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11 March 2024 Daily Current Affairs

1. Abduction of 300 children in Nigeria is only the latest in a line of incidents

In this news article several places were mentioned, lets see them

  • Kuriga: A remote town in Kaduna State, Nigeria. The location of the recent mass kidnapping of nearly 300 students.

  • Sokoto: Another northwestern state in Nigeria. Location of a school kidnapping that abducted 15 children.

  • Borno State: A northeastern state in Nigeria. Known for violence and Islamic insurgency. Location of a kidnapping of 200 people, mostly women and children.

  • Chibok: A town in Borno State. Site of the 2014 kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram.

  • Kaduna: A city in Kaduna State.

  • Forests and Savannah around Kuriga: The vast area where the search for the kidnapped children is underway.

  • 89-km road running from Kuriga to Kaduna: A dangerous road with a military presence due to the kidnapping.


2. Bitcoin Price Surges, Fueled by Market Recovery and Upcoming Halving

Bitcoin recently hit a new all-time high above $69,000, surpassing its previous record from November 2021. This surge comes after a rough year for cryptocurrencies in 2022, marked by events like the Russia-Ukraine war and collapses of major crypto companies.

Possible reasons for the rise:

  • Market recovery: The crypto market is bouncing back from 2022's slump.

  • US regulatory approval: The SEC approving the first Bitcoin ETFs is seen as a sign of growing legitimacy for cryptocurrencies.

  • Upcoming Bitcoin halving: Many investors believe this event, which reduces the rate new Bitcoins are created, will drive up the price due to scarcity.

Bitcoin halving explained:

  • Happens every four years, cutting the reward for mining Bitcoin in half.

  • This reduces the number of new Bitcoins entering circulation, making existing ones potentially more valuable.

  • Bitcoin has a finite supply, unlike traditional currencies.

Investor caution:

  • The crypto market is highly volatile, with prices fluctuating rapidly. Bitcoin's price swing of over $10,000 in a single day highlights this risk.

Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency:

  • While Bitcoin dominates the market with a capitalization over $1 trillion, Ethereum trails behind at around $500 billion.

  • Ethereum uses a different technology (proof-of-stake) compared to Bitcoin's proof-of-work model.

  • Ethereum's price also rose this week, but it hasn't reached its all-time high yet.


3. India Proposes New GPS-Based Highway Tolling System

The Indian government plans to implement a new highway toll system based on GPS technology. This system aims to replace toll booths and allow users to pay only for the distance they travel (pay-as-you-use).

How it would work:

  • Vehicles will be equipped with an On-Board Unit (OBU) that tracks location via the GAGAN (Indian) satellite system.

  • Highway coordinates will be stored digitally, and tolls will be calculated based on the distance traveled.

  • Gantries with cameras will be placed at intervals to enforce payment and capture license plates.

Challenges:

  • Collecting tolls from users with empty wallets or no OBU devices.

  • Setting up a nationwide Automatic Number-Plate Recognition (ANPR) system (doesn't currently exist).

  • Amending regulations to address unpaid tolls, define offenses, and potentially mandate OBUs.

Privacy Concerns:

  • The government assures data security by using the GAGAN system instead of US-owned GPS.

  • The recently passed Digital Personal Data Protection Act is expected to address privacy concerns, although some critics worry about increased government surveillance.

Impact on FASTags:

  • The new system may coexist with FASTags (existing RFID-based system).

  • A decision on mandatory OBUs for all vehicles is yet to be made.

Potential Benefits:

  • Lower operational costs compared to FASTags due to the absence of toll booths.

  • Barrier-free movement on highways (eventually).

Overall, this new tolling system is still under development, and its success hinges on addressing challenges and ensuring user privacy.


4. We need limits on election campaign spending


The Article you provided discusses the issue of government spending on advertisements during elections in India, particularly focusing on the financial aspects and the need for electoral reforms. Here is a summary of the key points:

  1. Background on India Shining Campaign (2004):

  • The BJP-led government's 'India Shining' campaign during the 2004 Lok Sabha elections sparked controversy, with an estimated ₹150 crore spent, marking one of the largest government-sponsored advertisement campaigns at that time.

  1. Increasing Government Ad Spending:

  • Over the past two decades, both Central and State governments have been allocating significant funds for advertisements before elections, with a notable rise in spending from 2018-19 to 2022-23.

  1. Supreme Court Guidelines:

  • The Supreme Court issued guidelines in 2015 and 2016 to regulate government advertisements. However, ruling governments often use these advertisements to their advantage before elections, potentially disrupting a fair playing field.

  1. Election Expenditure Limits:

  • Candidates have expenditure limits for elections (₹95 lakh per Lok Sabha constituency in larger states and ₹75 lakh in smaller states). However, it is common for candidates of major political parties to exceed these limits, contributing to an unfair electoral environment.

  1. Political Party Expenditure:

  • There are no limits on the expenditure of political parties during elections. The BJP and Congress officially declared expenditures for the 2019 elections, but a report by the Centre for Media Studies suggests a much higher total spending by political parties, creating a nexus between donors and elected representatives.

  1. State Funding of Elections:

  • The Indrajit Gupta Committee (1998) and the Law Commission report (1999) advocated state funding of elections to reduce dependence on corporate donations. However, the feasibility and implementation of this measure remain uncertain.

  1. Proposed Electoral Reforms (2016):

  • The Election Commission of India proposed reforms in 2016 to address the growing costs of elections. Suggestions include banning government advertisements six months prior to general elections, amending laws to limit a party's financial assistance to candidates, setting a ceiling on party expenditures, and appointing additional judges for swift resolution of election-related cases.

  1. Need for Bipartisan Political Support:

  • The proposed reforms require bipartisan political support for effective implementation. Without such reforms, the passage suggests that the significant expenses associated with elections will continue to burden the citizens.

In conclusion, the passage highlights concerns about the increasing financial burden of elections in India, calling for reforms to ensure a level playing field and free and fair elections.


5. Scientists genetically modify ‘sexual’ fruit fly to reproduce asexually

Scientists were able to genetically modify fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) to reproduce asexually (parthenogenesis) for the first time. This was achieved by identifying genes responsible for parthenogenesis in a naturally asexual fruit fly species (Drosophila mercatorum) and introducing those genes into the sexual fruit fly.

Here's the key breakdown:

  • Normally, fruit flies reproduce sexually, needing males and females.

  • Researchers found a species of fruit fly that reproduces asexually (Drosophila mercatorum).

  • They identified 44 genes linked to asexual reproduction in this species.

  • By modifying genes like polo, Myc, and Desat2 in the sexual fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster), they enabled a small percentage (1.4%) of eggs to develop without needing fertilization.

  • These asexually produced flies could still reproduce sexually as well.

This research has potential implications for insect pest control strategies.


A study on over 10,000 Indian app-based cab drivers and delivery workers found harsh working conditions and income inequality.

Key takeaways:

  • Long working hours:

  • Nearly a third work over 14 hours daily.

  • Over 83% work more than 10 hours.

  • Drivers from lower castes work even longer hours.

  • Low income:

  • Over 43% of participants earn less than ₹15,000 per month.

  • 34% of delivery workers earn less than ₹10,000 per month.

  • Health risks:

  • Long hours lead to physical exhaustion and traffic accident risks.

  • Lack of job security creates stress and potential health issues.

  • Social inequality: = Account deactivation by platforms.

  • Lower caste workers face greater income disparity and longer hours.

The study recommends stronger social security for these workers and government oversight on platform algorithms and worker treatment.




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