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Current Affairs 2nd December 2023 for UPSC Prelims Exam

Drones to Women SHGs

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the Central Sector Scheme for providing Drones to the Women Self Help Groups (SHGs).

Central Sector Scheme Overview

  • Type: Central Sector Scheme
  • Objective: To equip selected Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) with 15,000 drones.
  • Purpose: To offer rental services for agricultural tasks to farmers.
  • Duration: From 2023-24 to 2025-2026.
  • Departments Involved:
    • Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (DA&FW)
    • Department of Rural Development (DoRD)
    • Department of Fertilizers (DoF)
    • Women SHGs
    • Lead Fertilizer Companies (LFCs)
  • Identification of SHGs: Selection from the 89 lakh SHGs under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana.
  • Financial Assistance
    • Central Financial Assistance: Covers 80% of drone costs, up to a maximum of Rs. 8 Lakh.
    • Additional Funding: Remaining funds through National Agriculture Infra Financing Facility (AIF).
      • Interest subvention @ 3% on AIF loan.
    • Training Programs
      • Drone Piloting Skills: One member per SHG trained in drone piloting for agriculture, nutrient, and pesticide application.
      • Drone Technicians: Another member trained in drone repair and maintenance.
    • Nano Fertilisers Promotion: Encourages the use of Nano Fertilisers (e.g., Nano Urea, Nano DAP) through drone services.
    • Scheme Significance
      • Income Boost for SHGs: Potential additional income of at least Rs.1 lakh per annum for SHGs.
      • Agricultural Advancement: Infusion of advanced technology in agriculture.
        • Benefits include improved efficiency, enhanced crop yield, and reduced operational costs.

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Antiretroviral Medications

Context: Persons with HIV who are on uninterrupted antiretroviral therapy lead a normal life and modelling studies have shown, their life expectancy is almost similar to persons who don’t have HIV.

About Antiretroviral Medications

Antiretroviral (ARV) medications are drugs that help control the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, making it difficult to fight off infections. ARV medications work by preventing HIV from replicating (making copies of itself) in the body. This helps to slow the progression of HIV infection and can help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives.

  • Concept of Antiretroviral Drugs:
    • These drugs are a combination of daily medications that stop the virus from reproducing.
    • They protect CD4 cells, thereby keeping the immune system strong enough to fight off diseases.
    • ART reduces the risk of HIV transmission and stops its progression to AIDS.
    • Nevirapine (NVP) or efavirenz (EFV)-based regimens are commonly used in ART​​.
  • HIV Strains and Types:
    • HIV-1 and HIV-2 are two distinct viruses, with HIV-1 being the predominant virus globally, accounting for around 95% of all infections.
    • HIV-2 is genetically distinct from HIV-1 and is concentrated mainly in West Africa.
    • Many antiretroviral drugs are effective against HIV-2, but non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) like nevirapine and efavirenz are not effective against it​​.
  • Treatment for HIV:
    • Over 25 drugs are approved for treating HIV.
    • These drugs form the antiretroviral therapy (ART) and are a combination of medications.
    • ART does not cure HIV but suppresses viral replication and helps the immune system to fight off infections and some cancers​​.
  • Standard Treatment:
    • Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) is the standard treatment.
    • In 2021, the FDA approved Cabenuva, which contains two types of HIV drugs: cabotegravir and rilpivirine​​.
  • HIV/AIDS Outreach in India:
    • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment signed an MoU for enhanced HIV/AIDS outreach.
    • The objective is to reduce social stigma and discrimination against victims of drug abuse and those living with HIV/AIDS​​.
  • Situation in India:
    • The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) leads the HIV/AIDS control program in India.
    • There has been a significant decline in new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in India, exceeding global rates​​.
  • India’s Role in the Global Fight against AIDS:
    • A substantial portion of the global population on ART consumes drugs manufactured in India.
    • Indian pharmaceutical companies play a vital role in the global battle against AIDS due to their ability to produce high-quality, affordable medicines​​.
  • Antiretroviral Therapy (ART):
    • ART is the only option available for people living with HIV-AIDS in the absence of a vaccine or cure.
    • Standard ART consists of a combination of at least three antiretroviral drugs to suppress the HIV virus and stop the disease’s progression​​.

Defence Acquisition Council

Context: Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, gives initial approval for acquisition of the indigenously developed aircraft for armed forces (97 Tejas jets, 156 Prachand helicopters).

