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26-March-2024-Daily-Current-Affairs

March 26 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm

WHY IS THE EU PROBING BIG TECH UNDER THE DIGITAL MARKETS ACT?

TOPIC: (GS2) INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS– SOURCE: REUTERS

The European Union has launched probes into tech giants Apple, Alphabet (Google), and Meta (Facebook) under the Digital Markets Act (DMA) for potential violations. These investigations aim to ensure fair competition and protect consumers’ interests in the digital market.

Probes under Digital Markets Act:

Initiation and Scope:

  • The European Union initiated probes against Apple, Alphabet, and Meta under the DMA to regulate the behaviour of large online platforms, known as “gatekeepers.”

Regulatory Goals:

  • DMA aims to address the dominance of big tech companies and prevent unfair practices such as abuse of dominant positions and self-preferencing.

Key Focus Areas:

  • Investigations target alleged anti-steering practices by Alphabet and Apple, limiting communication between app makers and users. They also examine Apple’s restrictions on user choice and app uninstallation.

Specific Concerns:

  • Meta’s “pay or consent” policy, requiring payment for ad-free Facebook/Instagram use, and Alphabet’s potential favoring of its services in Google Search are under scrutiny.

EU’s Digital Markets Act:

Legislative Proposal:

  • DMA proposes rules to regulate the behavior of large online platforms to ensure fair competition and protect consumers’ interests.

Targeted Companies:

  • Aimed at addressing the dominance of tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple in the digital market.

Regulatory Measures:

  • DMA introduces obligations for gatekeepers, such as providing access to services on fair terms, sharing data with competitors, and enhancing user control over data.

Enforcement and Penalties:

  • Violations of DMA could lead to hefty fines of up to 10% of a company’s global turnover.

Impact and Debate:

  • The DMA aims to create a level playing field for businesses, foster innovation, and protect consumer choice and privacy. However, it has sparked both support and criticism, with concerns about stifling innovation and harming consumers.

WATER CRISIS IN BENGALURU LINKED TO URBANISATION OF KODAGU

TOPIC: (GS1) GROGRAPHY– SOURCE: THE HINDU

The Save Kodagu and Cauvery Campaign raises concerns about rampant commercial land conversion and urbanization in Kodagu, stressing its detrimental impact on water scarcity in Bengaluru.

Save Kodagu and Cauvery Campaign:

Key Issues Highlighted:

  • Advocates against issuing NOCs for commercial land conversion in Kodagu, the birthplace of the Cauvery River.
  • Urges legislators to pressure Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for strict directives against land conversion and impose a moratorium on Bengaluru’s further expansion.
  • Warns of significant impacts on Bengaluru’s water supply and neighboring agricultural regions like Mandya and Mysuru due to continued growth and destruction of Kodagu’s landscape.

Water Crisis in Indian Cities:

Magnitude of the Crisis:

  • NITI Aayog report (2023) indicates over 600 million people lack adequate water access in India.
  • Predicts severe water scarcity in 20 cities, including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, by 2030.

Reasons for the Crisis:

  • Rapid urbanization leading to increased water demand surpassing supply capacities.
  • Inadequate water infrastructure exacerbating scarcity issues.
  • Climate change causing irregular rainfall patterns and rising temperatures affecting water availability.
  • Over-extraction of groundwater due to lack of regulation and unsustainable practices.
  • Industrial discharge and untreated sewage contaminating water sources.
  • Inefficient water management practices contributing to wastage.
  • Limited public awareness about water conservation and sustainable usage aggravating the crisis.

Way Forward:

  • Infrastructure Investment: Upgrade water infrastructure for storage, distribution, and treatment.
  • Water Conservation: Promote water conservation practices through public awareness campaigns and incentives.
  • Rainwater Harvesting: Encourage rainwater harvesting to recharge groundwater and reduce reliance on external sources.
  • Regulation and Enforcement: Implement stringent regulations to prevent over-extraction of groundwater and pollution.
  • Community Participation: Engage communities in water management initiatives to foster responsibility.
  • Technological Solutions: Deploy advanced technologies for water treatment and recycling.
  • Integrated Planning: Integrate water management into urban planning processes for sustainable development.

