Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- RBI Monetary Policy
- Agni Prime missile
- Cyclone Effect on monsoon onset
- Artificial Intelligence – Issues caused by it and need for regulations
- WHO Report on Potable water
- Facts for Prelims
1 . RBI Monetary Policy
Context: The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), based on an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation, decided to keep the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.50%.
Key Highlights of the RBI Monetary Policy
- Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) keeps the repo rate unchanged at 6.5%.
- Standing Deposit Facility Rate remains at 6.25%. Marginal Standing Facility Rate and Bank Rate are unchanged at 6.75%
- RBI projected CPI inflation for FY24 at 5.1%. Breaking down inflation projections every quarter, RBI predicted inflation at 4.6% for Q1FY24, 5.2% at Q2FY24, 5.4% at Q3FY24, and 5.2% at Q4FY24.
- FY24 GDP growth rate forecast retained at 6.5%. On a quarterly basis, the GDP growth rate projected at 8% in Q1FY24, 6.5% in Q2FY24, 6% in Q3FY24, and 5.7% in Q4FY24.
- The GDP growth of the financial year gone by has surprised on the upside; GDP growth for FY23 came in at 7.2% instead of RBI’s expectation of 7%.
- On inflation, headline retail inflation fell to 4.7 per cent in April, the lowest reading since November 2021.
- RBI is upbeat about both GDP growth and inflation in the current quarter (April, May, June). Growth has been pushed up to 8% and inflation knocked down to 4.6%.
- Higher Rabi crop production — winter crop that is harvested in March & April — as well as the forecast of normal monsoon points to a recovery in consumption levels of the common Indian.
- Further, the government’s continued thrust on capital expenditure is likely to crowd in private investments.
- Consumer confidence is inching up.
- Indian families expect inflation to moderate
- Despite many factors coming together, GDP growth rate is expected to decelerate in FY24 from 7.2% to 6.5%. Moreover, most professional forecasters that RBI polled pegged the GDP growth rate at 6%, suggesting that the eventual moderation might be far more substantial than what RBI expects.
- While consumer confidence metrics are improving they are still in the negative territory. An index below the 100 mark implies people are pessimistic and a value higher than 100 conveys optimism.
What is Monetary Policy Review?
- Monetary policy reviews are among the most effective tools of the central bank of any country to achieve financial stability and economic growth.
- Monetary policies basically control the overall supply of money available to commercial banks and, indirectly, to individual users and companies
What is the need of monetary Policy review?
- In India, the RBI is entrusted with the responsibility of devising monetary policy “with the primary objective of maintaining price stability while keeping in mind the objective of growth”.
- The central bank is supposed to target a 4% retail inflation level, although the RBI has the leeway of inflation going up to 6% or falling to 2% in any particular month.
- Retail inflation is the inflation (or rise in the general price level) that everyday consumers face. Typically, when an economy experiences fast economic growth — that is, there is a lot of demand in the economy — prices rise. Some degree of inflation is desirable as it promotes economic activity.
- When inflation runs high, RBI raises the repo rate — the interest rate it charges banks when it lends them money. Doing this incentivises savings and disincentives expenditure, thus curtailing overall demand and GDP. That, in turn, reduces the inflation rate.
- In times of weak economic activity, RBI cuts the repo rate and by the reverse logic, boosts demand and economic output. All these critical decisions about the repo rate are taken by the MPC, which meets once every two months to assess inflation and growth outlook.
Monetary Policy Committee
- RBI Act, 1934 provides for an empowered six-member monetary policy committee (MPC) to be constituted by the Central Government.
- The first such MPC was constituted in 2016.
- Governor of the RBI;
- Deputy Governor of the RBI in charge of Monetary Policy;
- one officer of the RBI to be nominated by the Central Board;
- Three people to be appointed by the Central Government
- Governor of the Reserve Bank of India is the ex-officio Chairperson of the committee
- Members hold office for a period of four years or until further orders, whichever is earlier)
- It determines the policy repo rate required to achieve the inflation target.