About Defence Acquisition Council

Aspect Details
What is it? Highest decision-making body in the Ministry of Defence for procurement.
Chairman Defence Minister.
Members Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Chiefs of Army, Navy, and Air Force.
Objective To ensure expeditious procurement for the armed forces.
Formation Formed in 2001 post Kargil War, following the recommendations of the Group of Ministers on ‘Reforming the National Security System’.
Functions
  • Approve the 15-year Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) for defence forces.
  • Accord acceptance of necessity to acquisition proposals.
  • Categorise acquisition proposals into ‘Buy’, ‘Buy & Make’, and ‘Make’.
  • Address issues related to single vendor clearance.
  • Decide on ‘offset’ provisions for acquisition proposals above Rs 300 crore.
  • Make decisions on the Transfer of Technology under the ‘Buy & Make’ category.
  • Oversee field trial evaluation.

Exercise MILAN

Context: Scheduled for February 2024, Exercise MILAN is set to be India’s largest multilateral naval exercise, with over 50 countries expected to participate.

About the Exercise MILAN

Aspect Details
Origin Initiated by the Indian Navy in 1995 at the Andaman and Nicobar Command.
Initial Participation Started with Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand in 1995.
Growth Over Years Significant increase in participant numbers and complexity of exercises.
Expansion with Policies Expanded under India’s ‘Act East policy’ and the SAGAR initiative.
Broader Inclusion Now includes island nations in the Western Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and IOR littoral states.
Significance
  • Reflects the Indian Navy’s naval strength and capability as a first responder and Preferred Security Partner in the IOR.
  • Enhances operational reach and defence ties.
  • Important for operational capability enhancement, interoperability, and strengthening diplomatic and maritime security ties through conducting 17 multilateral and 20 bilateral exercises annually.

X-ray Polarimeter Satellite

Context: The Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) has announced a plan to launch its first X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat) Mission.

About  X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat) Mission

Specification Details
To be Launched By ISRO
Full Form X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat)
Objectives
  • Measure X-ray polarisation from X-ray sources.
  • Conduct long-term studies of cosmic X-ray sources in spectral and temporal characteristics.
  • Supplement traditional time and frequency domain studies.
Launch Vehicle Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)
Duration of Mission Five Years
To be Placed in Low Earth Orbit
Payloads
  • POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays): Measures polarimetry parameters in 8-30 keV range, developed by Raman Research Institute and U R Rao Satellite Centre
  • XSPECT (X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing): Developed by U.R. Rao Satellite Centre, ISRO, for spectroscopic information.
Significance
  • India’s first and the world’s second polarimetry mission.
  • Complementary to NASA’s IXPE mission launched in 2021.

Five Eyes Alliance

Context: The U.S. Justice Department has charged an Indian official with plotting to assassinate Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York. Nikhil Gupta, involved in the plot, awaits extradition.

About Five Eyes Alliance

Aspect Details
Network Name Five Eyes (FVEY)
Member Countries Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States
Type of Intelligence Surveillance-based and signals intelligence (SIGINT)
Historical Background
  • Originated from WWII meetings between British and American code-breakers.
  • British-U.S. Communication Intelligence Agreement (BRUSA, now UKUSA) signed by the U.S. STANCIB and the British SIGINT.
  • Initially focused on communication intelligence matters in six specific areas.
  • Extended to include Canada (1948), Australia, and New Zealand (1956).
  • Began before the U.S. formally entered WWII, linked to the 1941 Atlantic Charter.

Asola Bhatti Sanctuary

Context: The Delhi High Court recently expressed apprehensions regarding a planned event in the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary.

About Asola Bhatti Sanctuary

Aspect Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary Aravalli Hills
Location
  • On the Southern Delhi Ridge of the Aravalli range.
  • Borders Delhi-Haryana, covering southern Delhi and northern parts of Faridabad and Gurugram districts in Haryana.
  • Part of Sariska-Delhi Wildlife Corridor.
Starts near Delhi, extends through southern Haryana and Rajasthan, ends in Gujarat.
Area 32.71 sq km
Vegetation Dry deciduous
Flora
  • Dominant exotic species: Prosopis juliflora.
  • Dominant native species: Diospyros montana.
Fauna – Golden Jackals, Striped-Hyenas, Indian crested-Porcupines, Civets, Jungle Cats, Snakes, Monitor Lizards, Mongoose, etc.
Key Facts about the Hills
  • One of the world’s oldest fold mountains.
  • Highest peak: Guru Shikhar at 1,722 metres.
  • Origin of Banas, Sahibi, and Luni Rivers.

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