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Here are the topics covered for 03 August 2023: Centre Launches ‘Vivad se Vishwas II – (Contractual Disputes)’ Settlement Scheme, India Allows Private Companies to Mine and Auction Critical Minerals, China Plans to Limit Children’s Smartphone Usage with “Minor Mode”, Education Ministry Forms Committee to Address Discrimination in Higher Educational Institutions, National Deep Tech Startup Policy (NDTSP): Advancing India’s Deep Tech Startup Ecosystem, South Korean Scientists Discover “LK-99” Superconductor at Room Temperature, Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum was ousted in a coup, impacting democracy and counter-terrorism efforts, Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), WHO Report on Tobacco Control, White Pumpkin in Manipur, HeLa Cells, Old Jellyfish Fossils, E-clearance Portal, Second-hand Smoking, Rohini Commission on OBC Reservation.
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
- Centre Launches ‘Vivad se Vishwas II – (Contractual Disputes)’ Settlement Scheme
- India Allows Private Companies to Mine and Auction Critical Minerals
- China Plans to Limit Children’s Smartphone Usage with “Minor Mode”
- Education Ministry Forms Committee to Address Discrimination in Higher Educational Institutions
GS Paper 3:
- National Deep Tech Startup Policy (NDTSP): Advancing India’s Deep Tech Startup Ecosystem
- South Korean Scientists Discover “LK-99” Superconductor at Room Temperature
Prelims Related Facts
- Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum was ousted in a coup, impacting democracy and counter-terrorism efforts.
- Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)
- WHO Report on Tobacco Control
- White Pumpkin in Manipur
- HeLa Cells
- Old Jellyfish Fossils
- E-clearance Portal
- Second-hand Smoking
- Rohini Commission on OBC Reservation
Centre Launches ‘Vivad se Vishwas II – (Contractual Disputes)’ Settlement Scheme
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduced ‘Vivad se Vishwas II – (Contractual Disputes)’ scheme in the Union Budget.
- Firms can submit their claims for consideration by October 31.
- Disputes resolved through arbitration by January 31, 2023, or court orders by April 30 are eligible for settlement.
- The scheme covers all domestic contractual disputes involving the Government of India or its controlled organizations.
- For cases involving Court awards, the settlement amount offered will be up to 85% of the net amount awarded or upheld by the court.
- For cases involving arbitral awards, the settlement amount offered will be up to 65% of the net amount awarded.
India Allows Private Companies to Mine and Auction Critical Minerals
- India’s Parliament passed a law allowing the government to auction and mine its newly-discovered reserves of lithium and other critical minerals like titanium, beryl, niobium, and zirconium.
- These minerals were previously classified as atomic minerals and could only be mined by state-run companies.
- With the removal of these minerals from the list of atomic minerals, private sector companies can now explore and mine them.
- The involvement of private firms is expected to be a “force multiplier” and significantly increase exploration and mining activities in the country.
- Lithium reserves were recently discovered in Jammu and Kashmir, and the government hopes to find more reserves in the future.
China Plans to Limit Children’s Smartphone Usage with “Minor Mode”
- China’s cyberspace watchdog has proposed regulations to limit smartphone usage by children.
- The draft guidelines, “Guidelines for the Construction of Minor Mode of the Mobile Internet,” are open for public comments until September 2.
- The proposed restrictions apply to five age groups: under 3, 3-8, 8-12, 12-16, and 16-18.
- For children under 8, the “minor mode” will only allow 40 minutes per day, while the 16-18 age group will have two hours’ usage, excluding services from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Enforcement and Impact:
- The implementation details and enforcement methods remain unclear.
- Parents will be required to sign on and sign off the minor mode and support the campaign.
- Tech companies will need to provide regular data to the authorities and undergo regular checks to ensure compliance.
- This move follows earlier restrictions on online gaming for children in 2021, limiting one hour of service during specific hours and requiring real name registration.
Education Ministry Forms Committee to Address Discrimination in Higher Educational Institutions
- The Union Education Ministry constitutes an expert committee to revisit anti-discrimination regulations and norms in higher educational institutions.
- The committee will focus on Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, Other Backward Classes, Persons with Disabilities, and minority students.
- The step was taken in response to a Supreme Court direction to clarify actions against caste discrimination on campuses.
- The expert committee was formed on July 21 and will suggest changes to existing anti-discrimination guidelines.
