10 Jun | UPSC Current Affairs: Child Nutrition, Naturafrica Initiative, Mongla Port & More

UPSC GS 1

Child Nutrition Report 2024

  • News:  One in four children under age 5 around the world is experiencing severe food poverty, according to the recently released Child Nutrition Report 2024.
  • About Child Nutrition Report 2024
      • Released by UNICEF: The Child Nutrition Report 2024 was published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
  • Examination of Child Food Poverty: 
      • This global report assesses the status, trends, inequities, and underlying factors of child food poverty during early childhood.
      • It analyzes the impact of both global and local food and nutrition crises on child food poverty.
  • Focus on Low- and Middle-Income Countries: 
      • The report concentrates on low- and middle-income countries, where the majority of children experiencing food poverty reside.
      • It explores the implications of child food poverty on undernutrition and developmental challenges.
  • Definition of Child Food Poverty: 
      • UNICEF defines child food poverty as the inability of children to access and consume a nutritious and diverse diet during early childhood (i.e., the first five years of life).
  • Highlights of the 2024 Report: 
      • Prevalence of Severe Food Poverty: Approximately one in four children under the age of 5 worldwide (27% or 181 million children) is experiencing severe food poverty, placing them at risk of life-threatening malnutrition.
  • Regional Distribution: 
      • Over two-thirds of the 181 million young children living in severe food poverty are located in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
      • 20 countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Yemen, account for 65% of children in severe food poverty.
  • Household Classification: 
      • The report reveals that children in both poor and non-poor households experience severe food poverty.
      • Nearly half (97 million) of the children experiencing severe food poverty reside in middle- and upper-income households.

UPSC GS 2

Naturafrica Initiative

  • News: The European Commission (EC) has removed Tanzania from the list of countries eligible for its 18 million Euro conservation grant to be launched in East Africa as part of its NaturAfrica initiative.
  • Background:
      • This call for proposals was targeting the Eastern Rift Savannahs and Watersheds (ERiSaWa) component of NaturAfrica, and 2 KLCDs (Key Landscapes for Conservation and Development) of high biodiversity importance:
        • SOKNOT (Southern Kenya Northern Tanzania) ecosystem
        • Northern Kenya ecosystem. 
      • Reason for Removal: It is being said that the European Commission has removed Tanzania from its conservation funding plan in light of human rights violations of Maasai.
  • About NaturAfrica Initiative: 
      • The NaturAfrica initiative is a strategic program launched by the European Union (EU) to enhance biodiversity conservation in Africa through a people-centric approach. 
      • It was announced in 2019 as part of the ‘European Green Deal‘. 
  • Objectives and Focus Areas: 
      • Conservation and Development: The initiative targets key landscapes for both conservation efforts and development projects, emphasizing the creation of employment opportunities and improvement of security.
      • Sustainable Livelihoods: It aims to support sustainable livelihoods that coexist with the preservation of ecosystems and wildlife.
      • Structured Approach: NaturAfrica operates on two primary pillars:
        • Short-Term Actions: Immediate efforts are focused on key landscapes to address urgent conservation needs.
        • Medium-Term Support: This involves addressing the fundamental causes of biodiversity loss and environmental degradation by integrating conservation concerns into other sectoral policies and practices.
  • Maasai: 
      • The Maasai tribe is a Nilotic ethnic group from the East Africa countries Kenya and Tanzania. 
      • They are among the best-known African tribes located primarily in southern Kenya as well as northern Tanzania.
  • SOKNOT (Southern Kenya Northern Tanzania) Ecosystem: 
      • SOKNOT is a WWF transboundary conservation programme along the Southern Kenya-Northern Tanzania (SOKNOT) landscape.
      • It stretches from Lake Victoria to the Indian Ocean. 

