Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 5th April 2024


National News 

1. Britannia NutriChoice launches health monitoring app NutriPlus in India 

  • In a bid to deepen engagement with consumers, biscuit brand Britannia NutriChoice has launched the health-tech app ‘NutriPlus’. 
  • The app has been designed in partnership with Aktivo Labs, and enables monitoring of health and wellness metrics. 
  • The NutriPlus app harnesses evidence-based technology and has been built with an aim to democratise health monitoring in the country. 
  • Quantified health empowers people across cultures, languages, and geographies to live long and healthy lives. 

2. Ajit Doval leads the Indian delegation at SCO Meeting 

  • The Indian National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval led the Indian delegation at the meeting of the Secretaries of the Security Councils of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). 
  • The 19th annual meeting of the secretaries of the security councils of the SCO member states was held in Astana, Kazakhstan. 
  • He also met Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the current Chairman of SCO. 
  • President Tokayev advocated adopting a Cooperation Programme to counter terrorism, separatism, and extremism for 2025-2027 and the SCO Anti-Drug Strategy for 2024-2029. 

About Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) 

  • Founded – 15 June 2001 
  • Headquarters – Beijing, China 
  • Secretary General – Zhang Ming (China) 
  • Member Countries – 9 (Iran, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan & Uzbekistan) 
  • Observer members – 3 (Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia). 
  • The founding members (5) of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) were China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan. India and Pakistan officially joined this organization in 2017. 
  • Iran joined in 2023. 

Previous SCO Summit Venue 

  • SCO Summit 2022 – Samarkand, Uzbekistan. 
  • SCO Summit 2023 – India 
  • SCO Summit 2024 – Astana, Kazakhstan 

3. Govt. to record parents' religion to register births 

  • When registering the birth of a child, parents will now be required to separately record the religion of the father and mother, according to Model Rules drafted by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. These Rules will have to be adopted and notified by the State governments before they are implemented.
  • Earlier, only the family's religion was recorded in birth registers. The proposed "Form No.1-Birth Report" will expand the column requiring a tick mark selection "for reli- gion" of the child to now also state the "religion of father" and "religion of mother". Similar changes 
  • The database may be made available to other authorities preparing or maintaining other databases such as electoral rolls or ration cards 
  • Information from digital certificates can be used for purposes such as admission to an educational institution or appointment to government posts that have been made for parents of an adopted child. 
  • Under the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Act, 2023, passed by Parliament on August 11 last year, the birth and death database will be maintained at the national level and may be used to update the National Population Register 
  •  All reported births and deaths are to be digitally registered through the Centre's portal for the Civil Registration System 
  • Data is used by the government. for socio-economic planning and to evaluate the effectiveness of social sector programmes (NPR), electoral rolls, Aadhaar number, ration card, passport, driving license, property registration, and such other databases may be notified. 
  • According to the law, which became effective October 1 last year, all reported births and deaths in the country are to be digitally registered through the 
  • Centre's portal for the Civil Registration System ( The digital birth certificates issued under this system will become a single document to prove the date of birth for various services, including admission to educational institutions. 
  • The office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) under the Union Home Ministry has proposed substituting the existing forms related to the registration of births, deaths, stillbirths, adoptions, and the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death as per the draft rules. The certificate will also include the "history of illness, if any" from now on, apart from the actual cause of death. 

4. President Draupadi Murmu dedicated the country's first domestic gene therapy 'CAR-T' cell to the nation at IIT Bombay 

  • President Draupadi Murmu has dedicated to the nation India's first indigenous gene therapy 'CAR-T cell' for the treatment of blood cancer at IIT Bombay. Unlike the exorbitant cost of ₹5 crore in the United States, it will be available in India at a lower cost of ₹40 lakh. 
  • CAR-T cell therapy (used to treat cancer patients) has been developed by IIT Bombayincubated company Immunoadaptive Cell Therapy (ImmunoACT) in India. 
  • The CAR-T cell therapy product has been developed as a collaborative effort between IIT Bombay and Tata Memorial Center (TMC). Designed and developed at IIT Bombay, the therapy has integrated process development and manufacturing at ImmunoACT. 
  • CAR T-cell therapy, a living medicine, is a personalized treatment. Unlike chemotherapy, which must be administered periodically to combat the disease, CAR T-cell therapy is patientspecific. 
  • A type of treatment in which a patient's T cells (a type of immune system cell) are changed in the laboratory so that they attack cancer cells. T cells are taken from the patient's blood. 
  • Then the gene for a special receptor that binds to a certain protein on the patient's cancer cells is added to the T cells in the laboratory. The particular receptor is called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). 

