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Current Affairs 07 December 2023

  1. The Global Climate 2011-2020: A Decade of Acceleration
  2. CCPA Notified Guidelines on Dark Pattern Mitigation
  3. Initiative for Snakebite Prevention in Odisha: A UK University’s Pilot Study
  4. Indian Navy Day 2023: Embracing Cultural Roots and Honoring Shivaji Maharaj
  5. Pompe Disease
  6. Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative


Context:

Recently, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has published a report titled- The Global Climate 2011-2020: A Decade of Acceleration, concerning the alarming acceleration of climate change and its multifaceted impacts across the planet.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Insights from the Climate Report
  2. WMO’s Strategies for Integrating Climate Action and Development
  3. World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)

Insights from the Climate Report

Record-Breaking Temperatures
  • The years 2011-2020 set new high-temperature records for the earth’s surface.
  • Average global temperatures rose to 1.1 degrees Celsius above the late 19th-century levels.
  • The years 2016 and 2020 were notably the hottest, amplified by El Niño phenomena.
Greenhouse Gases Surge
  • There was a continued increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, with CO2 levels hitting 413.2 ppm in 2020, primarily due to human activities.
Oceans Under Stress
  • The ocean experienced a significant increase in warming, storing 90% of the heat, particularly in the depths up to 2000 meters, adversely affecting marine life.
  • The uptick in CO2 levels led to ocean acidification, disrupting marine life’s shell and bone structures.
Marine and Glacial Changes
  • Marine Heatwaves grew more frequent and severe, impacting 60% of the ocean’s surface.
  • Sea levels rose at an increased rate of 4.5mm annually due to melting ice and ocean warming.
Ice Loss
  • Glaciers experienced an average reduction in thickness of about 1 meter each year.
  • The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets saw a 38% increase in ice loss, contributing to sea-level rise.
Polar Shifts
  • The Arctic sea ice shrank further, particularly during the summer seasons.
Ozone Layer Recovery
  • The Antarctic ozone hole showed signs of recovery, a success attributed to the Montreal Protocol.
Socioeconomic Impacts
  • Extreme weather events posed challenges to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), influencing food security and economic stability.
  • While early warning systems have improved, financial damages from extreme weather events have risen.
  • The decade was marked by no extreme events causing over 10,000 deaths, a first since 1950.

WMO’s Strategies for Integrating Climate Action and Development

  • Boosting Resilience Collaboratively
    • Advance global resilience to current and forthcoming crises by fostering partnerships with international bodies.
    • Enhancing Tripartite Interactions
    • Improve the interaction between science, policy, and society to encourage collective, impactful actions.
  • Capacity Building and Collaboration
    • Support the development of institutional capabilities and promote cooperation across various sectors and nations, with a focus on aiding the global South.
  • Policy Synergy and Coordination
    • Promote consistent and coordinated policy efforts among decision-makers from different sectors to improve the alignment of climate objectives with development goals, at all governance levels.

World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)

  • The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) responsible for meteorology, climate, operational hydrology, and related geophysical sciences.
  • It serves as the authoritative voice within the UN system regarding the state and behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, climate patterns, and the distribution of water resources.
  • WMO plays a vital role in coordinating international efforts to monitor and assess atmospheric and climate systems, promoting research, facilitating data exchange, and providing weather and climate information for sustainable development.
History:
  • The origins of WMO can be traced back to the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), established in 1873.
  • In 1950, WMO was officially established as the specialized agency of the UN for meteorology, operational hydrology, and related geophysical sciences.
  • Building upon the foundation laid by the IMO, WMO has expanded its scope and activities to address the evolving challenges in meteorology and climate science.
Headquarters and Membership:
  • The headquarters of WMO is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Currently, WMO has a membership of 193 countries and territories, representing virtually all nations across the globe. The membership reflects the global recognition of the importance of international cooperation in meteorology, climate, and hydrology.
Governance Structure:

The governance structure of WMO comprises several key bodies responsible for policy-making, decision-making, and the day-to-day operations of the organization:

World Meteorological Congress:

  • The World Meteorological Congress is the supreme body of WMO.
  • It convenes at least every four years and brings together representatives from all member countries.
  • The Congress establishes general policies, adopts regulations, and provides strategic guidance to WMO.

