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Current Affairs for UPSC Civil Services Exam – May 24, 2024

{GS1 – Geo – PG – Climatology} Heatstroke *

  • Context (IE): Shah Rukh Khan was admitted to Ahmedabad Hospital after suffering a heatstroke.

About Heatstroke

  • It occurs when high ambient temperature prevents sweating to regulate body temperature.
    • Ambient means relating to the immediate surroundings.
  • Core body temperature rises to 40 degrees Celsius.
  • Severe imbalance of salts like sodium and potassium occurs in the body.
  • Symptoms include fogginess, drowsiness, coma in severe cases, kidney and liver damage. Heat stroke can lead to death due to organ disruption.
  • Immediate Treatment: The priority is to lower core body temperature quickly. Methods include pouring cold water, drinking cold drinks, and ingesting electrolytes.
  • High-Risk Groups: Special attention is needed for the elderly, young, and those with comorbidities. It can occur at any age, not limited to specific demographics.

Preventing Heat Stroke

  • Avoid direct sunlight, especially from noon to 3 pm. Minimise strenuous activities during these hours.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water regularly. Consume hydrating fluids like lassi, lemon water, ORS, etc.
  • Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee, and carbonated drinks as they dehydrate.
  • Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose cotton clothes.
  • Lower body temperature by using damp cloths or taking cold baths.

Significance of Humidity and Night-Time Temperatures

  • High humidity makes perceived temperatures higher than actual ambient temperature. Sweat doesn’t evaporate effectively in high humidity, reducing the body’s ability to cool down.
  • High night temperatures prevent the body from resting and recovering.
  • Lower night temperatures allow the body to recover and recoup from heat exposure.

{GS1 – Geo – PG – Geomorphology} New study on Solar cycles *

  • Context (DTE): The origin of the Sun’s magnetic field and solar cycles are being researched.
  • A new study suggests that the Sun’s dynamo, the process generating the magnetic field, might be located much closer to the surface, in the star’s outermost layers.
  • Till now, it was believed that the Sun’s powerful magnetic field originated deep within the star.

Solar cycle

  • Every 11 years, the sun’s magnetic field undergoes a cycle known as the solar cycle. The cycle is based on the sunspots, regions where the magnetic field is much higher than anywhere else on the Sun.
  • Sunspots are few at the beginning of a solar cycle (solar minimum) and reach their highest in the middle of the cycle (solar maximum) before decreasing again.
  • During sunspot maxima, polarity of the global magnetic field in the Sun’s polar regions is reversed.
  • This cyclical pattern is known as a torsional oscillation, in which the solar rotation is periodically sped up or slowed down in certain latitude zones. While, the rotation remains essentially steady elsewhere.
  • Previous models were unable to accurately predict whether the next solar cycle would be strong or weak.
  • The new study’s model takes into account torsional oscillations to predict the solar cycles.

To know more, visit > Geomagnetism.

{GS2 – IR – Diplomacy} Animal Diplomacy

  • Context (TH): Malaysia, the world’s second-largest palm oil producer, is aiming to improve its environmental image by putting forward the “orangutan diplomacy.

What is Animal Diplomacy?

  • Animal diplomacy involves giving or lending animals as a sign of friendship or goodwill between countries. These creatures possess cultural significance or are indigenous to the country that gifts them, hence making them influential instruments for diplomacy.

History of animal diplomacy

  • During the middle ages and renaissance periods, European kings frequently exchanged animals such as lions and tigers in order to show their authority over nature.
  • In the 14th and 15th centuries, ancient Egyptian rulers’ gift of giraffes reached as far as Samarkand. In 1827, Muhammad Ali Pasha sent a female giraffe to King Charles X of France, dubbed “la belle africaine.”

Examples of animal diplomacy in recent times

  • Panda diplomacy of China: China first offered bears as diplomatic gifts as far back as the Tang Dynasty (618–907). By 1980s, panda diplomacy had changed.
    • The bears were no longer presented as gifts but instead were loaned for 10 years for a fee of around $1 million per year, a period that could be extended. This shift to panda lending allowed China to keep promoting its image abroad and also build trust.
  • Orangutan diplomacy in Malaysia: This strategy aims to enhance Malaysia’s image by making it a champion of various aspects of wild animal protection. It wants to encourage the sustainable production of palm oil and work jointly with other countries to save orangutans.
  • Elephant diplomacy in Asia: Elephants are given the highest recognition levels in Asia for their wisdom, strength, and good luck. India has gifted elephants to over 20 countries. Similarly, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka have also used elephants for soft-power diplomacy.
  • Koala diplomacy of Australia: To commemorate 50 years of diplomatic ties, Australia loaned four koalas, Paddle, Pellita, Chan, and Idalia, to the Singapore Zoo.

