Daily Current Affairs : 21st February 2023

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Emission Trading Scheme
  2. Jaadui pitara 
  3. Privilege committee
  4. Cooling Earth with moon dust
  5. Cross-border Person To Person (P2p) Payment Facilities 
  6. New Start Treaty
  7. SC Judgement on DNA Test on Children 
  8. VOSTRO Account
  9. Facts for Prelims

1 . Emission Trading Scheme 

Context: After the passing of the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill last December, the Centre is now in the final stages of notifying an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) that would require polluting industries to achieve certain standards of energy efficiency and permit them to ‘trade’ these improvements. 

About Emission Market

  • At their core, emission trading systems (ETS) put a price on emissions of harmful gases such as CO2, N2O, etc. to internalise the negative external effect they have on people. In other words, firms which release these gases during their industrial process are held accountable and are taxed for these emissions, to account for the harmful impact they have on people’s health.
  • These markets are meant to incentivise firms to innovate and transition to cleaner, ecofriendly industrial processes which lead to cleaner air for the general populace, whilst generating significant revenue for the government—a win-win situation for all.
  • The most common form of emission market in practice is cap-and-trade models, wherein the government sets an overall ‘cap’ on the total emissions from a specific industrial sector. The government then allocates or auctions permits to regulated firms, giving the firms the right to emit a specified amount of pollutants. These permits can be traded freely on environmental exchanges, and the market forces of supply and demand fix a specific price for these permits. If firms exceed their allowance of emissions, they are severely fined. Over time, the government lowers the overall cap so that total emissions will fall.
  • Moreover, firms that can make this transition quicker are able to secure higher profits, as they can sell their unused permits on the exchange and earn additional revenue.
  • ETS initiatives have been implemented around the world for a long time, with the EU-ETS scheme being the first international carbon market established in 2005. Currently, there are 32 ETS initiatives in place around the world, covering 38 national and 31 subnational jurisdictions. Notably, China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, implemented its own mandatory ETS initiative in 2021 and is currently home to the world’s largest carbon market.

Background of India’s Emission Trading

  • Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was passed to amend the Energy Conservation Act (ECA), 2001. It is intended to bring a renewed focus on sustainability and support India’s transition to a net-zero economy by 2070, the Act has several provisions to effectively decarbonise India.
  • Most notably, the Act empowers the Government of India (GoI) to establish a carbon credit trading scheme in India, and thus, establish a legal framework to create India’s first-ever compliance carbon trading market. This decision will likely have a huge impact on India’s industrial sector and could lead to reductions in industrial emissions, increased investments in clean energy, and increased energy efficiency among private sector firms.

What is India’s Emissions Trading Scheme? 

  • Sectors (for example, aluminium, cement, fertilizer) would be given energy efficiency targets and the companies that were able to exceed these targets would get ‘credits’ or certificates that they could bank or sell to companies that failed to meet the targets.
  • The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), a Power Ministry body, would be the nodal coordinator of the scheme.   
  • As a precursor to the Indian carbon markets, the Environment Ministry listed a range of activities, called greenhouse gas mitigation activities, that would be eligible for trading carbon credits. These include solar thermal power, offshore wind, green hydrogen, compressed biogas and stored renewable energy. 
  • Domestic ETS will use as an instrument for decarbonisation and domestic climate finance rather than international climate finance 

How Emission Trading Scheme is different from ‘Perform, Achieve, Trade’? 

  • Since 2015, the BEE has been running the ‘Perform, Achieve, Trade’ scheme under which 1,078 industries spanning 13 sectors have been getting energy security certificates if they exceeded certain targets.
  • While similar in principle, the credits generated under the emission trading mechanism would force companies to invest substantially more in deploying alternate, cleaner sources of energy to meet efficiency norms, as they would likely have to meet a higher bar for emission reductions. 

Difference between Emission Trading Market and Carbon Credits

  • An emissions trading market is different from traditional “carbon credits”, an older scheme, whereby Indian industries installed systems to generate power from renewable energy sources instead of coal, oil and gas and claimed credits that reflected the emissions that were notionally prevented. These credits were sold to exchanges in the European Union where companies were required to offset their emissions with such credits. Many companies undertake voluntary offsets to reflect their embrace of clean technology and bank, as well as trade them.
  • Carbon credits, in theory, reflect actual prevented emissions and energy certificates from ETS-like schemes reflect investments by industry in complying with government regulations on curbing emissions.

How this scheme is different from Europe Emission Trading scheme? 

