Why in News?
A major earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, killing more than 2,600 people and flattening thousands of buildings as rescuers dug with bare hands for survivors.
- Three earthquakes measuring — 7.8, 7.6, and 6.0 — magnitude on the Richter scale has devastated Turkey and Syria, while the impacting regions as far away as Cyprus (456 km away), Lebanon (874 km), Israel (1,381 km) and Egypt (1,411 km).
- The tremors of the first quake were felt with the epicentre located near the city of Gaziantep in south-central Turkey, which houses more than two million people.
- The population includes Syrian refugees who fled the raging civil war after 2011.
- This is the strongest earthquake to shake the region in more than 100 years.
- An earthquake is a shaking of the earth’s surface caused by the sudden release of energy in the earth’s lithosphere that produces seismic waves.
- Earthquakes are the most unpredictable and devastating of all natural disasters.
- An earthquake is a form of wave energy that travels through the surface layers of the earth.
- This may be due to faults, folds, plate movements, volcanic eruptions, and human factors such as dams and reservoirs.
- Small earthquakes caused by gentle oscillating waves in the crust occur every few minutes, but large earthquakes, usually caused by movement along faults, can be very catastrophic, especially in densely populated areas.
Focus and epicentre
- The point where the energy is released is called the focus or the hypocentre of an earthquake.
- The point on the surface directly above the focus is called epicentre (first surface point to experience the earthquake waves).
- A line connecting all points on the surface where the intensity is the same is called an isoseismic line.
Plate Tectonics Theory
- The comprehensive theory which tries to explain most of the dynamism of earth crust and features of the endogenetic forces.
- The development towards the theory began in the 1960s with extensive seafloor mapping
- This theory is based on the 2 principle hypothesis – Arthur Holmes convection current hypothesis, and the concept of seafloor spreading’ advocated by Hess.
- It is an improvement over the Wegener’s continental drift theory and has been considered as the most sophisticated and comprehensive theory about the drift of continents and the expansion of sea floors.
- The lithosphere, which is the rigid outermost shell of a planet (the crust and upper mantle), is broken up into tectonic plates. The Earth’s lithosphere is composed of seven or eight major plates (depending on how they are defined) and many minor plates.
- Where the plates meet, their relative motion determines the type of boundary: convergent, divergent, or transform.
- Earthquakes, volcanic activity, mountain-building, and oceanic trench formation occur along these plate boundaries. The relative movement of the plates typically ranges from zero to 100 mm annually.
Major Tectonic Plates
Fault zone cause of Earthquake
- The release of energy occurs along a fault. A fault is a sharp break in the crustal rocks.
- Rocks along a fault tend to move in opposite directions. As the overlying rock strata press them, the friction locks them together.
- However, their tendency to move apart at some point of time overcomes the friction. As a result, the blocks get deformed and eventually, they slide past one another abruptly.
- This causes earthquakes in the form of release of energy, and the energy waves travel in all directions.
- Body waves are generated due to the release of energy at the focus and move in all directions travelling through the interior of the earth. Hence, the name body waves.
- There are two types of body waves:
- the P-waves or primary waves (longitudinal in nature ― wave propagation is similar to sound waves), and
- the S-waves or secondary waves (transverse in nature ― wave propagation is similar to ripples on the surface of the water).
- Turkey is frequently shaken by earthquakes. In 2020 itself, it recorded almost 33,000 earthquakes in the region, according to Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD)
- Turkey’s proneness to earthquakes comes from its tectonic location.
- The Earth’s outermost layer comprises some 15 major slabs, called tectonic plates.
- The boundaries between these plates are a system of faults – fractures between two blocks of rocks.
- Any sudden movement along these faults can cause earthquakes,
- Turkey is located on the Anatolian tectonic plate, which is wedged between the Eurasian and African plates. On the north side, the minor Arabian plate further restricts movement.
- One fault line, the North Anatolian fault (NAF) line, the meeting point of the Eurasian and Anatolian tectonic plates is known to be “particularly devastating”.
- The NAF, one of the best-understood fault systems in the world, stretches from the south of Istanbul to northeastern Turkey, and has caused catastrophic earthquakes in the past.
- There is the East Anatolian fault line, the tectonic boundary between the Anatolian Plate and the northward-moving Arabian Plate.
- According to one estimate, almost 95% of the country’s land mass is prone to earthquakes, while about a third of the country is at high risk, including the areas around the major cities of Istanbul and Izmir and the region of East Anatolia.
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Why in News?
Recently , several users of the social media platform 4chan, used “speech synthesis” and “voice cloning” service provider, ElevenLabs, to make voice deepfakes of celebrities like Emma Watson, Joe Rogan, and Ben Shapiro. These deepfake audios made racist, abusive, and violent comments.
