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Current Affairs for UPSC Civil Services Exam – March 08, 2024

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{GS2 – Governance – Initiatives} NITI For States

  • Context (PIB): The Minister of Communications, Railways, and Electronics & Information Technology will inaugurate the NITI for States platform developed by NITI Aayog.
  • NITI For States is a cross-sectoral knowledge platform designed to serve as a Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) for Policy and Good Governance.
  • Sector Coverage: Agriculture, Education, Energy, Health, Livelihoods, Manufacturing, MSME, Tourism, urban and Water Resources, and WASH.
  • The platform also covers two cross-cutting themes: Gender and Climate Change.

Features

  • Extensive Knowledge Base: 7,500 curated best practices, 5,000 policy documents, 900+ datasets, 1,400 data profiles, and 350 NITI Aayog publications.
  • Multilingual Accessibility: In the near future the platform will be available in 22 major Indian languages and 7 foreign languages, ensuring inclusivity for diverse user groups.
  • Capacity Building Initiatives: Tailored digital training modules for officials at various levels (block, district, and state) in collaboration with relevant institutions.
  • Expert Help Desk: Specialised guidance through partnerships with leading institutions allows states and UTs to address specific challenges.
  • Data Integration: Leverages data from the National Data & Analytics Platform (NDAP) for comprehensive and actionable insights, fostering data-driven decision-making.

Benefits

  • Accelerate digital transformation of governance by equipping officials with robust knowledge, actionable insights, and user-friendly digital tools.
  • Empower frontline functionaries at the district and block levels to replicate successful initiatives and address local challenges effectively.
  • Foster cooperative federalism and strengthen good governance practices through knowledge sharing and cross-learning among states and UTs.

{GS2 – MoSJE – Schemes} NAMASTE Scheme

  • Context (PIB): Urban Local Body (ULB) nodal officers and surveyors are trained in the profiling process and the NAMASTE mobile application.
  • National Action for Mechanized Sanitation Ecosystem (NAMASTE) Scheme is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • It has replaced the Self-Employment Scheme for the Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS).
  • It is a central sector scheme launched in 2022.
  • It aims to eliminate the manual engagement of sanitation workers in hazardous tasks related to sewer and septic tank cleaning.
  • The scheme will be implemented by the National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) for a period of 3 years (FY 2023-24 to FY 2025-26).

Components of the Scheme

  • Profiling of Sewer and Septic Tank Workers (SSWs): Creating a national database with a unique NAMASTE ID for each worker.
  • Health Insurance: SSWs will be covered under the PM-JAY health insurance scheme.
  • Safety Measures: They will receive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits and access to safety devices.
  • Training: Occupational safety training will be provided.
  • Capital subsidy of up to Rs. 5 lakh for sanitation-related vehicles/equipment will create livelihood opportunities through subsidized machinery.
  • Sanipreneurship: Capacity building will encourage SSWs to start their sanitation enterprises.

{GS3 – S&T – AI} IndiaAI Mission

  • Context (PIB): The government approved the IndiaAI mission.
  • Implemented by ‘IndiaAIIndependent Business Division (IBD) under Digital India Corporation (DIC).

Objectives of IndiaAI Mission

  • Establish a comprehensive AI ecosystem for innovation.
  • Democratize computing access and improve data quality.
  • Develop indigenous AI capabilities and attract top talent.
  • Enable industry collaboration and provide startup risk capital.
  • Ensure socially impactful AI projects and bolster ethical AI.

Components of IndiaAI Mission

  • IndiaAI Compute Capacity: Establishment of a high-end, scalable AI computing ecosystem with 10,000 or more GPUs.
  • IndiaAI Innovation Centre: Development and deployment of indigenous Large Multimodal Models (LMMs) and foundational models.
  • IndiaAI Datasets Platform: Streamline access to quality non-personal datasets for AI innovation.
  • IndiaAI Application Development Initiative: Promote AI applications in critical sectors sourced from Central Ministries, State Departments, and other institutions.
  • IndiaAI FutureSkills: Increase AI courses in educational programs and set up Data and AI Labs in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
  • IndiaAI Startup Financing: Support and accelerate deep-tech AI startups with streamlined access to funding.
  • Safe & Trusted AI: Enable responsible development, deployment, and adoption of AI with indigenous tools and frameworks.

