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Important Current Affairs for CLAT-15th July 2023

Export Preparedness Index (EPI) Report, 2022

The third edition of the Export Preparedness Index (EPI) for States/UTs of India for the year 2022 is set to be released by NITI Aayog on July 17, 2023. This index assesses the export performance of Indian states and UTs, considering the global trade context in FY22. The report emphasizes the importance of developing districts as export hubs and conducts a district-level analysis of merchandise exports in the country.

Understanding the Export Preparedness Index (EPI):

The EPI serves as a comprehensive tool to measure the export preparedness of Indian states and UTs. It recognizes that exports play a crucial role in stimulating economic growth and development. The index evaluates states and UTs based on various export-related parameters, aiming to identify their strengths and weaknesses. The methodology of the index is continually refined based on stakeholder feedback, making the rankings of this edition not directly comparable to previous editions. Nevertheless, the EPI aims to provide insights that drive policy changes to address specific challenges faced by states and UTs.

EPI assess the performance of the States and UTs across four pillars:

Pillar 1: Policy Pillar

The Policy Pillar assesses states and UTs based on their adoption of export-related policies at both the state and district levels. It also evaluates the institutional framework surrounding the export ecosystem. This pillar focuses on understanding the policy ecosystem and its impact on export performance.

Pillar 2: Business Ecosystem

The Business Ecosystem Pillar evaluates the prevailing business environment within a state/UT, considering factors such as business-supportive infrastructure and transport connectivity. This pillar aims to assess the overall business climate and its impact on export activities.

Pillar 3: Export Ecosystem

The Export Ecosystem Pillar focuses on the export-related infrastructure within a state/UT. It examines the trade support provided to exporters and the prevalence of Research and Development (R&D) to foster innovation. This pillar aims to gauge the state’s efforts in promoting exports through infrastructure development and innovation.

Pillar 4: Export Performance

The Export Performance Pillar measures the output-based indicators of a state’s export growth compared to the previous year. It analyzes the concentration and footprint of a state’s exports in global markets. This pillar provides a comprehensive picture of a state/UT’s export preparedness and encourages peer-learning among them to promote competitive federalism.

21% unorganised workers exit PM pension scheme

The Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan (PM-SYM) scheme, a pension scheme for unorganised workers in India, has witnessed a significant number of subscribers leaving the program in less than six months. This trend has raised concerns about the scheme’s viability and sustainability.

Decrease in Subscribers

The number of subscribers to the PM-SYM scheme has decreased to 4.43 million as of July 11, which is a decline of 1.19 million from the all-time high of 5.62 million recorded on January 31. The main reasons for this decline are attributed to high inflation and rising living costs, which have made it challenging for unorganised workers to continue contributing to the voluntary pension program.

Impact of Inflation and Living Costs

Experts suggest that the persistently high prices have significantly increased the cost of living, making it difficult for unorganised workers to sustain the burden of monthly contributions under the PM-SYM scheme. Labor economist KR Shyam Sundar highlighted that these exits may be permanent, with workers withdrawing both their contributions and the interest earned on them due to the ongoing financial strain caused by high prices.

Withdrawal Guidelines

According to the scheme guidelines, if a subscriber leaves the PM-SYM scheme in less than ten years, they are allowed to withdraw their share of contributions along with the savings bank interest rate. However, if a subscriber exits after ten years but before reaching the superannuation age of 60 years, the beneficiary’s share of contribution, along with accumulated interest as earned by the fund or at the savings bank interest rate (whichever is higher), will be credited to the beneficiary.

PM-SYM: A Voluntary Contributory Pension Scheme

The PM-SYM scheme is a voluntary contributory pension scheme introduced by the Indian government. Its primary objective is to provide social security to millions of unorganised workers. The scheme is designed for unorganised sector workers aged 18 to 40 years, earning less than Rs 15,000 per month. It aims to bring these workers under the social security net and ensure their financial stability during retiremen.

Authoor betel leaves from Tamil Nadu receives GI certificate

The Tamil Nadu State Agriculture Marketing Board and NABARD Madurai Agribusiness Incubation Forum have awarded a Geographical Indication (GI) certificate to the Authoor betel leaves from Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu. The certificate is granted in the name of Authoor Vattara Vetrilai Vivasayigal Sangam. This GI recognition opens up new avenues for marketing the Authoor betel leaves, enabling their reach in both domestic and international markets, tapping into their marketing potential.

The Unique Authoor Betel Leaf: A Spicy and Pungent Delight for Special Occasions

  • The Authoor betel leaf, predominantly utilized during special occasions such as temple festivals, housewarmings, and weddings, possesses a distinctively spicy and pungent flavor.

  • This exceptional leaf is exclusively found in the village of Authoor, situated in the Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu, owing to the utilization of Thamirabarani River water for irrigation purposes in the local fields.

