4 Jan 2024 : Daily Current Affairs

1. Vasanthalakshmi getsNritya Kalanidhi

Topic: GS1 – Indian Art and Culture

Relevant for UPSC as it assesses cultural ties, contributions of artists, and international connections in India’s classical dance heritage.

  • Renowned dancer Vasanthalakshmi Narasimhachari receives ‘Nritya Kalanidhi’ award at Chennai’s Dance Festival.
  • Singapore’s Consul-General highlights cultural links, praising the Academy’s role in preserving heritage.

More information about the news:

  • Vasanthalakshmi Narasimhachari receives ‘Nritya Kalanidhi’ award at the 17th Dance Festival of the Music Academy in Chennai.
  • Consul-General of Singapore, Edgar Pang Tze Chiang, highlights the cultural links between Singapore and Tamil Nadu.
  • Vasanthalakshmi Narasimhachari, along with her late husband, trained dancers in Singapore in the 1970s.
  • Singaporean dancers have participated in past editions of the Academy’s dance festivals.
  • The festival features various classical art forms, including Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Yakshagana, and Mohiniyattam.

2. Caste discrimination in prisons needs to be addressed, says SC.

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government Policies – Issues arising out of their design & implementation.

Critical for UPSC as it assesses awareness of social issues, legal perspectives, and constitutional implications related to caste-based discrimination in prisons.

  • The Supreme Court acknowledges caste-based discrimination, manual labor, and segregation among prisoners as a critical issue.
  • More than 10 states, including Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, still have discriminatory provisions in prison manuals. The court seeks responses based on journalist Sukanya Shantha’s petition.


  • India’s prison system faces numerous challenges, reflecting a complex interplay of social, legal, and administrative issues. Overcrowding, inadequate infrastructure, and a slow justice system contribute to a host of problems.

Issues with Indian prisons:


  • Overpopulation in prisons is a persistent issue. The inmate population often exceeds the designed capacity, leading to substandard living conditions and strained resources. The lack of effective bail mechanisms and delays in trials exacerbate this problem.

Inadequate Infrastructure:

  • Many prisons lack proper facilities for healthcare, sanitation, and rehabilitation. Inmates often endure deplorable living conditions, affecting their physical and mental well-being. Improving infrastructure is crucial for humane and rehabilitative incarceration.

Slow Justice System:

  • The slow pace of justice contributes to prolonged pre-trial detentions, violating the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’
  • Streamlining legal processes, enhancing judicial efficiency, and promoting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are imperative.

Supreme Court Interventions:

  • Landmark Supreme Court judgments have addressed prison issues.
  • In the ‘Sunil Batra vs Delhi Administration’ case, the court emphasized prisoners’ rights.
  • The ‘Prem Shankar Shukla vs Delhi Administration’ case highlighted the importance of protecting the dignity of prisoners.

Government Initiatives:

  • The government has introduced various policies to reform prisons.
  • The Model Prison Manual, 2016, emphasizes the rights and dignity of prisoners, focusing on rehabilitation and reintegration.
  • The Prisons Act (Amendment), 2018, aims to modernize prison administration.

The Way Forward:

  • Legal Reforms: Expedite judicial processes, enhance legal aid, and promote alternative dispute resolution to reduce the backlog of cases.
  • Infrastructure Development: Invest in prison infrastructure to ensure adequate living conditions, healthcare, and vocational training for inmates.
  • Rehabilitation Programs: Implement effective rehabilitation programs to facilitate the reintegration of prisoners into society.
  • Technology Integration: Embrace technology for better prison management, including digitized records, e-governance, and video conferencing for legal proceedings.
  • Community Engagement: Foster community involvement in the rehabilitation process to reduce societal stigmas and facilitate the reintegration of former inmates.


