PMF IAS Current Affairs
PMF IAS Current Affairs

Current Affairs October 06, 2023: Bangladesh-Russia Nuclear Plant Project, Delhi NCR Earthquake, Operation Kachchhap

{GS2 – Governance – Transperancy} Global Internet Freedom Report

  • Context (TH): Freedom House, a Washington, DC-based non-profit organisation, released its annual report on Global Internet Freedom.
  • The report highlights the 13th consecutive year of decline in global Internet freedom, focusing on online human rights.
  • It assesses Internet freedom in 70 countries, representing 88% of Internet users.

Key Findings

  • Internet freedom deteriorated in 29 countries, with only 20 countries showing net gains.
  • Iran experienced the sharpest rise in digital repression, including Internet shutdowns, blocking of social media, and increased surveillance.
  • China remained the world’s worst environment for Internet freedom for the 9th consecutive year, followed by Myanmar as the 2nd most repressive.
  • Elections often trigger digital repression, with incumbent leaders criminalising speech, blocking independent news sites, and controlling information flow to influence election outcomes.

India’s Internet Freedom Score

  • India received a score of 50 on a scale of 1 to 100, where 100 represents the highest digital freedom.
  • Iceland emerged as the country with the best Internet freedom, scoring 94.

Five Censorship Methods Used Worldwide

  1. Internet connectivity restrictions
  2. Blocks on social media platforms
  3. Blocks on websites
  4. Blocks on VPNs
  5. Forced removal of content
  • India employed all methods except VPN blocking.

Additional Actions by the Indian Government

  • India blocked websites hosting political, social, or religious content.
  • Deliberate disruptions of ICT networks.
  • Use of pro-government commentators to manipulate online discussions.
  • Conducting technical attacks against government critics and human rights organisations.

AI-Enabled Digital Repression in India

  • The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules mandated AI-based moderation tools for various types of content.
  • The government ordered platforms like YouTube and Twitter to restrict access to a BBC documentary, leading to automated scanning tools being used to remove the related content.

For more info: Freedom of Speech: IT Rules (JULY 2023)

{GS2 – IR – Bangladesh} Bangladesh-Russia Nuclear Plant Project

  • Context (TH I TH): Bangladesh received its first uranium delivery for its Russia-backed nuclear power plant, a $12.65-billion project aimed at bolstering its energy grid, 90% funded by Moscow.

Rooppur Nuclear Plant

  • The Rooppur nuclear plant in Bangladesh, with twin 1,200-megawatt units, began construction in 2017 and is set to be the country’s largest power station once fully operational by 2025.

US Sanctions and Payment Challenges

  • During the United States and its ally’s Sanctions on Russia, Bangladesh remains committed to the Rooppur nuclear plant project and strengthening ties with Moscow.
  • Loan Repayment Hurdles: U.S. sanctions on Russian entities caused construction delays due to Bangladesh’s inability to repay loans in U.S. currency.
  • Chinese Yuan Solution: In April, Bangladesh opted to use Chinese Yuan for payments exceeding $300 million to circumvent the sanctions, though these payments remain pending.

India’s Role in the Rooppur Nuclear Plant Project

  • India holds a nuclear cooperation agreement with both Russia and Bangladesh.
  • The Rooppur project is a significant undertaking under the Indo-Russian deal to collaborate on atomic energy projects in third countries.
  • The Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) is the project’s lead authority from India.
  • It’s a milestone considering India’s non-membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which limits its direct involvement in atomic power reactor construction abroad.
  • It significantly boosts India’s “Make in India” initiative, as it involves the production of some nuclear equipment domestically for the Rooppur plant.

Concerns Regarding Nuclear Energy

For more info: Nuclear Fission, Components of Nuclear Reactor, Types of Nuclear Reactors

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

  • Bangladesh is among 28 countries planning or starting the introduction of nuclear power.
  • The IAEA assists countries in peaceful applications of nuclear energy, including nuclear power.
  • IAEA was established in 1957 as an autonomous organisation within the United Nations system.
  • This intergovernmental organisation was established under the “Atoms for Peace” initiative proposed by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  • Though established independently by the UN through its own international treaty, the agency reports to the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.
  • Objective: Inhibit nuclear use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.
  • Headquarters: Vienna, Austria.
  • Member: over 170 countries; India is a member.