  • Cultivated across an extensive area spanning approximately 500 acres of land, encompassing regions like Mukkani, Authoor, Korkai, Suganthalai, Vellakoil, and other Mukkani villages, the Authoor betel leaf showcases elongated stalks and is available in three distinct varieties. These three varieties include nattukodi, karpoori, and pachaikodi.

  • The significance of Authoor betel leaves in Tamil culture is highlighted by their mention in the 13th-Century book ‘The Travels of Marco Polo (The Venetian)’. Additionally, the rich historical value and importance of Authoor betel leaves are further evidenced by various ancient stone inscriptions.

Geographical Indication (GI) Tag

  • The Geographical Indication (GI) tag, recognized as the Geographical Indication Certification, is a form of intellectual property right awarded to a product to signify its origin from a specific geographic region.

  • This certification is granted to products that possess unique qualities or a reputation closely associated with that particular region.

  • To qualify as a GI, the product must feature a distinctive sign indicating its origin from a specific geographical area.

  • In India, the Geographical Indication Registry in Chennai is responsible for granting the GI tag. There are over 400 GI tag products from India. Tamil Nadu is one of the states with the most GI-tagged products to its credit.

What did PM Modi gift to French President Macron and other France leaders?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented French President Emmanuel Macron with a special gift during his two-day trip to France – a sandalwood sitar. This remarkable replica of a musical instrument showcases the traditional art of sandalwood carving that has been a cherished practice in Southern India for countless generations. The decorative sitar features engravings of Goddess Saraswati, who holds the musical instrument known as the sitar (veena) and symbolizes knowledge, music, art, speech, wisdom, and learning. Additionally, the sitar bears an image of Lord Ganesha, the deity known for removing obstacles.

Here is the list of gifts presented by PM Modi to the hosts in France

1. Sandalwood Sitar for French President Emmanuel Macron

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France, he presented French President Emmanuel Macron with a one-of-a-kind gift: a sandalwood sitar replica. This exquisite musical instrument is meticulously crafted from pure sandalwood, showcasing the ancient art of sandalwood carving prevalent in Southern India for centuries.

The sitar replica is adorned with intricate carvings of Goddess Saraswati, symbolizing knowledge and music, and Lord Ganesha, representing wisdom and the remover of obstacles. Additionally, the piece is beautifully illustrated with peacocks, India’s national bird, and embellished with a plethora of motifs from Indian culture.

The gift not only highlights India’s rich artistic heritage but also serves as a symbol of cultural exchange and friendship between India and France.

2. Pochampally Ikat in Sandalwood Box for Brigitte Macron, President’s Spouse

PM Modi gifted a Pochampally silk ikat fabric, renowned for its vibrant colours and intricate designs. Originating from the town of Pochampally in Telangana, India, this fabric represents India’s rich textile heritage. It was elegantly presented in a decorative sandalwood box, showcasing the craftsmanship and aromatic qualities of sandalwood.

3. Marble inlay work table for Élisabeth Borne, Prime Minister of France

A stunning marble table showcasing the art of ‘Marble Inlay Work.’ This intricate craftsmanship involves cutting and engraving semi-precious stones on marble, sourced from Makrana, Rajasthan, known for its high-quality marble. The table features small pieces of semi-precious stones carefully placed into grooves, resulting in a beautiful and colourful masterpiece.

4. Hand-knitted Silk Kashmiri carpet for Yaël Braun-Pivet, President of French National Assembly

PM Modi presented a soft hand-knitted silk carpet from Kashmir. Known worldwide for its intricate knotted details and captivating colours, the carpet possesses a unique characteristic of displaying different shades when viewed from various angles. Often the colours tend to have a day-and-night variation in shades that seem to impart an illusion of viewing two carpets instead of the actual one carpet.

5. Sandalwood Hand-carved Elephant Ambavari for Gerard Larcher, President of French Senate

PM Modi gifted a decorative elephant figurine meticulously carved from pure sandalwood. These figurines symbolise wisdom, strength, and good fortune, holding a special place in Indian culture. They serve as a reminder of the harmonious connection between nature, culture, and art.

Australia picks first female central bank head to shepherd through reform

Australia has appointed the first female head of its central bank, passing over the current governor to elevate his deputy to the high-profile job amid a public backlash over steeply rising interest rates. Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced Michele Bullock would head the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) for the next seven years, having chosen not to reappoint Governor Philip Lowe for a second term. Bullock, 60, joined the RBA in 1985 with a masters from the London School of Economics and is widely respected by analysts.

Why Philip Lowe not reappointed?

Lowe will leave on Sept. 17, marking the end of his 43-year career at the bank. The decision comes as Lowe is due to accompany Chalmers to a Group of 20 meeting in India next week. The government has been under pressure to dump Lowe for encouraging people to borrow during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 by saying interest rates were unlikely to rise until 2024, only to start hiking two years early in mid-2022. The central bank has since lifted rates 12 times to a decade-high of 4.1%, adding hundreds of dollars to monthly mortgage repayments at a time when a cost of living crisis is already stretching household budgets.

