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16th May 2023

Palghat Gap


The Palghat Gap has garnered attention due to a recent study that highlighted the region's remarkable biodiversity, with over 450 tree species, including ancient ones like Magnolia champaca that have existed for over 130 million years.


About Palghat Gap

  • The Palghat Gap, often referred to as a significant break in the Western Ghats, spans approximately 40 kilometers in width.
  • It is characterized by the towering Nilgiris and Anamalai hills, both reaching elevations exceeding 2,000 meters above sea level, on either side.
  • Throughout history, the Palghat Gap has served as a crucial gateway into the state of Kerala, functioning as a corridor for both road and rail transportation that connects Coimbatore to Palakkad.
  • The renowned Bharathappuzhariver flows through this region.
  • In contrast to the lush tropical rainforests prevalent in the Western Ghats, the vegetation in the Palghat Gap is classified as dry evergreen forest.
  • Moreover, this geographical feature serves as a notable demarcation point for the region's flora and fauna.
    • For instance, certain species of frogs can only be found on one side of the Gap.

Shear zones are weak regions in the earth’s crust.

Understanding geography of the gap

  • The Palghat Gap, a geological shear zone stretching from east to west, has its origins in the drifting of continental shelves following the separation of Australia and Africa from the Gondwana landmass.
  • About 100 million years ago, India and Madagascar were part of the same landmass until volcanic activity led to their split, which occurred in the location where the Palghat Gap is situated.
    • A similar split is observed in the Ranotsara Gap on the eastern side of
  • Overall, the Palghat Gap's geological origins can be traced back to the separation of landmasses around 100 million years ago, with potential factors like ancient waterways and genetic variations contributing to the ecological differences observed in the area.

Gaps in AePS abused by cybercriminals


There has been a noticeable rise in fraud related to Aadhaar-enabled Payment Services (AePS).


What is Aadhaar-enabled Payment Services (AePS)?

  • Aadhaar-enabled Payment Services (AePS) is a bank-led model that facilitates online financial transactions at Point-of-Sale (PoS) and Micro ATMs.
  • It enables secure transactions through the business correspondent of any bank by leveraging Aadhaar authentication.
  • AePS eliminates the need for OTPs, bank account details, and other financial information, streamlining the process.
  • AePS requires only the bank name, Aadhaar number, and fingerprint captured during Aadhaar enrolment as inputs for various transactions.
    • These transactions include cash deposit, cash withdrawal, balance inquiry, mini statement, Aadhaar to Aadhaar fund transfer, authentication, and BHIM Aadhaar pay.

Are AePS transactions enabled by default?

  • The default enabling status of AePS transactions is not explicitly mentioned by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) or the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
  • According to Cashless India, a website managed by MeitY, AePS does not require any activation; however, the user's bank account should be linked to their Aadhaar number.
  • Additionally, users who intend to receive benefits or subsidies under schemes governed by section 7 of the Aadhaar Act are required to provide their Aadhaar number to the banking service provider.
  • Aadhaar is also the preferred method for KYC (Know Your Customer) in the banking sector, which often leads to the automatic enabling of AePS for most bank account holders.

What are the ways to secure Aadhaar biometric information?

  • Aadhaar (Sharing of Information) Regulations, 2016: The UIDAI is proposing an amendment to theregulations, which will require entities in possession of an Aadhaar number to not share details unless the Aadhaar numbers have been redacted or blacked out through appropriate means, both in print and electronic form.
  • Authentication:The UIDAI has also implemented a new two-factor authentication mechanism that uses a machine-learning-based security system, combining finger minutiae and finger image capture to check the liveness of a fingerprint.
  • Locking Aadhaar:Additionally, users are also advised to ensure that they lock their Aadhaar information to ensure that their biometric information, even if compromised, cannot be used to initiate financial transactions. Aadhaar can be unlocked when the need for biometric authentication arises, such as for property registration and passport renewals, after which it can again be locked.

Transformer, the ML model that powers ChatGPT


The Transformer, the machine learning model that powers ChatGPT, has gained significant attention and is making headlines.


What is Machine Learning (ML)?

  • Machine learning (ML), a subset of artificial intelligence, trains computers to perform tasks using structured data, language, audio, or images by presenting examples of inputs and their corresponding desired outputs.
    • Unlike traditional computer programming that relies on explicit instructions, ML models learn to generate desired outputs by adjusting numerous parameters, often in the millions.
  • This enables the model to generalize its knowledge and make predictions or generate responses based on new inputs.
  • ML's ability to learn from data and adapt its behavior makes it a powerful tool for solving complex problems and handling diverse types of information.