  • The significant difference in the Indian emissions trading scheme from the ones in Europe or other countries is that companies wouldn’t be required to cut carbon emissions in absolute terms. 
  • The EU is required to cut emissions under the provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. India doesn’t have an obligation. However, we have committed to reducing the emissions intensity (emissions per unit of GDP) of our GDP by 45% (of 2005 levels) by 2030. So it’s possible for companies (under the Indian emissions trading scheme) when they increase production to emit more carbon and still be more efficient.

2 . Jaadui pitara 

Context: Classroom learning sans textbooks, and one that is instead based on toys, puppets and story cards is at the core of the implementation of the curriculum framework prepared by the Union government for children in the age group of 3-8 to meet a key focus area of the National Education Policy to improve foundational skills of students 

What is Jaadui Pitara? 

  • The ‘Jaadui Pitara’ or ‘Magic Collection’ is a play-based teaching and learning material developed under the curricular goals of National Curriculum Framework for Foundational Stage (NCF-FS) as recommended by the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
  • It has been developed as an exemplar of content needed in any school for foundational stage learning.  The ‘Jaadui Pitara” is expected to bring NEP and NCF-FS to practice, in the hands of teachers and students.   
  • It was launched by the Ministry of Education for kids between the age group of three to eight. It aims to enhance the learning-teaching environment and make it more child-centric, lively and joyful for the ‘Amrit Generation’ of the country. 
  • National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) would leverage technology to translate the materials in the ‘Jaadui Pitara’ in all Indian languages to expand its reach to all SCERTs (State Council of Educational Research and Training). This would transform early childhood education in India. 

What does it contain? 

  • The ‘Jaadui  Pitara’ contains toys, games, puzzles, puppets, story/poem posters, flash cards, posters, story cards, playbooks, activity books, worksheets for children and handbooks for teachers and trainers. These materials have been developed across the six developmental domains including development of positive habits. Furthermore, the box is made up of recycled materials. Most of the toys in the box have been sourced from local artisans. 

The salient points of “Jaadui Pitara” are as follows:-

  • CORE transformative aspect of NCF-FS – ‘learn through Play’
    • Foundational Stage – ages 3-8- learn best and effectively through Play
    • Research from fields as diverse as Neurosciences to Education
    • Applies to Class 1 & 2 also (age 6-8) – huge shift – children will learn through play, have fun, and FLN will be addressed.
  • Learning and Development in 5 domains: Physical Development, Socio-emotional and Ethical Development, Cognitive Development, Language and Literacy Development, Aesthetic and Cultural Development, Positive Learning Habits has been included as another domain of development at this stage.
  • To enable play :
    • A wide range of resources to be used for learning and teaching NOT only books
      • Toys, Puzzles, Puppets
      • Posters, Flash cards
      • Worksheets and attractive books
  • Local environment, context, and community
    • Rooted in life, local context and India
  • Jaadui Pitara brings all this to life:
    • Range of resources
    • Flexibility to accommodate variety and local resources
    • Fun

3 . Privilege committee 

Context: On breach of privilege notice moved by a few members against 12 Opposition MPs for “disorderly conduct” which forced multiple adjournments, Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar has directed the Privileges Committee of the Upper House to investigate the complaints and submit a report 

What is Parliamentary Privilege? 

  • Each House of Parliament and its Committees collectively and members of each House individually enjoy certain rights, privileges and immunities without which they cannot perform their functions efficiently and effectively.  
  • The objective of parliamentary privilege is to safeguard the freedom, the authority and the dignity of Parliament. They are enjoyed by individual members, because the House cannot perform its functions without unimpeded use of the services of its members and by each House collectively for the protection of its members and the vindication of its own authority and dignity. But they are available to individual members only insofar as they are necessary for the House to perform its functions freely without any let or hindrance. They do not exempt the members from the obligations to the society which apply to other citizens. 
  • All Members of Parliament (MPs) enjoy rights and immunities, individually and collectively, so that they can discharge their duties and functions effectively. Any instance when these rights and immunities are disregarded by any member of Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha is an offence, called ‘breach of privilege’, which is punishable under the Laws of Parliament.
  • Any member from either house can move a notice in the form of a motion against the member who he/she thinks is guilty of the breach of privilege. Both Houses of the Parliament reserve the right to punish any action of contempt (not necessarily breach of privilege) which is against its authority and dignity, as per the laws.

What is committee on Privilege? 