International News 

5. Japan launches e-Visa for Indian Tourists 

  • Japan has officially launched its e-Visa program for several countries, including India. 
  • This single-entry visa grants a validity of up to 90 days and is specifically designed for travellers planning to enter Japan by air and holding an ordinary passport. 
  • For individuals seeking short-term tourism in Japan, the process of obtaining a visa has been streamlined through the introduction of electronic visas (e-Visas) via the Japan e-Visa system. 

Who is Eligible 

  • The following countries and regions are eligible: Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA. 
  • The eligibility also extends to Indian citizens and foreign nationals residing in India. 
  • Residents of these countries or regions, excluding those exempt from short-term visas, can apply for an e-Visa via the Japan e-Visa website.

6. Romania unveils World’s most Powerful Laser 

  • A research centre in Romania has recently unveiled “the world’s most powerful laser”, which is based on the inventions of 2018 Nobel Physics Prize winners Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland. 
  • The laser, as per the Romanian research centre, is expected to revolutionize everything from the health sector to space exploration. 
  • The laser at the research centre, situated near the Romanian capital Bucharest, is operated by the French company Thales, using Nobel prize-winning inventions. 
  • France’s Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland of Canada won the 2018 Nobel Physics Prize for harnessing the power of lasers for advanced precision instruments in corrective eye surgery and industry. 

About Romania 

  • Capital- Bucharest 
  • Currency – Romanian Leu 
  • Official language- Romanian 

7. Israel must ensure the safety of Indian workers: govt. 

  • India has urged Israel to ensure the safety and security of Indian citizens who are being flown to the conflict-hit nation under a government-to-government (G2G) agreement to work as blue-collar workers, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said on Thursday. 
  • Mr. Jaiswal added that India was "distressed" at the recent attack on Iranian diplomatic premises in Damascus that both Syria and Iran blamed on Tel Aviv. 
  • "As you are aware, these [first batch] workers have gone to Israel as part of a mobility agreement that we have signed with the country. This agreement predates the conflict. We are conscious of their safety. We have urged the Israeli authorities to ensure their safety and well-being," Mr. Jaiswal said. 
  • Israel and India had signed an agreement to fly around 42,000 workers from here to various spots in Israel. 
  • Earlier this week, the first batch of 60 Indian workers flew to Israel on Tuesday. 
  • Continent- Europe 

7. No sanctions against India for buying, refining Russian oil, say U.S. officials 

  • Striking a conciliatory note on India's imports of Russian oil, U.S. Treasury Department officials visiting Delhi said on Thursday that the aim of the U.S. sanctions and the oil "price cap" was not to limit the purchase of Russian 'Ural' oil, but to limit the revenues made by the "Kremlin". 
  • According to the officials, who are meeting their counterparts and oil company representatives in Delhi and Mumbai during their visit on April 2 and April 5, the U.S. measures thus far, including a "second phase" of sanctions against oil shipping companies, are having some impact. However, they brushed aside questions about the rising price of Ural oil, now nearing $80 per barrel, and the narrowing of Russian discounts to Indian refiners. 
  • "Once Russian oil is refined, from a technical perspective, it is no longer Russian oil. If it is refined in a country and then exported, from a sanctions perspective it belongs to that country, it is not an import from Russia," Ms. Morris added, responding to a question about whether India had been "oil laundering" Russian energy for European markets, as alleged in a report by European think tank CREA. 
  • The Petroleum Ministry had last year called the report "misleading" and a "deceptive effort to tarnish India's image". 
  • The officials, Ms. Morris and U.S. Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy Eric Van Nostrand, made it clear that no Indian company had thus far been sanctioned by the U.S. for oil purchases from Russia. Since 2022, a Mumbai based company has been sanctioned over purchases of Iranian oil, while a Bengaluru-based high-tech company was put on a list of firms facing the U.S. and the EU sanctions for engaging in "dual use" technology trade with Russia. 
  • Asked about the U.S. of- ficials' visit, and India's stand on the price cap, the External Affairs Ministry said that all oil purchases were only mandated by India's needs. "Anything to do with energy security and oil purchases on the international market are guided by India's energy security requirements. This is essentially a commercial venture, and we are seeking to buy oil from wherever we receive the cheapest available supplies," Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said on Thursday. 
  • Major purchasers Since the war in Ukraine began in 2022, India and began in 2022 Lodle the major purchasers of Russian oil. In January this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin had praised India for pursuing an "independent foreign policy" despite pressure from the West to curtail trade, energy, and defense ties with Moscow, "The largest of Moscowvest then in India come from Russia. $23 billion was invested by our company Rosneft for the acquisition of an oil refinery, a network of gas stations, a port, and so on," 
  • President Putin had said, referring to the installations at Vadinar in Gujarat. Along with other G-7 countries, the U.S. had announced a "price cap" on Ural oil in December 2022, so that only those importing Russian oil at a rate be low $60 per barrel could avail of shippers, insurers, and other ancillary services from companies that operate in G-7 countries. In effect, that has meant that Russian exporters have had to offer Ural oil at heavy discounts to buyers, the officials said. In an article on the U.S. 
  • Treasury website, Ms. Mor ris and Mr. Nostrand had also claimed success in the second phase of the price cap measures announced in October 2023, ensuring that Russian oil was offered at discounts ranging from $12 to $19 over the past year, and that export volumes "remained stable". Other reports have pointed to Indian buyers facing problems over payments for oil in other currencies, and turning away tankers from companies like Russian shipper Sovcomflot, now under sanctions as well. In Moscow, the Russian 
  • Foreign Ministry countered the claims, saying that Russian oil supplies to India remain at a "steadily high level” 

