Daily Current Affairs : 7th and 8th April 2023

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023
  2. National Curriculum Framework
  3. Indian Space Policy 2023
  4. Gas Pricing
  5. cultural asset mapping
  6. Facts for Prelims

1 . Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023

Context: Social media platforms and other intermediaries on the Internet are now required to make sure that “fake news” articles about the Union Government, which have been declared as such by the Press Information Bureau (PIB), are taken down from their platforms when they are alerted to such posts.

About the News

  • Reaffirming its commitment to protect the safety and trust of the Digital Nagriks, the Ministry of Electronics and IT, Government of India notified amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, related to online gaming and spread of false and misleading
  • These amendments have been drafted after holding widespread consultations with multiple stakeholders including parents, school teachers, academics, students, gamers and gaming industry associations, child rights bodies, etc. information regarding government business.
  • The aim of these amendments is to enforce greater due diligence by online gaming and social media intermediaries in respect of online games & fake or false misleading information related to Government business.

What is The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021?

  • The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 were notified on February 25, 2021, to replace the IT (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011 which were framed under the IT Act.
  • This rule contains the details regarding the due diligence requirements for certain social media intermediaries, and a framework for regulating the content of online publishers of news and current affairs, and curated audio-visual content.
  • Under this Rule, all intermediaries are required to provide a grievance redressal mechanism for resolving complaints from users or victims.  A three-tier grievance redressal mechanism with varying levels of self-regulation has been prescribed for publishers.

What are the amendments made in the (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021?

  • Regarding Online Gaming Industry– As per the amended rules, it has been made obligatory on the part of intermediaries to make reasonable effort to not host, publish or share any online game that can cause the user harm, or that has not been verified as a permissible online game by an online gaming self-regulatory body/body designated by the Central Government. The intermediary will also have to ensure that no advertisement or surrogate advertisement or promotion of an online game that is not a permissible online game, is hosted on its platform.
    • The self-regulatory body will have the authority to inquire and satisfy itself that the online game does not involve wagering on any outcome, that the online gaming intermediary and the game complies with the rules, the requirements under law for being competent to enter into a contract (currently at 18 years), and a framework made by the self-regulatory body regarding safeguards against user harm, including psychological harm, measures to safeguard through parental controls, age-rating mechanism, and measures to safeguard users against the risk of gaming addiction.
    • The amended rules also cast additional obligations on online gaming intermediaries in relation to online games involving real money. 
    • If in case the Central Government issues a notification in the interest of users or other specified grounds, the same rules and obligations will be made applicable to even those games where the user is not required to make any deposit for winnings
    • The Government may notify multiple self-regulatory bodies, which shall be representative of online gaming industry
    • The rules provide for the obligations to become applicable once sufficient number of self-regulatory bodies have been designated.
  • Regarding Fake News- The amended rules now also make it obligatory on the intermediaries to not to publish, share or host fake, false or misleading information in respect of any business of the Central Government.  These fake, false or misleading information will identified by the notified Fact Check Unit of the Central Government. It is to be noted that the existing IT rules already required the intermediaries to make reasonable efforts to not host, publish or share any information which is patently false and untrue or misleading in nature.
  • The rules already cast an obligation on intermediaries to make reasonable efforts to not host, publish or share any information which is patently false and untrue or misleading in nature.

2 . National Curriculum Framework

Context: The Ministry of Education released a pre-draft version of National Curriculum Framework for School Education and has sought feedback from various stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers, teacher educators, experts, scholars and professionals.

About National Curriculum Framework

  • The NCF, which was last revised in 2005, is a key document based on which textbooks are prepared.
  • The National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCF) is developed based on the vision of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, and to enable its implementation.
  • The NCF addresses education for the age group 3 to 18 years, across the entire range of diverse institutions in India. This is across the four Stages in the 5+3+3+4 Curricular and Pedagogical restructuring of School Education as envisioned in NEP 2020.

What are the proposed changes in design of subjects and exams at secondary stage?