- The MPC is required to meet at least four times in a year.
- The quorum for the meeting of the MPC: four members.
- Each member of the MPC has one vote, and in the event of an equality of votes, the Governor has a second or casting vote.
Objectives of Monetary Policy
- The main objective of the monetary policy is
- Economic growth
- Price and exchange rate stability
- Promotion of saving and investment
- Managing the foreign exchange markets
- Interest Rate Stability
Direct and Indirect instruments used for implementing monetary Policy
- Repo Rate: The (fixed) interest rate at which the Reserve Bank provides overnight liquidity to banks against the collateral of government and other approved securities under the Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF).
- Reverse Repo Rate: The (fixed) interest rate at which the Reserve Bank absorbs liquidity, on an overnight basis, from banks against the collateral of eligible government securities under the LAF
- Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF): The LAF consists of overnight as well as term repo auctions. Progressively, the Reserve Bank has increased the proportion of liquidity injected under variable rate repo auctions across the range of tenors. The aim of term-repo is to help develop the inter-bank term-money market, which in turn can set market-based benchmarks for pricing of loans and deposits, and hence improve transmission of monetary policy. The RBI also conducts variable interest-rate reverse-repo auctions, as necessitated under market conditions.
- Marginal Standing Facility (MSF): A facility under which scheduled commercial banks can borrow additional amount of overnight money from the Reserve Bank by dipping into their Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) portfolio up to a limit at a penal rate of interest. This provides a safety valve against unanticipated liquidity shocks to the banking system
- Corridor: The MSF rate and reverse repo rate determine the corridor for the daily movement in the weighted average call money rate.
- Bank Rate: It is the rate at which the Reserve Bank is ready to buy or re discount bills of exchange or other commercial papers. The Bank Rate is published under Section 49 of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. This rate has been aligned to the MSF rate and, therefore, changes automatically as and when the MSF rate changes alongside policy repo rate changes.
- Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR): The average daily balance that a bank is required to maintain with the Reserve Bank as a share of such per cent of its Net demand and time liabilities (NDTL) that the Reserve Bank may notify from time to time in the Gazette of India.
- Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR): The share of NDTL that a bank is required to maintain in safe and liquid assets, such as unencumbered government securities, cash and gold. Changes in SLR often influence the availability of resources in the banking system for lending to the private sector.
- Open Market Operations (OMOs): These include both outright purchase and sale of government securities, for injection and absorption of durable liquidity, respectively.
- Market Stabilization Scheme (MSS): This instrument for monetary management was introduced in 2004. Surplus liquidity of a more enduring nature arising from large capital inflows is absorbed through sale of short-dated government securities and treasury bills. The cash so mobilized is held in a separate government account with the Reserve Bank.
- Unlike quantitative tools which have a direct effect on the entire economy’s money supply, qualitative tools are selective tools that have an effect in the money supply of a specific sector of the economy.
- Margin requirements – The RBI prescribes a certain margin against collateral, which in turn impacts the borrowing habit of customers. When the margin requirements are raised by the RBI, customers will be able to borrow less.
- Moral suasion – By way of persuasion, the RBI convinces banks to keep money in government securities, rather than certain sectors.
- Selective credit control – Controlling credit by not lending to selective industries or speculative businesses.
Policy Stances of RBI
- Accommodative Stance
- Accommodative stance means the central bank is telling the market to expect a rate cut anytime
- Usually, this policy is adopted when there is slowdown in the economy.
- Neutral stance
- Neutral stance doesn’t have any particular meaning. This means anything can happen anytime means the RBI would have the flexibility to either increase or decrease the policy rates
- Tight and Calibrated Tightening stance
- Tight – It indicates an impending rate hike
- Calibrated Tightening – RBI would either keep the rates constant or increase the rates.
What are the types of monetary policy?
