Current Affairs | National | International | SSC | UPSC 18th May 2024

National News

1. According to the United Nations, the growth rate of Indian economy will be 6.9 percent in the year 2024. 

  • According to the United Nations' World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report, India's economy is projected to grow by 6.9% in the year 2024. This is an increase from the first estimate of 6.2% made in January. 
  • The report also predicts a growth rate of 6.6% for 2025, unchanged from the previous forecast. This optimistic outlook highlights India's role in enhancing the overall economic performance of South Asia. 
  • The country's government continues its commitment to reduce fiscal deficit by increasing capital investment. The UN report notes a slowdown in consumer price inflation from 5.6% in 2023 to 4.5% in 2024. This expected reduction is in line with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) target range of 2-6%. 
  • Moody's Ratings has pegged India's economic growth at 6.6% for the current financial year. RBI has estimated a growth rate of 7% for the current financial year. 
  • Similarly, S&P Global Ratings and Morgan Stanley have projected a growth rate of 6.8% and Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Fitch Ratings both have projected a growth rate of 7%. 

Other Facts

  • The report also highlighted economic growth in South Asia. Regional GDP is now expected to grow 5.8% in 2024, up from previous projections of 5.2%, and 5.7% in 2025. 
  • Globally, the economy is projected to grow 2.7% in 2024, an increase of 0.3 percentage points from the January forecast. For 2025, global growth is expected to be 2.8%, an increase of 0.1 percentage point. 
  • The U.S. economy is projected to grow 2.3% in 2024, an increase of 0.9 percentage points. China's growth rate was also revised upward, with a new forecast of 4.8% in 2024, up from 4.7% in January. 

2. Tata AIG launched India's first satellite liability insurance 

  • Tata AIG General Insurance has introduced the country's first 'satellite in-orbit third-party liability insurance'. Third-party liability insurance is a major requirement for private enterprises in the satellite sector. The government had recently allowed 100% foreign investment in the space sector. 
  • With privatization of space launch, India aims to increase its global launch market share five -fold, which is estimated to reach $ 47.3 billion by 2032. 
  • In-arbit covers differ from the launch cover, which mainly focus on the success or failure of the vehicle launched to install satellites in orbit. Space projection covers do not cover the operation of the satellite because they are usually owned by a third party. 
  • Sushant Sarin, president of the commercial business of Tata AIG General Insurance, said, "Satellite launch requires a strong risk management solution for this surge." 
  • According to Sarin, this cover meets the growing needs of satellite manufacturers and operators in the Indian space sector, especially in view of the recent solar storm that highlights the possible dangers in the revolving of spacecraft. 
  • This policy provides coverage for third -party injuries and property damage as a result of satellite operating global standards and practices. 
  • Tata AIG General Insurance Company Limited - An associate venture between the Tata Group and the American International Group (AIG), is celebrating the 22nd anniversary of its operation in India this year. 

International News

3. Russian Army includes 'Bulava' intercontinental ballistic missile in its fleet 

  • The Russian Army has inducted its submarine-launched 'Bulava' intercontinental ballistic missile into its fleet. The chief designer of the missile is Yuri Solomonov. The Bulava was developed under a program that began in the 1990s, and is designed to be deployed on Russia's Borei-class submarines. 
  • Last November, the Russian Defense Ministry successfully tested the Bulava, firing it from an underwater position in the White Sea off northern Russia and hitting a target thousands of kilometers away on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East. 
  • Russia's Northern and Pacific fleets now include seven Borei submarines and 16 Bulava each, TASS said. Solomonov is the chief designer at the Moscow Institute of Thermal Engineering, which also developed Russia's Topol-M and Yars intercontinental ballistic missiles. 
  • Bulava has a range of 8,300 km (5,160 mi) and has a payload of 10 multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs, capable of delivering kills. 

Pakistan -'Fatah-II' rocket system 

  • Pakistan conducted a successful training launch of the guided multi-launch rocket system 'FatahII', which is capable of striking targets with high accuracy up to a range of 400 km. 
  • The Army said in a statement that the launch of the Fatah-II Guided Rocket System was aimed at improving launch practice and procedures. Equipped with state-ofthe-art navigation system, unique trajectory and maneuvering features,
  • Fatih-II is capable of attacking targets with high accuracy and defeating any missile defense system. 

