Daily Current Affairs : 7th October 2022

We have restarted CA MCQs. We strongly suggest you to attempt the Current Affairs MCQs as it will help you to revise Current Affairs better. It covers CA from Hindu, Indian Express and PIB.

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. South Asia Economic Focus
  2. UNHRC
  3. Vyommitra
  4. Facts for Prelims

1 . South Asia Economic Focus

Context: The World Bank has estimated that India will grow 6.5% in the current fiscal year (FY22-23), after having grown at 8.7% in the fiscal year ended March 31.

Key highlights

  • The estimate for the current year was revised downwards by one percentage point since June due to persistent pressures.
  • The Indian economy is expected to speed up to 7.0% in the next fiscal year, before settling back down to 6.1% in FY24-25. 
  • The numbers were released as part of the World Bank’s twice yearly South Asia Economic Focus.
    • Title: ‘Coping with Shocks: Migration and the Road to Resilience’
  • With Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, the devastating floods in Pakistan, and recovery from the pandemic impacted by the war in Ukraine, recovery in the region will be uneven, with the economies that are more services-led (India, Nepal, and Maldives) expected to “maintain a reasonable recovery trend despite headwinds”. 
  • Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are more at risk and will see poverty increase in 2022.

Findings on India

  • The slowing in India’s growth during the current fiscal year, relative to the previous one, was because most of the COVID recovery happened last year, the report said.
  • The impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, global monetary tightening, high commodity prices and interest rates impacting domestic demand (especially private consumption in FY2023-24), contributing to this slowing.
  • Manufacturing and services have been expanding in India since January and growing at a rate faster than the rest of the world.
  • With the relaxation of COVID restrictions, economic activity had picked up, as had demand in contact-intensive sectors.
  • Output had grown at an estimated 13.5% (year on year) in the April –June period this year, a contraction however, relative to the preceding quarter.
  • Services and construction had expanded the fastest on the production side, the report said, and private demand had grown year on year, but this was largely due to a low base effect from the second quarter of 2021 when the economy was reeling under the delta wave of Covid.
  • Although India growth estimates are above the South Asian average, there is weakness in employment and supply chains, the report says, with supply chain delays having improved only marginally since June this year.
  • While India’s economy-wide employment index is improving on a monthly basis, it is doing so at speeds slower than the rest of the world (barring Asia).
  • While private consumption in India increased overall in quarter 2 of 2022, the recovery across income groups has been uneven.
  • High income households’ consumption of contact-intensive services and consumer goods recovered, but for rural and low-income households, consumption was weak. The return of migrant workers to their places of work has also been slow, impacting household incomes in cases where migrants are sending money home.
  • Pandemics, sudden swings in global liquidity and commodity prices, and extreme weather disasters were once tail-end risks.
  • But all three have arrived in rapid succession over the past two years and are testing South Asia’s economies.
  • In the face of these shocks, countries need to build stronger fiscal and monetary buffers, and reorient scarce resources towards strengthening resilience to protect their people.

Findings on South Asia

  • South Asia, excluding Afghanistan, is forecast to grow at 5.8% for the current calendar year and the next two years, having grown at 7.8% in 2021.
  • The Sri Lanka forecast is particularly severe – a contraction of 9.2% this calendar year and a contraction of 4.2% next year before it a growth forecast of 1% in 2024.

2 . UN Human Rights Commission

Context: The UN Human Rights Council voted against holding a debate on alleged abuses in China’s Xinjiang region after intense lobbying by Beijing, in a major setback for Western nations. India and 10 other nations abstained.

 Key Highlights

  • The U.S. and allies presented the first draft decision to the UNHRC targeting China after former UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet gave her Xinjiang report, alleging torture, detention of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.
  • Countries on the 47-member council in Geneva voted 19-17 against holding a debate on human rights in Xinjiang, with 11 nations abstaining.
  • Amnesty International branded the vote farcical, while Human Rights Watch said it betrayed abuse victims.
  • The nations voting against a debate were Bolivia, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Gabon, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Mauritania, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Qatar, Senegal, Sudan, the UAE, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.
  • Argentina, Armenia, Benin, Brazil, Gambia, India, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico and Ukraine abstained.
  • The draft decision was put forward by the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Turkey, among others.

About UN Human Rights Council

  • The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.
  • It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.
  • The Council is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly.
  • The Human Rights Council replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Its genesis

  • The Council was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by resolution 60/251.
  • Its first session took place from 19 to 30 June 2006. One year later, the Council adopted its “Institution-building package” to guide its work and set up its procedures and mechanisms.
  • Among them were the Universal Periodic Review mechanism which serves to assess the human rights situations in all United Nations Member States, the Advisory Committee which serves as the Council’s “think tank” providing it with expertise and advice on thematic human rights issues and the Complaint Procedure which allows individuals and organizations to bring human rights violations to the attention of the Council.
  • The Human Rights Council also works with the UN Special Procedures established by the former Commission on Human Rights and now assumed by the Council.
  • These are made up of special rapporteurs, special representatives, independent experts and working groups that monitor, examine, advise and publicly report on thematic issues or human rights situations in specific countries.
  • When creating the Human Rights Council in March 2006 the United Nations General Assembly decided that the Council’s work and functioning should be reviewed five years after it had come into existence at the level of the General Assembly.