- Recent student suicides at prestigious institutes raise concerns about caste discrimination on campuses.
- Institutes have set up mechanisms like SC/ST students’ cells, equal opportunity cell, student grievance cell, and liaison officers to address issues of SC/ST students.
National Deep Tech Startup Policy (NDTSP): Advancing India’s Deep Tech Startup Ecosystem
India’s startup revolution, fueled by the government’s Startup India movement, has extended beyond major cities, inspiring a surge of deep tech startups based on cutting-edge technologies and scientific discoveries. To further bolster this thriving ecosystem, the government has introduced the National Deep Tech Startup Policy (NDTSP) with a comprehensive approach to address the unique challenges faced by these startups.
What is Deep Tech?
- Deep tech startups leverage tangible engineering innovations or scientific discoveries to develop groundbreaking offerings.
- Examples include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Biotechnology, Quantum Computing, Aerospace, and more.
The State of India’s Deep Tech Startups:
- India boasts over 3,000 deep tech startups, accounting for approximately 14% of all startups.
- These startups secured USD 2.7 billion in venture funding in 2021, constituting 12% of the country’s startup ecosystem.
- Key cities for deep tech startups include Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, and Mumbai.
Promising Examples of Deep Tech Startups:
- AgniKul Cosmos: Developing a small satellite launch vehicle for affordable space access.
- Pandorum Technologies: Creating human tissues through 3D bio-printing for medical research.
- String Bio: Using microbial fermentation to produce sustainable protein alternatives.
- Suki.AI: Utilizing AI-powered virtual assistants to assist doctors with medical documentation.
Challenges Faced by Deep Tech Startups:
- Funding remains a significant challenge, with less than 20% of startups receiving financial support.
- Talent acquisition, market access, investor understanding, and customer acquisition pose additional hurdles.
- The Atal New India Challenge and NASSCOM’s Deep Tech Club 2.0 support technology-driven startups.
The National Deep Tech Startup Policy (NDTSP): The NDTSP, a strategic framework to boost deep tech startups, includes the following provisions:
- Nurturing Research, Development & Innovation:
- Foster collaboration between academia, research institutions, and startups to commercialize research outcomes.
- Establish innovation hubs to bridge the gap between science labs and market applications.
- Strengthening Intellectual Property Regime:
- Simplify patent filing processes and provide support to protect intellectual property.
- Promote technology licensing and transfer to facilitate market adoption.
- Facilitating Access to Funding:
- Create a dedicated fund for deep tech startups within the existing SIDBI Fund of Funds.
- Encourage industry investment in research and development of deep tech innovations.
- Enabling Shared Infrastructure and Resource Sharing:
- Establish state-of-the-art incubators and shared research facilities for deep tech startups.
- Facilitate collaboration and knowledge exchange among startups and research institutions.
- Creating Conducive Regulations, Standards, and Certifications:
- Streamline regulatory processes to facilitate market entry for deep tech startups.
- Establish quality standards and certifications to build trust among investors and customers.
- Attracting Human Resources & Initiating Capacity Building:
- Promote entrepreneurship in academic curricula to instill an entrepreneurial mindset among students.
- Provide training and capacity-building programs for researchers to become successful entrepreneurs.
- Promoting Procurement & Adoption:
- Encourage government agencies to procure innovative solutions from deep tech startups.
- Incentivize industry adoption of locally developed technologies through policy support.
- Ensuring Policy & Program Interlinkages:
- Align the NDTSP with existing Startup India policies and initiatives for maximum impact.
- Foster collaboration between various government departments, industry associations, and research institutions.
- Sustaining Deep Tech Startups:
- Implement measures for continued support and growth of deep tech startups beyond the initial stages.
- Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of policy measures and make necessary adjustments.
By implementing the NDTSP and nurturing deep tech startups, India can address complex challenges, promote self-reliance, and become a global leader in technological innovations. This concerted effort will drive economic growth, create job opportunities, and revolutionize industries in the country.
South Korean Scientists Discover “LK-99” Superconductor at Room Temperature
- A group of South Korean scientists has found a material they named “LK-99” that exhibits superconductivity at room temperature and normal pressure.
- This discovery is significant because superconductors usually require extremely low temperatures to function, which makes them difficult and costly to use.
Importance of Room-Temperature Superconductors
- Superconductors are materials that allow electricity to flow without any resistance, reducing energy loss in power transmission.
- Traditional superconductors only work at extremely cold temperatures, which limits their practical applications.