  • Among the most significant recommendations in the draft NCF on school education are about choice of subjects and exams in classes IX-XII.
  • Over two years, in class IX and X, the students will have to study 16 courses categorised under eight curricular areas. The suggested curricular areas are Humanities (that includes languages), Mathematics & Computing, Vocational Education, Physical Education, Arts, Social Science, Science, and Inter-disciplinary Areas.
  • Students will have to clear eight board exams, each of which will assess their hold on courses they learnt in class IX and X, to obtain the final certification which will factor in their performances in exams held over two years.
  • In terms of subjects, students will be given a choice to pick 16 courses from eight curricular areas.
  • Currently, in Class 12, CBSE students appear for the board exam in at least five subjects and a maximum of six and there is little scope for them to pursue multidisciplinary education. But under the proposed system, that will be possible as the NEP envisages “no hard separation” among arts, humanities, and sciences.
  • “Modular Board Examinations will be offered as opposed to a single examination at the end of the year. The final certification will be based on the cumulative result of each of the examinations,” states the pre – draft NCF.

How will teaching-learning change for younger students if the recommendations are implemented?

  • At the foundational level, for children aged 3-8 enrolled in grades between preschool and class II, the pedagogical approach suggested is play based. It adds that textbooks are to be used from Grade 1 and most of the content should be concrete materials – toys, puzzles, and manipulatives.
  • “Along with these materials, learning experience organized through physical exploration of the classroom and outdoor space becomes the most appropriate content,” it states.
  • For grades III, IV,V or the preparatory stage, children are to be introduced to textbooks on languages, mathematics, while also retaining the activity and discovery-based approach. And in the middle stage (class VI, VII, VIII), natural as well as social sciences will be introduced.

Moral development

  • A part of the document focuses on the moral development of a child through panchakosha vikas or five-fold development.
    • This concept is an ancient explanation of the importance of the body-mind link in human experience and understanding.
  • The pre-draft recommends developing moral values for the child through a balanced diet, traditional games, yoga asanas, as well as a wide variety of stories, songs, lullabies, poems, prayers to develop a love for cultural context.
  • The document further says that it leans towards making students acquainted with true sources of knowledge, which have been a philosophical preoccupation of ancient Indians.
    • These sources focus on six  pramanas
      • pratyaksa, interpreted as perception through five senses;
      • anumana, which uses inferences to come to new conclusions; 
      • upamana, which is knowing through analogy and comparison; 
      • arthapatti, which involves knowing through circumstantial implication, 
      • anupalabdhi, which includes perception of non-existence, and 
      • sabda, which is “something an individual can only directly know a fraction of all reality through direct experience and inference but must rely on other experts was acknowledged thousands of years ago”.
  • Arts education will include music, dance, theatre, sculpture, painting, set design, scriptwriting, while inter-disciplinary areas will include knowledge of India, traditions and practices of Indian knowledge systems.
  • The document focuses on the importance of questioning by giving examples of the Upanishads and includes examples from Katha Upanishad.
  • For the framework of the social science curriculum, it emphasises on understanding and appreciating the feeling of Indianess, ‘bhartiyata’, by valuing the rich cultural heritage and tradition of the country. The pre-draft recommends learning about Ayurveda and yoga.
  • It also stresses on identifying and explaining important phases of the Indian national movement against British rule, with special reference to Gandhian and other subaltern movements.
  • The middle-school history curriculum includes the emergence of large empires in the context of Greek and Magadh geographies. It also recommends teaching concepts of Buddhism, Jainism and Vedic and Confucian philosophies.
  • As a follow-up to the National Education Policy 2020, development of four National Curriculum Frameworks — NCF for School Education, NCF for Early Childhood Care and Education, NCF for Teacher Education and NCF for Adult Education — have been initiated.
  • The National Steering Committee under the chairmanship of K. Kasturirangan was set up by the Ministry to undertake and develop NCFs.

3 . Indian Space Policy 2023

Context: The government  approved the Indian Space Policy 2023 that seeks to institutionalise the private sector participation in the space sector, with ISRO focusing on research and development of advanced space technologies.

About Indian Space policy 2023

  • The Union Cabinet approved the Indian Space Policy, 2023 under which roles and responsibilities of organisations such as ISRO, NewSpace India Limited and private sector entities have been laid down.
  • The policy will aim to enhance the role of the Department of Space, boost activities of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) missions and give a larger participation of research, academia, startups and industries
  • The policy also spells out the framework for the private sector to use ISRO facilities for a small charge and also encourages them to invest in creating new infrastructure for the sector.
  • The Policy thrust on privatization will enable the space sector to be more innovative and sustainable. It is crucial if India wants to be competitive in global space ecosystems.
  • The space sector has remained within the confines of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) with full budgetary support from the government.
  • Despite leading in complex space tech and launch vehicles, the Indian space market is worth $7 billion, which is just about 2% of the global space market. The entry of the private sector in the space sector would enable ISRO to channelise its focus on research and development of advanced space technologies.

