Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 17th March 2024

 


National News 

1.Home Ministry bans several H Boutfits in J&K under UAPA 

  • Hours before the dates for the Lok Sabha election were announced, the Union Home Ministry on Saturday banned the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Freedom League and all factions of the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples League associated with the separatist conglomerate Hurriyat Conference under the Unlawfiull Activities Prevention Act (APA)L 2 
  • The ban on the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), which is led by im- prisoned terror accused Yasin Malik, has been extended by another five years. 
  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah posted on X, "The Modi government has designated the Jammu and Kashmir People's Freedom League (JKPL) as an unlawful association for five years. The organisation threatened India's integrity by promoting, aiding and abetting the secession of Jammu and Kashmir terrorism." through JKPL factions 
  • The Ministry declared four factions of the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples League JKPL (Mukhtar Ahmed Wa za), the JKPL (Bashir Ahmad Tota), the JKPL (Ghulam Mohammad Khan) and the Yaqoob Sheikh-led JKPL (Aziz Sheikh) as "unlawful associations". 
  • These organizations were involved in inciting nervor and abetting secessionism in Jammin and N Kashmir and the government is committed to suppressing terrorism ruthlessly, the Minister said. 
  • He stated that the JKLF continued to engage in activities that foment terror and secessionism in Jammu and Kashmir. Anyone C found challenging the security, sovereignty and integrity of the nation would face harsh legal consequences, he warned. 
  • In a notification, the Home Ministry said the JKP FL, chaired by Mohammad Farooq Shah, was indulging in unlawful activities prejudicial to the integrity, sovereignty and security of the country. 
  • Members of the JKPFL have remained involved in supporting terrorist activities and anti-India propaganda to incite secessionism in Jammu and Kashmir, it said. 


2.Gulmarg vying to become a global winter sports venue 

  • Buoyed by its successful re- cord of hosting four nation al winter games, Kashmir's snow-capped town of Gulmarg is vying to become the venue for international events such as the Aslan Games this year. It also hopes to offer its powdery slopes as training venue to groom athletes for ski mountaineering, a sport that will make its debut in the 2026 Olympics in Italy, Gulmarg's snow meadows, first discovered by Sultan Yusuf Shah in the 16th century, have ski slopes at 2,730 meters above sea level. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has now started the spade work to see Gulmarg become an international venue for the Asian Games and the Olympics. It is also working on an international certification for its slopes, which are covered with the rare powdery snow considered essential for professional akling. "We have proposed it to the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (also known as FIS). The Gul marg slopes need to be certified using International standards. Engaging the right people with technical knowledge can enable Gulmarg to host International events," Olympian Shiva Keshavan, the founder president of the Olympians Association of India (OAI), told The Hindu. 
  • Once Gulmarg's slopes are groomed by experts, it will start earning FIS points as a venue and will compete to host international events, including the Olympics. The IOA has al ready proposed to the FIS about grooming of ski slopes in Gulmarg "to match the international standards''. "We want the 
  • FIS to survey slopes and Identify changes. It has to start before next winter sets in," Mr. Keshavan said. He sald Gulmarg has six feet of snow for Alpine skiing and the best natural setting in terms of range of slopes and quality of snow. "The best ski resorts in the world have 30 centimeters of packed snow and hosting world championships. However, one could see boulders coming out in Gulmarg. The ski resorts have to groom their slopes," Mr. Keshavan said. India lags in winter sports. Arif Khan from Kashmir was the only Indian athlete to represent India in the Olympics in 2022. Though winter sports were introduced in the early 1980s in the country, it has not attracted athletes on the scale other sports have. 
  • "There should have been Athletes participation. Over 5,000 athletes participated in four editions of winter games and put a spotlight on snowboarding, Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing and ski mountaineering. This year, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) joined hands with the J&K Sports Council to organize these events and scout for future athletes. "The last three Khelo India Winter Games were at a higher level. We are focusing on Olympic sports. This year, we ensured that Gulmarg offers highest standards and abides by certain international guidelines, for example the fiming and the course length," Mr. Keshavan said. Gulmarg will also become a place to groom athletes for ski mountaineering, a sport making its debut in 2026 in the Olympics. 
  • "Ski mountaineering is an incredible new age sport. It's closer to nature and may not even require ski lift. We are preparing for the sport," Mr. Kesha van said. 
  • For centuries, Gulmarg remained limited to ski training only. However, the introduction of the Khelo India Winter Games in March 2020 started drawing athletes from across the country more promotional events with no real criteria for entry. But we are focusing on Olympic sports and certain eligibility criteria are in place for athletes. Gulmarg is offering a launch pad for elite level athletes to get familiar with higher level of competition, so that if they go abroad it's a familiar territory," Mr. Keshavan said. 


