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Daily Current Affairs

25-October-2023

1. Bhutan and China make progress in border talks

Topic: GS2 – international relations

Context:

  • Bhutan and China held their 25th round of boundary talks, resumed after a hiatus since 2016.
  • Bhutan’s Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing during this visit.

More on this news:

  • The boundary negotiations were led by Dr. Dorji from Bhutan and Sun Weidong from China, resulting in the signing of a “Cooperation Agreement.”
  • This Cooperation Agreement outlines the functioning of a Joint Technical Team (JTT) for delimiting and demarcating the Bhutan-China boundary.
  • The Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed hope for the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Bhutan, a step Bhutan has not taken due to its policy regarding UN Security Council Permanent Member (P-5) countries.
  • Wang Yi emphasized that concluding boundary negotiations and establishing diplomatic relations would serve Bhutan’s long-term interests.

Potential implications on India:

  • Strategic Balance: Bhutan is a close neighbor and ally of India. Any significant changes in Bhutan’s relations with China can affect the strategic balance in the region.
  • Security Concerns: India has security concerns related to its border with China, particularly in the sensitive region of Doklam. Any agreements reached between Bhutan and China in the boundary talks could impact India’s security interests.
  • Geopolitical Influence: India has traditionally held significant influence in Bhutan’s political and strategic decision-making. A shift in Bhutan’s relations with China could challenge India’s geopolitical influence in the region.
  • Trade and Economic Ties: India has strong economic and trade ties with Bhutan. Changes in Bhutan’s foreign relations, particularly with China, could have economic repercussions for India.
  • Regional Stability: The stability of the broader region is of concern to India. Any developments that lead to instability or tensions between Bhutan and China can impact regional peace and stability.
  • Diplomatic Channels: The resolution of border issues and establishment of diplomatic relations may open new channels of communication between Bhutan and China, potentially affecting India’s role in mediating regional conflicts

2. Capital’s air quality likely to worsen on Wednesday

Topic: GS3 – air pollution

Context:

  • Delhi’s air quality improved marginally but remained in the ‘poor’ category.
  • The 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) was 220, down from 263 the previous day.
  • AQI categories range from ‘good’ to ‘severe,’ and Delhi’s air quality falls in the ‘poor’ category.
  • The Air Quality Early Warning System predicts continued oscillation between ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ air quality over the next six days.

Reasons for bad air quality in National Capital Region:

  • Industrial Emissions: High levels of industrial emissions from factories and manufacturing units contribute to air pollution.
  • Vehicular Pollution: Extensive use of vehicles, including diesel-fueled ones, leads to increased emissions of pollutants.
  • Construction Dust: Dust generated from ongoing construction activities adds to particulate matter in the air.
  • Agricultural Residue Burning: Farmers burning crop residues in neighboring states releases smoke and pollutants into the air.
  • Meteorological Factors: Weather conditions, such as low wind speed and temperature inversions, trap pollutants closer to the ground.
  • Household Pollution: Use of solid fuels for cooking and heating in some areas results in indoor and outdoor air pollution.
  • Waste Burning: The burning of municipal waste and garbage contributes to poor air quality.

Way forward:

  • Promote Sustainable Transportation: Encourage the use of public transport, electric vehicles, and cycling to reduce vehicular emissions.
  • Strict Emission Norms: Implement and enforce stringent emission standards for industries and vehicles to reduce pollution.
  • Green Initiatives: Increase green cover by planting trees and creating urban green spaces to absorb pollutants.
  • Waste Management: Implement efficient waste management practices, including reducing open waste burning and promoting recycling.
  • Agricultural Reforms: Encourage farmers to adopt alternative crop residue management methods instead of burning.
  • Air Quality Monitoring: Enhance air quality monitoring systems to provide real-time data for better decision-making.
  • Awareness and Education: Educate the public about the health risks of air pollution and the importance of clean air.
  • International Cooperation: Collaborate with neighboring states and countries to address cross-border pollution issues.

