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02 and 03 April 2024 Daily Current Affairs

Ozone on Jupiter's Moon

In a groundbreaking research collaboration featuring Indian scientists, new evidence has been unearthed pointing to the existence of ozone on Callisto, one of Jupiter’s moons.


  • Callisto is Jupiter’s second largest moon after Ganymede and the third largest moon in our solar system, after Ganymede and Titan.

  • It’s about the same size as Mercury.

  • Callisto was discovered Jan. 7, 1610, by Italian scientist Galileo Galilei along with Jupiter’s three other largest moons: Ganymede, Europa and Io.

  • Callisto is named for a woman turned into a bear by Zeus in Greek mythology.

  • Zeus is identical to the Roman god Jupiter.

  • Callisto’s rocky, icy surface is the oldest and most heavily cratered in our solar system.

  • Callisto is on the list of possible places where life could exist in our solar system beyond Earth.

  • The ozone in Callisto was found by examining the chemical evolution of Sulphur dioxide ice under ultraviolet light.

  • The discovery was reached by studying the response of Sulphur dioxide-rich ice to ultraviolet radiation, revealing significant insight into the compositional developments on Callisto’s surface.


2. Kodaikanal Solar Observatory (KoSO)

125 years of Kodaikanal Solar Observatory (KoSO).


Kodaikanal is situated in the Palani Hills, on the Western Ghats.

  • Kodaikanal was created in 1845 by U.S. missionaries and British civil servants as a hill station.

  • Kodaikanal contains a meteorological observatory that engages in astrophysical research.


Madras Observatory – In 1792, the British East India Company established the Madras Observatory, a first of its kind in this part of the world.


  • Great Drought – Scanty rainfall over south India during the winter monsoon of 1875 triggered one of the worst droughts the country had experienced till then.

  • Smith Commission – The Famine Commission of the British Raj, led by Charles Michie Smith, recommended that the Government of India take regular solar observations.

  • In August 1893, the Government of India sanctioned a Solar Physics Observatory under the meteorological budget.

  • As a result Kodaikanal was chosen as the ideal location for setting the observatory to take regular solar observations.

  • In 1895, Lord Wenlock, the then Governor of Madras, laid its foundation stone.

  • The Madras Observatory was merged with the KoSO following the reorganization of all Indian observatories on April 1, 1899.

  • Bhavnagar Telescope – The Bhavnagar Telescope, named after Maharaja of Bhavnagar, operated during KoSO’s initial years.


Famous Discovery: -


The radial motion of sunspots, better known as the Evershed Effect, was discovered from the sunspot observations made at KoSO by John Evershed, KoSO director from 1911-1922.


3. Havana Syndrome

According to a joint media intelligence, members of a Russian military intelligence unit could have targeted the brains of US officials by using directed energy weapons.

  • Havana syndrome refers to a set of mental health symptoms that are said to be experienced by United States intelligence and embassy officials in various countries.

  • Generally, the word ‘syndrome’ simply means a set of symptoms.

  • It does not mean a unique medical condition, but rather a set of symptoms that are usually experienced together whose origins may be difficult to confirm.

  • Havana syndrome was first reported by U.S. embassy officials in the Cuban capital of Havana in 2016.

  • The officials began experiencing extreme headaches and hearing piercing sounds at night.

  • The exact cause of Havana Syndrome remains unknown, however, it is assumed to be linked to possible sonic weaponry from Russia.


4. Ex- Ayutthaya

  • Exercise Ayutthaya is the bilateral exercise between the Indian Navy and the Royal Thai Navy (RTN).

  • The exercise's name translates to "The Invincible One" or "Undefeatable".

  • It symbolizes the importance of the ancient cities of Ayodhya in India and Ayutthaya in Thailand, holds historic legacies and has rich cultural ties.


5. National Information System for Climate and Environment Studies (NICES) programme

  • Aim – It envisages realisation of national level climate database generation.

  • The data base will be derived from Indian and other Earth Observation satellites from polar and geostationary missions for climate change impact assessment and mitigation.

  • Incepted in – 2012, developed and made accessible over 70 geophysical variables related to Terrestrial, Ocean, and Atmospheric conditions.

  • Operated by - Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Department of Space along with other ministries and institutions.

  • It works under the framework of the National Action Plan on Climate Change to invite Indian researchers to join in combating climate change.


06. East vs West Flowing Peninsular rivers


East vs west flowing rivers
Credits: IAS PArliament

India's GST Status


Editorial 01: - A reform window: on the GST trajectory


India's Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenue performed well in the financial year 2023-24. Key points:

  • GST collections reached ₹20.18 lakh crore, exceeding targets.

  • March saw the second-highest monthly collection ever at ₹1.78 lakh crore.

  • Average monthly collections grew 11.6%, establishing a new baseline.

  • Growth in net GST revenue indicates increased economic activity.

The good performance allows the government to focus on GST reforms:

  • Rationalize the multiple tax rates.