What are voice deepfakes?
- A voice deep fake is one that closely mimics a real person’s voice.
- The voice can accurately replicate tonality, accents, cadence, and other unique characteristics of the target person.
- People use AI and robust computing power to generate such voice clones or synthetic voices.
- Sometimes it can take weeks to produce such voices, according to Speechify, a text to speech conversion app.
How are voice deepfakes created?
- To create deepfakes one needs highend computers with powerful graphics cards,leveraging cloud computing power.
- Powerful computing hardware can accelerate the process of rendering, which can take hours, days, and even weeks, depending on the process.
- Besides specialised tools and software, generating deepfakes need training data to be fed to AI models.
- This data are often original recordings of the target person’s voice.
- AI can use this data to render an authentic sounding voice, which can then be used to say anything.
What are the threats arising from the use of voice deepfakes?
- Attackers are using such technology to defraud users, steal their identity, and to engage in various other illegal activities like phone scams and posting fake videos on social media platforms.
- Voice deepfakes used in filmmaking have also raised ethical concerns about the use of the technology.
- Gathering clear recordings of people’s voices is getting easier and can be obtained through recorders, online interviews, and press conferences.
- Voice capture technology is also improving, making the data fed to AI models more accurate and leading to more believable deepfake voices.
- This could lead to scarier situations.
What are the ways to detect voice deepfakes?
- Detecting voice deepfakes need highly advanced technologies, software, and hardware to break down speech patterns, background noise, and other elements.
- Research labs use watermarks and blockchain technologies to detect deepfake technology, but the tech designed to outsmart deepfake detectors is constantly evolving.
- Programs like Deeptrace are helping to provide protection.
- Deeptrace uses a combination of antivirus and spam filters that monitor incoming media and quarantine suspicious content.
- Researchers developed a technique to measure acoustic and fluid dynamic differences between original voice samples of humans and those generated synthetically by computers.
- Call centers can also take steps to mitigate the threat from voice deepfakes, according to voice recognition engineers at Pindrop.
- Callback functions can end suspicious calls and request an outbound call to the account owner for direct confirmation.
- Multi Factor authentication (MFA) and anti-fraud solutions can also reduce deepfake risks. Pindrop mentioned factors like devising call metadata for ID verification, digital tone analysis, and keypress analysis for behavioral biometrics.
GS PAPER III NEWS
India Energy Week
Why in News?
PM Modi inaugurated India Energy Week (IEW) 2023. This event being held in Bengaluru will prove to be helpful in creating a roadmap for alternatives to conventional energy sources in the future.
- By the year 2040, India will need 25 percent of the total energy of the global demand.
- India is strategically moving towards alternative energy and green energy.
What is the ‘Unbottled’ initiative
- The uniforms were launched as part of IndianOil’s ‘Unbottled’ initiative at the India Energy Week event.
- Vision to phase out single-use plastic, Indian Oil has made uniforms out of recycled polyester (RPET) and cotton.
- Each set of this uniform made by Indian Oil is made by recycling around 28 used bottles. This is how the uniform will be designed for retail customer assistants and LPG delivery staff.
- The uniforms under Unbottled will be completely eco-friendly. With this initiative of Indian Oil, about 100 million waste plastic bottles will be used every year.
Twin Cooktop Model of Indoor Solar Cooking System
- PM Modi unveiled the twin cooktop model of IndianOil’s indoor solar cooking system. IndianOil had earlier developed an innovative and patent protected indoor solar cooking system with a single cooktop.
- The Twin-Cooktop Indoor Solar Cooking System has been designed to offer greater flexibility and convenience to the users.
- It is a revolutionary indoor solar cooking solution that works on both solar and auxiliary power sources simultaneously. It is fast becoming a reliable cooking solution for India.
- E20 fuel has been introduced at 84 outlets of Oil Marketing Companies in 11 States/Union Territories of the country. 20% ethanol will be blended with petrol under E20 fuel.
- The government aims to achieve complete 20 percent ethanol blending in petrol by 2025.
- This ethanol is available to all the oil companies of the country.
- Ethanol is being produced from a number of products, including a variety of agricultural products including sugarcane, corn.
Government’s efforts regarding ethanol blending
- The ethanol blending program has been one of the key focus areas of the government to achieve self-sufficiency in energy.
- Due to the continuous efforts of the government, ethanol production capacity has seen a six-fold increase since 2013-14.
- The achievements made during the last eight years under the Ethanol Blending Program and the Biofuel Program have not only enhanced India’s energy security, but have also resulted in reduction of 318 lakh metric tonnes of Co2 emissions.
- There have been many other benefits including saving of foreign exchange of about Rs 54,000 crore.