- There are broadly two types of monetary policy, with a large spectrum of variations lying between them. These are:
- Contractionary Monetary Policy: Central banks use contractionary monetary policy to bring inflation under control. They essentially reduce the supply of money in the system, by restricting the volume of money that the banks can lend. The banks charge higher interest on the loans, making them expensive for the borrowers. In turn, fewer businesses and individuals borrow, slowing growth.
- Expansionary Monetary Policy: Central banks use expansionary monetary policy in the pursuit of lower unemployment and avoiding recession. They give the banks more money to lend by increasing the liquidity in the system. Banks lower the interest at which they lend, making loans cheaper. Businesses borrow more to hire workers, buy equipment, and expand their operations. Individuals borrow more to buy houses, cars, appliances, etc.
Flexible Inflation Targeting Framework (FITF)
- The Flexible Inflation Targeting Framework (FITF) was introduced in India post the amendment of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Act, 1934 in 2016. In accordance with the RBI Act, the Government of India sets the inflation target every 5 years after consultation with the RBI.
- In this framework, there are chances of not achieving the inflation target fixed for a particular amount of time. This can happen when:
- The average inflation is greater than the upper tolerance level of the inflation target as predetermined by the Central Government for 3 quarters in a row.
- The average inflation is less than the lower tolerance level of the target inflation fixed by the Central Government beforehand for 3 consecutive quarters.
2 . Agni Prime Missile
Context: The new generation ballistic missile ‘Agni Prime’ was successfully flight-tested by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha.
About Agni Prime
- Agni P is a new generation nuclear capable advanced variant of Agni class of missiles. It is a canisterised missile with range capability between 1,000 and 2,000 kms like the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the over 5,000-km Agni-V.
- Agni-Prime incorporates new propulsion systems and composite rocket motor casings as well as advanced navigation and guidance systems.
- This was the “first pre-induction night launch” of the Agni- Prime conducted by the tri-service Strategic Forces Command (SFC), which handles the country’s nuclear arsenal, and “validated the accuracy and reliability of the system”.
- The Agni-Prime will gradually replace the Agni-I (700-km) missiles in the arsenal of SFC, which also has the Prithvi-II (350-km), Agni-II (2,000-km), Agni-III (3,000-km) and Agni-4 (4,000-km) ballistic missiles.
- A canister-launch missile — with the warhead already mated with the missile — gives the armed forces the requisite operational flexibility to store it for long periods, swiftly transport it through rail or road when required, and fire it from wherever they want.
- Significance- Along with Agni-V, the new missile would provide India with stronger deterrence against both China and Pakistan. While Agni-V brings all of China within its strike range, Agni- P seems to have been developed keeping Pakistan in mind.
About Agni Missile
- The Agni missileis a family of medium to intercontinental range ballistic missiles.
- Agni missiles are long range, nuclear weapons capable, surface to surface ballistic missiles.
- The first missile of the series, Agni-I was developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (lGMDP) and tested in 1989.
3 . Cyclone’s effect on monsoon onset
Context: The impact of global warming on the monsoons are manifest in its onset, withdrawal, seasonal total rainfall, and extremes. Global warming also affects the cyclones over the Indian Ocean and the typhoons over the northwestern Pacific Ocean.
Reasons for Cyclone’s during Monsoon Onset
- Cyclone formations in the pre-monsoon cyclone season, closer to the monsoon onset, arguably due to the influence of a warmer Arctic Ocean on the winds over the Arabian Sea. The monsoon is of course also affected by the three tropical oceans — Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific; the ‘atmospheric bridge’ from the Arctic; and the oceanic tunnel as well as the atmospheric bridge from the Southern Ocean (a.k.a. the Antarctic Ocean).
- A ‘bridge’ refers to two faraway regions interacting in the atmosphere while a ‘tunnel’ refers to two remote oceanic regions connecting within the ocean.
