UPSC Prelims News of 14 February 2023
Context: Bhashini team is building a WhatsApp-based chatbot that relies on information generated by ChatGPT to return appropriate responses to queries.
More on the News:
- The initiative mainly targets residents of rural areas, who can put their questions to the chatbot using voice notes.
- Since India’s rural population speaks a wide range of languages, it is important to build a language model that can successfully identify and understand them.
- Currently, the chatbot supports 12 languages including English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, Kannada, Odia, and Assamese.
- A user can simply ask a question using voice notes, and receive a voice-based response generated by ChatGPT.
- To build such a language model, it is essential to have large datasets of the various local languages spoken in India, for training the model. An initiative called Bhasha Daan was used here.
- The WhatsApp chatbot can only respond to simple queries about government schemes, etc.
- This is mainly due to the current limitation of ChatGPT, which cannot access information from the Internet in real time.
- Bhasha Daan is an ambitious project that aims to crowd-source voice datasets in multiple Indian languages.
- People can contribute by recording themselves reading out a portion of text, by typing out a sentence that they hear, or by translating text in one language into another.
Context: India is planning to propose a Millet International Initiative for Research and Awareness (MIIRA) during its G20 Presidency.
- MIIRA will be aimed at coordinating millet research programmes at the international level.
- It is in line with the United Nations declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets and the Union Government’s plan to make India a global hub for millets.
- MIIRA will be launched keeping in mind the nutritional value and the climate resilient nature of millets.
- MIIRA will aim to connect the millet research organisations across the world while also supporting research on millet crops.
- Besides setting up a web platform to connect researchers and holding international research conferences, the plan is also to promote millet consumption by raising awareness.
- For MIIRA to take off, India will contribute the “seed money” while each G20 member will later have to contribute to its budget in the form of a membership fee.
- The MIIRA secretariat will be in Delhi.
What are Millets?
- Millets are small-grained cereals such as sorghum (jowar), pearl millet (bajra), foxtail millet (kangni/ Italian millet), little millet (kutki), kodo millet, finger millet (ragi/ mandua), proso millet (cheena/ common millet), barnyard millet (sawa/ sanwa/ jhangora), and brown top millet (korale).
- These crops require less water than rice and wheat, and are mainly grown in rainfed areas.
- India is the largest producer of millets in the world.
- The major millets producing States in India are Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
- Millets are the traditional food in Asia and Africa.
- Globally, jowar is the most widely grown millet crop; its major producers are the US, China, Australia, India, Argentina, Nigeria, and Sudan.
- Bajra, another major millet crop, is mainly grown in some African countries and India, where millets are mainly a kharif crop.
Context: India is celebrating the National Women’s Day 2023 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sarojini Naidu.
- Popularly known as the nightingale of India, Sarojini Naidu was born on February 13, 1879 in Hyderabad.
- She was an activist, poet and a valiant politician.
- She joined the Indian national movement in the wake of partition of Bengal in 1905.
- In 1925, she became the first woman to lead the Indian National Congress as the party President.
- Naidu was an inevitable part of the Salt Satyagraha movement started by Mahatma Gandhi. She was also part of the Quit India Movement started against British rule in India.
- The British government lauded Sarojini Naidu with the ‘Kaisar-i-Hind’ Medal for her service during the plague epidemic in India.
- Apart from politics, Sarojini Naidu is recognized globally as one of the finest poetesses in the history of Indian literature.
- Her poetic works involved a spectrum of topics including patriotism, tragedy, romance, etc.
- Published in 1912, ‘In the Bazaars of Hyderabad’ remains one of her most popular poems.
- Her other works include “The Golden Threshold (1905)”, “The Bird of Time (1912)”, and “The Broken Wing (1912)”.
- She was also a member of the All-India Women’s Conference and worked to improve the status of women in India.
- She died on March 2, 1949, in Lucknow.
Context: Scientists have discovered a new type of quasicrystal, one with 12-fold symmetry, in the Sand Hills of north central Nebraska, USA.
- Quasicrystal is a matter formed atomically in a manner somewhere between the amorphous solids of glasses and the precise pattern of crystals. These crystals consist of atoms that are arranged in a pattern that doesn’t repeat itself regularly.
- Quasicrystals are physical lattices with a translational disorder that retain local, rotational symmetry whereas, ‘perfect’ crystals have both translational and rotational symmetry and are always close-packed.