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

  • The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was established in 1974, consisting of nuclear supplier countries, to support nuclear non-proliferation by enforcing two guidelines Governing:
    1. Nuclear Exports
    2. Nuclear-Related Exports
  • One crucial element of the NSG Guidelines is the “Non-Proliferation Principle,” introduced in 1994, which mandates that suppliers authorise transfers only when sure that such transfers will not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • Each Participating Government (PG) implements the NSG Guidelines according to its national laws and practices.
  • Decisions regarding export applications are made at the national level in adherence to respective national export licensing requirements.

{GS2 – MoD – Initiatives} Positive Indigenisation List

  • Context (TH I HT I TT): The Ministry of Defence (MoD) released the 5th Positive Indigenisation list of 98 items at a ‘Swavlamban 2.0 session.
  • The list includes combat vehicles, drones, sensors, weapons, and ammunition.
  • The initiative aims to boost the domestic industry and reduce dependence on imported military hardware and will be procured through the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020.

Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP)

  • The Ministry of Defence established the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020.
  • It is a critical component of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan and aims to streamline procuring and acquiring upgraded technology, products, and services.

{GS3 – DM – Earthquake} Delhi NCR Earthquake

  • Context (TH | LM | NDTV): Strong tremors were felt in Delhi NCR after earthquakes hit Nepal.

Earthquake Zones of India

  • Nearly 59% of the land mass of India is prone to earthquakes of different intensities.
  • North-East, J&K, Uttarakhand and parts of Himachal Pradesh fall under Zone 5.
  • Delhi falls in Zone 4, central India falls under Zone 3, while most of the south falls in Zone 2.

Seismic Zones India

  • Bureau of Indian Standards is the official agency for publishing seismic hazard maps and codes.

Why Delhi NCR is Susceptible to Earthquake?

Geological Location

  • Delhi is near the Himalayan region, where the Indian plate collides with the Eurasian plate.
  • This collision which created the Himalayas is responsible for most of seismic activity in the region.
  • Indian plate continues to move towards the Eurasian plate at a rate of 5 cm per year.
  • As a result of this plate movement Delhi NCR frequently experiences seismic tremors.


  • A faultline is a line on a rock surface or the ground that traces a geological fault.
  • A fault is a fracture in the Earth’s crust where two blocks of rock moves relative to each other.
  • If the movement occurs rock blocks rapidly, it releases energy which causes earthquakes.
  • Delhi is located near three major active fault lines: the Sohna fault line, the Mathura fault line, and the Delhi-Moradabad fault line. There are some minor fault lines as well.

India Faultline

  • Drier aquifers make the faults more prone to earthquakes

For detailed study on Earthquake, Plate Movement, & Faults > PMF IAS Physical Geography | Earthquakes in Delhi NCR Region, Earthquake Microzoning

{GS3 – Envi – Conservation} Operation Kachchhap

  • Context (PIB I RW): The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) (Ministry of Finance) carried out a successful operation named Kachchhap.
  • This operation led to the recovery of 955 live baby turtles, including species such as the Indian Tent Turtle, Indian Flapshell Turtle, Crown River Turtle, Black Spotted/Pond Turtle, and Brown Roofed Turtle.
  • Some turtle species are listed as vulnerable or near-threatened on the IUCN Red List and protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.

Indian Tent Turtle (Pangshura tentoria)

  • The species is found in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
  • IUCN Status: Least Concern

Indian Tent Turtle (Pangshura tentoria)

Indian Flapshell Turtle (Lissemys punctata)

  • Indian flapshell turtles are widespread and common in the South Asian provinces.
  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable
  • Habitat: Found in freshwater rivers and swamps

Indian Flapshell Turtle (Lissemys punctata)

Crown River Turtle (Batagur kachuga)

  • This turtle was found in central Nepal, northeastern India, Bangladesh and Burma.
  • It has suffered declines in population due to being harvested for meat and shells, drowned in fishing nets, water pollution, hydro-electric schemes and habitat loss.
  • IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
  • Habitat: Found in deep-flowing rivers with terrestrial nesting sites
  • Significant Features: Females can grow larger and heavier than males

Crown River Turtle (Batagur kachuga)

Black Spotted/Pond Turtle (Geoclemys hamiltonii)

  • The black pond turtle or the Indian spotted turtle, is a freshwater turtle endemic to South Asia.
  • IUCN Status: Endangered
  • Habitat: Found in lentic water bodies, they are mainly carnivorous and feed on snails or larvae.

