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Current Affairs 27 November 2023

  1. Conference of the Parties (COP)
  2. Ozone hole detected over Antarctica
  3. Child Pornography
  4. 2nd CII India Nordic-Baltic Business Conclave 2023
  5. Amaterasu
  6. Amplifi 2.0 Portal


Context:

Tens of thousands will descend on Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), next week to attend the world’s biggest climate negotiation — Conference of the Parties, better known as COP. The 28thedition of COP is scheduled to be held in Dubai.
Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Conference of the Parties (COP)
  2. Paris Agreement (COP 21): A Comprehensive Overview

Conference of the Parties (COP)

Background:
  • COP is the annual United Nations (UN) climate meeting.
  • Originated from the 1992 Rio Earth Summit where 154 countries signed the UNFCCC.
  • Aims to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations to prevent dangerous human-induced interference with the climate system.
Formation and Participants:
  • UNFCCC came into force in 1994, leading to annual COP meetings.
  • Currently, 198 countries are parties to the Convention.
  • Rooted in the success of environmental agreements like the 1987 Montreal Protocol and a 1991 US-Canada agreement on acid rain.
Inaugural COP (COP-1):
  • Held in Berlin, Germany, in 1995.
  • Focused on implementing the UNFCCC, marking the beginning of annual climate conferences.
  • Led to the Kyoto Protocol during COP-3 in Kyoto, Japan.
Kyoto Protocol:
  • Agreement during COP-3 placed obligations on rich and industrialized countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Kyoto Protocol became a significant outcome of COP meetings.
Objectives of COP Meetings:
  • Primary objective is to review progress toward the overarching goal of limiting climate change.
  • Addresses global agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions causing rising global temperatures.
  • Emphasizes negotiations, debates, and occasionally results in new agreements or treaties like the Kyoto Protocol.
Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs):
  • Member countries, part of the Paris Agreement (2015), present NDCs at COP meetings.
  • NDCs are climate action plans detailing emission cuts and adaptation strategies.
  • Reviewed periodically, usually every five years, as a crucial part of COP discussions.

Paris Agreement (COP 21): A Comprehensive Overview

Legal Commitment:
  • The Paris Agreement, also referred to as COP21, stands as a legally binding international treaty focusing on climate change.
  • It was collectively adopted by 196 parties during the UN Climate Change Conference held in Paris, France, in December 2015.
Effective Commencement:
  • The agreement officially came into force on November 4, 2016, marking the initiation of concerted global efforts to combat climate change.
Key Objectives:
  • Limit Global Warming:
    • Primary objective is to restrict global warming:
      • Keep the temperature increase below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
      • Pursue additional efforts to limit the increase to an even more ambitious target of 1.5°C.
  • Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction:
    • Aiming for a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2100, contributing to the mitigation of climate change impacts.
  • Support for Countries:
    • Strengthening the capacity of countries to effectively cope with the consequences of climate change.
  • Financial Support:
    • Providing financial assistance to developing countries to facilitate their efforts in mitigating climate change and adapting to its impacts.
Global Collaboration:
  • The Paris Agreement stands as a testament to global collaboration and commitment to address climate change comprehensively.
Historic Accord:
  • Recognized as a historic accord due to the unprecedented consensus among nations and the shared determination to combat climate change collectively.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

According to a recent study, published in Nature Communications, stated that the Antarctic Ozone Hole has been massive in the last four years.

Relevance:

GS I- Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Ozone Layer and what are Ozone Holes?
  2. Ozone creation and destruction
  3. Ozone Holes Grow and Shrink Every Year
  4. Causes of the Giant Ozone Hole in 2023
  5. Is Climate Change Reopening Ozone Holes?

What is Ozone Layer and what are Ozone Holes?