  • Expand GST to include currently exempted items.

  • Reduce high levies on essential products.

The GST Compensation Cess might be discontinued earlier than planned due to strong revenue collection. The government should avoid introducing new broad-based taxes.



07. India Rejects China's Renaming of Places in Arunachal Pradesh

India strongly condemned China's attempt to rename locations in Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian state claimed by China.

India's Firm Response

  • On April 2, India's Ministry of External Affairs called China's actions "senseless" and a rejection of reality.

  • Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal asserted that Arunachal Pradesh "is, has been, and will always be" an integral part of India.

  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar echoed this sentiment, stating that renaming places won't change their status as Indian territory.

China's Repeated Attempts

  • This is the fourth time China has issued a list of renamed locations in Arunachal Pradesh.

  • Previous lists were released in 2017, 2021, and April 2023.

  • China refers to Arunachal Pradesh as "Zangnan" and claims it as part of South Tibet.

India's Consistent Position

  • India has repeatedly rejected China's claims over Arunachal Pradesh.

  • This issue adds to the existing tensions between the two countries arising from the border standoff in eastern Ladakh.

  • India maintains that peace and stability along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) are crucial for improving relations.



08. The PMLA Act: From Fighting Drug Money to a Controversial Tool

This article explains the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the controversy surrounding its application.

The Act's Origin and Purpose (2002)

  • The PMLA was enacted in 2002 to combat money laundering, particularly from drug trafficking.

  • The UN and international bodies like FATF urged member countries to address this issue due to its threat to global economies.

  • The Act initially focused on offenses listed in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

Expansion of the PMLA (Amendments)

  • Over time, the schedule of offenses under PMLA has been expanded through amendments. For instance:

  • 2009: Prevention of Corruption Act added to the schedule.

  • Recent amendments in 2023 brought accounting professionals under the PMLA ambit.

  • This expansion raises concerns about the Act's adherence to its original purpose of targeting large-scale drug money laundering.

Criticisms of the PMLA

  • Focus Dilution: The inclusion of diverse offenses weakens the Act's focus on combating large-scale drug money laundering.

  • Presumption of Guilt: The Act's approach is criticized as violating the principle of presumption of innocence. An accused is presumed guilty until proven innocent, placing the burden of proof on them.

  • Stringent Bail: Section 45 of the Act makes it difficult for PMLA accused to get bail before trial. This raises concerns about fairness in the legal process.

PMLA - Conviction vs. Commission

The PMLA deals with the proceeds of crime, not the crime itself. So, someone can be convicted under PMLA for laundering money obtained from a crime committed by someone else (e.g., drug trafficking). They wouldn't necessarily be the one who committed the original crime.

The Bail Controversy (Section 45)

  • The Supreme Court initially struck down Section 45 in 2018 for violating fundamental rights.

  • The Parliament reinstated the provision with amendments in response, and a later court ruling in 2022 upheld its validity.

  • This legal battle highlights the debate surrounding the Act's balance between fighting crime and protecting individual rights.

Conclusion

The PMLA's expansion and its application in non-drug-related cases raise questions about its effectiveness and fairness. The debate surrounding the bail provision further emphasizes the need for a nuanced approach to tackling money laundering without compromising individual liberties.




09. AI Reshaping Indian Elections: A Look at 2024 and Beyond


Headings:

  • Elections 2024 | How far will AI go?

  • Social media and campaigns

  • Many elections, AI's dark dimension

  • The political landscape is changing

Details:

  • BJP using AI for translation: To reach diverse voters, Prime Minister Modi's party is using AI to translate speeches into eight languages for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, potentially making it India's "first AI election."

  • AI's growing influence:  Indian elections have a history of adopting new technologies for campaigning. AI is predicted to significantly impact the 2024 polls.

  • Social media's past impact: Social media platforms like Facebook played a crucial role in the 2014 elections, influencing voter outreach and potentially swaying outcomes.

  • The rise of WhatsApp: The 2019 elections were dubbed India's "first WhatsApp election" due to its use in spreading political messages, sometimes manipulative.

  • Global concerns about AI in elections:

  • The 2024 global elections are seen as "AI elections" due to incidents like AI-powered robocalls discouraging voters in the US and a deepfake influencing Slovakian elections.

  • Deepfakes and AI-powered bots manipulating social media trends are emerging threats.

  • AI's potential beyond disinformation: AI can be used for various campaign strategies, from voter identification to targeted content delivery and real-time performance analysis.

  • Challenges and the future:

  • Governments and tech companies are taking steps to combat AI-generated disinformation, but complete prevention remains uncertain.

  • The impact of AI-manipulated content on voter turnout and candidate image is a growing concern.

  • By 2029, AI's influence will likely be stronger, but society may also be better equipped to handle its deceptive effects.

  • Overall, the use of AI in elections presents both opportunities and risks for the Indian political landscape.

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