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Current Affairs 08 June 2023


  1. Minimum Support Price
  2. Cyclone Biparjoy
  3. Manual scavenging
  4. Draft Pandemic Treaty
  5. Prepaid Payment Instrument
  6. Deepfake technology
  7. Kakhovka Dam
  8. Varunastra

Minimum Support Price


The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister has approved the increase in the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for all mandated Kharif Crops for Marketing Season 2023-24. 


GS-III: Agriculture (Agriculture Pricing), GS-II: Social Justice (Welfare Schemes)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Minimum Support Price (MSP)?
  2. Why is there a need for MSP?
  3. What are the issues related to MSP?

What is Minimum Support Price (MSP)?

  • Minimum Support Price is the price at which government purchases crops from the farmers, whatever may be the price for the crops.
  • MSPs have no statutory backing — a farmer cannot demand MSP as a matter of right.
  • Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) in the Ministry of Agriculture recommends MSPs for 23 crops.
  • CACP consider various factors while recommending the MSP for a commodity like cost of cultivation, supply and demand situation for the commodity; market price trends (domestic and global) and parity vis-à-vis other crops etc.
  • MSP seeks to:
    • Assured Value: To give guaranteed prices and assured market to the farmers and save them from the price fluctuations (National or International).
    • Improving Productivity: By encouraging higher investment and adoption of modern technologies in agricultural activities.
    • Consumer Interest: To safeguard the interests of consumers by making available supplies at reasonable prices.

While recommending MSPs, the CACP looks at the following factors:

  •  the demand and supply of a commodity;
  •  its cost of production;
  •  the market price trends (both domestic and international);
  • inter-crop price parity;
  • the terms of trade between agriculture and non-agriculture (that is, the ratio of prices of farm inputs and farm outputs);
  • a minimum of 50 per cent as the margin over the cost of production; and
  • the likely implications of an MSP on consumers of that product.
Crops covered

Crops covered by MSPs include:

  • 7 types of cereals (paddy, wheat, maize, bajra, jowar, ragi and barley),
  •  5 types of pulses (chana, arhar/tur, urad, moong and masur),
  • 7 oilseeds (rapeseed-mustard, groundnut, soyabean, sunflower, sesamum, safflower, nigerseed),
  • 4 commercial crops (cotton, sugarcane, copra, raw jute)

Why is there a need for MSP?

  • The MSP is a minimum price guarantee that acts as a safety net or insurance for farmers when they sell particular crops.
  • The guaranteed price and assured market are expected to encourage higher investment and in adoption of modern technologies in agricultural activities.
  • With globalization resulting in freer trade in agricultural commodities, it is very important to protect farmers from the unwarranted fluctuation in prices.

What are the issues related to MSP?

  • Low accessibility and awareness of the MSP regime: A survey highlighted that, 81% of the cultivators were aware of MSP fixed by the Government for different crops and out of them only 10% knew about MSP before the sowing season.
  • Arrears in payments: More than 50% of the farmers receive their payments of MSP after one week.
  • Poor marketing arrangements: Almost 67% of the farmers sell their produce at MSP rate through their own arrangement and 21% through brokers.
  • According to NITI Aayog report on MSP, 21% of the farmers of the sample States expressed their satisfaction about MSP declared by the Government whereas 79% expressed their dissatisfaction due to various reasons. Although, majority of the farmers of the sample States were dissatisfied on MSP rates, still 94% of them desired that the MSP rates should be continued.

-Source: The Hindu

Cyclone Biparjoy


Cyclone Biparjoy in the Arabian Sea intensified into a ‘very severe cyclone’. Currently located about 850 km west of Goa, it is expected to move northwards and turn towards Oman in the coming days. While this will help the monsoon onset in Kerala.


