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21st March 2024 (10 Topics)

21st March 2024

QUIZ - 21th March 2024

5 Questions

5 Minutes

Context

Amid Nigeria's worst economic crisis in years, the nation is confronted with serious security challenges, particularly a resurgence of kidnappings in its troubled northern regions. Since the end of February, over 600 individuals, including at least 300 schoolchildren, have been abducted in the northeastern and northwestern parts of the country.

1: Dimension- Crisis Unfolding

  • Chronology of Events: The spate of kidnappings commenced with a mass abduction in northeastern Borno, where suspected Boko Haram militants kidnapped over 200 internally displaced people. Subsequent incidents included the abduction of students and civilians in Kaduna and Sokoto States.
  • Magnitude of the Crisis: Over 600 individuals, including 300 schoolchildren, have been kidnapped in the northeastern and northwestern regions of Nigeria since late February, marking a significant escalation in security challenges.
  • Humanitarian Impact: The recurrent mass abductions have drawn condemnation from international human rights activists, with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights emphasizing the urgency of identifying and holding perpetrators accountable.

2: Dimension- Identifying the Culprits

  • Primary Suspects: Initially, Boko Haram was suspected due to its history of violence and involvement in previous abductions. However, with no organization claiming responsibility, suspicions have also turned towards local armed groups, commonly known as bandits.
  • Evolution of Bandits: These local armed groups, evolving from conflicts over land and resources, have become organized entities engaged in looting, ransom kidnappings, and control over valuable assets, exacerbating security challenges.
  • Complex Security Landscape: Nigeria faces multifaceted security threats across all geopolitical zones, including those from Boko Haram, bandit groups, criminal gangs, sea piracy, and armed separatists.

3: Dimension- Root Causes and Motivations

  • Economic Factors: The surge in kidnappings is fueled by economic distress, high unemployment rates, inflation, and food insecurity, exacerbated by Nigeria's struggling economy and monetary policies.
  • Ransom as a Motivator: Ransom payments have become the primary motivation behind kidnappings, with armed gangs amassing significant profits and controlling territories, posing threats to national security and agricultural areas.
  • Social Impact: Kidnappings not only perpetuate cycles of fear and exploitation but also threaten the safety and education of vulnerable populations, including schoolchildren.

4: Dimension- Government Response and Challenges Ahead

  • Security Operations: While government forces are working to secure the safe release of victims, there is resistance to paying ransoms, supported by stringent laws enacted to deter such payments.
  • Dialogue vs. Force: Activists emphasize the importance of initiating dialogue with the perpetrators to resolve conflicts, expressing concerns over the potential consequences of using force and the need for comprehensive strategies.
  • Long-term Solutions: Addressing the root causes of kidnappings requires comprehensive approaches encompassing socioeconomic reforms, improved security measures, and effective coordination between government agencies.

Mains Question

Q Examine the role of socioeconomic disparities, including economic distress, unemployment, and food insecurity, in fueling the rise of kidnapping as a 'lucrative' industry in Nigeria. How can effective governance address these root causes?

    Context

    Karnataka became the third State in South India to ban the use of certain colouring agents in cotton candy and gobi manchurian that are found to be harmful.

    1: Dimension- Survey Results

    • Extent of Contamination: The survey conducted by the Public Health Department revealed alarming findings regarding the presence of harmful chemicals in food samples.
    • Unsafe Samples: Out of 25 cotton candy samples collected, 15 were deemed unsafe due to the presence of added colours. Similarly, among the 171 samples of gobi manchurian collected, 107 were declared unsafe as they contained added colours.
    • Immediate Action: Prompt action was taken by the government following the survey results to address the issue of contaminated food items.

    2: Dimension- Harmful Chemicals

    • Identified Substances: The unsafe samples of cotton candy contained traces of sunset yellow, tartrazine, and rhodamine-b, while unsafe gobi manchurian samples had tartrazine, sunset yellow, and carmoisine.
    • Regulatory Restrictions: Tartrazine, though an approved artificial food color, has restrictions on its usage, especially in freshly prepared food items. Prolonged consumption of snacks with artificial colors is linked to severe health issues, including cancer, according to health officials.
    • Public Health Concerns: The presence of these harmful chemicals in food items poses significant risks to public health, leading to the urgent need for regulatory action.

    3: Dimension- Penalties and Enforcement

    • Legal Ramifications: The Food Safety and Standards Act imposes strict penalties, including fines and jail terms, for violating regulations related to food additives.
    • Imposed Penalties: Offenders using banned chemical substances in food products face fines starting from ?10 lakh and imprisonment ranging from seven years to life imprisonment.
    • Immediate Enforcement: The ban on harmful chemicals is immediately effective, and stringent enforcement measures, including license cancellations and random checks, will be undertaken.

    Way Forward

    • Awareness Campaigns: The government aims to raise awareness among manufacturers and consumers regarding the hazards of consuming food items containing artificial colors.
    • Consumer Caution: Consumers are urged to exercise caution and minimize the consumption of food items prepared with artificial colors.
    • Expanded Scrutiny: Apart from gobi manchurian, other popular food products potentially containing harmful colorants, such as kebabs, are likely to undergo scrutiny.

    Fact Box: FSSAI

    The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is a statutory body that regulates the manufacture, storage, distribution, sale, and import of food, and establishes standards to ensure food safety.

    FSSAI was established under Food Safety and Standards, 2006, which consolidates various acts and orders that have previously handled food-related issues in various Ministries and Departments.

    Mains Practice Question

    Q Critically analyze the legal framework governing food safety standards in India, with a specific focus on the enforcement mechanisms for regulating the use of artificial additives.

    Context

    Recent findings from the 'Income and Wealth Inequality in India' report highlight the substantial increase in the income share of the wealthiest 1% of Indians, exceeding levels observed during British colonial rule.

    Key-highlights of the Report

    • Report Title: Income and wealth inequality in India
    • In 2022, 22.6% of the national income went to the top 1% of Indians.
    • In 1951, their share in the income was only 11.5% and even lower in the 1980s — just before India opened-up its economy — at 6%.
    • The share of the top 10% of Indians too had increased — from 36.7% of national income in 1951 to 57.7% in 2022.
    • The bottom 50% of Indians earned only 15% of the national income in 2022, compared with 20.6% in 1951.
    • The middle 40% of Indians also recorded a sharp fall in their share of income from 42.8% to 27.3% in the period.
    • 10,000 richest Indians — the top 0.001% of the income pyramid — earned 2.1% of the national income. The top 0.01% and top 0.1% earned 4.3% and 9.6% of the national income respectively.

    1: Dimension- Historical Trends in Income Distribution

    • Evolution of Income Share: The top 1% of Indians witnessed a remarkable increase in their income share, rising from 11.5% in 1951 to 22.6% in 2022, and surpassing even colonial-era levels.
    • Rise of the Top 10%: Similarly, the top 10% saw a significant surge in their income share, from 36.7% in 1951 to 57.7% in 2022.
    • Decline of the Bottom 50% and Middle 40%: In contrast, the income share of the bottom 50% and middle 40% steadily declined over the years, exacerbating income inequality.

    2: Dimension- Widening Income Disparity Post-Liberalization

    • Impact of Liberalization: The income gap between the top 10% and the middle 40% widened significantly post-liberalization in the 1990s, leading to a sharp increase in income inequality.
    • Steady Decline of Bottom 50%: Despite marginal increases in the 1980s, the income share of the bottom 50% has steadily fallen, exacerbating socioeconomic disparities.
    • Historic Peak of Top 1%: In 2022, the top 1% reached a historic peak in their income share, surpassing levels seen during British colonial rule, highlighting the rapid increase in income inequality.

    3: Dimension- Comparative Analysis with Global Economies

    • India's Position: Despite slower income growth compared to other economies like China and Vietnam, India's top 1%'s share of national income exceeds that of many advanced countries, including the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Brazil.
    • Global Trends: Globally, income inequality has been on the rise, with the wealthiest individuals accruing a disproportionate share of national income. Reports from the World Inequality Lab indicate that income inequality has increased in many countries, including India, since the 1980s.
    • Policy Implications: The widening income gap underscores the urgent need for policies aimed at promoting equitable economic growth and addressing socioeconomic disparities. According to experts at the International Monetary Fund, addressing income inequality is crucial for sustainable and inclusive economic development.

    4: Dimension- Implications and Analysis

    • Urgent Need for Policy Intervention: The widening income gap underscores the urgent need for policies aimed at promoting equitable economic growth and addressing socioeconomic disparities.
    • Social Cohesion and Development: Failure to address income inequality could have far-reaching implications for India's social cohesion and long-term development prospects.
    • Long-term Development Prospects: Addressing income inequality is imperative for India's sustainable and inclusive development. According to the United Nations Development Programme, reducing income inequality is crucial for achieving sustainable development goals and ensuring that economic growth benefits all segments of society.

    Fact Box: Gini Coefficient

    The Gini index, or Gini coefficient, measures income distribution across a population. Developed by Italian statistician Corrado Gini in 1912, it often serves as a gauge of economic inequality.

    Mains Practice Question

    Q Evaluate the effectiveness of existing policy measures in mitigating income inequality in India.

    Context

    Apple has changed the paradigm of spatial computing by launching it’s vision pro headset.

    What is mixed reality?

    Mixed reality (MR) is a way to combine the physical and digital worlds, allowing users to interact with both real and virtual elements and environments. MR uses next-generation imaging and sensing technologies, such as computer vision, graphical processing, and cloud computing, to create natural 3D interactions between humans, computers, and the environment.

    How it is different from Virtual Reality (VR)

    • Virtual Reality, or VR, is a simulated and immersive experience projected by a device into the user’s sight.
    • However Mixed reality is a hybrid of VR and AR and aims to offer the best of both worlds.
    • For instance, while it uses a headset just like VR, seeing through a translucent viewport or glass, it also projects visuals on top of our environment.

    Context

    BEML conducted test firing of indigenous 100 HP engine for the main battle tank

    Features of Engine

    • High power to weight ratio
    • Operatibility in extreme conditions including high altitudes, Sub-zero temperatures

    Main Benefactor

    The major benefactor in the immediate run will be the Arjun MK-1As, whose production has been delayed to lack of engine supply by a German firm.

    Context

    Scientists have said that entanglement with fishing nets is having devastating impact on right whales

    About

    • Right whales are three species of large baleen whales of the genus Eubalaena: the North Atlantic right whale (E. glacialis), the North Pacific right whale (E. japonica) and the Southern right whale (E. australis).
    • They are classified in the family Balaenidae with the bowhead whale.
    • Right whales have rotund bodies with arching rostrums, V-shaped blowholes and dark gray or black skin.
    • The most distinguishing feature of a right whale is the rough patches of skin on its head, which appear white due to parasitism by whale lice.
    • IUCN Status: Endangered

    S. No.

    Term

    About

    1.        

    Main Battle Tank

    A main battle tank (MBT) is a heavily armored and armed military vehicle designed for frontline combat. MBTs are versatile, combining firepower, mobility, and protection to engage enemy forces on varied terrains.

    2.        

    Fact- Checking

    Fact-checking is the process of verifying the factual accuracy of questioned reporting and statements.

    3.        

    Swiss Challenge

    A Swiss challenge is a public procurement method that allows private companies to bid for government contracts. In this method, a public authority receives an unsolicited bid for a project or service, and then publishes the bid and invites other companies to match or improve it. The first bidder to match the offer receives the project

    4.        

    In vitro Fertilization (IVF)

    In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a procedure that helps people who have difficulty conceiving. During IVF, mature eggs are collected from the ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a lab. The fertilized eggs, called embryos, are then placed in the uterus, where the baby develops.

    5.        

    Green Corridors

    A green corridor is a dedicated route that allows for the free passage of organs between a hospital where an organ is harvested and another hospital where it is intended for transplantation.

    6.        

    Integrated River Basin Management

    It refers to a basin-wide approach to river planning, backed by quality data sharing on water availability, biodiversity and pollution between all stakeholders.

    Context:

    The focus on disease elimination, particularly in regions like India, raises critical considerations regarding public health strategies, resource allocation, and regional implementation.

    On Disease Elimination Strategy:

    • Differentiating Elimination from Eradication: Disease elimination aims at halting transmission in defined regions, distinct from eradication, which necessitates permanent cessation globally. The strategy energizes public health systems, enhancing primary care and surveillance.
    • Benefits and Challenges: Rigorous certification requirements improve diagnostics and attract international support. However, resource intensity may strain weak health systems, necessitating careful cost-benefit analysis and political commitment.
    • Strategic Focus: Prioritizing diseases with high impact and low prevalence for elimination allows for feasible outcomes. Initial disease control efforts pave the way for understanding elimination processes and strengthening health systems.

    Need for Surveillance Systems

    • Investment in Surveillance: Developing robust surveillance systems, laboratory capacities, and workforce training are essential for effective disease tracking and confirmation, ensuring continual availability of resources post-elimination.
    • Tailored Approaches: While nationwide elimination may be challenging within set timelines, targeting specific diseases in certain regions, like kala azar in limited states, allows for achievable goals and localized strategies.
    • Regional Collaboration: Regional elimination efforts benefit from multisectoral collaboration, innovation, and resource reallocation. National ownership with phased regional scaling ensures effective monitoring and control of reintroduction.
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    Context:

    The digitization of government operations and the proliferation of citizen data in India underscore the need for effective governance frameworks for Non-Personal Data (NPD), crucial for maximizing data-driven governance and economic growth.

    Non-Personal Data (NPD) Governance:

    • Potential Economic Impact: Reports suggest that integrating NPD into public services could add significantly to India's GDP by 2025. Application of advanced analytics to NPD can inform governance decisions across various sectors, from disaster forecasts to employment trends.
    • Absence of Regulation: Unlike Personal Data, NPD lacks enforceable regulatory frameworks. Efforts at the executive level have been made, including the National Data Governance Framework Policy (NPD Framework), but gaps remain, leading to unregulated data exchanges and sub-optimal policy decisions.
    • Challenges and Opportunities: Unregulated NPD flows pose privacy risks and hinder effective decision-making. Addressing gaps in the NPD Framework and formulating robust governance structures for data exchanges can enhance data interoperability, automate public-welfare functions, and reduce administrative burdens.

    Need for Regulation and Data Exchange Frameworks:

    • Learning from Global Models: Countries like Australia, the U.K., and Estonia have adopted data exchange frameworks for sectors such as housing, employment, and agriculture. India can draw insights from these models to formulate its blueprint for governing data exchanges.
    • State and Central Initiatives: States like Telangana have initiated agriculture data exchanges, while the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has established the India Urban Data Exchange. Coordination between state and central initiatives is essential for effective data governance.
    • Blueprint for Governance: Formulating a comprehensive blueprint for governing data exchanges in India is crucial. This will supplement existing efforts by MeiTY and expert committees, providing actionable pathways for NPD governance and fostering a forward-thinking framework for data exchange regulation.
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    Context:

    The Electoral Bond Scheme (EBS) aimed to address the challenges of transparency and accountability in political funding in India. However, concerns have been raised regarding the efficacy and implications of the scheme, necessitating a closer examination of its genesis, design, and impact.

    Genesis of the Electoral Bond Scheme (EBS):

    • Objective and Problem Statement: The EBS was introduced with the objective of eliminating black money from political funding and enhancing transparency in the electoral process. The scheme was conceived to address the challenge of anonymous donations to political parties, which posed a threat to free and fair elections.
    • Clean Channel for Funds: The EBS aimed to provide a 'clean' channel for funds to flow from donors to political parties by facilitating donations through bank transactions. It sought to incentivize donors to contribute transparently and prevent the generation of black money in political funding.
    • Lack of Safeguards: While the EBS created a mechanism for transparent transactions, concerns arise regarding the legitimacy of the sources of funds used to purchase bonds. The absence of safeguards to ensure the integrity of the funds raised questions about the effectiveness of the scheme in curbing illicit financial practices.

    Deficiencies and Implications of the Electoral Bond Scheme (EBS):

    • Confidentiality Clause: The confidentiality clause of the EBS raised concerns about accountability and enforceability. The provision to treat information submitted by the buyer as confidential limited the scope of investigations into the sources of funds and donor-political party links.
    • Lack of Transparency: The EBS lacked mechanisms for ensuring transparency and accountability in political funding. The absence of comprehensive records and disclosure requirements hindered efforts to track the flow of funds and investigate potential instances of corruption.
    • Role of Institutions: The responsibility for addressing the deficiencies of the EBS lies with Parliament and other democratic institutions. The need for a consultative process and transparent policymaking is essential to devise effective electoral reforms and restore public trust in the political process.
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