EL NINO IMPACT LEAVES MALAWI AND REGION ON THE EDGE OF A HUNGER CRISIS

TOPIC: (GS1) GROGRAPHY– SOURCE: THE HINDU

Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are grappling with severe drought conditions, leading Malawi to declare a state of disaster in 23 of its 28 districts.

Southern Africa Drought Crisis:

Extent of Disaster:

  • Malawi declares a state of disaster in 23 out of 28 districts due to drought.
  • Zambia and Zimbabwe also face crop decimation and food insecurity.

Hunger Crisis Imminent:

  • Southern Africa, including Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, teeters on the brink of a hunger crisis due to El Niño.
  • Nearly 50 million people in the region face food insecurity.

Climate Impact:

  • Driest February in 40 years for Zambia and Zimbabwe, severe rainfall deficits in Malawi and Mozambique.
  • Millions rely on crops for survival, with staple food corn badly affected.

Exacerbating Factors:

  • El Niño worsened by climate change, leading to extreme impacts on weather and agriculture.
  • Previous tropical storms, floods, and cholera outbreak in Malawi compound the crisis.

International Response and Aid Efforts:

Feeding Programs Launched:

  • World Food Programme (WFP) and USAID launching feeding programs in affected areas to mitigate food shortages.

Acute Food Shortages:

  • Over 6 million people in Zambia facing acute food shortages and malnutrition.
  • Malawi reports a 44% corn crop failure, impacting 2 million households.

Understanding El Niño:

Climate Phenomenon:

  • El Niño characterized by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean.
  • Occurs irregularly every two to seven years, disrupting global weather patterns.

                   

Impact on Weather:

  • Leads to increased rainfall and flooding in some regions, while causing droughts in others.
  • Influences tropical cyclone activity and affects agriculture, fisheries, and water resources.

Monitoring and Prediction

  • El Niño events monitored and predicted by meteorological agencies worldwide, enabling preparedness and mitigation measures.

Counterpart:

  • La Niña, characterized by cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures, often has opposite impacts on weather and climate.

INDIA’S BIRTH CRISIS: WHAT THE LANCET FORECAST OF FERTILITY RATE DIP TO 1.29 BY 2050 MEANS

TOPIC: (GS2) SOCIETY– SOURCE: INDIAN EXPRESS

India’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR), projected to decline to 1.29 by 2050, carries significant implications for the country’s demographic composition and socio-economic dynamics

Historical Trends and Projections:

Steady Decline:

  • TFR dropped from 18 in 1950 to 1.91 in 2021, reflecting consistent reduction since Independence.
  • Projected TFR of 1.29 by 2050 marks a departure from the replacement level of fertility (2.1).

Factors Driving the Decline:

Population Control Efforts:

  • Post-Independence initiatives played a pivotal role in reducing fertility rates.

Women Empowerment:

  • Rise in female literacy and workforce participation empowered women to make informed family planning choices, leading to delayed childbirth and smaller families.

Changing Societal Norms:

  • Shifts in societal norms, especially in urban areas, have witnessed couples choosing not to have children.

Economic Considerations:

Cost-Benefit Analysis:

  • Economic factors influence fertility decisions, as parents weigh the costs of raising children against perceived benefits.
  • Evolving economic conditions diminish the traditional expectation of children providing support in old age.

Long-term Consequences:

Demographic Shifts:

  • Declining fertility rates will result in a significant increase in the proportion of elderly individuals, posing challenges such as labor shortages and gender imbalances.

Mitigation Strategies:

Multi-faceted Approach:

  • Investments in healthcare, affordable childcare, and gender equity promotion are crucial.
  • Economic policies focusing on growth, job creation, and social security reforms are essential to mitigate demographic impacts.