8. Israel attacks Iranian embassy in Syria 

  • Israel destroyed the Iranian Embassy in Syria in airstrikes on April 1, 2024, killing and injuring everyone inside, Iranian state TV reported, including a Revolutionary Guard commander. 
  • The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on 4 April 2024, India is concerned by the Israeli attack on the Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria on 1 April. 
  • New Delhi has urged all parties to refrain from actions that go against "generally accepted principles and norms of international law", External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said at his weekly media briefing. 
  • Britain-based war monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said eight people, including several guard members, were killed when "Israeli missiles...destroyed the Iranian embassy building". 
  • Iranian state TV said those killed included Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander of the Quds Force, the foreign operations branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. 
  • Iran and one of its key proxies vowed to respond to the Israeli attack on 2 April. Israel has repeatedly targeted military officials from Iran, which supports militant groups fighting Israel in Gaza and on its border with Lebanon. 
  • Iran conveyed an important message to the United States and called for a meeting of the UN Security Council. The message to Washington was delivered through a Swiss envoy in Tehran; Switzerland looks after U.S. interests in Iran. 

9. NATO celebrates 75 years of collective defense in Europe and North America 

  • North Atlantic Treaty-NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has organized a ceremony to celebrate 75 years of collective defense across Europe and North America on 4 April 2024 at Headquarters Brussels, Belgium. 
  • The treaty establishing the alliance was signed in Washington, USA on April 4, 1949. A major celebration for NATO leaders is planned in Washington, USA from 9 to 11 July 2024. 
  • The alliance had 12 founding members in 1949: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It currently has 32 members – with Finland last year and Sweden this year becoming the 31st and 32nd members respectively. 
  • Various countries have joined the alliance: Greece and Turkey (1952), Germany (1955), Spain (1982), Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (1999), Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia (2004), Albania and Croatia (2009), Montenegro (2017) and North Macedonia (2020). 

NATO Plus 

  • It is a group of five countries including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and South Korea. A committee of the US Congress has recommended India's inclusion in NATO Plus in the year 2023. 
  • North Atlantic Treaty Article 5 of the Washington Treaty stipulates that any attack on one another must be met with a united response. It has been used only once in an operation in Afghanistan, following al-Qaeda attacks on American soil in 2001. 
  • NATO took command of the security effort in 2003, and it became the longest, most expensive, and deadliest in alliance history. It was marked by a chaotic comeback in August 2021. 

State News 

10. Bihar's Patna GPO celebrated the 250th anniversary of the world's first postal stamp, 'Copper Ticket'. 

  • Patna GPO, Bihar is celebrating the 250th year of the launch of the world's first postal stamp, the 'Copper Stamp'. This stamp was issued from Patna, which was then known as Azimabad. 
  • At a function, Anil Kumar, Chief Postmaster General of Bihar Postal Circle, released the "special cover" on the copper stamp. The year-long celebrations began on March 31, 2024. 
  • This is a historic moment for Bihar, especially Patna, as it has gone down in history as the first place in the world to launch the Copper Ticket, a form of 'prepaid ticket/token' in 1774. 
  • The copper stamp was launched as a fee for delivering mail over a distance of 160 miles. Kumar said, the year 1774 is remembered as the year of revolution in the field of communication networks as it marked the opening of postal services to the general public, as till then only the royals had exclusive rights over the services. 
  • “We have planned a number of events, including an exhibition on the glorious journey of postage stamps. The exhibition will also include rare postage stamps ever in use, historical artefacts and information about the glorious journey of postal processes. 
  • He said that visitors will not only get comprehensive information about the interesting journey of the “Copper Ticket”, but also get acquainted with its long-term impact on the global communication network through the exhibition. 

