Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- New Delhi Declaration
- E-Waste Management in India
- Model Human embryo in the lab
- Gene drive Technology
- Facts for Prelims
1 . New Delhi Declaration
Context: The leaders at India’s showpiece G20 Summit arrived at a joint communique — called the G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration — after months of work and, in the last stretch, five sleepless nights of negotiations.
About New Delhi Declaration
- The Joint Communiqué or the New Delhi Leaders Declaration issued at the G20 has 112 outcomes and presidency documents, which is double the work done by the previous presidencies. The G20 Declaration had the full consensus by the participating members on all developmental and geo-political issues.
- The declaration focused on promoting strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, seeks to accelerate progress on SDGs, envisages a green development pact for a sustainable future and endorses high-level principles on lifestyle for sustainable development.
On Russia-Ukraine conflict
- Concerning the war in Ukraine, the Declaration underscored that all states must act in a manner consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter in its entirety.
- In line with the UN Charter, all states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state. The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.
- The Russia-Ukraine paragraphs did not condemn Russia for its actions, nor did it call it an “aggression”. While the Bali document contained paragraphs “condemning” and “deploring” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the New Delhi Declaration simply refers to differing “national positions” of the various G-20 members on the “war in Ukraine”, with a generic reference.
On the state of economy
- The first chapter is titled “Strong, Sustainable, Balanced, and Inclusive Growth”, and talks about the global economic situation, advancing financial inclusion, and fighting corruption.
- Cascading crises have posed challenges to long-term growth. Facing an uneven recovery, and cognizant of the need to boost long-term growth, there is a need to implement well-calibrated macroeconomic and structural policies.
- The declaration aims to protect the vulnerable, through promoting equitable growth and enhancing macroeconomic and financial stability. Such an approach will help resolve the cost-of-living crisis and unlock strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth.
- It reiterates the need for well-calibrated monetary, fiscal, financial, and structural policies to promote growth, reduce inequalities and maintain macroeconomic and financial stability.
- It will continue to enhance macro policy cooperation and support the progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- Achieving strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth (SSBIG) will require policymakers to stay agile and flexible in their policy response, as evidenced during the recent banking turbulence in a few advanced economies where expeditious action by relevant authorities helped to maintain financial stability and manage spillovers.
- The critical role of private enterprise in accelerating growth and driving sustainable economic transformations is recognised. It resolved to work with the private sector to create inclusive, sustainable, and resilient global value chains, and support developing countries to move up the value chain, Facilitate investments including Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) towards sustainable business models, Devise pipelines of investable projects in developing countries, by leveraging the expertise of MDBs to mobilise investments, Promote ease and reduce the cost of doing business.
- Recognition of start-ups and MSMEs as natural engines of growth. They are key to socio-economic transformation by driving innovation and creating employment. It proposes the establishment of the Start-up 20 Engagement Group during India’s G20 Presidency and its continuation.
- On education, it talks about enhancing teachers’ capacity, improved curricula, content in local language, and access to digital resources, which will ensure that all children, including the most marginalised, are provided with the essential building blocks for all future learning.
On Financial Inclusion
- It welcomes the 2023 Update to Leaders on Progress towards the G20 Remittance Target and endorse the Regulatory Toolkit for Enhanced Digital Financial Inclusion of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
- It endorses the voluntary and nonbinding G20 Policy Recommendations for Advancing Financial Inclusion and Productivity Gains through Digital Public Infrastructure.
- It recognises the significant role of digital public infrastructure in helping to advance financial inclusion in support of inclusive growth and sustainable development.
- It also encourages the continuous development and responsible use of technological innovations including innovative payment systems, to achieve financial inclusion of the last mile and progress towards reducing the cost of remittances.
- Support to continuous efforts to strengthen digital financial literacy and consumer protection.
- It endorses the G20 2023 Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP), which provides an action-oriented and forward-looking roadmap for rapidly accelerating the financial inclusion of individuals and MSMEs, particularly vulnerable and underserved groups in the G20 countries and beyond.