Significance of cyclone position and its impact on weather system
- Some cyclones in the North Indian Ocean have had both positive and negative impacts on the onset of the monsoon. Since the circulation of winds around the cyclones is in the anticlockwise direction, the location of the cyclone is critical as far as the cyclone’s impact on the transition of the monsoon trough is concerned.
- For example, if a cyclone lies further north in the Bay of Bengal, the back-winds blowing from the southwest to the northeast can pull the monsoon trough forward, and assist in the monsoon’s onset.
- One severe consequence of the anomalous anticyclones is that both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal have warmed by more than 1º C in the pre-monsoon season.
Impact on weather in India
- With the onset of the monsoon in Kerala already delayed, the Meteorological department said the cyclonic storm is expected to critically influence the advance of the monsoon towards the Kerala coast.
- These powerful weather systems in the Arabian Sea spoil the advancement of the monsoon deep inland. Under their influence, the monsoon stream may reach coastal parts but will struggle to penetrate beyond the Western Ghats.
- The southwest monsoon normally sets in over Kerala on June 1 with a standard deviation of about seven days. The IMD had earlier predicted that the monsoon might arrive in the southern state by June 4. While the onset of monsoon in Kerala got further delayed due to the formation of a low-pressure system in the Arabian Sea, it does not mean, according to scientists, that the monsoon will reach other parts of the country late. It also does not impact the total rainfall over the country during the season.
Surge in cyclonic activity around monsoon onset
- According to Climate scientist Roxy Koll, three factors caused the intensification of Cyclone Biparjoy’s intensification —an exceptionally warm Arabian Sea, weak monsoon onset, and favorable Madden-Julian Oscillation conditions in the Indian Ocean.
- This is the second cyclone in the North Indian Ocean within three weeks, following Cyclone Mocha, reaching the intensity of a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm.
- Further, increased cyclonic activity around the monsoon onset has been observed in recent years, like 2021’s Cyclone Tauktae. Scientists link this to rising ocean temperatures and increased moisture availability due to global warming.
- Cyclones and monsoons depend on each other – a strong monsoon will not allow a cyclone to form. It is the weak onset of the monsoon that has resulted in the cyclone, and not the other way around.
- It is uncertain what the cause of the weak onset could be, although it could have been caused by El Niño, a weather phenomenon that takes place when the ocean temperatures rise.
- This rise in temperature causes a change in atmospheric patterns, which weakens the circulation of monsoons above India. Generally, there has been a trend of weaker monsoons in India during El Niño years.
4 . Artificial Intelligence
Context: Any regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) in India would be done through the “prism of user harm”, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar
What is artificial intelligence (AI)?
- Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems.
Specific applications of AI
- Speech Recognition allows an intelligent system to convert human speech into text or code.
- Natural Language Generation enables conversational interaction between humans and computers.
- Computer Vision allows a machine to scan an image and use comparative analysis to identify objects in the image.
- Machine learning focuses on building algorithmic models that can identify patterns and relationships in data.
- Expert systems gain knowledge about a specific subject and can solve problems as accurately as a human expert on this subject.
What are the issues Caused by Artificial Intelligence?
- Threat to Privacy- An AI program that recognizes speech and understands natural language is theoretically capable of understanding each conversation on e-mails and telephones.
- Threat to Human Dignity- AI systems have already started replacing the human beings in few industries. It should not replace people in the sectors where they are holding dignified positions which are pertaining to ethics such as nursing, surgeon, judge, police officer, etc.
- Threat to Safety– The self-improving AI systems can become so mighty than humans that could be very difficult to stop from achieving their goals, which may lead to unintended consequences.
- Lack of transparency of AI tools– AI decisions are not always intelligible to humans.
- AI is not neutral: AI-based decisions are susceptible to inaccuracies, discriminatory outcomes, embedded or inserted bias.
Why is Artificial Intelligence regulation Necessary?
