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Current Affairs 5th January 2024 for UPSC Prelims Exam

Inoperative & unclaimed accounts

Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has revised guidelines for classifying accounts and deposits as inoperative accounts and unclaimed deposits, aiming to streamline the classification and activation processes.

About Inoperative And Unclaimed Accounts

Inoperative Accounts

  • An account becomes inoperative when there haven’t been any transactions initiated by the customer for more than two years.
  • Transactions that qualify as ‘customer-induced’ include any financial activity initiated directly by the account holder or on their behalf by the bank or a third party, any non-financial transaction, or updates to the account holder’s KYC (Know Your Customer) information, either through in-person verification or digital methods like internet or mobile banking.
  • It’s estimated that approximately 1 to 1.3 trillion Indian Rupees are currently held in these dormant bank accounts.

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Unclaimed Deposits

  • Funds in savings or current accounts that have seen no activity for a decade, or fixed deposits that have not been claimed for ten years after their maturity date, are categorised as unclaimed deposits.
  • As of March 2023, banks are holding about 42,270 crore Indian Rupees in such unclaimed funds.

Revised Guidelines By RBI

  • Yearly Assessment: The Reserve Bank of India mandates banks to annually review accounts that haven’t seen any customer-driven transactions for more than one year.
  • Account Inactivity Alerts: Banks are required to inform customers through letters, emails, or text messages if their accounts have been inactive for a year, cautioning them about the potential change to ‘inoperative’ status if no transactions occur in the following year.
  • Criteria for Inoperative Accounts: An account is marked as inoperative based solely on the absence of customer-initiated transactions, not considering actions initiated by the bank such as fees, interest credits, or penalties.
  • Exemptions from Inoperative Classification: Accounts with zero balance, specifically those used by recipients of government welfare programs and students receiving scholarships, are exempt from being labelled as inoperative.
  • Specific Account Classification: The designation of an account as inoperative is confined to that specific account and does not reflect on the customer’s other accounts.
  • Reactivation of Dormant Accounts: The RBI requires banks to facilitate KYC updates for reactivating inoperative accounts and accessing unclaimed deposits at all branches, including those not designated as the customer’s home branch, without imposing any fees.
  • No Penalties on Inoperative Accounts: Banks are prohibited from charging penalties for failing to maintain minimum balances in accounts deemed inoperative.
  • Continuation of Interest Accrual: Interest on savings accounts should continue to be credited routinely, irrespective of whether the account is active or inoperative.

Free Movement Regime

Context: The central government of India is on the verge of abolishing the Free Movement Regime (FMR) along its border with Myanmar.

What Is Free Movement Regime?

  • The FMR, a bilateral agreement between India and Myanmar, all the hill tribes, whether they are citizens of India or Myanmar, can travel within 16 km on either side of the Indo-Myanmar Border (IMB) without needing a visa.
  • This regime allows border residents to cross with a border pass, typically valid for one year, and permits stays of up to two weeks for each visit.
  • This helps locals to get more culturally assimilated with trans-border villages through weddings, celebrating common festivals together and trans-border trade.
  • Enacted in 2018, this regime was part of India’s broader Act East policy initiative.
  • In response to the political upheaval in Myanmar post the 2021 coup and the subsequent surge in migrants, India temporarily halted the FMR in September 2022. This led to over 40,000 refugees seeking refuge in Mizoram, with an estimated 4,000 additionally entering Manipur.

Desert Cyclone

Context: Joint military exercise ‘Desert Cyclone 2024’ involving India and the UAE, has commenced in Mahajan, Rajasthan.

About Desert Cyclone

  • Objective:
    • The primary goal is to boost coordination in Sub-conventional Operations, particularly Urban Warfare (Fighting in Built-Up Areas) in desert or semi-desert environments, aligning with Chapter VII of the UN Charter concerning Peacekeeping Operations.
    • The exercise aims to bolster mutual security interests and strengthen the bilateral ties between these two allied nations.
  • Inception: The inaugural edition of this joint exercise commenced in 2024.
  • Participating Forces:
    • India: A battalion from the Indian Army’s Mechanised Infantry Regiment is participating.
    • UAE: Personnel from the Zayed First Brigade are involved.
  • Importance:
    • This exercise is pivotal in enhancing collaborative efforts and operational compatibility between the two forces in Peacekeeping contexts.
    • It also aims to foster a partnership of learning and exchange of best practices between the Indian and UAE forces.
  • Other Exercises (India- UAE):
    • DESERT FLAG– Joint air exercises and training
    • Zayed Talwar– To enhance the interoperability and synergy between two navies.
    • International Defence Exhibition (IDEX) – India has also been a regular participant at this biennial exercise in Abu Dhabi.

Green Deposits

Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said it is not mandatory for banks and NBFCs to raise green deposits, but in case they intend to do so they must follow the prescribed framework.

About Green Deposit

  • Green deposits are environmentally focused fixed-term investments.
  • They operate like regular Fixed Deposits, offering interest over a specified term.
  • Funds from these deposits are dedicated to green finance projects such as renewable energy, clean technology, or other environmentally beneficial initiatives.
  • If qualifying, these projects can fall under the RBI’s priority sector lending (PSL).
  • Banks can offer overdraft facilities against Green Deposits.
  • Green deposits are exclusively in Indian Rupees.
  • The deposits raised under the framework are covered by Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) in accordance with the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act, 1961 and the regulations framed there under, as amended from time to time.
  • At maturity, depositors can choose to renew or withdraw their investment.

