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Important Current Affairs for CLAT-3rd August 2023

Education Ministry Selects Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to modernise edtech platform DIKSHA

The ministry of education has selected Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to modernise the national education technology platform Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA), the company. The migration will help make DIKSHA more accessible and lower its IT costs. Under the seven-year collaboration pact, OCI will help the ministry use DIKSHA to provide educational resources to millions of additional students, teachers and collaborators across the country.

All you know about the DIKSHA platform

  • The platform supports 1.48 million schools across 35 states and Union Territories and is available in 36 Indian languages.

  • DIKSHA was built for school education and foundational learning programmes and represents one of India’s largest and most successful Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) initiatives.

  • Using the open-source platform Sunbird – developed by the EkStep Foundation – DIKSHA helps teachers support inclusive learning for underserved communities and disabled students across the country.

  • More than 200 million students and seven million teachers from government and private schools access content from more than 11,000 contributors.

  • Users of the platform stream 1.2 petabytes of text and video content per day from sources such as the National Council of Educational Research & Training (NCERT), Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERTs).

  • Since it recently shifted to OCI, DIKSHA has gained more scalability, security, cost-effectiveness, and the ability to adjust to demand-based capacity, enabling it to deliver more content and serve more students and teachers as the platform expands, the company said in a release.

GST Council sticks to its plan to collect 28% tax on online gaming

The 51st meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has decided to impose a 28% tax on the full face value of bets placed on online gaming, which will be implemented from 1st October.

GST Council’s Decision and Implementation

  • The Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, announced that the 28% GST on online gaming will take effect from 1st October.

  • The decision aims to provide clarity on the taxation of supplies in casinos, horse racing, and online gaming.

  • The council recommended amendments in the CGST Act 2017 and IGST Act 2017 to facilitate this implementation.

  • Additionally, a specific provision in the IGST Act, 2017 will be inserted to address the liability to pay GST on the supply of online money gaming from suppliers located outside India to individuals within India.

Valuation of Online Gaming and Casinos

  • The GST Council recommended that the valuation of supply for online gaming and actionable claims in casinos should be based on the amount paid or payable to the supplier by the player, excluding the amount entered into games/bets from previous winnings.

  • This decision is aimed at providing clarity on how to determine the taxable value and streamline the taxation process for these sectors.

State Minister Opposition and Varied Opinions

While some states, including Delhi, opposed the levy of the 28% tax on online gaming, others like Goa and Sikkim expressed their preference for taxing the Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) rather than the face value of bets. On the other hand, states like Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh supported the decision taken at the last GST Council meeting for the implementation of the new levy.

About the GST Council

  • The GST Council, a constitutional body with the responsibility of proposing measures for the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India, conducted its first session in September 2016. Since its inception, it has been meeting regularly to deliberate and decide on various GST-related issues.

  • According to Article 279A (1) of the amended Constitution, the President must constitute the GST Council within 60 days of the commencement of Article 279A. The Council has been instrumental in making significant decisions regarding the GST, encompassing tax rates, exemptions, thresholds, and administrative procedures.

Centre forms Expert Panel to revise anti-discrimination Guidelines on Campuses

The Union Education Ministry on 2nd August constituted an Expert Panel to revise anti-discrimination guidelines with respect to the Scheduled caste, ST, OBC, person with disabilities and other minorities in higher educational institution.

Objective of the Expert Panel

The primary objective of the expert panel is to undertake a comprehensive review of existing anti-discriminatory policies and practices on campuses, identifying gaps and shortcomings and propose improvements.

Working of the Expert Panel

Expert Panel constituted by the Union Education Ministry performs the following function:

  • The panel will assess the efficiency of current anti-discrimination guidelines with respect to the SC, ST, OBS and other minorities in higher education institutions and examine their implementation.

  • Based on the findings, the panel will propose necessary revisions and updates to the existing guidelines.

  • The panel will emphasize the importance of embracing diversity and fostering a culture of inclusivity that respects individual differences.

  • The panel will work to encourage individual to report incidents of discrimination.