GS-I: Geography (Physical geography – Climatology, Important Geophysical phenomena), GS-III: Disaster Management

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Cyclone Biparjoy
  2. What are Tropical Cyclones?
  3. Conditions for cyclone formation:
  4. How are Tropical Cyclones Formed?
  5. Why tropical cyclones don’t form in the eastern tropical oceans?
  6. Names of Tropical Cyclones
  7. Structure of the tropical cyclone
  8. Landfall, what happens when a Cyclone reaches land from the ocean?
  9. Cyclone Management in India

Cyclone Biparjoy

  • A deep depression over the southeast Arabian Sea intensified into a cyclonic storm ‘Biparjoy’, said the India Meteorological Department (IMD) 
  • The name ‘Biparjoy’ was given by Bangladesh. It means ‘calamity’ or ‘disaster’. Reportedly, the name was adopted by World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) countries in 2020.
  • It also includes all the tropical cyclones that form over the North Indian Ocean, including the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea as cyclones are named depending on the regional rules.

What are Tropical Cyclones?

  • The Tropical Cyclones are violent storms that originate over oceans in tropical areas and move over to coastal areas bringing about large-scale destruction caused by violent winds, very heavy rainfall and storm surges.
  • These are low pressure weather systems in which winds equal or exceed speeds of 62kmph.
  • Winds circulate around in anti-clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere and in clockwise direction in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • “Tropical” refers to the geographical origin of these systems, which form almost exclusively over tropical seas.
  • “Cyclone” refers to their winds moving in a circle, whirling round their central clear eye, with their winds blowing counter clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • The opposite direction of circulation is due to the Coriolis effect.
Tropical Cyclones in India
  • Tropical cyclones striking India generally originate in the eastern side of India.
  • Bay of Bengal is more prone to cyclone than Arabian Sea because it gets high sea surface temperature, low vertical shear winds and has enough moisture in middle layers of its atmosphere.
  • The frequency of cyclones in this region is bi-modal, i.e., Cyclones occur in the months of May–June and October–November.
Conditions for cyclone formation:
  • A warm sea surface (temperature in excess of 26o –27o C) and associated warming extending up to a depth of 60m with abundant water vapour.
  • High relative humidity in the atmosphere up to a height of about 5,000 metres.
  • Atmospheric instability that encourages the formation of cumulus clouds.
  • Low vertical wind between the lower and higher levels of the atmosphere that do not allow the heat generated and released by the clouds to get transported from the area.
  • The presence of cyclonic vorticity (rate of rotation of air) that initiates and favours rotation of the air cyclonically.
  • Location over the ocean, at least 4–5 o latitude away from the equator.

How are Tropical Cyclones Formed?

  • Tropical cyclones typically form over large bodies of relatively warm water. Warm water > Evaporation > Rising up of air > Low Pressure area.
  • They derive their energy through the evaporation of water from the ocean surface, which ultimately re-condenses into clouds and rain when moist air rises and cools to saturation.
  • Water takes up heat from the atmosphere to change into vapour.
  • When water vapour changes back to liquid form as raindrops, this heat is released to the atmosphere.
  • The heat released to the atmosphere warms the air around.
  • The air tends to rise and causes a drop in the pressure.
  • More air rushes to the centre of the storm.
  • This cycle is repeated.

Why tropical cyclones don’t form in the eastern tropical oceans?

  • The depth of warm water (26-27°C) should extend for 60-70 m from surface of the ocean/sea, so that deep convection currents within the water do not churn and mix the cooler water below with the warmer water near the surface.
  • The above condition occurs only in western tropical oceans because of warm ocean currents (easterly trade winds pushes ocean waters towards west) that flow from east towards west forming a thick layer of water with temperatures greater than 27°C. This supplies enough moisture to the storm.
  • The cold currents lower the surface temperatures of the eastern parts of the tropical oceans making them unfit for the breeding of cyclonic storms.
  • ONE EXCEPTION: During strong El Nino years, strong hurricanes occur in the eastern Pacific. This is due to the accumulation of warm waters in the eastern Pacific due to weak Walker Cell.

