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Important Current Affairs for CLAT-31st July 2023

Why UNESCO wants a global smartphone ban in schools

UNESCO urged to ban the worldwide use of smartphones in schools in order to curtail classroom disruption and encourage better learning outcomes.

What’s in News

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has urged to prohibit the use of smartphones in schools, asserting the need for a more “human-centred vision” of education.

Reason

The main reason behind the UNESCO’s decision to worldwide prohibition on smartphones in schools is to reduce the dependence on digital technology and encourage better learning outcomes.

The excessive use of digital technology or smartphones in educational sector is likely to reduce the educational performance which adversely impacting the children emotional ability.

Impacts

Excessive use of technology, including smartphones, tablets or laptops by students both in classrooms and at home, could let to distraction, disruption and potentially negative impact on learning.

According to the recent study of UNESCO, there is a negative link between excessive digital technology use and student performance.

Excessive use from Covid-19 Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic forced a sudden shift to online. UNESCO estimated that more than a billion students globally had to adapt to online learning. But those who have no internet connection, found themselves at a disadvantage.

The report recognized that while online learning was crucial during the pandemic lockdowns, its benefits are not equally accessible to all.

Recommendations of UNESCO

UNESCO stated that the governments are doing very little to regulate an important aspect of society. UNESCO recommended that the government should focus on the points to improve the education around the world with least use of digital technology. The Government should keep the learners first than anything else.

The UNESCO’s report stressed that not all advances in technology equate to progress, warning against blindly adopting digital means in education. It urged the policymakers to maintain a balance and not overlook the social dimension of education, which thrives to face-to-face teaching and interaction.

PM Modi launches Urea Gold for farmers

PM Modi during his visit in Rajasthan launched a new type of Urea called “Urea Gold” which is coated with sulphur that can help improve the soil quality and reduce the expenses of the farmers.

What’s in News?

PM Modi during his visit in Sikar , Rajasthan states that the government will not allow the farmers to suffer due to the prices of Urea, farmers in India will get a sack of urea of Rs.226, it is available for about Rs.800 in Pakistan, for Rs.720 in Bangladesh and Rs.2100 in China.

Urea Gold

Urea Gold is a new variety of Urea that is coated with sulphur, which is expected to address sulphur deficiencies in the soil. Urea Gold which is considered as “innovative fertilizer” is more economical and efficient than neem-coated urea. Urea Gold will ensure improved nitrogen use efficiency, reduced consumption and enhanced crop quality.

Benefits of Urea Gold

  • The use of Urea Gold in place of other fertilizers will address sulphur deficiencies in the soil.

  • Urea Gold fertilizers is more economical and efficient than neem-coated urea.

  • It improves efficiency of nitrogen use in plants.

  • It reduces the consumption of fertilizers and enhances crop quality.

  • It will save input costs for the farmers and also raise income for the farmers with enhanced production and productivity.

How Urea Gold is better than other fertilizers?

  • Sulphur coated urea facilitates a gradual release of nitrogen, thereby enhancing its availability and uptake by crops.

  • The inclusion of humid acid in Urea Gold further increases its lifespan as a fertilizer.

  • This product not only substitutes traditional urea consumption but also reduces overall fertilizer usage.

  • According to the report, 15kg of Urea Gold provides comparable benefits to 20kg of conventional urea, making it a more efficient and effective choice for farmers.

Other Pro-Farmer projects launched in Rajasthan

PM Modi also released the 14th instalment of PM-KISAN Scheme and inaugurated a slew of projects in the poll-bound state. He also launched the onboarded 1,500 FPOs on Open Network for Digital Communication (ONDC). PM Modi also dedicated 1.25 lakh PM Kisan Samriddhi Kendras (PMKSKs). PMKSKs are being developed to provide a one-stop solution for all farmers’ needs from information on agri-inputs to testing facilities for soil, seeds and fertilizers and to information regarding various government schemes.

International Day of Friendship 2023: Date, Significance and History

Every year on July 30th, people around the world celebrate International Friendship Day. Since 2011, this special day has been dedicated to expressing gratitude to our friends for their companionship and support. It’s a time to cherish the meaningful friendships we have and recognize how our friends stand by us through life’s journey.

International Friendship Day serves as a reminder of the importance of our best friends and the profound impact they have on our lives. With the right friends by our side, we can navigate any challenges that come our way and find strength in their unwavering support. This day is a beautiful celebration of the bonds we share with those who hold our hands through thick and thin.

Significance and celebrations of International Day of Friendship 2023

The International Day of Friendship is a meaningful occasion that emphasizes the importance of fostering unity, understanding, and peace among diverse communities and cultures. In the year 2023, this special day holds even greater significance as people from all walks of life come together to strengthen bonds and promote solidarity in a world facing various challenges.