State News

3.Shipping Ministry approves projects worth ₹645-crore in Assam to boost tourism 

  • India’s Shipping Ministry has approved waterways projects worth ₹645 crore on Brahmaputra in Assam. 
  • Projects, aimed at boosting river tourism, will be implemented with financial assistance from the Centre. 
  • Projects will involve the creation of slipways at strategic locations in Dhubri and Majuli, new passenger terminals at Ghagor in North Lakhimpur and Bahari in Barpeta district of Assam. There will be additional passenger terminals in Goalpara, Guijan, Kurua, Dhubri, Disangmukh & Matmora. 
  • Projects, which will be developed under the Sagarmala programme 


Defence News 

4.Navy rescues 17 crew members of hijacked vessel; 35 pirates surrender 

  • The episode of the merchant vessel marmed-pirane vessel Ruen, the Indian Navy destroyer DES Kaikana through concerted actions successthailty cormered and coerced all 35 piĆ¹rates to surrender and ensures the safe evacuation of 17 crew members on Saturday evening firean the pirate vessel without any injury, the Navy sand late on Saturday. 
  • The ex-Malta flagged merchant vessel Earn, which was hijacked on December 14 and taken to Somalian waters, was turned into a pirate vessel and was reported being used as a pirate ship. The vessel was intercepted by INS Kolkata on March 14 when it was fired upon. 
  • "INS Kolkata had carried out the interception of the Pirate Ship Run almost 1,400 nm [2,600km] from the Indian Coast, and forced the pirate ship to stop through calibrated actions which were augmented by INS Subhadra, high altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, P-S1 maritime patrol aircraft and MARCOS airdropped by C-17 aircraft," the Navy spokesperson said. 
  • "The vessel has also been sanitized for the presence of illegal arms, ammunition, and contraband." Earlier in the day, the spokesperson said that the vessel opened fire on the warship, which was "taking actions in accordance with international law with minimal force necessary to neutralize the pirates' threat to shipping and seafarers". 


Science and Technology News

5.MeiTY drops 'permission' rule for Al models 

  • The Ministry of Flee fronics and intre mation Technology MetTV) has withdrawn contentions advisory that had required Artificial intelligence (AI comparites to on government permission to make their pro ducas available to users online in India. A revised advisory withdrawing the original March i missive, all to withdraw the requirement of an action taken re porn from tech firms that was due on Friday. The advisory had drawn sharp crificios from tende forma Apar Gupta, who wrote in an article for The Hindu on March 15 that the earlier advisory demanded vague censor dap with angulation said that is replacement remained prekid exactly along the same Anes, m mes the requirement to get government approval on Al models online. "There is no legal power for MetTy to sour adinties, Mr. Gupta stressed. There is a continued use of an illegal administrative practice by the Ministry, he added. Both advisories warn Al firms against "blas or diseases fortus to indian ones, Mr. Gupta remarked that criminalisation threatens to find the integrity of the electoral process. With the advisory's withdrawal, 
  • The Minister of State Chandra had encue with Google's Ai chatbot Gemini's response to a query. "momentary accountability has emerged due to the interests of diverse private sector interests" from large. 
  • Google Gemini's reply The initial advisory appeared shortly after Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technolo Ky Rajeev Chandrasekhar took issue with the response of Google's Gemini chatbot to the query, "Is [Prime Minister Narendra) Modi a fascist? Screen shots of Gemini's response had gone viral on social media. After resistance to the advisory emerged, Mr. Chandrasekhar said that it would not apply to start saps, though the advisory did not make that clear. 
  • Robir Kumar, founder of The Quantum ub, a polcy think tank that has worked with large Artificial Intelligence start-ups, welcomed the reversal 
  • The March 1 advisory "would have severely reduced speed to market and dented the innovation ecosystem," Mr. Kumar said. "While the revision is definitely a positive step, the whole episode highlights the need for procedural safeguards to avoid quick reactions to incidents and instead adopt a more consultative approach to policy making” 