On fighting corruption
- It reaffirms commitment to zero tolerance for corruption by endorsing the three G20 High-Level Principles on:
- Strengthening Law Enforcement related to International Cooperation and Information Sharing for Combating Corruption
- Strengthening Asset Recovery Mechanisms for Combating Corruption
- Promoting Integrity and Effectiveness of Public Bodies and Authorities responsible for Preventing and Combating Corruption.
On achieving SDGs
- To accelerate progress on SDGs, it commits to taking collective action for effective and timely implementation of the G20 2023 Action Plan to Accelerate Progress on the SDGs, including its High-Level Principles. It vows to ensure that no one is left behind. To this end, it:
- Recognizes the role of digital transformation, AI, data advances, and the need to address digital divides, endorses the G20 Principles on Harnessing Data for Development (D4D) and welcome the decision to launch Data for Development Capacity Building Initiative, and other existing initiatives.
- It reaffirms commitment towards the mobilisation of affordable, adequate and accessible financing from all sources to support developing countries in their domestic efforts to address bottlenecks for implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. it calls upon developed countries to fully deliver on their respective ODA commitments that complements and encourages development financing from all other sources, including public and private, domestic and international, in a timely manner, and contribute to addressing the financing needs of developing countries.
- It highlights the crucial role of tourism and culture as a means for sustainable socioeconomic development and economic prosperity, and take note of the Goa Roadmap for Tourism as one of the vehicles for achieving the SDGs.
- Commitment to enhancing G20 cooperation and partnerships to address challenges being faced in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. It aims to provide full support to the United Nations 2023 SDG Summit, the United Nations Summit of the Future, and other relevant processes.
On Hunger and Malnutrition
- It will encourage efforts to strengthen research cooperation on climate-resilient and nutritious grains such as millets, quinoa, sorghum, and other traditional crops including rice, wheat and maize.
- Emphasize the importance of increasing access to, availability, and efficient use of fertilizer and agricultural inputs, including through strengthening local fertilizer production, and to improve soil health.
- Commit to accelerating innovations and investment focused on increasing agricultural productivity, reducing food loss and waste across the value chain, and improving marketing and storage, to build more sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture and food systems.
- Commit to support developing countries’ efforts and capacities to address their food security challenges, and work together to enable access to affordable, safe, nutritious and healthy diets, and to foster the progressive realization of the right to adequate food.
- Commit to facilitate open, fair, predictable, and rules-based agriculture, food and fertilizer trade, not impose export prohibitions or restrictions and reduce market distortions, in accordance with relevant WTO rules.
- Commit to strengthening the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) and the Group on Earth Observations Global Agricultural Monitoring (GEOGLAM), for greater transparency to avoid food price volatility, supporting AMIS’s work on fertilizers, its expansion to include vegetable oils, and for enhancing collaboration with early warning systems.
- Recognize the importance of foundational learning (literacy, numeracy, and socioemotional skills) as the primary building block for education and employment.
- Reiterates commitment to harness digital technologies to overcome the digital divides for all learners.
- Extend support to educational institutions and teachers to enable them to keep pace with emerging trends and technological advances including AI.
- Emphasize expanding access to high-quality Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
- Reaffirm commitment to promote open, equitable and secure scientific collaboration and encourage mobility of students, scholars, researchers, and scientists across research and higher education institutions.
- Emphasize the importance of enabling life-long learning focused on skilling, reskilling, and upskilling especially for vulnerable groups.
On Green and Sustainable Development
- The chapter on “Green Development Pact for a Sustainable Future” stresses the need to implement clean, sustainable, just, affordable, and inclusive energy transitions.
- it Commits to implement the G20 High-Level Principles on Lifestyles for Sustainable Development.
- Support the implementation of the High-Level Principles (HLPs) through international cooperation, financial support, and development, deployment and dissemination of technology. It encourages International Organizations to incorporate the HLPs into their programs, as appropriate.
- Launches “Travel for LiFE” and support the development of smart destinations that are responsible and sustainable.
- launching Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy Industry Coalition (RECEIC)for designing a circular economy world.
- Welcomes the Chennai High-Level Principles for a Sustainable and Resilient Blue/Ocean-based Economy.
- Another important element is the mention of the need to build reliable, diverse, responsible, and sustainable value chains of critical minerals, semiconductors, and related technologies.