- Regulation of AI can be seen as positive social means to manage the AI control problem, i.e., the need to insure long-term beneficial AI, with other social responses such as doing nothing or banning being seen as impractical, and approaches such as enhancing human capabilities through transhumanism techniques like brain-computer interfaces being seen as potentially complementary.
- Access to AI : The first and most critical reason for the urgency in calling for AI regulation is unlimited access.
- AI decisions and its impact on others : Governments and companies use AI to take decisions that can have a significant impact on human lives. Without proper rules, the AI systems are more likely to be inaccurate and biased as companies have less incentive to invest in safety measures and assure the quality and unbiased nature of its data.
- Biased Results : One of the core arguments favoring AI regulations is that it is known to give biased results based on the inherent biases in the data it is trained on. There have been several instances of racial and gender biases finding their way into AI outcomes. The impact of the bias gets magnified manifold due to AI.
- AI Warfare : AI promises to change the ways of warfare in the years to come. In the near future, AI can be used to create ‘slaughterbots’ or robots that kill targets autonomously without human intervention. The use of AI technology in weapons of mass destruction is a distinct possibility. The race for AI arms should be stopped even before it begins, or it could have disastrous results for world peace.
- Protection of Fundamental Rights : AI regulation is a must to prohibit technologies that violate fundamental rights, such as biometric mass surveillance or predictive policing systems.
AI Regulation and Laws Around the World
- Data science and artificial intelligence legislation began with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. As is evident from the name, this act in the European Union is not only about AI, but it does have a clause that describes the ‘right to explanation’ for the impact of artificial intelligence. 2021’s AI Act legislated in the European Union was more to the point. It classified AI systems into three categories:
- Systems that create an unacceptable amount of risk must be banned
- Systems that can be considered high-risk need to be regulated
- Safe applications, which can be left unregulated
- Canada enacted the Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA) in 2022 to regulate the artificial intelligence.
- The regulation of AI in China is mainly governed by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China’s July 8, 2017 “A Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan” (State Council Document No. 35), in which the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council of the PRC urged the governing bodies of China to promote the development of AI up to 2030.
5 . WHO Report on Potable water
Context: If the Centre succeeds in its marquee Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), a nearly ₹3.6 trillion enterprise to provide piped potable water to all of India, it would avert close to 4,00,000 deaths from diarrhoea, a modelling study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and commissioned by the Jal Shakti Ministry.
Findings of the report
- A modelling study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and commissioned by the Jal Shakti Ministry found that ensuring safely managed drinking water for all households in the country could avert nearly 400,000 deaths caused by diarrheal diseases and prevent approximately 14 million Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) related to these diseases. This achievement alone would result in estimated cost savings of up to $101 billion.
- This report highlights the substantial benefits of the ‘Har Ghar Jal’ program in India.
- The ‘Har Ghar Jal’ report focuses on diarrheal diseases as they contribute significantly to the overall disease burden related to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) issues. The analysis underscores the urgent need to address these diseases and the potential for substantial gains in public health and economic well-being.
- Prior to 2019, the situation of water supply in rural areas was challenging. The report reveals that in 2018, 36% of India’s total population, including 44% of the rural population, lacked access to improved drinking-water sources on their premises. The direct consumption of unsafe drinking water had severe health and societal consequences. The analysis indicates that in 2019, unsafe drinking water, along with inadequate sanitation and hygiene, contributed to 1.4 million deaths and 74 million DALYs globally.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) monitors various Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators, including the proportion of the population using safely managed drinking water services (Indicator 6.1.1) and mortality related to unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene (Indicator 3.9.2).
- WHO has developed methods and tools to estimate the health gains associated with improvements in water, sanitation, and hygiene, particularly in reducing diarrheal diseases and other related health outcomes.
- The report emphasizes the tremendous time and effort saved for women and girls through the provision of tap water.
- In 2018, women in India spent an average of 45.5 minutes daily collecting water to meet household needs. Overall, households without on-premises water spent a staggering 66.6 million hours each day collecting water, with the majority (55.8 million hours) occurring in rural areas. Universal coverage through tap water provision will result in substantial savings by eliminating the need for daily water collection efforts.