Indian Polity

6.7-phased poll fest to kick off on April 19 

  • India will go to the polls from April 19 to June 1, in a marathon seven-phase exercise to elect the 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha, the Election Commission announced on Saturday. Assembly elections will be held simultaneously in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. 
  • The dates of polling for the Lok Sabha are April 19, April 26, May 7, May 13, May 20, May 25, and June 1. In Bihar, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh, voting will take place in all seven phases. The counting of votes on June 4.
  • Voters in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim will cast their ballots for their Assembly elections on April 19, while Andhra Pradesh will elect its Assembly on 96.8 crore electors eligible to cast votes; 1.82 crore are first-timers May 13. Odisha's Assembly election will be held in four phases, with voting on May 13, May 20, May 25, and June 1. 
  • This parliamentary election which is considered to be heavily stacked in favour of the ruling National Democratic Alliance led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with the Opposition INDIA bloc struggling to keep its flock together will be the second longest polling exercise in India's electoral history. 
  • The longest so far was the country's first general election, which was held over five months between September 1951 and February 1952. Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar announced the poll schedule, flanked by the two new Election Commissioners Gyanesh Kumar and S.S. Jy Sandhu 
  • Mr. Kumar said that byelections to 26 Assembly constituencies will also be held alongside the Lok Sabha and four State Assembly polls.
  • India has a total of 96.8 crore registered voters, of which 49.72 crore are men and 47.1 crore are women. There are 1.82 crore first- time electors, of which 85 lakh are women. Mr. Kumar said that the gender ratio among electors has improved significantly to 948 women for every 1,000 men, noting that there are more women than men voters in 12 States. 


Schemes and Committees News

7.1 crore registrations for rooftop solar scheme, says Modi 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday posted on X that "over one crore households' ' had registered for a scheme that offers enhanced subsidies and loans to eligible households to install rooftop solar systems. "In about a month since it was launched, over one crore households have already registered themselves for the PM-Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli Yojana [PM Solar Rooftop: Free Electricity Scheme)," he said. 
  • "Registrations have been pouring in from all parts of the nation. Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh have seen over 5 lakh registrations," he added. "This initiative promises substantial reductions In electricity expenses for households along with ensuring energy production." 
  • To be sure, all electricity produced from rooftop solar systems is free, unlike power from the grid (mostly from burning coal) that is charged based on usage. 
  • As The Hindu reported earlier this month, the Centre has tweaked the ₹75,000-crore scheme, From an initial plan to fully subsidize the installation of one to three KW solar systems in one crore households via tie-ups with renewable energy service companies, the scheme will now only contribute up to 60% of the costs. Households interested in availing the scheme's benefits will have to pay the balance a minimum of ₹20,000 depending on the power capacity of the installed system though this could be defrayed by a low-Interest, collateral-free loan, 