Significance of the policy

  • India’s share in the global space economy was less than two per cent at present and the space policy will help it increase substantially to 10 per cent in the future.
  • It will pave the way forward with much-required clarity in space reforms and augment private industry participation to drive the space economy opportunity for the country
  • Through the ISP, the government aims to drive the overall growth of Indian commercial space activities by creating a regulatory environment in compliance with international law and by addressing the previous hurdles to the goal of encouraging the private sector.
  • By institutionalizing the sector, the ISP breaks the ISRO-driven space sector monopoly.
  • Notably, the ISP also addresses the liability issue in case of any fallout or destruction of space assets. Since India is a party to the Outer Space Treaty, the Liability Convention, and the Registration Convention, the responsibility for any destruction or damage lies with the government.
  • Within the policy framework, the government aimed to address the crucial issue of the control and access of the dual-use space technology or IP that protects or threatens national security. Industry demanded that IP must be examined on a case-by-case basis.
  • The Policy will throw much clarity on the regulatory framework which concerns the diverse activities which range from remote sensing to deep-space exploration.
  • The policy also directs and provides the greater opportunity, more time and resources to focus on deep-space scientific and technological research

The future of space economy in India

  • The global space industry is worth over $500 billion, with the United States and China spending the most, according to a report by VICE. India currently accounts for only 2% of it.
  • According to the Economic Survey of India, there have been over 100 active space companies since 2012. Many of them are currently vying for approval from the newly formed InSpace, or the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre, an institution that serves as a liaison between ISRO and private sector enterprises.
  • Allowing private companies to perform space missions has benefited nations such as the United States by promoting private sector investment. For example, Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rockets have become a popular choice for space missions around the world.

4 . Gas pricing

Context: The Union Cabinet approved significant changes in the pricing regime for domestic natural gas under the ambit of the administered price mechanism (APM), which mainly applies to gas produced by legacy fields, or nomination fields, of national oil companies Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Ltd and Oil India Ltd (OIL)

About the New Guidelines

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the revised domestic natural gas pricing guidelines for gas produced from nomination fields of ONGC/OIL, New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) blocks and pre-NELP blocks, where Production Sharing Contract (PSC) provides for Government’s approval of prices.
  • The price of such natural gas shall be 10% of the monthly average of Indian Crude Basket and shall be notified on a monthly basis.
  • For the gas produced by ONGC & OIL from their nomination blocks, the Administered Price Mechanism (APM) price shall be subject to a floor and a ceiling. Gas produced from new wells or well interventions in the nomination fields of ONGC & OIL, would be allowed a premium of 20% over the APM price.
  • The new guidelines are intended to ensure a stable pricing regime for domestic gas consumers while at the same time providing adequate protection to producers from adverse market fluctuation with incentives for enhancing production.

2014 Guidelines on Gas Pricing

  • Currently, the domestic gas prices are determined as per the new Domestic Gas Pricing Guidelines, 2014 which were approved by the Government in 2014.
  •  The 2014 pricing guidelines provided for declaration for domestic gas prices for a 6 month period based on the volume weighted prices prevailing at four gas trading hubs – Henry Hub, Albena, National Balancing Point (UK), and Russia for a period of 12 months and a time lag of a quarter.
  • As the earlier guidelines based on 4 gas hubs had a significant time lag and very high volatility, the need for this rationalization and reform was felt.
  • The revised guidelines make prices linked to crude, which is a practice now followed in most industry contracts, is more relevant to our consumption basket and has deeper liquidity in global trading markets, on a real time basis.
  •  With the changes now approved, data of Indian Crude basket price from the previous month would form the basis for APM gas price determination.