  • The Committee examines every question of privilege referred to it either by the House or by the Chairman and determines with reference to the facts of each case whether a breach of privilege is involved and, if so, the nature of the breach, the circumstances leading to it and makes such recommendations as it deems fit.  
  • The Committee can also report to the House the procedure that may be followed by the House in giving effect to the recommendations made by the Committee. The reports of the Committee are presented to the House from time to time by the Chairman of the Committee or in his absence by any member of the Committee. After the report is presented, a motion for consideration of the report may be moved by the Chairman of the Committee or any other member of the Committee. 

Breach of Privilege

  • Any member may give notice of amendment to the motion for consideration of the report in such form as may be considered appropriate by the Chairman. After the motion for consideration of the report has been carried, the Chairman or any member of the Committee or any other member, as the case may be, may move that the House agrees or disagrees or agrees with amendments, with the recommendations contained in the report. 
  • The speaker of Lok Sabha and the Chairperson of Rajya Sabha are the first level of scrutiny of a privilege motion in the two Houses of Parliament. They can either take a decision on the privilege motion or can also refer it to the privileges committee of Parliament. Once the Speaker or the House Chairperson gives consent under Rule 222, the concerned member is allowed to explain himself or herself.

Constitution of Committee of Privileges 

  • (1) The Chairman shall, from time to time, nominate a Committee of Privileges consisting of ten members in case of Rajya Sabha and 15 members in case of Lok Sabha
  • The Committee nominated under sub-rule (1) shall hold office until a new Committee is nominated. 
  • Casual vacancies in the Committee shall be filled by the Chairman. 

What are the rules governing Privilege Motion?

  • The rules governing the privilege are mentioned in the Rule No 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook.
  • The rules explain that any member of the House may, with the consent of the Speaker or the Chairperson, raise a question involving an incident that he or she considers a breach of privilege either of a member or of the House or of a committee.
  • The notice, however, has to be about a recent incident and should need the intervention of the House. These notices have to be submitted before 10 am to the Speaker or the Chairperson of the House.

4 . Cooling earth with moon dust 

Context: In a radical addition to last-ditch climate crisis solutions, three astrophysicists have proposed shooting Moon dust into the space between Earth and the Sun as a way to shield solar radiation, according to a University of Utah-led study published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS 

What is the proposal? 

  • The idea is to launch dust collected from the moon into a stable orbit, allowing the dust cloud to block some of the sunlight 
  • In their plan, moon dust is mined and shoot it out towards the Sun. The dust would stay between the Sun and Earth for around a week, making sunlight around 2% dimmer at Earth’s surface, after which it would disperse. 
  • Between any two orbital bodies — in this case Earth and the Sun — there are five Lagrangian Points where the gravitational forces effectively balance out, allowing objects like satellites to stay in place. The Earth-Sun L1 is a location about 1.5 km sunwards into Earth’s orbit, where introducing a lunar debris sunscreen could help reduce temperatures back home 

Why Moon dust? 

  • Proposed measures to cool Earth by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the surface are often called “solar geoengineering” or “solar radiation management”. 
  • The most-discussed method involves injecting a thin layer of aerosol particles into Earth’s upper atmosphere. 
  • However, tinkering with the atmosphere in this way is likely to affect rainfall and drought patterns, and may have other unintended consequences such as damage to the ozone layer. 
  • Moon dust in space should avoid these pitfalls, as it would leave our atmosphere untouched. 
  • Others have suggested deflecting sunlight with gigantic filters or mirrors in space, or swarms of artificial satellites. 
  • Moon dust looks pretty good compared with these ideas: Moon dust is plentiful, and launching dust clouds from the Moon’s lower gravity would require substantially less energy than similar launches from Earth. 

What are the issues? 

  • There are several major engineering and logistical hurdles to overcome. At minimum, it would required Moon bases, lunar mining infrastructure, large-scale storage, and a way to launch the dust into space. 
  • No human has even set foot on the Moon in more than 50 years. While China is looking to establish a Moon base by 2028, followed by the US in 2034, a well-functioning mining and dust launching system is likely many decades away. 

5 . Cross-border Person To Person (P2p) Payment Facilities 

Context: India’s Unified Payments Interface — better known as UPI — and Singapore’s PayNow were officially connected to allow for a “real-time payment linkage”. The virtual launch was led by a phone call between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong.   

 What is the UPI-Pay Now linkage? 