About ‘Har Ghar Jal’ programme:
- The Har Ghar Jal Programme, implemented by the Jal Jeevan Mission under the Ministry of Jal Shakti, was announced by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on August 15, 2019.
- The program aims to provide every rural household with affordable and regular access to an adequate supply of safe drinking water through taps.
- The program’s components align with the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene (JMP) to monitor progress on SDG 6.1 for safely managed drinking water services
6 . El Nino
Context: Seven years after 2016, El Niño is back in the Pacific Ocean, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States federal administration.
What is El Nino?
- El Nino, which in Spanish means “little boy”, is a climate pattern that develops along the equatorial Pacific Ocean after intervals of a few years ranging between 2 and 7 years.
- Essentially, water on the surface of the ocean sees an unusual warming in a band straddling the equator in the central and east-central pacific — broadly extending from the International Date line and 120°W longitude, i.e., off the Pacific coast of South America, west of the Galapagos islands.
How and why does El Niño happen?
- When the so-called El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is in its neutral phase, the trade winds blow west along the equator and take the warm water from South America towards Asia. However, during an event of El Niño, these trade winds weaken (or may even reverse) — and instead of blowing from the east (South America) to the west (Indonesia), they could turn into westerlies.
- In this situation, as the winds blow from the west to east, they cause masses of warm water to move into the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, and reach the coast of western America. During such years, there prevails warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures along the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
What are the impacts of El Nino?
- El Nino can have a significant impact on weather patterns around the world. It is typically associated with droughts in Australia, flooding in Indonesia and the Philippines, and increased hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean.
- For India, El Nino phases are typically associated with drier-than-usual southwest monsoon seasons and increased heatwaves and droughts across the country. Such impacts on weather can cause damage to crops and livestock, food shortages and inflation, all of which can indirectly impact India’s economy.
7 . Facts for Prelims
- The makers of ‘Jaipur foot’ has offered to provide prosthetic limbs to those who have lost their legs in the recent Odisha train accident.
- The Jaipur foot centre founded in 1975 by D R Mehta, a a Padma Bhushan awardee, is known for providing artificial limbs to physically challenged people.
- It is a rubber-based prosthetic leg for people with below-knee amputations. The Jaipur foot consists of a rubber core, wooden block and vulcanised rubber coating. It is a soft multi axial artificial foot and provides enough dorsiflexion to permit an amputee to squat.
- Use of the Jaipur foot is limited to prosthetic users at the level of household and limited community ambulation, since it is unsuitable for high level activities and sports or if the user must transverse uneven terrain.
- Design- The Jaipur foot is composed of a wooden ankle and a rubber heel and forefoot section, all surrounded by a thin outer layer of tire cord, a rubber composite.
- It is a modification of the Solid Ankle Cushioned Heel (SACH) foot, with the wooden ankle of the SACH foot replaced with a more flexible block of rubber, which allows the user to squat or sit cross-legged.
- The original version was made primarily of rubber, while a later version is made of polyurethane, which is lighter. However, the Jaipur foot is still heavier than standard prosthetics.
- Special Features- The Jaipur foot has some advantages relative to conventional SACH feet, especially in the range of movements it offers. It is possible to move the ankle and foot thanks to the shorter keel and rubber ankle. The materials used at the foot-end are waterproof and somewhat mimic a real foot. These features help amputees using the foot assimilate more easily in a semi-urban or rural setup in the Indian subcontinent and other developing countries.
Namdapa National Park
- Namdapha National Park is a large protected area in Arunachal Pradesh of Northeast India. The park was established in 1983.
- With more than 1,000 floral and about 1,400 faunal species, it is a biodiversity hotspot in the Eastern Himalayas.
- The national park harbours the northernmost lowland evergreen rainforests in the world at 27°N latitude. It also harbours extensive dipterocarp forests, comprising the northwestern parts of the Mizoram-Manipur-Kachin rain forests ecoregion.
- It is the fourth largest national park in India.
- It is crossed from east to west by the Noa Dihing River that originates at the Chaukan Pass on the Indo-Myanmar border.
- The land cover changes with increasing elevation from tropical evergreen forest to temperate broadleaf and mixed forest.
- Fauna- It is only park in the World to have the four Feline species of big cat namely the Tiger (Panthera Tigris), Leopard (Panthera Pardus), Snow Leopard (Panthera Uncia) and Clouded Leopard (Neofelis Nebulosa) and numbers of Lesser cat.
- A number of primate species are seen in the park, such as Assamese macaque, pig-tailed macaque, stump-tailed macaque and number of the distinctive Hoolock Gibbons (Hylobates Hoolock), highly endangered and only ‘ape’ species found in India dwells in this impenetrable virgin forest.
- Sapria himalayana and Balanophora are root parasites related to Rafflesia recorded from the area
- FAME-India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India) is a government scheme launched in 2011 as a part of the National Mission on Electric Mobility.
- The scheme aims to promote the adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles in India, with the ultimate goal of reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, reducing air pollution, and mitigating the impact of climate change.
- The scheme provides incentives to manufacturers and buyers of electric and hybrid vehicles and aims to increase demand for these vehicles by making them more affordable and accessible.
- The scheme has been extended multiple times since its launch, and its current phase is valid till 2024. Under the scheme, the government provides incentives to manufacturers of electric and hybrid vehicles to reduce their production costs and also provides subsidies to buyers of these vehicles to make them more affordable.
- The incentives provided under the scheme are determined based on the category of the vehicle and the battery specification. The scheme also provides funding for the development of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, with the goal of creating a robust charging network that can support the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in the country.
Phases of the scheme
- Phase I of the scheme was implemented by the concerned authorities and focused on four key areas: demand creation, technology platform, pilot projects, and charging infrastructure.
- The government installed 427 charging stations during Phase I, and the scheme was supported by an allotment of ₹ 895 crores to cover operations. Nearly 2.8 lakh electric vehicles were supported with an amount of ₹ 359 crores.
- Phase II of the scheme focuses on the electrification of public and shared transportation. The government has allocated a budget of ₹ 10,000 crores for this phase. The scheme aims to provide incentives to various categories of vehicles, including electric two-wheelers, electric four-wheelers, hybrid four-wheelers, e-rickshaws, and e-buses.
- Under the scheme, 10 lakh registered electric two-wheelers will receive an incentive of ₹ 20,000 each, and 35,000 electric 4-wheelers with an ex-factory price of ₹ 15 lakhs will receive an incentive of ₹ 1.5 lahks each.
- Hybrid 4-wheelers with an ex-factory price of ₹ 15 lakh will receive ₹ 13,000 – ₹ 20,000 as an incentive, and 5 lakh e-rickshaws can avail ₹ 50,000 as incentives. Nearly 8000 e-buses with a maximum ex-factory price of ₹ 2 crores will receive an incentive of ₹ 50 lahks each.
- In addition to providing incentives to vehicles, the government aims to establish 2700 charging stations in metros, smart cities, hilly states, and million-plus cities across the country.
- The grid measurement will follow a 3 km x 3 km layout. The government also plans to cover highways and establish charging stations on both sides of the road with a gap of 25 km between two consecutive stations.
What are the concerns?
- Several concerns have been raised about the implementation of the scheme.
- It is not ensuring enough demand for electric and hybrid vehicles before encouraging their manufacture. This could lead to an oversupply of such vehicles that may not find buyers, leading to losses for manufacturers.
- Another concern is that FAME is discouraging the use of smaller electric vehicles, such as electric scooters, which have the potential to revolutionize urban transportation in India. This is because the incentives provided by the scheme are linked to the size of the battery of the vehicle.
- As a result, approximately 95% of electric two-wheeler models made in India will not receive incentives under FAME-II, as they have batteries smaller than 2.5 kWh.
- This is despite the fact that electric scooters have become popular for ride-sharing in many Western cities and are considered a convenient and environmentally friendly mode of transportation. Electric two- and three-wheelers are also considered better suited to Indian road conditions.
- RuPay is a brand of NPCI under which it operates the card scheme. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is a pioneer organization in the field of retail payments in India. It is a body promoted by RBI and has presently ten core promoter banks (State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank, Bank of Baroda, Union bank of India, Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Citibank and HSBC).
- The nature of NPCI’s initiatives and objectives includes it under the “Not for Profit Company” under the provisions of Section 25 of the Companies Act 1956 and more recently under the Section 8 of the Companies Act 2013.
- RuPay is the first-of-its-kind Global Card payment network from India, with wide acceptance at Shops, ATMs, and online. It is a highly secure network that protects against anti-phishing. The name, derived from the words ‘Rupee and ‘Payment’, emphasizes that it is India’s very own initiative for Card payments.
- Presently, RuPay cards are issued by more than 1,100 banks which includes Public Sector Banks, Private Sector Banks, Regional Rural and Co-Operative Banks.
- Currently Rupay offers Credit, Debit, Prelpaid and Government scheme cards
- Bharat Ecommerce Payment Gateway (BEPG) is the new e-commerce system to enhance the current e-commerce experience for the RuPay Cardholders. RuPay card aims to deliver a convenient and easy e-commerce experience without compromising on the security and risk.
National Exit Test (NExT)
- The National Exit Test (NExT) will be conducted next year, in 2024, and the examination is likely to be organized by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
- According to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Act, the NExT exam will serve as a common qualifying final year MBBS examination, a licentiate exam to practice modern medicine and for merit-based admission to PG courses, and a screening exam for foreign medical graduates who wish to practice in India.
- Last year, the government invoked the provisions of the NMC Act by which the time limit for conducting the NExT exam for the final year MBBS was extended till September 2024.
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning a third Lunar South Pole Exploration Mission, named Chandrayaan-3 (C-3), to be launched later in June-July 2023 by Launch Vehicle Mark III (LVM MkIII) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.
- The moon’s South Pole region is of particular interest due to the possible presence of water in areas covered in perpetual shadow—the Dark Side of the Moon. These craters also serve as ‘cold traps’ and may reveal evidence of the early beginnings of the solar system.
- This mission will be a repeat exercise of the previous Chandrayaan-2 (C-2) mission of July 22, 2019, to demonstrate end-to-end capability in safe landing and roving on the lunar surface, but with only a Lander and Rover. The failure of the Vikram Lander to soft land on the moon resulted in India undertaking another mission to test the landing capabilities required for the Lunar Polar Exploration Mission.
- Chandrayaan-3 comprises three parts—a Propulsion module, a Lander module, and a Rover module, all of which are developed indigenously. The mission aims at showcasing new technologies necessary for interplanetary expeditions. The Lander module is equipped to land softly at a designated location on the moon, while the Rover module carries out chemical analysis of the lunar surface during its mobility. Both the Lander and Rover modules will carry scientific instruments to conduct experiments on the moon.
- The primary function of Chandrayaan-3’s Propulsion module is to carry the Lander from the launch vehicle injection till the final lunar 100-kilometre circular polar orbit.Apart from carrying the Lander and Rover configuration till a 100-kilometre lunar orbit, the Propulsion Module also has one scientific payload as a value addition, which will be operated after separation of the Lander module.
- The preferred landing spot for Chandrayaan-3 is located between the Manzius U and Boguslawski M craters on the moon. Additionally, the landing area offers ample flexibility for the Lander to touch down at any point within a 4 km x 2.4 km region, as long as it is within 100 mts of the Lander’s hovering point.