01-03 March 2023 Daily Current Affairs

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What is Proton Beam Therapy(PBT)

Proton beam therapy is a type of radiation therapy used to treat cancer. Unlike traditional radiation therapy, which uses X-rays, proton therapy uses high-energy protons to target cancer cells.

Proton beam therapy is a highly precise treatment that can deliver a higher dose of radiation directly to the tumor while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. This makes it a particularly effective treatment option for tumors located in sensitive areas of the body, such as the brain, spine, and prostate.

The procedure involves delivering a beam of protons to the tumor site using a machine called a cyclotron. The protons penetrate the tumor and release their energy, damaging the cancer cells and preventing them from reproducing.

Overall, proton beam therapy is a safe and effective treatment option for many types of cancer. While it may not be appropriate for everyone, it can offer significant benefits to patients who are good candidates for the treatment.

What are the challenges in accessing PBT Therapy in India?

Not enough facilities offering PBT Treatment: Currently, there are 42 PBT machine installations in the U.S. followed by Europe (35), Japan (26), China (seven), Taiwan (three), and South Korea (two) while India has only one.

– Apollo Hospital is the only center in the whole of South and West Asia offering the PBT.

Huge cost to set up: Setting up a PBT center is fraught with infrastructural and regulatory challenges stemming from safety concerns from the Department of Atomic Energy. 

– A PBT machine is a huge contraption, up to three storeys tall, and costs nearly ₹500 crores.

Costly treatment: Apollo Hospital has been able to reduce the cost of PBT from nearly ₹1.2 crores (as charged in the U.S.) to between ₹5 lahks and ₹30 lahks. But it is still running into many lakhs of rupees.

– Note: ​​The PBT unit in the AIIMS was also planned. It was meant to benefit poor patients as the treatment would have been free of cost, but the plan has now been shelved.

2. RBI’s new pilot project on coin vending machine

Simply put, instead of physically presenting banknotes, the vending machines would issue coins with the necessary amount being debited from the customer’s account via United Payments Interface (UPI). Consumers would have the choice to withdraw coins in the necessary numbers and denominations. Here, making coins more accessible is the main goal.

The pilot project is planned to be initially rolled out at 19 locations in 12 cities across the country.

These vending machines are intended to be installed at public places such as railway stations, shopping malls, and marketplaces to enhance ease and accessibility.

3. MeitY has established a Grievance Appellate Committee to look through user complaints about social media material.

The Grievance Appellate Committee has been established by the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (GAC).

The Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) is what, exactly?
The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, created under the Information Technology Act, 2000, established the Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC).

GAC seeks to provide Indian users with a safe, reputable, and accountable internet.

VAIBHAV Fellowship scheme

The fellowship gives NRI researchers the chance to work in India for a research organisation or academic institution for a minimum of one month and a maximum of two months per year.

Duration: three years, with a maximum of Rs 37 lakh in funding provided by the government to the researchers throughout that time.

Goal: Enabling academic and research cooperation between Indian institutions and the top institutions in the world in order to improve the research ecosystem of India’s higher education institutions. This is accomplished by bringing academics and researchers from other countries to India.

Researchers from institutions that rank among the top 500 universities worldwide are eligible to apply for the fellowship.

The applicant should be a Non-Resident Indian (NRI), Person of Indian Origin (PIO) or Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and she or he must have obtained Ph.D/M.D/M.S degree from a recognized University.

Constitution of Greater Panna Landscape Council

Government of India has constituted Greater Panna Landscape Council(GPLC) under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, Govt of Madhya Pradesh.

Why was the Greater Panna Landscape Council(GPLC) constituted?

Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) is the first interlinking of rivers project under the National Perspective Plan(NPP).  It would be a game-changer for the socio-economic prosperity of the Bundelkhand region, which faces recurrent drought situations.

As part of this project, the Wildlife Institute of India(WII) has prepared a comprehensive Integrated Landscape Management Plan(ILMP) for the conservation of wildlife and biodiversity not only in Panna Tiger Reserve(PTR) but also in surrounding areas.

To ensure systematic and time-bound implementation of ILMP, the Greater Panna Landscape Council(GPLC) has been constituted.

What is the aim of the Greater Panna Landscape Council(GPLC)?