  • Addressing the multifaceted challenges within the prison system requires a comprehensive approach involving legal, administrative, and societal reforms.
  • As the nation progresses, ensuring humane conditions and rehabilitation within prisons remains a critical aspect of India’s justice system.
Practice Question: Discuss the key challenges faced by the Indian prison system. Evaluate recent Supreme Court judgments and government policies aimed at addressing these issues. Suggest comprehensive reforms for an effective and humane prison system. (250 words/15 m)

3. Transfer of probes to CBI should be done only in rare cases: top court.

Topic: GS2 – Judiciary – Functioning

Relevant for UPSC as it assesses understanding of judicial discretion, CBI’s role, and circumstances warranting the transfer of investigations. 

  • The Supreme Court, acknowledging its power to transfer investigations, cautions against frequent intervention.
  • Chief Justice Chandrachud stresses rare instances, emphasizing the need for strong evidence and imperative reasons for transfers.

Additional information on this news:

  • Supreme Court asserts its authority to transfer investigations to the CBI or form an SIT but advocates caution.
  • Chief Justice Chandrachud emphasizes rare and exceptional circumstances for such interventions, clarifying that it must not undermine existing investigating authorities.
  • Onus on petitioners to present strong evidence of inadequacy or bias in the current investigation before seeking a transfer.
  • Court quotes precedents, highlighting the need for rare occasions involving high officials, accusations against investigating agency’s top officials, or instances of tainted/biased investigations.
  • Transfer should be imperative for public confidence in the impartial working of state agencies, the Supreme Court suggests.

4. SpaceXs Falcon-9 to launch Indias GSAT-20; satellite to spread broadband coverage.

Topic: GS3 – Science and Technology – Developing new technology – Space

Critical for UPSC as it assesses knowledge of ISRO’s commercial ventures, satellite technology, and space sector reforms in India. 

  • NewSpace India Ltd. (NSIL) plans to launch GSAT-20 on SpaceX’s Falcon-9 in Q2 2024.
  • The high-throughput Ka-band satellite aims to provide cost-effective broadband services, with pan-India coverage and 32 beams.

Additional information on the news:

  • NewSpace India Ltd. (NSIL), ISRO’s commercial arm, to launch GSAT-20 on SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket in Q2 2024.
  • GSAT-20 is a high-throughput Ka-band satellite with pan-India coverage and 32 beams.
  • It weighs 4,700 kg, offers nearly 48 Gbps HTS capacity, and addresses service needs in remote areas.
  • NSIL, under space sector reforms, aims to meet user service needs through demand-driven satellite missions.
  • GSAT-24, NSIL’s first demand-driven mission, was launched in June 2022, fully funded by NSIL.
  • NSIL owns and operates 11 communication satellites, and GSAT-20 mission aims to offer cost-effective Ka-band HTS capacity.

5. From the moon to Europa, six space missions to be excited for in 2024.

Topic: GS3 – Science and Technology – Developing new technology – Space

UPSC candidates must grasp space missions’ significance for global space exploration, technological advancements, and India’s role in these endeavors. 

  • The article discusses upcoming space missions in 2024, including lunar exploration, Jupiter’s moon study, water hunt on the moon, small planetary missions, Mars’ moons exploration, and asteroid system analysis.

Lunar Exploration Missions:

  • NASA’s Artemis program plans launches including Artemis II, VIPER, and Lunar Trailblazer in 2024.

Jupiter’s Moon Exploration:

  • Europa Clipper, launching in October, will explore Jupiter’s moon Europa to assess its potential for extraterrestrial life.

Moon Water Hunt:

  • VIPER, a rover-sized robot, aims to hunt for water on the moon’s south pole in November 2024.

Small Planetary Missions:

  • Lunar Trailblazer, part of NASA’s SIMPLEx program, and PRIME-1, a drilling mission, are set for 2024 launches.

Mars’ Moons Study:

  • JAXA’s Martian Moon eXploration (MMX) mission, launching in September 2024, aims to study Mars’ moons Phobos and Deimos.

Asteroid System Exploration:

  • ESA’s Hera mission, launching in October 2024, will study the Didymos-Dimorphos asteroid system to assess planetary defense techniques.

