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Current Affairs 08 December 2023

  1. Migrant Quota cleared for J&K Assembly
  2. Global Positioning System
  3. Lakadong Turmeric
  4. UNESCO Recognizes Garba as Intangible Cultural Heritage
  5. Critical Minerals
  6. Gemini AI model


Context

The Lok Sabha passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir
  2. Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023
  3. Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023

Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir:

Pre-Abrogation Scenario
  • In the former state of Jammu and Kashmir, Lok Sabha seat delimitation followed the Indian Constitution.
  • However, the delimitation of Assembly seats was governed separately by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution.
Abrogation of Article 370
  • The special status of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked on August 5, 2019.
  • The region transitioned into a Union Territory, altering its constitutional framework.
Setting up the Delimitation Commission
  • In March 2020, the Union government established a Delimitation Commission.
  • The commission was assigned the task of delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir and four northeastern states: Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Nagaland.
  • Originally intended to be completed within a year.
Impact of Covid-19
  • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Delimitation Commission received a one-year extension to complete its mandate.
  • Delimitation Process Completion
  • After concluding the delimitation process, the commission issued orders related to the assembly and parliamentary constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir.
Legislative Assembly Expansion
  • The delimitation orders led to an increase in the number of seats in the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly.
  • The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, facilitated the expansion from 107 to 114 seats.

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023

Legislative Introduction

  • Introduced in the Lok Sabha in July 2023.
  • Aims to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.

Background of the 2019 Act

  • The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, facilitated the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir (with legislature) and Ladakh (without legislature).

Key Features of the Amendment Bill

Expansion of Legislative Assembly Seats
  • The 2019 Act initially set the total number of seats in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly at 83.
  • The Amendment Bill increases the total number of seats to 90 based on the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission.
  • Reserves 7 seats for Scheduled Castes and 9 seats for Scheduled Tribes.
Nomination of Kashmiri Migrants
  • The Lieutenant Governor is empowered to nominate up to 2 members from the Kashmiri migrant community to the Legislative Assembly.
  • One of the nominated members must be a woman.
  • Defines migrants as those who moved from the Kashmir Valley or any part of Jammu and Kashmir after November 1, 1989, and are registered with the Relief Commissioner.
  • Includes individuals unable to register due to specific circumstances like government service, work-related relocation, or possessing immovable property but unable to reside there due to disturbed conditions.
Nomination of Displaced Persons
  • The Lieutenant Governor can nominate 1 member representing displaced persons from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir to the Legislative Assembly.
  • Displaced persons are those who left or were displaced from their residence in Pakistani-occupied Jammu and Kashmir in 1947-48, 1965, or 1971 due to civil disturbances or fear of such disturbances.
  • Successors-in-interest of such persons are also included.
Conclusion
  • The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, addresses key aspects of legislative representation, focusing on seat expansion and inclusive nominations.

Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023

Legislative Introduction

  • Presented in the Lok Sabha in July 2023.
  • Seeks to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004.

Background of the 2004 Act

  • The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004, addresses reservation in employment and admission to professional institutions for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other socially and educationally backward classes.

Key Features of the Amendment Bill

Definition Change: Socially and Educationally Backward Classes
  • Originally, socially and educationally backward classes included individuals in villages declared as such by the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Also encompassed those residing in areas adjacent to the Actual Line of Control and International Border.
  • Weak and underprivileged classes (social castes), as notified, were part of this category.
  • The government had the authority to modify this category based on the recommendations of a Commission.
Substitution of Terminology
  • The Amendment Bill substitutes “weak and underprivileged classes” with “other backward classes” as declared by the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Simultaneously, the definition of weak and underprivileged classes is removed from the Act.
Conclusion
  • The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, brings about significant changes by replacing terminology and redefining the socially and educationally backward classes underlining the commitment to inclusivity and equitable representation.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Global Positioning System (GPS) is one of few everyday technologies that have had the kind of revolutionary impact on civilian, military, scientific, and urban realms, redefining our sense of location and impacting diverse sectors globally.

Relevance:

GS III: Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Global Positioning System (GPS)
  2. Global Positioning System and International GNSS

Global Positioning System (GPS)

Developed by the U.S. Department of Defense in 1973, GPS consists of three primary components.