  • Cross-border payments refer to transactions involving individuals, companies, banks or settlement institutions operating in at least two different countries and are international transactions.   
  • Cross-border retail payments are generally less transparent and more expensive than domestic transactions.
  • The UPI-PayNow linkage is a significant milestone in the development of infrastructure for cross-border payments between India and Singapore and closely aligns with the G20’s financial inclusion priorities of driving faster, cheaper and more transparent cross-border payments. 
  • India is chairing the G20 on basis of the rotational membership structure this year. Singapore, although not a G20 member, has been invited to participate in the G20 Summits and its related processes from 2010 to 2011 and from 2013 to 2023. 
  • The project to link both the fast payment systems was initiated in September 2021 to facilitate faster, more efficient and transparent cross-border transactions relating to trade, travel and remittances between the two countries. 

How will it benefit the citizens of both countries? 

  • The UPI-PayNow linkage will enable users of each of the two fast payment systems to make instant, low-cost fund transfers on a reciprocal basis without a need to get on board the other payment system. 
  • It will also help the Indian diaspora in Singapore, especially migrant workers and students, through the instantaneous and low-cost transfer of money from Singapore to India and vice-versa. Of the total inward remittances to India in 2020-21, the share of Singapore stood at 5.7 per cent, according to the RBI Remittance Survey, 2021 

What are UPI and PayNow? 

  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is India’s mobile-based fast payment system, which facilitates customers to make round-the-clock payments instantly, using a Virtual Payment Address (VPA) created by the customer. It eliminates the risk of sharing bank account details by the remitter. UPI supports both Person-to-Person (P2P) and Person-to-Merchant (P2M) payments and it also enables a user to send or receive money. 

6 . New START treaty 

Context: Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that Moscow was suspending its participation in the New START treaty — the last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States — sharply upping the ante amid tensions with Washington over the fighting in Ukraine. 

What is the START? 

  • The name START comes from the original “Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty”, known as START-I, which was signed between the US and the erstwhile USSR in 1991, and came into force in 1994. 
  • START-I, which capped the numbers of nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that each side could deploy at 6,000 and 1,600 respectively, lapsed in 2009, and was replaced first by the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT, also known as the Treaty of Moscow), and then by the New START treaty.  

What is New Start? 

  • Signed by then US president Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, in 2010, the New Start treaty caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy. Together, the US and Russia own 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. 
  • The New START, officially, the “Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms”, entered into force on February 5, 2011, and placed new verifiable limits on intercontinental-range nuclear weapons. 
  • The two countries had to meet the treaty’s central limits on strategic offensive arms by February 5, 2018, and to then stay within those limits for the period the treaty remained in force. The US and Russia Federation subsequently agreed to extend the treaty through February 4, 2026. 

Key provisions 

  • Missile, bomber and launcher limits
    • Deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers assigned to nuclear missions are limited to 700.  
    • SORT did not cover launchers 
    • It does not limit the number of non-deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, but it does monitor them and provides continuous information on their locations and on-site inspections to confirm that they are not added to the deployed force.  
  • Force structure
    • It limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers. 
    • It envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance. 
  • Warheads
    • Limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads 
  • Delivery vehicles and launchers: 
    • Each deployed ICBM, SLBM, and nuclear-capable bomber is counted as one delivery vehicle against the 700 limits.  
    • Each deployed and non-deployed missile launcher or bomber is counted as one launcher against the 800 limits.  
    • Non-deployed missiles are monitored but not limited in number. 

How is compliance with the treaty ensured? 

  • Detailed procedures for the implementation and verification of the central limits, and all treaty obligations, are part of the treaty terms. 
  • According to the State Department summary, these procedures govern the conversion and elimination of strategic offensive arms, the establishment and operation of a database of treaty-required information, transparency measures, a commitment not to interfere with national technical means of verification, the exchange of telemetric information, the conduct of on-site inspection activities, and the operation of the Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC). 
  • The treaty provides for 18 on-site inspections per year for US and Russian inspection teams. Type One inspections focus on sites with deployed and non-deployed strategic systems (up to 10 per year), and Type Two inspections focus on sites with only non-deployed strategic systems (up to 8 per year), the State Department note says. 
  • Since the New START Treaty’s entry into force, as of February 1, 2023, the two parties have conducted 328 on-site inspections, exchanged 25,311 notifications, held 19 meetings of the Bilateral Consultative Commission, and held 42 biannual data exchanges on strategic offensive arms subject to the treaty 

Current issue

  • The State Department told Congress that Russia was not complying with the New START, only remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the two countries, jeopardizing a source of stability in their relationship. 
  • Russia’s refusal to facilitate inspection activities prevents the United States from exercising important rights under the treaty and threatens the viability of U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control. 
  • Russia has also failed to comply with the New START treaty obligation to convene a session of the bilateral consultative commission in accordance with the treaty-mandated timeline. 