Aim: To ensure a “win-win” situation for conservation through integration with the development process based on a balanced approach and considering the diverse stakes. 

Windsor Framework

On Monday, February 27, the UK government, led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, secured a historic agreement with the European Union (EU) regarding the post-Brexit trade arrangements that will apply to Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Protocol will be replaced by the “Windsor Framework,” which was one of the most complicated consequences of Brexit, leading to issues on both the political and economic fronts.

The Northern Ireland Protocol problem

After the UK left the European Union, Northern Ireland remained its only constituent that shared a land border with an EU-member, the Republic of Ireland. Since the EU and the UK have different product standards, border checks would be necessary before goods could move from Northern Ireland to Ireland.

However, the two Irelands have had a long history of conflict, with a hard-fought peace secured only in 1998 under the Belfast Agreement, also called the Good Friday agreement. Fiddling with this border was thus considered too dangerous, and it was decided the checks would be conducted between Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland (which together with Great Britain forms the United Kingdom). This was called the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Under the protocol, Northern Ireland remained in the EU single market, and trade-and-customs inspections of goods coming from Great Britain took place at its ports along the Irish Sea.

The Windsor Framework is aimed at significantly reducing the number of checks. It proposes two crucial aspects: 

Lanes: Two lanes would be created for goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain:

A green lane for goods will remain in Northern Ireland. Products going through the green lane would see checks and paperwork scrapped.

A red lane for goods that may be sent on to the EU.

Red lane goods would still be subject to checks.

Stormont Brake: It allows Northern Ireland lawmakers and London to veto any EU regulation.

The veto is applicable if they believe that the regulation affects the region adversely.


What the Windsor Framework proposes

The framework has two crucial aspects – the introduction of a green lane and red lane system for goods that will stay in Northern Ireland and those that will go to the EU respectively; and the ‘Stormont Brake’, which allows Northern Ireland lawmakers and London to veto any EU regulation they believe affects the region adversely.

Union Power Minister launches Star-rated appliances program and iDEEKSHA Portal

What is the News?

The Union Minister of Power has launched the Voluntary Star Labelling Programme for multi-door refrigerators, table- and wall-mounted fans, pedestal fans, and induction hobs.

The Minister also launched the iDEEKSHA Portal.

What is the Star Labeling Programme?

Star Labeling Program has been formulated by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency(BEE) as part of its mandate under the Energy Conservation Act, of 2001.

Aim: To provide consumers an informed choice regarding the energy savings and thereby the cost-saving potential of various energy-consuming appliances.

– This scheme prescribes minimum energy performance levels for appliances/ equipment, rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most energy efficient.

– Presently, the programme covers the star labeling program for 34 appliances, including the four newly-added energy-efficient appliances.

What is iDEEKSHA Portal?

iDEEKSHA is a platform developed under the Accelerating Smart Power and Renewable Energy (ASPIRE) Technical 1 Assistance Programme.

– Note: ASPIRE is a bilateral programme implemented by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, Government of the UK in association with the Ministry of Power and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

Purpose: iDEEKSHA is designed to serve as a one-stop shop for all energy efficiency and decarbonization needs of Indian energy-intensive industries.

– It aims to facilitate the exchange of information, knowledge and experience, and best practices related to the wide gamut of stakeholders such as industries, industrial associations, technology and service providers and research institutions, etc.

Government e-Marketplace (GeM) commemorates the success of “SWAYATT” Initiative

A Function was held to commemorate the success of “SWAYATT”, an initiative to promote ‘Start-ups, Women and Youth Advantage Through e-Transactions'(SWAYATT) on Government E-Marketplace (GeM) in New Delhi.

What is SWAYATT Initiative?

Launched in: 2019

Aim: To promote start-ups, women and youth advantage through e-Transactions on Government e-Marketplace (GeM).

Objective: To promote inclusiveness of various categories of sellers and service providers on the GeM portal by taking proactive steps to facilitate their training and registrations of such specific categories of manufacturers and sellers, develop women entrepreneurship and encourage the participation of MSME sector and start-ups in public procurement.

What is the progress made by the SWAYATT Initiative?

The initiative has helped in promoting social and financial inclusion on GeM portal by:

– Registering more than 8.5 lakh Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) have been registered on GeM portal and have been able to get business of over Rs. 1.87 lakh crore.

