Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Report on Currency & Finance 2022-23
- World Press Freedom Index
- Manipur Riots
- Regulation of AI
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Report on Currency & Finance 2022-23
Context: The cumulative total expenditure for adapting to climate change in India is estimated to reach ₹85.6 lakh crore (at 2011-12 prices) by 2030, the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Department of Economic and Policy Research (DEPR) estimated in its Report on Currency & Finance 2022-23.
RBI report on Currency & Finance 2023
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released a report on currency and finance for the financial year (FY) 2022-23. The theme of the report is ‘Towards a Greener Cleaner India’.
- The report covers four major dimensions of climate change to assess future challenges to sustainable high growth in India, viz.,
- The unprecedented scale and pace of climate change;
- Its macroeconomic effects;
- Implications for financial stability; and
- Policy options to mitigate climate risks.
Key highlights of the report
- The report highlights the importance of climate goals as a policy priority and examines the macro-financial implications of climate change for India in the medium to long term.
- The focus of the report is on growth, inflation, and financial stability.
- This report explores the range of available policy options – fiscal policy; technology; trade policy; regulatory policy; and monetary policy – for mitigating climate risks.
- Net Zero Target- India’s goal of achieving the net zero target by 2070 would require an accelerated reduction in the energy intensity of GDP by about 5% annually and a significant improvement in its energy-mix in favour of renewables to about 80% by 2070-71.
- Green Financing– India’s green financing requirement is estimated to be at least 2.5% of GDP annually till 2030 to address the infrastructure gap caused by climate events, and the financial system may have to mobilise adequate resources and also reallocate current resources to contribute effectively to the country’s net-zero target.
- Results of a climate stress test reveal that public sector banks (PSBs) may be more vulnerable than private sector banks. Globally, however, the measurement of climate-related financial risks remains a work in progress.
- A pilot survey of key stakeholders in the financial system in India suggests that notwithstanding rising awareness about climate risks and their potential impact on the financial health of entities, risk mitigation plans are largely at the discussion stage and yet to be widely implemented.
- Central banks as financial regulators have several policy instruments at their disposal to influence investment decisions and the allocation of resources and credit to achieve the sustainability targets.
- Central banks could mandate banks and other financial institutions to consider climate and environmental risks through various regulations.
- A balanced policy intervention with progress ensured across all policy levers would enable India to achieve its green transition targets by 2030, making the net zero goal by 2070 attainable.
- The Central Bank clarified that the findings and views in the report did not represent the views of the RBI.
2 . World Press Freedom Index
Context: India’s ranking in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index has slipped to 161 out of 180 countries, according to the latest report released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Key highlights of the report
- Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which publishes a yearly report on press freedom in countries across the world, ranked India at 161 in a survey of 180 countries.
- In comparison, Pakistan has fared better when it comes to media freedom as it was placed at 150, an improvement from last year’s 157th rank. In 2022, India was ranked at 150. Sri Lanka also made significant improvement on the index, ranking 135th this year as against 146th in 2022
- Norway, Ireland and Denmark occupied the top three positions in press freedom, while Vietnam, China and North Korea constituted the bottom three.
- The report said that the situation has gone from ‘problematic’ to ‘very bad’ in three other countries: Tajikistan (down 1 at 153rd), India (down 11 at 161st) and Turkey (down 16 at 165th).
What are the concern raised over the country’s dip in the index?
- The Indian Women’s Press Corps, the Press Club of India, and the Press Association released a joint statement voicing their concern over the country’s dip in the index.
- The other phenomenon that dangerously restricts the free flow of information is the acquisition of media outlets by oligarchs who maintain close ties with political leaders.
- For developing democracies in the Global South where deep pockets of inequities exist, the media’s role cannot be understated. Likewise, the constraints on press freedom due to hostile working conditions like contractorization must also be challenged. Insecure working conditions can never contribute to a free press.
