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Current Affairs 28 April 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) Machines
  2. World Development Report 2023
  3. Konark Sun Temple
  4. North Sea summit
  5. Quasars

Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) Machines


Context:

The Election Commission of India was criticized for not being transparent and keeping political parties out of the loop regarding defects in the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of Article:

  1. Criticism against the Election Commission (EC) and its actions
  2. Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) Machines
  3. Challenges with VVPAT machines

Criticism against the Election Commission (EC) and its actions:

Lack of Transparency:

  • EC did not inform political parties about the identification of 6.5 lakh VVPAT machines as defective.
  • EC needs to restore public faith and trust in the electoral process by being transparent.

Large number of defective machines:

  • The number of machines in which defects have been found is more than 1/3rd (37%) the number used in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
  • This could have affected voters in the last general election and subsequent Assembly poll.
  • Thousands of VVPATs with consecutive serial numbers in entire batches from different manufacturers have been found defective.
  • The defects are serious enough that the machines have been returned to the manufacturers.

Non-adherence to standard procedures:

  • The EC did not follow standard operating procedures (Model Code of Conduct) that the panel had framed for itself.
  • Field officers are required to identify defects, and any faults should be identified within 7 days.

Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) Machines:

  • VVPAT is an independent verification printer that is attached to electronic voting machines (EVMs).
  • Its purpose is to allow voters to verify that their votes have been recorded accurately.
  • As soon as a voter presses the button on the EVM, the VVPAT machine prints a slip containing the name and symbol of the party they voted for, which is visible to the voter for around 7 seconds.
  • VVPAT Machines were first introduced in India during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to increase transparency and eliminate doubts about the accuracy of EVMs.
  • Only polling officers have access to the VVPAT machines.
  • According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), EVMs and VVPATs are separate entities and are not connected to any network.

Challenges with VVPAT machines:

Technical malfunctions:

  • Possibility of technical malfunctions is a primary concern with VVPAT machines.
  • Malfunctions can result in inaccurate printing or no printing of the paper receipt of the vote cast by the voter.

Verification of paper trails:

  • Verification of paper trails generated by the VVPAT machines is another challenge.
  • It is not always clear how this record can be verified, especially in cases of discrepancies between electronic and paper records.

Public confidence:

  • Recent reports of defective VVPAT machines have eroded public confidence in the electoral process.
  • Lack of transparency and accountability on the part of the EC has raised questions about the fairness and accuracy of elections.

Legal mandate:

  • The Supreme Court in Dr. Subramanian Swamy v ECI (2013) held that VVPAT is an “indispensable requirement of free and fair elections”.

-Source: The Hindu


World Development Report 2023


Context:

Recently, World Bank released the World Development Report 2023: Migrants, Refugees, and Societies

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of Article:

  1. Key highlights of the report on global migration:
  2. About World Bank

Key highlights of the report on global migration:

Global migration statistics:

  • 2.3% of the world’s population (184 million people), including 37 million refugees, live outside their country of nationality.

Income gains for Indian migrants to the US:

  • Low-skilled Indian migrants to the US see a significant gain in their income of around 500%.
  • Highly-skilled workers such as engineers or doctors experience even higher income gains.

Categorization of migrants:

  • The report categorizes migrants into four types: refugees with skills in demand, economic migrants with skills that match demand, distressed migrants, and others.

Top migrant corridors:

  • India-US, India-Bangladesh, and India-Gulf Cooperation Council are among the top migrant corridors.

About World Bank

  • The World Bank (WB) is an international organization which provides facilities related to “finance, advice and research to developing nations” in order to bolster their economic development.
  • It provides loans and grants to the governments of poorer countries for the purpose of pursuing capital projects.
  • It comprises two institutions: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), and the International Development Association (IDA).
  • The World Bank is a component of the World Bank Group.
World Bank Group
  • The World Bank Group is an extended family of five international organizations, and the parent organization of the World Bank, the collective name given to the first two listed organizations, the IBRD and the IDA:
    1. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)
    2. International Development Association (IDA)
    3. International Finance Corporation (IFC)
    4. Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)
    5. International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)
  • With 189 member countries, the World Bank Group is a unique global partnership: five institutions working for sustainable solutions that reduce poverty and build shared prosperity in developing countries.
  • The Bank Group works with country governments, the private sector, civil society organizations, regional development banks, think tanks, and other international institutions on issues ranging from climate change, conflict, and food security to education, agriculture, finance, and trade.
Introduction to the 5 organizations of World Bank Group
  • The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) lends to governments of middle-income and creditworthy low-income countries.
  • The International Development AssociationThe International Development Association (IDA) provides interest-free loans — called credits — and grants to governments of the poorest countries. It is called the soft loan window of the World Bank. Together, IBRD and IDA make up the World Bank.
  • The International Finance CorporationThe International Finance Corporation (IFC) is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. It helps developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, mobilizing capital in international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments.
  • The Multilateral Investment Guarantee AgencyThe Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) was created in 1988 to promote foreign direct investment into developing countries to support economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve people’s lives. MIGA fulfils this mandate by offering political risk insurance (guarantees) to investors and lenders.
  • The International Centre for Settlement of Investment DisputesThe International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) provides international facilities for conciliation and arbitration of investment disputes.

-Source: The Hindu


Konark Sun Temple


Context:

A petition has been filed in the Orissa High Court challenging the minimum eligibility criteria of matriculation adopted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for issuing licences to photographers to operate inside Sun Temple at Konark.

Relevance:

GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Konark Sun Temple
  2. About Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

About Konark Sun Temple:

Location:

  • The temple is located on the coastline of Odisha in Puri district.

