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Prelim Bits 16-03-2024 | UPSC Daily Current Affairs

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March 16, 2024

Electric Vehicle (EV) Policy

India unveiled a new electric vehicle policy that would provide foreign EV makers with incentives to enter India's electric car market.

  • Administered by - Ministry of heavy industries (MHI).
  • Features - Government will lower import taxes on certain electric vehicles for companies that commit minimum investment of Rs 4150 crore ($500 million).
  • There is no upper threshold for investments from EV manufacturers.
  • Time Line - For vehicles with a minimum CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) value of $35,000, a 15% customs duty will be levied for a duration of 5 years.
  • This is subject to the manufacturer setting up manufacturing facilities in India within a 3-year period.
  • Additionally, a maximum of 40,000 EVs, at a rate not exceeding 8,000 per year, will be allowed if the investment surpasses $800 million.
  • DVA - They must achieve a domestic value addition (DVA) of at least 50% within five years.
    • Domestic Value Addition (DVA) refers to the percentage of localized components used in manufacturing.
  • A localization level of 25% by the 3rd year and 50% by the 5th year is mandated.
  • In case of non-achievement of DVA and minimum investment criteria defined under the scheme guidelines, the bank guarantee will be invoked.

India imposes import taxes ranging from 70% to 100% on imported cars, depending on their value.

  • Back up - The scheme requires companies to back their investment commitments with a bank guarantee, which will be enforced in case of non-compliance with DVA and minimum investment criteria.
  • OEMs - The scheme will not be applicable to existing Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) or European OEMs, unless they make a fresh investment of at least $500 million in the next three years.
  • Detailed guidelines for the scheme are yet to be released.
  • The company applying to be eligible under the scheme will also have to meet a minimum global turnover requirement.

Electric Vehicle (EV)

  • Power Source – Solely powered by electricity from battery.
  • Energy Source – Electricity stored in batteries.
  • Key features
    • Fuel Efficiency – Driven for longer distances on single charge.
    • Emissions – Produce zero tailpipe emissions and are considered one of the cleanest forms of transportation.
    • Recharge – Must be plugged in for recharging.
    • Maintenance – Have fewer moving parts and generally require less maintenance.
    • Cost – It is decreasing as technology improves and production increases.

References

  1. Live Mint – Centre greenlights new Electric Vehicle (EV) Policy
  2. The Economic Times – India approves Electric Vehicle (EV) Policy
  3. India Today – Tesla’s India entry gets boost with new EV Policy
  4. PIB – Government approves EV Policy to promote e-vehicles

 

Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) Test

India is estimated to have 10.13 crore people with diabetes, and another 13.6 crore people who are pre-diabetic.

Diabetes mellitus

  • A chronic metabolic disorder which is the most common pancreatic endocrine disorder (Non-Communicable Disease).
  • Characteristics - Caused due to insufficient, deficient or failure of insulin secretion.
    1. Hyperglycaemia - Increase in blood sugar level
    2. Glycosuria - Excretion of excess glucose in the urine
    3. Polyuria - Frequent urination
    4. Polydipsia - Increased thirst
    5. Polyphagia - Increase in appetite
  • Types of Diabetes - There are 3 main types of diabetes.
    1. Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction that stops your body from making insulin.
    2. Type 2 diabetes is caused when your body does not use insulin well and can’t keep blood sugar at normal levels.
    3. Gestational diabetes is caused by the insulin-blocking hormones that are produced during pregnancy

Factors

Type-1 (Insulin dependent diabetes)

Type-2 (Non-insulin dependent diabetes)

Prevalence

10-20%

80-90%

Age of onset

Juvenile onset (Less than 20 years)

Maturity onset (Greater than 30 years)

Body weight

Normal or underweight

Obese

Defect

Insulin deficiency due to destruction of β-cells

Target cells do respond to insulin

Treatment

Insulin administration is necessary

Can be controlled by diet, exercise and medicine.

 

  • HbA1C Test - One of the most commonly-used tests to diagnose pre-diabetes and diabetes (both type 1 and type 2).
  • Also known as glycated haemoglobin or glycosylated haemoglobin test.
  • Working – Sugar which enters the blood stream from the food consumed attaches to the hemoglobin in the red blood cells (RBCs).

o Haemoglobin is a protein that transports oxygen to all the cells of the body.