– More than 1.45 lakh women MSEs have fulfilled 7.32 lakh orders.

– Approximately 43000 SC/ ST MSEs have delivered 1.35 lakh orders worth 2,592 Crore on the GeM portal so far.

Ornamental fish Aquaculture

Community-based ornamental fish aquaculture, using local resources is expected to help women in the Lakshadweep islands to take the first step towards self-reliance through concerted activities.

What is Ornamental Fish Aquaculture?

Ornamental fish culture is the culture of attractive, colourful fishes of various characteristics, which are reared in a confined aquatic system. The culture of ornamental fishes is called as aquariculture. 

Ornamental fishes are also known as living jewels. There are more than 30,000 fish species reported around the world, of this about 800 belong to ornamental fishes. 

Most of the ornamental fishes survive in freshwater. 

Ornamental Fish Culture in India

Ornamental fishes of India are contributing about 1% of the total ornamental fish trade.

India has great potential in Ornamental fish production due to the presence of rich biodiversity of species, favourable climatic conditions and availability of cheap labour.

Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal mainly practice ornamental fish farming in India.


Positing India’s stand on the Ukraine war

What is the Indian position on the Ukraine crisis?

India has refused to condemn Russia for the invasion. It has refused to join the West’s sanctions.

It has stepped up buying Russian fuel at a discounted price, and has consistently abstained from UN votes on the war.

What is the viewpoint of the west on the Ukraine war?

This is a global crusade for democracy. The war by an authoritarian Russia is a challenge to global democracy.  

To save global democracy, the rules ­based order and international law, all democratic states should take a position against Russia and join the western coalition.

Is this a battle between democracies and autocracies?

An overwhelming majority of nations have supported UNGA resolutions calling for the war to be brought to an end. But beyond the UN votes, the U.S. has hardly managed to mobilise democracies outside its traditional western alliance system against Russia.

India and South Africa, large democracies from Asia and Africa, have consistently abstained from votes at the UN. They have refused to join the sanctions because the sanctions were unilateral, and without UN approval.

Even some countries that are part of the western alliance system like Israel and Turkey are reluctant to join the west. Most of these countries see the war as a European problem between two former Soviet countries with its roots going back to the end of the Cold War.

For them, it is less about global democracy than the post ­Cold War security architecture in Europe.

Why western claims of morality in the Ukraine war seem to be dubious?

There is no doubt here that Russia has violated the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territories is a clear violation of international laws.

But a key dilemma before any country in international relations is clash between moral positions and national interests.

For the U.S. and much of Europe, there is a convergence of their moral positions and foreign policy objectives in the case of the Ukraine war. The U.S. wants to “weaken” Russia. So, the moral line they take serves their strategic purpose.

However, this position was violated when there were clashes between values and interests.

In 2003, the U.S. launched its illegal invasion of Iraq, violating the country’s sovereignty. In 2011, NATO turned a UNSC resolution to establish a no fly zone in Libya into a full scale invasion. Right now, the U.S. has illegally placed its troops in Syria.

Israel has illegally annexed East Jerusalem and Syria’s Golan Heights. The U.S. has recognised Israel’s annexation of Golan and moved its embassy to Jerusalem.

What ties with Russia are important for India?

Ties with Russia are important for India in many ways. One important area is energy. Discounted fuel from Russia is a relief for India. It meets over 80% of its fuel needs through imports.

Defence ties are also important, Russia has fulfilled over 46% of India’s defence needs in the last five years. There is a sound argument that India should diversify its source of defence imports, but such a change would take time.

Russia is deepening its ties with China, which is India’s main competitor. India should retain its leverage over Russia.

To manage its continental interests, India has to work with powers in the Eurasian landmass. The U.S. is practically absent, especially after its disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Russia plays a key role in India’s continental foreign policy.

What should be India’s diplomatic stand on the Ukraine crisis?

Neither the weakening of Russia nor the destruction of Ukraine is in its interests. India wants an immediate end to the war and a new security equilibrium between great powers.

It will stabilise the global economy and the world could focus on more pressing problems  from climate change to UN reforms.

India should stick to its pragmatic neutrality, rooted in realism. It should continue to push for a practical solution to the Ukraine crisis.

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