6. CO2level in a planets atmosphere could indicate habitability.

Topic: GS3 – Science and Technology – Developing new technology – Space

This research on a “habitability signature” for identifying planets with liquid water is crucial for understanding potential life-supporting conditions in the universe. 

  • The article discusses new research proposing a “habitability signature” to identify planets with liquid water by comparing carbon dioxide levels.
  • This could offer insights into environmental tipping points and conditions for supporting life on Earth and other planets.

Key findings of the research:

  • Research indicates that lower carbon dioxide (CO2) levels compared to neighboring planets could suggest the presence of liquid water.
  • The drop in CO2 levels may imply absorption by an ocean or isolation by planetary-scale biomass.
  • The international research team, led by the University of Birmingham and MIT, introduces a new “habitability signature.”
  • The habitability signature is a practical method for detecting habitability in exoplanets.
  • Planets in the habitable zone, neither too close nor too far from their stars, could support liquid water.
  • CO2 in a planet’s atmosphere is a strong absorber, and comparing CO2 levels can identify planets with oceans.
  • Earth’s atmosphere used to be mostly CO2, but carbon dissolved in the ocean, supporting life for billions of years.
  • Studying CO2 levels in other planets provides insights into Earth’s environmental tipping points and potential uninhabitable conditions.

The habitability signature may serve as a biosignature, as living organisms also capture CO2.

7. Why is upskilling necessary for the rural youth?

Topic: GS3 – Indian Economy – Issues relating to development and employment.

Critical for UPSC: Addressing agrarian crisis, rural education reform, vocational training to retain rural youth and boost economy.

  • Rural youth aspire to stay in villages amid urbanization.
  • Agrarian crisis prompts farmers’ shift to non-farming jobs, emphasizing the need for vocational training.
  • Current rural education lacks skill focus. Effective education should integrate technical and life skills.
  • Organizations like NIIT Foundation and Pratham Institute work on upskilling programs for employability.

Empowering Rural Youth through Upskilling:

In today’s rapidly evolving world, upskilling has become imperative for the rural youth. Here’s a holistic perspective on why it is necessary:

Global Economic Shifts:

  • Upskilling aligns rural youth with the changing demands of the global job market.
  • Equips them with the skills needed for emerging industries, fostering economic sustainability.

Technological Advancements:

  • Bridging the urban-rural digital divide by imparting digital literacy.
  • Enhances adaptability to technological advancements, opening doors to remote work opportunities.

Entrepreneurial Opportunities:

  • Fosters entrepreneurship by cultivating business and management skills.
  • Enables the rural youth to contribute to local economic development through small-scale enterprises.

Community Development:

  • Creates a skilled workforce within rural areas, reducing migration to urban centers.
  • Enhances local industries, contributing to overall community development.

Social Inclusivity:

  • Upholds inclusivity by providing equal opportunities for growth and development.
  • Empowers marginalized groups, narrowing socio-economic gaps.

Environmental Sustainability:

  • Promotes eco-friendly practices and sustainable agriculture techniques.
  • Aligns with global efforts to address climate change and environmental concerns.

Government Initiatives:

  • Aligns with governmental schemes focused on skill development in rural areas.
  • Maximizes the impact of public investments in education and training.

Quality of Life Improvement:

  • Enhances the overall quality of life by providing access to better job prospects and income.
  • Elevates living standards and encourages a positive cycle of growth within rural communities.
PYQ: Skill development programmes have succeeded in increasing human resources supply to various sectors. In the context of the statement analyse the linkages between education, skill and employment.(UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2023) (250 words/15m)
Practice Question: Why is upskilling crucial for rural youth development, and how does it contribute to overall societal progress? Discuss in brief. (250 words/15 m)

8. Unprecedented Postponement and Funding Crisis Casts Doubt on Future of Indian Science Congress

Topic: Prelims 

Quick facts for Prelims 

  • Since 1914, the Indian Science Congress has been a major event for scientists and students, although it has been postponed for an unusual amount of time.
  • The annual five-day event, which aims to promote interactions between scientists, researchers, educators, and the public, is usually held between January 3 and January 7.
  • However, due to disagreements between the primary funder, the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA), and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the central government, the event has been postponed.