7 . SC Judgement on DNA Test on Children 

Context: The Supreme Court has held in a judgment that children cannot be mechanically subjected to DNA tests in each and every case between warring parents as a short-cut to establish proof of infidelity. 

What is the Supreme court judgement on power to order DNA test? 

  • The Supreme Court observed that DNA tests of children born during the subsistence of a valid marriage may be directed only when there is sufficient prima-facie material to dislodge the presumption under Section 112 of the Evidence Act. 
  • The bench observed that Children have the right not to have their legitimacy questioned frivolously before a Court of Law. This is an essential attribute of the right to privacy. Courts are therefore required to acknowledge that children are not to be regarded like material objects and be subjected to forensic/DNA testing, parties to the divorce proceeding. 
  • The judges mentioned that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ensures the right to privacy, autonomy and integrity of the child. The Convention acknowledges the control that individuals, including children, have over their own personal boundaries and the means by which they define who they are in relation to other people. Children are not to be deprived of this entitlement to influence and understand their sense of self simply by virtue of being children. 
  • The judgment said that “a child should not be lost in its search for paternity”, pointing out that details of parentage are an attribute of a child’s identity. It is undeniable that a finding as to illegitimacy, if revealed in a DNA test, would, at the very least adversely affect the child psychologically. 
  • The court added that the mechanical orders allowing DNA tests would also harm the reputation and dignity of the mother 
  • The judgement said that the family courts should direct for a DNA test only in expedient situations and in the interest of justice, as a last resort.  

8 . Vostro Accounts 

Context: Earlier this month, government officials informed that 20 Russian banks, including Rosbank, Tinkoff Bank, Centro Credit Bank and Credit Bank of Moscow have opened Special Rupee Vostro Accounts (SRVA) with partner banks in India. All major domestic banks have listed their nodal officers to sort out issues faced by exporters under the arrangement. 

What is the SRVA arrangement? 

  • A vostro account is an account that domestic banks hold for foreign banks in the former’s domestic currency, in this case, the rupee. Domestic banks use it to provide international banking services to their clients who have global banking needs. 
  •  It is an integral offshoot of correspondent banking that entails a bank (or an intermediary) to facilitate wire transfer, conduct business transactions, accept deposits and gather documents on behalf of the other bank. It helps domestic banks gain wider access to foreign financial markets and serve international clients without having to be physically present abroad. 
  • The SRVA is an additional arrangement to the existing system that uses freely convertible currencies and works as a complimentary system. 

How does it function? 

  • The framework entails three important components, namely, invoicing, exchange rate and settlement.  
    • Invoicing entails that all exports and imports must be denominated and invoiced in INR. 
    • The exchange rate between the currencies of the trading partner countries would be market-determined.  
    • Final settlement also takes place in Indian National Rupee (INR). 
  • The authorised domestic dealer banks (those authorised to deal in foreign currencies) are required to open SRVA accounts for correspondent banks of the partner trading country. Domestic importers are required to make payment (in INR) into the SRVA account of the correspondent bank against the invoices for supply of goods or services from the overseas seller/supplier. Similarly, domestic exporters are to be paid the export proceeds (in INR) from the balances in the designated account of the correspondent bank of the partner country. 
  • As for availing an advance against exports, it would be the responsibility of the domestic bank to accord foremost priority to ensuring that the available funds are used to meet existing payment obligations, that is, from the already executed export orders or export payments in the pipeline. All reporting of cross-border transactions are to be done in accordance with the extant guidelines under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999. 

What is the eligibility criteria of banks? 

  • Banks from partner countries are required to approach an authorised domestic dealer bank for opening the SRVA. The domestic bank would then seek approval from the apex banking regulator providing details of the arrangement. 
  • It would be the responsibility of the domestic banks to ensure that the correspondent bank is not from a country mentioned in the updated Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Public Statement on High Risk & Non-Co-operative jurisdictions. Domestic banks must also put forth for perusal, financial parameters pertaining to the corresponding bank. 
  • Authorised banks can open multiple SRV accounts for different banks from the same country. Further, balances in the account can be repatriated in freely convertible currency and/or currency of the beneficiary partner country depending on the underlying transaction, that is, for which the account was credited. 