Significance of Animal diplomacy

  • Cultural Exchange and Symbolism: Sharing or gifting animals can promote understanding and appreciation of different cultures.
  • Soft Power Projection: Animal diplomacy is a means for countries to project soft power and enhance their global influence by leveraging the appeal of charismatic wildlife. E.g. Australia’s “Koala Diplomacy” initiative promotes Australian culture and wildlife conservation.
  • Environmental Diplomacy: Collaborative efforts to protect endangered species or preserve habitats can build trust and facilitate cooperation between nations. E.g., an agreement between Russia and China to protect the endangered Siberian tiger.
  • Public Diplomacy and Engagement: Events such as animal adoptions, wildlife exhibitions, or conservation partnerships can engage citizens both domestically and internationally. USA’s “Bald Eagle Diplomacy” promote American values of freedom and environmental stewardship.

{GS2 – IR – Israel-Palestine} Three countries recognise Palestinian as a state

  • Context (IE): Ireland, Norway and Spain recognised a Palestinian state.

Key elements to the decision

  • Spain, Norway and Ireland announced the recognition of a Palestinian state.
  • The three countries recognised a Palestinian state with its borders to be demarcated as they were prior to 1967, with Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and Palestine, subject to a final settlement.
  • Full embassy status to Ireland’s representative office in West Bank & Palestinian mission in Ireland.
  • However, Ireland made it clear that recognising a Palestinian state does not diminish Ireland’s belief in Israel’s right to exist in peace and security.
  • The move is mostly symbolic, but it makes Israel appear more isolated on the international stage.
  • It may also have an impact on public opinion within Israel.

Who else recognises Palestine as a state

  • About 144 of the 193 UN members recognise Palestine as a state, including most of the global south, Russia, China, and India.
  • However, only a few EU members do so, mostly former Communist countries, Sweden and Cyprus.
  • Other states have said they are considering following suit, including Britain, Australia, Malta and Slovenia.

Reactions on the move

  • Israel reacted, withdrew its ambassadors from the three countries, and summoned their representatives.
  • The Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, and Hamas welcomed the recognition by Spain, Norway and Ireland.
  • Recently, the US vetoed an attempt at UN recognition of a Palestinian state by denying Palestinians full membership in a vote in the Security Council.
  • France said Palestinian statehood is not a “taboo” for Paris but that now is not the right time.
  • Germany stressed its long-term goal is for a two-state solution but only through dialogue.

To know more, visit > Israel-Palestine Conflict.

{GS2 – Social Sector – Health – Issues} Healthcare-associated infections **

  • Context (DTE): Life-threatening healthcare-associated infections are increasing.
  • Hospital patients are vulnerable to healthcare-associated infections (HAI) such as central line-associated infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections (UTI) & ventilator-associated pneumonia.
  • A 2022 global report by WHO on infection prevention and control observed that the risk of acquiring HAIs is up to 20 times higher in relatively poor countries.
  • Due to the high levels of exposure to antibiotics in hospital settings, bacteria develop antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as a natural survival strategy.

Situation in India

  • According to a Lancet report, a network of 26 tertiary-level hospitals in India established to implement HAI surveillance and prevention activities reported 2,622 healthcare-associated bloodstream infections and 737 UTIs from 89 ICUs between May 2017 and October 2018.
  • High levels of resistance to at least one drug of the last-resort carbapenem class of antibiotics were found in HAIs caused by Klebsiella spp., Escherichia coli, Acinetobacter spp., and Pseudomonas spp.
  • Alarmingly, all of them are dreaded gram-negative pathogens.
  • Antibiograms are used in large tertiary care centres to collect data on drug resistance patterns. These antibiograms aid in the appropriate identification of patients at risk and suitable antibiotic therapy.

Steps taken by India

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) initiated a pilot project in 20 tertiary care hospitals across India to control the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in hospital wards and ICUs.
  • National Programme on AMR Containment: Coordinated by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to enhance the capacity of medical colleges and other large hospitals to generate quality AMR surveillance data and monitor its patterns in the country.
  • India also launched its National Action Plan on AMR (NAP-AMR) in 2017.
National Programme on AMR Containment
  • Under this programme, a network of laboratories has been established under the National AMR Surveillance Laboratory Network (NARS-Net).
  • NARS-Net began with eight medical college laboratories through a sentinel surveillance approach.
  • It has now expanded to include 40 laboratories in 31 states and UTs as of March 2023, along with the National Reference Laboratory for Bacterial Pathogens at NCDC.

