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Current Affairs 23rd April 2024 for UPSC Prelims Exam

Star Campaigners

Context: Sunita Kejriwal, wife of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, was appointed as a ‘star campaigner’ by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for its campaign in Gujarat.

What are Star Campaigners?

  • Star campaigners in India are prominent individuals who are appointed by political parties to campaign during elections.
  • They are usually top leaders of the party or other well-known personalities, such as celebrities, who can draw public attention and support for the party.
  • The only requirement is that these individuals must be members of the political party that appoints them.

Legal Provisions under the Representation of the People Act, 1951

  • Section 77: Provide details of the laws related to the expenditure incurred by ‘leaders of a political party’, also known as ‘star campaigners’.
  • Limits on Appointment: A recognized political party can appoint up to 40 star campaigners, whereas a registered unrecognised political party can appoint up to 20.
  • Communication to EC and CEO: These appointments must be communicated to the Election Commission (EC) and Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of the States within seven days from the notification of the election.

Benefits of Being a Star Campaigner

  • Expenditure Exemption: Travel expenses of star campaigners are not counted as part of a candidate’s election expenditure if campaigning generally for the party.
  • Expenditure Limits: The election expenditure limit is ₹95 lakh per Lok Sabha constituency in larger States and ₹75 lakh in smaller States.
  • Conditions: Expenses of rallies or meetings where a star campaigner specifically campaigns for a candidate must be apportioned to that candidate’s election expenses.


  • Star campaigners often violate the Model Code of Conduct:
    • Using abusive language against opposing leaders.
    • Appealing to caste/communal sentiments.
    • Making unsubstantiated allegations.
    • Examples:
      • Jan 2020: Anurag Thakur & Parvesh Verma (BJP) removed from star campaigner list for inflammatory speeches.
      • Nov 2020: Supreme Court stayed EC’s order revoking Kamal Nath’s (Congress) star campaigner status.
    • Underestimation of expenses:
      • EC’s rate cards for rallies/meetings may not reflect current market rates.
      • This leads to lower expenditure apportioned to contesting candidates.

Recommendations for Reform

  • Enhanced EC Authority: Amend the law to allow the EC to revoke the star campaigner status of leaders who seriously violate the Model Code of Conduct, thus ensuring more responsible campaigning.
  • Robust Expense Assessment: Improve the accuracy of assessing and apportioning rally/meeting expenses related to star campaigners to ensure fair campaign expenditure reporting.

3D Printing of Metals

Context: HP Inc has partnered with Metal Injection Molding (MIM) company Indo-MIM to mass produce metal 3D parts in India.

About 3D Metal Parts

  • Metal 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, produces parts by fusing together metal particles layer by layer to form a solid object.
  • It’s often chosen over traditional manufacturing methods like CNC machining or metal casting for its ability to create complex designs with the strength and durability of metal.
  • Advantages:
    • The process is advantageous because it can produce high-performance, complex metal parts with isotropic properties, meaning they have even, multi-directional strength.
    • It’s suitable for a range of end environments and can use metals like aluminium, stainless steel, titanium, Inconel, tool steel, and stainless steel-bronze composites.
  • Technologies Used:
    • The most common technologies for metal 3D printing include Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and Metal Binder Jetting.
    • These processes are suitable for creating metal prototypes, tooling, and production parts on demand.
  • Process Overview:
    • The basic fabrication process involves spreading a thin layer of metal powder over a build platform and using a high-power laser to selectively melt the powder, bonding the particles together.
    • The build platform moves downwards by one layer thickness, and the process repeats until the entire part is complete.
  • Applications: Metal 3D printing is used in various industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical, and more, for applications that require the unique properties of metal parts combined with the design flexibility of 3D printing.

Llama 3

Context: Meta introduced its latest AI model- Llama 3, and claimed it to be the most sophisticated LLM (Large Language Model) to date.

About Llama 3

  • Part of Meta AI’s Llama family of LLMs, first introduced in February 2023.
  • Previous versions: Llama 1 (released in 4 sizes) and Llama 2 (released in 3 sizes with 40% more training data than Llama 1).
  • Llama 3 comes in two sizes: 8B and 70B parameters (a measure of model complexity).
  • Both sizes offer a base model and an instruction-tuned version for specific tasks (e.g., chatbots).
  • Meta positions Llama 3 as the best open-source model, comparable to the best proprietary models.
  • The company emphasises open-source principles, allowing developers early access during development.