  • Ozone layer, also called ozonosphere, is a region of the upper atmosphere, between roughly 15 and 35 km (9 and 22 miles) above Earth’s surface which contains relatively high concentrations of ozone molecules (O3).
  • Approximately 90 percent of the atmosphere’s ozone occurs in the stratosphere, the region extending from 10–18 km (6–11 miles) to approximately 50 km (about 30 miles) above Earth’s surface.
  • The ozone layer effectively blocks almost all solar radiation of wavelengths less than 290 nanometres from reaching Earth’s surface, including certain types of ultraviolet (UV) and other forms of radiation that could injure or kill most living things.
What are Ozone Holes?
  • The ‘ozone hole’ is not really a hole — it refers to a region in the stratosphere where the concentration of ozone becomes extremely low in certain months.
  • The ‘ozone holes’ most commonly talked about are the depletions over Antarctica, forming each year in the months of September, October and November, due to a set of special meteorological and chemical conditions that arise at the South Pole, and can reach sizes of around 20 to 25 million sq km.
  • Such holes are also spotted over the North Pole, but owing to warmer temperatures than the South Pole, the depletions here are much smaller in size.

Ozone creation and destruction

  • The production of ozone in the stratosphere results primarily from the breaking of the chemical bonds within oxygen molecules (O2) by high-energy solar photons. This process, called photodissociation, results in the release of single oxygen atoms, which later join with intact oxygen molecules to form ozone.
  • The amount of ozone in the stratosphere varies naturally throughout the year as a result of chemical processes that create and destroy ozone molecules and as a result of winds and other transport processes that move ozone molecules around the planet.
  • Over the course of several decades, however, human activities substantially altered the ozone layer.
  • Ozone depletion, the global decrease in stratospheric ozone observed since the 1970s, is most pronounced in polar regions, and it is well correlated with the increase of chlorine and bromine in the stratosphere.
  • Those chemicals, once freed by UV radiation from the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other halocarbons (carbon-halogen compounds) that contain them, destroy ozone by stripping away single oxygen atoms from ozone molecules.
  • As the amount of stratospheric ozone declines, more UV radiation reaches Earth’s surface, and scientists worry that such increases could have significant effects on ecosystems and human health.

Ozone Holes Grow and Shrink Every Year:

  • The size of the ozone hole over Antarctica changes annually, typically opening in August and closing in November or December.
  • It’s caused by special winds over Antarctica due to the Earth’s rotation, creating a shield over the continent that prevents mixing with surrounding air. When the winds calm down, the hole closes.

Causes of the Giant Ozone Hole in 2023:

  • The large ozone hole this year may be linked to volcanic eruptions at Hunga Tonga in Tonga during December 2022 and January 2023.
  • Normally, gas from volcanic eruptions stays below the stratosphere, but this one released a lot of water vapor into the stratosphere.
  • The water vapor, through chemical reactions, impacted the ozone layer and altered its heating rate. It also contained elements like bromine and iodine that can deplete ozone.
  • There isn’t strong evidence to attribute this ozone hole to human activities.

Is Climate Change Reopening Ozone Holes?

  • Ozone depletion isn’t a primary driver of global climate change, but rising temperatures could have an influence on ozone holes.
  • Mitigation efforts for ozone holes were effective since the 1980s, but the 2020 and 2021 ozone holes were unusually deep and long-lasting, with wildfires in southeastern Australia contributing to the 2020 hole.
  • The impact of ozone holes on Earth’s climate is not entirely clear; some data suggests they might have cooling effects by reducing the greenhouse gas effect.