Names of Tropical Cyclones

Depending on its location and strength, a tropical cyclone is referred to by different names:

  1. Cyclones in the Indian Ocean
  2. Hurricanes in the Atlantic
  3. Typhoons in the Western Pacific and the South China Sea
  4. Willy-willies in Western Australia
Structure of the tropical cyclone

Tropical cyclones are compact, circular storms, generally some 320 km (200 miles) in diameter, whose winds swirl around a central region of low atmospheric pressure. The winds are driven by this low-pressure core and by the rotation of Earth, which deflects the path of the wind through a phenomenon known as the Coriolis force. As a result, tropical cyclones rotate in a counter clockwise (or cyclonic) direction in the Northern Hemisphere and in a clockwise (or anticyclonic) direction in the Southern Hemisphere.

  1. The Eye: A characteristic feature of tropical cyclones is the eye, a central region of clear skies, warm temperatures, and low atmospheric pressure. Typically, atmospheric pressure at the surface of Earth is about 1,000 millibars.
  2. The Eyewall: The most dangerous and destructive part of a tropical cyclone is the eyewall. Here winds are strongest, rainfall is heaviest, and deep convective clouds rise from close to Earth’s surface to a height of 15,000 metres.
  3. Rainbands: These bands, commonly called rainbands, spiral into the centre of the storm. In some cases the rainbands are stationary relative to the centre of the moving storm, and in other cases they seem to rotate around the centre.
Landfall, what happens when a Cyclone reaches land from the ocean?
  • Tropical cyclones dissipate when they can no longer extract sufficient energy from warm ocean water.
  • A storm that moves over land will abruptly lose its fuel source and quickly lose intensity.
  • A tropical cyclone can contribute to its own demise by stirring up deeper, cooler ocean waters. tropical cyclone can contribute to its own demise by stirring up deeper, cooler ocean waters.

Cyclone Management in India

India is highly vulnerable to natural disasters especially cyclones, earthquakes, floods, landslides, and drought. Natural disasters cause a loss of 2% of GDP every year in India. According to the Home ministry, 8% of total area in India is prone to cyclones. India has a coastline of 7,516 km, of which 5,700 km are prone to cyclones of various degrees.

  • Loss due to cyclones: Loss of lives, livelihood opportunities, damage to public and private property and severe damage to infrastructure are the resultant consequences, which can disrupt the process of development
  • Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) is the nodal agency for early warning of cyclones and floods.
  • Natural Disaster Management Authority is mandated to deal with the disaster management in India. It has prepared National Guidelines on Management of Cyclone.
  • National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP) was launched by Home ministry to upgrade the forecasting, tracking and warning about cyclones in states.
  • National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has done a commendable performance in rescuing and managing relief work.
  • National Disaster Response Reserve (NDRR)– a fund of 250 crores operated by NDRF for maintaining inventory for an emergency situation.
  • In 2016, a blueprint of National Disaster Management Plan was unveiled to tackle disaster. It provides a framework to deal with prevention, mitigation, response and recovery during a disaster. According to the plan, Ministry of earth science will be responsible for disaster management of cyclone. By this plan, India joined the list of countries which follow the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
  • Due to increased awareness and tracking of Cyclone, the death toll has been reduced substantially. For example, Very severe cyclone Hudhud and Phailin claimed lives of around 138 and 45 people respectively, which might have been more. It was reduced due to the early warning and relocation of the population from the cyclone-hit areas. Very severe cyclone Ockhi claimed many lives of people in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. This was due to the unprecedented change in the direction of the cyclone.
  • But the destruction of infrastructure due to cyclonic hit is not been reduced which leads to increase in poverty due to the economic weakening of the affected population.

-Source: The Hindu

Manual Scavenging


Recent revelations by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment highlight that only 508 out of 766 districts have declared themselves manual-scavenging free.


GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues related to Poverty, Minorities, Welfare Schemes, Government Policies and Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Manual Scavenging in India
  2. Prevalence of Manual Scavenging in India
  3. Existing provisions regarding Manual Labour
  4. National Action Plan for elimination of Manual Scavenging

Manual Scavenging in India

  • Manual scavenging is defined as “the removal of human excrement from public streets and dry latrines, cleaning septic tanks, gutters and sewers”.
  • In 1993, India banned the employment of people as manual scavengers (The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993), however, the stigma and discrimination associated with it still linger on.
  • In 2013, the definition of manual scavengers was also broadened to include people employed to clean septic tanks, ditches, or railway tracks. The Act recognizes manual scavenging as a “dehumanizing practice,” and cites a need to “correct the historical injustice and indignity suffered by the manual scavengers.”

Prevalence of Manual Scavenging in India

  • As per the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK), a total of 631 people have died in the country while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the last 10 years.
  • 2019 saw the highest number of manual scavenging deaths in the past five years. 110 workers were killed while cleaning sewers and septic tanks.
  • This is a 61% increase as compared to 2018, which saw 68 cases of such similar deaths.
  • Despite the introduction of several mechanised systems for sewage cleaning, human intervention in the process still continues.
  • As per data collected in 2018, 29,923 people are engaged in manual scavenging in Uttar Pradesh, making it the highest in any State in India.

Why is manual scavenging still a concern after so many years?

  • A number of independent surveys have talked about the continued reluctance on the part of state governments to admit that the practice prevails under their watch.
  • Many times, local bodies outsource sewer cleaning tasks to private contractors. However, many of them fly-by-night operators, do not maintain proper rolls of sanitation workers. In case after case of workers being asphyxiated to death, these contractors have denied any association with the deceased.
  • The practice is also driven by caste, class and income divides. It is linked to India’s caste system where so-called lower castes are expected to perform this job. It is linked to India’s caste system where so-called lower castes are expected to perform this job.

Existing provisions regarding Manual Labour

  • Prevention of Atrocities Act: In 1989, the Prevention of Atrocities Act became an integrated guard for sanitation workers; more than 90% people employed as manual scavengers belonged to the Scheduled Caste. This became an important landmark to free manual scavengers from designated traditional occupations.
  • The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013: Superseding the 1993 Act, the 2013 Act goes beyond prohibitions on dry latrines, and outlaws all manual excrement cleaning of insanitary latrines, open drains, or pits.
  • Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees ‘Right to Life’ and that also with dignity. This right is available to both citizens and non-citizens.

National Action Plan for elimination of Manual Scavenging

The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry’s National Action Plan aims to modernise existing sewage system and coverage of non-sewered areas; setting up of faecal sludge and septage management system for mechanised cleaning of septic tanks, transportation and treatment of faecal sludge; equipping the municipalities, and setting up of Sanitation Response Units with help lines.

The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020
  • As a part of the Ministry’s National Action Plan, this bill will amend the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
  • The bill proposes to completely mechanise sewer cleaning and provide better protection at work and compensation in case of accidents.
  • The Bill proposes to make the law banning manual scavenging more stringent by increasing the imprisonment term and the fine amount.
  • The funds will be provided directly to the sanitation workers and not to the municipalities or contractors to purchase the machinery.
Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge
  • Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched Safaimitra Suraksha Challenge across 243 Cities to ensure that no life of any sewer or septic tank cleaner is ever lost again owing to the issue of ‘hazardous cleaning’.
  • The Challenge was launched on the occasion of World Toilet Day.
  • Aims to prevent ‘hazardous cleaning’ of sewers and septic tanks and promoting their mechanized cleaning.
  • Representatives from 243 cities across the country took a pledge to mechanize all sewer and septic tank cleaning operations by 30th April 2021.
  • The initiative is in line with the core of the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U)
  • The actual on-ground assessment of participating cities will be conducted in May 2021 by an independent agency and results of the same will be declared on 15 August 2021.
  • Cities will be awarded in three sub-categories – with population of more than 10 lakhs, 3-10 lakhs and upto 3 lakhs, with a total prize money of ₹52 crores to be given to winning cities across all categories.