The celebrations on the International Day of Friendship 2023 are marked by various events, seminars, and activities organized by government organizations, private entities, and institutes. These initiatives aim to initiate dialogue among different communities, encouraging them to embrace their unique identities while appreciating the common threads that unite humanity.

Through these celebrations, the day emphasizes the power of friendship in creating a harmonious world. It highlights the value of meaningful connections and the role of friendship in inspiring peace efforts and building bridges between individuals, countries, and cultures.

Furthermore, the International Day of Friendship 2023 places particular emphasis on involving young people as future leaders. Community activities and engagements with diverse cultures are encouraged to foster international understanding and promote respect for diversity among the youth.

The 2023 celebrations also align with the concept of the Culture of Peace, a set of values, attitudes, and behaviors that reject violence and aim to prevent conflicts by addressing their root causes. By adopting and promoting this culture, efforts are made to resolve issues through dialogue, mutual understanding, and reconciliation.

Overall, the International Day of Friendship 2023 provides an opportunity for people worldwide to reflect on the significance of friendship, appreciate the support of their best friends, and recognize how strong friendships contribute to overcoming challenges and enriching our lives. It serves as a powerful reminder that, with the right friends holding our hands, we can journey through life with resilience, empathy, and compassion for one another.

History of International Day of Friendship 2023

  • The International Day of Friendship was established by the UN General Assembly in 2011, with the core belief that fostering friendship among peoples, countries, cultures, and individuals can serve as a catalyst for peace efforts and foster unity between communities.

  • A key aspect of the resolution is the involvement of young people, recognized as future leaders, in community activities that embrace diverse cultures and promote international understanding and respect for differences.

  • To commemorate the International Day of Friendship, the UN encourages governments, international organizations, and civil society groups to organize events, activities, and initiatives that contribute to promoting dialogue among civilizations, solidarity, mutual understanding, and reconciliation on a global scale.

  • This initiative is built upon UNESCO’s proposal for a Culture of Peace, defined by a set of values, attitudes, and behaviors that reject violence and actively work to prevent conflicts by addressing their root causes. The concept was subsequently adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1997.

  • Overall, the International Day of Friendship stands as a powerful reminder of the potential of friendship in transcending barriers and promoting a harmonious world, while also emphasizing the active involvement of young generations in shaping a more inclusive and peaceful future.

Markarian 421 firing high-energy particle jet towards Earth

Markarian 421 which is a supermassive black hole located about 400 million light-years away from Earth, firing high-energy particle jet towards Earth.

What’s in News?

NASA’s IXPE (X-ray Polarimetry Explorer) has unveiled several mysteries of the Supermassive Black Hole, Markarian 421 which is firing high-energy particle jet towards Earth.

Markarian 421

  • Markarian 421 is a supermassive black hole which is firing high-energy particle jet aimed directly at Earth.

  • It is located in the constellation Ursa Major.

  • It is about 400 million light-years away from the Earth.

Supermassive Black Hole

Supermassive black hole is a very massive object, found at the centres of the galaxies where they can grow by swallowing gas, dust, stars and planets. They have such a strong gravitational pull that nothing, not even light, can escape from it. They can have millions or billions of times the mass of our sun.

The origin of supermassive black holes is not entirely understood, but they are thought to have formed and grown through a combination of processes, including accretion of gas and the merging of smaller black holes over billions of years.

Supermassive Black holes are associated with powerful phenomena, such as active galactic nuclei (AGNs) and quasars, where vast amount of energy are released as material falls into the black hole and emits intense radiation.

Characteristics of Supermassive Black Hole:

  • They have a mass greater than about 50,000 times the mass of our Sun.

  • These black holes are far too large to have formed from the gravitational collapse of a single star.

  • These are always found at the centre of the galaxies.

  • All galaxies have supermassive black hole at its centre.

Jet of high-energy particles

It is a stream of matter and radiation that is ejected from the vicinity of a black hole at very high speeds, close to the speed of light. The jet is formed by the interaction of the black hole’s strong magnetic field and the rotating disk of material that surrounds it. The disk is called an accretion field because it feeds the black hole with matter.

Reason of Markarian 421’s jet pointing towards Earth

Markarian 421‘s jet is pointing towards Earth because Earth is in its line of sight. This makes it a special type of supermassive black hole system called a blazar.

Blazar: Blazars are very bright and variable sources of gamma rays and X-rays because we see the jet’s radiation boosted by phenomenon called relativistic beaming.

PM Modi urges Sri Lanka President to implement 13th Amendment

During the Sri Lanka President’s visit to India, Indian PM expressed his hope to implement 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka Constitution which flows from the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord 1987.