Appointment & Resignation News 

11. Rakesh Mohan appointed a member of World Bank economic advisory panel 

  • The World Bank Group has appointed former RBI deputy governor Rakesh Mohan member of the Economic Advisory Panel, according to a statement released by New Delhi-based think tank Centre for Social and Economic Progress. 
  • Currently, Mohan is serving as president emeritus and distinguished fellow at CSEP and is also part-time member of the PM economic Advisory Council. 
  • The World Bank panel will be chaired by Lord Nicholas Stern, the IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government at the London School of Economics, while World Bank Group Chief Economist Indermit Gill will co-chair the panel. 

About World Bank 

  • Founded – 1944 
  • Headquarters – Washington Dc 
  • President – Ajay Banga 
  • MD & CFO – Anshula Kant 
  • Chief Economist – Indermit Gill 
  • Executive Director – Rajesh Khullar 
  • Member Countries -189 
  • World Bank Group – 5 (IBRD, IDA, IFC, MIGA and ICSID) 

Important day 

12. 5 April – National Maritime Day 

  • National Maritime Day is celebrated every year on 5 April. 
  • The day is celebrated with the intention of spreading awareness and recognising the efforts and contributions of India’s maritime sector in improving the country’s economic growth and development. 
  • Theme 2024 – Navigating the future: safety first 
  • On April 5, 1919, the first Indian commercial ship, SS Loyalty, embarked on a journey to the United Kingdom, breaking the British monopoly on sea routes. This event was a crucial step in the development of India’s shipping industry. 

13. 5 April – International Day of Conscience 

  • International Day of Conscience is celebrated every year on 5 April. 
  • The United Nations established this day to draw attention to the importance of self-examination and acting morally. 
  • The day also offers an opportunity to reflect on the progress made in promoting peace and social justice and to identify areas where more work needs to be done. 
  • Theme 2024 – Promoting a Culture of Peace with Love and Conscience 
  • The inaugural International Day of Conscience was first commemorated in 2020 by the United Nations General Assembly. This annual observance was established to encourage people around the world to introspect, follow their conscience, and do what is right. 

14. Army Medical Corps celebrates 260th Raising Day

  • The Army Medical Corps (AMC) marked its 260th Raising Day on April 3, 2024, commemorating a significant milestone in its history. 
  • The Army Medical Corps was established in the year 1764. The Army Medical Corps has rendered selfless service to the nation through progress, development, dedication and sacrifice over the centuries, both in times of war and peace. 
  • The Corps’ motto is ‘Sarve Santu Niramaya’ meaning ‘let all be free from disease’. 

Ranks & Reports News 

15. Median cancer diagnosis age in India is lower than in West’ 

  • The median age for cancer diagnosis in India is lower when compared with the U.S., the U.K., and China, said a report released by Apollo Hospitals. According to the hospital's data, the average age of diagnosis of breast cancer in India is 52 against 63 in the U.S. and the U.K., while for lung cancer it is 59 as opposed to around 70 in the West. 
  • The fourth edition of Apollo Hospitals "Health of the Nation" report, which looks at trends in non-communicable diseases (NCD) based on the hospital's data, has highlighted the huge burden of cancers among the country's younger population and risk posed by low cancer-screening rates. 
  • "What is striking in our database is the median age at which people are diagnosed with cancer; cancer affects a much younger 
  • The hospital found that colon cancer cases were increasing among the young people population. It is 52 years for breast cancer, 54 years for cervical cancer, and 59 years for lung cancer," Madhu Sasidhar, president and chief executive officer, Apollo Hospitals, said. 
  • Looking at their data, the hospital found that colon cancer cases were increasing among young people, with 30% of colon cancer patients at Apollo Hospitals aged less than 50 years. But the country falls behind in cancer screenings. 
  • "Most nations have strong guidelines for screening," he said, adding that while the screening rate for breast cancer stood at 74% to 82% in the USA, only 1.9% are screened in India. 
  • Raising the issue of Western data being extrapolated in India, he explained. An analysis found the threshold for Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) , a blood test in Indian men, was different from the current standards, suggesting the need for local data. 
  • The report also elaborated on mental health and metabolic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. It found that one in three Indians have pre-diabetes, raising the need for proper diet, exercise, and weight loss. 
  • In a video message, Prathap C. Reddy, chairman, Apollo Hospitals, said NCDs contributed to 70% of deaths today. 