-Source: The Hindu

Draft Pandemic Treaty


The Draft Pandemic treaty also know as “Zero Draft”, is currently under negotiation by Member States at the World Health Assembly. However, there is growing concern that the provisions addressing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are at risk of being removed from the final text.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Draft Pandemic Treaty
  2. Components of the Draft Pandemic Treaty
  3. Importance of Addressing AMR in the Pandemic Treaty
  4. Impact of Excluding AMR Measures
  5. The Urgency of Addressing AMR in the Pandemic Treaty

Draft Pandemic Treaty:

  • The draft pandemic treaty is an international agreement proposed to address pandemics and global health emergencies.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) and member states are involved in negotiations for the treaty.
  • The primary goal of the treaty is to enhance global cooperation and solidarity in dealing with health threats.
  • It encompasses various areas such as surveillance, detection, notification, access to health technologies, collaboration, and accountability.
  • The treaty is grounded in principles of human rights, equity, and solidarity, while recognizing each state’s sovereignty in determining its health policies.
  • It establishes key entities like a global health threats council, a global health threats fund, and an independent review and evaluation mechanism.
  • The draft pandemic treaty is a direct response to the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim of improving global pandemic preparedness and response.

Components of the Draft Pandemic Treaty:

Global Coordination and Cooperation:

  • Calls for increased global coordination and cooperation in preparing for and responding to pandemics and global health emergencies.

Strengthening Health Systems:

  • Emphasizes the need to strengthen health systems in all countries, especially in low- and middle-income countries, to enhance preparedness for pandemics and global health emergencies.

Access to Health Technologies:

  • Calls for improved access to essential health technologies, including vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments, during pandemics and other health emergencies.
  • Highlights the importance of investing in research and development of health technologies for diseases posing significant global health threats.

Transparency and Information Sharing:

  • Calls for increased transparency and sharing of information related to pandemics and global health emergencies.
  • Emphasizes the sharing of data on disease spread and the effectiveness of interventions.

Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS):

  • Establishment of PABS under the WHO to ensure equitable sharing of genomic sequences of all potentially pandemic pathogens.
  • Aims to promote responsible and fair use of pathogens and their genetic resources in the development of medicines and vaccines, while respecting the rights and interests of providing countries and communities.

Gender Equality in Healthcare:

  • Addresses gender disparities in the healthcare workforce.
  • Aims to ensure meaningful representation, engagement, participation, and empowerment of all health and care workers.
  • Highlights equal pay and the removal of barriers specific to women in assuming leadership roles.

Importance of Addressing AMR in the Pandemic Treaty:

AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance) is crucial in the pandemic treaty due to the following reasons:

  • Resistance to Medicines: AMR refers to the process in which infections caused by microbes, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites, become resistant to the medicines developed to treat them.
  • Global Impact of Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infections alone are responsible for one in eight deaths worldwide, highlighting the significant impact of such infections on global health.
  • Diverse Causes of Pandemics: Not all pandemics are caused by viruses; past pandemics have been caused by bacterial diseases. It is essential to address AMR to effectively combat a wide range of pathogens.
  • Rise of Drug-Resistant Infections: AMR is contributing to the rise of drug-resistant infections, including drug-resistant tuberculosis, pneumonia, and drug-resistant Staph infections (e.g., MRSA). This poses a serious threat to public health.
  • Secondary Infections during Viral Pandemics: During viral pandemics, secondary bacterial or fungal infections can occur, necessitating the use of effective antibiotics. Neglecting AMR could impede the treatment of such infections.
  • Pneumonia and COVID-19: Research has shown that many deaths among hospitalized COVID-19 patients are associated with pneumonia, a secondary bacterial infection that requires antibiotic treatment.
  • Black Fungus Concern: AMR measures are crucial in addressing fungal infections like black fungus, which primarily affect immunocompromised individuals, including those with conditions like COVID-19 or diabetes.