  • The HbA1C test measures the percentage of RBCs that have sugar-coated, or glycated, haemoglobin.
  • An Hb1A1C below 5.7% (normal); between 5.7 and 6.4% (pre-diabetic); and 6.5% or higher (diabetic).
  • The test’s results may change under certain conditions, including kidney or liver failure, severe anaemia or a blood disorder such as thalassemia, for early or late pregnancy, etc.

India accounts for 17% of all diabetes patients in the world.

Traditional Testing

HbA1C

  • Fasting, post-prandial or post-meal blood sugar tests give blood sugar levels within a specific time frame.
  • The traditional blood sugar tests may fluctuate depending on items in the person’s latest meal and when they last consumed it.
  • The HbA1C test reflects average blood glucose levels over the last 2 to 3 months.
  • The HbA1C test is independent of these variables, making it more reliable and can be taken irrespective of when the latest meal was consumed.

References

  1. The Hindu – What is the HbA1C test?
  2. Diabetes UK – What is hba1c?

 

Haiti

Haiti's top gang leader threatens politicians as fires break out in capital.

  • Hayti means "land of the mountains” in the indigenous Taíno language.
  • Location - Located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.
  • Haiti occupies the western one-third of the island of Hispaniola (eastern portion of Hispaniola is occupied by the Dominican Republic).
  • Bordering country - The Dominican Republic: Capital - Port-au-Prince.

haiti

  • Geographic features - Haiti has a warm, humid tropical climate.
  • It is located on the leeward side of the island, which means that the influence of humid trade winds is not as great.
  • Highest peak - Pic la Selle.

Windward Passage - Between Hispaniola and Cuba

  • Political setup- Haiti won independence from France in 1804, making it the second country in the Americas, after the United States, to free itself from the colonial rule.
  • Haiti’s government is a semi-presidential republic, with a President acting as the country’s leader and a Prime Minister reporting to the president.

Haiti became the world's 1st black-led republic and the 1st independent Caribbean state when it threw off French colonial control and slavery in the early 19th century.

  • Ethnic Groups - Nearly all of Haiti’s population are of African origin.
  • A small minority of people of mixed European and African descent (called mulattoes) constitute a wealthier elite.

References

  1. The Hindu – Haiti’s latest gang violence crisis
  2. Reuters – Haiti's top gang leader threatens politicians
  3. CNN – Inside Haiti
  4. Britannica – Haiti

 

Ethanol 100

India commenced the sale of Ethanol 100 across 183 Indian Oil outlets in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi, and Tamil Nadu.

Ethanol

  • Ethyl alcohol or Ethanol (C2H5OH) is a biofuel that is naturally made by fermenting sugar.
  • It is basically 99.9% pure alcohol that can be blended with petrol.
  • While it is mostly derived from sugarcane, other organic matter like food grains can also be used for their production.
  • Most of the ethanol production in India comes from B Heavy Molasses.
  • Significance - Ethanol 100 stands as a cleaner, greener alternative to gasoline.
  • Ethanol 100 has lower emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants, thus aiding in combating climate change and enhancing air quality in our communities.
  • With its high-octane rating, typically between 100-105, it proves ideal for high-performance engines, ensuring improved efficiency and power output all while minimizing environmental impact.
  • Applications - Ethanol 100 can be used in a wide array of vehicles, including flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) designed to run on gasoline, ethanol, or any blend of the two.

Ethanol 20 (E20) programme aims to achieve 20% ethanol blending in petrol by 2025. Currently, 8.5% of ethanol is blended with petrol in India.

References

  1. PIB – Ethanol 100 Fuel
  2. Economic Times – Ethanol 100
  3. Zee Business – Petroleum Minister launches Ethanol 100

 

Ghost Particles (Neutrinos)

Astronomers detect seven potential ‘ghost particles’ that passed through planet Earth.

  • Neutrinos are weakly interacting subatomic particles that can travel astronomical distances undisturbed.
  • They are a type of electron but, like neutrons, they do not have any charge.
  • They are among the most abundant and tiniest particles in the universe.
  • Neutrinos come from all kinds of different sources and have a very small mass.

Neutrinos belong to the family of particles known as leptons which consists of electrons, muons and tau particles.

  • Neutrinos’ weak charge and almost nonexistent mass have made them notoriously difficult for scientists to observe. They can only been “seen” when they interact with other particles.
  • The rarity of interactions with other particles makes them almost impossible to track and hence they are called ghost particles.
  • Currently, the largest neutrino-detecting telescope is the University of Madison-Wisconson’s “IceCube” telescope situated in the Antarctic.