Dispute and Funding Crisis:

  • Due to a disagreement between DST and ISCA, which began in September 2023 when the latter withdrew financing assistance due to financial irregularities, there has been a postponement.
  • The DST decision was legally challenged after ISCA refuted the accusations.
  • The majority of the event’s costs are covered by the DST’s sizeable contribution, and the ISCA looked for other locations, shifting from Lucknow University to Lovely Professional University (LPU) in Jalandhar, which exacerbated the controversy.
What is the India Science Congress?
  • The nation’s first of its type, the Science Congress has a rich history dating back to 1914.
  • Along with scientists and researchers from top laboratories and institutions, it also brings together science professors and teachers from colleges and universities.
  • It provides a forum for them to communicate on science-related issues with students and the broader public.
  • It is a celebration of Indian science that has had an illustrious past, with the who’s who of Indian science participating and organizing.
  • The first session of the Indian Science Congress was held in 1914.


  • Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA).
  • It is an independent organisation that operates with the central government’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) backing.

9. Congress Leader Jairam Ramesh Urges Election Commission Meeting to Discuss VVPAT Verification Concerns

Topic: GS2 – Polity- Constitutional Bodies 

This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of Challenges facing the VVPAT system in Indian elections and potential solutions for ensuring the reliability and transparency of the VVPAT system in future elections

  • Jairam Ramesh, a Congress leader, has written to Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar pleading for a meeting wherein leaders of the INDIA bloc can share their opinions on Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) equipment.
  • The suggestion highlights the requirement for 100% verification of VVPAT slips and is based on a resolution that INDIA’s leaders passed on December 20, 2023.

Understanding VVPATs: Ensuring Transparency in Voting:

  • Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail devices, or VVPATs, are essential to the voting procedure.
  • When a vote is cast, these devices, which are attached to electronic voting machines (EVMs), print a paper slip with the voter’s selection on it.
  • The voter can confirm their selection for seven seconds while the slip is visible behind glass before it is safely placed into a box.

Evolution and Implementation of VVPATs: From Concept to General Elections:

  • In an effort to improve voting process transparency, the Election Commission of India (ECI) and political parties discussed the idea of VVPAT machines in 2010.
  • VVPATs were first implemented in the Noksen Assembly constituency of Nagaland in 2013.
  • They were progressively implemented, and during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, 100% coverage was attained.

Current Percentage of VVPAT Verification and Historical Changes: Demands for Increased Verification:

  • In order to establish a statistically valid sample size for the internal VVPAT audit, the ECI consulted the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) in 2018.
  • Following a ruling by the Supreme Court in April 2019, the ECI expanded the number of randomly chosen polling places each Assembly constituency from the original requirement of one to five.
  • Even though there have been calls for 10% to 100% counting, the ECI now checks 38,156 VVPATs at random.

ECI’s Position on 100% Verification and Concerns: Balancing Transparency and Efficiency:

  • The ECI argued against 100% verification in a response to the Supreme Court last year, claiming that the proposed 20,600 EVM-VVPAT systems were more than the ISI’s suggested 479.
  • The ECI noted that no instances of vote transfer were found in the 38,156 VVPATs that were examined.
  • The ECI highlighted worries about the time-consuming process of hand counting, which introduces the possibility of human error, and labelled 100% verification as retrograde.
What are VVPAT Machines?
  • Voters can confirm that their votes have been accurately recorded by using the independent verification printer machine (VVPAT), which is connected to electronic voting machines (EVMs).
  • The voting slip containing the name and symbol of the party the voter has selected is printed by the VVPAT machine for approximately seven seconds after the voter hits the button on the electronic voting machine.
  • In order to improve transparency and dispel concerns over the accuracy of the EVMs, VVPAT machines were first used in India during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
  • Polling officers are the only ones with access to VVPAT machines.
  • ECI claims that VVPATs and EVMs are unrelated entities that are not connected to any networks.
PYQ: In the light of recent controversy regarding the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), what are the challenges before the Election Commission of India to ensure the trustworthiness of elections in India? (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2018)
Practice Question: How can the Election Commission strike a balance between ensuring transparency in the electoral process and addressing concerns raised by political leaders, such as the demand for 100% verification of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips. (200 words/12.5 m)