Impact of Excluding AMR Measures:

  • Hindered Protection Against Future Pandemics: Excluding AMR-related measures would hinder efforts to protect people from future pandemics by neglecting a significant factor contributing to the spread and severity of infections.
  • At-Risk Measures: Measures at risk of removal include access to safe water, infection prevention, surveillance, and antimicrobial stewardship. Antimicrobial stewardship aims to improve the appropriate use of antibiotics and minimize the development of resistance.
  • Weakening Preventive Actions: Weakening the language of the treaty regarding AMR could potentially allow countries to opt-out of preventive actions, compromising global efforts to combat AMR effectively.

The Urgency of Addressing AMR in the Pandemic Treaty:

  • Global Collaboration: Tackling AMR requires international political action and collaboration to mitigate its impact on public health.
  • Pandemic Response and Preparedness: Safeguarding the effectiveness of antimicrobials is crucial for an effective pandemic response and preparedness, ensuring that necessary treatments remain viable.
  • Alignment with Broader Goals: Failing to address AMR in the pandemic treaty undermines its broader goals of protecting nations and communities from future health emergencies, compromising the overall effectiveness of the treaty.

-Source: Indian Express

Prepaid Payment Instrument


A committee reviewing customer service standards for RBI (Reserve Bank of India) regulated entities has recommended the extension of Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) toPrepaid Payment Instrument (PPI) to protect against fraud and unauthorized transactions.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are PPIs?
  2. What is PPI interoperability?
  3. How does PPI interoperability through UPI work?
  4. About DICGC

What are PPIs?

  • Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs) are payment methods that can be used to purchase goods and services and send/receive money by using the stored value in the wallet.
  • Users have to pre-load the wallet with a desired amount. The amount can be loaded/reloaded against cash or through debit to bank account, or by using credit/debit cards, UPI, or any other approved payment method in India.
  • PPIs can only be used in Indian rupees. PPIs can be in the form of mobile wallets, physical smart cards, secure tokens, vouchers, or any other method that allows access to prepaid funds.

What is PPI interoperability?

  • Previously, to use PPI at any merchant, it was necessary that the concerned merchant was engaged directly by the specific PPI issuer (specific network).
  • All PPIs with which the merchant did not have a direct tie-up would get rejected.
  • The most prevalent form of PPI used in the country is the mobile wallet, and this restriction meant that customers of one specific mobile wallet could spend the money in the wallet only at specific merchant locations which were directly tied up with the same PPI wallet provider.
  • For example, if you had a Paytm or Mobikwik wallet, you could only use it at merchants that accepted Paytm or Mobikwik QR codes.
  • To overcome this limitation of PPIs, the RBI has mandated interoperability among different PPI issuers.
  • Subsequently, PPI issuers tied-up with NPCI for issuing
    1. interoperable RuPay PPI cards
    2. creating interoperable wallets on UPI rails.
  • Prepaid instruments in the form of wallets can now be linked to UPI, thus creating interoperable wallets on UPI rails.

How does PPI interoperability through UPI work?

  • After linking one’s PPI wallet to UPI, customers can transact using Scan and Pay on all UPI interoperable QR codes.
  • This will enable the use of PPI wallets at all merchant locations.
  • The user can also send/receive money to any other wallet user.
  • Similarly, a merchant with any UPI QR code can now accept payments from any PPI issuer or mobile wallet.
  • PPI on UPI will speed up the growth of merchant transactions in rural areas and further deepen digital financial inclusion by catering to use cases such as healthcare, transit, education, utility bills, etc.