Black Spotted/Pond Turtle (Geoclemys hamiltonii)

Brown Roofed Turtle (Pangshura smithii)

  • The species is endemic to South Asia. Two subspecies are recognised.
  • IUCN Status: Near Threatened
  • Habitat: Found in freshwater swamps and rivers, they prefer to bask in the sun twice a day, often prefer muddy areas

Brown Roofed Turtle (Pangshura smithii)

{GS3 – Envi – Conservation} Punjab to Ban PUSA-44 Paddy

  • Context (IE): The Punjab government will ban PUSA-44 paddy cultivation from next year.

When did Punjab Farmers Begin Cultivating PUSA-44?

  • PUSA-44, a non-Basmati rice, was developed in 1993 by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
  • Punjab’s farmers initially started sowing PUSA-44 in a few areas. However, after getting a high crop yield, they increased the area under PUSA-44.
  • By the 2010s, it became so popular that it covered 70-80% of paddy cultivation areas of Punjab.

Economic Benefits Punjab Farmers Getting from PUSA-44

  • Farmers claim that PUSA-44 yields 34-40 quintals per acre, surpassing the 28-30 quintals per acre average of other varieties.
  • With the current paddy Minimum Support Price (MSP) at Rs 2,205 per quintal, PUSA-44’s higher yield of 7-10 quintals can increase farmers’ income by Rs 15,000 to 22,000 per acre.

Minimum Support Price (MSP)

  • It is a government-set minimum price for certain agricultural goods to safeguard farmers from market price fluctuations and ensure a minimum income for their produce.
  • Simply, the MSP is the rate at which the government buys agri-produce from farmers.
  • But the government is not legally bound to pay the MSP to farmers.
    • So, the government is not legally obligated to buy all crops at MSP or provide compensation if market prices drop below MSP.

Concerns with PUSA-44 that Led to its Ban

Declining Ground Water Level

  • PUSA-44 is a long-duration variety, taking around 160 days to mature. This is around 35 to 40 days more than other varieties, requiring 5-6 extra irrigation cycles.
  • Due to Punjab’s groundwater depletion and the availability of shorter-duration paddy varieties, the government seeks to conserve water by banning this variety.

Rise in Paddy Cultivation in Punjab

  • The area under paddy, a water-intensive crop, continues growing in Punjab.
  • More than 70% of its agricultural development blocks are declared ‘dark zones’.
  • Dark zones are areas where the groundwater depletion exceeds the recharge rate.

Hitting rock bottom in the land of five rivers

Aggravate Stubble Burning

  • Due to its extended maturity period, PUSA-44 is harvested just before wheat sowing time.
  • It is harvested at the end of October, while the ideal time for wheat sowing is early November.
  • Farmers require 20-25 days between paddy harvest and wheat sowing for proper stubble disposal.
  • However, the limited timeframe PUSA-44 cultivation offers makes stubble management through in-situ and ex-situ methods challenging. This leads to increased incidents of stubble burning.
  • Moreover, PUSA varieties produce approximately 2% more stubble than short varieties, which becomes a significant concern when cultivated on a large scale.
  • By 2018, the Punjab government reduced the area under PUSA-44 to 18% of the total area under paddy, but it rebounded to 22% last year.

PR Varieties: Alternative to PUSA-44

  • The new non-Basmati rice varieties developed by Punjab Agricultural University have become popular among Punjab farmers.
  • The new non-basmati varieties, namely PR 121, PR 122, PR 123, PR 124, and PR 126, are better than PUSA-44 because:
    • Less maturing time (2-4 weeks earlier than PUSA-44)
    • More yield per unit area
    • Less pesticide use
    • Less irrigation required
    • Bacterial blight disease resistance
    • Less labour required

Alternative to PUSA-44

{GS3 – Envi – Invasive Species} Invasive Plant Species Invasion in India

  • Context (HT): A new study on the invasion of invasive plant species in India has been released.