On Digital infrastructure, and a safe, secure Internet
- The chapter on “Technological Transformation & Digital Public Infrastructure”, contains elements of building digital public infrastructure, crypto-assets, and harnessing Artificial Intelligence (AI) responsibly for Good and for All.
- The G20 leaders agreed on a G20 framework for digital public infrastructure and Global Digital Public Infrastructure Repository (GDPIR).
- The Leaders’ Declaration also talks about a comprehensive toolkit which is aimed at improving cyber education and cyber awareness for the protection and empowerment of children and youth, especially considering the growing digital footprint of children and youth, and the increasing risks associated with it.
On gender equality
- In the chapter on “Gender Equality and Empowering all Women and Girls”, the Declaration promotes equal rights to economic resources, property ownership, financial services, and inheritance for women, while supporting women’s organisations and networks, and closing gender gaps in agricultural access.
- Under India’s G20 Presidency, a decision to create a full-fledged working group on women’s empowerment has been made.
- The group will prioritise gender equality, women’s empowerment, and leadership, and bring convergence across sectors at all levels.
- It commits to halve the digital gender gap by 2030.
- The declaration contains a strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and a positive message towards international peace and security.
Membership of African Union
- The last chapter on “Creating a More Inclusive World”, has two important elements.
- India’s G20 Presidency has paved the way for the African Union’s permanent membership in the G20. This will make G20 more inclusive, deepen cooperation with Africa, and help realise its developmental aspirations.
- Second is a commitment to promote respect for religious and cultural diversity, and deploring all acts of religious hatred, including against religious symbols and holy books.
On India’s presidency and roadmap for the future
- broader takeaways from the Summit: a strong commitment for future Presidencies including for the new cycle beginning in 2026 — Brazil in 2024, South Africa in 2025, and the US in 2026.
- There was recognition of all Engagement Groups and Initiatives of India’s G20 Presidency.
- Recommendations of Engagement Groups — B20, S20, SAI20, Startup20, T20, U20, W20, Y20, C20, P20 and L20 — and Initiatives — EMPOWER, Research Initiative, SELM, CSAR, and G20 Cybersecurity Conference — were welcomed.
- India’s G20 Presidency will go down in history as one of the most inclusive, culturally vibrant as well as goal-oriented events that have taken place so far. The full membership of African Union is among the most tangible outcomes from the summit.
- The event helped in showcasing India’s push for development, ensuring ease of living through use of technology and bringing peace in all parts of India
2 . E-Waste Management in India
Context: The Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) released a report on ‘Pathways to Circular Economy in Indian Electronics Sector,’ following a government effort with NITI Aayog to explore opportunities to harness e-waste. The report talks about changing the outlook on e-waste management to build a system where discarded electronics can have a new life, either by themselves, or by reintroducing components and precious metals into new hardware. There could be an additional $7 billion market opportunity in harnessing e-waste, the report said.
Does India have e-waste management?
- E-waste management is largely informal in India, as in the case of recycling.
- Roughly 90% of collection and 70% of the recycling are managed by a very competitive informal sector as per the ICEA report.
- The informal sector is good at salvaging older devices for parts and profiting from repairs with them. Then there are almost industrial hubs like Moradabad, where printed circuit boards (PCBs) arrive in the tonnes to have gold and silver melted out of them and sold.
- The Union Government notified the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2022 in order to digitise the process and provide more visibility to the movement of e-waste in the economy.
- The level of e-waste may grow, too, as phones get cheaper and people use them more on the back of cheaper data plans. There has been a significant increase in people damaging their phones (as opposed to the devices simply getting too old to keep working).
- The informal sector relies on a number of tools and techniques to stay competitive. For instance, ‘cannibalisation,’ a euphemism for repair shops buying whole devices and breaking them down to serve as spare parts for repair. As tariffs for finished products are sometimes lower than they are for parts, this works out in the repair shop’s favour.
Why is a circular economy important?
- Demand for electronics is growing across all price segments, even as the production of these devices entails the use of scarce elements and high emissions. Instead of merely salvaging these parts, a circular economy seeks to bring them back into the electronics ecosystem.
How can e-waste be recycled?
