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Current Affairs 9th January 2024 for UPSC Prelims Exam

First hi-res landslide risk map for India

Context: Following intense monsoon rains causing floods and landslides, a team from IIT Delhi has created the nation’s first high-resolution landslide susceptibility map.

Features Of National Landslide Susceptibility Map

  • Landslide Event Data: Incorporates data from around 150,000 recorded landslide events from the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and includes 16 factors influencing landslides.
  • Machine Learning Analysis: Utilises ensemble machine learning techniques to balance the impact across multiple models.
  • Factors Used: They collected information on factors like soil cover, number of trees covering the area, distance from roads or mountains, etc.
    • They used GeoSadak, an online system with data on the national road network in India, displaying data on roads located outside cities
  • High-Resolution Overview: Provides a high-definition (100 square metre resolution) perspective of landslide-prone zones throughout India.
  • Identification of Risk Zones: Highlights known risk areas like the Himalayan region and uncovers new high-risk zones in parts of the Eastern Ghats.
  • Online Accessibility: The map is publicly available online for interactive use by anyone without the need for specialised knowledge.

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Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell

Context: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully tested a 100-watt Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell Power System (FCPS) on its orbital platform POEM3.

What Is Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell?

  • Proton exchange membrane fuel cells, also known as polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, operate using a polymer-based proton-conducting membrane as their electrolyte, with hydrogen typically serving as the fuel source.
  • It is an electrochemical device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy.
  • They function within lower temperature and pressure ranges, typically between 50 to 100 degrees Celsius.
  • They are being developed for transportation, stationary, and portable applications.

Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell

Agriculture And Commodity Summit 2024

Context: The Chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices gave a clarion call to increase private investments in the agriculture sector five times by 2030 while urging farmers to look at opportunities beyond food.

About Agriculture And Commodity Summit 2024

  • Held at: New Delhi
  • Increase in Private Investment: Experts emphasised the need to boost private sector investment in agriculture from 2% to 5-10% by 2030 and urged farmers to explore beyond food production, like producing crops for industrial needs such as ethanol.
  • Integrated Farming Model by SBI: An “integrated farming model” to help diversify farmers’ incomes, promoting the concept of producers becoming processors.
  • Credit and Insurance Democratisation: Highlighted the importance of increasing formal credit in agriculture, suggesting that a 10% rise in formal credit could result in a 1% increase in agriculture’s GDP contribution.
  • Productivity Enhancement: NABARD stressed investing in productivity-enhancing agricultural practices that are sustainable and resource-efficient.
  • Sugar Sector’s Leadership in Smart Agriculture: The potential for the sugar sector to lead in smart agriculture practices was discussed, along with the growing importance of maize as a water-efficient crop for ethanol production and climate change mitigation.
  • Resilient Supply Chains: Experts called for promoting technologies and infrastructure that provide farmers with price visibility and better market access.
  • Role of Women in Agriculture: The panel emphasised the centrality of women in agricultural policy design, advocating for greater access to technology and recognition of women as entrepreneurs.
  • Financial Technology in Agriculture: The fintech agri ecosystem could significantly boost India’s GDP, with an estimated addition of $100 billion in the next five years due to increased agricultural investment.
  • Food Security and Sovereign Agreements: There was a call for realistic policies in distributing free food grains and consideration of destination production on foreign soil under sovereign agreements to mitigate risks.
  • Livestock Sector Potential: Industry experts discussed the role of dairy, poultry, and fisheries in providing affordable nutritional security.

Sloth Bear

Context: A 36-year-old male sloth bear died due to multi-organ failure at a zoo-cum-animal rescue centre in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

About Sloth Bear

  • One of the eight bear species found across the world.
  • Scientific Name: Melursus ursinus
  • Distribution:
    • Their range includes India, Sri Lanka and southern Nepal.
    • 90% of the global Sloth Bear population is found in India.
  • Habitat: They live in a variety of dry and moist forests and in some tall grasslands, where boulders, scattered shrubs and trees provide shelter.
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable.
    • Wildlife Protection Act (1972): Schedule I.
    • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES): Appendix I.
  • World Sloth Bear Day: First observed on 12th October 2022.

Rise in child marriages in West Bengal

Context: A recent study on child marriage in India published in the Lancet noted the overall decrease in child marriage across the country but pointed out that four States, mainly Bihar (16.7%), West Bengal (15.2%), Uttar Pradesh (12.5%), and Maharashtra (8.2%) accounted for more than half of the total headcount burden of child marriages in girls.

Current Status Of Child Marriage In India

Lancet Report

  • Child marriage in India is decreasing but still prevalent, particularly in Bihar (16.7%), West Bengal (15.2%), Uttar Pradesh (12.5%), and Maharashtra (8.2%).
  • West Bengal saw an alarming increase of over 500,000 child marriages, a 32.3% rise in headcount.

NFHS-5 Report

  • West Bengal’s child marriage rate remains high at 41.6% for women aged 20-24.
    • Murshidabad, an economically challenged district, shows a rise in child marriage rates from 53.5% to 55.4%.

Impact of Child Marriage

  • Increased Infant Mortality: Child marriage is associated with higher rates of infant mortality, as highlighted by the instance of 10 infant deaths in a single day at Murshidabad Medical College.
  • Low Birth Weight Issue: The incident also revealed a prevalence of extremely low birth weight among infants, often linked to child marriage.
  • Health Risks to Young Mothers: Child marriage escalates risks during pregnancy and childbirth for young mothers, adversely impacting both their health and that of their infants.
  • Generational Health Impact: High rates of child marriage, like the 41.6% in West Bengal, suggest a significant, ongoing health challenge for multiple generations.
  • Educational Setback: Early marriage typically disrupts a girl’s education, curtailing her potential for future opportunities and financial independence.

Initiatives to overcome the issues of child marriage in India

  • Kanyashree Prakalpa: A West Bengal initiative providing cash transfers to promote girls’ education and deter child marriage, benefiting about 81 lakh girls.
  • Rupashree Prakalpa: This scheme offers financial incentives for the marriages of girls, with the goal of postponing their marriage age.
  • Legal Age Revision: The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, proposed to increase the legal marriage age for women to 21.
  • Focused District Strategies: In 2022, West Bengal initiated district-level action plans targeting child marriage, emphasizing tailored local solutions.

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