SOKNOT

      • The SOKNOT transboundary conservation area covers the following 3 ecosystems: Mara-Serengeti; Amboseli-West Kilimanjaro and Tsavo-Mkomazi. 
      • SOKNOT landscape is famous for:
        • 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Ngorongoro, Serengeti, Kilimanjaro),
        •  A Ramsar Site (Lake Natron), 
        • A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (Amboseli), 
        • 4 important bird habitats (Lake Natron, Loita, Amboseli, West Kilimanjaro)
        • 3 Wildlife Management Areas (Mara-Serengeti; Amboseli-West Kilimanjaro & Tsavo-Mkomazi)
        • 7th wonder of the world: Mara-Serengeti. 
  • About the European Commission: 
      • Definition: The European Commission serves as the executive body of the European Union (EU).
      • Aim: It is tasked with:
        •  Proposing new laws and policies, ensuring their implementation, 
        • Managing the EU budget, and 
        • Guaranteeing the correct application of EU policies and laws across its member states.
  • Structure and Composition: 
      • Composition: The Commission is comprised of 27 members, known as Commissioners, each representing one of the EU member states.
      • Leadership: The Commission is led by a President, who is elected by the European Parliament based on a proposal from the European Council.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: 
      • Law and Policy Proposals: The Commission is responsible for initiating new laws and policies within the EU framework.
      • Implementation Monitoring: It monitors the implementation of EU laws and policies to ensure compliance.
      • Budget Management: The Commission manages the EU budget, overseeing the allocation and utilization of funds.
      • Policy Enforcement: It ensures the proper application of EU policies and laws across all member states, acting as a guardian of the EU treaties and legislation.

Mongla Port

  • News: India may operate the Mongla Port in Bangladesh and construct a new terminal there amid China’s efforts to run the strategically-located port.
  • Overview of Mongla Port:  
      • The Port of Mongla is situated in the Bagerhat District of Bangladesh, approximately 62 km north of the Bay of Bengal coastline.
      •  It is strategically located at the confluence of the Pasur River and the Mongla River.
  • Geographic and Environmental Context: 
      • Geographic Location: The port is positioned 62 km north of the Bay of Bengal.
      • Environmental Surroundings: It is surrounded and protected by the Sundarban mangrove forest, which provides a natural shield against environmental factors.
What are Mangroves?

  • Mangroves are tropical plants that are adapted to loose, wet soils, salt water and being periodically submerged by tides.
  • All of these trees grow in areas with low-oxygen soil, where slow-moving waters allow fine sediments to accumulate.
  • Mangrove forests capture massive amounts of carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, and then trap and store them in their carbon-rich flooded soils. 
  • Significance and Size: 
      • Size: Mongla is the second largest seaport in Bangladesh, following the Port of Chittagong.
      • Strategic Importance: The port holds substantial significance for regional trade and logistics.

Significance for India

  • Significance for India: 
      • Strategic Access: Mongla Port offers strategic access to India’s northeastern states, such as Assam, Tripura, and Meghalaya.
      • Cost Efficiency: Utilizing Mongla Port helps reduce distance and transportation costs for goods traveling to and from these regions.
  • International Operations and Expansion: 
      • India’s Interest: India Ports Global Limited (IPGL) has shown interest in operating Mongla Port, marking it as their third international port operation after Chabahar in Iran and Sittwe in Myanmar.
      • Expansion Project: In 2015, India and Bangladesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports.
      • MoU Objectives: The MoU facilitates the transit of goods from Mongla Port to India’s northeastern states through an integrated network of waterways, roads, and railways.

National Crisis Management Committee

  • News: National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) recently met to review preparedness of State governments for impending cyclone ‘Michaung’ in Bay of Bengal.
  • NCMC:
      • The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) is a crucial entity in India, responsible for high-level decision-making in disaster management.
  • Composition of NCMC: 
      • Chairperson: The committee is chaired by the Cabinet Secretary.
      • Members: It includes Secretaries from various Ministries, Departments, and agencies that are involved in disaster management.
  • Role of NCMC: 
      • Crisis Management: The NCMC manages significant crises that have serious or national implications.
      • Disaster Preparedness: It evaluates and ensures the preparedness measures for natural disasters.
      • Coordination: The committee coordinates relief efforts among different agencies and states.
      • Support: It offers logistic and financial assistance to state governments.
      • Preventive Measures: The NCMC ensures the implementation of all necessary steps to minimize damage and loss of life.