What is its purpose? 

  • The Economic Survey (2022-23) had argued that the framework could largely reduce the “net demand for foreign exchange, the U.S. dollar in particular, for the settlement of current account related trade flows”. It added that the framework would also reduce the need for holding foreign exchange reserves and dependence on foreign currencies, making the country less vulnerable to external shocks. Indian exporters could get advance payments in INR from overseas clients and in the long-term promote INR as an international currency once the rupee settlement mechanism gains traction, the survey argued. 
  • As per the Bureau for International (BIS) Settlements’ Triennial Central Bank Survey 2022, the U.S. dollar was the most dominant vehicle currency accounting for 88% of all trades. The INR accounted for 1.6%. 

9 . Facts for prelims 

Survey of India 

  • Survey of India, The National Survey and Mapping Organization of the country under the Department of Science & Technology, is the Oldest Scientific dept of GOI.
  • It was set up in 1767 and has evolved rich traditions over the years.  As the nation’s Principal Mapping Agency, Survey of India bears a special responsibility to ensure that the country’s domain is explored and mapped suitably, provide base maps for expeditious and integrated development and ensure that all resources contribute with their full measure to the progress, prosperity and security of India 
  • Responsibilities  :
    • Advisor to Govt: Survey of India acts as adviser to the Government of India on all cartography of India related matters, such as geodesy, photogrammetry, mapping and map reproduction. 
    • Geo names: Survey of India is responsible for the naming convention and spellings of names of geographical features of India. 
    • Certification and publication: Scrutiny and certification of external boundaries of India and Coastline on maps published by the other agencies including private publishers. Publication of tide tables (one year in advance) and maps of India. 
    • Surveys: geodetic datum, geodetic control network, topographical control, geophysical surveys, cadastral surveying, geologic maps, aeronautical charts within India, such as for forests, army cantonments, large scale cities, guide maps, developmental or conservation projects, etc. 
    • National borders: Demarcation of the borders and external boundaries of India as well as advice on the demarcation of inter-state boundaries. 
    • Oceanic tidal prediction: Undertake prediction of tides at 44 ports including 14 foreign ports. 
    • Research and development: In the area of photogrammetry, cartography, geodesy, topographical surveys and indigenisation of technology. 
    • Training: Training for the central and state government departments as well as from foreign countries. 

Malabar Exercise 

  • Malabar is a multilateral war-gaming naval exercise that was started in 1992. It began as a bilateral exercise between the navies of India and the United States. Two more editions of the exercise were carried out in 1995 and 1996, after which there was a break until 2002 in the aftermath of India’s nuclear tests. 
  • From 2002 onward, the exercise has been conducted every year. Japan and Australia first participated in 2007, and since 2014, India, the US and Japan have participated in the exercise every year.  
  • The annual Malabar exercises includes diverse activities, ranging from fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers through maritime interdiction operations, anti-submarine warfare, diving salvage operations, amphibious operations, counter-piracy operations, cross–deck helicopter landings and anti–air warfare operations. Over the years, the exercise has been conducted in the Philippine Sea, off the coast of Japan, the Persian Gulf, in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. 
  • The exercise has grown in size, scope and complexity with Anti-Submarine Warfare training emerging as a major focus area in the last few years, especially against the backdrop of rapid expansion of Chinese Navy and its increased forays into the Indian Ocean. 
  • This year for the first time Australia will host the Malabar exercise  

Central Police establishment board 

  • Central police establishment board was established to decide transfers, postings, promotions, and other service-related matters of police officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and make recommendations on postings and transfers above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police 
  • The Police Establishment Board, made up of the DGP and four other senior officers of the department will serve the functions of  
  • (i) deciding all transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters for police officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police;  
  • (ii) making recommendations to the state government on postings and transfers of officers above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police; 
  •  (iii) being a forum of appeal for disposing of representations from officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above and  
  • (iv) generally, reviewing the functioning of the police in the state.  
  • The Board is intended to bring these crucial service related matters largely under police control. 

What is Autism spectrum disorder? 

  • Autism spectrum disorder’ (ASD) is the term for a group of neurodevelopmental disorders. It is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain.  
  • According to the World Health Organisation, ASD affects one in 100 children. Children with ASD have impaired social interactions, lack verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and display restricted and repetitive behaviours. These characteristics can adversely affect one’s cognitive abilities and, over time, diminish one’s quality of life.  

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