Topic 1: River Mandovi Water Dispute
Context: Goa is concerned about Karnataka’s plan to construct the Kalasa Bhandura canal to divert water from the upper reaches of Mhadei to the Malaprabha basin.
About River Mandovi:
- River Mandovi is considered the ‘lifeline of Goa’. It is also known as Mhadei in its upper reaches.
- The Mandovi and the Zuari are the two primary rivers of Goa.
- Mandovi joins with the Zuari at a common creek forming the Mormugao harbour.
- Panaji, the state capital is situated on the left bank of the Mandovi.
- The river originates from a cluster of 30 spring in the Western Ghats in the Karnataka.
- On its way the river makes the Dudhsagar Falls and Varapoha Falls and is also known as the Gomati in a few places.
- The river enters Goa from the north and eventually falls into Arabian sea.
- The catchment area of the river is spread over Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
- The tributaries of Mandovi are Nerul, Mapusa, Udnai, Dudhsagar River, Ragada River and Kotrachi Nadi.
What is the Dispute?
- There is dispute over sharing of the waters of the Mandovi river between the governments of Karnataka and Goa.
- The Karnataka government proposes to divert some water from the Mahadayi river to the Malaprabha River basin as part of the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project.
- Recently the Central Water Commission (CWC) approving the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the proposed projects which has raised concerns for Goa.
- Earlier in 2018, the Mhadei Water Disputes Tribunal (MWDT) Award on the allocation of water between three states (i.e., Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra) has been questioned in the Supreme Court by all the parties).
Source: The Indian Express
Topic 2: India’s Goods Exports Plunges Most in 3 years
- India’s goods exports have fell the steepest in three years in April, 2023 because of the weakening global demand and declining commodity prices.
- According to the commerce ministry data, the Exports have declined by nearly 13% i.e., from $39.70 billion to $34.66 billion in the year-ago period.
- The Merchandise imports have also fell by 14% to $49.90 billion from $58.06 billion a year earlier.
- Consequently, the trade deficit has narrowed to $15.24 billion from $18.36 billion in April last year.
- The Imports have declined partly because of the cooling down of commodity prices, and partly because of reduced demand for products considered discretionary spending.
- The major contributors to decline in imports are gems and jewellery and petroleum sector.
- However, the Services exports has jumped 26% to $30.36 billion compared to $24.05 billion a year earlier.
- While the services imports surged 17% to $16.05 billion from $14.06 billion during the same period.
- The year-on-year decline in the merchandise trade deficit was primarily driven by non-oil items, with the fall in crude oil prices being partly absorbed by higher volumes.
- Barring four countries, India’s exports to all top major destinations have declined in last one year.
- The top items of India’s exports i.e., gems and jewellery, engineering goods, organic and inorganic chemicals and ready-made garments, performed poorly as the demand in Western countries continued to decline due to high inflation.
- On the contrary, exports in electronic goods, drugs and pharma, rice, oil meals, ceramic products, and glassware grew marginally in last one year.
Topic 3: Gaps in the AePS transaction model
What is AePS?
- Aadhaar-enabled Payment Services (AePS) is a bank-led model which allows online financial transactions at Point-of-Sale (PoS) and Micro ATMs through the business correspondent of any bank using Aadhaar authentication.
- There is no need for OTPs, bank account details, and other financial details for AePS.
- It allows fund transfers using only the bank name, Aadhaar number, and fingerprint captured during Aadhaar enrolment.
Are AePS transactions enabled by default?
- Neither Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDA)I nor NPCI mentions clearly whether AePS is enabled by default.
- According to UIDAI, users who wish to receive any benefit or subsidy under schemes notified under section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, have to mandatorily submit their Aadhaar number to the banking service provider.
- Aadhaar is also the preferred method of KYC for banking institutions, thus enabling AePS by default for most bank account holders.
How is biometric information leaked?
- While data breaches in Aadhaar have been reported in 2018, 2019, and 2022, according to UIDAI the Aadhaar data, including biometric information, is fully safe and secure.
- However, UIDAI’s database alone is not the only location where data can be leaked.
- Aadhaar numbers are readily available in the form of photocopies, and soft copies, and criminals are using Aadhaar-enabled payment systems to breach user information.
How the Aadhaar biometric information could be secured?
- UIDAI is proposing an amendment to the Aadhaar (Sharing of Information) Regulations, 2016.
- The amendment will require entities in possession of an Aadhaar number to not share details unless the Aadhaar numbers have been blacked out through appropriate means.
- The UIDAI has also implemented a new two-factor authentication mechanism that uses a machine-learning-based security system.
Source: The Hindu
Topic 4: Priority Sector Lending norms to be revamped
Context: The government is considering restructuring the priority sector lending (PSL) scheme to allow deposits made by banks in the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) and such other funds to qualify as exposure under PSL.
What are the norms for PSL?
- Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regulations require banks to allocate 40% of their adjusted net bank credit (ANBC) for the priority sector.
- The priority sector comprising agriculture, small and medium enterprises, exports, and economically vulnerable groups such as small farmers, micro-enterprises, and disadvantaged segments.
