality Reaches Historic Highs: Top 1% Share Surpasses Global Benchmarks

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy – Inclusive Growth

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of understanding the magnitude of inequality, its implications on socio-economic development, and policy measures to address it.

 

Context:

  • India’s top 1 percent income and wealth shares have reached historical highs, according to a paper released by the World Inequality Lab.
  • By 2022-23, the top 1 percent income share in India was 22.6 percent, while the top 1 percent wealth share rose to 40.1 percent, surpassing even countries like South Africa, Brazil, and the United States.
  • The paper, co-authored by economists Nitin Kumar Bharti, Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, and Anmol Somanchi, draws parallels between the contemporary “Billionaire Raj” and the colonial-era British Raj, highlighting the deepening levels of inequality in India.
More about the news:

Need for Tax Restructuring:

  • The paper suggests evidence indicating regressive aspects of the Indian tax system concerning net wealth.
  • It advocates for a restructuring of the tax code, proposing a “supertax” of 2 percent on the net wealth of the 167 wealthiest families, which could generate significant revenues, enabling investments in critical sectors like health, education, and nutrition.
  • This, the paper argues, would not only address inequality but also create opportunities for the average Indian to benefit from globalization.

Analysis of Income Distribution Trends:

  • The paper analyzes data spanning from 1922 to 2020, based on annual tax tabulations by Indian tax authorities, to illustrate the distribution of top income earners.
  • It notes a significant increase in the share of national income going to the top 10 percent, rising from 37 percent in 1951 to nearly 60 percent in recent years.
  • In contrast, the share going to the bottom 50 percent remains disproportionately low, at just 15 percent in 2022-23.

Income Disparities and Skewed Distribution:

  • The income disparities highlighted by the paper are stark, with the top 1 percent earning, on average, Rs 5.3 million, which is 23 times the average income of an Indian.
  • In contrast, the average incomes for the bottom 50 percent and the middle 40 percent are significantly lower, standing at Rs 71,000 and Rs 1,65,000 respectively.
  • The paper also underscores the extreme concentration of wealth, with nearly 10,000 individuals earning, on average, Rs 480 million, indicating an alarming level of income inequality.

Reasons for Rising Income Shares:

  • The paper explores potential reasons for the sharp rise in the top 1 percent income share, attributing it to factors such as wage growth in the public and private sectors until the late 1990s, followed by the increasing role of capital incomes.
  • It also suggests that the lack of quality, broad-based education focused on the masses has contributed to the depressed income shares of the bottom 50 percent and the middle 40 percent.

Conclusion:

  • The paper highlights the alarming levels of income and wealth inequality in India and advocates for policy interventions such as tax restructuring and investments in public services to address these disparities and promote inclusive growth.

What are the Causes of Increasing Inequality Despite High Economic Growth in India?

 

Wealth Accumulation:

  • Concentration of Wealth: Concentration of wealth in the hands of a few can perpetuate inequality over generations, as the wealthy can pass on advantages to their descendants.
  • Inadequate Land Reforms: Inadequate land reforms can result in a significant portion of the population remaining landless or having insufficient land, making them vulnerable to poverty and economic instability.
  • Crony Capitalism: Corrupt practices and favoritism can result in wealth accumulation among a select group, contributing to inequality.
  • Lack of Inclusive Growth Policies:
  • Skewed Distribution of Economic Gains: Economic growth may disproportionately benefit certain sectors or income groups, leading to an uneven distribution of wealth.
  • Regressive Taxation Policies: Tax systems that favor the wealthy or lack progressivity can contribute to income inequality.
  • Lack of Social Safety Nets: Inadequate social safety nets and welfare programs may leave vulnerable populations without sufficient support, widening the wealth gap.
  • Inadequate Labour Policies:
  • Financialization of the Economy: An emphasis on financial markets and speculation over productive investments can lead to wealth concentration in the financial sector.
  • Wage gaps: Wage gaps between skilled and unskilled workers can contribute to income inequality.Informal labor markets with lower wages and fewer benefits can widen the income divide.
  • No Minimum Wages: Weak labor market policies, including insufficient minimum wage regulations and limited collective bargaining rights, can contribute to income disparities.
  • Social Exclusion:
  • Caste Discrimination: Social exclusion based on caste played a significant role in increasing inequality in India by marginalizing certain groups and limiting their access to opportunities, resources, and benefits.
  • Gender Inequality: Discrimination based on gender can lead to unequal access to employment opportunities and wage disparities.
  • Lack of Access to Education: Unequal access to quality education limited opportunities for upward mobility, reinforcing existing disparities.
  • Technological Deprivation: Automation and technological advancements lead to job displacement and wage stagnation for certain groups, exacerbating income inequality.