-Source: Down To Earth



Context:

Recently, the EU lawmakers agreed to draft rules requiring Alphabet’s Google, Meta and other online services to identify and remove Online Child Pornography, stating that end-to-end encryption would not be affected.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Child Pornography
  2. Navigating Challenges in Addressing Pornography Issues
  3. About Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012

Child Pornography:

  • Child Pornography: Involves the creation, distribution, or possession of sexually explicit material featuring minors.
  • Online Manifestation: The digital form encompasses activities through digital platforms, exacerbating the gravity of the crime.
Legal Framework in India:
  • Legal Reference: Defined by the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2019.
  • Inclusive Description: Encompasses visual depictions involving children in sexually explicit conduct, spanning photographs, videos, or computer-generated images.
Indian Scenario:
  • Alarming Statistics: Cases surged from 738 in 2020 to 969 in 2021, as reported by the National Crime Report Bureau (NCRB) in 2021.
Impact on Children:
  • Psychological Ramifications: Linked to depression, anger, anxiety, and mental distress.
  • Behavioral Influence: Regular exposure may lead to a distorted sense of sexual gratification, potentially manifesting in real-life actions.
  • Addiction Analogy: Experts equate pornography’s impact on the brain to that of substance addiction.
Social and Gender Dynamics:
  • Gender Stereotypes: Adolescent pornography use is associated with reinforced gender stereotypes, particularly among males.
  • Attitudes Toward Violence: Exposure to pornography may contribute to attitudes supportive of sexual violence and violence against women.

Navigating Challenges in Addressing Pornography Issues

Diverse Socioeconomic Impact:
  • Class Disparities: The impact of pornography varies among children from different socioeconomic backgrounds, requiring tailored interventions.
  • Cultural Stigma: Societal perceptions of sex as negative contribute to a lack of healthy family dialogues, fostering external learning, and potential addiction.
Detection and Monitoring Challenges:
  • Complex Oversight: Agencies face significant difficulties in detecting and effectively monitoring child pornography activities.
  • Online Proliferation: Ubiquitous explicit content on mainstream websites and OTT platforms blurs the line between non-vulgar and vulgar material, complicating regulation efforts.

About Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012

  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 was enacted to provide a robust legal framework for the protection of children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process.
  • The framing of the Act seeks to put children first by making it easy to use by including mechanisms for child-friendly reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts.
  • The Act provides for a variety of offences under which an accused can be punished. It recognises forms of penetration other than penile-vaginal penetration and criminalises acts of immodesty against children too. Offences under the act include:
    • Penetrative Sexual Assault: Insertion of penis/object/another body part in child’s vagina/urethra/anus/mouth, or asking the child to do so with them or some other person
    • Sexual Assault: When a person touches the child, or makes the child touch them or someone else
    • Sexual Harassment: passing sexually coloured remark, sexual gesture/noise, repeatedly following, flashing, etc.
    • Child Pornography
    • Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault/ Aggravated Sexual Assault

Salient Features of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2019

  • Gender-Neutral Approach: The Act adopts a gender-neutral stance, applying equally to children of any gender and the accused.
  • Expansive Definition of Child Pornography: Criminalizes the act of watching or collecting pornographic content involving children.
  • Criminalization of Abetment: Makes abetment of child sexual abuse a punishable offence.
  • Age Definition: Defines a child as an individual below eighteen years of age.
  • Mandatory Reporting: Mandates the reporting of sexual offences, aligning with international child protection standards.
  • Police Responsibility for Child Protection: Empowers police personnel to urgently arrange for the care and protection of the child upon receiving a report of sexual abuse.
  • Child-Friendly Medical Examination: Ensures that medical examinations of the child are conducted with minimal distress.
  • Establishment of Special Courts: Special Courts conduct trials in-camera, safeguarding the child’s identity in a child-friendly manner.
  • Timely Disposal of Cases: Requires cases of child sexual abuse to be disposed of within one year from the date of reporting.
  • Comprehensive Recognition of Sexual Abuse Forms: Recognizes a broad range of sexual abuse forms as punishable offences.
  • Punishment for Child Trafficking: Imposes stringent punishment, including rigorous imprisonment for life and fines, for those trafficking children for sexual purposes.
  • Child-Friendly Trial Process: Implements procedural reforms to simplify the trial process, particularly tailored to ease the challenges faced by children.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, the 2nd CII (Confederation of Indian Industries) India Nordic-Baltic Business Conclave 2023 was held in New Delhi, aiming to foster collaboration between India and the Nordic Baltic Eight (NB8) countries, known for their prowess in innovation and technology.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Nordic Baltic (NB) 8: An Overview
  2. Key Highlights of the Conclave: Transforming Collaborations for Sustainability
  3. Economic Relations Between India and Nordic-Baltic Countries

Nordic Baltic (NB) 8: An Overview

Regional Cooperation Format:

  • The NB8 constitutes a regional cooperation format that unites the Nordic countries and the Baltic states.