  • DICGC is a subsidiary of RBI that provides deposit insurance to ensure stability in the financial system.
  • It protects small depositors by guaranteeing the safety of their deposits in case of bank failures.
  • The insurance coverage extends to all licensed commercial banks, including LABs, PBs, SFBs, RRBs, and co-operative banks regulated by RBI.
Deposit Insurance Coverage:
  • DICGC insures various types of deposits, such as savings, fixed, current, and recurring, including accrued interest.
  • Each depositor is insured up to Rs 5 lakh (previously Rs 1 lakh) for the combined principal and interest held in a bank during liquidation or failure.
Exclusions from Coverage:
  • DICGC does not cover deposits of foreign governments, central/state governments, inter-bank deposits, certain cooperative bank deposits, funds received outside India, or amounts exempted with RBI approval.
Funds Maintained by DICGC:
  • Deposit Insurance Fund, Credit Guarantee Fund, and General Fund are maintained by DICGC.
  • The Deposit Insurance Fund and Credit Guarantee Fund are funded by insurance premiums and guarantee fees, respectively, used to settle relevant claims.
  • The General Fund covers establishment and administrative expenses of the Corporation.

-Source: Indian Express

Deepfake Technology


Recently, various news sources have focused on the growing concern over deepfakes, which are fabricated media created using deep learning technology.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a deepfake?
  2. Measures to address the threats related to deepfakes
  3. Way forward

What is a deepfake?

  • Deepfakes are a compilation of artificial images and audio put together with machine-learning algorithms to spread misinformation and replace a real person’s appearance, voice, or both with similar artificial likenesses or voices.
  • It can create people who do not exist and it can fake real people saying and doing things they did not say or do.
  • The term deepfake originated in 2017, when an anonymous Reddit user called himself “Deepfakes.”
  • This user manipulated Google’s open-source, deep-learning technology to create and post pornographic videos.
  • The videos were doctored with a technique known as face-swapping.
  • The user “Deepfakes” replaced real faces with celebrity faces.
Where can it be used?
  • It is used to generate celebrity porn videos, produce fake news, and commit financial fraud among other wrongdoings.
  • It is now being used for nefarious purposes like scams and hoaxes,election manipulation, social engineering, automated disinformation attacks, identity theft and financial fraud.
    • Deepfake technology has been used to impersonate former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and Hollywood celebrity Tom Cruise.

Measures to address the threats related to deepfakes:

Collaborative actions and collective techniques across legislative regulations, platform policies, technology intervention, and media literacy can provide effective and ethical countermeasures to mitigate the threat of malicious deepfakes.

Media literacy:

  • Media literacy for consumers and journalists is the most effective tool to combat disinformation and deepfakes.
  • Media literacy efforts must be enhanced to cultivate a discerning public. As consumers of media, we must have the ability to decipher, understand, translate, and use the information we encounter.
  • Even a short intervention with media understanding, learning the motivations and context, can lessen the damage. Improving media literacy is a precursor to addressing the challenges presented by deepfakes

Legislative regulations:

  • Meaningful regulations with a collaborative discussion with the technology industry, civil society, and policymakers can facilitate disincentivising the creation and distribution of malicious deepfakes.

Technological solutions:

  • We also need easy-to-use and accessible technology solutions to detect deepfakes, authenticate media, and amplify authoritative sources.

Way forward:

Deepfakes can create possibilities for all people irrespective of their limitations by augmenting their agency. However, as access to synthetic media technology increases, so does the risk of exploitation. Deepfakes can be used to damage reputations, fabricate evidence, defraud the public, and undermine trust in democratic institutions. To counter the menace of deepfakes, we all must take the responsibility to be a critical consumer of media on the Internet, think and pause before we share on social media, and be part of the solution to this infodemic.

-Source: The Hindu

Kakhovka Dam


Floodwaters were released throughout the conflict area after a massive Soviet-era dam – Kakhovka Dam – on the Dnipro River that separates Russian and Ukrainian forces in southern Ukraine was breached.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The Kakhovka Dam
  2. What Happened to the Kakhovka Dam?
  3. Impact of the Dam Collapse
  4. How will this Affect the War between Russia and Ukraine?