About world press freedom index and Reporters without Borders
- Reporters Without Borders (RSF) comes out with a global ranking of press freedom every year.
- RSF is an international NGO whose self-proclaimed aim is to defend and promote media freedom. Headquartered in Paris, it has consultative status with the United Nations.
- The objective of the World Press Freedom Index, which it releases every year, “is to compare the level of press freedom enjoyed by journalists and media in 180 countries and territories” in the previous calendar year.
- The parameters that are evaluated include the level of pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, legal framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.
- RSF defines press freedom as “the ability of journalists as individuals and collectives to select, produce, and disseminate news in the public interest independent of political, economic, legal, and social interference and in the absence of threats to their physical and mental safety.”
3 . Manipur Riots
Context: Violent clashes broke out at various places in Manipur during the course of a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ called on by the All-Tribal Students’ Union of Manipur (ATSUM). The Army and Assam Rifles carried out flag marches in the areas hit by the violence.
What is in News?
- A march was called to oppose the longstanding demand that the Meitei community be included in the list of the state’s Scheduled Tribes (ST), which received a boost from an order of the Manipur High Court last month.
- Both the demand and the order, passed by a single judge of the High Court, have been strongly opposed by groups representing the state’s tribal communities.
- The court’s order, asking the government to consider the demand, has brought the historical tensions between the valley-dwelling Meitei community and the state’s hill tribes to a boil.
What is Manipur’s Ethnic composition?
- The Meiteis are the largest community in Manipur. There are 34 recognized tribes, which are broadly classified as ‘Any Kuki Tribes’ and ‘Any Naga Tribes’.
- The central valley in the state accounts for about 10% of the landmass of Manipur and is home primarily to the Meitei and Meitei Pangals who constitute roughly 64.6% of the state’s population.
- The remaining 90% of the state’s geographical area comprises hills surrounding the valley, which are home to the recognized tribes, making up about 35.4% of the state’s population.
Why does the Meitei community want ST status?
- There has been an organised push in support of this demand for at least since 2012, led by the Scheduled Tribes Demand Committee of Manipur (STDCM).
- The recent plea before the Manipur High Court was by the Meetei (Meitei) Tribe Union, seeking directions to the Manipur government to submit a recommendation to the Union Ministry for Tribal Affairs for the inclusion of the Meetei/Meitei community in the list of Scheduled Tribes in the Indian Constitution, as a “tribe among tribes in Manipur”.
- In their plea before the High Court, the petitioners argued that the Meitei community was recognised as a tribe before the merger of the princely state of Manipur with the Union of India in 1949, and that it lost its identity as a tribe after the merger. It was argued in court that the demand for ST status arose from the need to “preserve” the community, and “and save the ancestral land, tradition, culture and language” of the Meiteis.
- In various pleas to the state and central governments, the STDCM has stated that as a result of being left out of the ST list, “the community has been victimised without any constitutional safeguards to date. The Meitein/Meetei have been gradually marginalised in their ancestral land. Their population which was 59% of the total population of Manipur in 1951 has now been reduced to 44% as per 2011 Census data”.
What did the Manipur High Court say?
- The court observed that “the petitioners and other Unions are fighting long years for inclusion of Meetei/Meitei community in the tribe list of Manipur” and directed the government to submit its recommendation after considering the case of the petitioners, “preferably within a period of four weeks” of receipt of the order.
Why are tribal groups opposing this order?
- The demand for ST status for the Meitei community has long been opposed by the state’s tribal groups. One of the reasons cited for the opposition is the dominance of the Meiteis, both in population and in political representation, since 40 out of 60 Assembly constituencies of the state are in the valley.
- “The ST communities of Manipur have been consistently opposing to the inclusion of fearing the loss of job opportunities and other affirmative actions granted to STs by the Constitution of India to a much advanced community like the Meitei,”
- Other arguments against the demand have been that the Manipuri language of the Meiteis is included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, and that sections of the Meitei community — which is predominantly Hindu — are already classified under Scheduled Castes (SC) or Other Backward Classes (OBC), and have access to the opportunities associated with that status.
What led to the unrest?
- Pro-government groups in Manipur claim some tribal groups with vested interests are trying to scuttle Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh’s crusade against drugs. The anti-drug drive began with destroying poppy fields and the theory that “illegal settlers” from Myanmar — ethnically related to the Kuki-Zomi people of Manipur — are behind clearing forests and government lands to grow opium and cannabis. The first violent protest was against the eviction of the residents of a Kuki village. This made the State government withdraw from the suspension of operations with two Kuki extremist groups accused of inciting the protesters.
- The large-scale arson and violence claiming the life of at least one person followed a “tribal solidarity rally” against the reported move to include the Meiteis in the ST list.
4 . Regulation of Artificial Intelligence
Context: After intense last-minute negotiations on how to bring general-purpose artificial intelligence systems (GPAIS) like OpenAI’s popular new chatbot ChatGPT under the ambit of regulation, members of the European Parliament reached a preliminary deal on a new draft of the European Union’s ambitious Artificial Intelligence Act, first drafted two years ago.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
- Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems.
- AI enables technical systems to perceive their environment, deal with what they perceive, solve problems and act to achieve a specific goal. The computer receives data – already prepared or gathered through its own sensors such as a camera – processes it and responds.
Why regulate artificial intelligence?
- As artificial intelligence technologies become omnipresent and their algorithms more advanced—capable of performing a wide variety of tasks including voice assistance, recommending music, driving cars, detecting cancer, and even deciding whether one can get shortlisted for a job— the risks and uncertainties associated with them have also ballooned.
- Many AI tools are essentially black boxes, meaning even those who design them cannot explain what goes on inside them to generate a particular output.
- Complex and unexplainable AI tools have already manifested in wrongful arrests due to AI-enabled facial recognition, discrimination, and societal biases seeping into AI outputs, which may be inaccurate and use copyrighted material created by others.
- EU lawmakers urged world leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, to hold a summit to brainstorm ways to control the development of advanced AI systems such as ChatGPT, saying they were developing faster than expected.
Artificial Intelligence Act
- AI Act was drafted in 2021 with the aim of bringing transparency, trust, and accountability to AI and creating a framework to mitigate risks to the safety, health, fundamental rights, and democratic values of the EU.
- It also aims to address ethical questions and implementation challenges in various sectors ranging from healthcare and education to finance and energy.
- The legislation seeks to strike a balance between promoting “the uptake of AI while mitigating or preventing harms associated with certain uses of the technology”.
What does the Artificial Intelligence Act entail?
- The Act broadly defines AI as “software that is developed with one or more of the techniques that can, for a given set of human-defined objectives, generate outputs such as content, predictions, recommendations, or decisions influencing the environments they interact with”.
- Under the definition, it identifies AI tools based on machine learning and deep learning, knowledge and logic-based approaches and statistical approaches.
- The Act’s central approach is the classification of AI tech based on the level of risk they pose to the “health and safety or fundamental rights” of a person. There are four risk categories in the Act— unacceptable, high, limited and minimal.
- The Act prohibits using technologies in the unacceptable risk category with little exception. These include the use of real-time facial and biometric identification systems in public spaces; China-like systems of social scoring of citizens by governments leading to “unjustified and disproportionate detrimental treatment”; subliminal techniques to distort a person’s behaviour; and technologies which can exploit vulnerabilities of the young or elderly, or persons with disabilities.
- The Act lays substantial focus on AI in the high-risk category, prescribing a number of pre-and post-market requirements for developers and users of such systems. Some systems falling under this category include biometric identification and categorization of natural persons, AI used in healthcare, education, employment (recruitment), law enforcement, justice delivery systems, and tools that provide access to essential private and public services (including access to financial services such as loan approval systems).
- The Act envisages establishing an EU-wide database of high-risk AI systems and setting parameters so that future technologies or those under development can be included if they meet the high-risk criteria.
- Before high-risk AI systems can make it to the market, they will be subject to strict reviews known in the Act as ‘conformity assessments’ — algorithmic impact assessments to analyze data sets fed to AI tools, biases, how users interact with the system, and the overall design and monitoring of system outputs. It also requires such systems to be transparent, explainable, allow human oversight and give clear and adequate information to the user. Moreover, since AI algorithms are specifically designed to evolve over time, high-risk systems must also comply with mandatory post-market monitoring obligations such as logging performance data and maintaining continuous compliance, with special attention paid to how these programs change through their lifetime.
What is the recent proposal on General Purpose AI like ChatGPT?
- A general-purpose AI such as the language model based ChatGPT did not feature in EU lawmakers’ plans for regulating AI technologies.
- The bloc’s 108-page proposal for the AI Act, published two years earlier, included only one mention of the word “chatbot.”
- By mid-April, however, members of the European Parliament were racing to update those rules to catch up with an explosion of interest in generative AI.
- Lawmakers now target the use of copyrighted material by companies deploying generative AI tools such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT or image generator Midjourney, as these tools train themselves from large sets of text and visual data on the internet. They will have to disclose any copyrighted material used to develop their systems.
- While the current draft does not clarify what obligations GPAIS manufacturers would be subject to, lawmakers are also debating whether all forms of GPAIS will be designated high-risk. The draft could be amended multiple times before the Act actually comes into force as it would require the consensus of all member countries and all three EU administrative bodies— the Parliament, Council, and Commission.
How has the AI industry reacted to the legislation?
- While some industry players have welcomed the legislation, others have warned that broad and strict rules could stifle innovation. Companies have also raised concerns about transparency requirements, fearing that it could mean divulging trade secrets; explain ability requirements in the law have caused unease as it is often not possible for even developers to explain the functioning of algorithms. Lawmakers and consumer groups, on the other hand, have criticised it for not fully addressing risks from AI systems.
- The Act also delegates the process of standardisation or creation of precise technical requirements for AI technologies to the EU’s expert standard-setting bodies in specific sectors.
Where does global AI governance currently stand?
- The rapidly evolving pace of AI development has led to diverging global views on how to regulate these technologies.
- AI Bill of Rights – The U.S. does not currently have comprehensive AI regulation. The Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights (AIBoR) developed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the AIBoR outlines a harm of AI to economic and civil rights and lays down five principles for mitigating these harms.
- The Blueprint, instead of a horizontal approach like the EU, endorses a sectorally specific approach to AI governance, with policy interventions for individual sectors such as health, labour, and education, leaving it to sectoral federal agencies to come out with their plans.
- The AIBoR has been described by the administration as a guidance or a handbook rather than a binding legislation.
- China’s binding regulations on AI- China over the last year came out with some of the world’s first nationally binding regulations targeting specific types of algorithms and AI.
- It enacted a law to regulate recommendation algorithms with a focus on how they disseminate information.
- China’s Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), which drafted the rules, told companies to “promote positive energy”, to not “endanger national security or the social public interest” and to “give an explanation” when they harm the legitimate interests of users.
- Another piece of legislation targets deep synthesis technology used to generate deepfakes. In order to have transparency and understand how algorithms function, China’s AI regulation authority has also created a registry or database of algorithms where developers have to register their algorithms, information about the data sets used by them and potential security risks.
5 . Facts for Prelims
- Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States (Tele-MANAS) initiative has been launched by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare during October 2022.
- It aims to provide free tele-mental health services all over the country round the clock, particularly catering to people in remote or under-served areas.
National Tele Mental Health Programme (NTMHP)
- Acknowledging the mental health crisis in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and an urgent need to establish a digital mental health network that will withstand the challenges amplified by the pandemic, Government of India announced National Tele Mental Health Programme (NTMHP) in the Union Budget 2022-23.
Tele MANAS Implementation
- The programme includes a network of 38 tele-mental health centres of excellence spread across 27 States and UTs, providing mental health services in over 20 languages and over 1600 trained counsellors running the first-line services. NIMHANS Bengaluru is the nodal centre.
- Tele-MANAS will be organised in two tier system;
- Tier 1 comprises of state Tele-MANAS cells which include trained counsellors and mental health specialists.
- Tier 2 will comprise of specialists at District Mental Health Programme (DMHP)/Medical College resources for physical consultation and/or e-Sanjeevani for audio visual consultation.
- Presently there are 5 regional coordination centres along with 51 State/UT Tele MANAS cells.
- The initial rollout providing basic support and counselling through centralized Interactive Voice Response system (IVRS) is being customized for use across all States and UTs. This will not only help in providing immediate mental healthcare services, but also facilitate continuum of care.
- Specialised care is being envisioned through the programme by linking Tele-MANAS with other services like National tele-consultation service, e-Sanjeevani, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, mental health professionals, Ayushman Bharat health and wellness centres and emergency psychiatric facilities.
- Eventually, this will include the entire spectrum of mental wellness and illness, and integrate all systems that provide mental health care.
National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO)
- National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) is a National level organization set up under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
- It has following two divisions:
- “National Human Organ and Tissue Removal and Storage Network”
- “National Biomaterial Centre”.
- “National Human Organ and Tissue Removal and Storage Network”
- This has been mandated as per the Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act 2011. This division of the NOTTO is the nodal networking agency for Delhi and shall network for the Procurement Allocation and Distribution of Organs and Tissues in Delhi.
- The National Network division of NOTTO would function as an apex centre for All India activities of coordination and networking for procurement and distribution of Organs and Tissues and registry of Organs and Tissues Donation and Transplantation in the country.
- The following activities would be undertaken to facilitate Organ Transplantation and to collect data to develop and publish National registry:-
- At National Level:
- Lay down policy guidelines and protocols for various functions.
- Network with similar regional and state level organizations.
- All registry data from States and Regions would be compiled and published.
- Creating awareness, promotion of organ donation and transplantation activities.
- Co-ordination from procurement of organs and tissues to transplantation when organ is allocated outside the region.
- Dissemination of information to all concerned organizations, hospitals and individuals.
- Monitoring of transplantation activities in the Regions and States and maintaining data-bank in this regard.
- To assist in data management for organ transplant surveillance & organ transplant and Organ Donor registry.
- Consultancy support on the legal and non-legal aspects of donation and transplantation.
- Coordinate and Organize trainings for various cadre of workers.
National Biomaterial Centre (National Tissue Bank)
- The Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Act 2011 has included the component of tissue donation and registration of tissue Banks.
- It becomes imperative under the changed circumstances to establish National level Tissue Bank to fulfill the demands of tissue transplantation including activities for procurement, storage and fulfil distribution of biomaterials.
- The main thrust & objective of establishing the centre is to fill up the gap between ‘Demand’ and ‘Supply’ as well as ‘Quality Assurance’ in the availability of various tissues.
- Trade negotiators generally refer to Article 13 of the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Agriculture as the Peace Clause. Article 13 holds that domestic support measures and export subsidies of a WTO member that are legal under the provisions of the Agreement on Agriculture cannot be challenged by other WTO members on grounds of being illegal under the provisions of another WTO agreement.
- The Peace Clause expired on January 1, 2004. It is now possible, therefore, for developing countries and nations favoring free trade in agricultural goods, such as the Cairns Group, to use the WTO dispute settlement mechanism in order to challenge, in particular, U.S. and EU export subsidies on agricultural products.
- Another temporary peace clause was made at the WTO Bali conference in December 2013. It stipulated that no country would be legally barred from food security programs for its own people even if the subsidy breached the limits specified in the WTO Agreement on Agriculture.