News 1: G4 countries highlight ‘urgent need’ for reform in UN Security Council

Background:

  • Reform of the United Nations has been a central theme of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s visit to the United Nations this week, and on Thursday, he met with his counterparts from Germany, Brazil and Japan under The Group of Four (G4) banner following the BRICS meeting. The group is primarily focused on UN Security Council (UNSC) reform, and permanent membership for G4 members.

 

G4 meet:

  • India is currently a non-permanent member of the Council.
  • In addition to reiterating their support for each other’s bids to become permanent members of the UNSC, the G4 also reiterated its support for African countries being represented in a permanent and non-permanent capacity.
  • The G4 felt that the UN decision making bodies needed to be urgently reformed as global issues were increasingly complex and interconnected, a joint press statement from the group said.

News 2: In Odisha’s Nayagarh, a data-driven solution to child marriage

Background:

  • With the aim of eradicating child marriage, Nayagarh, has adopted a unique initiative by scrupulously recording information on all adolescent girls in the district.
  • From birth registration date to Aadhaar number, from family details to skill training, information of 48,642 adolescent girls can be found in registers named Aliva.

The story so far: 

  • Child marriages in the district are still considered a part of their social life.
  • Observing that child marriages are solemnized in the age group of 14-19 and dropouts among girls’ students continued to be high, the district administration launched the Aliva programme in January this year.
  • Anganwadi workers had been asked to identify every adolescent girl in their jurisdiction and keep tabs on them. There are 1,584 registers available in 1,584 Anganwadi centres of the district.
  • Nayagarh district has decided to maintain the record for a period of 10 years — 2020 to 2030. As per Odisha’s child marriage prevention strategy, the State aims to eradicate child marriage by 2030.
  • The register has been useful for law enforcement agencies, as parents lie about the age of their girls. Though different districts have come up with other innovative ideas, the Aliva registers are by far the most comprehensive ones that keep tabs on girls’ lives. Ganjam district maintains a register of every marriage to prevent child marriages.

News 3: Quad signs agreement for disaster relief and assistance

Background:

  • Foreign Ministers of the Quad group of countries – India, the U.S., Australia, and Japan – met on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday to sign a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) partnership into effect.

Quad:

The Quad, officially the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, is a group of four countries: the United States, Australia, India, and Japan. It is considered an alliance of maritime democracies, and the forum is maintained by meetings, semi-regular summits, information exchanges and military drills of all the member countries.

Objective: Quad is to work for a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region

Genesis:

  • The Quad began as a loose partnership after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, when the four countries joined together to provide humanitarian and disaster assistance to the affected region.
  • It was formalized by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007, but then fell dormant for nearly a decade, particularly amid Australian concerns that its participation in the group would irritate China.
  • The dialogue was initiated in 2007 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the support of Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

Principles of QUAD:

  • The motive behind the Quad is to keep the strategic sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any military or political influence. It is basically seen as a strategic grouping to reduce Chinese domination.
  • The core objective of the Quad is to secure a rules-based global order, freedom of navigation and a liberal trading system. The coalition also aims to offer alternative debt financing for nations in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • The Quad leaders exchange views on contemporary global issues such as critical and emerging technologies, connectivity and infrastructure, cyber security, maritime security, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, climate change, pandemic and education.

Significance of Quad for India

  • It is believed that the forum strategically counters China’s economic and military rise. Interestingly, if Chinese hostilities rise on the borders, India can take the support of the other Quad nations to counter the communist nation. 
  • In addition, India can even take the help of its naval front and conduct strategic explorations in the Indo-Pacific region.

News 4: What banking system liquidity going into ‘deficit mode’ means

Background:

  • For the first time since May 2019, the banking system liquidity situation turned into a deficit mode of Rs 21,873.4 crore on September 20, 2022. By comparison, the liquidity surplus was to the tune of Rs 8 lakh crore in November 2021 as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was providing liquidity support to the economy, which was dealing with the after-effects of the Covid pandemic.
  • Multiple factors are at play here: an uptick in the bank credit, advance tax payments by corporates, and also incremental deposit growth not keeping pace with credit demand.

What is banking system liquidity?

  • Liquidity in the banking system refers to readily available cash that banks need to meet short-term business and financial needs. On a given day, if the banking system is a net borrower from the RBI under Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF), the system liquidity can be said to be in deficit and if the banking system is a net lender to the RBI, the system liquidity can be said to be in surplus. The LAF refers to the RBI’s operations through which it injects or absorbs liquidity into or from the banking system.

How can a tight liquidity condition impact consumers?

  • A tight liquidity condition could lead to a rise in the government securities yields and subsequently lead to a rise in interest rates for consumers too. The short-term rates would increase at a faster pace as the direct reflection of tighter liquidity and RBI’s rate hike would be on these papers.
  • A rise in the repo rate will lead to a higher cost of funds. Banks will increase their repo-linked lending rates and the marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR), to which all loans are linked to. This rise will result in higher interest rates for consumers.

News 5: BRICS Foreign Ministers on Ukraine

Background:

  • The BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa supported all efforts conducive to the “peaceful settlement” of the situation in Ukraine as they expressed concerns regarding increased and ongoing conflicts in the world and stressed their commitment to the peaceful resolution of differences, disputes through dialogue.