16. According to Lancet study, global life expectancy increased by 6.2 years between 1990-2021 

  • People around the world are living on average six years longer in 2021 than in 1990, according to a Lancet study. In India, life expectancy increased by 7.8 years between 1990 and 2021. 
  • The Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) presents 2021 updated estimates which show that Bhutan has had the largest increase of 13.6 years in life expectancy, followed by Bangladesh with an increase of 13.3 years, Nepal with 10.4 years and Pakistan with a modest increase of 2.5 years. 
  • According to the World Population Review in 2023, life expectancy in Monaco is among the highest in the world, with locals living to the age of 87 on average. 
  • The top 10 countries with the highest life expectancy include Hong Kong from Asia, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland from Europe. The COVID-19 pandemic hit Latin America and the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa the hardest, causing the largest loss of life expectancy in 2021. Between 1990 and 2021, life expectancy increased the most in eastern sub-Saharan Africa, with an improvement of 10.7 years. 
  • According to the report, progress has been made in reducing deaths from leading causes such as diarrhea, lower respiratory infections, stroke and ischemic heart disease. This progress has resulted in increased life expectancy. 
  • However, this gain could have been more significant had the COVID-19 pandemic not disrupted progress. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, researchers found that the largest net gains in life expectancy between 1990 and 2021 (8.3 years) occurred in Southeast Asia, East Asia and Oceania. 

17. SEBI unveils investor grievance redressal system ‘SCORES 2.0’ 

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has launched SCORES 2.0, an upgraded version of its Grievance Redressal System (SCORES) to strengthen the mechanism for resolution of investor complaints. 
  • This advanced system includes automated routing, inspection by designated officials and streamlined processes. 
  • SEBI Grievance Redressal System (SCORES) is an online platform, launched in June 2011, that allows investors to lodge complaints in the securities market through web URLs and an app. 
  • Investors can now file complaints only through SCORES 2.0 from April 1, 2024. Existing complaints can be viewed from old SCORES, but new complaints must be filed through the updated system. 
  • SCORES 2.0 will feature shorter and uniform timelines for redressal of investor complaints, which is 21 calendar days from the date of receipt of complaint. Currently, entities are required to submit action taken reports in less than 30 days. 
  • There will be two levels of review under this, if the investor is dissatisfied with the resolution provided by the concerned regulated entity then the first review will be done by the 'Designated Body'. If the investor is still dissatisfied after the first review, a second review will be conducted by SEBI. 
  • SCORES 2.0 will be integrated with the KYC registration agency database for easy registration of investors on SCORES. 
  • ‘MyCGHS App’ of Health Ministry Apoorva Chandra, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the myCGHS app for iOS ecosystem of devices in New Delhi. The app is designed to enhance access to electronic health records, information and resources for Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) beneficiaries. 
  • This app was already available for the Android system. Speaking to reporters, Shri Chandra said that myCGHS app facilitates a wide range of services, including booking and cancellation of appointments online, access to lab reports from CGHS labs, checking medicine history, checking medical reimbursement claim status, access to referral details, tracking nearby health and medical treatment. 
  • MyCGHS iOS app has been developed by the technical teams of National Informatics Center (NIC) Himachal Pradesh and NIC Health Team. 

Science & Technology News 

18. India's AI software engineer 'Devika' launched

  • After the world's first "AI software engineer" Devin, created by Cognition Labs in the United States, India has launched its own AI software engineer, Devika. 
  • This open-source project, a passion project of Mufid VH (Hamzakutty), the 21-year-old Kerala-based founder of Liminal and Stition.AI, aims to rival the capabilities of Devin. Devika, like Devin, leverages machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) to understand human instructions. 
  • However, Devika focuses on taking those instructions and breaking them down into actionable tasks. It then conducts its own research and autonomously writes code to achieve the set goals.
  • The launch of Devika adds another layer to the global race of AI innovation, especially in the software development sector. It remains to be seen how these AI tools will impact the tech job market, but one thing is certain: the future of coding is set for a significant change. 
  • Devika is able to interact in a feedback loop to understand, explore, research, code, document, and make decisions based on user questions to complete a project. 
  • Devika has the ability to execute the code you create and automatically repair errors or patches without user intervention. Devika has the ability to deploy static websites created by Devika to Netlize. 
  • Earlier last month, Saudi Arabia's first male humanoid robot 'Muhammad' was launched at DeepFest in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