4. Venezuela's Humboldt Glacier turns into ice field 

  • Venezuela is the first country in modern times to completely lose all of its glaciers, according to the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI). Humboldt Glacier, also known as La Corona, he said. 
  • Latest studies have shown that the Humboldt Glacier has shrunk in area by less than 2 hectares. Therefore, its classification was reduced from glacier to ice field as the US Geological Survey says the generally accepted guideline for a glacier is about 10 hectares. 
  • The Sierra Nevada de Mérida mountain range of the Venezuelan Andes Mountains has been home to 6 glaciers. By 2011, five glaciers had disappeared, leaving only Humboldt. It was estimated that the Humboldt Glacier would remain intact for at least another decade, but the latest assessment has shown that the glacier has melted faster than expected. 
  • Venezuela's political turmoil has prevented scientists from monitoring the glacier site for the past few years. Nevertheless, experts believe that increasing climate change and the recent El Niño climate phenomenon, which leads to warmer temperatures, could accelerate the destruction of tropical glaciers. 
  • Although the Venezuelan government has installed a thermal blanket to prevent further melting, experts say the effort is futile. 
  • Indonesia, Mexico and Slovenia are in line to break free as the world experiences record-breaking temperatures over the past few years, according to scientists. 
  • Earlier, a report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) also highlighted that most of the glaciers in the highmountainous region of Asia had lost significant mass due to recordbreaking high temperatures and dry conditions. 

5. Singapore's Nanyang Technological University gets top position in Times Young University Rankings 2024 

  • Mahatma Gandhi University has retained its first position among Indian universities in the Times Young University Rankings 2024. The university has been ranked third in the Times Asia University Rankings. 
  • The top-3 institutes are- Nanyang Technological UniversitySingapore, Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University ParisFrance, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology- Hong Kong. 
  • The 2024 rankings include 673 universities from around the world, with Mahatma Gandhi University ranked 81st. Indian institutions after Mahatma Gandhi University, Anna University, Bharathiar University, Indian Institute of Technology, Patna from Tamil Nadu are ranked 96, 113 and 117 respectively. 
  • These rankings list universities from around the world that are 50 years old or younger. This represents data for the 2021 academic year, and may differ from subsequent or earlier years. 
  • Universities are evaluated based on their core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer, international outlook, etc. 

6. Japan launched the world's first 6G device 

  • A Japanese consortium has recently introduced the prototype of the world's first high-speed 6G device, which is claimed that it transfers data at the speed of light. According to reports, the alleged device may transmit data at 100 gigabit per second (GBPS) and can cover more than 300 feet distance. This device is 20 times faster than the current 5G technology. 
  • With the use of 100 GHz (GHz), the prototype of the 6G device can reach a speed of 100 GBPS inside the house and enable the 300 GHz band device to offer 100 GHz (GHz) outdoor. 
  • In comparison, the theoretical maximum speed of 5G technology is 10 GBPS. However, the real-world speed for T-Mobile users in the US is very rarely about 200 megabits (Mbps). 
  • The reason for providing such a low speed is the high frequency band. While high frequencies can mean faster speed, they limit the distance covered by the signal and reduce its entry power. 
  • Meanwhile, 6G uses more high frequency bands than 5G. This means that it will be difficult to get the frequency required for 6G devices. 
  • The company tested the speed of more than 328 feet (100 meters). The 6G signals can be affected by walls and even rain. 
  • While infection from 4G to 5G focuses on increasing data capacity for activities such as video streaming and mobile browsing, the 6G network can open a completely new scope of possibilities. 
  • With increased speed, 6G can enable real-time holographic communication and emergent virtual and mixed-cosmopolitan experiences. 

Science & Technology News

7. Aditya L1 and Chandrayaan 2 provided information on intense solar storm 

  • The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has achieved a significant feat by capturing the most powerful solar storm in two decades through its Aditya L1 and Chandrayaan-2 missions. 
  • This solar storm, originating from an active sunspot called AR13664, spawned a series of intense X-class flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) directed at Earth. 
  • India's first dedicated scientific mission to study the Sun, Aditya L1, along with Chandrayaan-2, which orbits the Moon, provided a unique vantage point to observe and analyze this powerful geomagnetic phenomenon. 
  • "This is the largest geomagnetic storm since 2003 in terms of its strength, as the flare-up area on the Sun was as large as the historically significant Carrington event that occurred in 1859," ISRO said.