Global Perspective:

Trend Mirroring:

  • India’s experience aligns with a global trend, where many countries are projected to fall below the replacement fertility level by 2050.
  • Ethical immigration policies may be necessary to offset population decline in the absence of sustainable fertility rates.

What is Total Fertility Rate (TFR)?

  • TFR indicates the average number of children a woman would have in her lifetime under current fertility rates.
  • Replacement-level fertility is around 2.1 children per woman, ensuring population stability.

GULF OF MANNAR

TOPIC: (GS1) GEOGRAPHY– SOURCE: DOWN TO EARTH

Recent research revealed a decline in coral cover in the Gulf of Mannar region from 37% in 2005 to 27.3% in 2021, indicating a significant reduction.

About Gulf of Mannar:

  • Geographical Location: Located along the southeast coast of India, it’s part of the Laccadive Sea of the Indian Ocean, encompassing 21 islands.
  • Dimensions: Spans approximately 125 miles in breadth and 100 miles in length between the northwest coast of Sri Lanka and the southeast coast of India.
  • Boundaries: Bounded to the northeast by Rameswaram (island), Adam’s Bridge (a chain of shoals), and Mannar Island.
  • River Inflows: Receives several rivers, including the Tambraparni from India and the Aruvi from Sri Lanka.

About Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park:

  • Biological Richness: Gulf of Mannar is one of India’s biologically richest coastal regions and the first Marine Biosphere Reserve in South and Southeast Asia.
  • Coral Reef Areas: It is one of the four major coral reef areas in India, alongside the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, Lakshadweep, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Biosphere Reserve Designation: Designated as a Biosphere Reserve, it encompasses a chain of 21 islands and adjoining coral reefs off the coasts of the Ramanathapuram and Tuticorin districts.

VOTE-FROM-HOME

TOPIC: (GS2) POLITY AND GOVERNANCE– SOURCE: TIMES OF INDIA

The Election Commission of India (ECI) introduced the ‘vote-from-home’ ‘vote-from-home’ facility for the first time in Lok Sabha elections, aiming to facilitate voting for Persons with Disabilities (PwD) and senior citizens aged 85 and above.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • People Aged 85 and Above: Senior citizens aged 85 and above are eligible for the vote-from-home facility.
  • Persons with Disabilities (PwD): PwDs with a disability of at least 40%, certified by the appropriate authority, can avail of this facility.
  • Mediapersons Covering Polling Day Activities: Mediapersons with authorization letters from the Election Commission are eligible.
  • Workers from Essential Services: Essential service workers such as those in metros, railways, and healthcare are eligible.
  • Service Voters: Armed forces personnel posted away from their hometowns, Central Armed Police Forces personnel deployed elsewhere, and those on poll duty qualify.

Availing the Facility:

  • Form 12D: Interested individuals must submit Form 12D to the Assistant Returning Officer (ARO), stating their inability to visit the polling station.
  • Form Submission: The form can be downloaded from the ECI website or obtained from the representative district officer’s office.
  • Submission Deadline: Form submission must be done within five days of the polling date notification.
  • Home Visit: Upon form submission, a polling team, along with a videographer and security personnel, will visit the elector’s home for the postal ballot voting process.
  • Intimation: The elector receives an intimation via SMS or post regarding the visit’s date and approximate time.
  • Attempted Visits: The home voting option will be attempted twice, with a second visit scheduled if necessary.
  • Absence Consequences: If the voter is absent during both visits, further attempts will not be entertained, rendering them ineligible to vote at polling booths or through the home voting scheme.

ELECTORAL TRUSTS

TOPIC: (GS2) POLITY AND GOVERNANCE– SOURCE: THE HINDU

Electoral trusts are established by companies to distribute contributions received from other companies and individuals to political parties.

Eligibility:

  • Only companies registered under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956, can apply for approval as an electoral trust.
  • Individuals who are Indian citizens and associations of Indian residents are also eligible contributors.

Ineligibility:

  • Contributors include individuals who are not Indian citizens, other electoral trusts approved under the Electoral Trusts Scheme, and NRIs without a passport number.

