UPSC Essentials: Key terms of the past week

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Essential key terms from the last week’s news categorised as per the relevance in the UPSC-CSE syllabus.

Inter-State Council

Syllabus:

Prelims: Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

Mains: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Why in news?

—Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday (June 16), asking that at least three meetings of the Inter-State Council should be held every year to “strengthen the spirit of cooperative federalism”.

What is Inter-State Council?

—It is a mechanism that was constituted “to support Centre-State and Inter-State coordination and cooperation in India”. The Inter-State Council was established under Article 263 of the Constitution, which states that the President may constitute such a body if a need is felt for it. The Council is basically meant to serve as a forum for discussions among various governments.

—In 1988, the Sarkaria Commission suggested the Council should exist as a permanent body, and in 1990 it came into existence through a Presidential Order.

—The main functions of the Council are inquiring into and advising on disputes between states, investigating and discussing subjects in which two states or states and the Union have a common interest, and making recommendations for the better coordination of policy and action.

—The Prime Minister is the Chairman of the Council, whose members include the Chief Ministers of all states and UTs with legislative assemblies, and Administrators of other UTs. Six ministers of Cabinet rank in the Centre’s Council of Ministers, nominated by the Prime Minister, are also its members.

Point to ponder: What are the major concerns of states regarding Inter-State council?

I2U2

Syllabus:

Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains: GS II Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting the Indian interests

Why in news?

—US President Joe Biden will host a virtual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during his visit to West Asia from July 13 to 16.

What is I2U2?

—A senior US administration official told reporters in a background call Tuesday that the new grouping will be called “I2U2” — “I” for India and Israel and “U” for the US and UAE.

—In October 2021, a meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries took place when External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was visiting Israel. At that time, it was called the ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’. This time, the meeting will take place at the level of heads of government/state — an upgrade.

—The India-Israel-US-UAE grouping, which met for the first time under a new framework in October 2021, dealt with issues concerning maritime security, infrastructure, digital infrastructure and transport. At that time, Ahmed Albanna, Ambassador of UAE to India, had referred to the new grouping as the ‘West Asian Quad’.

—The Biden administration has launched or upgraded several multilateral initiatives since January 2021 including the Quad (India, US, Japan and Australia), AUKUS (Australia, UK and US) and a Quadrilateral dialogue with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

Point to ponder: What is the relevance of I2U2 for India?

Supermoon

Syllabus:

Prelims: Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.

Mains: GS I Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

Why in news?

—The Strawberry Supermoon was seen worldwide in different time zones from Sunday evening to Wednesday morning.

What is supermoon?

—According to Nasa, the phenomenon of a Supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest to Earth which makes the satellite appear brighter and bigger than usual. During every 27-day orbit around Earth, the Moon reaches both its perigee, about 226,000 miles from Earth, and its farthest point, or apogee, about 251,000 miles from Earth. The term “supermoon” was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979. ‘Supermoon’ isn’t an official astronomical term, but typically it’s used to describe a full Moon that comes within at least 90 percent of perigee.

—Historically, the last full moon of June is called the “Strawberry Moon” because its appearance coincides with the ripening of June bearing strawberries that are traditionally harvested by Native American tribes of northeastern US around mid-June. However, since in some places the enlarged moon appears red or pink in colour, its association with the strawberry became even more popular.

Point to ponder: How supermoon affects tides?

LaMDA

Syllabus:

Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains: GS III Science and Technology

Why in news?

Google engineer Blake Lemoine was placed on administrative leave after he claimed that LaMDA, a language model created by Google AI, had become sentient and begun reasoning like a human being.

—The news was first reported by the Washington Post and the story has sparked a lot of debate and discussion around AI ethics as well.

What is LaMDA?

—LaMDA or Language Models for Dialog Applications is a machine-learning language model created by Google as a chatbot that is supposed to mimic humans in conversation.

—Like BERT, GPT-3 and other language models, LaMDA is built on Transformer, a neural network architecture that Google invented and open-sourced in 2017.

—This architecture produces a model that can be trained to read many words while paying attention to how those words relate to one another and then predict what words it will think will come next. But what makes LaMDA different is that it was trained on dialogue, unlike most models.

—While conversations do tend to revolve around specific topics, they are often open-ended, meaning that they can start at one place and end up somewhere else, traversing different topics and subjects.

—For example, when in conversation with a friend, a discussion could begin around a movie show before transitioning into a discussion about the region it was filmed in.

—This fluid quality of conversations is what eventually gives away conventional chatbots. They are unable to follow such shifting dialogue because they are designed to follow narrow, pre-defined conversation parts. But LaMDA is designed to be able to engage in free-flowing conversations about a virtually endless number of topics.

Point to ponder: Why did Blake Lemoine think LaMDA has become sentient?