 

PYQ: Inclusive growth as enunciated in the Eleventh Five Year Plan does not include one of the following: (2010)

 

(a) Reduction of poverty

(b) Extension of employment opportunities

(c) Strengthening of capital market

(d) Reduction of gender inequality

Ans: C

Practice Question:  Discuss the findings of the paper released by the World Inequality Lab regarding income and wealth inequality in India. Analyze the implications of the rising income and wealth shares of the top 1 percent for the country’s socio-economic development. (250 words/15 m)

2. India Faces Looming Challenge of Solar Waste Management as Capacity Soars: Study

Topic: GS3 – Environment – Environmental pollution and degradation

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of understanding the environmental impacts of renewable energy technologies, such as solar power.

 

Context:
  • India generated approximately 100 kilotonnes (kt) of solar waste in the financial year 2022-2023, with projections suggesting this figure could increase to 600 kt by 2030, according to a study by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).
  • The study underscores the urgency of managing solar waste due to the country’s rapidly expanding solar capacity, which is expected to jump to 292 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 from the current 66.7 GW.
More about the news:

Definition and Categories of Solar Waste:

  • The term “solar waste” encompasses waste generated during the manufacturing of solar modules as well as waste generated during the modules’ lifetime in the field.
  • Manufacturing waste includes scrap and waste from modules failing quality tests.
  • Waste from the field includes streams such as transportation and handling damage, damage incurred during the modules’ lifetime, and end-of-life waste when modules are no longer usable.
  • However, the study focuses solely on waste generated during the modules’ lifetime, excluding manufacturing waste.

Findings of the Study:

  • The study projects that India’s current installed solar capacity will generate around 340 kt of waste by 2030, three times more than the present.
  • Approximately 67 percent of this waste is expected to be produced by five states: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • These states, with extensive solar capacity, are likely to witness a higher rate of solar waste generation due to their renewable energy-rich profiles.
  • The cumulative waste from existing and new capacity is estimated to reach about 600 kt by 2030 and is projected to increase substantially to approximately 19,000 kt by 2050.

Recommendations for Dealing with Solar Waste:

  • The report recommends policymakers to establish a comprehensive database of installed solar capacity to estimate future solar waste generation accurately.
  • It also calls for incentivizing recyclers and encouraging stakeholders to manage solar waste effectively.
  • Emphasizing the immediate nature of the problem, the report suggests creating a market for solar recycling, indicating that solar waste generation is not solely a future concern but a present and future challenge that requires urgent attention.

Conclusion:

  • The analysis underscores the need for proactive measures to address the growing challenge of solar waste management in India, given the country’s ambitious renewable energy targets.
  • Effective policies, incentives, and stakeholder collaboration are essential to mitigate the environmental, economic, and social impacts of solar waste generation.
Challenges in Managing PV ( Photovoltaic)  Waste in India

 

Informal Handling of PV Waste:

  • Even though part of the PV panels are removed and recycled, a sizable amount of trash is handled improperly, which causes garbage to build up in landfills and pollute the environment.
  • Limited Market for Reusing Recycled PV Waste:
  • Because there are currently few appropriate incentives and initiatives that firms may invest in, the market for reusing recycled photovoltaic waste is quite small in India.
  • The absence of a centralised insurance or oversight organisation to guard against monetary losses sustained during the collecting and processing of waste.
  • Lack of Specific Guidelines for PV Waste Treatment:
  • It would be confusing to simply combine PV waste with other e-waste, so special rules that fall under the purview of the e-waste guidelines must be developed and put into place.
  • To prevent confusion, special rules for the management of PV waste must be included in the e-waste guidelines.
  • Hazardous Waste Classification:
  • In India, garbage produced from photovoltaic modules and their components is categorised as “hazardous waste.”
  • People can be made more conscious of the significance of handling hazardous waste appropriately by holding awareness campaigns and sensitization initiatives about PV trash management.
  • More people will be inspired to engage in appropriate waste management and disposal procedures as a result.
  • Limited Local Solar PV-panel Manufacturing:
  • India should focus more on its domestic R&D projects because relying on a single type of module may unevenly deplete some natural resources and hinder the country’s ability to recycle and recover vital components locally.
  • The promotion of domestic PV waste recycling technology development requires suitable infrastructural facilities and adequate investment.