BRICS meet:

  • The BRICS Ministers committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States stressed their commitment to the peaceful resolution of differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation and supported all efforts conducive to the peaceful settlement of crises.
  • They reaffirmed their commitment to collective efforts for the peaceful settlement of disputes through political and diplomatic means and recognised the role of the UNSC as bearing the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. They stressed further the imperative of refraining from any coercive measures not based on international law and the UN Charter.
  • The Ministers exchanged views on major global and regional issues on the United Nations agenda in the political, security, economic, financial and sustainable development spheres, as well as on intra-BRICS activities.
  • The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening and reforming the multilateral system, especially of the UN and its principal organs, in order to make the institutions and instruments of global governance more inclusive, representative, participatory, reinvigorated and democratic and to facilitate greater and more meaningful participation of developing and least developed countries, especially in Africa, in global decision-making processes and structures and make it better attuned to contemporary realities.

BRICS:

  • Formed: 2006
  • Type: Intergovernmental organization
  • BRICS is the acronym coined to associate five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • Four out of five members are among the world’s ten largest countries by population, by area and GDP, except for South Africa which is twenty-third in both.

BRICS CRA:

  • The BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) is a framework for providing protection against global liquidity pressures.This includes currency issues where members’ national currencies are being adversely affected by global financial pressures.

New Development Bank:

  • Formation: July 2014 (Signed); 2015 (Came in force)
  • Headquarter: Shanghai, China
  • Type: International financial institution
  • The New Development Bank (NDB), formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, is a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).[According to the Agreement on the NDB, “the Bank shall support public or private projects through loans, guarantees, equity participation and other financial instruments.
  • Moreover, the NDB “shall cooperate with international organizations and other financial entities and provide technical assistance for projects to be supported by the Bank.”
  • The initial authorized capital of the bank is $100 billion divided into 1 million shares having a par value of $100,000 each. The initial subscribed capital of the NDB is $50 billion divided into paid-in shares ($10 billion).
  • The initial subscribed capital of the bank was equally distributed among the founding members. The Agreement on the NDB specifies that every member will have one vote no one would have any veto powers 

Objectives:

  • The bank aims to contribute to the development plans established nationally through projects that are socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. Taking this into account, the main objectives of the NDB can be summarized as follows
  • Promote infrastructure and sustainable development projects with a significant development impact in member countries.
  • Establish an extensive network of global partnerships with other multilateral development institutions and national development banks.
  • Build a balanced project portfolio giving a proper respect to their geographic location, financing requirements and other factors.

Other important news

Carbon dating:

  • Carbon dating is a widely used method applied to establish the age of organic material, things that were once living. Living things have carbon in them in various forms.
  • The dating method makes use of the fact that a particular isotope of carbon called C-14, with an atomic mass of 14, is radioactive, and decays at a rate that is well known.
  • The most abundant isotope of carbon in the atmosphere is carbon-12 or a carbon atom whose atomic mass is 12.
  • A very small amount of carbon-14 is also present. The ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the atmosphere is almost static and is known.
  • Plants get their carbon through the process of photosynthesis, while animals get it mainly through food.
  • Because plants and animals get their carbon from the atmosphere, they too acquire carbon-12 and carbon-14 isotopes in roughly the same proportion as is available in the atmosphere.
  • But when they die, the interactions with the atmosphere stops. There is no further intake of carbon (and no outgo either, because metabolism stops).
  • Now, carbon-12 is stable and does not decay, while carbon-14 is radioactive. Carbon-14 reduces to one-half of itself in about 5,730 years. This is what is known as its ‘half-life’.
  • So, after a plant or animal dies, the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the body, or its remains, begins to change.
  • This change can be measured and can be used to deduce the approximate time when the organism died.

Can carbon dating happen for non-living things?

  • Though extremely effective, carbon dating cannot be applied in all circumstances. Specifically, it cannot be used to determine the age of non-living things, like rocks, for example.
  • Also, the age of things that are more than 40,000-50,000 years cannot be arrived at through carbon dating. This is because after eight to ten cycles of half-lives have been crossed, the amount of carbon-14 becomes almost negligible and undetectable.

 

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  • Darknet

    Definition:

    Darknet, also known as dark web or darknet market, refers to the part of the internet that is not indexed or accessible through traditional search engines. It is a network of private and encrypted websites that cannot be accessed through regular web browsers and requires special software and configuration to access.

    The darknet is often associated with illegal activities such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services, although not all sites on the darknet are illegal.

    Examples:

    Examples of darknet markets include Silk Road, AlphaBay, and Dream Market, which were all shut down by law enforcement agencies in recent years.

    These marketplaces operate similarly to e-commerce websites, with vendors selling various illegal goods and services, such as drugs, counterfeit documents, and hacking tools, and buyers paying with cryptocurrency for their purchases.

    Pros :

    • Anonymity: Darknet allows users to communicate and transact with each other anonymously. Users can maintain their privacy and avoid being tracked by law enforcement agencies or other entities.
    • Access to Information: The darknet provides access to information and resources that may be otherwise unavailable or censored on the regular internet. This can include political or sensitive information that is not allowed to be disseminated through other channels.
    • Freedom of Speech: The darknet can be a platform for free speech, as users are able to express their opinions and ideas without fear of censorship or retribution.
    • Secure Communication: Darknet sites are encrypted, which means that communication between users is secure and cannot be intercepted by third parties.
    •  

    Cons:

    • Illegal Activities: Many darknet sites are associated with illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services. Such activities can attract criminals and expose users to serious legal risks.
    • Scams: The darknet is a hotbed for scams, with many fake vendors and websites that aim to steal users’ personal information and cryptocurrency. The lack of regulation and oversight on the darknet means that users must be cautious when conducting transactions.
    • Security Risks: The use of the darknet can expose users to malware and other security risks, as many sites are not properly secured or monitored. Users may also be vulnerable to hacking or phishing attacks.
    • Stigma: The association of the darknet with illegal activities has created a stigma that may deter some users from using it for legitimate purposes.