- Discovering a room-temperature superconductor is highly sought after and could revolutionize various technologies, including quantum computing.
- Properties and Tests of LK-99 Material
- LK-99 is a copper-doped lead apatite, a type of phosphate mineral.
- The material showed almost zero resistance to electric current, a key characteristic of superconductors.
- It displayed superconductivity until a critical current and magnetic field threshold were reached, as expected in superconducting materials.
- Some data related to LK-99’s magnetic properties raised concerns among independent scientists, but interest in the material remains high.
- Interest in Copper Oxide Superconductors
- Copper oxide materials showed superconductivity at temperatures above -240 degrees Celsius in 1986.
- Despite efforts, room-temperature superconductivity in these materials has not been achieved without extreme pressure conditions.
- Challenges and Controversies in the Discovery
- Some data in the published papers on LK-99’s magnetic properties were criticized for being sloppy and fishy.
- Reproducing the results by independent scientists will be essential to verify the discovery.
- Internal issues among the group of scientists claiming the discovery have raised concerns about the credibility of the research.
Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum was ousted in a coup
- Military dissatisfaction with his rule and reliance on foreign powers led to the coup.
- The region faces threats from jihadist groups, and intervention may worsen instability.
- The U.S. and France should encourage dialogue for a peaceful resolution and restore democracy in Niger.
|Area||1,267,000 square kilometers (489,000 sq mi)|
|Bordering Countries||Algeria, Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Mali, Burkina Faso|
|Terrain||Predominantly desert and semi-arid with vast sand dunes, savannahs, and high plateaus|
|Major Rivers||Niger River, running through the southwest|
|Highest Point||Mont Idoukal-n-Taghès – 2,022 meters (6,634 ft) above sea level|
|Lowest Point||Niger River – 200 meters (656 ft) above sea level|
|Natural Resources||Uranium, gold, oil, coal, iron ore, limestone|
|Climate||Hot and dry, with three main zones: desert in the north, Sahel region in the center, and savannah in the south|
|Environmental Issues||Desertification, deforestation, soil erosion, and water scarcity|
|Notable Landmarks||Agadez Mosque, W National Park, Grand Mosque of Niamey|
Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)
- SMRs are innovative nuclear reactors with a smaller size and per-unit power capacity.
- Features: Compact, modular design with prefabricated components.
- Advantages: Flexible placement, cost-effective, suitable for remote areas, enhanced safety, and efficiency gains.
WHO Report on Tobacco Control
- Bengaluru witnesses a 27% drop in public smoking due to enforcement and awareness.
- Globally, smoking prevalence reduces, with notable accomplishments in tobacco control in India.
- MPOWER measures aim to protect people from tobacco smoke and enforce bans on tobacco advertising.
White Pumpkin in Manipur
- White pumpkin preservation method used in Manipur to preserve deceased bodies.
- White pumpkin slices create a cool and moist environment, slowing down decomposition.
- Cultural significance and heritage of Manipur reflected in this traditional practice.
- HeLa cells are human cell lines derived from Henrietta Lacks’ cervical tumor in 1951.
- Immortal cell line used worldwide in medical and genetic research.
- Raises ethical questions about using human tissues without proper consent.
Old Jellyfish Fossils
- Fossils of 505-million-year-old jellyfish found in the Burgess Shale, Canadian Rockies.
- Provides insights into early life forms during Earth’s Cambrian explosion.
- Scientists debate whether fossils represent jellyfish or comb jellies.
- Health Ministry launches e-clearance portal for efficient transportation of human remains across borders.
- Delhi airport serves as the central hub for international airports in India.
- Aims to streamline approvals and facilitate transportation for bereaved families.
- Second-hand smoke results from non-smokers inhaling fumes emitted by tobacco products.
- Poses comparable health risks to direct smoking.
- A concern for public health and tobacco control measures.
Rohini Commission on OBC Reservation
- Formed in 2017 under Article 340 of the Constitution.
- Led by Justice G. Rohini, ex-Chief Justice of Delhi High Court.
- Aims to address uneven distribution of reservation benefits among OBC groups.
- Identifies OBC sub-categories and ensures equitable 27% quota distribution.
- Corrects errors and inconsistencies in the Central List of OBCs.
- Report submitted to the President after 13 extensions but not yet made public.
- Faces challenges due to COVID-19 disruptions and missing population data for fair representation comparisons.