Way forward

  • Smaller centres often lack the manpower, training, and management commitment to dedicate resources to infection control. With enhanced government support, these centres could be game changers.
  • The ramifications of AMR should also be included in the medical curriculum and infection-control protocols should be uniformly implemented in healthcare settings.
  • Antibiotic protocol should be enforced across all hospitals in the country. So that the right antibiotic can be administered at the right time, cutting down on the presumptive treatment.

{GS3 – Agri – Crops} Sweet Sorghum (Jowar) *

  • Context (DTE): Sweet sorghum, indigenous to Africa, is a promising biofuel crop.

Biofuel Crops

  • They are rich in starch, sugar, or oils. It can be converted into bioethanol (fermentation process).
  • Common biofuel crops: Sugarcane, maize, grain sorghum, sugar beet, rapeseeds, and sunflower.

Drawbacks of Conventional Biofuel Crops

  • Susceptible to extreme weather events.
  • Require high investment for fertilisers, chemicals, and irrigation.
  • Compete with food production.

Potential of Sweet Sorghum

  • It contains sucrose, glucose and fructose, which are essential for bioethanol production.
  • Multiple uses
    • It can produce grains, animal feed and sugary juice, making it unique among crops.
    • Grains are used for Steamed bread, Porridge malt for traditional commercial beer production.
    • They’re nutritionally rich, with high energy values, as well as essential minerals.
  • Advantages Over Maize
    • Resilient in arid climates.
    • Provides biomass for animal feed. Nutritional residue after harvest enhances animal diets.
    • Yields 8,102 litres of bioethanol per hectare (vs. maize’s 4,209 litres).
  • Resilience
    • Drought-resistant: can enter dormancy and resume growth.
    • Uses stalk juice to survive water scarcity.
    • Tolerates low water, nitrogen inputs, salinity, and drought.

To learn more, visit Biofuels.

Sweet Sorghum (Jowar)

  • It is the most important millet crop.
  • It is a C4 plant characterised by high photosynthetic efficiency.
    • C4 plants include maize, sugarcane, and sorghum. They avoid photorespiration.
  • It has emerged as a supplementary crop to sugarcane in dry land pockets for the production of ethanol.
  • Varieties Rio, Dale, Brandes, Theis, Roma, Vani, Ramada and Keller.
  • In India, it can be sown during June, coinciding with the southwest monsoon.
  • The crop does not prefer high rainfall as high soil moisture after flowering may hamper sugar increase.
  • All soils that have medium depth with good drainage are suited.
  • Major pests: Sorghum shootfly and stem borer.
  • Sweet sorghum varieties were first introduced in India from the US in the 1970s. Jowar or Sorghum Agronomy

Credit: Agrosiaa

{GS3 – IE – Employment} Religion & Caste wise Employment Statistics **

  • Context (IE): The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) data shows employment metrics for different religious and caste groups from 2016-17 to 2023-24. This data helps understand who is worst hit by employment problems.

Religion wise Working-Age Population

  • Overall, it grew by 170 million, from 964.5 million in 2016-17 to 1.1386 billion in 2023-24.
  • Hindus account for 86% of the working-age population and 86% of the increase.
  • Muslim working-age population rose by 13.5%, making up 9.54% of the working-age population.
  • The Christian working-age population, though only 1.41% of the total, grew the most at 48%.
  • Working-Age Population: Total population over 15 years old.

Religion-Wise Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR)

  • India’s overall LFPR was low (46.22%) in 2016-17 and declined to 40.42% in 2023-24.
  • Hindus, being 86% of the population, are the main contributors to this fall.
  • Hindu LFPR fell from 46.6% in 2016-17 to 40.53% in 2023-24.
  • Muslims had and still have the lowest LFPR (38.58% in 2023-24).

Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR)

  • Percentage of the working-age population demanding a job.
  • Excludes people not actively looking for a job (e.g., married women, students pursuing higher education, retirees). Represents job demand in an economy.
  • A higher LFPR is better for a developing economy like India.

Religion-Wise Unemployment Rate (UER)

  • With falling LFPR, one would expect the unemployment rate to fall too.
  • However, India’s UER increased from 7.42% in 2016-17 to 8.03% in 2023-24.
  • Hindu UER influenced the overall rate, rising from 7.28% in 2016-17 to 8.07% in 2023-24.
  • Muslim UER was at 8% in 2023-24.
  • Sikhs had the highest UER at 8.94% in 2023-24.

Unemployment Rate (UER)

  • It is the percentage of people looking for a job but unemployed.
  • It is expressed as a percentage of the labour force.
  • Widely used across the world to assess labour market health.
  • Concern: It can be misleading in India due to falling LFPR. If people stop looking for jobs, UER falls without job creation. In such a case, the UER falls not because the economy has created more jobs but because fewer people are demanding them.