Kirit Parikh Panel

  • The revised pricing mechanism is based on recommendations of a panel headed by Kirit Parikh.
  •  The panel was constituted last year to delve into the extant gas pricing guidelines and recommend changes to balance the interests of gas consumers and producers, while also helping India achieve its aim of increasing domestic gas output and substantially increasing the share of natural gas in the country’s energy mix.
  • To encourage ONGC and OIL to make efforts to raise output from legacy fields, the new pricing regime allows the two companies a premium of 20 per cent over the APM price for gas produced from new wells, and for technology interventions in existing wells

Significance –

  • Government has targeted to increase the share of natural gas in primary energy mix in India from current 6.5% to 15% by 2030. The reforms shall help expand the consumption of natural gas and will contribute to achievement of the target of emission reduction and net zero.
  • These reforms are a continuation of the various initiatives taken by the Government of India to protect the interests of consumers by reducing the impact of increase in international gas prices on gas prices in India by significantly increasing the domestic gas allocation to the City Gas Distribution sector.
  • The reforms will lead to significant decrease in prices of Piped Natural Gas (PNG) for households and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for transport. The reduced prices shall also lower the fertilizer subsidy burden and help the domestic power sector
  • The revised pricing guidelines will also promote lower carbon footprint through the growth of gas-based economy.

Gas pricing in India

  • There are multiple pricing regimes existing in the country for Natural gas supplies. Further, there is differential pricing existing for different sectors. Policy makers have been considering various aspects to look at the pricing of natural gas.
  • There are multiple pricing regimes existing in the country for Natural gas supplies. This could be broadly divided into three categories:
    • APM Gas
    • Non APM Gas
    • LNG
  • Pooled Pricing of Gas: As multiple pricing regimes exist in the country, pooling of gas from different sources has been deliberated by the policy makers. A sectoral pool was being considered with separate pools of power and fertilizer customers. Separate pools were considered in view of avoiding cross subsidies between the customer groups and related administrative issues arising.
  • Rangarajan Committee recommendations on Pricing: The committee has suggested a uniform gas-pricing, at ‘unbiased arms-length’. The formula of domestic gas pricing should be 12-month trailing average of volume-weighted average at well-head (on net-back basis) for gas imports and volume-weighted average of US Henry Hub, UK NBP and Japanese Crude Cocktail prices. Gas prices are expected to increase based on the suggested framework by Rangarajan committee.
  • Kirit Parikh committee- The government had set up a panel under the former planning commission member Kirit Parikh to review the formula that dictates the pricing of gas produced by companies like ONGC and Reliance.
  • The committee has recommended complete liberalisation of natural gas prices by January 1, 2027.
  • The government appointed panel which submitted its report in November last year had recommended a floor price and a cap for gas from legacy and old fields which make up two-thirds of all-natural gas produced in the country.
  • The revised pricing mechanism is based on recommendations of a panel headed by Kirit Parikh.

5 . Cultural Asset Mapping

Context: In a bid to harness the unique cultural heritage of rural India, the government has identified and documented distinctive features of more than one lakh villages across the country.

About the Cultural Asset Mapping

  • In cultural asset mapping, villages have been broadly divided into seven-eight categories based on
    • whether they are important ecologically, developmentally and scholastically, if they produce a famous textile or product, and if they are connected to some historical or mythological events such as the Independence struggle or epics like the Mahabharata.
      • The ecological category, for example, includes the Bishnoi village near Jodhpur in Rajasthan, which is a case study for living in harmony with nature, and Uttarakhand’s Raini village, which is famous for the Chipko movement.
      • The villages which have developmental importance like Modhera in Gujarat, which is the first solar-powered village in India.
      • The villages under the historical category include Kandel in Madhya Pradesh, the site of the famous ‘Jal Satyagraha’, and the villages of Hanol in Uttarakhand and Vidurashwathar of Karnataka, which are linked to the Mahabharata.
      • Suketi in Himachal Pradesh, Asia’s oldest fossil park, and Pandrethan in Kashmir, the village of Shaivite mystic Lal Ded, are also classified for their historical importance.
  • The entire exercise has been carried out under the ‘ Mera Gaon Meri Dharohar‘ (My Village My Heritage) programme of the National Mission for Cultural Mapping (NMCM).

What is the National Mission for Cultural Mapping?