IceCube Neutrino Observatory

  • It is the first detector of its kind, designed to observe the cosmos from deep within the South Pole ice in Antarctica.
  • Approximately 300 physicists from 59 institutions in 14 countries make up the IceCube Collaboration.
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) provides the primary funding for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, with assistance from partner funding agencies around the world.
  • The University of Wisconsin–Madison is the lead institution, responsible for the maintenance and operations of the detector.
  • They provide information to probe the most violent astrophysical sources - events like exploding stars, gamma-ray bursts, and cataclysmic phenomena involving black holes and neutron stars.
  • IceCube has been using a string of golden globes, known as digital optical modules (DOMs), which are embedded in ice for detecting neutrinos which pass through the Earth.

References

  1. The Indian Express – Astronomers detect 7 potential ‘ghost particles’
  2. Space.com – Scientists may have caught 7 exotic 'ghost particles'
  3. WION – Seven 'ghost particles' pierce through Earth
  4. IceCube – About IceCube Observatory

 

Other Important Topics

JanSamarth Portal

Department of Fisheries recently inaugurates the integration of the Kisan Credit Card Fisheries scheme onto the JanSamarth Portal.

  • Jan Samarth is a unique digital portal linking 15 credit linked government schemes with 7 loan categories on a single platform
  • It aims to ease of access to all the beneficiaries and related stakeholders.

SIMA (Scalable Instructable Multiworld Agent)

  • Google DeepMind recently revealed its latest AI gaming agent Scalable Instructable Multiworld Agent (SIMA) to perform tasks across video game environments.

Gulf of Tonkin

  • The Gulf of Tonkin is a crescent-shaped body of water in the northwestern part of the South China Sea.
  • The gulf is bordered by Vietnam in the west and northwest and by China in the north and Leizhou Peninsula and Hainan Island in the east.
  • Many rivers empty into the Gulf of Tonkin, with the Red River (Yuan River in Chinese) supplying the major riverine discharge.
  • Hainan Strait separates the principal shipping route between Hainan Island and China’s Leizhou Peninsula.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Gulf_of_Tonkin_location.gif

Nausena Bhawan

  • Nausena Bhawan, the headquarters of Indian Navy, located at Delhi Cantonment was formally inaugurated by Union Defence Minister.

Fair share for health and care

  • Fair share for health and care is a new report by the World Health Organization, addressed the gender gap in global healthcare.

Findings

  • Women comprises 67% of the global health and social care workforce but facing an average pay gap of 24% compared to men.
  • Globally, 90% of women’s earnings were directed towards their families’ well-being, compared to only 30–40% of men’s earnings.
  • Women made up 25% to 60% of doctors, but between 30% and 100% of nursing staff across 35 countries.
  • Unpaid health work adds value to health contributions, and 76% of unpaid care activities are performed by women.
  • In India, women spent around 73% of their total daily working time on unpaid work, compared to men who spent around only 11% of their daily working time on unpaid work.

AVGC-XR policy

Kerala’s cabinet has approved a new Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, Comics and Extended Reality (AVGC-XR) sector policy.

  • The policy aims at driving the inception and expansion of 250 such companies and creation of 50,000 new jobs in the sector by 2029.
  • Through this, the State also expects to account for 10% of India’s export revenues in the AVGC-XR industry.

Bannerghatta Biological Park

The water crisis in Bengaluru is unlikely to have an impact on the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP), which is located in the outskirts of the city.

  • Bannerghatta Biological Park is a sanctuary located in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
  • It is established in 1971 and declared as a biological reserve in 2002.
  • It is the 1st  biological park in India to have a fenced forested elephant sanctuary.
  • In 2006, India's first butterfly enclosure was inaugurated at the park.
  • The Suvarnamukhi stream runs through the national park.

Mathikettan Shola National Park

  • Mathikettan Shola National Park is a national park in Kerala established in 2003.
  • It shares an interstate boundary with Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  • It is originally a part of the Cardamom Hill Reserve (CHR), serve as perennial water sources for several tributaries of the Panniyar river.
  • Mathikettan Shola National Park is known for its pristine shola forests, unique montane evergreen forests found in the Western Ghats.

Bharat Pashudhan

  • Bharat Pashudhan is a digital database for livestock animals in India, part of India's Digital Public Infrastructure.
  • The app allows users to register the births and deaths of animals, and to create animal identification using the unique ID number or Pashu Aadhaar.
  • Pashupalak App empowers the farmers to be able to access all free and paid livestock related schemes/services.
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