About the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)

The RBA is currently undertaking the biggest reorganisation in decades after an independent review into its operations recommended sweeping changes to the way policy was formulated and communicated. The Reserve Bank of Australia is Australia’s central bank and banknote issuing authority. It has had this role since 14 January 1960, when the Reserve Bank Act 1959 removed the central banking functions from the Commonwealth Bank.

Chandrayaan-3: India’s Mission to Soft-Land on the Moon’s South Pole

Chandrayaan-3 is India’s third lunar mission, following the Chandrayaan-2 mission, with the goal of achieving a soft landing on the lunar surface and deploying a rover.

Chandrayaan-3 aims to showcase India’s capabilities in landing and exploring the Moon’s South Pole, a region known for the presence of water molecules.

Launch and Landing:

Chandrayaan-3: India’s Mission to Soft-Land on the Moon’s South Pole

  • Chandrayaan-3 was successfully launched on July 14, 2023, from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, using the Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM3).

  • The spacecraft consists of a lander, a rover, and a propulsion module, collectively weighing 3,900 kg.

  • The GSLV Mark 3 heavy-lift launch vehicle, also known as the Bahubali rocket, supports the moon lander Vikram.

  • The craft is scheduled to touch down on the Moon’s South Pole on August 23, following a journey lasting over 40 days.

Chandrayaan-3: India’s Mission to Soft-Land on the Moon’s South Pole

Objective:

The Chandrayaan-3 mission has three main objectives:

Chandrayaan-3: India’s Mission to Soft-Land on the Moon’s South Pole

  1. Safe and Soft Landing: The primary objective of Chandrayaan-3 is to achieve a safe and soft landing of the lander on the surface of the Moon. Learning from the previous mission’s setback, this mission aims to successfully land the lander module on the lunar surface without any issues.

  2. Demonstration of Rover’s Capabilities: Chandrayaan-3 aims to demonstrate the capabilities of the rover by showcasing its roaming and exploration abilities on the lunar surface. The rover will be deployed after the successful landing of the lander and will perform various scientific experiments and observations.

  3. In-Site Scientific Observations: The mission seeks to conduct in-site scientific observations and experiments to better understand the composition of the Moon. This includes analyzing the chemical and natural elements, soil, water, and other resources available on the lunar surface. These observations will contribute to expanding our knowledge of the Moon’s composition and provide insights into the Moon’s history and evolution.

Design:

Chandrayaan-3 consists of three main components:

Chandrayaan-3: India’s Mission to Soft-Land on the Moon’s South Pole

  1. Propulsion Module: The propulsion module is responsible for carrying the lander and rover configuration to the lunar orbit of 100 kilometers. It is a box-like structure with a large solar panel and an intermodular adapter cone that acts as a mounting structure for the lander. Additionally, it carries the SHAPE payload, which studies spectral and polarimetric measurements of Earth from the lunar orbit.

  2. Lander: The lander module is designed for a soft landing on the lunar surface. It has a box-shaped structure with four landing legs and four landing thrusters. The lander carries the rover and various scientific instruments for in-site analysis. It has undergone improvements in terms of structural rigidity, impact legs strength, and instrumentation redundancy compared to its predecessor.

The lander carries three payloads:

Chandrayaan-3: India’s Mission to Soft-Land on the Moon’s South Pole

  • Chandra’s Surface Thermophysical Experiment (ChaSTE): Measures thermal conductivity and temperature of the lunar surface.

  • Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA): Measures seismic activity around the landing site.

  • Langmuir Probe (LP): Estimates plasma density and its variations.

  1. Rover: The Chandrayaan-3 rover is a six-wheeled vehicle weighing 26 kilograms. It is equipped with scientific instruments, including cameras, spectrometers, and a drill. The rover has a range of 500 meters and is designed to communicate with the lander and the ground control team in India. Its expected lifespan is one lunar day, equivalent to 14 Earth days.

The rover aims to make significant scientific discoveries, including studying the lunar surface composition, detecting the presence of water ice in the lunar soil, investigating lunar impacts’ history, and studying the Moon’s atmosphere evolution.

Modifications and Precautions:

  • Chandrayaan-3 has undergone modifications by ISRO to enhance reliability compared to its predecessor, Chandrayaan-2.

  • The lander Vikram has been upgraded and carries additional fuel to ensure a successful landing and stay on the intended path to the lunar surface.

  • The craft has undergone rigorous testing and incorporates numerous safety measures to increase the mission’s chances of success.

Mission Components:

  • The 3,900-kilogram Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft consists of three major modules: the Propulsion module, Lander module, and Rover.

  • The lander, named Vikram, and the rover, named Pragyaan, are similar to their counterparts in Chandrayaan-2 but have undergone upgrades for improved reliability.

  • The mission’s budget is Rs. 615 crore.


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