UPSC GS 3

Digital Payments Intelligence Platform

  • News: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will set up a Digital Payments Intelligence Platform to prevent fraud.
  • Aim: 
      • Intelligence Gathering: It aims to gather intelligence across the digital payments network and enable real-time data sharing.
  • Objective: 
      • Expansion of e-Mandate System: The RBI wants to expand the existing e-mandate system as more people are using automated recurring payments.
  • System Enhancements: 
      • Inclusion of Irregular Payments: This system will now include payments that occur regularly but not at a fixed time, such as topping up Fastag balances for tolls or the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) used in public transport.
      • Automatic Refill: This change would allow customers to set their Fastag and NCMC to automatically refill whenever the balance drops below a certain level they choose. This will make it easier and quicker to pay for travel and transportation.

UPI Lite Integration

  • UPI Lite Integration: 
      • Boosting UPI Lite: The RBI aims to boost the use of UPI Lite, a service for fast, small payments directly from a device.
      • Integration with e-Mandate System: They plan to integrate UPI Lite into the e-mandate system to encourage more people to use this convenient payment method.

World Environment Day

  • News: The 51st edition of World Environment Day was celebrated on 5th June.
  • About World Environment Day: 
      • World Environment Day is observed annually on June 5, serving as a platform to promote sustainable practices and advocate for the protection of our planet. 
      • This event is led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • Aim: It is the largest global initiative for public outreach aimed at raising awareness and fostering action on critical environmental issues.
  • Theme of World Environment Day 2024: Land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience.

World Environment Day

  • History
      • Declaration and Inception:
          • The UN General Assembly proclaimed June 5 as World Environment Day during the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm, Sweden, from June 5 to June 16, 1972.
          •  This conference was the first of its kind to elevate environmental protection to a significant global concern.
      • Establishment of UNEP
          • The same year witnessed the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which has since played a pivotal role in organizing and promoting World Environment Day.
      • First Celebration
          • World Environment Day was first celebrated in 1973 with the theme ‘Only One Earth’. 
          • Since its inception, it has evolved into a major global platform, engaging over 150 countries in environmental advocacy and action.

Read this: None of the Above (NOTA): Significance and Challenges | UPSC

Biopharmaceutical Alliance

  • News: India, South Korea, Japan, the US, and the European Union have recently launched the Biopharmaceutical Alliance.
  • Overview of the Alliance: 
      • It is an alliance comprising India, South Korea, Japan, the US and the European Union.
      • It is aimed at fostering joint efforts to establish a resilient supply chain within the biopharmaceutical sector.
  • Inauguration and Context: 
      • Launch Event: The alliance was inaugurated in San Diego during the Bio International Convention 2024.
  • Objectives and Coordination: 
      • Supply Chain Reliability: The participants underscored the necessity of a reliable and sustainable supply chain, emphasizing the importance of collaboration in this regard.
      • Policy Coordination: They agreed to synchronize their respective countries’ biopolicies, regulations, and support measures for research and development.
      • Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Mapping: Recognizing that the production of essential raw materials and ingredients is concentrated in a limited number of countries, the alliance committed to working together to develop a comprehensive pharmaceutical supply chain map.
      • Response to Covid-19:  The formation of this alliance was prompted by the drug supply shortages during the Covid-19 pandemic, highlighting the need for a more collaborative approach to managing pharmaceutical supply chains.
  • Bio International Convention:
      •  This premier event for the biotechnology industry attracts over 20,000 leaders globally. 
      • It represents the entire biotech ecosystem, including public pharmaceutical companies, biotech startups, academia, non-profits, and government agencies.
  • What are Biopharmaceuticals?
      • Biopharmaceuticals are a type of drug made from a living organism’s cells. 
      • They can be produced by genetically engineering bacteria, fungi, and plants to produce human proteins or by inserting and expressing animal genes (such as an antivenom).

