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Daily Current Affairs

7-October-2023

1. Nobel Peace Prize 2023 goes to jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi

Topic: GS3 – International prices

Context:

  • Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her tireless advocacy of women’s rights, democracy, and opposition to the death penalty.

Additional information on this news:

  • Despite facing numerous arrests and spending years in prison, Mohammadi has remained a prominent figure in women-led protests in Iran, which were sparked by the death of a young woman in police custody.
  • The Nobel Committee recognized Mohammadi’s leadership within the broader movement in Iran dedicated to these causes.
  • The committee hopes that the prize serves as encouragement for the movement to continue its work, and they called on Iran to release Mohammadi in time for the prize ceremony on December 10.
  • In response to the award, Mohammadi expressed gratitude for global support and recognition, stating that it strengthens her resolve and hope.
  • She also expressed her hope that the recognition would empower Iranians advocating for change and bring them together.
  • Narges Mohammadi, an engineer, has been imprisoned 13 times and convicted five times, totaling 31 years in prison.
  • She is the 19th woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and the second Iranian woman after Shirin Ebadi, who won the award in 2003.

2. Freebies before elections: SC seeks response from Rajasthan and M.P.

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Context:

  • The Supreme Court of India has requested responses from the states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan regarding allegations of misusing public funds to offer irrational freebies ahead of upcoming elections.
  • A bench consisting of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra has also issued notices to the Centre (the central government), the Election Commission, and the Reserve Bank of India based on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition.
  • The PIL claims that both Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are misusing taxpayers’ money to entice voters with giveaways, and it argues that this is similar to offenses of bribery and undue influence as per Sections 171B and 171C of the Indian Penal Code.

Impact of freebies on election:

  • Vote Attraction: Freebies can attract voters with the promise of immediate benefits.
  • Influence on Voter Behavior: They can sway voters’ decisions based on short-term gains rather than long-term policies.
  • Economic Consequences: Providing freebies can strain government finances and impact economic stability.
  • Policy Distortion: Focus on freebies may divert attention from essential policy issues.
  • Long-term Effects: Encouraging dependency on government handouts can have lasting social and economic repercussions.
  • Ethical Concerns: Critics argue that freebies can resemble bribes and distort the democratic process.
  • Populist Politics: Parties may use freebies for populist appeal rather than addressing structural issues.

Question: Discuss the impact of freebies on the democratic electoral process and the long-term implications for governance and public policy in India.

3. ‘Prof. Swaminathan’s contributions will continue to inspire and guide us’

Topic: GS1 – notable personalities

Context:

  • The recent passing of Professor M.S. Swaminathan marks the loss of a visionary figure who revolutionized agricultural science and made enduring contributions to India.

What does the article say about Prof. Swaminathan:

  • He was a visionary who dedicated his career to revolutionizing agricultural science.
  • Inspired by the 1943 Bengal famine, he focused on agriculture despite opportunities abroad.
  • His work in the 1960s, particularly in wheat breeding, transformed India from a food-deficient nation to a self-sufficient one.
  • He earned the title “Father of the Indian Green Revolution.”
  • His research also addressed crop parasites and promoted millets as superfoods.
  • Professor Swaminathan advocated for sustainable agriculture and the welfare of small farmers and women in agriculture.
  • He was an institution builder and mentor, leaving a lasting legacy of knowledge and innovation.
  • His principles continue to guide India’s pursuit of agricultural sustainability and prosperity.

4. MGNREGS runs out of funds; Ministry seeks more budget

Topic: GS2 – government initiatives

Context:

  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has faced a funding shortfall of ₹6,146.93 crore six months into the financial year.
  • The approved budget for MGNREGS in 2023-24 was ₹60,000 crore, which was 18% lower than the budget estimates for the previous year.

Importance of MGNREGS for rural population:

  • Provides livelihood security to rural households.
  • Guarantees 100 days of wage employment per household in a financial year.
  • Addresses poverty by offering income opportunities to the rural poor.
  • Reduces distress migration by creating local job opportunities.
  • Promotes inclusive growth by focusing on marginalized communities.
  • Enhances rural infrastructure through labor-intensive projects.
  • Empowers women by ensuring their participation and equal wages.
  • Acts as a safety net during agricultural off-seasons and economic hardships.
  • Enhances agricultural productivity by retaining labor in villages.
  • Reduces economic inequalities and promotes rural development.

Question: Discuss the significance of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) in addressing rural poverty and promoting sustainable rural development in India.

5. Two out of five amphibians are facing extinction threat due to climate change: study

Topic: GS3 – climate change

Context:

  • Climate change poses a significant threat to frogs, salamanders, and caecilians, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature.
  • The study, titled ‘Ongoing declines for the world’s amphibians in the face of emerging threats,’ is based on the second global amphibian assessment conducted by the Amphibian Red List Authority, managed by the wildlife conservation group Re:wild.