Executive Council:

  • The Executive Council consists of 37 members, including the President and Vice-Presidents.
  • It meets annually to implement policies and decisions made by the World Meteorological Congress.
  • The Executive Council oversees the day-to-day operations and management of WMO.

Technical Commissions and Regional Associations:

  • WMO operates through a network of technical commissions and regional associations.
  • Technical commissions focus on specific areas of meteorology, hydrology, and related disciplines.
  • Regional associations facilitate regional cooperation and the exchange of meteorological and hydrological information.

Secretariat:

  • The Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General, is responsible for the coordination and administration of WMO activities.
  • It supports the implementation of policies and decisions made by the World Meteorological Congress and Executive Council.
  • The Secretariat serves as the central hub for data exchange, research coordination, and capacity building initiatives.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), India’s top consumer watchdog, has recently notified guidelines for prevention and regulation of Dark Patterns, 2023.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Dark Patterns
  2. Regulatory Framework Against Misleading Practices
  3. Central Consumer Protection Authority

About Dark Patterns:

  • In 2010, the British user experience researcher Harry Brignull introduced the term “dark patterns.”
    Although profit-driven dark patterns had started to emerge by then, consumers were not fully aware of the consequences related to their privacy, as well as the expenditure of their time, energy, and money.
  • Examples of these dark patterns have now become widespread. They include the automatic selection of travel insurance when booking flight tickets, the obligatory requirement to provide email addresses or phone numbers to access e-commerce websites, which are subsequently used for unsolicited text messages or emails that are difficult to block, and birthday greetings designed to encourage users to purchase gifts for themselves.
  • In today’s era, characterized as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, major internet technology companies have systematically amassed the behavioral data of digital users to market their own products or third-party offerings. This has resulted in profits that often surpass the combined Gross Domestic Products of multiple nations.
Global Efforts to regulate dark patterns:
  • With a growing awareness of the excessive profit-driven tactics employed by online e-commerce, governments are rushing to establish regulations for this industry and its trading practices.
COUNTRYEFFORTS
European UnionEuropean Data Protection Board has issued guidelines on how to identify and avoid dark patterns on social media platforms.
United StatesUnited States’ Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning about the “increasing use of sophisticated dark patterns designed to deceive and ensnare consumers.”
Efforts by India:
  • The Indian guidelines provide specific instructions for recognizing and preventing deceptive tactics such as
    • false urgency,
    • stealthily adding items to a shopping cart (basket sneaking),
    • using guilt or pressure to manipulate decisions (confirm shaming),
    • compelling users into actions they may not want (forced action),
    • and ensnaring users in subscription traps on online platforms.
  • According to a 2021 report from the Advertising Standards Council of India, it was estimated that more than half of e-commerce websites employed these dark patterns to promote their products.
  • Up until now, India’s initiatives to oversee this industry have primarily focused on preventing tax evasion and safeguarding the concerns of traditional physical retailers.

Regulatory Framework Against Misleading Practices

Prohibition of Misleading Practices
  • Ban on misleading or coercive dark patterns.
  • Encouragement for ethical sales and user retention strategies.
Scope of Application
  • Applicability to all Indian platforms in the commerce sector, including advertisers and sellers.
  • Inclusion of e-commerce, websites, and apps under the guidelines.
Identified Dark Patterns (as per CCPA Notification)
  • Creating unwarranted urgency or scarcity to prompt immediate purchases.
  • Non-consensual addition of items at checkout leading to increased payments.
  • Employing fear or shame to manipulate user decisions for profit.
  • Mandating additional purchases or personal data sharing.
  • Overcomplicating subscription cancellation and obscuring options.
  • User interface manipulation to deviate users from their initial intent.
  • Providing misleading outcomes contrary to advertised promises based on user interactions.
  • Initial price concealment, with post-confirmation disclosure or conditional service access.
  • Disguising ads as other content to deceive users into engaging.
  • Constant disruptive interactions aimed at profit.
  • Intentionally using perplexing language to confuse users.
  • Inducing recurring payments under SaaS models.
  • Deceiving users into purchasing unnecessary malware removal services through ransomware or scareware.