Background

Sri Lanka was facing an increasingly violent strife from the early part of the 1980s. The conflict can be traced to its independence from Britain in 1948. At the time when the Sinhala majority government came into force, passed a legislation that was deemed discriminatory against the Tamil minority population. In the 1970s, two major Tamil parties united to form the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) that started agitation for separate state of Tamil within the system in the North and Eastern Sri Lanka that would grant greater autonomy to them. After the enactment of the sixth amendment of the Sri Lanka Constitution in August 1983 the TULF becomes ineffective and thus the ethnic divisions started flaring into a violent civil war.

13th Amendment to Sri Lanka Constitution

13th Amendment to Sri Lanka Constitution made after the signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord between Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J R Jayewardene in 1987 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The accord aiming at amending the constitution to transfer some powers such as agriculture, health etc. to the country’s nine provinces and find a constitutional solution to the civil war.

Other clauses of Indo-Sri Lanka Accord

  • Tamil and English being adopted as official languages along with Sinhala.

  • Lifting of emergency on the ‘Eastern and Northern Provinces’ by August 15, 1987.

  • Surrender of arms by military groups.

  • General amnesty to political and other provinces now held in custody under the emergency laws.

  • The Government of India will underwrite and guarantee the resolutions and cooperate in the implementation of these proposals.

  • Tamil groups in Sri Lanka have appealed to India multiple times to make sure the Accord is fully implemented.

Implementation of 13th Amendment

  • Provinces across Sri Lanka were given greater autonomy after the amendment.

  • The central government retains land and police powers, while the elected provincial councils can legislate on subjects like agriculture, housing, road transport, education, health etc.

  • The hardline nationalists raise alarms over the weakening of the Central Government’s authority.

  • The Sinhala nationalists oppose the 13th Amendment as they see it as imposed by India.

  • The regions for whom devolution was largely intended never really benefitted from it.

  • While the Sinhala provinces saw regular elections and the political parties here benefitted from the experience of grassroots politics, the North and Eastern regions stayed under the central government’s control for long.

Antarctica’s sea ice is at its lowest extent ever recorded

Antarctica’s sea ice has been recorded low level of about 14.2 million sq. km, significantly below the normal extent of 16.7 million sq. km for this time of year.

What’s in News?

The sea ice extent of Antarctica was about 14.2 million sq. km as of 25th July, the normal extent of sea extent for this year should be closer to 16.7 million sq. km.

Antarctica lost about 2.6 million sq. km of sea ice compared to the long-term average of the satellite era.

Alarming Trend

There has been significant drop in winter sea ice extent from 2015, compared to record highs observed in the years 2012 to 2014.

Causes of reduced sea extent

  • High temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: The northern hemisphere’s warning has repercussions for Antarctica’s climate, leading to the reduction in sea ice cover.

  • Warm air from the North: The transportation of warm air from the northern regions to Antarctica is contributing to the reduction inn sea ice cover.

  • Southern ocean and climate change: The southern ocean encircling Antarctica normally freezes to form sea ice during peak winter (September or early October) and melts during summer (December to February).

Implications and Climate Change

  • Environmental Impact: The record low sea level extent poses potential threat to the marine life accustomed to colder temperatures.

  • Reduced sea ice leads to warmer temperature which will cause potential disruption to ecosystems.

  • Reduced sea ice can accelerate the melting and thinning of glaciers.

  • The give rise to the existing sea level which has already increased by 21-24 centimeters since 1880, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

  • Continued loss of ice from Antarctica could exacerbate the sea level rise, impacting coastal areas and human settlements worldwide.

Cambodia’s Hun Sen to resign after four decades and appoint son as PM

Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen recently announced his decision to step down and appoint his eldest son, Hun Manet, as the new prime minister. Despite leaving the prime ministerial position, Hun Sen will continue to hold leadership roles as the head of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and as a member of the National Assembly.

Hun Manet, currently the deputy commander-in-chief of the armed forces, will assume the role of the new prime minister on August 22,2023.

Hun Sen’s Announcement at the CPP’s Electoral Victory

Hun Sen made his announcement following the resounding victory of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which secured 120 out of 125 parliamentary seats in the general election.

In his announcement, Hun Sen expressed his intention to step down to create an opportunity for a younger generation of leaders to take the command. Hun Sen had been serving as the prime minister of Cambodia since 1985.

Hun Sen’s Political Journey in Cambodia

Hun Sen received his education at a Buddhist monastery in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. During the late 1960s, he became a member of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, and in 1970, he joined the Khmer Rouge, a name given to members of the Communist Party of Kampuchea. He later took on the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs after installation of a new government by the Vietnamese in 1979.

Hun Sen’s Legacy in Cambodia

Hun Sen’s 38-year tenure in power is recognized for achieving peace and elevating Cambodia to a middle-income status, enhancing healthcare, education, and infrastructure. Throughout his rule, he has persistently strived to foster national reconciliation.

Furthermore, he has not faced any accusations of corruption within his ranks, despite claims made over the years by opposition politicians, rights groups, and environmental activists.


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