Topic: GS3 – Internal Security- Challenges to internal security through communication networks, Role of media and social networking sites, Basics of cyber security 

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of Cyber Crime, Related Challenges and Measures to Deal with it.

  • After becoming the victim of cyber kidnapping, a Chinese exchange student who was reported missing on December 28 has been located safely in a rural area of Utah.
  • The 17-year-old had set up a tent for self-isolation and was found about 40 kilometres north of Brigham City.
  • Before he was found, his parents in China had already paid a $80,000 ransom.

What is Cyber Kidnapping?

  • Cyber kidnappers trick their victims into going into hiding, then get in touch with them and demand a ransom. This is known as cyber kidnapping.
  • The victim’s family members are tricked into believing they are in captivity by sending them doctored pictures, frequently showing them chained or gagged.
  • In one instance, the abductors used online video-call platforms to keep tabs on the victim and gave the boy’s parents a fake impression of him.

FBI’s Definition and Warning: Virtual Kidnapping as an Extortion Scheme:

  • According to the FBI, virtual abduction is essentially an extortion scam in which victims are tricked into believing that their loved ones are in danger of violence or death and are then forced to pay a ransom.
  • Virtual kidnappers, in contrast to traditional kidnappers, do not physically grab victims; instead, they use psychological manipulation to get a rapid ransom.

Technological Advancements and Risks: AI’s Role in Escalating Cyber Crimes

  • Experts point out that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) may lead to an increase in cybercrimes such as virtual kidnapping.
  • AI can be used by fraudsters to generate voice recordings that accurately mimic a distressed loved one.
  • This trend presents an extra risk, making it more difficult for people to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent distress calls.
  • These dishonest plans work even better when technology is involved.
What are the Government Initiatives to Cope with Cyber Crimes in India?
  • Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C): This center coordinates efforts to tackle all types of cyber-crimes across the country.
  • National Cyber Forensic Laboratory: It provides early-stage cyber forensic assistance to Investigating Officers of all State/UT Police through both online and offline modes.
  • CyTrain Portal: A Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) platform for capacity building of police officers, judicial officers, and prosecutors through online courses on critical aspects of cyber-crime investigation, forensics, and prosecution.
  • National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal: A platform where the public can report incidents of cyber-crimes, with a special focus on crimes against women and children.
  • Citizen Financial Cyber Fraud Reporting and Management System: It is a system for immediate reporting of financial frauds and assistance in lodging online cyber complaints through a toll-free helpline.
  • Cybercrime Prevention against Women and Children (CCPWC) Scheme: Financial assistance provided to States/UTs for developing capabilities of Law Enforcement Agencies in investigating cyber-crimes.
  • Joint Cyber Coordination Teams: Constituted to enhance coordination among Law Enforcement Agencies of States/UTs, particularly in areas with multi-jurisdictional issues related to cyber-crimes.
  • Central Assistance for Modernization of Police: Providing financial support to States/UTs for acquiring modern weaponry, advanced communication/forensic equipment, and cyber policing equipment. 
PYQ: What are the different elements of cyber security? Keeping in view the challenges in cyber security, examine the extent to which India has successfully developed a comprehensive National Cyber Security Strategy. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2022) (250 words/15 m)
Practice Question: How does the recent case of cyber kidnapping underscore the evolving threats posed by technologically enhanced deception, and what measures can law enforcement and individuals take to mitigate the risks associated with virtual kidnappings and emerging AI-based tactics in online extortion schemes? (250 words/15 m)

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