- At present the deposits banks make in Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) are not allowed to compensate for the shortfall in meeting PSL targets.
- Also, such funds are not recognized as part of the banks’ exposure in the corresponding PSL sub-categories.
- These placements, facilitated through institutions such as NABARD, SIDBI, and Mudra are categorized as lending under ancillary services, other finance to MSMEs, and housing.
How the proposed changes will impact banks?
- The proposed changes are expected to provide banks additional flexibility in meeting sector-specific PSL targets.
- It will also free up capital for extending credit to industrially vibrant sectors, fostering economic growth.
- Once the changes are approved, banks’ investments in eligible funds would be aligned with the annual allocation.
- It will be recognized as bank lending within the sub-categories of PSL that correspond to the respective shortfall ratio for that specific year.
- The changes would allow banks more flexibility towards meeting their PSL targets in the event where demand for credit in certain sub-categories is lower.
- According to a Nabard report, PSL shortfall deposits surged to ₹2.52 trillion in March 2022.
- Additionally, there has been a rise in the trading of Priority Sector Lending Certificates (PSLCs) that can be used to cover the shortfall in PSL targets by banks.
- While lending in most PSL sectors has grown in FY23, there has been a decline in export credit and flows for social infrastructure.
|The top five industries that drive credit growth for banks are:Large industry (about 20%)Housing (about 15%)NBFCs (about 10%)Trade (about 6%)Vehicle loans (about 4%).|
Topic 5: The new Alzheimer’s Drug
Context: The new Alzheimer’s drug Donanemab was found to slow down cognitive decline by 35% in people with early Alzheimer’s.
The new drug has been developed by the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. It was observed that the new Drug named ‘Donanemab’, does not only slow down cognitive decline by 355 but it also noted a 40% less decline in people’s ability to do day to day tasks.
What is Alzheimer?
- Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the day-to-day task.
- Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases.
How does the Drug work:
- Donanemab is a monoclonal antibody that targets the abnormal plaques of amyloid beta protein characteristically seen in brain images of those with Alzheimer’s.
- Its mechanism is similar to ‘Lecanemab’, the drug developed by the American and Japanese company earlier this year.
- Aducanumab, which was the first Alzheimer’s drug to receive approval in 2021 after decades also had similar mechanism of action.
- All three drugs are linked to similar side effects i.e., temporary swelling and tiny bleeds in the brain.
Significance of the findings:
- Alzheimer’s disease affects at least 55 million people worldwide. According to an estimate India’s burden of dementia will increase to 14 million by 2050.
- Dementia is one of the hardest conditions to treat. As a result, pharmaceutical companies stop their research when it’s unprofitable and they see their chances of success as low
- However, the consecutive success of three drugs in slowing cognitive decline in patients with early Alzheimer establishes that one of the main causes of the disease are the abnormal clumps of amyloid beta protein around brain cells.
- However still there is no consensus among the researchers about the actual cause of Dementia.
- Another group believes that Alzheimer’s could be an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system cannot distinguish between brain cells and the fats that make up the envelope of bacteria.
- Still there are others who believe that Alzheimer’s is caused by excessive deposition of iron and depletion of an antioxidant called glutathione.
Dementia in India:
- The estimated dementia prevalence for adults ages 60+ in India is 7.4%.
- About 8.8 million Indians older than 60 years live with dementia.
- Dementia is more prevalent among females than males and in rural than urban areas.
- According to a report by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), India’s rating in Progress towards targets of the WHO Global action plan on dementia has dropped.
- That means there is lack of sufficient efforts on the part of government to deal with dementia in India.
Source: The Hindu
Topic 6: The Counter Child Sexual Exploitation Unit, Thiruvananthapuram
- The Counter Child Sexual Exploitation Unit, Thiruvananthapuram, has become the first in India to monitor child sexual abuse material on the internet. It is now a role model for other states.
- Often the perpetrators of child abuse material on the internet are ordinary individuals often known to the victim. The small team at CCSE has helped in the arrest of over 400 suspected paedophiles.
Topic 7: Russia becomes India’s biggest Crude oil Supplier by Volume
- Amidst the Ukraine crisis and the western sanctions imposed on Russia, the price of oil was volatile throughout the last financial year, ranging from $75 to as high as $130 per barrel.
- However according to the data from ministry of commerce and industry, Russia has emerged as the largest exporter of oil to India in the last financial year with 50.84 million tonnes of crude supplies.
- However due to the $60 per barrel price cap imposed by the US and its allies, Russia was pipped by Iran on the value of imports.
- In terms of value the top 5 oil suppliers to India for the last financial year were: Iraq > Russia > Saudi Arabia > United Arab Emirates > US
- Russia surged to the top of the table as a major oil supplier to India in just a year on the back of the discounted oil it was forced to offer.
- In FY22, Russian oil accounted for only 2% of India’s total oil imports.
- India imports around 85 percent of its total energy requirement.
- In last financial year India imported 235 million tonnes of oil out of which one-fourth was supplied by Russia.
- India’s total oil import rose by 11 percent.
- Increase in the Russian supplies came at the expense of a decline in Iraq’s share, which has been traditionally the largest supplier to India, followed by Saudi Arabia.