 

PYQ: With reference to solar power production in India, consider the following statements: (2018)

1) India is the third largest in the world in the manufacture of silicon wafers used in photovoltaic units.

2) The solar power tariffs are determined by the Solar Energy Corporation of India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ans: (d)

Practice Question:  Evaluate the projected increase in solar waste production by 2030 and its implications for environmental sustainability and waste management practices. Assess the significance of proactive measures in managing solar waste within the broader context of India’s renewable energy goals and environmental commitments. (250 words/15 m)

3. Study Reveals Alarming 91% Increase in Cardiovascular Death Risk Linked to Intermittent Fasting

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Health

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of understanding the risks and benefits associated with dietary interventions like intermittent fasting.

 

Context:
  • Intermittent fasting has gained popularity for its potential health benefits, particularly in improving insulin sensitivity and aiding weight loss.
  • However, a recent study presented alarming findings suggesting a 91% increase in the risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases associated with intermittent fasting.
  • While intermittent fasting has shown short-term benefits, its long-term implications remain under scrutiny.
More about the news:

Study Methodology and Findings:

  • The study analyzed data from a US database tracking 20,000 adults over eight to 17 years to assess the long-term impact of intermittent fasting.
  • It revealed a significant increase in the risk of cardiovascular death among individuals who consumed all their food within an eight-hour window.
  • Moreover, those with pre-existing heart conditions faced a 66% higher risk of death due to heart disease and stroke.
  • These findings underscore the potential risks associated with long-term adherence to intermittent fasting practices.

Harmful Aspects of Intermittent Fasting:

  • Experts suggest several reasons why intermittent fasting might pose health risks.
  • Firstly, individuals may tend to consume calorie-dense and unhealthy foods during the eating window, negating any potential benefits of fasting.
  • Additionally, intermittent fasting can lead to fluctuations in insulin levels, which may adversely affect cardiovascular health in the long run.
  • Experts highlighted the importance of maintaining stable insulin levels for better cardiovascular outcomes, cautioning against the see-saw effect induced by intermittent fasting.

Expert Perspectives on the Study:

  • While the study presents concerning findings, experts caution against drawing definitive conclusions due to several limitations.
  • Experts raised concerns about the study’s methodology, citing the reliance on self-reported dietary patterns, which may suffer from inaccuracies in food recall.
  • Moreover, the study fails to account for various factors such as participants’ diabetic status, medication use, and overall diet and lifestyle, which could influence the observed outcomes.

Existing Studies on Intermittent Fasting:

  • Previous research on intermittent fasting has yielded mixed results. While some studies suggest potential benefits such as fat loss, improved metabolism, and insulin sensitivity, others question its efficacy compared to traditional calorie-restricted diets.
  • Moreover, there is a lack of long-term studies assessing the impact of intermittent fasting on chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disorders.

Recommendations and Considerations:

  • Experts emphasize that intermittent fasting may not be suitable for everyone, particularly young individuals, pregnant women, and those with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
  • Furthermore, adherence to a regular eating schedule aligned with the body’s circadian rhythm is crucial to mitigate potential risks associated with delayed eating patterns.

Conclusion:

  • While intermittent fasting has garnered attention for its purported health benefits, the recent study underscores the importance of cautious interpretation and further research into its long-term implications.
  • As with any dietary intervention, individuals should consult healthcare professionals before adopting intermittent fasting practices, considering their unique health status and dietary needs.
  • Additionally, comprehensive and rigorous studies are needed to elucidate the true impact of intermittent fasting on health outcomes, guiding evidence-based recommendations for its use in clinical and preventive settings.