History:

  • It was built by King Narasimha Deva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty in 1244.
  • It was given the status of a World Heritage Site in 1984 by UNESCO.
Features:
  • The temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Surya and is also called the Surya Devalaya.
  • It is a classic example of the Odisha style of Architecture or Kalinga Architecture.
  • The temple complex looks like a 100-foot high solar chariot, with 24 wheels and pulled by six horses, all carved from stone.
  • The temple is oriented towards the east so that the first rays of the sunrise strike the main entrance.
  • The wheels of the temple are sundials, which can be used to calculate time accurately to a minute.
  • Around the base of the temple, there are images of animals, foliage, warriors on horses and other interesting structures.
  • The walls and roof of the temple are adorned with beautiful sensual figures.
  • The temple is built from Khondalite rocks and is also known as the ‘BLACK PAGODA’ due to its dark colour.
  • The temple remains a site of contemporary worship for Hindus during the annual Chandrabhaga Festival, which is celebrated around the month of February.

About Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

  • The Archaeological Survey of India is an Indian government agency attached to the Ministry of Culture.
  • ASI is responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in the country.
  • Maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance is the prime concern of the ASI.
  • Besides it regulate all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
  • It also regulates Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
  • For the maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance the entire country is divided into 24 Circles.
    • The organization has a large work force of trained archaeologists, conservators, epigraphist, architects and scientists for conducting archaeological research projects through its Circles, Museums, Excavation Branches, Prehistory Branch, Epigraphy Branches, Science Branch, Horticulture Branch, Building Survey Project, Temple Survey Projects and Underwater Archaeology Wing.
  • The most important of the society’s achievements was the decipherment of the Brahmi script by James Prinsep in 1837. This successful decipherment inaugurated the study of Indian palaeography.

-Source: The Hindu


North Sea summit


Context:

Recently, nine European countries during the second North Sea summit have signed a declaration aimed at transforming the North Sea into a green power plant

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About North Sea Summit
  2. About the North Sea

About North Sea Summit

The North Sea Summit is an international conference focused on promoting the development of offshore wind energy in the North Sea region. Here are some key details about the summit:

Location:

  • The second summit was held in Ostend, Belgium.

Participant countries:

  • The summit was attended by representatives from nine countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

Objective:

  • The main goal of the summit was to accelerate the deployment of offshore wind turbines in the North Sea and make it the largest green energy center in Europe.

Targets:

  • The summit set an ambitious target of producing at least 120 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy in the North Sea by 2030.

Previous summit:

  • The first summit was held in 2022 in Esbjerg, Denmark, and resulted in the signing of the Esbjerg Declaration.

About the North Sea

  • The North Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that is located between the British Isles and the northwestern mainland of Europe.
  • It has a rich history and diverse geography that make it an important region for trade, energy production, and marine life.
Geography:
  • The North Sea is bordered by several countries, including Great Britain to the southwest and west, Norway to the northeast, Denmark to the east, Germany and the Netherlands to the southeast, and Belgium and France to the south.
  • The Orkney and Shetland Islands are located to the northwest of the North Sea.
  • It is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Dover and the English Channel, and it opens directly onto the ocean between the Orkney and Shetland Islands and between the Shetland Islands and Norway.
Importance:
  • The North Sea is an important region for several reasons. Its strategic location has made it a center of trade and commerce for centuries.
  • Today, it is a major hub for shipping, fishing, and offshore oil and gas production.
  • The region is also home to a diverse array of marine life, including cod, herring, and salmon, as well as seals, porpoises, and whales.

-Source: Indian Express


Quasars


Context:

According to a new study Quasars the brightest and the most powerful objects in the universe – have a violent origin story

Relevance:

GS III: Science and technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Quasars
  2. What is a Blackhole?

About Quasars:

  • Quasars are intriguing astronomical objects that have fascinated scientists since their discovery over 60 years ago.
  • They are located in the centers of galaxies and emit huge amounts of energy, including radio waves, visible light, and X-rays.
Here are some key facts about quasars:

Discovery:

  • Quasars were first discovered in the late 1950s by astronomers who were studying radio waves emitted from distant galaxies.
  • At the time, they were thought to be stars within our own galaxy, but further research revealed that they were actually located in faraway galaxies.

Properties:

  • Quasars are among the most luminous objects in the universe.
  • They emit huge amounts of energy, with some quasars being thousands of times brighter than our entire Milky Way galaxy.
  • They are powered by supermassive black holes located in the centers of galaxies.

Formation:

  • Quasars are formed when gas falls into the supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy.
  • As the gas spirals into the black hole, it releases energy in the form of intense radiation and powerful jets of particles.
  • These emissions can be detected across the electromagnetic spectrum.

Size:

  • Most quasars are larger than our entire solar system, with a typical quasar being about 1 kiloparsec in width.
  • This makes them some of the largest objects in the universe.

Importance:

  • Quasars provide valuable insights into the early universe and the formation of galaxies.
  • By studying quasars, scientists can learn about the conditions and processes that were present in the universe billions of years ago.
  • Quasars can also be used as “lighthouses” to map the distribution of matter in the universe and study the effects of cosmic expansion.

What is a Blackhole?

  • A black hole is a region of spacetime where the gravitational force is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape from it.
  • It is formed when a massive star runs out of fuel and collapses under the force of its own gravity, becoming extremely dense and compact.
  • The point of no return around a black hole is called the event horizon, beyond which anything that enters is trapped and cannot escape.
  • Black holes are invisible, but their presence can be inferred by their gravitational effects on nearby matter.
  • They are important objects of study in astrophysics and have contributed greatly to our understanding of the universe.

-Source: Indian Express


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