- Usage: Quasicrystals have been widely created in labs and are known to possess novel electrical, photonic, and mechanical properties that aren’t found in other materials.
- The dodecagonal quasicrystal is an example of a quasicrystal of any kind formed by electrical discharge.
- Quasicrystals can be used in manufacturing non-stick frying pans, needles for acupuncture and surgery, dental instruments, and razor blades.
- They can be used in selective solar absorbers for power conversion, broad-wavelength reflectors, and bone repair and prostheses applications where biocompatibility, low friction, and corrosion resistance are required.
Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles – FAME II
Context: The government is looking at the option of increasing the utilization of resources earmarked under the FAME II scheme for electrifying buses.
About FAME II1
- FAME II is a scheme launched by the Government to give a boost to the development of Electric Vehicles. It is an effort to combat climate change across the globe.
- Funding: Under the scheme, Rs 10,000 crore for a period of 3 years was allocated.
- Initiatives: Rs 1,000 crore has been set aside for setting up charging stations for electric vehicles. It has given a proposal of providing 1 slow charging unit for every electric bus and 1 fast charging station for 10 electric buses.
- The Central Government incentivizes the purchase of approximately 5 lakh three-wheelers, 7000 electric buses, and 35,000 four-wheelers.
- Authority: Department of Heavy Industries, the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises is the monitoring authority
Context: The Union Health Ministry launched a nationwide mass drug administration (MDA) campaign aimed at ending filariasis disease transmission.
- Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, is a neglected tropical disease.
- Transmission: Infection occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes.
- Acquisition: Infection is usually acquired in childhood causing hidden damage to the lymphatic system.
- Effects: Lymphatic filariasis impairs the lymphatic system and can lead to abnormal enlargement of body parts, causing pain, severe disability, and social stigma.
- People with the disease can suffer from lymphedema and elephantiasis and in men, swelling of the scrotum, called a hydrocele, can occur.
- Causative agent: Parasite Wuchereria bancrofti
- Vector: In Africa, the most common vector is Anopheles and in the Americas, it is Culex quinquefasciatus.
- Aedes and Mansonia can transmit the infection in the Pacific and Asia.
- Treatment: Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) is the drug of choice. The drug kills the microfilariae and some adult worms.
Context: TARKASH, a joint exercise by the National Security Guard (NSG) and US Special Operations Forces (SOF) is currently being held in Chennai.
- It is an Indo-US joint exercise, which for the first time has included “Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) terror response”.
- The objective of the joint exercise is to rapidly neutralize the terrorists, rescue the hostages safely and deactivate the chemical weapons being carried by the terrorists.
- According to the report, the new drill has been made part of the exercise in the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war.
- CBRN weapons have the capability of creating mass casualties as well as mass disruption and therefore, are classified as weapons of mass destruction.
- Chemical weapons include mustard gas and nerve agents, Biological agents include anthrax, Radiological weapons include weaponised radioactive waste and nuclear weapons.
- These have been in use since World War I, with the recent use being in 2013 during the Syrian Civil War.
Web 3.0 Technology
Context: Finance minister has said significant international collaboration is required for effective implementation of domestic legislations relating to crypto assets and web3 sectors.
What is Web 3.0 Technology?
- Web 3.0 is simply the third-generation internet that evolved from World Wide Web. Previous versions were web 1.0 and web 2.0.
- Web 1.0: The first generation of the World Wide Web, which was primarily a collection of static web pages that provided information in a one-way communication style.
- Web 2.0: It introduced user-generated content, social media, and interactive applications that allowed for greater user participation and collaboration.
- Web 3.0: The next generation of the World Wide Web, which aims to create a more decentralized and secure internet by leveraging technologies such as blockchain, smart contracts, and distributed ledgers.
- Key features of Web 3.0 Technology:
- Decentralization: Data and applications are distributed across multiple nodes, creating a more decentralized internet.
- Interoperability: Different applications and systems work seamlessly together, creating a more connected digital ecosystem.
- Trust and Security: Web 3.0 creates a more secure and trustworthy internet, where users have greater control over their personal data and transactions.
- AI: Web 3.0 makes greater use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, enabling more personalized and intelligent applications and services.
- Semantic Web: Data is structured in a way that allows machines to better understand and interpret it.