Sports News

19. Bindyarani Devi bags bronze in Weightlifting World Cup 

  • Commonwealth Games medallist weightlifter Bindyarani Devi won a bronze medal at the IWF World Cup 2024 in Phuket, Thailand. 
  • Devi is a first Indian to win Bronze Medal in Weightlifting World Cup 55kg event. 
  • Competing in the non-Olympic women’s 55kg category, Bindyarani Devi recorded a total lift of 196kg (83kg snatch + 113kg clean and jerk) to finish third in the standings. 
  • The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Kang Hyon Gyong won the gold medal in Phuket with a lift of 234kg (103kg snatch + 131kg clean and jerk).
  • Romania’s Mihaela Cambei won the silver with a personal best of 201kg (91kg + 110kg). 
  • Bindyarani Devi and Mirabai Chanu were the only two Indians competing at the IWF World Cup 2024, which concludes on April 11. 

Miscellaneous News 

20. Class 11 and 12 exams to focus on checking concept clarity: CBSE 

  • The exams for Classes 11 and 12 from the 2024-25 session will include more competency-based questions that assess the application of concepts in real- life situations, according to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) officials who announced a change in the format. While the percentage of competency-focused questions in the form of multiple-choice questions, case based questions, source-based integrated ques- tions, or any other type has been increased from 40% to 50%, the percentage of constructed-response questions, including short and long answers, has been reduced from 40% to 30%. 
  • "The board in accordance with National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 has taken multiple steps towards implementation of Competency Based Education in schools, ranging from aligning assessment to competencies, development of exemplar resources for teachers and students as well as continuous capacity building of the teachers," Joseph Emanuel, Director (Academics), CBSE, said. 
  • "The main emphasis of the board was to create an educational ecosystem that would move away from rote memorisation and towards learning that is focused on developing the creative, critical, and systems thinking capacities of students," he added. 
  • He said the board is continuing with aligning the assessments and evaluation practices with NEP-2020 for the academic session 2024-2025. There is no change in the exam format for Classes 9 and 10. 

Polity News 

21. Overkill Verification of a statistically significant sample of VVPAT slips should suffice 

  • The introduction and use of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), an adjunct system attached to the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), and the provision of counting VVPAT tallies from five random polling booths in every Assembly constituency to be matched with the EVM vote-count, have not assuaged critics of the use of EVMs in Indian elections. 
  • Some suggest the fact that the process could be more transparent if a machine audit trail of all the commands that are executed is maintained in the system, beyond just the votes recorded in the EVM's ballot unit and the printed slips in the VVPAT's, allowing for an audit to rule out any malicious code. 
  • This could indeed make the system more robust and be considered as an upgrade to the existing machines. Others suggest that the use of VVPAT'S has introduced potential vulnerabilities that did not exist with the standalone nature of EVMs and the technical and administrative safeguards that undergirded the legacy system. This too could be addressed by reworking the safeguards to ensure that the VVPAT-combined systems are as secure and foolproof as the standalone EVMs were. But incomprehensible is the critique from many, including political parties such as the Congress, that only a 100% recount of all VVPATs would suffice, instead of the current method of sampling the number of recounts, in order to have full transparency. The Supreme Court of India has now listed a series of petitions related to this demand. 
  • Despite Cassandra-like pronouncements about malpractices and EVM-hacking, there has been no proof of any actual tampering of EVMS so far. While EVMs, as any machine is bound to, have suffered glitches, and promptly been replaced in the event of machine failures, the critique that they are prone to hacking or manipulation despite the existing technical and administrative safeguards has not been made with any actual proof. 
  • The sample counting of VVPATS, across both the general election in 2019 and several other Assembly elections for instance, which allow the voter to confirm whether the mandate matches the choice made on the EVM, have shown that the mismatch between the VVPAT recount and the EVM count has been minuscule an outcome of trivial errors such as non-deletion of mock polls in the machine before the voting process or errors in manual recording of the final count from the machine. 
  • An increase in the recount sample to make it more statistically significant, by making the selected number of Assemblies specific to each State/Union Territory based on the size of the province, or, simply to increase the recount sample in seats where the margin of victory is narrow (say, less than 1% of the overall votes) could be solutions. But to insist on a full recount seems an overkill and a clear lack of trust in the EVM itself.

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