Key Features and Improvements 

  • Text-based models released initially, with plans for multilingual and multimodal capabilities in the future.
  • Supports context lengths of 8,000 tokens, allowing for more complex interactions and handling of user input.
  • Meta offers resources like Llama Guard 2 and Code Shield for safe use.

Performance and Benchmarks 

  • Meta claims significant performance improvements over Llama 2 through better pre-training and post-training processes.
  • Benchmarks show Llama 3 8B outperforming other open-source models like Mistral 7B and Gemma 7B in tasks like:
    • MMLU 5-shot (Massive Multitask Language Understanding)
    • GPQA 0-shot (Graduate-Level Google-Proof Q&A Benchmark)
    • HumanEval 0-shot (multilingual code generation)
    • Maths and word problem solving
  • No official statement on use cases, but similar to existing chatbots for:
    • Text generation (poems, code, scripts, music)
    • Summarization of factual topics
    • Language Translation

Global Plastic Treaty

Context: Global leaders are gathering in Ottawa, Canada, to discuss a historic treaty aimed at curbing plastic pollution. This treaty has the potential to be as significant as the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

Why a Plastic Treaty?

  • The UN Environment Assembly committed to developing a legally binding agreement by the end of 2024 to address plastic pollution.
  • The goal is to regulate plastic throughout its lifecycle, from production and use to disposal.

Plastic Problem

  • Plastic waste poses significant environmental challenges, polluting landscapes and waterways.
  • Moreover, the production of plastics contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, with the industry currently responsible for 5% of global emissions—a figure projected to quadruple by 2050.
  • The U.S. federal Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently highlighted the environmental impact of the plastic industry and noted that plastic production might triple by 2060 unless curbed by international agreements.

Key Issues and Challenges in Treaty Negotiations

  • Over 3,500 attendees, including lobbyists, businesses, lawmakers, scientists, and environmental groups, are registered for the talks.
  • Previous negotiation rounds exposed divisions between countries:
    • The number of treaty pages ballooned from 30 to 70 due to objections to ambitious measures.
    • Some countries (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Iran, China) oppose production limits on plastic.
  • Finding common ground before December’s final negotiations in South Korea is crucial.

National Positions

  • High Ambition Coalition (EU, island nations, Japan):
    • Wants to end plastic pollution by 2040.
    • Supports legally binding measures to reduce plastic production and consumption.
    • Advocates for phasing out single-use plastics and banning harmful additives.
  • United States:
    • Aims for ending plastic pollution by 2040.
    • Prefers individual national plans submitted to the UN.
  • Petrochemical Industry:
    • Opposes production caps, citing potential price increases.
    • Favours promoting plastic reuse and recycling, including conversion into fuel (though challenges exist with this approach).
    • Advocates for voluntary disclosure of chemicals used in plastic production.
  • Consumer Brands (Unilever, PepsiCo, Walmart):
    • Support a treaty with production caps, use restrictions, and extended producer responsibility.

The Road Ahead

  • Negotiations in Ottawa are crucial for reaching a consensus on a comprehensive plastic pollution treaty by the end of 2024.
  • Finding a balance between environmental protection, economic considerations, and national interests will be key to a successful agreement.

Examples, Data And Case Studies For Value Addition

  • Women related issues, Inclusive Growth (GS 2): Recently a study “Gender bias and inclusion in advertising in India,” was released by UNICEF and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
    • Key Findings of the Study:
      • In Indian advertisements, girls and women achieve parity with men in terms of screen time and speaking roles, which is above global benchmarks.
      • Despite parity in representation, women and girls are often depicted in ways that reinforce gender stereotypes.
      • Female characters are more frequently portrayed as married compared to their male counterparts.
      • Women are less likely to be shown in paid occupations, indicating a gender disparity in professional representation.
      • Women are more commonly depicted as caretakers and parents, reinforcing traditional gender roles.
      • Women are shown engaging in specific activities more than men:
        • Shopping (4.1% for women, compared to 2.3% for men)
        • Cleaning (4.8% for women, as against 2.2% for men)
        • Involvement in purchasing or preparing meals (5.4% for women, against 3.9% for men)
      • In instances where intelligence is highlighted, male characters are more often portrayed as smart than female characters (32.2% for men vs. 26.2% for women).
      • The majority of female characters (66.9%) are depicted with light or medium-light skin tones.
      • Female characters are almost always portrayed with a thin body type.

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