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Current Affairs 29th March 2024 for UPSC Prelims Exam

Fiscal Deficit

Context: The fiscal deficit of India’s central government surged to ₹15 lakh crore in the first eleven months of the fiscal year 2023-24, up from ₹11 lakh crore noted at the end of January.

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  • Despite this increase, experts anticipate that the government may still achieve its revised fiscal deficit target of ₹17.3 lakh crore, as outlined in the recent Union Budget.
  • The rise to 86.5% of the revised estimates by February’s end is attributed to an increase in spending before the fiscal year concludes.
  • There remains an allowance for further expenditure of ₹6 lakh crore in March, which exceeds the ₹5.5 lakh crore spent in the same month the previous year.
  • Capital expenditure (capex) is yet to see an additional ₹1.4 lakh crore in March to meet the fiscal target
  • Although this is threatened by the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct due to upcoming General Elections.
  • Concerns have been raised by economists and financial experts regarding the Centre’s spending falling short by about ₹7.4 lakh crore, especially due to major shortfalls in capital expenditure.

Understanding Fiscal Deficit

  • Definition: Fiscal deficit occurs when a government’s total expenditures surpass its total revenues, excluding borrowing. It indicates the amount by which a government needs to borrow or sell assets to cover its spending.
  • Fiscal Management Focus: Governments generally prioritise managing and containing the fiscal deficit over achieving a fiscal surplus or a balanced budget.

This approach is due to the expansionary nature of a controlled deficit policy, which involves increased spending on sectors like infrastructure to stimulate productivity and economic growth.

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Cybersecurity Readiness Index

Context: According to Cisco’s 2023 Cybersecurity Readiness Index, only 4% of Indian companies are adequately prepared for current cybersecurity challenges.

Indian Cybersecurity Preparedness: Key Points

  • Diverse Threats: Companies face various cyberattacks like ransomware and social engineering, even with existing defences.
  • Complex Response: Security protocols and internal processes make it difficult to handle cyberattacks effectively.
  • High Risk Perception: A significant 82% of surveyed Indian companies expect a cyber incident within the next 1-2 years.
  • Increased Investment: Nearly all companies (99%) are improving their cybersecurity readiness and plan to increase budgets.
  • Holistic Approach Needed: More than just investment is necessary. A comprehensive strategy is needed to manage cyber risks due to:
    • Growing number of devices
    • Rise of AI-powered cyberattacks (according to Sumit Kumar Mishra, Cisco India and SAARC Director)

Elephant Corridor Plan


  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) directed forest departments of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam to propose notifying the Dulung-Subansiri elephant corridor.
  • This proposal will be presented to the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) which will decide on legally protecting the corridor.

Why is this corridor important?

  • Elephant corridors are vital for animal movement and genetic exchange, maintaining healthy elephant populations.
  • The Dulung-Subansiri corridor allows east-west movement across the Subansiri River for elephants.
  • The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) rapid assessment confirmed its functionality and recommended urgent restoration efforts due to its fragile state.

Threats from Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Project

  • The 2000 MW project by NHPC is located on the Subansiri River and hasn’t been commissioned yet.
  • Construction of the dam and related infrastructure has already caused habitat loss and disrupted elephant movement.
  • WII’s report highlighted these issues and potential future threats:
    • Residential complexes, offices, schools, and recreational spaces built by NHPC are obstacles.
    • Increased commercial establishments and roads worsen the situation.
    • Hydropeaking (regulating water flow for power generation) can cause flash floods, endangering elephants, especially calves.

Current Status

  • NBWL hasn’t commissioned hydrological studies recommended by WII to assess the full impact of hydropeaking downstream.

Possible Solutions

  • Notifying the corridor as a conservation reserve under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Marking the corridor boundaries on the ground.
  • Implementing strategies to “further strengthen the corridor” as suggested by WII.

Examples, Data and Case Studies For Value Addition

  • Food Security (GS 3): The Food Waste Index Report 2024 (a joint initiative by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)) revealed that households worldwide are discarding over one billion meals every day, with 783 million people concurrently facing hunger and one-third of humanity dealing with food insecurity.
    • The bulk of food wastage in 2022, about 60%, occurred at the household level.
  • Environmental Pollution & Degradation Water Resources (GS 3, GS 1): Over a million bottles of water have been dispatched by China to the Maldives, sourced from glaciers in Tibet.
    • This initiative was a response to the freshwater crisis in the Maldives, caused by saltwater intrusion due to sea-level rise.

Practice Question

  1. What are the main reasons behind the European Commission’s initiation of non-compliance investigations against tech giants like Apple, Meta, Google’s parent Alphabet, and Amazon? How does the Digital Markets Act (DMA) aim to regulate ‘gatekeepers’ and ensure fairer competitive practices in the digital market space?

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