Sticky Inflation

  • News: Sticky inflation has dashed hopes for early rate cuts. Experts now expect the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cut the repo rate starting in December.
  • Sticky Inflation: 
      • Sticky inflation refers to the persistence of inflation due to slow adjustments in prices to changes in supply and demand.
  • Features of Sticky Inflation: 
      • Persistence of Prices: Prices for goods or services that do not decrease quickly are considered sticky.
      • Causes: The main factors behind inflation stickiness are rising wages and prices for consumer goods and services.
      • Contributing Sectors: Prices for medical services, education, and housing are significant contributors to sticky inflation.
  • Economic Impact:
      • Erosion of Purchasing Power: Sticky inflation erodes consumers’ purchasing power.
      • Housing Affordability: It puts pressure on housing affordability.
  • Challenges for Central Banks: 
      • Inflation Control: Sticky inflation presents challenges for central banks in controlling inflation without causing a recession.
      • Interest Rate Adjustments: To address sticky inflation, central banks typically raise interest rates. 
        • However, raising rates too quickly can lead to a recession, while insufficient increases allow prices to continue rising.
  • Repo Rate:  
      • Repo rate is the rate at which the central bank of a country (RBI in case of India) lends money to commercial banks in the event of any shortfall of funds.
      •  Repo rate is used by monetary authorities to control inflation.

Arun-III Hydro Power Project

  • News:  The main tunnel of the 900 MW Arun III Hydropower Project, being constructed with Indian assistance, recently achieved a major breakthrough.
  • Overview of Arun-III Hydro Power Project: 
      • The Arun-III Hydro Power Project is a 900 MW run-of-the-river hydropower initiative located on the Arun River in the Sankhuwasabha District of Eastern Nepal. 
      • The Arun River is a tributary of the Koshi River in Nepal.
  • Project Specifications: 
      • Infrastructure
        • The project includes a 70-meter-tall and 466-meter-long concrete gravity dam and a Head Race Tunnel (HRT) of 11.74 km.
        •  It features an underground powerhouse on the left bank, equipped with four generating units of 225 MW each.
      • Capacity:  Once completed, it will be Nepal’s largest hydroelectric facility.
  • Development and Financial Aspects: 
      • Development Assistance: The project is being developed with Indian assistance, at a total cost of Rs. 144 billion.
      • Operating Model
        • It is being executed on a build-own-operate-and-transfer (BOOT) basis by Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) Arun-III Power Development Company (SAPDC).
        • SAPDC is a joint venture between the Government of India and the Government of Himachal Pradesh.
  • Operational Details: 
      • Operational Period: SAPDC will operate the facility for 25 years, excluding the five-year construction period, before transferring ownership to the Nepal government.
      • Free Power: During the initial 25 years of commercial operations, Nepal will receive 21.9% of the electricity generated at the power plant as free power.
  • Power Transmission 
      • Transmission Line: The output from the power plant will be transferred to Muzaffarpur in India through a 317 km-long 400 kV double circuit transmission line.

Zombie Company

  • News:  An Associated Press analysis reveals a surge in the number of “zombie” companies worldwide, facing challenges in servicing their debt, leading to potential financial crises.
  • About Zombie Company:
      •  A zombie company is a corporate entity characterized by having extremely limited cash flows.
      • These limited cash flows are just sufficient to cover the interest payments on its debt but not the principal amount of the loan.

Zombie Company

  • Financial Characteristics: 
      • Cash Flow Constraints: The revenue generated by these companies is only adequate to cover fixed routine and operating costs, such as wages, rent, and interest payments on debt.
      • Lack of Growth Capital: Due to minimal excess capital, these companies are unable to invest in growth, innovation, or significant improvements.
  • Operational Dependency: 
      • Reliance on Banks: Zombie companies are highly dependent on banks for their financing needs.
      • Higher Borrowing Costs: They typically face higher borrowing costs due to their precarious financial situation.
      • Risk of Insolvency: These companies are often just one event away from insolvency or requiring a bailout, such as a market disruption or poor quarterly performance.
What is Insolvency?