Impact and Benefits

  • Propel innovation and build domestic capacities for tech sovereignty.
  • Create highly skilled employment opportunities.
  • Demonstrate transformative technology for social good and enhance global competitiveness.

{GS3 – S&T – Tech} Bengaluru’s First Driverless Metro Train

  • Context (IE): Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) received the first set of driverless metro train coaches, which are part of the Communication-based Train Control (CBTC) system.
  • The 18.8 km-long line, connecting south of Bengaluru to the city’s tech hub, will be the first to have a driverless train.
  • These coaches are manufactured by Chinese firm CRRC Nanjing Puzhen Co Ltd, along with their domestic partners Titagarh Rail Systems Ltd., as part of the Make in India Initiative.
  • AI is employed for track monitoring and analyzing sensor data for safety concerns, while cameras on trains aid real-time analysis of visual data for safety measures.

CBTC System

  • CBTC technology is a modern communication-based system that uses radio communication to transfer timely and accurate train control information.
  • CBTC is “one train talking to another train”.
  • It will have Unattended Train Operations (UTO), which enable full automation in tasks like door operations and train movement.
  • The Operations Control Centre (OCC) provides enhanced supervision capability.

PDF] Radio Communication for Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC): A Tutorial and Survey | Semantic Scholar

{GS3 – S&T – Tech} Frontier Technology Labs

  • Context (PIB): Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, and Meta announce the launch of Frontier Technology Labs (FTLs) to democratize future technologies and empower youth to innovate.
  • FTLs, an advanced version of ATLs, aim to equip students with state-of-the-art infrastructure to innovate using AI, Augmented & Virtual Reality (AR, VR), Blockchain, Cybersecurity, Robotics, 3D Printing, and IoTs.
  • Funded by: Meta, with AIM as the knowledge partner.
  • The labs will be managed by Meta’s partner 1M1B (One Million for One Billion), further facilitating the initiative’s implementation and impact.
  • It aligns with Vision Education to Entrepreneurship initiative, launched in September 2023, aims to connect students, youth, and micro-entrepreneurs.
  • Establishing FTLs aligns with AIM’s vision to create a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in schools across India, contributing to the building of a skilled workforce for the future.

Education to Entrepreneurship Initiative

  • It is a collaborative effort between Meta (formerly Facebook), the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship launched in 2023.
  • The primary goal of this initiative is to nurture and motivate young individuals to transform their educational foundation into successful businesses.

{GS3 – S&T – Tech} Pine Needles-based Fuel-making Technology

  • Context (PIB): Under the “Adarsh Champawat mission, CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) and UCOST signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to implement pine needle-based fuel-making technology.
  • The MoU aims to drive sustainable development, energy conservation, employment generation, skill development, and women’s empowerment in Champawat, Uttarakhand.
  • CSIR-IIP will deploy two major technologies:
    • A briquetting unit capable of producing 50 kg per hour based on pine needles.
    • 500 units of Improved Cookstoves for rural households.
  • The briquettes can be used for domestic cooking and as direct or co-firing fuel in brick kilns and thermal power plants.
  • CSIR-IIP has developed improved technology for pine needle briquetting and energy-efficient biomass cookstoves, which can reduce household pollution by 70%.
  • The “Adarsh Champawat” mission is aimed at sustainable development and innovation in the Champawat region of Uttarakhand.

{Prelims – Awards} National Creators Award

  • Context (PIB): PM presents the first-ever National Creators Award on 8th March 2024.
  • Objective: To recognize creators’ excellence in storytelling, advocacy, sustainability, education, gaming, and impact across domains, fostering positive change.
  • 23 winners were selected, including three international creators, reflecting public choice and engagement.
  • The award spans 20 categories, including The Best Storyteller Award, The Disruptor of the Year, Celebrity Creator of the Year, Green Champion Award, Best Creator For Social Change, etc.
  • Awards: Awards will be presented across 20 distinct categories. In 19 of these categories, a single winner will be selected for each. In International Creator Award category would have three winners.

Eligibility

  • Age Requirement: Participants must be 18 years of age or above at the time of nomination.
  • Nationality and Residency: 19 categories are open exclusively to individuals of Indian nationality. One category is dedicated to international digital creators
  • Platforms: Content must be published on one or more of the following digital platforms: Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, ShareChat, Koo, Roposo, or Moj
  • Language: Content submission can be in English or any other Indian language.
  • Nomination Limits: Creators can self-nominate in a maximum of three categories. Those nominating others can nominate in all 20 categories.