Administrative Expenses:

  • Electoral trusts can allocate a maximum of 5% of the total funds collected during a financial year for administrative expenses.
  • The remaining 95% must be distributed to eligible political parties.

Laws and Rules:

Income Tax Rules Amendment (2013):

  • The Central Government amended the Income Tax Rules, 1962, on January 31, 2013, inserting Rule 17CA, which outlines the functions of electoral trusts approved by the CBDT.

Electoral Trusts Scheme, 2013:

  • The Central Government launched this scheme, specifying the eligibility and registration procedure for electoral trusts.
  • It also lays down the format for their registration, ensuring transparency and accountability in their functioning

ARSENIC

TOPIC: (GS3) SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY – SOURCE: INDIAN EXPRESS

In India, states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, and Chhattisgarh are reported to be severely affected by arsenic contamination of groundwater, surpassing permissible levels.

  • Occurrence: Arsenic is a naturally occurring, semimetallic element found widely in the Earth’s crust and distributed in air, water, and land.
  • Forms: It exists in both gray and yellow crystalline forms and is classified as a chemical element in Group 15 of the periodic table.
  • Toxicity: Arsenic is highly toxic in its inorganic form and poses significant health risks when consumed.

Exposure Routes:

People are exposed to elevated levels of inorganic arsenic through various means, including drinking contaminated water, using such water for food preparation and irrigation, industrial processes, consuming contaminated food, and smoking tobacco.

  • Health Impacts: Long-term exposure to inorganic arsenic can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning, causing skin lesions and skin cancer, among other effects.

WORLD TUBERCULOSIS DAY

TOPIC: (GS3) SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY – SOURCE: PIB

World Tuberculosis Day, observed on March 24 annually, aims to raise awareness about tuberculosis, promote efforts to eradicate the disease, and support those affected by TB.

Background:

  • March 24, 1882, marks a significant date in the fight against TB, as Dr. Robert Koch discovered the bacteria responsible for the disease.
  • This breakthrough led to advancements in understanding, diagnosing, and treating tuberculosis.

Initiative:

  • In 1982, on the centenary of Dr. Koch’s discovery, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease proposed observing March 24 as World TB Day.
  • The first official observance took place in 1983, and it has since become an annual global event.

Theme for 2024: The theme for World Tuberculosis Day 2024 is “YesA! We can end TB,” emphasizing the collective effort needed to eliminate TB globally.

About Tuberculosis (TB):

  • Transmission: TB is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets released by coughs or sneezes of an infected person, caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria.
  • Affected Areas: While TB primarily affects the lungs, it can also impact other body parts such as the abdomen, glands, bones, and nervous system.
  • Treatment: TB is a serious condition but can be cured with the appropriate antibiotics if diagnosed and treated promptly.

OLA’S KRUTRIM AI

TOPIC: (GS3) SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY – SOURCE: PIB

Ola, an Indian multinational ridesharing company, introduced Krutrim AI earlier this year, positioning it as “India’s own AI.”

  • Purpose: Krutrim AI is designed to serve as a personalized assistant, simplifying both personal and professional tasks for users.
  • Bridging Cultural Gap: This AI model aims to bridge the gap between conventional AI and the specific needs rooted in Indian languages and culture.

Technological Components:

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): Utilizes NLP to understand the nuances of human language, including colloquialisms and cultural contexts.
  • Machine Learning (ML): Employs ML algorithms to learn from extensive data sets and enhance its responses over time.
  • Deep Learning: Utilizes Deep Learning, a sophisticated ML branch, to recognize patterns and analyze complex data.
  • Understanding User Intent: Unlike traditional AI models, Krutrim AI goes beyond keyword matching and statistical probabilities to understand the user’s intent accurately.
  • Functionality: Krutrim AI assists with various tasks, including writing emails, seeking information, acquiring new skills, planning travel, discovering recipes, and more, catering to a range of creative and knowledge retrieval needs.

Details

Date:
March 26
Time:
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category: