Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC -10th March 2024


1. Kerala has highest number of female passport holders in India 

  • In line with the visible shift in the migration pattern from Kerala of late, women from the southern State hold the highest number of passports issued in the country till 2023, followed by Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, and Gujarat. 
  • Though Kerala has the highest number of total passport holders in the country at 98.92 lakh including male and female), Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of male passport holders at 70.58 lakh. The number of female passport holders in Kerala stands at 42.17 lakh. The highest number of tion female passport holders underscores the recent shift in the migration pattern from the State, characterized by a notable increase in Kerala's youth, especially female students, heading to various countries for higher education. 
  • A survey on "Youth Student Migration from Kerala", conducted in 2002 part of the Centre for public Policy Research (CPPR) Youth Leadership Fellowship, found that more women from Kerala are pursuing ovenear edu Eition 
  • Though the 2018 Kerala Migration Survey put wo men's participation in migration at 15.8%, the latest study found that females represented 32% of the survey respondent, aligning with the data which showed that nearly half of over 7,200 students who recently secured Canadian visas from one facilitator were female 
  • Speaking to The Hindu, K. Harikrishnan NamBoothiri, former CEO of NoRKA Roots, is in the field again. 
  • Further, high migraines Itinerary coupled with the relatively high experience population of the State comminuted the pe porn punctuation anang the women in Bermain 
  • In addition, the number of family reunions of overseas skilled workers from Kerala is now quite high compared to other parts of att the country 

2. Constitution has its place from courts to remote villages: CJI 

  • Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on Saturday laid emphasis on the constitutional values of liberty, equality and fraternity for ensuring the nation's unity and progress, and said the Constitution's learning should reach the villages across the country. "Our Constitution has its place from the court's corridors to the remote villages. It is not limited to books alone," the CJI said. 
  • Justice Chandrachud inaugurated a regional 'Hamara Samvidhan Hamara amara Samman' (Our Constitution, Our Honour) campaign at Maharaja Ganga Singh University's auditorium in Bikaner to enhance awareness about the Constitution and the citizens' rights and duties, and commemorate the 75th year of India as a republic. 
  • Union Law and Justice Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal and the Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court M.M. Shrivastava were among those present at the event. 
  • Chief Justice Chandrachud said the basic rights, he said. such as daily wages, pension, clean water, ration, health care and education, flowed from the Constitution, which had met the challenges of the country's diverse society and given dignity to the people. Mutual fraternity was necessary to maintain equality in the country, he added. 
  • The CJI quoted B.R. Ambedkar's speech in the Constituent Assembly, pointing out that the Constitution was not a mere lawyers' document, but was a vehicle of life, and its spirit was always the spirit of age. 
  • "The Constitution reflects our collective aspirations... We are committed to the rule of law and protection of human rights because of the Constitution," 
  • Referring to the technological advancements being applied to judicial institutions, Justice Chandrachud said that while the Supreme Court had started hearing cases through video-conferencing, the potential of technology was being utilized to spread legal awareness and strengthen legal services as well. A lawyer sitting in any part of the country could argue his case in the courts situated elsewhere, he said.
  • "The Supreme Court has worked to enhance its capacity through technology. The district courts are also being sensitized, as they constitute the first step towards justice," the Chief Justice said. 

3. India to gain higher C investments from FTA pact with EFTA 

  • India's gains from the proposed free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries, to be signed on Sunday, will have to mostly flow from the S100-billion investment and one million jobs promised by the bloc over 15 years, as goods exports may gain minimally due to insignificant existing tariffs, research body Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) indicated in a report. 
  • New Delhi convinced the EFTA countries, which include Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, to weave in commitments on minimum investment flow and job creation keeping in mind that the existing goods tariffs in the bloc are already zero or very low, an official told businessline. 
  • This is especially true for Switzerland, which accounted for $1.38 billion of the total $1.87 billion of Indian exports to the EFTA in CY2023. 
  • "Since 98% of India's exports, to Switzerland are industrial goods already entering at zero tariffs, they won't benefit from the FTA," observed Ajay Srivas- Power of four 
  • India's gains from the proposed FTA with the 4-nation EFTA will mostly flow from the $100-bn investment promised by the block 
  • Goods exports may gain minimally due to insignificant existing tariffs, GTRI says 
  • Tariffs in Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein are already zero or very low tava, co-founder, GTRI. "India's agricultural exports are minimal and un-likely to increase signifi- cantly due to strict quality standards and non-tariff barriers," Mr. Srivastava pointed out in the report. 
  • The signing ceremony of the proposed pact in New Delhi on March 10, officially called the India-EFTA Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA), is likely to include trade ministers of some EFTA countries as well, such as Norway, apart from Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal. 
  • Low scope for access The low scope for increased market access for goods in EFTA could be of concern as India had a trade deficit of $18.58 billion with the bloc in CY23, with its imports at $20.45 billion. Of this, gold and other precious metals, stones and coins, all imported from Switzerland, accounted for $16.7 billion. Gold, making up 80% of India's imports from Switzerland, is a critical factor, GTRI said. 
  • 'Little competition' The JV areas that the countries have short-listed, where investments are to be made, mostly do not have competition from India, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. 
  • "EFTA has agreed to the condition of investments being made in India because they are getting market access," the official note . "Also, they are not our competitors in the identified sectors. For instance, in India, most medical devices are imported from China. The pact will lead to diversification of imports, which is absolutely necessary," the official added. 

4. Arun Goel quits as EC ahead of Lok Sabha poll 

  • Days ahead of the announcement of the schedule for the upcoming Lok Sabha poll, Election Commissioner Arun Goel resigned on Saturday. His tenure was till 2027. 
  • According to a notification by the Law Ministry, his resignation has been accepted by President Droupadi Murmu with effect from March With the resignation, the Election Commission has been reduced to just one member Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar. Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey retired in February. 
  • Mr. Goel, a 1985-batch IAS officer of the Punjab cadre, joined the EC on November 21, 2022. 
  • His resignation comes two days before a crucial hearing of the Supreme Court on the electoral bonds issue. 
  • Earlier, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an NGO, had filed a public interest litigation petition in the Supreme Court challenging Mr. Goel's appointment claiming that due procedure had not been followed. The top court had refused to interfere with the appointment stating that a Constitution Bench had already examined the process and refrained from passing any adverse orders. 
  • On Saturday, ADR chairman Trilochan Shastry told The Hindu: "We are happy that he has resigned.” 

5. Kozhikode to get India's first cooperatives museum 

  • Amul, Indian Coffee House, Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO), Kerala Dinesh Beedi: these are brands from diverse sectors with one uniting factor they are all cooperatives. These and many others will be showcased at the almost-ready 14-storey International Cooperative Museum (ICM) in the heart of Kozhi- kode, Kerala. It will be a destination to learn about India's cooperative movement that has a history of i-more than a century. 
  • A 150-crore project of Karassery Service Co-operative Bank that began operations in 1994, the museum will be the second of its kind in the world (the first is in Toad Lane, the U.K., set up in 1844). There are more than 8 lakh cooperatives in India today, with a collective membership of 29 crore. Maharashtra has the maximum number of cooperative societies, at 2.3 lakh, with 5 crore members. The museum will showcase the success and achievements of cooperative movements in India, especially Kerala. The building will also house a wax museum and an art gallery. 
  • The International Cooperative Museum building is expected to be a major tourist attraction in the State. K. RAGESH 
  • The ICM is the brainchild of N.K. Abdurahiman, the chairperson of Karassery Bank. The initial work for the project began in 2016. The construction is being carried out by Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society, another giant in Kerala's cooperative sector. 
  • The initial plan was to complete the work in five years, but COVID-19 played spoilsport. With the change in technology over the last eight years, plans changed too. "We are planning to incorporate the latest technology, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality for the displays," said Mubasheer Ali Tahir, director (IT and Infrastructure) of Karassery Bank, who is in-charge of the work. 
  • Meanwhile, the bank has approached the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and the International Cooperative Alliance for support to make the project even bigger. "We have already contacted cooperatives in some countries in Europe and Japan for information and display materials," he said. With its opening in less than six months, the ICM is expected to be a major tourist attraction in Kozhikode. "Our aim is to make the museum a great learning experience for people, especially students and re- searchers. We hope to do this with the support of experts and research scholars in the field," Mr. Abdurahiman said. 

6. Navy demonstrates twin-carrier operations 

  • The first edition of the Naval Commanders' Conference of 2024 concluded on Friday. The first part of the conference was held at sea on board aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya on March 5 during which the Navy showcased its "twin carrier operations" with MiG-29K fighter jets taking off simultaneously from both INS Vikramaditya and INS Vikrant, and then landing cross deck. The operations were witnessed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Anil Chauhan. 
  • The remainder of the conference was held in New Delhi. 
  • The twin-carrier operations also demonstrate that the first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, has been fully integrated into the operational cycle. The twin operations were fol- lowed by a sail by several. 
  • The conference happened amid the high operational tempo of the Navy with developments in the Red Sea and renewed piracy attempts in the Gulf of Aden. 
  • Mr. Singh underscored the leadership role expected of the Indian Navy towards ensuring peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region. 
  • The proceedings at New Delhi on March 7 and 8 included a review of major operational, material, infrastructure, logistics and personnel-related tives, the Navy said. 

7. Center issues order to curb tailgating of Digi Yatra passengers 

  • The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has asked airports and airlines to use better technology and assign more manpower resources to prevent passengers from tailgating through automatic gates at various checkpoints. 
  • This is needed to ensure the smooth implementation of Digi Yatra, a system for paperless travel.
  • "Strict instructions have been given against tailgatIng wherever there are e gates," a senior official of the Union Home Ministry told The Hindu on the condition of anonymity. 
  • The government directive follows two serious security breaches within 10 days in February when ticketless travelers entered the passenger building and even the boarding gate at Mumbai airport. 
  • On February 22, a 22- year-old man traveling without a ticket was able to reach the aerobridge by walking closely behind other passengers and passing through the terminal entry gate where CISF staff were carrying out manual checking, followed by one e-gate before the passenger screening area and another after it. The man was stopped by an IndiGo 
  • Egate manufacturers have been asked to upgrade technology to ensure that two passengers cannot pass through them at the same time staff after he had entered an aerobridge to board a plane. 
  • Earlier, on February 12, a mari in his 60s was similarly able to travel through the airport and even enter an IndiGo aircraft. 
  • Need for improvement E-gate manufacturers have been asked to Improve their technology to ensure that two passengers cannot pass through them at the same time. 
  • Airlines have also been told to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that have been laid down, deploy adequate manpower at the boarding gates, and ensure that passengers are boarded zone- wise -where passengers who are assigned seats at the back of the plane board first to overcrowding. avoid 
  • Digi Yatra, a biometric-based boarding system which allows passengers to use their facial scan as a ticket, has been rolled out at 13 airports so far and 24 more airports will get the facility this year. 

8. Lanka's tourism surge a clarion call for Kerala 

  • The meteoric rise of Sri Lanka's tourism sector from the ashes of the economic downturn and civil unrest a year ago now serves as a wake-up call for Kerala, two major foreign tourist destinations in South Asia. 
  • Sri Lanka is considered a major competitor to Kerala with both destinations blessed with panoramic landscapes, beaches, wildlife, verdant leaf-cloaked hills, relatively similar cuisine, and similar weather. 
  • However, there has been a growing preference for Colombo by international tourists over Kerala of late, despite the State having beautiful backwaters and being considered a cradle of Ayurveda, for which there are no real equivalents in Sri Lanka. 
  • Foreign tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka and Kerala were 6.54 lakh and 6.59 lakh, respectively, in 2010, hardly a year after the civil war came to an end in the island nation.
  •  The next decade was very crucial for Sri Lanka with Colombo literally outpacing Kerala in absolute numbers in terms of foreign tourist arrivals. The tourist arrivals at one point touched 23.33 lakh in 2018. 
  • On the other hand, Kerala tourism clocked 11.89 lakh in 2019, the highest ever number clocked by the State. 
  • However, things went into a tailspin again after the Easter Day bombing in Colombo in 2019, which was followed by the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent financial turmoil in Sri Lanka. 
  • The arrival of foreigners in Lanka started declining to 7.19 lakh in 2022. Kerala was then poised to get a share of foreigners looking for budget destinations in Lanka as it was the immediate choice near Colombo. 
  • However, taking competitors by surprise, Lankan tourism made a strong comeback in 2023 with foreign tourist arrivals touching a whopping 14.87 lakh in the just concluded season in 2023, whereas Kerala could register only an arrival of 6.49 lakh in 2023, which is still short of its 2010 arrivals. 
  • Kerala Tourism Minister P.A. Mohamed Riyas attributed the deepening conflict in some parts of the globe to the slow recovery of international tourism in Kerala after the pandemic, but Colombo could make a strong comeback riding high on the foreigners' preference for the island nation over Kerala, despite u the reports of power cuts, fuel shortages, and anti-government protests there. Interestingly, Indians account for the lion's share of foreign tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka followed by Russians and those from the U.K. 
  • Speaking to The Hindu, Jaison Panikulangara, director of SAJ HouseBoat Builders and Operators, who invested in the houseboat tourism industry in Colombo, said that be it Galle Fort in Sri Lanka or Fort Kochi in Kerala, the tourist experience is almost the same with the fascinating destinations providing a peep into the colonial influence and ancient history of the cities when digging a little deeper. Although the beach experience in Sri Lanka is more remarkable than in Kerala, said Mr. Panikulangara. 

9. Why has the government issued an Al advisory? 

  • On March 1, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) Issued an advisory to the Artificial Intelligence industry. It said that all generative Al products, like large language models on the lines of ChatGPT and Google's Gemini, would have to be made available "with [the] explicit permission of the Government of India" if they are "under-testing/ unreliable". 
  • What is the government's stand? 
  • The advisory represents a starkly different approach to Al research and policy that the government had previously signaled. It came soon after Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, reacted sharply to Google's Gemini chatbot, whose response to a query, "Is (Prime Minister Narendra Modi a fascist?" went viral. Mr. Chandrasekhar said the ambivalent response by the chatbot violated India's IT law. 
  • How has it been received? The advisory has divided industry and observers on a key question: was this an 'advisory' in the classic sense that was reminding companies of the advisory as an opportunity in disguise It points to a need for local Al stacks, datasets, graphics processing units existing legal obligations, or was this a mandate? 
  • "It sounds like a mandate," Prasanth Sugathan, Legal Director at the Delhi-based Software Freedom Law Centre said at an event on Thursday. The document, sent to large tech platforms, including Google, instructed recipients to submit an "action taken-cum-status Report to the Ministry within 15 days." Mr. Chandrasekhar insisted that there were "legal consequences under existing laws (both criminal and tech laws) for platforms that enable or directly output unlawful content," and that the advisory was put out for firms "to be aware that, platforms have clear existing obligations under IT and criminal law." Mr. Chandrasekhar referred to rule 3(1)(b) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which prohibits unlawful content like defamation, pornography, disinformation and anything that "threatens the unity... and sovereignty of India." He added that the rules were intended for large tech firms and wouldn't apply to startups. 
  • The government hasn't elaborated in detail on how IT laws can apply to automated Al systems in this way. Pranesh Prakash, a technology lawyer who is an affiliated fellow at the Yale Law School's Information Society Project, said the advisory was "legally unsound," and compared it to the Draft National Encryption Rules of 2015, a quickly withdrawn proposal to outlaw strong encryption of data in India. 
  • The advisory also included a requirement for Al-generated imagery to be labeled as such, something that the industry has vacillated between taking serious efforts on doing. Amazon Web Services has tried implementing an 'invisible' watermark, but has expressed concern that such a move would be of little use as watermarks can be edited out fairly easily. Rahul Matthan, a technology lawyer and partner at the firm Trilegal, urged a more permissive approach to Al systems. "In most instances, the only way an invention will get better is if it is released into the wild beyond the confines of the laboratory in which it was created," Mr. Matthan wrote after the advisory was released. "If we are to have any hope of developing into a nation of innovators, we should grant our entrepreneurs the liberty to make some mistakes without any fear of consequences," he added, pointing to the aviation industry as an example, where he said air safety improved as a result of planemakers' willingness to share information on failure with each other to collectively improve air safety. 
  • What has been the government's approach to the Al industry? 
  • Until recently, the government itself shared optimism on Al, where Big Tech firms have often struck a balance between seeking regulation and seeking to control the direction these regulations take. The IT Ministry last April categorically said that "the government is not considering bringing a law or regulating the growth of artificial intelligence in the country". 
  • But in the last few months, even before the now viral Gemini response, Mr. Chandrasekhar has expressed dissatisfaction with Al models spitting out uncomfortable responses, "You can't 'trial' a car on the road and when there is an accident say, 'whoops, it is just on trial. You need to sandbox that," Mr. Chandrasekhar said on Al firms' responses to criticism on bias. The tension underlines the conflict inherent to widely testing an experimental technology which is that wide testing is what allows these often unruly models to detect mistakes and improve. That dynamic was on display when Gemini generated racially incorrect photos of historical events, leading to a storm of criticism that led to the firm pausing the photo generation feature until it worked on a fix. 
  • "This is just a poor job in communication, resulting from the need to do something in an election year," Aakrit Vaish, co-founder of Haptik, a conversational Al firm founded in 2013 said on X. Mr. Vaish amplified subsequent clarifications on the advisory's applicability as good news for startups, and sought inputs to collect from local firms to send to the ministry. Atul Mehra, founder of Vaayushop, an Al finance firm, expressed hope that the advisory could actually translate to a benefit for local developers. While it was a "short term hassle," he conceded on X, "it's a huge opportunity in disguise. It points to [a] need for local Al stacks, datasets, [and] GPUs [graphics processing units) ...Let's keep building and wait for our right moment to even beat Microsoft and Google.” 

10. PM launches 52 tourism sector projects worth more than Rs 1400 crores 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched 52 tourism sector projects worth over Rs 1400 crore under the Swadesh Darshan and Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD) schemes. 
  • Nine tourism infrastructure projects, spread across the country, developed under Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD schemes worth Rs 469 crore were launched, besides 43 other projects worth Rs 963 crore were also launched under the two schemes of tourism ministry. 
  • The project launch events were also carried out at all the 52 destinations, simultaneously by the ministry, state government, UT administrations and local authorities. 
  • The projects launched included three projects under PRASHAD Scheme (Hazratbal- Srinagar, Jogulamba Telangana, Amarkantak-Madhya Pradesh) worth Rs 129.35 crore. 
  • Some of the major interventions developed in the projects include pilgrim facilitation centres, ghat development, fa├žade illumination, sound and light shows, queue complex and safety and security infrastructure. 

PM Modi in News 

  • PM Modi inaugurates India’s first underwater metro in Kolkata 
  • PM Modi launches development projects worth 35,700 crore rupees in Jharkhand 
  • PM Modi unveils India’s first hydrogen fuel cell ferry 
  • PM Modi inaugurated ‘Bharat Tex 2024’ in New Delhi 
  • PM Modi laid the foundation stone for Sikkim’s first railway station at Rangpo. 

11. PM Modi dedicated Sela tunnel to nation 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dedicated the Sela tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh to the country, with the new route allowing faster deployment of weapons, soldiers and equipment to forward areas near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Tawang sector. 
  • The tunnel is built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) at a cost of Rs 825 crore. It is the world’s longest twin-lane tunnel above 13,000 feet. 
  • The tunnel will cut down the travel time to Tawang by at least one hour as well as provide all-weather connectivity. 
  • Sela tunnel will not only boost the country’s defence preparedness but will also give a fillip to the region’s socio-economic development, the officials said. 
  • The tunnel has been designed for a traffic density of 3,000 cars and 2,000 trucks per day, with a maximum speed of 80 kmph. 

12. Cabinet approves Uttar Poorva Transformative Industrialization Scheme 2024 

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) for Uttar Poorva Transformative Industrialization Scheme 2024 (UNNATI 2024). 
  • The scheme is for a period of 10 years from the date of its notification along with 8 years for committed liabilities with a financial outlay of ₹10,037 crore. 
  • The scheme is proposed to be divided into two parts. Part A caters to the incentives to the eligible units (₹9,737 crore), and Part B is for implementation and institutional arrangements for the scheme (₹300 crore). 
  • The proposed scheme envisages around 2,180 applications, and it is anticipated that direct employment opportunities of about 83,000 will be generated during the scheme period. 
  • All eligible industrial units to commence their production or operation within four years from the grant of registration. 
  • Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) will implement the scheme in cooperation with the States. 
  • Its main objective is to generate gainful employment, which will lead to the area’s overall socio-economic development. It will create productive economic activity in the manufacturing and service sector.

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