 

Practice Question:  Discuss the recent findings on the potential risks associated with intermittent fasting, as presented in a study analyzing long-term health outcomes. Evaluate the implications of these findings for public health policies and individual dietary practices. (150 words/10 m)

4. Inauguration of India's First Small-Scale LNG Unit Marks Milestone in Natural Gas Adoption

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy – Issues relating to mobilization of resources

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of understanding SSLNG technology which aligns with the broader context of India’s energy policy.

 

Context:
  • Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Hardeep Singh Puri, inaugurated India’s first small-scale liquefied natural gas (SSLNG) unit at GAIL (India) Ltd’s Vijaipur complex in Madhya Pradesh.
  • This development aims to enhance the utilization of natural gas across sectors, aligning with the government’s objective of increasing the share of natural gas in the primary energy mix to 15% by 2030.
More about the news:

Significance of Small-Scale LNG:

  • The adoption of natural gas is crucial for its lower environmental impact compared to conventional hydrocarbons like coal and oil.
  • However, challenges in transportation and last-mile delivery hinder its widespread use.
  • SSLNG offers a solution by enabling the distribution of LNG to areas not connected by pipelines, thereby expanding access to natural gas.

Understanding SSLNG:

  • SSLNG involves liquefying natural gas on a smaller scale and transporting it using unconventional means, such as specialized trucks and vessels.
  • This process allows the supply of LNG to industrial and commercial consumers in regions lacking pipeline infrastructure.

Functioning of SSLNG Unit at GAIL’s Vijaipur Complex:

  • The SSLNG unit at GAIL’s Vijaipur complex includes liquefaction skids and treatment skids to convert natural gas into LNG.
  • The automated control system ensures efficient operation. Natural gas undergoes purification and liquefaction processes before being transported to end-users via cryogenic tankers.

Business Case and Future Prospects:

  • Major oil and gas companies in India, including GAIL and Petronet LNG Ltd, are investing in SSLNG to capitalize on its potential for growth.
  • SSLNG is particularly attractive for long-haul trucks and buses due to its environmental benefits and cost-effectiveness compared to diesel.
  • Initiatives are underway to promote the adoption of LNG-powered vehicles and establish a robust LNG retail network.

Conclusion:

  • The inauguration of India’s first SSLNG unit marks a significant step towards expanding the use of natural gas in the country.
  • SSLNG technology offers a viable solution to overcome transportation challenges and accelerate the adoption of cleaner fuels in India’s energy landscape.
  • Continued investments and policy support are essential to realize the full potential of SSLNG and achieve the government’s energy objectives.
Challenges and Limitations:
  • Limited Vehicle Options: The availability of LNG-powered vehicles remains limited, which slows down the adoption of LNG as a fuel.
  • Underdeveloped Retail Infrastructure: A lack of extensive LNG retail networks makes it challenging for consumers to access LNG fuel easily.
  •  Higher Initial Costs: LNG vehicles are usually more expensive to buy upfront compared to regular diesel cars.
  • Financing Hurdles: The absence of specialized financing options for LNG vehicles poses challenges for prospective buyers looking to invest in this technology.
  • Limited Pipeline Coverage: SSLNG faces challenges in areas where there is no existing natural gas pipeline network, hindering its distribution to remote locations.
  • Regulatory and Permitting Issues: SSLNG projects may face regulatory hurdles and permitting delays, including environmental and safety regulations, which can slow down implementation and increase project timelines and costs.

 

PYQ: The question of India’s Energy Security constitutes the most important part of India’s economic progress. Analyze India’s energy policy cooperation with West Asian Countries. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2017)
Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of small-scale liquefied natural gas (SSLNG) in India’s energy transition and its potential implications for the country’s economic development, energy security, and environmental sustainability. (250 words/15 m)

5. IARI Red-Flags Illegal Cultivation of Basmati Varieties in Pakistan, Calls for Legal Action

Topic: GS3 – Agriculture

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of knowing facts about the issue of illegal cultivation and its impact on India’s basmati rice exports which relates to agricultural policies, economic impact, and intellectual property rights.