  • Insolvency is when an individual or company can no longer meet their financial obligations to lenders as debts become due.
  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) is the bankruptcy law of India which seeks to consolidate the existing framework by creating a single law for insolvency and bankruptcy.
  • Economic Impact: 
      • Uncompetitive Survivors”: Zombie companies are considered uncompetitive survivors, contributing to lower productivity within the global economy.
      • Resource Allocation: They pose a risk to the broader economy by tying up resources that could be more effectively utilized by healthier, more innovative firms. 

GNSS-based Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) System

  • News:  The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued a global invitation for expressions of interest (EoIs) to implement a GNSS-based (satellite-based) electronic toll collection system. 
  • About GNSS-based Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) System: 
      • The GNSS-based Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system is an advanced toll collection method.
      • It operates without barriers, using Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology to monitor vehicle movements and calculate tolls based on the distance covered on tolled highways.

GNSS-based Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) System

  • Operational Mechanism: 
      • Satellite Tracking: The system employs satellites or satellite constellations to monitor the movements of vehicles.
      • Distance-based Toll Calculation: Toll charges are calculated based on the distance travelled by vehicles on tolled highway stretches.
      • On Board Units (OBUs): Equipped vehicles are fitted with GNSS-enabled On Board Units (OBUs) that facilitate accurate tracking and toll calculation.
  • Implementation Strategy: 
      • Hybrid Model:
        •  NHAI intends to integrate the GNSS-based ETC system within the existing FASTag ecosystem.
        •  Initially, both RFID-based ETC and GNSS-based ETC will operate concurrently.
  • Significance: 
      • Enhanced Vehicle Movement: Facilitates seamless movement of vehicles on National Highways, reducing congestion and travel time.
      • Barrier-free Tolling: Offers a hassle-free tolling experience by eliminating physical toll barriers.
      • Distance-based Tolling: Charges users based on the actual distance travelled, ensuring fair toll collection.
      • Efficiency Improvement: Enhances toll collection efficiency by minimizing revenue leakages and deterring toll evasion practices.
  • FASTag: 
      • FASTag is a device that employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for making toll payments directly while the vehicle is in motion. 
      • FASTag (RFID Tag) is affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle and enables a customer to make the toll payments directly from the account which is linked to FASTag.

Baobab Trees

  • News: Baobab treess started evolving to form the distinct species around 21 million years ago.
  • Definition: Baobabs are considered keystone species due to their ability to support a diverse range of animals for food and shelter.

Baobab Trees

  • Role of Polyploidy: 
      • Polyploidy is the heritable condition of possessing more than two complete sets of chromosomes.
      •  Polyploids are common among plants, as well as among certain groups of fish and amphibians.
      • Polyploidy is a process that genetically isolates the plant from its parents. 
      • Unlike most animals, plants can self-pollinate to increase their numbers. A rare genetic mistake can generate a new species. 
      • The new polyploid baobab is then likely to have become the dominant species of Africa, replacing its parent lineages across the continent.
  • Size and Dimensions: 
      • Depending on the species, baobabs can attain immense dimensions in both height and diameter.
      • The largest species can tower above the understorey vegetation.
  • Significance in Ecosystems: 
      • The hollow trunks of baobabs contain water-filled living cells, generating hydrostatic pressure that provides the tree with strength.
  • Environmental Challenges: 
      • During dry seasons, baobab trees face damage or destruction as elephants strip their bark to access water.
  • Floral Adaptations: 
      • Baobab flowers are large and have evolved alongside nocturnal, sugar-eating animals such as hawk moths, fruit bats, and lemurs of Madagascar.
  • Global Distribution: 
      • There are eight species of baobab globally, each with surprising distribution patterns.
      • Six species are found in Madagascar, one on the African continent, and the last one is located in Australia.

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Pseudoformicaleo Nubecula And Creoleon Cinnamomeus 

  • News:  Researchers have found two poorly known antlion species of Myrmeleontidae family from India, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • Name of Species:  Pseudoformicaleo nubecula and Creoleon cinnamomeus.