The Kakhovka Dam

  • The Kakhovka Dam is a 30-meter tall and 3.2-kilometer long dam built in 1956 on the Dnipro River as part of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant.
  • The reservoir created by the dam has a volume of 18 cubic kilometers, equivalent to the Great Salt Lake in the U.S. state of Utah.
  • The reservoir serves as a water source for the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia claims to have annexed in 2014.
  • It also supplies water to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which is currently under Russian control.

What Happened to the Kakhovka Dam?

  • Ukraine holds Russia responsible for the dam’s collapse.
  • Some Russian-installed officials have accused Ukraine of shelling the dam.
  • Other Russian-installed officials claim that the dam collapsed due to earlier damage and the pressure of the water.

Impact of the Dam Collapse:

  • Evacuations of civilians have begun on both sides of the front line. Approximately 22,000 people living across 14 settlements in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region are at risk of flooding.
  • The Crimean Peninsula heavily relies on the canal fed by the reservoir for fresh water supply.
  • Previously, Ukraine blocked water supplies to Crimea after Russia’s annexation in 2014, leading to water shortages in the region.
  • There is a risk of water levels in the North Crimea Canal, which carries fresh water to the peninsula, falling as a result of the dam rupture.
  • The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest in Europe, relies on the reservoir for its cooling water. The plant is now situated on the southern side under Russian control.
  • Russia’s state nuclear energy company, Rosatom, has stated that there is no threat to the Moscow-controlled nuclear plant.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, is closely monitoring the situation and has determined that there is no immediate nuclear safety risk at the plant.

How will this Affect the War between Russia and Ukraine?

The impact of the Kakhovka Dam collapse on the war between Russia and Ukraine is uncertain, and experts have different opinions on its implications. Here are some key points:

  • The news of the dam damage emerged at a time when Russia claimed that Ukraine had initiated a counteroffensive.
  • Ukraine has accused Russia of aiming to create obstacles for its offensive to regain control of territories held by Russian forces.
  • Kyiv previously alleged that Russia had mined the dam as part of the ongoing conflict, although Russia denies these claims.
  • The flooding caused by the dam collapse could potentially have implications for Ukraine’s planned counteroffensive.
  • However, the exact impact of the flooding on Ukrainian forces’ ability to retake captured territories remains unclear, and experts have varying views on the matter.

-Source: The Hindu



Indigenously designed and developed heavy-weight torpedo (HWT) Varunastra was recently successfully test-fired with a live warhead against an undersea target by the Indian Navy.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Varunastra
  2. Features of Varunastra
  3. Guidance and Technology

About Varunastra:

  • Varunastra is an anti-submarine torpedo designed and developed by the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL) under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Vizag, India.
  • It is manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL).
  • The torpedo is ship-launched, heavy-weight, and electrically-propelled, specifically designed to target quiet submarines in both deep and shallow waters, even in intense counter-measures environments.

Features of Varunastra:

  • Length: 7.78 meters (25.5 feet)
  • Diameter: 533.4 mm (21.00 in)
  • Launch Platforms: Surface ships and submarines capable of firing heavy-weight torpedoes
  • Speed: Excess of 40 knots (74 km/h; 46 mph)
  • Range: 40 km (25 mi)
  • Weight: Approximately 1.5 tonnes
  • Warhead: 250 kg (550 lb) high-explosive
  • Maximum Operating Depth: 600 meters (2,000 ft)
  • Long-range capability with multi-maneuvering capabilities

Guidance and Technology:

  • Varunastra employs an advanced guidance system that includes active-passive acoustic homing, wire guidance, and GPS/NavIC satellite guidance.
  • It features conformal array transducers, allowing it to have a wider viewing angle compared to most conventional torpedoes.
  • The torpedo utilizes an advanced autonomous guidance algorithm with low drift navigational aids. • It is equipped with an insensitive warhead suitable for various combat scenarios.
  • Varunastra also incorporates a GPS-based locating aid.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023