- The ICEA report suggests public-private partnerships to distribute the costs of setting up a sprawling reverse supply chain, an expensive prospect that envisages collecting devices from users, wiping them clean of personal data, and passing them along for further processing and recycling.
- It also suggests launching an auditable database of materials collected through this process, and creating geographical clusters where these devices come together and are broken apart.
- A key recommendation is to incentivise so-called ‘high yield’ recycling centres. Facilities that recycle are generally not equipped to extract the full potential value of the products they handle, for instance extracting minute but precious amounts of rare earth metals in semiconductors. The IT Ministry launched a scheme to cover 25% of the capital expenditure on such facilities.
- Simply encouraging repair and making products last longer — perhaps by supporting a right to repair by users — is also a policy recommendation that may reduce the environmental burden of electronic waste.
What are the challenges?
- The large informal sector that is hard to track or hold to environmental norms.
- consumers don’t hand devices in for recycling after they stop using them. They are concerned about what may happen to the personal data on their devices if they hand them in for recycling.
- Building recycling plants on a large scale also requires more than the initial capital costs.
- Extracting the full value of electronics is capital intensive, and will require better clustering of materials, and a viable business model. The challenge is to be able to replicate the success of the informal sector in a formalised and reliable way. A shrinking availability of ‘virgin’ components is another challenge.
3 . Model Human embryo in the lab
Context: Scientists have successfully grown a “human embryo” in the lab without using an egg or sperm. They used a mix of stem cells — early cells that have the ability to differentiate into other types of cells — that was able to spontaneously assemble into an embryo-like structure, mimicking molecular characteristics of an early embryo.
How was the embryo model created?
- The scientists have called it one of the most complete models of a 14-day-old human embryo. Several teams have been working on developing these human embryo-like models — around six such models have been published this year itself. None of them fully replicate the processes that happen during the early stages of embryo development, but all of them add to their understanding.
- The researchers from Israel used a mix of stem cells and chemicals, a small portion of which was able to spontaneously assemble to form different types of cells that form the foetus, those that provide nutrients to the foetus, cells that lay out the plan for development of the body, and cells that create structures like placenta and umbilical cord to support the foetus.
- One of the problems that the team faced, however, was that only 1% of this mixture actually assembled spontaneously, making the process not very efficient.
Why are embryo models and research important?
- There is no way for scientists to ethically research the early stages of development of an embryo, as it is difficult to study it after it implants in the uterus.
- Scientists currently study these initial changes in various lab models or donated embryos.
- This research is crucial because the initial days of embryo development is when the majority of miscarriages and birth defects occur. Studying the initial stages may help understand genetic and inherited diseases better.
- The understanding of why some embryos develop normally, retain the proper genetic code, and implant properly in the womb while others do not, may also help in improving success rates of in vitro fertilisation.
- these embryo-like models can allow scientists to understand the genetic, epigenetic and environmental effects on a developing embryo.
Can lab-grown embryos be used to get pregnant?
- No. These models are meant to just study the early stages of development of a foetus.
- It is generally accepted — and legally supported in most countries — that these embryo models will be destroyed after studying the first 14 days. Attempts to implant are not allowed.
- Also, creating a lab-based model that mimics the properties of early embryos is still far from an actual embryo that can implant to the lining of the womb.
Why is there a 14-day limit on embryo research?
- The limit was first proposed by a committee in the UK in 1979 after the birth of the first test tube baby Louise Brown demonstrated that embryos could be kept alive in laboratories.
- The 14-day period is equivalent to when embryos naturally finish implantation. It is also when cells start becoming an “individual”, and breaking off into a twin is not possible.
- The ethical considerations become different when it is a clump of cells and when it becomes an individual, often related to what is referred to as the Primitive Streak. While the models are not human embryos, they come very close to it.
- Primitive Streak is a linear structure that appears in the embryo that marks its transition from having a radial symmetry (like an egg) to the bilateral symmetry of our bodies (marked by left and right hands and legs).
What have these models shown about the early stages of development?
- Models such as the one developed by the team from Israel have helped scientists understand why sometimes errors arise when the DNA is duplicated, why sometimes one of the daughter cells receives too many or too few chromosomes.