Central Consumer Protection Authority

  • CCPA is a regulatory body established in 2020 based on the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
  • CCPA works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
Composition:
  • It will have a Chief Commissioner as head, and only two other commissioners as members — one of whom will deal with matters relating to goods while the other will look into cases relating to services.
  • The CCPA will have an Investigation Wing that will be headed by a Director General.
  • District Collectors too, will have the power to investigate complaints of violations of consumer rights, unfair trade practices, and false or misleading advertisements.
Objective:
  • To promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class.
  • To conduct investigations into violation of consumer rights and institute complaints/prosecution.
  • To order the recall of unsafe goods and services, discontinuation of unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements.
  • To impose penalties on manufacturers/endorsers/publishers of misleading advertisements.
Powers and Functions:
  • Inquire or investigate into matters relating to violations of consumer rights or unfair trade practices suo moto, or on a complaint received, or on a direction from the central government.
  • Recall goods or withdrawal of services that are “dangerous, hazardous or unsafe.
  • Pass an order for refund the prices of goods or services so recalled to purchasers of such goods or services; discontinuation of practices which are unfair and prejudicial to consumer’s interest”.
  • Impose a penalty up to Rs 10 lakh, with imprisonment up to two years, on the manufacturer or endorser of false and misleading advertisements. The penalty may go up to Rs 50 lakh, with imprisonment up to five years, for every subsequent offence committed by the same manufacturer or endorser.
  • Ban the endorser of a false or misleading advertisement from making endorsement of any products or services in the future, for a period that may extend to one year. The ban may extend up to three years in every subsequent violation of the Act.
  • File complaints of violation of consumer rights or unfair trade practices before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

A UK university team is conducting a pilot study in Burujhari village, Odisha, to decrease snakebite deaths by exploring solutions such as an Early Warning System. With India facing the highest number of snakebite fatalities globally, mostly in rural areas, the WHO has classified Snakebite Envenoming as a critical Neglected Tropical Disease since June 2017.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Snakebite Envenoming (SE)
  2. What are Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD)?
  3. Government’s efforts regarding NTD

Snakebite Envenoming (SE)

  • SE is a grave disease often caused by venom injection from snakebites or venom spray into the eyes.
  • It’s a daily health hazard in rural areas of Africa, Middle East, Asia, Oceania, and Latin America, affecting those dependent on agriculture.

Impact of SE

  • Long-term health issues in survivors, predominantly in developing nations, include physical deformities, kidney issues, and mental health effects.

Mortality Data

  • The WHO reports an annual global mortality of 81,410 to 137,880 due to snakebites.

WHO’s Strategy Against SE

  • In 2019, WHO aimed to reduce snakebite-induced mortality and morbidity by half by 2030.
  • There’s a target for a 25% rise in qualified antivenom producers by 2030.
  • A proposed global antivenom reserve is in the works.
  • National health strategies are being adapted to include snakebite management and community education.

Indian Efforts

  • Preceding WHO’s plans, ICMR initiated community awareness and health infrastructure development in 2013.
  • Aligning with global strategies, India implemented a National Action Plan in 2015 for tackling snakebite hazards.

What are Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD)?

  • Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)– a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries – affect more than one billion people and cost developing economies billions of dollars every year.
  • Populations living in poverty, without adequate sanitation and in close contact with infectious vectors and domestic animals and livestock are those worst affected.
  • Seven of the most common NTDs can be found in a number of countries—primarily in low- and middle-income countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
  • Controlling the vectors (e.g., mosquitoes, black flies) that transmit these diseases and improving basic water, sanitation, and hygiene are highly effective strategies against these NTDs.
  • Examples of NTDs are: snakebite envenomation, scabies, yaws, trachoma, Leishmaniasis and Chagas disease etc.
The NTD Crisis
  • NTDs such as dengue, lymphatic filariasis and visceral leishmaniasis (Kala-Azar) afflict 1 billion people worldwide, and yet, are not prioritised in the public health narrative in many parts of the world.
  • India bears the largest burden of NTDs in the world, accounting for 40 per cent of the global lymphatic filariasis disease burden and almost a quarter of the world’s visceral leishmaniasis cases.

Government’s efforts regarding NTD

  • In recent years, the government has made concerted efforts to address the nation’s NTD burden, especially visceral leishmaniasis and lymphatic filariasis which were slated to be eliminated by 2020 and 2021 respectively.
  • India has already eliminated several other NTDs, including guinea worm, trachoma, and yaws.
  • Measures taken include Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for lymphatic filariasis prevention in endemic districts and Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) to control the breeding of sandflies that transmit visceral leishmaniasis.
  • The Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF) was launched in 2018, as part of intensifying efforts towards the elimination of NTDs.
  • A WHO-supported regional alliance established by the governments of India, Bangladesh, and Nepal in 2005 to expedite early diagnosis and treatment of the most vulnerable populations and improve disease surveillance and control of sandfly populations (Kala-azar).