8.Animal Husbandry dept. plans to register Thenmala Kullan as indigenous breed 

  • The Kerala Animal Husbandry department has decided to conserve dwarf cows, locally known as Thenmala Kullan, and launch studies to register it as a unique indigenous breed. 
  • The cow comes with many distinctive features including a small hump. Reared by tribespeople in Arippa and Thenmala, they are less docile and basically thrive on forestbased fodder. 
  • "We have identified some cows in the area and Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) will be conducting the necessary studies. 
  • At present, we have native breeds such as Vechur and Kasaragod dwarf in Kerala and the project to conserve Thenmala Kullan is in the initial phase only," Minister for Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development J. Chinchurani told The Hindu. 
  • According to department officials, tribespeople from various settlements have been rearing these cows for many decades and the animals have completely adapted to the local agro-ecological conditions. Though they produce nutrient-rich A2 milk, the quantity is very low and they are reared mainly for calves and manure. 
  • The officials have identified 42 cows from Kocharippa and Edappana colonies. They say the animals have strong built-up and high immunity. 
  • Meanwhile, scientific evaluation and verification of the breed-specific traits can take some time. In the first phase, multiple factors including the approximate population parent stock, breeding method and distinctive physical features will be considered. "There are many conditions for a group to be documented as indigenous breed by the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources. It involves both phenotypic and genotypic characterisation," says Dr. G. Radhika, Professor, Department of Animal Genetics and Breeding, KVASU. 
  • After the preliminary survey and studies, the phenotypic traits along with the thermal tolerance and immunity will be analysed. "In the next phase DNA will be isolated for genetic studies. Breed status can be achieved only after meeting the criteria of the NBAGR" she adds 


9.IDF recommends more sensitive test to indicate risk of developing diabetes 

  • The International Diabetes Federation (IDF), in a position statement, has recommended the adoption of a test measuring blood sugar one hour (1-h PG) after the load of Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) has been administered to check for diabetes risk. They have also recommended revising glycemic thresholds to measure and predict the risk of developing diabetes. 
  • The measure of blood sugar one hour after a 75 gm sugar solution is consumed will be far more sensitive and practical. method to screen for inter- mediate hyperglycaemia (IH), earlier known as pre diabetes, and type 2 diabetes (T2D) in people at risk. It recommends the use of the cut-off points of 155 mg/dL for measuring IH, and 209 mg/dL for T2D, meaning any figure higher than specified would indicate a higher chance of diabetes, even if the individual's fasting and two-hour values were normal. 
  • The international body has also recommended revising glycaemic thresholds. 
  • The oral glucose test is the best for detecting the onset of diabetes at a future date, and if it is not employed, many remain undiagnosed and untreated. A "wealth of epidemiological data '' guided the confirmation of the superior purpose in using the 1-h PG (plasma glucose) over even fasting PG (FPG), HbAlc and 2-hour PG across ethnicity, sex and age categories. Michael 
  • Bergman, who co-chaired the expert panel with Jaakko Tuomileh to, said: "There are many people who would not be diagnosed through an HbAlc or FPG test but who would, if given an OGTT, be more likely to be detected as having IH or T2D. The 1-h PG has been found to be a more sensitive biomarker for the earlier identification of these high-risk individuals." 
  • The statement was prepared by an international panel of 22 experts from 15 countries and presented recently at the 17th International Conference on Advanced Technologies, Treatments for Diabetes in Florence, Italy and published online in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 
  • V. Mohan, Chairman, Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, whose organization represented India on this panel, explaining that the one-hour value used to be measured up until the 1980s. 
  • "In fact, we used five values measured at different points of the OGTT. Over the years it was pared down to fasting and the two-hour value. We continued to do the one-hour sample at our center, and that is when we discovered that 155 mg/dL is the crucial cut-off value." 
  • In interactions with other experts across the world, including Michael Bergman, it emerged that globally there was agreement over 155 mg/dL at one hour after OGTT being the cut-off value. 
  • "The higher it goes from 155 mg/dL the higher are a person's chances of moving into IH," Dr. Mohan explained. Any value over 209 mg/dL and it is considered that the person has diabetes, the statement said . 


Books and Authors News

10.Parshottam Rupala release Book on Sagar Parikrama 

  • Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry Dairying Parshottam Rupala has release Book and Video on “Sagar Parikrama” at Rajkot, Gujarat. 
  • The object of the book is to chronicle the Sagar Parikrama Yatra, encompassing content on diverse elements, such as the Maritime route, cultural and geographical explorations, and notable impacts from all 12 phases of Sagar Parikrama. 
  • The Book on Sagar Parikrama contains 7 chapters covering genesis of Sagar Parikrama, Overview and detailed coverage of the journey of West coast, East coast and the key take away. 
  • This document will provide an insight into the challenges of coastal fishermen, their culture, religious and traditional fisheries heritage of India.

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