Green Hydrogen

Syllabus:

Prelims: General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialisation

Mains: GS III Environment

Why in news?

— The Adani group and France’s TotalEnergies have entered into a new partnership to jointly create the world’s largest green hydrogen ecosystem.

What is Green Hydrogen?

— Green hydrogen is hydrogen gas produced through electrolysis of water — an energy intensive process for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen — using renewable power to achieve this.

—Green hydrogen could be a critical enabler of the global transition to sustainable energy and net zero emissions economies. There is unprecedented momentum around the world to fulfil hydrogen’s longstanding potential as a clean energy solution.

Point to ponder: How does green hydrogen differ from traditional emissions-intensive ‘grey’ hydrogen and blue hydrogen? What is India’s Green Hydrogen policy?

(source: weforum.org)

Temporary visitors

Syllabus:

Prelims: Economic and Social Development – Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.

Mains: GS II Vulnerable Section

Why in news?

—After the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, 0.7 per cent of the country’s population was recorded as a ‘temporary visitor’ across households during the July 2020-June 2021 period, a report named ‘Migration in India 2020-21’, released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) on Tuesday showed.

Who are ‘temporary visitors’ and how do they differ from ‘migrants’?

—The ‘Migration in India’ report, which is based on first-time collection of additional data during the annual round of Periodic Labour Force Survey for July 2020-June 2021, separates the categories of ‘temporary visitors’ and ‘migrants’.

—While ‘temporary visitors’ have been defined as the ones who arrived in households after March 2020 and stayed continuously for a period of 15 days or more but less than 6 months, ‘migrants’ have been defined as those, for whom the last usual place of residence, any time in the past, is different from the present place of enumeration.

Point to ponder: What are LFPR and WPR?

Web 5.0

Syllabus:

Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.

Mains: GS III Science and Technology

Why in news?

—Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently announced his vision for a new decentralised web platform that is being called Web 5.0 and is being built with an aim to return “ownership of data and identity to individuals”.

What do the terms Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 mean?

—Web 1.0 was the first generation of the global digital communications network. It is often referred to as the “read-only” Internet made of static web pages that only allowed for passive engagement.

—The next stage in the evolution of the web was the “read and write” Internet. Users were now able to communicate with servers and other users leading to the creation of the social web. This is the world wide web that we use today.

—Web 3.0 is an evolving term that is used to refer to the next generation of the Internet — a “read-write-execute” web — with decentralisation as its bedrock.

— It speaks about a digital world, built by leveraging blockchain technology, where people are able to interact with each other without the need for an intermediary. Web 3.0 will be driven by Artificial Intelligence and machine learning where machines will be able to interpret information like humans.

What is Web 5.0?

—Being developed by Dorsey’s Bitcoin business unit, The Block Head (TBH), Web 5.0 is aimed at “building an extra decentralized web that puts you in control of your data and identity”.

—Simply put, Web 5.0 is Web 2.0 plus Web 3.0 that will allow users to ‘own their identity’ on the Internet and ‘control their data’.

—Both Web 3.0 and Web 5.0 envision an Internet without threat of censorship — from governments or big tech, and without fear of significant outages.

—Web 3.0 isn’t truly decentralised or owned by its users, but is instead controlled by various venture capitalists and limited partners.

Point to ponder: How Web 5.0 will change things in the future?

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Syllabus:

Prelims- Current events of national and international importance (Health)

Why in news?

Justin Bieber has revealed he has been diagnosed with a condition called Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, which has fully paralysed the right side of his face.

What is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

—Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is a neurological disease in which a virus — Varicella Zoster — causes inflammation of the nerves involved in facial movements.

—When the nerves get inflamed, they lose their ability to function, leading to temporary facial palsy or paralysis.

—What it means is that facial muscles in the infected person cannot receive the necessary signals to function properly.

—The symptoms include painful, red rash and blisters in and around the ear, and facial paralysis on the same side.

—Patients also report hearing loss in the ear that has been impacted apart from Tinnitus or ringing sounds. Inability to close the eye causes dryness.

— The Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) is the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this virus belongs to the herpesvirus group and can stay in the body as a latent infection. The virus can stay dormant in a person’s body and can reawaken to attack the nerves.

—According to doctors, VZV can get reactivated due to weakening of the immune system. Stress is also considered a trigger, according to some studies, as it depresses the immune system. Some reports also suggest that T-cell dysfunction caused by coronavirus infection can reactivate VZV.

—The disease is not contagious but can lead to chickenpox in those not vaccinated for the disease. The disease is reversible. Patients get cured within 15 days to three months of starting the treatment.

Point to ponder: How is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome treated?

Other terms covered under UPSC Essentials

Agnipath

IPC Section 295A





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