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Current Affairs 20th May 2024 for UPSC Prelims Exam

Mt. Ibu

Context: Mt. Ibu erupted and sent ash 4 km (2.5 miles) high, as streaks of purple lightning flashed around its crater.

About Mt Ibu

  • Location: Mt. Ibu is an active stratovolcano located on Halmahera Island in Indonesia.
  • Elevation: It stands at an elevation of approximately 1,325 metres (4,347 feet) above sea level.
  • Geography: The volcano is situated on the northwestern coast of the island, within the Maluku Islands chain.
  • Ibu is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes which erupted more than 21,000 times last year.

Current Affairs 20th May 2024 for UPSC Prelims Exam_4.1

Fact
Indonesia, situated within the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” experiences frequent seismic and volcanic events due to its geological characteristics.

Stellar Nucleosynthesis

  • The process by which stars forge elements inside their cores.
    • It is the process that involves the creation of chemical elements by nuclear fusion reactions within stars.
    • Exception: Hydrogen, the most abundant and lightest element in the universe, was formed in the initial aftermath of the Big Bang and not through stellar nucleosynthesis.
  • Hydrogen Fusion: It all starts with hydrogen, the simplest and most abundant element in the universe.
    • Inside stars, hydrogen nuclei fuse to form helium, releasing energy in the process. This energy is what we perceive as the star’s light and heat.
  • Helium Fusion: After the hydrogen is depleted, the star begins to fuse helium into heavier elements like carbon and oxygen.
    • This happens through processes like the triple-alpha process, where three helium-4 nuclei (alpha particles) combine.

Creating Heavier Elements

  • As stars evolve, they can fuse heavier elements in their cores. For example, carbon can fuse into neon, sodium, and magnesium. This process continues, creating elements up to iron.
  • Supernova Nucleosynthesis: For elements heavier than iron, the process requires a supernova—a massive star explosion. The incredible heat and pressure during a supernova allow for the creation of elements beyond iron, all the way up to uranium.

The Role of Stars

  • Main Sequence Stars: These stars, like our Sun, primarily burn hydrogen into helium.
  • Red Giants: As a star runs out of hydrogen, it becomes a red giant and starts burning helium.
  • Supernovae: Massive stars end their lives in supernova explosions, contributing to the creation of the heaviest elements.

The Impact on the Universe

  • Stellar nucleosynthesis significantly alters the abundances of elements in the universe.
  • The elements created within stars are spread across the cosmos when stars die, seeding the universe with the building blocks for planets and life.
Fact
This process was first proposed by Fred Hoyle in 1946 and has been refined over the years to explain the observed abundances of elements and their isotopes.

Punjab Haryana & Food Security

Context

  • Until the mid-2000s, Punjab and Haryana contributed 90% of the wheat for the public distribution system (PDS) and other government programs.
  • In the current marketing season, the two states account for 75.5% of the total wheat procured for Central foodgrain storage.
  • Government agencies have purchased 25.5 million tonnes (mt) of the 2023-24 winter-sown crop harvested from late March.
  • Of this, 12.2 mt came from Punjab and over 7 mt from Haryana.

Impact of Climate Change on Cereal Production

  • Bumper Production Years:
    • In 2019-20 and 2020-21, wheat production reached record levels of 39-43 mt.
    • During this period, the share of Punjab and Haryana dropped to just over 50%.
    • Madhya Pradesh emerged as the biggest wheat producer in 2019-20, overtaking Punjab.
  • Recent Climate Shocks:
    • Production has suffered due to unseasonal heat in March 2022 and heavy rain in March 2023 during the critical grain-formation stage.
    • An unusually warm November- December 2023 affected wheat yields, especially in Central India.
    • The delayed arrival of winter due to El Nino caused premature flowering and shortened the crop’s vegetative growth phase.
    • Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and parts of Rajasthan, which have early sowing periods, were most affected.

Impact on Wheat-Producing States

  • Procurement Drops:
    • Wheat procurement from Madhya Pradesh dropped from 12.8 mt in 2019-20 and 2020-21 to just 4.6 mt this season.
    • Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan also saw steep declines from their 2020-21 highs.
  • Resilience of Punjab and Haryana:
    • Punjab and Haryana have better weathered the climate shocks due to longer winters and early to mid-November sowing.
    • These states have been crucial in maintaining wheat stocks, which were at 7.5 mt on April 1, barely above the minimum operational-cum-strategic reserve of 7.46 mt.

Current Affairs 20th May 2024 for UPSC Prelims Exam_5.1

Impact on Rice-Producing States

  • Shifts in Procurement:
    • Traditionally, rice procurement was concentrated in Punjab, Haryana, and the Godavari-Krishna and Kaveri deltas of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
    • New major contributors like Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and UP have reduced the combined share of Punjab and Haryana in total procurement.
    • Their share fell from 43-44% in the early 2000s to an average of 28.8% in the four years ending 2022-23.
    • In the current crop year, this share has risen to almost 33%.
  • Irrigation Advantage:
    • Assured access to irrigation has helped mitigate the impact of last year’s patchy monsoon.

Current Affairs 20th May 2024 for UPSC Prelims Exam_6.1

Implications of Welfare Schemes

  • National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013:
    • More than 80 crore people are entitled to 5 kg of wheat or rice per month at highly subsidised rates.
    • Since January 2023, this grain has been provided free to all NFSA beneficiaries.
  • Procurement Requirements:
    • The NFSA, along with other welfare schemes and open market sale operations, requires state agencies to procure 60-65 mt of grain annually.
    • This requirement is typically met comfortably in most years.

Project Astra

Context: Google introduced an early version of Project Astra at the company’s annual developer conference.

About Project Astra

  • A new multimodal AI agent developed by Google.

Key Features

  • Capabilities: Can answer real-time questions using text, video, images, and speech by retrieving relevant information.
    • Can see the world, remember where objects are placed, and verify the correctness of computer code using the phone’s camera.
  • Voice: More straightforward with no range of emotional diversity in its voice.
  • Versatility: Not limited to smartphones; demonstrated usage with smart glasses.
  • Learning: Can learn about the world, providing an experience similar to a human assistant. 

Examples, Case Studies And Data

  • International Relations (GS 2): The Australian Federal Budget Document announced the start date for the Mobility Arrangement for Talented Early-professionals Scheme (MATES) for Indian Nationals.
  • International Institution Report, Health (GS 2): WHO Global Report on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) 2024: Key Findings
    • Progress:
      • 50 countries have successfully eliminated at least one NTD as of December 2023.
      • Iraq became the 50th country to eliminate at least one NTD in July 2023.
      • Bangladesh became the first country to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis as a public health problem in October 2023.
    • India Specific:
      • India was certified free of dracunculiasis and yaws.
      • India treated about 117 million fewer people for lymphatic filariasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis in 2022 compared to 2021.
      • 56% of India’s population required interventions against NTDs in 2022.
    • Other:
      • Noma was added to the list of NTDs in 2023.
      • 5 countries eliminated one NTD, and 1 country eliminated two NTDs in 2023.

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I, Sakshi Gupta, am a content writer to empower students aiming for UPSC, PSC, and other competitive exams. My objective is to provide clear, concise, and informative content that caters to your exam preparation needs. I strive to make my content not only informative but also engaging, keeping you motivated throughout your journey!

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