Member Countries:

  • Nordic Countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
  • Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Shared Ties:

  • The group is characterized by shared historical, cultural, and geographical ties.
  • Collaboration spans various domains, including politics, economics, trade, security, and culture.

Nordic Countries:

  • Located in Northern Europe, the Nordic countries exhibit similarities in governance, social systems, and values.

Baltic States:

  • Situated in Northeastern Europe, the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) have distinct historical backgrounds and geopolitical positioning.

Fostering Cooperation:

  • The NB8 framework facilitates collaboration and cooperation among member states for mutual benefit.
  • The cooperation encompasses a range of sectors, contributing to regional stability and development.

Geopolitical Significance:

  • The alliance’s geopolitical positioning and unity enhance its collective influence and engagement in regional and global affairs.

Comprehensive Engagement:

  • NB8 engages in comprehensive discussions and initiatives, reflecting a commitment to addressing shared challenges and advancing common goals.

Key Highlights of the Conclave: Transforming Collaborations for Sustainability

Sustainable Food Systems:

  • Discussions centered on transforming food systems for sustainability.
  • Focus on sharing experiences, innovations, and best practices between India and the Nordic-Baltic nations.

Holistic Approach:

  • Collaboration aimed at addressing global challenges with a holistic approach covering economic, social, and environmental dimensions.

Blue Economy Management:

  • Emphasis on efficient Blue Economy management.
  • Objectives included enhancing Global Supply Chain Resilience, promoting sustainable marine practices, encouraging innovation, and fostering maritime cooperation.

Renewable Energy Integration:

  • Deliberations on India’s push for Renewable Energy integration.
  • Focus on identifying resources, policy support, energy storage, and advanced technology initiatives.
  • Seeking support from Nordic-Baltic economies for implementing clean energy-related technologies.

Technological Advancements:

  • Collaboration discussions on leveraging AI, IoT, and smart manufacturing in the manufacturing sector.
  • Exploring ways to contribute to India’s goal of becoming a developed nation by 2047.

Climate Finance for Green Transitions:

  • Significance of climate finance in achieving green and sustainable transitions.
  • Exploring strategies and solutions to drive funding and investments.
  • Fostering collaboration for advancing climate action.

IT and AI Cooperation:

  • Emphasis on exploring cooperation in leveraging IT and AI to address societal challenges.
  • Discussions on skill development initiatives for inclusive AI and IT growth.

Strengthening Global Value Chains:

  • Discussions on building efficient and resilient supply chains.
  • Alignment with India’s Logistics Policy.
  • Exploring collaboration to strengthen global value chains using technological advancements.

Economic Relations Between India and Nordic-Baltic Countries:

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI):

  • Cumulative FDI from Nordic countries has surpassed significant figures, indicating robust mutual investment interests.
  • Cumulative FDI from 2000 to 2023 stands at USD 4.69 billion.

Trade in Goods:

  • India’s combined trade in goods with the Nordic-Baltic (NB8) countries is approximately USD 7.3 billion.

Corporate Presence:

  • Over 700 Nordic companies operate in India.
  • Close to 150 Indian companies have established a presence in the Nordic-Baltic region.

Specific Collaborations:

  • Established collaborations and partnerships in various domains.
  • Examples include sustainability partnerships with Finland, green strategic partnerships with Denmark focusing on water solutions, wind energy, and agriculture, and joint projects with Iceland in harnessing geothermal energy.