What is the need for revising anti-discrimination guidelines?

Many institutions have witnessed the incidents of discrimination, harassment and bias. These acts not only undermine the educational experience but also have profound and lasting effects on the mental and emotional well- being of those targeted.

By revising anti-discrimination guidelines, the government seeks to address these challenges and ensure that colleges and universities uphold principles of fairness, respect and understanding.

Significance

The government’s decision to form an expert panel will significantly reflects a progressive and committed approach towards promoting equality and inclusivity in education. This will bring a great change in the education system.

One more Cheetah dies at Kuno National Park, taking toll to nine

A female cheetah named Dhatri (Tbilisi) has recently passed away at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. This brings the total number of deaths to nine, including six adult cheetahs relocated from Namibia and South Africa, along with three cubs born in India, all since March this year. Currently, a post-mortem examination is underway to determine the cause of death.

In response to this unfortunate event, park authorities took immediate action by returning all the cheetahs (with the exception of the two females) to their enclosures for thorough examination and medical treatment. A specialist veterinarian from South Africa was summoned to address the wounds and administer Fluralaner, a systemic insecticide and acaricide used orally or topically to manage the health of the remaining cheetahs.

Concerns Raised by Experts over Cheetah Deaths at Kuno National Park

In the previous month, two cheetahs fell victim to infections resulting from wounds caused by radio collars fastened around their necks. The environment ministry has attributed all cheetah deaths to natural causes.

However, experts involved in the cheetah reintroduction project have raised apprehensions about external factors that could have played a role in the fatalities. In particular, they have pointed out heavy rainfall, extreme heat, and humidity as potential contributing factors, with the collars around the cheetahs’ necks possibly worsening the situation.

Tragic Chain of Cheetah Deaths Raises Concerns about Captivity and Collar Use

  • On March 27, a Namibian cheetah named Sasha passed away due to kidney complications, which were suspected to have been acquired during captivity in Namibia. Sasha had been suffering from health issues ever since arriving at Kuno.

  • Subsequently, another cheetah named Uday fell ill and died on April 13.

  • On May 9, Daksha, a female cheetah brought from South Africa, died after a “violent interaction” with two male cheetahs during mating. In the same month, three out of four cubs born to a female Namibian cheetah also tragically lost their lives.

  • This unfortunate chain of events continued with the deaths of two male cheetahs, Tajas and Suraj, on July 11 and July 14, respectively. The cause of death was attributed to multiple organ failure, and experts speculated that the presence of radio collars might have caused infections leading to their demise.

Project Cheetah: Reintroducing the Majestic Species to Kuno National Park

Under the ambitious Project Cheetah, Kuno National Park is dedicated to reintroducing the cheetah species to the region. To achieve this goal, a total of 20 cheetahs were brought in from Namibia and South Africa in two distinct batches. The first batch arrived in September of the previous year, followed by the second batch in February of the current year.

Currently, there are 14 cheetahs residing in Kuno National Park, consisting of seven males, six females, and a female cub. These magnificent creatures are under close observation by a team of Kuno wildlife veterinarians and an expert from Namibia to ensure their well-being.

Govt debt stands at ₹155.6 Lakh Crore in March 2023

In March 2023, the Indian government’s debt stood at ₹155.6 lakh crore, accounting for 57.1% of the country’s GDP. This represents a reduction from 61.5% of GDP in 2020-21, indicating efforts to manage debt levels. The government has also implemented various schemes to promote capital expenditure, economic growth, and welfare at both macro and micro levels. Additionally, a roadmap has been set in place to achieve the ambitious goal of making India a $5 trillion economy, involving digital economy promotion, technology-enabled development, energy transition, and more.

I. Government Debt and Fiscal Management:

  • As of March 31, 2023, the central government’s debt amounted to ₹155.6 lakh crore, which represents 57.1% of the GDP.

  • This debt-to-GDP ratio has reduced from 61.5% in 2020-21, indicating efforts to manage fiscal deficits and control debt accumulation.