Pseudoformicaleo Nubecula And Creoleon Cinnamomeus

  • Antlions:
  • Predatory Nature and Habitat:
      • Antlions, belonging to the family Myrmeleontidae within the order Neuroptera, are named for the predatory behavior of their larvae.
      • Larvae trap ants and other small insects in pits dug into the ground as part of their predation strategy.
      • They are found worldwide, primarily inhabiting dry, sandy regions.
  • Pit-Building Habit: 
      • Antlions are commonly known for their pit-building behavior, where the larvae construct conical pits in loose, dry soil to capture prey.
  • Exceptional Cases: 
      • Larvae of genera like Pseudoformicaleo and Creoleon do not build pits but instead live under the soil surface in loose soils, protected from direct sunlight, wind, and rain.
  • New Discoveries in India: 
      • The genus Pseudoformicaleo has been reported for the first time in India.
      • This discovery marks the seventh antlion species reported from Kerala and the 120th species from India.

 ‘Unaffected Price’ Framework

  • News: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has announced a new framework for considering the unaffected price of transactions. 
  • Introduction of the Framework:
      • SEBI has introduced a novel framework to address the influence of market rumours on stock prices.
  • Concept of Unaffected Price: 
      • The framework revolves around the concept of an “unaffected price,” aimed at establishing a more accurate stock price by mitigating the impact of rumours.
      • Market rumours, particularly those regarding acquisitions, mergers, and buybacks, can artificially inflate stock prices, driven by information asymmetry.
  • Functioning of Unaffected Price: 
      • The unaffected price mechanism seeks to facilitate fair price discovery and safeguard investor interests.
      • It is triggered when a company confirms a rumour within 24 hours of a significant price movement, acting as a protective shield for transparent and timely communicators.
  • Determination of Unaffected Price: 
      • The unaffected price is determined by analyzing the Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP) before, during, and after the rumour’s impact.
      • It considers the baseline VWAP preceding the rumour until the company confirms it, offering a temporary buffer against immediate price fluctuations.
  • Validity Period and Benefits: 
      • The unaffected price remains valid for either 60 or 180 days, depending on the transaction stage.
      • Implementation of this framework creates a level playing field for various transactions while reducing speculative activities.
      • It enhances market integrity through transparent communication, and fosters improved information distribution among investors.
  • Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP): 
      • The Volume Weighted Average Price (VWAP) is the average price of a stock weighted by the total trading volume.
      •  The VWAP is used to calculate the average price of a stock over a period of time.

Duty Drawback Scheme 

  • News:  Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs will electronically disburse duty drawback amount directly to exporter’s bank account in a transparent manner from 5th June, 2024.
  • Duty Drawback Scheme: 
      • It stands as a reliable and time-honored initiative aimed at facilitating exports.
      • It is administered by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).
  • Purpose and Mechanism:
      • This scheme operates by providing rebates on the Customs and Central Excise duties levied on imported and excisable materials, respectively, when utilized as inputs for goods intended for export.
      • The statutory provisions governing duty drawback are delineated under the Customs Act of 1962, ensuring compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations.
  • Ensuring Zero-rated Exports: 
      • Through this WTO-compliant scheme, exports are zero-rated, reducing the burden of specified taxes and fostering a conducive environment for international trade.
  • Role in Export Facilitation:
      • The Duty Drawback Scheme plays a pivotal role in assisting exporters in offsetting certain costs incurred throughout the export process, particularly within the supply or value chain.
  •  Goods Coverage: The following are the eligible goods for the duty drawback: 
      • To export goods imported into India
      • To export goods imported into India after having been taken for use
      • To export goods manufactured/produced out of imported material
      • To export goods manufactured/produced out of indigenous material
      • To export goods manufactured /produced out of imported or indigenous materials.
  • Eligibility Criteria: The below following are the minimum criteria to claim for processing drawback claims: 
      • Any individual must be the legal owner of the goods at the time the goods are exported.
      • You must have paid customs duty on imported goods.
      • Duty drawback is available on most goods on which customs duty was paid on importation and which has been exported.

 

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