Space Segment
  • 24 satellites across six orbits provide worldwide coverage for precise location tracking.
  • Positioned 20,200 km above Earth, with four satellites per orbit completing two rotations daily.
Control Segment
  • Ground stations globally ensure satellite functionality and precision, in line with 2020’s Standard Positioning Service (SPS) guidelines.
  • The SPS outlines the expectations for GPS performance globally.
User Segment
  • GPS services a variety of applications, from farming to defense, with over 6.5 billion GNSS  (Global Navigation Satellite System) devices in 2021, projected to reach 10 billion by 2031, indicating its extensive reach.

Global Positioning System and International GNSS

GPS Operations
  • Functions via radio signals from satellites at L1 and L2 frequencies for 3D and temporal positioning.
  • Incorporates error adjustments like relativistic effects to enhance accuracy.
Timing and Precision
  • Relies on atomic clocks in satellites for critical timing, essential for reducing location errors.
Global GNSS Landscape
  • Various nations have their GNSS, including Australia, China, EU, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the U.K.
  • Russia’s GLONASS, the EU’s Galileo, and China’s BeiDou provide international coverage.
India’s Navigation Systems
  • Initiated its Regional Navigation Satellite System, now known as NavIC, featuring seven satellites in mixed orbits.
  • As of May 2023, a quartet of satellites supports terrestrial navigation, managed from Hassan, Karnataka, and Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
  • NavIC’s satellites transmit on L5 and S bands, with newer additions utilizing the L1 band.
Enhancements to GPS in India
  • The GAGAN system, a joint venture of ISRO and the Airports Authority of India, augments GPS for aviation safety within Indian airspace and delivers GPS corrections and integrity assurances.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, Meghalaya’s Lakadong turmeric has been awarded the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Lakadong Turmeric and Curcumin
  2. Geographical Indications (GI) Tag

Lakadong Turmeric and Curcumin

Lakadong Turmeric
  • Renowned as one of the finest turmeric varieties globally, with curcumin levels of 6.8 to 7.5%.
  • Notable for its deeper hue and organic cultivation practices in the Lakadong region of Jaintia Hills.
  • Alongside Lakadong turmeric, Meghalaya’s Garo Dakmanda, Larnai pottery, and Garo Chubitchi have received the Geographical Indication (GI) status.
Curcumin
  • Curcumin is a polyphenol known for its interaction with various cellular signaling molecules.
  • Recognized for therapeutic effects on inflammatory diseases, metabolic syndrome, pain relief, and eye condition management.
  • Offers renal benefits and is largely appreciated for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Geographical Indications (GI) Tag

Definition and Importance:
  • Geographical Indications of Goods indicate the country or place of origin of a product.
  • They assure consumers of the product’s quality and distinctiveness derived from its specific geographical locality.
  • GI tags are an essential component of intellectual property rights (IPRs) and are protected under international agreements like the Paris Convention and TRIPS.
Administration and Registration:
  • Geographical Indications registration in India is governed by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.
  • The registration and protection are administered by the Geographical Indication Registry under the Department of Industry Promotion and Internal Trade (DIPIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • The registration is valid for 10 years, and it can be renewed for further periods of 10 years each.
Significance and Examples:
  • GI tags provide a unique identity and reputation to products based on their geographical origin.
  • The first product in India to receive a GI tag was Darjeeling tea.
  • Karnataka has the highest number of GI tags with 47 registered products, followed by Tamil Nadu with 39.
Ownership and Proprietorship:
  • Any association, organization, or authority established by law can be a registered proprietor of a GI tag.
  • The registered proprietor’s name is entered in the Register of Geographical Indication for the applied product.
  • Protection and Enforcement:
  • Geographical Indications protect the interests of producers and prevent unauthorized use of the product’s name or origin.
  • Enforcement of GI rights helps maintain the quality and reputation of the products associated with their specific geographical regions.
Location of the Geographical Indications Registry:
  • The Geographical Indications Registry is located in Chennai, India.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Garba dance, a traditional Gujarati dance form, has been honored by UNESCO as part of the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. This recognition during the 18th Intergovernmental Committee session in Botswana marks the 15th Indian element to be listed, following Kolkata’s Durga Puja in 2021.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Garba Dance
  2. About UNESCO
  3. Tangible and Intangible Heritage
  4. What are India’s intangible cultural symbols on the UNESCO list?
  5. Who manages nominations to the UNESCO list in India?

Garba Dance

Essence and Celebrations:
  • Garba: A traditional Gujarati dance for Navratri, signifying the triumph of good over evil.