 

Context:
  • The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has raised concerns over the illegal cultivation of its blockbuster basmati rice varieties in Pakistan, despite being officially registered and protected under Indian law.
  • These varieties, bred by IARI, contribute significantly to India’s basmati rice exports, which are expected to reach a new high in the current fiscal year.
More about the news:

Demand for Legal Action:

  • IARI Director AK Singh has called for legal action against “unscrupulous” seed firms in Pakistan to protect the interests of Indian farmers and exporters.
  • The illicit cultivation of IARI varieties in Pakistan started with Pusa Basmati-1121 (PB-1121), which has been officially registered as ‘PK 1121 Aromatic’ in Pakistan and marketed under different names.

Expansion of Illicit Cultivation:

  • Pakistan is not only growing PB-1121 but also other popular IARI-bred varieties such as Pusa Basmati-6 (PB-6) and PB-1509.
  • Additionally, newer varieties like Pusa Basmati-1847 (PB-1847), PB-1885, and PB-1886, released in 2021, are also being cultivated illegally in Pakistan.

Method of Cultivation:

  • The illegal cultivation of these protected varieties in Pakistan is facilitated by the relatively low seed requirement and high yield potential of these varieties.
  • Pakistani seed firms procure a small quantity of seeds from fields across the border or wholesale markets in India for multiplication and sale within Pakistan.

Impact on Basmati Rice Exports:

  • India’s basmati rice exports have been growing steadily, with a significant portion of the export area under IARI-bred varieties.
  • In contrast, Pakistan’s basmati exports, although increasing, are still lower than India’s.
  • The depreciation of the Pakistani rupee has enabled the country to export basmati rice at competitive prices compared to India.

Concerns and Challenges:

  • The illegal cultivation of IARI varieties in Pakistan poses challenges for Indian exporters and farmers.
  • Besides economic implications, it raises issues of intellectual property rights and unfair exploitation of research and development efforts by Indian scientists.

Conclusion:

  • The unauthorized cultivation of IARI basmati varieties in Pakistan highlights the need for stricter enforcement of intellectual property rights and international cooperation to curb such practices.
  • Additionally, efforts should be made to raise awareness about the origin and ownership of these varieties to protect the interests of Indian farmers and exporters.

PYQ: 2019 UPSC CSE Prelims:

Consider the following statements:

1.    According to the Indian Patents Act, a biological process to create a seed can be patented in India

2.    In India, there is no Intellectual Property Appellate Board

3.    Plant varieties are not eligible to be patented in India

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

1.    1 and 3 only

2.    2 and 3 only

3.    3 only

4.    1, 2 and 3

 Ans: 3

Practice Question:  Discuss the implications of illegal cultivation of Indian basmati rice varieties in Pakistan on India’s agricultural sector and international trade relations. How can India address the challenges posed by such unauthorized cultivation? (250 words/15 m)

6. In SC, Centre defends appointment of new ECs

Topic: GS2 – Indian Polity – Constitutional Bodies

Understanding the constitutional framework and controversies surrounding Election Commission appointments is crucial for UPSC aspirants.

Context

● The news concerns the Centre’s defense of the appointment of Election Commissioners Sandhu and Kumar, refuting allegations of bias and government dominance in the appointment process.

●  The petition challenges appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners Act, 2023.

 

Additional information on this news:

  • The Centre defended the appointment of Sukhbir Singh Sandhu and Gyanesh Kumar as Election Commissioners in response to criticism, citing the constitutional duty to conduct timely elections.
  • Allegations of bias favouring the present regime were rebuffed, with the Centre denying taking advantage of vacancies and dismissing claims of government dominance in the appointment process.
  • A petition by the Association for Democratic Reforms challenged the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners Act, 2023, for giving the government a significant role in appointments.
  • The government argued that the presence of a judge on the selection committee doesn’t guarantee independence, and replacing the Chief Justice with a Cabinet Minister was a temporary measure until Parliament enacted a law on EC appointments.
  • The appointment of Sandhu and Kumar was deemed necessary for announcing the Lok Sabha election schedule promptly, with the election commissioners taking charge on March 15, and the schedule announced on March 16.
  • Government refuted claims of malicious intent, noting no allegations against Sandhu or Kumar, and accused attempts to stir political controversy.
  • Opposition’s allegations of being kept uninformed about candidates’ details were countered, with the government stating that profiles were shared on March 13 and committee discussions were collaborative.
  • The 2023 law was portrayed as enhancing the appointment process’s democratic nature, contrasting it with the previous executive-centric approach from 1950 to 2023.

Debate over politicisation of Election Commission:

Concerns:

Appointment process: Critics argue that the appointment process of Election Commissioners lacks transparency and can be influenced by the ruling party.

● Partisanship: There are allegations of bias among some Election Commissioners favouring the ruling party, raising doubts about the Commission’s impartiality.

● Influence of executive: Instances of the executive branch exerting pressure on the Election Commission to favor certain outcomes undermine its autonomy.

Handling of complaints: Some perceive delays and inadequacies in addressing complaints against electoral malpractices, fostering scepticism about the Commission’s effectiveness.

Potential Implications:

Erosion of public trust: Politicization may erode public confidence in the electoral process, leading to disenchantment and diminished faith in democracy.

Weakened democratic institutions: Politicization can undermine the independence and authority of constitutional bodies, weakening the checks and balances essential for a robust democracy.

Legitimacy of election outcomes: Doubts about the fairness of elections due to perceived bias or interference could delegitimize election results and lead to social unrest.

Threat to democratic values: Politicization of the Election Commission poses a broader threat to democratic principles of fairness, accountability, and transparency.

Addressing concerns and safeguarding the Election Commission’s autonomy is essential to uphold the integrity of democratic processes.

PYQ: Discuss the role of the Election Commission of India in the light of the evolution of the Model Code of Conduct. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2022)

Practice Question:  Discuss the constitutional aspects and controversies surrounding recent Election Commission appointments in India. (150 Words /10 marks)

 

7. IIT-K, Indian Navy join forces for technology development

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies, GS3 – Science and Technology – Development & their applications

Critical for UPSC aspirants to understand the intersection of academia and defense, fostering innovation for national security and development.

Context
●  IIT Kharagpur and the Indian Navy collaborate to drive innovation and research, focusing on propulsion systems, instrumentation, and operational research.

 

Additional information on this news:

  • IIT Kharagpur and Indian Navy partnered for innovation and research.
  • Aim to foster innovation and knowledge exchange between academia and military.
  • Collaboration focuses on propulsion systems, systems and controls, instrumentation, and operational research.
  • Symbolizes a significant relationship between academia and the military.
  • Enhances capabilities in areas crucial for defense and industrial sectors.
  • Marks a strategic move towards leveraging expertise for technological advancements.
Importance of Industry – Academia collaboration in R&D:

Significance:

● Innovation catalyst: Collaboration fosters innovation by combining academic research with industry needs, driving technological advancements.

● Economic growth: Joint R&D efforts enhance competitiveness, leading to the development of new products, industries, and job opportunities.

● Addressing societal challenges: Collaboration enables solutions to complex societal problems through interdisciplinary research and practical applications.

Talent development: Industry-academia partnerships provide students with real-world experience, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

Challenges:

● Misaligned objectives: Differences in priorities and timelines between academia and industry can hinder collaboration.

● Intellectual property concerns: Conflicting interests over ownership and commercialization of research findings may arise.

●  Funding constraints: Limited funding for collaborative projects may impede progress and innovation.

● Cultural barriers: Varied work cultures and communication gaps between academia and industry can pose challenges.

Way Forward:

● Clear communication: Establishing open channels of communication to align objectives and expectations.

IP frameworks: Developing transparent intellectual property agreements to address ownership and commercialization concerns.

● Funding mechanisms: Implementing funding mechanisms to support collaborative R&D initiatives and incentivize partnerships.

●  Interdisciplinary approaches: Encouraging interdisciplinary research to address complex challenges and promote innovation.

Skill development: Providing training and resources to researchers and students to enhance their collaborative capabilities.

Industry-academia collaboration in R&D holds immense potential to drive innovation, economic growth, and societal development, but addressing challenges and fostering effective partnerships is crucial for realizing these benefits.

Practice Question:  How does industry-academia collaboration in R&D contribute to innovation and economic growth in India? Discuss. (250 Words /15 marks)

8. Centre notifies fact check unit to screen online content

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies

Critical for UPSC aspirants to grasp the implications of government regulation on misinformation and its impact on free press.

 

Context
●   The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology designates PIB’s Fact Check Unit to combat misinformation about Central government departments on social media platforms.

 Additional information on this news:

  • Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology designates PIB’s Fact Check Unit to flag misinformation about Central government departments to social media platforms.
  • Under IT Rules 2021, platforms risk losing legal liability protections if they retain notified misinformation online.
  • Controversial move delayed due to Bombay High Court litigation, but recent court decision allowed formal notification.
  • PIB Fact Check Unit’s credibility questioned for disputing journalists’ work based on ministries’ denials.
  • Editors’ Guild of India and comedian Kunal Kamra challenge the IT Rules in Supreme Court.
  • Concerns raised about threat to free press and independence of Indian internet.
  • Fact Check Unit has disputed news reports in the past, raising doubts about its impartiality.
  • Unit is operated by Indian Information Service officers, reporting to PIB’s Principal Director General.
Misinformation on social media And potential repercussions:

Impact of Misinformation:

● Undermines trust: Spread of false information erodes public trust in government institutions and media sources.

● Fuels social unrest: Misinformation can incite violence, communal tensions, and public unrest, posing a threat to social harmony.

● Influences public opinion: False narratives on social media can shape public perception, affecting political discourse and decision-making.

Hinders policymaking: Misinformation may lead to misinformed policy decisions, impeding effective governance.

Issues with Controlling Misinformation:

●  Freedom of speech: Balancing the need to combat misinformation with the right to freedom of expression is challenging.

Lack of accountability: Identifying and holding individuals or groups accountable for spreading misinformation is often difficult.

●  Rapid spread: Misinformation spreads rapidly on social media platforms, making it challenging to contain and debunk.

Echo chambers: Social media algorithms often reinforce existing beliefs, leading to the proliferation of misinformation within echo chambers.

Technological limitations: Automated fact-checking tools may not effectively detect nuanced forms of misinformation, requiring human intervention.

Curbing Free Speech:

Overreach of authority: Government efforts to curb misinformation may be perceived as censorship, threatening free speech.

●  Chilling effect: Fear of legal repercussions or censorship may stifle open discourse and dissenting voices.

●  Bias and subjectivity: Designating bodies to flag misinformation raises concerns about impartiality and potential political bias.

Impact on journalists: Fact-checking initiatives may inadvertently target journalists and media organizations, impeding their ability to report freely.

Efforts to combat misinformation on social media about the central government must navigate the complex balance between preserving free speech and maintaining public trust and social cohesion.

PYQ: Use of Internet and social media by non-state actors for subversive activities is a major concern. How have these have misused in the recent past? Suggest effective guidelines to curb the above threat. (200 words/12.5m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2016)
Practice Question:  How does misinformation on social media regarding the central government challenge free speech and governance? Discuss. (250 Words /15 marks)

9. NASA craft that diverted space rock also dented it

Topic: GS3 – Science and Technology – Space

Critical for UPSC aspirants to comprehend NASA’s DART mission implications for planetary defense and asteroid impact mitigation strategies.

Context
●       NASA’s DART spacecraft collision with asteroid Dimorphos in 2022 altered its trajectory and shape, demonstrating the ability to deflect asteroids threatening Earth.

 Additional information on this news:

  • NASA’s DART spacecraft collided with asteroid Dimorphos in 2022, showcasing the ability to alter celestial objects’ trajectories.
  • The collision not only changed Dimorphos’ path but also its shape, transforming it into a triaxial ellipsoid.
  • Dimorphos, a moonlet of Didymos, is part of a near-earth asteroid system and posed no direct threat to Earth.
  • DART’s impact altered Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos, making it elliptical and reducing its orbital period by 15 seconds.
  • The collision sent rocky debris into space and caused Dimorphos’ orbit to decay gradually.
  • Scientists believe the asteroid’s loose debris leaking out contributes to the orbital decay.
  • The mission demonstrated the potential for planetary defense against potential asteroid impacts on Earth.

PYQ: The experiment will employ a trio of spacecraft flying in formation in the shape of an equilateral triangle that has sides one million kilometers long, with lasers shining between the craft.” The experiment in question refers to

[A] Voyager – 2

[B] New Horizons

[C] LISA Pathfinder

[D] Evolved LISA

Answer: D

Practice Question:  How does NASA’s DART mission contribute to planetary defense against potential asteroid impacts? Discuss. (150 Words /10 marks)

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