  • The debt of state governments is estimated to be around 28% of GDP at the end of the fiscal year 2022-23.

II. Capital Expenditure and Investment:

  • Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) in the Indian economy has increased from ₹45.41 lakh crore in 2018-19 to ₹54.35 lakh crore in 2022-23 (Provisional Estimates).

  • The government has implemented the ‘Scheme for Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure’ and ‘Scheme for Special Assistance to States for Capital Investment’ to support capital projects in sectors like health, education, irrigation, and power.

  • In the fiscal year 2023-24, ₹84,883.90 crore has been sanctioned under the special assistance schemes, with ₹29,517.66 crore disbursed to various states for capital expenditure and investment.

III. Roadmap for India’s $5 Trillion Economy:

  • The government’s roadmap for achieving a $5 trillion economy focuses on growth at the macro level and inclusive welfare at the micro level.

  • Initiatives include promoting the digital economy, fintech, technology-enabled development, energy transition, climate action, and encouraging a virtuous cycle of investment and growth.

  • Major reforms have been implemented since 2014, including GST, IBC, corporate tax rate reduction, Make in India, Start-up India, and Production Linked Incentive Schemes.

IV. Capital Expenditure and Economic Growth:

  • The central government’s capital expenditure has increased from 2.15% of GDP in 2020-21 to 2.7% of GDP in 2022-23, reflecting a commitment to infrastructure development and investment.

  • The Union Budget 2023-24 has further increased the capital investment outlay by 33% to ₹10 lakh crore (3.3% of GDP) for the third consecutive year.

  • This substantial push in capital investment is aimed at fostering economic growth and attracting private investment.

Remembrance of Hiroshima: Honoring the Past and Shaping the Future

Seventy-eight years ago, on August 6, 1945, the world witnessed a horrific event that forever changed the course of human history. The city of Hiroshima in Japan became the target of the first-ever wartime use of an atomic bomb. This catastrophic event led to unimaginable devastation, immense loss of life, and an enduring impact on the global consciousness. Remembering Hiroshima goes beyond merely recounting historical facts; it serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring consequences of war and humanity’s quest for peace.

Historical Context

Remembrance of Hiroshima: Honoring the Past and Shaping the Future

The events leading up to the bombing of Hiroshima were shaped by World War II, a conflict that engulfed the world in unprecedented violence and destruction. The Japanese government had been a formidable adversary to the Allied forces, and the United States, desperate to bring the war to a swift conclusion, made the difficult decision to use the newly developed atomic bomb as a means to force Japan’s surrender.

The Devastation

On that fateful day, the Enola Gay, a B-29 bomber, dropped the atomic bomb, codenamed “Little Boy,” over Hiroshima. The explosion, with a force equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT, instantly killed an estimated 70,000 people. In the following months, the death toll rose due to the effects of radiation exposure, claiming the lives of tens of thousands more. The overwhelming majority of the casualties were civilians, including women, children, and the elderly. Entire families were wiped out in an instant, leaving behind a landscape of ruins and grief-stricken survivors.

The Aftermath

The aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing left the city in ruins, with infrastructure destroyed, hospitals overwhelmed, and resources depleted. Survivors faced unimaginable suffering from acute injuries, burns, and radiation sickness, while grappling with long-term health consequences that would persist for generations. Beyond the physical scars, the emotional trauma of losing loved ones and witnessing such destruction would haunt survivors for the rest of their lives.

A Call for Peace

As the world witnessed the unspeakable horrors of Hiroshima, a global call for peace emerged. The devastating power of the atomic bomb galvanized international efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and avoid the escalation of conflicts into catastrophic proportions. The memory of Hiroshima serves as a stark reminder of the need for diplomacy, cooperation, and non-violent resolution of conflicts in a world threatened by the specter of nuclear war.

A Path Forward

In remembering Hiroshima, we must confront the dark chapters of history while looking forward to building a more peaceful world. Our collective responsibility lies in promoting dialogue, understanding, and empathy among nations and peoples. The pursuit of peace should guide our actions, policies, and aspirations, striving for a future where the devastation of Hiroshima is never repeated.