Etymology and Significance:

  • Origin: Derives from “Garba,” a Sanskrit term meaning womb, symbolizing life and creation.
  • Celebrations: Honors fertility, womanhood, and divine mother figures.

Cultural Milestones:

  • Life Events: Marks significant female rites of passage.

Performance Core:

  • Focus: Centers around a light source or deity depiction, honoring Goddess Shakti’s feminine essence.

Participation and Music:

  • Inclusivity: Open to all, unified by music, song, and coordinated claps.

Evolution of the Dance:

  • Influence: Modern Garba blends with Dandiya Raas, adding vibrant energy.
  • Unification: The fusion creates the dynamic performance seen today.

Social Impact:

  • Equality: Breaks down socio-economic, gender, and sect barriers.
  • Community: Encourages involvement from all societal segments, fostering unity.

About UNESCO

  • It was founded in 1945 to develop the “intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind” as a means of building lasting peace. It is located in Paris, France.
  • Major Initiatives of UNESCO:
    • Man and Biosphere Programme
    • World Heritage Programme
    • Global Geopark Network
    • Network of Creative Cities
    • Atlas of World Languages in Danger

Tangible and Intangible Heritage

  • Cultural heritage in general consists of the products and processes of a culture that are preserved and passed on through the generations.
  • Some of that heritage takes the form of cultural property, formed by tangible artefacts such as buildings or works of art.
  • Many parts of culture, however are intangible, including song, music, dance, drama, skills, cuisine, crafts and festivals.
    • Hence, buildings, historic places, monuments, and artifacts are physical intellectual wealth – hence they are “Tangible”.
    • “Intangible” heritage consists of nonphysical intellectual wealth, such as folklore, customs, beliefs, traditions, knowledge, and language.
  • An intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is a practice, representation, expression, knowledge, or skill considered by UNESCO to be part of a place’s cultural heritage.
Definition of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)
  • As the practices, representations, expressions, as well as the knowledge and skills (including instruments, objects, artifacts, cultural spaces), that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. It is sometimes called living cultural heritage.
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage is manifested in the following domains:
    • Oral traditions and expressions, including language;
    • Performing arts;
    • Social practices, rituals and festive events;
    • Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe;
    • Traditional craftsmanship
Criteria for the selection

There are three criteria for an intangible cultural heritage to be inscribed in the United Nations list.

The entity must,

  • be recognized by communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals as part of their cultural heritage,
  • be transmitted from generation to generation and be constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history
  • provide them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

What are India’s intangible cultural symbols on the UNESCO list?

This year, India nominated Garba, a traditional dance form that originated in the state of Gujarat, for inscription on UNESCO’s ICH list.

1Koodiyattam: a Sanskrit theatre of Kerala
2Mudiyett: a ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala
3Vedic chantings: recitation of sacred Hindu texts
4Ramlila: the traditional performance of the Ramayana
5Ramman: a religious festival and ritual theatre of Garhwal, Uttarakhand
6Kalbelia: folk songs and dances of Rajasthan
7Chhau dance: a classical dance form of Odisha and West Bengal
8Ladakh Buddhist chantings: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in Ladakh
9Manipuri Sankirtana: a ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur
10Thatheras Utensil Making: Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab   
11Yoga: ancient Indian physical, mental and spiritual practices originating in ancient India
12Kumbh Mela: mass Hindu pilgrimage held at Haridwar of Uttarakhand, Nashik of Maharashtra, Prayagraj of Uttar Pradesh and Ujjain of Madhya Pradesh
13Nowruz: In India, Navroz (New Year) is celebrated by the Parsi community who are followers of the Zoroastrian religion. It is also celebrated by the ‘Bahai’ community and the Kashmiris who call it ‘ Navreh’.
14Durga Puja, also known as Durgotsava or Sharodotsava, is an annual Hindu festival that reveres and pays homage to the goddess Durga. It is an important festival in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism.

Who manages nominations to the UNESCO list in India?

  • Several autonomous bodies within the Ministry of Culture actively function towards promoting and preserving intangible cultural heritage within the country.
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi is the nodal organisation which looks after this function, and files nominations of intangible cultural entities from India, for evaluation by the international body.
  • The Ministry of Culture also launches regular schemes, in an attempt to preserve, protect and promote intangible cultural heritage in the country.
    • Among them, the “Scheme for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions of India” aims to “professionally” enhance “awareness and interest” in the safeguarding, promotion and propagation of ICH.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Twenty blocks of critical minerals are currently on auction for commercial mining by the private sector. The bidding process began on November 29, and bids can be submitted until January 22 next year.