Ample opportunities in India for energy stockholders
- The International Energy Association has said that India’s energy demand will be the highest in the world in this decade and this is a good opportunity for energy stockholders.
- India’s share in global oil demand is around 5 percent and it is expected to reach 11 percent.
- PM said that India’s strategy regarding the energy sector has 4 main verticals, including increasing domestic exploration and production, diversification of supply, expansion of alternative energy sources like biofuel, ethanol and decarbonization through EV and hydrogen.
Importance of India Energy Week 2023
- India Energy Week comes at a critical time when the challenges of energy security and environmental sustainability impact the long-term energy transition and decarbonization pathway.
- As India becomes a gas-based economy and accelerates its efforts to reach the goal of net zero emissions by 2070, the country is investing around 600 million dollars in infrastructure development (pipelines, terminals, regasification plants, etc.).
- A rapidly developing country and soon to be the most populous country in the world, India’s energy transition will play a pivotal role in the global energy market.
Efforts on for energy transformation
- The PM said that the solar energy capacity has been increased 20 times.
- India ranks fourth in wind power capacity and is aiming to have 50 per cent non-fossil fuel capacity by the end of the decade.
- And now we are moving towards the target of 20 percent ethanol blending.
- Last year we set up the first Asian 2G ethanol bio-refinery.
- It is our mission to build 12 commercial 2G ethanol plants. In this year’s budget, we have planned to set up 500 new plants under ‘Gobar Dhan Yojana’.
GS PAPER III NEWS
Why in News?
The Union government is likely to increase the dearness allowance (DA) for its over one crore employees and pensioners by four percentage points to 42% from existing 38% as per the agreed formula for the purpose.
- The dearness allowance for employees and pensioners are worked out on the basis of the latest Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW) brought out by the Labour Bureau every month.
What is Dearness Allowance?
- Dearness Allowance is paid by the government to its employees as well as a pensioner to offset the impact of inflation.
- The effective salary of government employees requires constant enhancement to help them cope up with the increasing prices.
- DA varies from employee to employee based on their presence in the urban, semi-urban or rural sector.
- DA is fully taxable for salaried employees.
- The Income Tax rules in India require the dearness allowance component to be mentioned separately in the returns that have been filed.
Types of Dearness Allowance
- Industrial Dearness Allowance (IDA) applies to the Public sector employees of the Central Government. The Industrial Dearness Allowance for public sector employees undergoes quarterly revision depending on the Consumer Price Index to help offset the impact of rising levels of inflation.
- Variable Dearness Allowance (VDA) applies to the employees of the Central Government. It is revised every six months according to the Consumer Price Index to help offset the impact of rising levels of inflation. VDA in itself is dependent on three different components as given below.
- Base Index – remains fixed for a particular period.
- Consumer Price Index – impacts VDA as it changes every month.
- Variable DA amount that has been fixed by the Government remains fixed unless the government revises the basic minimum wages.
Consumer Price Index (CPI)
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures changes in the price level of a basket of consumer goods and services purchased by households. CPI is a numerical estimate calculated using prices from a representative sample of regularly priced properties.
- CPI captures changes in price levels at the consumer level.
- Price changes at the producer level are captured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI).
- CPI can capture changes in service prices that WPI cannot.
There are 4 different types of CPI measured:
CPI for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW) : It attempts to quantify changes in the pricing of a fixed basket of products and services used by Industrial Workers over time.
- A typical working-class family from any of these seven economic sectors, ranging from industries, mines, plantations, motor transport, port, railways, and energy generation and distribution, would be the target demographic.
- The Labour Bureau compiled this list. This functions under the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
CPI for Agricultural Laborers (CPI-AL):The Labor Bureau compiles this data to help revise minimum wages for agricultural labor in different States.
CPI for Rural Labourer (CPI-RL):The Labour Bureau compiled this list. This functions under the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
CPI ( Urban Non-Manual Employees) (CPI-UNME):This information is compiled by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which is now known as the National Statistical Office (NSO).
- The Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation oversees the NSO
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Why in News?
A recent study has found widespread infection of white-tailed deer with the SARS-CoV-2 virus across New York.
About White-tailed deer
- They are the smallest members of the North American deer family.
- Scientific name: Odocoileus virginianus
- Distribution: They are found in North America from southern Canada through Central America.
- Includes areas along streams and rivers, mixed woodlands, farms, forests, and burned shrub fields.
- Open areas are used only when thick shrubs or forests are nearby.
- It is tan or brown in the summer and grayish brown in winter.
- It has white on its throat, around its eyes and nose, on its stomach, and on the underside of its tail.
- Only male deer grow antlers, which are shed each year.
- They are excellent runners. They can run at speeds of up to 30 miles an hour.
- IUCN Status: ‘Least Concern’