- Researchers used to assume that the errors occurred when the two daughter cells were separated, but one such model helped researchers understand that it happened much earlier in the process, when DNA duplication is ongoing. When the duplication is not normal, the split is not normal.
- These models allow scientists to see what roles various genes play in the development of the foetus.
4 . Gene drive Technology
Context: Scientists now have access to the whole genome sequences of multiple mosquito species, allowing us to genetically manipulate them. Gene-drive technology is one such approach, which has been used in outdoor trials in India, Brazil, and Panama.
About Gene Drive technology
- Gene drive technology is a genetic engineering technique that can potentially alter or spread specific genes within a population of organisms, often used in the context of insects or pests.
- It’s designed to rapidly propagate desired genetic traits or suppress harmful ones. This technology is still under development and raises ethical and environmental concerns due to its potential to have far-reaching ecological impacts. Researchers are working to ensure responsible and safe use of gene drive technology.
- Disease Control: Gene drives could be used to modify disease-carrying vectors like mosquitoes to reduce their ability to transmit diseases like malaria or Zika, potentially saving human lives.
- Conservation: Gene drives might help protect endangered species by addressing threats like invasive species or diseases that harm their populations.
- Crop Protection: This technology could be used to combat agricultural pests more efficiently, reducing the need for chemical pesticides and enhancing crop yields.
- Environmental Management: Gene drives might assist in managing invasive species, preserving the balance of ecosystems, and protecting native species.
- Human Health: In the future, gene drives could contribute to advancements in gene therapy, helping treat genetic diseases more effectively.
- Ecological Impact: Gene drives have the potential to alter or eliminate entire populations of organisms, which could disrupt ecosystems and have unintended consequences for biodiversity.
- Unintended Consequences: Modifying genes in one species could inadvertently affect other non-target species, leading to unforeseen ecological disruptions.
- Ethical Concerns: The deliberate modification of wild populations raises ethical questions about the potential consequences and our responsibility to the environment.
- Regulatory Issues: There’s a need for robust regulatory frameworks to ensure responsible and safe use of gene drives, but establishing effective regulations can be challenging.
- Resistance Development: Over time, target populations might develop resistance to gene drives, reducing their effectiveness.
- Lack of Public Acceptance: Public perception and acceptance of gene drive technology may vary widely, affecting its adoption and deployment.
- Reversibility: Once released into the environment, it may be difficult or impossible to reverse the effects of gene drives.
5 . Facts for Prelims
Small Incision Lenticule Extraction (SMILE) treatment:
- Small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) is a relatively new refractive procedure designed to treat a multitude of refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, and astigmatism.
- The procedure involves using a femtosecond laser to create a corneal lenticule which is extracted whole through a small incision without the use of an excimer laser.
- It is reported to achieve effects similar to laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) with excellent post-operative outcomes.
- SMILE is also considered more cost effective to LASIK, because it requires one laser platform as compared the two required by LASIK.
- Orphan diseases are used to denote neglected diseases which has not been adopted by the pharmaceutical industry because it provides little financial incentive for the private sector to make and market new medications to treat or prevent it.
- An orphan disease may be a rare disease (according to US criteria, a disease that affects fewer than 200,000 people) or a common disease that has been ignored (such as tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid, and malaria) because it is far more prevalent in developing countries than in the developed world.
- Example – Fabry’s disease, alveolar echinococcosis, and even some common conditions such as endometrial cancer and diabetes in preschool children.
- Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) is one of the largest Management Information Systems initiated by Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education, GoI.
- UDISE+ has a mandate of collecting information from all recognized schools imparting formal education from Pre-primary to class XII.
- Information collected through the digital platform, UDISE+ is utilized for planning, optimizing resource allocation and implementing various education-related programs and assessing progress.
- UDISE+ provides a platform to organize and classify all school data across the country and build a credible database of school data. It monitors, measures and keeps track of vital KPIs related to school performance.
- Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV).
- It can cause an itchy, blister-like rash among other symptoms.
- It is an airborne disease which easily spreads via human-to-human transmission typically through the coughs and sneezes of an infected person.
- The incubation period is 10–21 days, after which the characteristic rash appears.