-Source: Down To Earth



Context:

On Indian Navy Day 2023, the Prime Minister announced reforms to shed colonial vestiges in the Navy’s ranks, realigning them with Indian heritage. The PM also commemorated Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj by inaugurating his statue at Sindhugarh fort in Maharashtra.

Relevance:

GS III: Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Navy Day Declarations
  2. Maratha Empire’s Maritime Heritage under Shivaji

Navy Day Declarations

Renewal of Naval Insignia and Embracing Indigenous Heritage
  • Naval officers’ epaulettes to bear Shivaji Maharaj’s emblem.
  • Naval flag linked to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s legacy as an emblem of inspiration.
  • Acknowledgement of Shivaji Maharaj’s maritime dominance ideals, now reflected in the Navy’s ethos.
  • Introduction of a new ensign in 2022, shedding colonial remnants and honoring Shivaji Maharaj.
Tributes to Maritime Pioneers and Historical Acknowledgment
  • Prime Minister’s homage to naval figures Kanhoji Angre, Mayaji Naik Bhatkar, and Hiroji Indulkar.
  • Naming of the naval training facility in Lonavla as INS Shivaji and the Western Naval Command center in Mumbai as INS Angre, in honor of the Maratha admiral Kanhoji Angre.

Maratha Empire’s Maritime Heritage under Shivaji

Establishment of Naval Strength
  • Shivaji initiated the development of a formidable navy and ports, influenced by the naval prowess of the Siddis and Portuguese.
  • He commissioned key maritime fortresses such as Vijaydurg and Sindhudurg for defense purposes.
Expansion and Decline of Naval Forces
  • The Maratha navy saw its peak under Shivaji with more than 500 vessels, holding off Portuguese and British forces effectively for 40 years.
  • Post-1680, following Shivaji’s demise, the naval force experienced a significant downturn.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Recently, India’s first patient diagnosed with the Pompe disease died after spending nearly six years in a semi-comatose state.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Pompe Disease

  • A scarce genetic disorder, Pompe disease affects roughly one in a million children.

Genetic Causes

  • Caused by mutations in the GAA gene.
  • The GAA gene is crucial for producing the enzyme acid alpha-glucosidase.

Enzymatic Function and Malfunction

  • Acid alpha-glucosidase is key in lysosomes for breaking down glycogen into glucose.
  • GAA gene mutations hinder this process, causing glycogen accumulation.

Consequences of Enzyme Deficiency

  • Excessive glycogen in lysosomes leads to organ and muscle damage.
  • Symptoms manifest as muscle weakness, respiratory difficulties, cardiac issues, and swallowing problems.

Patterns of Onset

  • Infantile-onset: Symptoms emerge within months of birth.
  • Late-onset: Symptoms develop later in life, during childhood or adulthood.

Impact on Population

  • Pompe disease occurs equally in males and females.

Available Treatments

  • Enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) is the primary treatment.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The National e-Governance Division (NeGD) recently organised the 40th Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) Deep-Dive training programme under the Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative.

Relevance:

GS II: Government policies and Interventions

Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative Overview

Initiative Launch

  • Spearheaded by MeitY, this initiative aims to enhance cybersecurity across Indian government sectors.
  • A collaborative effort with NeGD and major IT corporations, marking a novel public-private partnership.

Goals and Partnerships

  • Strives to raise cybercrime awareness and strengthen the expertise of CISOs and IT personnel.
  • Key IT companies like Intel and Microsoft are among the collaborators.

Operational Framework

  • Founded on three tenets: education, awareness, and enablement.
  • Features programs promoting cybersecurity significance.

Educational and Training Components

  • Workshops on best practices and cybersecurity health tool kits for threat mitigation.
  • Nationwide training for CISOs and IT staff from various governmental and defense sectors.

Specialized Training Programme

  • Deep-Dive program concentrates on educating about cyber threats and modern protective technologies.
  • Emphasizes legal understanding for policy development and crisis management in cybersecurity.

-Source: The Hindu, PIB


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