Procedures and mechanisms

  • The Commission on Human Rights procedures and mechanisms was mandated to examine, monitor and publicly report either on human rights situations in specific countries or territories (known as country mechanisms or mandates) or on major phenomena of human rights violations worldwide (known as thematic mechanisms or mandates).
  • These procedures and mechanisms were collectively referred to as the Special Procedures of the Commission on Human Rights.

Main themes

  • The main themes addressed by the Commission were: the right to self-determination; racism; the right to development; the question of the violation of human rights in the occupied Arab territories, including Palestine; the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world; economic, social and cultural rights; civil and political rights, including the questions of torture and detention, disappearances and summary executions, freedom of expression, the independence of the judiciary, impunity and religious intolerance; the human rights of women, children, migrant workers, minorities and displaced persons; indigenous issues; the promotion and protection of human rights, including the work of the Sub-Commission, treaty bodies and national institutions; and advisory services and technical cooperation in the field of human rights.

3 . Vyommitra

Context: ‘Vyommitra’, the humanoid designed and developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to fly aboard unmanned test missions ahead of the Gaganyaan human space-flight mission, is undergoing pre-flight ground tests at the ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (IISU) here.

About the News

  • Over the past few months, IISU has successfully integrated Vyommitra with a computer ‘brain’ which enables it to ‘read’ control panels aboard the unmanned test flights and communicate with the ISRO ground stations.
  • ISRO and IISU were in the news when they unveiled Vyommitra — the ‘female’ robot astronaut — in 2020.

About Vyommitra

  • Vyommitra is a half-humanoid lacking lower limbs. A humanoid is basically a robot with the appearance of a human being.
  • ISRO’s Vyommitra (vyoma = space, mitra = friend) is also being called a half-humanoid since she will only have a head, two hands and a torso, and will not have lower limbs.
  • IISU was responsible for the design, development, and integration of the robot, while sister ISRO centre Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) at Thumba here developed its fingers.
  • The AI-enabled robot is designed to fly aboard a rocket, withstanding vibrations and shock during the flight.
  • It has been designed to resemble a human with facial expressions and speech and sight capabilities, he said.
  •  It has a certain level of intelligence. What we intend is that it should operate and read the display panels and communicate back to us using its own voice.
  • Vyommitra will fly aboard the first unmanned test flight ahead of the crewed Gaganyaan flight expected in 2024.
  • The IISU, which designs and develops navigational systems for ISRO launch vehicles, had special teams working on the humanoid over the past several months.
  • In the meantime, Vyommitra is also set to get a digital twin. The ‘twin’ will undergo computer simulations where the control systems are tested for microgravity conditions. The twin will be developed in collaboration with academic institutions like the IITs.
  • The Gaganyaan programme would demonstrate human spaceflight by sending a crew of three astronauts to the 400-km Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and bringing them back safely.

Tasks that Vyommitra will perform in space

  • The Vyommitra humanoid, which will test the ground for human spaceflight, will be a very basic version of a TARS-type, artificial-intelligence-and-robotics system.
  • The activities that Vyommitra will be able to perform, once fully developed for the unmanned flight, will include procedures to use equipment on board the spacecraft’s crew module such as safety mechanisms and switches, as well as receiving and acting on commands sent from ground stations.
  • Attaining launch and orbital postures, responding to the environment, generating warnings, replacing carbon dioxide canisters, operating switches, monitoring of the crew module, receiving voice commands, responding via speech (bilingual) are the functions listed for the humanoid.
  • Vyommitra, whose human-like face has already been on display, will have lip movement synchronised to mimic speech.
  • She can also double up as an artificial buddy to an astronaut — providing audio inputs on aspects like the health of the spacecraft during the launch, landing and orbital phases of the manned mission.
  • Vyommitra will also report back to Earth on the changes occurring in the crew module during the spaceflight and return, such as heat radiation levels, to enable ISRO to understand the safety levels required in the crew module that will eventually fly a human being.

4 . Facts for Prelims

Nobel Literature

  • French author Annie Ernaux, known for her deceptively simple novels drawing on personal experience of class and gender, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • Ms. Ernaux, 82, was honoured “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory”.
  • Her more than 20 books, many of which have been school texts in France for decades, offer one of the most subtle, insightful windows into the social life of modern France.
  • Personal experiences are the source for all of Ms. Ernaux’s work and she is the pioneer of France’s “autofiction” genre, which gives narrative form to real-life experience.

Revenue deficit grant

  • The Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grants are provided to the States under Article 275 of the Constitution.
  • The grants are released to the States as per the recommendations of the successive Finance Commissions to meet the gap in Revenue Accounts of the States post devolution.
  • The States who have been recommended Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant by the Fifteenth Finance Commission during 2022-23 are: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.
  • Recently, the Finance Ministry released the monthly instalment of revenue deficit grant of ₹7,183 crore to 14 States.
  • The grant has been released as per the recommendations of the 15th Finance Commission. The 15th Finance Commission has recommended a total Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant of Rs 86,201 crore to 14 states for the financial year 2022-23.
  • The recommended grant is released by the Department of Expenditure to the recommended States in 12 equated monthly instalments.
  • With the release of 7th instalment for the month of October 2022, the total amount of Revenue Deficit Grants released to the States in 2022-23 has gone up to Rs 50,282.92 crore.

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