Aditya L1 and Chandrayaan-2 

  • ISRO's Aditya L1 mission, equipped with state-of-the-art instruments like Solar Wind Ion Spectrometer (SWIS) and Supra Thermal and Energetic Particle Spectrometer (STEPS), recorded the enhancement of alpha particle and proton fluxes, which are signatures of such solar events, were collected. 
  • Chandrayaan-2 also captured traces of solar storms from its lunar orbit. The orbiter's X-ray monitor autonomously identified large solar flares, providing insight into the local high-energy particle environment. 
  • ISRO plans to launch the first solar mission, Aditya-L1, in September 2023. It was launched using the PSLV-C57 rocket. 
  • Chandrayaan-2 was successfully launched into space from Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLVMkIII-M1). Chandrayaan-2 is India's second mission to the Moon (after Chandrayaan-1) and consists of a completely indigenous orbiter, lander (Vikram) and rover (Pragyan). 

8. Archaeologist finds first evidence of rock art in form of footprints in Mangalore city 

  • The first evidence of rock art in Mangalore city has been found near Boloor Panne Koteda Babbu Swamy shrine, according to T. Murugeshi, retired Associate Professor, Ancient History and Archaeology, MSRS College, Shirva. 
  • Mr. Murugeshi said the rock art is in the form of a pair of human footprints, found on a natural stone boulder near the shrine. These footprints might have been created in the first or second century A.D. 
  • "This will make us rethink about the origin of Babbu Swamy, a revered legend of the region," he said. 
  • This discovery, Mr. Murugeshi said, is part of the work of recreating history of Babbu Swamy, taken up in association with Minchi-nabavi Kordabbu Trust, Padubidri, Udupi district. "This discovery gives a clue to search for similar art forms near other shrines of Babbu Swamy," he told The Hindu. 
  • Rock art, he said, is referred to paintings and rock paintings, which were unquestionable cognitive evidence of illiterate societies. 
  • He discovered a rock site in Buddhanajeddu in Udupi district in 2009, which, he said, was an important rock art site of coastal Karnataka. In this site, he found more than 20 footprints on a laterite surface, and it belonged to the first or second century A.D. There was evidence of pottery and stone tools of the neolithic period at the Buddhanajeddu site. 
  • The rock art form discovered near Babbu Swamy shrine in Boloor does not have any relative evidence. 

Ranks & Reports News 

9. Nearly 6 million trees disappeared from farmlands: study 

  • In a mere three years, from 2019 to 2022, India may have lost close to 5.8 million full-grown trees in agricultural lands, says a satellite-imagery-based analysis by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Sustainability. 
  • Additionally, 11% of such trees detected via satellite during 2010-2011 were no longer visible when reviewed from 2018 to 2022, leading the researchers to conclude that these trees had "disappeared". 
  • However, this doesn't necessarily imply that India's overall tree cover is declining as the analysis was specific to only large trees above a certain size. 
  • The Forest Survey of India (FSI) conducts regular surveys of tree cover but only publishes data on the changes in acreage and not individual trees. The latest FSI report says that India's tree cover has increased in 2021 over 2019. 
  • The present analysis focuses on farmlands and tracks individual trees, albeit only big ones, relying on maps from multiple 'micro-satellites', and machine learning analysis to estimate trends, beginning in 2010. About 56% of India is covered by farmland and 22% by forest. With the largest agricultural area in the world, changes in tree cover here, while critical, have been largely "overlooked", the authors say. 
  • For their analysis, the researchers combined satellite-imagery from two repositories RapidEye and PlanetScope to estimate changes in tree number from 2010 to 2022. These have resolutions of three to five meters, meaning that the satellite can "see '' large trees, three to five meters apart, as individual trees. The FSI relies on data from the Sentinel satellite that has a coarser resolution of 10 meters implying that they can tell apart blocks of trees but not individual ones. 
  • Trees detected by Rapi dEye had an average crowd size (the leafy outgrowth of tree) of 96 sq.m and such a high loss rate of mature trees over less than a de- cade is "unexpected", the authors note. 
  • "The disappearance of mature farmland trees was observed in many areas, but numbers rarely exceed five to 10%, except for areas in central India, in particular in the States of Telangana and Maharashtra, where we document massive losses of large trees. Here, several hot-spot areas have lost up to 50% of their large farmland trees, with up to 22 trees per square kilometer disappearing. Smaller hotspot areas of loss are also observed, such as in eastern Madhya Pradesh around Indore." 
  • The tree loss estimate was on the "conservative" side and most of the losses were likely between 2018 and 2020, they noted. 
  • One of the authors told The Hindu that the absolute number of trees lost since 2010 could not be estimated as ".. images from 2010 to 2011 are not always good and it was not a wall-to-wall (tree) mapping exercise".

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