Question:  Critically analyze the factors contributing to the deteriorating air quality in the National Capital Region and propose effective strategies for sustainable air quality management.

3. NCERT material on Chandrayaan draws ire for ‘mixing science with mythology’

Topic: GS3 – science and technology

Context:

  • The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) prepared a reading module about Chandrayaan-3 for schoolchildren.
  • The reading material has drawn criticism for allegedly mixing science with mythology.

Additional information on this news:

  • Critics argue that the reading module glorifies Prime Minister Narendra Modi rather than focusing on the contributions of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its scientists.
  • The material consistently refers to India as ‘Bharat’ in all instances across its 17 pages.
  • The introduction of the module extensively quotes Prime Minister Modi’s remarks, mentioning the Vymaanika Shastra and the possibility of flying vehicles in ancient India.
  • The module also narrates mythological stories, referencing the Vedas and chariots that could fly, which has raised concerns about blending mythology with science.
  • Educationists and students’ organizations criticize the module, arguing that it promotes saffron ideology and hinders the development of scientific temper in schoolchildren.

Implications of mixing science with mythology:

  • Distortion of Scientific Understanding: Blending science with mythology can distort scientific concepts and mislead students, leading to a flawed understanding of scientific principles.
  • Erosion of Rational Thinking: It can undermine the development of critical thinking and rationality by presenting mythological narratives as scientific facts.
  • Confusion: Mixing science with mythology may confuse students, making it challenging to distinguish between evidence-based scientific knowledge and ancient myths.
  • Religious and Cultural Sensitivities: It can inadvertently offend religious or cultural sensitivities by treating mythology as a source of scientific knowledge.
  • Impact on Education Quality: Such practices can reduce the quality of education and hinder scientific progress by perpetuating unverified or fictional information.
  • Challenges to Secular Education: The inclusion of mythology in scientific education materials may raise concerns about secularism in educational curricula.
  • Missed Learning Opportunities: Students may miss out on genuine scientific learning opportunities when mythology is presented as an alternative to established scientific knowledge.

Question: What are the educational and societal implications of mixing science with mythology in academic materials, and how does it affect the development of scientific temper among students?

4. Centre to introduce DNA, face matching systems at police stations across country

Topic: GS2 – modernisation of police

Context:

  • The implementation of “DNA and face-matching” systems under the Criminal Procedure Identification Act, passed by Parliament more than a year ago, is underway.

Additional information on the news:

  • The Act enables law enforcement agencies to collect, store, and analyze physical and biological samples, including retina and iris scans of arrested individuals.
  • While the Act and its rules do not explicitly mention DNA and face-matching, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) plans to roll out these measures at around 1,300 locations.
  • The Union Home Ministry has formed a Domain Committee and a technical sub-committee to support the Act’s successful implementation.
  • States are tasked with identifying locations and preparing sites for the measurement collection unit (MCU), with the NCRB serving as the national-level database repository.
  • Existing systems like the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) are being integrated with the Act to enhance identification capabilities.
  • The Act replaced the 100-year-old Identification of Prisoners Act, expanding the scope of data collection and identification methods.
  • Safeguards are emphasized to prevent database misuse, with access limited to designated officials.
  • Challenges include resource allocation and training, with states bearing the cost of secure internet lines and operational expenses.

Multiple-choice question:

Which of the following statements regarding DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) is accurate?

Select the correct option from the following:

  1. DNA is composed of two types of nucleotides: adenine-thymine and cytosine-guanine.
  2. DNA is a single-stranded molecule that carries genetic information.
  3. DNA replication occurs during transcription.
  4. DNA is primarily found in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells.

Answer:  Option A – DNA is composed of two types of nucleotides: adenine-thymine and cytosine-guanine.