Potential Sectors for Collaboration:

  • Identification of potential collaboration in sectors like renewable energy, food processing, logistics, IT, AI, maritime cooperation, and blue economy initiatives.
  • Alignment of India’s ambitious renewable energy targets with Nordic-Baltic technological expertise offers collaboration opportunities.

High-Tech Collaboration:

  • Potential collaboration in space technology, geospatial sectors, and polar and climate research.
  • Discussions around joint research projects and opportunities in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.

Global Engagements:

  • Active engagement in global partnerships, including India’s participation in the G20.
  • Opportunities for collaboration in finding solutions for sustainable growth.
  • Exploration of partnerships in joint development projects, particularly in Africa, to expand collective global footprint.

-Source: The Hindu, PIB



Context:

Scientists recently detected the most powerful cosmic ray seen in more than three decades, which has been named ‘Amaterasu’.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Amaterasu: The Cosmic Phenomenon
  2. Cosmic Rays: Celestial Messengers of Energy

Amaterasu: The Cosmic Phenomenon

  • Overview: Named after the Japanese sun goddess, Amaterasu is among the highest-energy cosmic rays ever recorded.
  • Energy Magnitude: Exceeds 240 exa-electron volts (EeV), a scale millions of times greater than particles generated in the Large Hadron Collider.
  • Comparison: Second only to the Oh-My-God particle, another ultra-high-energy cosmic ray detected in 1991 at 320 EeV.
  • Extraordinary Energy: Equivalent to the energy of a golf ball traveling at 95 mph, signifying its remarkable cosmic force.
  • Emergence: Originates from the Local Void, an expansive, nearly empty region bordering the Milky Way galaxy.

Cosmic Rays: Celestial Messengers of Energy

  • Origins: Cosmic rays result from violent celestial events that strip matter of subatomic structures, propelling it through the universe at nearly light speed.
  • Particle Diversity: Comprising charged particles, cosmic rays encompass positive protons, negative electrons, and entire atomic nuclei.
  • Continuous Earth Impact: Constantly raining down on Earth, cosmic rays strike its upper atmosphere, colliding with oxygen and nitrogen nuclei, generating numerous secondary particles.
  • Atmospheric Impact: Secondary particles travel a short distance within the atmosphere, initiating a cascade effect, creating a shower of billions of particles that disperse to the Earth’s surface.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Recently, the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched the Amplifi 2.0 portal.

Relevance:

GS II: Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Amplifi 2.0 Portal: Enhancing Urban Data Accessibility
  2. Urban Outcomes Framework 2022: A Holistic Approach

Amplifi 2.0 Portal: Enhancing Urban Data Accessibility

Objective:
  • Data Centralization: Amplifi (Assessment and Monitoring Platform for Liveable, Inclusive, and Future-Ready Urban India) aims to consolidate raw data from Indian cities onto a unified platform.
  • Policymaking Support: The portal serves as a valuable resource for academics, researchers, and stakeholders, facilitating data-driven policymaking.
Coverage:
  • Currently, the portal has on-boarded 258 urban local bodies (ULB), providing data for 150 cities.
Information Spectrum:
  • The portal offers a diverse range of data for various cities, including metrics such as total diesel consumption and the number of water quality samples tested.

Urban Outcomes Framework 2022: A Holistic Approach

  • Developers: Crafted by the National Institute of Urban Affairs and PwC India for the Ministry.
  • Shift in Focus: This framework moves away from indices, emphasizing comprehensive indicators and promoting data-centric analysis.
  • Sectors Covered: Encompassing 14 sectors, including demography, economy, education, energy, environment, finance, governance, health, housing, mobility, planning, safety and security, solid waste management, and water and sanitation.
  • Data Streamlining: Aims to streamline data across sectors, enhancing focus on collection, analysis, and the creation of new frameworks on open data.

-Source: The Hindu


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