Relevance:

GS III- Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are Critical Minerals?
  2. Why is this resource critical?
  3. What is China ‘threat’?
  4. What are countries around the world doing about it?

What are Critical Minerals?

  • Critical minerals are elements that are the building blocks of essential modern-day technologies, and are at risk of supply chain disruptions.
  • These minerals are now used everywhere from making mobile phones, computers to batteries, electric vehicles and green technologies like solar panels and wind turbines.
  • Based on their individual needs and strategic considerations, different countries create their own lists.
  • However, such lists mostly include graphite, lithium and cobalt, which are used for making EV batteries; rare earths that are used for making magnets and silicon which is a key mineral for making computer chips and solar panels.
  • Aerospace, communications and defence industries also rely on several such minerals as they are used in manufacturing fighter jets, drones, radio sets and other critical equipment.

Why is this resource critical?

  • As countries around the world scale up their transition towards clean energy and digital economy, these critical resources are key to the ecosystem that fuels this change.
  • Any supply shock can severely imperil the economy and strategic autonomy of a country over-dependent on others to procure critical minerals.
  • But these supply risks exist due to rare availability, growing demand and complex processing value chain.
  • Many times the complex supply chain can be disrupted by hostile regimes, or due to politically unstable regions.
  • They are critical as the world is fast shifting from a fossil fuel-intensive to a mineral-intensive energy system.

What is China ‘threat’?

  • China is the world’s largest producer of 16 critical minerals.
  • China alone is responsible for some 70% and 60% of global production of cobalt and rare earth elements, respectively, in 2019.
  • The level of concentration is even higher for processing operations, where China has a strong presence across the board.
  • China’s share of refining is around 35% for nickel, 50-70% for lithium and cobalt, and nearly 90% for rare earth elements.
  • It also controls cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, from where 70% of this mineral is sourced.
  • In 2010, China suspended rare earth exports to Japan for two months over a territorial dispute.

What are countries around the world doing about it?

  • US has shifted its focus on expanding domestic mining, production, processing, and recycling of critical minerals and materials.
  • India has set up KABIL or the Khanij Bidesh India Limited, a joint venture of three public sector companies, to “ensure a consistent supply of critical and strategic minerals to the Indian domestic market”.
  • Australia’s Critical Minerals Facilitation Office (CMFO) and KABIL had recently signed an MoU aimed at ensuring reliable supply of critical minerals to India.
  • The UK has unveiled its new Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre to study the future demand for and supply of these minerals.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Recently, Google announced the launch of its latest, most powerful AI model, Gemini.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Gemini AI Model

  • Gemini is a revolutionary multimodal general AI model capable of working seamlessly with diverse formats such as text, code, audio, image, and video simultaneously.
Multimodal Capabilities
  • Gemini AI excels in understanding, explaining, and generating content in various formats, including text, code, audio, image, and video.
Accessibility
  • The model is accessible to users worldwide through platforms like Bard, certain developer platforms, and is integrated into the latest Google Pixel 8 Pro devices.
Code Generation
  • Gemini AI stands out for its ability to comprehend, explain, and produce high-quality code in some of the world’s most popular programming languages, such as Python, Java, C++, and Go.
Model Sizes

Gemini AI is available in three different sizes:

  • Gemini Ultra: The largest and most capable model, designed for highly complex tasks. Currently, it is accessible only to select customers, developers, partners, and safety and responsibility experts for early experimentation and feedback.
  • Gemini Pro: Geared towards scaling across a broad spectrum of tasks, and is available in Bard for regular users across the globe.
  • Gemini Nano: Tailored for on-device tasks and is already integrated into the Pixel 8 Pro. Powers features like Summarise in the Recorder app and Smart Reply via Gboard.
Availability
  • Gemini Ultra is presently exclusive to a limited audience for early testing, while Gemini Pro is accessible to regular users through platforms like Bard.
  • Gemini Nano is actively used on Pixel 8 Pro, enhancing features like Summarise in the Recorder app and enabling Smart Reply via Gboard.
Future Developments
  • The Gemini AI model hints at ongoing advancements and innovations, with the promise of enhanced capabilities and applications in the realm of artificial intelligence.

-Source: Indian Express


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