Major Space Missions

Context: In the year 2024, numerous missions are planned under NASA’s Artemis and Commercial Lunar Payload Services programs, with key launches targeting the moon.

Major Space Mission In The Year 2024

  • Europa Clipper Mission by NASA: This mission is set to explore Jupiter’s moon, Europa, known for its icy surface and potential saltwater ocean beneath.
    • The goal is to examine if this ocean could support extraterrestrial life.
    • Europa Clipper will orbit Europa nearly 50 times, studying its ice shell, surface geology, and subsurface ocean, and searching for active geysers.
    • The launch is scheduled for October 10, 2024, and the spacecraft, aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, is expected to reach Jupiter in 2030.
  • Artemis II Mission by NASA: Part of NASA’s Artemis program, Artemis II aims to send humans back to the moon, including the first woman and first person of colour.
    • This crewed mission, the first since 1972, will orbit the moon during its 10-day mission, building upon the uncrewed Artemis I mission.
    • Planned for launch in November 2024, there’s a possibility of delay to 2025. The mission is a critical step towards a sustained lunar presence and future missions to Mars.
  • VIPER Mission by NASA: The Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) is designed to hunt for water and other volatiles at the moon’s south pole.
    • A golf cart-sized robot, VIPER will explore for 100 days, enduring extreme lunar temperatures.
    • Originally planned for 2023, the launch is now scheduled for late 2024, with the rover being delivered to the moon in November of that year.
  • Lunar Trailblazer and PRIME-1 Missions by NASA: As part of NASA’s SIMPLEx program for small, cost-effective planetary missions, Lunar Trailblazer will orbit the moon to map out water molecules globally, while PRIME-1 will test drilling technologies on the lunar surface.
    • Lunar Trailblazer is expected to be ready by early 2024, but its launch depends on the primary payload’s readiness. PRIME-1, scheduled for mid-2024, may face delays based on earlier mission schedules.
  • JAXA’s Martian Moon eXploration (MMX): This Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency mission will investigate Mars’ moons, Phobos and Deimos.
    • Slated for launch around September 2024, MMX aims to uncover the origins of these moons, with plans to land on Phobos, collect samples, and return them to Earth.
  • ESA’s Hera Mission: Following NASA’s DART mission, the European Space Agency’s Hera will visit the Didymos-Dimorphos asteroid system.
    • DART’s collision with Dimorphos demonstrated a kinetic impact technique for planetary defence. Hera, launching in October 2024 and arriving in late 2026, will study the asteroids’ physical properties post-impact.

Cyber Kidnapping

Context: A 17-year old Chinese student who was a victim of cyber kidnapping has been found unharmed in Utah.

What Is Cyber Kidnapping?

  • Cyber kidnapping is a form of cybercrime where attackers hijack a person’s digital identity, usually through hacking, and then demand ransom.
  • Also, ‘kidnappers’ convince their victim to hide, and then contact their loved ones for ransom.

How Does It Work?

  • Photo Deception: Victims are coerced into sending images that falsely depict them as captive, using bindings or gags.
    • These images are then used to convince their families of the kidnapping.
  • Online Surveillance: The perpetrators closely monitor the victim through digital means, often using video calls.
  • Extortion Scheme: According to the FBI, this is a form of extortion where the kidnappers deceive families into paying ransoms without actual physical abduction.
  • Voice Manipulation Threat: Advancements in AI raise concerns about scammers using realistic voice imitations to create distress calls, potentially increasing such crimes.
  • Rising Trend: Although precise statistics are scarce, law enforcement agencies note an increase in such cases.
    • For example, in 2020, Australia reported eight instances targeting Chinese students.

Eurasian Otter

Context: Recently, Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) was spotted for the first time In Kerala

About Eurasian Otter

  • About: Semi-aquatic carnivorous mammal.
  • Scientific Name: Lutra lutra
  • Family: Mustelidae
  • The Eurasian otter covers the largest range of any Palearctic mammal.
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN: Near threatened
    • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule II
    • CITES: Appendix I

Snow Leopard

Context: Kyrgyzstan has officially declared the Snow Leopard(Panthera uncia) as its national symbol.

About Snow Leopard

  • Scientific Name: Panthera uncia
  • Top predator in the food web (in mountain ecosystem).
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN: Vulnerable.
    • CITES: Appendix I.
    • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule-I.
  • Habitat:
    • Across the mountainous landscape of Central Asia, which covers different parts of the Himalayas such as Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim.

India’s Initiative For Protection Of Snow Leopard

  • Designated as a flagship species for the Himalayas by the Indian Government.
  • Since 2013, India has participated in the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme.
  • The HimalSanrakshak initiative involves community volunteers in snow leopard conservation.
  • A National Protocol for Snow Leopard Population Assessment aiding in monitoring their numbers.
  • The SECURE Himalaya project, supported by the GEF-UNDP, focuses on conserving high-altitude biodiversity and reducing local community dependence on natural ecosystems.
  • Project Snow Leopard emphasises a collaborative approach to protect snow leopards and their habitats.
  • The snow leopard is listed among 21 critically endangered species targeted for recovery by India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change.
  • A conservation breeding program for snow leopards is being conducted at the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park in Darjeeling.

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