Religion-Wise Employment Rate (ER)

  • India’s overall Employment Rate dropped from 42.8% in 2016-17 to 37.2% in 2023-24.
  • Hindu ER was 37.26% in 2023-24. Muslim ER was 35.5% in 2023-24.

Employment Rate (ER)

  • Ratio of employed people to the working-age population.
  • Best metric for assessing employment health in India.
  • Advantage: Circumvents issues with UER and LFPR fluctuations.
  • If ER rises, more people are getting jobs; if it falls, fewer people are employed.

Which castes have seen more job losses within the Hindu fold?

Caste-Wise Working-Age Population

  • OBCs make up almost 60% of the total working-age population. SCs account for another 23%.
  • OBCs and SCs together represent 82% of the working-age population among Hindus.

Note: All the data comparisons are between the years 2016-17 & 2023-24.

Caste-Wise LFPR

  • LFPR has fallen for all castes. Upper-caste Hindus have the lowest LFPR.
  • OBCs (-7.04%) and SCs (-6.31%) experienced the sharpest decline in LFPR.

Caste-Wise Unemployment Rate (UER)

  • UER fell for OBCs from 7.7% to 7.4%.
  • UER for upper-caste Hindus rose from 8.62% to 9.83%.

Caste-Wise Employment Rate (ER)

  • ERs have fallen across all castes.
  • OBCs and SCs had higher ERs in 2016-17 but saw the largest declines (6.36 percentage points).
  • Upper-caste Hindus had the lowest ER in 2016-17 and continue to have the lowest ER in 2023-24.

{GS3 – S&T – Cybersecurity} Southeast Asia as a hotspot for cybercrimes aimed at Indians **

  • Context (IE | TH | IE): About 45% of cybercrimes targeting India originate from Southeast Asia.
  • Around 7,000 complaints are registered daily with the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP).
  • There were 7.4 lakh complaints as of April 30 this year, compared to 15.56 lakh complaints in 2023.
  • Most frauds originate from Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos. Many web applications used in these crimes are written in Mandarin, suggesting a possible Chinese connection.

Scam Tactics

  • Recruitment via Social Media: Fake job offers lure Indians.
  • Forced Participation: Recruits are compelled to engage in cyber scams.
  • Types of Scams & losses: Investment scams, pig butchering scams, trading app scams, dating scams.
    • In the first four months of the year, Indians had lost over ₹1,776 crore.
  • Communication: Scammers use messaging platforms and Indian SIM cards to target Indians.

Recent Incident: Indian Cyber Slaves in Cambodia

  • Many Indians working in a suspected scam compound in Sihanouk City, Cambodia, protested against their employers.
  • They were allegedly made to work long hours in the compounds.

To know more, visit >Job frauds in Cambodia.

Steps taken

  • The government established an inter-ministerial committee to address the recent rise in transnational organised cybercrimes targeting Indians originating from Southeast Asia.
    • The Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the Ministry of Home Affairs leads the committee.
    • Other Members: These include officers from various agencies, such as the Reserve Bank of India, the Department of Financial Services, banks, the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Department of Telecommunication (DoT), and financial technology companies.

{GS3 – S&T – Tech} World’s first head transplant system

  • Context (NDTV): BrainBridge, a neuroscience and biomedical engineering startup, is working to develop the world’s first head and face transplant system.
  • A concept video showing “two autonomous surgical robots performing simultaneous surgeries on two robotic bodies” is doing rounds on social media.
  • The procedure involves transplanting a patient’s head onto a healthy, brain-dead donor body, with the aim of preserving consciousness, memories and cognitive abilities.
  • It will employ high-speed robotic systems to prevent brain cell degradation and ensure seamless compatibility between the transplanted head and donor body.
  • The BrainBridge Head Band, equipped with a Brain-Computer Interface, allows patients to communicate their needs during recovery, control devices, and execute tasks independently using their thoughts.
  • Advanced AI algorithms will guide the surgical robots in precise reconnection of the spinal cord, nerves, and blood vessels.
  • Proprietary chemical adhesive and polyethylene glycol will aid in reconnecting severed neurons.
  • It has envisaged self-learning algorithms to create personalised recovery plans.
  • It offers new hope to patients suffering from untreatable conditions such as stage-4 cancer, paralysis, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  • Recently, Elon Musk’s Neuralink recently implanted a computer chip in the brain of a quadriplegic man.
  • Quadriplegia: Symptom of paralysis that affects all of a person’s limbs and body from the neck down.
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