Nominations

  • Self-Nomination: Creators are allowed to nominate themselves. The nomination must include links to the content on the eligible platforms, description of the content’s impact, etc.
  • Nomination Limits: Creators can self-nominate in a maximum of three categories. Those nominating others can propose nominations across all 20 categories.

{Prelims – In News} ChipIN Centre

  • Context (PIB): Semiconductor leaders back ChipIN Centre, which will boost India’s semiconductor hub potential through enhanced chip design infrastructure.
  • It has been set up at C-DAC Bangalore.
  • It acts as one-stop centre to provide semiconductor design tools, fab access, virtual prototyping hardware lab access to fabless chip designers from Startups and Academia.
  • It aims to provide access of state-of-the-art Electronic Design Automation (EDA) Tools to 85,000 students at B.Tech, M.Tech and PhD level to design semiconductor chips.
  • It aims to bring advanced chip design infrastructure to the doorstep of the semiconductor design community in the country.

{Prelims – In News} Shankaracharya Temple

  • Context (PIB): PM paid obeisance to Shankaracharya Hill during his visit to Jammu & Kashmir.

Hindu Temples of India: Shankaracharya Temple, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir

  • The Shankaracharya Temple is perched atop Shankaracharya Hill, also called the Hill of Solomon, on the Zabarwan Mountain in Srinagar, Kashmir.
  • The temple’s origins date back to around 200 BCE, although the present structure likely dates to the 9th century CE.
  • Initially known as Takht-i-Sulaiman, which means Throne of Solomon, it was later renamed after a saint Adi Shakaracharya who attained enlightenment here in AD 750.
  • It is considered the oldest temple in the Kashmir valley. It follows the indigenous early Kashmiri style of architecture.
    • The early Shikhara style is evident, characterized by a horseshoe arch pattern.
  • The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is situated at a height of 1,000 feet above the plain, providing a commanding view of the city of Srinagar.
  • Buddhists refer it as the Jyesteshwara Temple or Pas-Pahar.

Kashmiri style of architecture

  • The development of Kashmiri architecture can be broadly divided into the early medieval Hindhu phase and Muslim rule from the 14th century onwards.
  • It is renowned for its exquisite stone carvings.
  • Due to its location on important trade routes, the architectural style is inspired by many foreign sources.
  • Main Features of Kashmiri style of architecture:
    • Trefoil arched (Gandhara influence)
    • Cellular layout and enclosed courtyard
    • Straight-edged Pyramidal roof
    • Column walls (Greek influence)
    • Triangular pediments (Greek influence)
    • More number of steps

{Prelims – PIN} Ayya Vaikundar: The Visionary Reformer

  • Context (IE): Recently, the TN Governor referred to Ayya Vaikundar as a ‘Sanatan Dharma saviour’, which sparked controversy because Ayyavazhi is distinct from mainstream Hinduism.

  • Ayya Vaikundar was born in 1809 CE in a poor Nadar family in the village of Poovandan Thoppu, near the town of Tamaraikkulam, about five miles from Kanyakumari.
  • He was the founder of the Ayyavazhi sect, primarily in southern Tamil Nadu.
    • While it shares some concepts with Hinduism, it significantly differs in its views on good and evil and dharma.
  • He was the first person to lead religious and social reform as a people’s movement.

Teachings

  • His teachings focused on equality, fraternity, and the eradication of caste-based discrimination, challenging the established religious and social hierarchies of the time.
  • He did not engage in any religious conversion. He spearheaded the reform without distorting the culture and culture of the communities.
  • He organised Samapanthi-bhojana or community eateries for people from all backgrounds.
  • He also encouraged all devotees to wear turbans and dhotis, promoting equality.
  • He established Nizhal Thangals as community worship spaces, which did not have any idol or deity, and only Tamil was used for worship.
  • He pioneered education for the lower castes and opposed discriminatory taxes.
  • He introduced simplified, inclusive marriage customs without a Brahmin priest or Sanskrit mantras.

Legacy

  • Ayya Vaikundar’s legacy endures through his followers, known as “Ayyavazhi believers”.
  • His teachings continue to inspire social reformers, reminding us that true spirituality transcends boundaries and embraces humanity as a whole.
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