What is ‘attention’?

  • Attention is a fundamental concept in machine learning that enables a model to determine the importance of different inputs.
    • For example, in translation tasks, attention allows the model to select and weigh words from its memory bank, aiding in the decision of the next word to generate. Similarly, when describing an image, attention helps the model focus on relevant parts of the image while generating subsequent words.
  • A similar observation applies to image captioning.
  • For an image of a “bird flying above water”, the model is never told which region of the image corresponds to “bird” and which “water”.
  • Instead, by training on several image-caption pairs with the word “bird”, it discovers common patterns in the image to associate the flying thing with “bird”.
  • One captivating aspect of attention-based models is their ability to discover meaningful patterns and relationships through extensive data analysis. By parsing large volumes of data, these models uncover valuable insights and learn intricate dependencies.
  • Transformers are attention models on steroids. They employ multiple attention layers within both the encoder and decoder components.
    • This architecture enables transformers to establish significant contextual understanding across input sentences or images in the encoder, and facilitate effective communication from the decoder to the encoder during tasks such as generating translated sentences or describing images.
    • Transformers take attention to new heights, allowing for enhanced performance and comprehensive learning in a wide range of machine learning applications.

Green Open Access Rules 2022


In an attempt to enable open access to green power in the country, the government has asked the industry to set targets under Green Open Access Rules 2022.


What are Green Open Access Rules?

  • The Green Open Access Rules were notified in June 2022 to further accelerate India's renewable energy programmes. These rules were notified for promoting generation, purchase and consumption of green energy including through waste-to-energy plants.

In November 2022, a green energy open access portal, was launched allowing consumers with a 100 KW-sanctioned load to get a supply of renewables.

  • It also enables a simplified procedure for the open access to green power.
  • Green Energy Open Access Rules, 2022 are in line with NDC (nationally determined contribution) target for 2030.
    • The government has been targeting to cut emissions in India to net zero by 2070 and aims to achieve 500 GW renewable power capacity, reduce emissions by one billion tonnes and an emissions intensity of the GDP by 45 percent by 2030.

India’s renewable energy capacity

  • In March 2023, India had a renewable energy capacity of 168.96 GW, with 82 GW at different stages of implementation and 41 GW under the tendering stage.
  • This included 10.77 GW of biopower, 51.79 GW of hydel power, 64.38 GW of solar power and 42.02 GW of wind power.
  • As per the REN21 Renewables 2022 Global Status Report, India ranked 4th globally in Renewable Energy Installed capacity, wind power capacity and solar power capacity.

Comprehensive Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA)


A free trade agreement between India and four-nation bloc EFTA is likely to help enhance two-way commerce, investment flows, job creation and economic growth.



  • India’s Commerce and Industry Minister discussed modalities of engagement for working towards a comprehensive Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) with representatives of European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states - Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
  • The delegations agreed to ramp up their efforts and continue discussions at a steady pace, with several more meetings planned over the coming months, to arrive at a common understanding on critical issues pertaining to TEPA.

What is TEPA?

  • A free trade agreement between the two regions is officially dubbed as TEPA.
  • Under such pacts, two trading partners
    • significantly reduce or eliminatecustoms duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them
    • eases norms to promote trade in services and investments

About European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

  • The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) is an intergovernmental organisation set up for the promotion of free trade and economic integration to the benefit of its four Member States – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland– and the benefit of their trading partners around the globe.
  • EFTA countries are not part of the European Union (EU).
  • It was founded as an alternative for states that did not wish to join the European Community.

India’s trade with EFTA

  • India's exports to EFTA countries during April-February 2022-23 stood at $1.67 billion as against $1.74 billion in 2021-22.
  • Imports aggregated at $15 billion during the 11-month period as compared to $25.5 billion in 2021-22.
  • The trade gap is in favour of the EFTA group.

Significant benefits

  • A TEPA between EFTA and India could bring significant economic benefits, such as
    • integrated and resilient supply chains
    • new opportunities for businesses and individuals on both sides
    • increased trade and investment flows, job creation, and economic growth

Short News Article

International Relations

India-Indonesia bilateral exercise 'Samudra Shakti-23'

 The 4th edition of the India-Indonesia Bilateral exercise, Samudra Shakti-23, is scheduled from 14-19 May 2023.

Exercise ‘Samudra Shakti’

  • Exercise ‘Samudra Shakti’ was conceived in 2018 as a bilateral Indian Navy-Indonesian Navy exercise in pursuance of India’s Act East Policy.
  • The exercise has matured in complexity over the last three editions and involves the conduct of complex maritime operations including Military Interdiction Operations (MIO), Cross Deck Landings, Air Defence serials, Practice Weapon Firings, Replenishment Approaches and Tactical Manoeuvres.
  • The 3rd edition of ‘Samudra Shakti’ was conducted off the approaches to Sunda Strait, Indonesia in September 2021.


Polity & Governance (GS-II)

Meri LiFE, Mera Swachh Shehar

The government launched the ‘Meri LiFE, Mera Swachh Shehar’.


  • This campaign aims to champion, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (RRR) concept of waste management. 
  • Under this nationwide campaign, RRR Centres or one-stop collection centres will be set up where citizens can give their used clothes, shoes, old books, toys and plastic to be reused or recycled.

Polity & Governance (GS-II)

Data Governance Quality Index

The Data Governance Quality Index (DGQI) has been recently released by Niti Aayog.


  • The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) has scored 4.7 out of 5 and excelled in data governance.
    • The National Technology Centre for Ports, Waterways, and Coasts at IIT Madras has assisted the ministry to improve the management information system.
    • NTCPW functions as the assistant organisation for MoPSW in facilitating the technology. 

What is Data Governance Quality Index (DGQI)?

  • Conducted by:Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office (DMEO), NITI Aayog
  • The DGQI survey aims to measure the maturity level of administrative data systems and their use in decision-making of various Ministries and Departments on the implementation of Central Sector Schemes (CS) and Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS).
  • Themes:The DGQI assessment encompasses six pivotal themes, including Data Generation, Data Quality, Use of Technology, Data Analysis, Use and Dissemination, Data Security and HR Capacity, and Case Studies.

Economy (GS-III)

Centre for Processing Accelerated Corporate Exit (C-PACE)

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has set up the Centre for Processing Accelerated Corporate Exit (C-PACE) to centralise the process of striking off companies from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) Register.

  • Set up by:Ministry of Corporate Affairs
  • Location: Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) in Manesar, Haryana.
  • The establishment of C-PACE is part of MCA’s efforts towards ease of doing business and ease of exit for companies.
  • The C-PACE institution will be operational through the Registrar of Companies (RoC) for the purpose of processing and disposal of applications.
  • The C-PACE will help keep the registry clean and provide stakeholders with more meaningful data.
  • With the establishment of the C-PACE, companies can look forward to a hassle-free exit process.

Science & Technology (GS-III)

Promising new Alzheimer's drugs

For the second time, an experimental drug has been shown to reduce the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

In January this year, FDA granted accelerated approval to lecanemab.

About the drug

  • A US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly announced that its monoclonal antibody donanemab slowed mental decline by 35% for some participants in a 1,736-person trial — a rate comparable to that for competitor drug lecanemab.
    • Like lecanemab, donanemab targets amyloid protein, which is thought to cause dementia by accumulating in the brain and damaging neurons. 

Alzheimer’s disease

  • In Alzheimer’s disease the neurons stop functioning, lose connections with other neurons, and dies.
  • Alzheimer’s disrupts processes vital to neurons and their networks, including communication, metabolism, and repair.
  • Effects:
    • Alzheimer’s disease typically destroys neurons and their connections in parts of the brain involved in memory, including the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus.
    • Eventually, many other areas of the brain are damaged. Over time, a person with Alzheimer’s gradually loses his or her ability to live and function independently.
    • Ultimately, the disease is fatal.



Delving into the verdict on the Shiv Sena issue


Recently the Supreme Court (SC) gave judgment on the Maharastra political crisis

Key-highlights of the SC judgment

  • Floor test was wrong: SC stated that the governor did not have any material before him to suggest that incumbent government had lost the confidence of the house.
  • Not to involve in party Conflicts: SC stated that governor is a constitutional authority and it should not involve itself in the intra-party disputes.
  • Could not restore Chief-minister ship: SC stated that Uddhav Thackeray resigned before the floor test. Thus the court cannot restore the Chief Ministership of the Uddhav Thackeray.
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