Findings of the Study

Status of Invasion of Invasive Plant Species

  • Invasive plant species have invaded 22% of the natural habitats of India. (It has the potential to reach up to 66% of natural habitats in India.)

Invasive Plant Species in Indian Biomes

  • Savannas had the highest suitability for invasions (87%), followed by moist grasslands and dry deciduous forests (72% each), while evergreen forests were relatively least suitable (42%).
  • Proximity to water aids invasive plants in dry systems (savannas, dry deciduous forests), while closeness to fire supports invasive plants in wet systems (semi-evergreen, evergreen forests).

High Susceptibility of Central India and Western Ghats

  • High invasive species potential is in Central India and Western Ghats, home to nearly half of India’s tigers in the 2022 estimation.

Invasive Plant Species in India

  • Lantana Camara was found to be the most invasive, covering 50% of the invaded natural habitat.
  • Mikania Micrantha had the least expanse and was primarily found in moist grasslands and forests.

Factors Facilitating the Spread of Invasive Plant Invasive

  • Factors that facilitated the spread of invasive species are:
    • Anthropogenic disturbance in the form of livestock grazing
    • Climate change-induced agro-climate conditions

Exotic Species and Invasive Species

  • Alien species (exotic, nonnative, nonindigenous, or introduced species) are species that are not native to a particular area.
  • An invasive species is an alien species that harms the environment, human health, and economy.
  • Invasive species spread rapidly, outcompete native species and establish themselves.

Reasons Why Invasive Species Spread Rapidly

  • Invasive species can spread rapidly in a non-native ecosystem if:
    • They better adapted to their new environment than native species
    • They have no natural predators or competitors
    • They can reproduce quickly
    • They can survive better in harsh conditions

Reason Behind the Increase in Invasive species

  • Perceived benefits: Many invasive species have been intentionally introduced for their perceived benefits in forestry, agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture, or as pets.
    • There was no consideration or knowledge of their negative impacts.
  • Increase in the global economy: Invasive species are now increasing at unprecedented rates, with increased human travel and trade due to the expansion of the global economy.
  • Climate change: It helps expand invasive species by increasing their competitive ability.

Lantana Camara

  • Lantana (or lantana camara) is a flowering plant native to the American tropics.
  • Its common names are Putush (West Bengal), Kongini (Kerala), wild-sage, red-sage, white-sage (Caribbean), tickberry (South Africa), Gu Phool (Assam) and Thirei (Manipur).
  • It is an invasive species; once introduced into a habitat, it spreads rapidly.
  • If it infests pastures and farmlands, it suppresses the pastures (grasses) and crops.
  • It also affects the livestock by reducing pastures and by its toxicity (it is poisonous for livestock).

Lantana Camara

Mikania Micrantha

  • Mikania micrantha, also called bitter vine, climbing hemp vine, or American rope, is a tropical perennial creeper native to North, Central, and South America.
  • It is also sometimes called mile-a-minute vine and Japani lota (in Assam).
  • The featherlike seeds are dispersed by wind.
  • It has medicinal properties and is used to stop minor external bleeding.
  • It is an invasive weed that thrives and is widespread in the tropics.
  • It slows the germination and growth of a variety of plant species.
  • Introduced in India in the 1940s as tea plantation ground cover, it’s now a serious threat to plantation crops and forests nationwide.

Mikania Micrantha

{Prelims – Misc – Awards} Nobel Prize for Literature 2023

  • Context (TH | IE | IE): The Nobel Prize in Literature 2023 is awarded to Norwegian author Jon Fosse “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable”.
  • Literature laureate Fosse’s magnum opus in prose is ‘Septology’ (2021).
  • His other important works are ‘The Other Name’, ‘I is Another’, and ‘A New Name’.
  • He writes novels in a simplified form that has come to be known as ‘Fosse minimalism’.
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