Explanation:

  • DNA is a double-stranded molecule, and it consists of pairs of nucleotides. Adenine (A) always pairs with thymine (T), and cytosine (C) always pairs with guanine (G).
  • This complementary base pairing is a fundamental feature of DNA structure and is crucial for DNA replication and the transmission of genetic informatio

5. Food labels to have QR code to help the visually disabled

Topic: GS3 – science and technology

Context:

  • FSSAI recommends the use of QR codes on food products for accessibility by persons with visual disabilities.

What is in the news?

  • Accessibility to information is deemed a fundamental right for all citizens.
  • The Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020 comprehensively outline information to include on food labels.
  • QR codes can provide detailed product information, including ingredients, nutritional facts, allergens, manufacturing date, and contact details for inquiries.
  • The inclusion of QR codes does not replace the need for mandatory information on product labels as per regulations.
  • The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 emphasizes accessibility and promoting health for individuals with disabilities.

Multiple-choice question:

Which of the following elements are typically encoded in a Quick Response (QR) code?

Select the correct option from the following:

  1. Only text-based information
  2. Text, numeric data, and binary data
  3. Audio and video files
  4. GPS coordinates and weather data

Answer:  Option B – Text, numeric data, and binary data

Explanation: 

  • Quick Response (QR) codes can encode a variety of data types, including text, numeric data, and binary data.
  • They are versatile and commonly used for storing information such as website URLs, contact details, product information, and more.

6. World Bank’s Banga says geopolitics pose biggest, but not only, risk to world economy

Topic: GS3 – Global economy

Context:

  • World Bank President Ajay Banga identifies geopolitical tensions from the Middle East conflict as the most significant threat to the world economy.

What risks world economy could face according to Mr. Banga:

  • The emergence of another pandemic is another risk factor that Mr. Banga mentions.
  • Geopolitical conflicts, including recent events in Israel and Gaza, add to the challenges for economic development.
  • Risks in the world economy tend to shift, so it’s important to be mindful of multiple risks concurrently.
  • Private sector investment is crucial for developing economies, particularly in areas like renewable energy.
  • There is a need to engage the private sector to raise the required funds for these projects.
  • Banga emphasized the importance of involving the private sector in providing capital for emerging markets.

7. What separates classical and quantum chaos?

Topic: GS3 – science and technology

  • The Earth’s atmosphere is a dynamic and unpredictable system, leading to challenges in weather forecasting.
  • The “butterfly effect” illustrates the concept that small changes in initial conditions can lead to significantly different outcomes.
  • Chaotic systems, including the atmosphere, are highly sensitive to initial conditions, making long-term predictions challenging.
  • Deterministic chaos means that future predictions are only possible with high precision of present conditions.
  • The Lyapunov time determines the predictability duration of a chaotic system, varying from milliseconds to millions of years.
  • Quantum mechanics introduces probabilistic behavior, not chaos, to describe subatomic particles.
  • Quantum chaos is a branch of physics that explores the dynamics of classically chaotic systems at the quantum level.
  • Rydberg atoms serve as a connection between classical and quantum domains and can exhibit chaotic behavior.
  • In quantum chaos, energy levels in a system show regularities, unlike the randomness in non-chaotic quantum systems.
  • Quantum chaos is an emerging and intriguing area of research with applications in various fields, including quantum information and black hole physics.

Multiple-choice question:

Which concept suggests that a small change in initial conditions can lead to significantly different outcomes in complex systems, often referred to as the “butterfly effect”?

Select the correct option from the following:

  1. Chaos theory
  2. Fractal geometry
  3. Quantum mechanics
  4. General relativity

Answer:  Option A – Chaos theory

Explanation:

  • The “butterfly effect” is a key concept in chaos theory, where it describes the sensitivity of complex systems to initial conditions.
  • It suggests that even tiny changes in the starting state of a system can result in dramatically different and unpredictable outcomes.
  • This idea is commonly associated with the example that the flap of a butterfly’s wings in one location could influence the occurrence of a tornado in another.

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