More information regarding the news:

  • More than 8,000 amphibian species from around the world, including 2,286 newly evaluated species, were assessed for extinction risk, with data contributed by over 1,000 experts worldwide.
  • The findings reveal that 40% of amphibian species are threatened with extinction, and these data will be included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • Between 2004 and 2022, over 300 amphibian species moved closer to extinction, with climate change identified as the primary threat for 39% of these species.
  • Amphibians are particularly vulnerable to climate change due to their sensitivity to environmental changes, making them “climate captives” unable to escape extreme weather events.
  • Habitat destruction and degradation impact 93% of all threatened amphibian species, highlighting the importance of protecting habitats and creating corridors for biodiversity conservation.

6. Nobel Prize for Peace

Topic: Prelims

Context:

  • Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi has been honored with the Nobel Peace Prize this year.

Details:

  • The Norwegian Nobel Committee has given her this award for her efforts in the fight against oppression of women in Iran and for human rights and freedom.
  • Nargis Mohammadi is also a human rights activist.

The Nobel Peace Prize

  • The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the Nobel Prizes created by Alfred Nobel’s who was a Swedish scientist, industrialist, and Armaments (military equipment and weapons) producer, along with the prizes for Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine and Literature.
  • Since the beginning of March, 1901, it is awarded each year (with certain exceptions) in recognition of those who “done most or performed the most effective work to promote peace between nations, for the dismantling or reducing of standing armies, and to promote and organize for peace conferences”.
  • As per Alfred Nobel’s wishes, the winner is chosen from the Norwegian Nobel Committee, a five-member panel selected to be appointed by Parliament of Norway.
  • Since the year 2020, the award is presented at the Atrium of the University of Oslo, where it was awarded between 1947 and 1989 and the Abel Prize is also awarded inside the same building.
  • The prize was awarded previously by Oslo City Hall (1990-2019) and in the Norwegian Nobel Institute (1905-1946) and The Parliament (1901-1904).

7. White House plans Biden-Xi talks for next month: Report

Topic: GS2-IR

Context:

  • The White House is making plans for a face-to-face meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in San Francisco next month as the two countries seek to stabilize troubled relations.

Details:

  • Ties between the world’s two largest economies have been strained in recent years due to a number of issues including:
    • Taiwan,
    • The origins of the Covid19 pandemic,
    • Allegations of spying,
    • human rights issues and trade tariffs, among others.
  • The meeting would follow other high-level engagements between the two countries in recent months that have seen visits from US officials to China like Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in July and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in August.

8. Philippines protests after China coast guard ship nearly collides with vessel

Topic: GS2-IR

Context:

  • A Chinese coast guard ship came within a meter of colliding with a Philippine patrol ship it was trying to block in the South China Sea, in an alarming incident that intensified fears that territorial disputes in the waters could spark a larger crisis.

South China Sea dispute

China’s Claim over the South China Sea

  • China asserts sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea, including the Paracel Islands.
  • Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, and Vietnam all have claims in the region, which is estimated to have substantial oil and gas deposits.

China’s Proclamation Regarding the South China Sea

  • Since 2010, China has been transforming uninhabited islets into artificial islets to put them within the jurisdiction of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (examples include Haven Reef, Johnson South Reef, and Fiery Cross Reef).
  • China has been changing the reefs’ physical land features to change their size and structure. It has also constructed airstrips on the Parcel and Spratly islands.
  • Chinese fishing boats are more engaged in state-sponsored paramilitary work than in commercial fishing. The United States strongly condemns China’s actions.

Reasons for Dispute in the South China Sea

  • China, Vietnam, and Taiwan all claim the Paracel Islands.
  • China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, and the Philippines all claim the Spratly Islands.
  • The Philippines, Taiwan, and China all claim the Scarborough Shoal.

9. Russia signals intention to swiftly revoke ratification of nuclear test ban agreement

Topic: GS2-IR

Context:

  • Russia indicated that it was moving swiftly towards revoking its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) after President Vladimir Putin held out the possibility of resuming nuclear testing.

What exactly is CTBT?

  • The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the Treaty that bans any nuclear explosion – anywhere by everyone. The Treaty was concluded during the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and was ratified at the United Nations General Assembly. It was signed on September 24, 1996.
  • The Treaty will become effective when all 44 States that are listed as in Annex 2 to the Treaty will sign it. The states listed were nuclear-armed when the Treaty was being negotiated and then adopted.
  • India, North Korea and Pakistan have not yet signed the Treaty.

Why is the CTBT so crucial?

  • The CTBT is the last obstacle in the development of nuclear weapons.
  • It prevents the creation of nuclear weapons that are new and the enhancement of the existing designs for nuclear weapons.
  • The Treaty creates legally binding rules to prevent nuclear test.
  • The Treaty can also help to reduce the suffering of humans and environmental damage resulting from nuclear tests.

10. Telangana govt launches breakfast scheme in schools

Topic: GS2-Govt policies

Context:

  • The Telangana Government launched the Chief Minister’s Breakfast Scheme aimed at government school students from Class 1 to 10

Details:

  • As per the govt, 23 lakh students across the state would be served nutritious breakfast, Monday to Saturday, 45 minutes before the classes start.
  • The scheme will be implemented throughout 27,147 government schools across the state at an additional cost of 400 crore.

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