Coup in Niger Threatens Political Stability and Regional Security

On July 26, an attempted coup in Niger shook the country’s political stability and raised concerns over its efforts to combat the growing Islamist insurgency in the Sahel region. President Mohamed Bazoum, who came to power in 2021 through the country’s first peaceful democratic transition, was ousted by mutinous soldiers. This article delves into the reasons behind the coup, its implications for the region, and the international response.

Reasons for the Coup

  1. Deteriorating Security and Governance: The coup plotters, known as the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country, cited the deteriorating security situation and perceived mismanagement of social and economic affairs as their primary motivations.

  2. Pressure on President Bazoum: Bazoum’s presidency faced challenges as the insurgency continued to spread in the southern regions. Some sections of the military grew frustrated with his perceived over-reliance on France, which had troops stationed in Niger to counter the Islamist threat.

  3. Restricting Military’s Influence: President Bazoum’s efforts to curtail the military’s influence added to tensions. He forced some generals into retirement, sent others abroad, and cut back on the privileges given to the Presidential Guard, leading to resentment within the armed forces.

President Bazoum’s Stand

President Bazoum strongly rejected the coup attempt and affirmed that he had not resigned. He reassured the public of his determination to safeguard hard-won achievements and highlighted his widespread support among the population and political parties.

Response from Nigerien Government and People

The Nigerien government condemned the coup attempt, urging all democratic patriots to reject such actions. The demand for the unconditional release of President Bazoum was made, and ongoing talks were initiated to resolve the crisis through dialogue.

Implications for the Region

  1. Threat to Sahel Stability: The attempted coup poses a significant challenge to regional stability, particularly for Western countries’ efforts to counter the fast-spreading Islamist insurgency in the Sahel. The region has witnessed multiple coups in recent years, further complicating security cooperation and counter-terrorism efforts.

  2. Concerns for Niger’s Role: Niger, as the largest country in West Africa, was considered a crucial partner in countering extremism in the Sahel. The coup has raised concerns over potential disruptions in security cooperation and impacts on regional stability.

International Response

  1. Russia’s Involvement: The U.S. White House clarified that there were no credible indications of Russia or Wagner’s involvement, a notorious Russian mercenary group, in the coup attempt.

  2. Monitoring by the International Community: The international community closely monitors the situation in Niger and its potential implications on regional security and stability, emphasizing the importance of a peaceful resolution.

About Niger, key points:

Niger is a landlocked country located in West Africa. Here are some key points about Niger:

  1. Independence: Niger gained independence from France on August 3, 1960, becoming one of the earliest African nations to achieve sovereignty from colonial rule.

  2. Geography: The country’s landscape is predominantly covered by the Sahara Desert, and it comprises a mix of desert, semi-arid regions, and savannahs. The Niger River, one of the country’s major water sources, flows through its southwestern regions.

  3. Capital: The capital of Niger is Niamey, which serves as the political, economic, and cultural center of the country.

  4. Population: As of the latest available data, Niger has a population of approximately 25 million people, making it one of the most populous countries in West Africa.

  5. Economy: Niger’s economy is primarily based on agriculture and livestock. The country’s main crops include millet, sorghum, and cassava. Uranium mining is another significant sector in Niger’s economy.

  6. Challenges: Niger faces various challenges, including food insecurity, poverty, and a high birth rate. The arid climate and occasional droughts contribute to the country’s vulnerability to food crises.

  7. Ethnic Diversity: Niger is home to a diverse range of ethnic groups, with the Hausa, Zarma-Songhai, and Tuareg being among the largest.

  8. Religion: Islam is the dominant religion in Niger, with the vast majority of the population practicing Sunni Islam.

  9. Languages: French is the official language of Niger, inherited from its colonial past. However, there are multiple indigenous languages spoken across the country.

  10. Regional Security: Niger is a key player in regional security efforts to combat Islamist insurgency in the Sahel region. It faces threats from groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State operating in the area.

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