  • The NMCM aims to develop a comprehensive database of art forms, artists and other resources across the country.
  •  Though launched by the Culture Ministry in 2017, the programme got off to a slow start and was handed over to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) in 2021.
  • The Culture Ministry had approved a budget ₹469 crore for the mission in 2017 for a period of three years

About Mera Gaon Meri Dharohar Survey

  • The IGNCA said it has undertaken the cultural asset mapping of these villages through Mera Gaon Meri Dharohar Survey
  • “Detailed field surveys were carried out by joint teams of the Culture Ministry and the Common Services Centres (CSC), under the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY) to create the dossiers
  • The survey seeks to document the cultural identity at the village level by involving citizens to share what makes their village, block, or district unique. The entire exercise is expected to be completed by mid-2022.
  • Under the survey, a CSC Village Level Entrepreneur called VLEs will conduct meetings with citizens at the villages and then upload interesting facts about their village, its places of interest, customs and traditions, famous personalities, festivals and beliefs, art and culture, etc., on to the application. VLEs will also upload photos and videos regarding these aspects of the application.
  • The IGNCA plans to cover all the 6.5 lakh villages in the country. Plans are also afoot to create special films on 6,500 village clusters showcasing their unique heritage.
  • The detailed dossiers on these villages as well as the films which have been shot will be made available in May on a web portal called ‘The National Cultural WorkPlace’.
  • The web portal would contain a virtual living museum of all villages documented. There would also be a facility for uploading a village through crowd-sourcing and allowing villagers to edit and upload village data themselves.

6 . Facts for Prelims

Track and trace system for export of pharmaceutical consignment

  • The pharmaceutical track and trace system is a logistical technology that enables the tracking and localization of a drug throughout the supply chain.
  • When track and trace are correctly implemented, a drug can be tracked throughout the supply chain and traced back up the supply chain upon return or recall.
  • In 2012, Turkey became the first country in the world to implement the end-to-end pharmaceutical track and trace system in order to secure the domestic pharmaceutical supply chain.
  • After this successful implementation, countries such as Argentina and Saudi Arabia started to implement the drug track and trace system.
  •  China, United States and European Union member countries are also making efforts to implement the end-to-end pharmaceutical track and trace system.
  • Benefits- There are many benefits of using drug track and trace systems that protect human health and prevent counterfeit drugs from entering the supply chain.
  • One of the most important benefits of the pharmaceutical track and trace system is that it increases efficiency in production sales channels and reduces theft and fraud rates.
  • Supply chain track and trace helps a business monitor the movement of goods across the supply chain. Such a system can improve supply chain visibility and mitigate risks. It can also improve customer service as businesses can share real-time updates with customers

Genome India project

  • Genome India Project (GIP) is a research initiative led by the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science’s Centre for Brain Research and involves over 20 universities across the country in an effort to gather samples, compile data, conduct research, and create an ‘Indian reference genome’ grid.
  • Genome India Project (GIP) was initiated by the Department of Biotechnology on 3rd January 2020.
  • Aim– The GIP aims to collect 10,000 genetic samples from citizens across India, to build a reference genome.
    • In Phase 1, the goal of the research is to develop predictive diagnostic indicators for several high-priority diseases and other uncommon and genetic disorders.
    • In phase 2, the project would collect genetic samples from patients with three broad categories – cardiovascular diseases, mental illness, and cancer.
  • Benefits – Whole-genome sequencing and subsequent data analysis of the genetic data of these 10,000 individuals would be carried out. This would aid our understanding of the nature of diseases affecting the Indian population, and then ultimately support the development of predictive diagnostic markers.
  • Genome India Project would bring valuable addition to existing genome research, which has so far been limited to the Western context.
  • It allows India to draw upon its tremendous genetic diversity, given the series of large migrations historically, and thus, add greatly to the current information about the human species.
  • This would aid in the designing of genome-wide association chips which will facilitate further large-scale genetic studies in a cost-effective manner.
  • Furthermore, it would also open new vistas for advancing next-generation personalized medicine in the country, paving the way for predicting health and disease outcomes and modulating treatment protocols based on the genome sequences.
  • The initiative would also support the development of targeted preventive care, as it has the potential to help identify those population groups which are more susceptible to various risk factors for certain diseases.
  • Priority areas– Some of the priority areas are Precision health, Rare genetic disorders, Mutation spectrum of genetic and complex diseases in the Indian population, Genetic Epidemiology of Multifactorial Lifestyle Diseases, and Translational Research.
  • This initiative reflects India’s progress in gene therapies and precision medicine, and its movement towards emerging next-generation medicine which yields the possibilities for greater customization, safety, and earlier detection. This initiative would help lay the foundation of personalized healthcare for a very large group of persons on the planet.

GSM Radio Collar

  • A radio collar is a wide band of machine-belting fitted with a small radio transmitter and battery. The transmitter emits a signal at a specific frequency that can be tracked from up to 5 kms away.

These collars are designed for deployments in areas with cellular coverage and are intended for small and medium mammals.

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