African Union to join G-20
Why in news?
- The African Union (AU) is set to join the G-20 as negotiators agreed on clearing its membership, according to sources privy to the discussions at the Sherpa meeting at a resort on the outskirts of Delhi.
Significance the move
- Negotiators have confirmed that the African Union (AU) will join the G-20, similar to the European Union (EU), becoming a regional entity within the group. While it still unclear whether the G-20 will be renamed as the “G-21” after the induction of the AU.
- The announcement would help “leave a lasting imprint” of the work the Indian Presidency has done in bringing in the Global South’s ambitions to the economic grouping.
- Membership of the AU in the grouping appears to be a major breakthrough, with both Russian and Chinese officials backing the move; it is unclear whether the forum will be renamed ‘G-21’.
- India perceives this development as a noteworthy accomplishment for its Presidency, as it advances the interests of the Global South within the G-20.
Significant Diplomatic Shift in G20:
- The potential inclusion of the AU in the G-20 represents a momentous diplomatic change, expanding the group’s representation and global influence.
- Notably, both China and Russia, despite their differences on other matters, support the AU’s membership, underscoring broader global dynamics at play.
Understanding the African Union:
- The African Union (AU) is an intergovernmental organization situated in Africa.
- Established in 2002, it succeeded the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
- Comprising 55 member states in Africa, its primary objectives include fostering unity, cooperation, and development across the continent.
- The AU is dedicated to addressing the social, political, and economic challenges faced by African nations.
- It actively promotes peace, security, and stability throughout the African continent.
GS PAPER – II
Panchayats in Rajasthan to take up livelihood programmes in villages
Why in news?
- The empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions in Rajasthan has enabled the village panchayats to take up livelihood programmes, in addition to their routine works for sanitation and creation of infrastructure.
- The three-tier Panchayati Raj structure in the State will also ensure an active participation of the public at large.
- Diverse functions to village panchayats and enable them to play a meaningful role in the development of rural areas.
- The vision document forms part of ‘Mission Rajasthan-2030’ aiming to establish Rajasthan as the country’s top State by 2030.
- Each village panchayat would be equipped to launch poverty alleviation programmes and take new initiatives for health, education, women’s security, children’s growth and environment protection.
- The panchayats will also assist the women’s self-help groups in their operations.
- Gram Sabhas should be organised regularly for discussing all the works before their execution.
- The Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads in the State are also holding their meetings regularly.
- There is emphasis on connecting children with the Panchayati Raj system through Baal Panchayats.
Recommendations and suggestions
- A recommendation was made for linking women’s self-help groups with the private industries to enable their products to compete in the market on their own on the basis of their quality.
- Other suggestions received for the vision document pertained to rain water harvesting, development of pasture land in each village panchayat area, superimposing hydrology and meteorology data on the revenue maps, selection of specific industries for entrepreneurs in villages and connecting the rural livelihood programmes with nutrition and school unifo
GS PAPER – III
Centre to stop sites from weaving ‘dark patterns’ to mislead buyers
Why in news?
- The Centre has sought public comments on the draft guidelines for prevention and regulation of “dark patterns” on the Internet, particularly in e-commerce platforms.
About the guideline
- The guidelines include ways to prevent and regulate false urgency, basket sneaking, confirm shaming, forced action, subscription trap and more such “dark patterns”.
- The draft guidelines have defined dark patterns as “any practices or deceptive design patterns using user interface or user experience interactions on any platform; designed to mislead or trick users to do something they originally did not intend or want to do; by subverting or impairing the consumer autonomy, decision making or choice; amounting to misleading advertisement or unfair trade practice or violation of consumer rights.”
- Some of the different types of dark patterns, defined by the Ministry, are “false urgency”, meaning falsely stating or implying a sense of urgency; “basket sneaking”, meaning inclusion of additional items at the time of checkout without the consent of the user; and “confirm shaming”, or using a phrase, video, audio or any other means to create a sense of fear or shame or ridicule or guilt in the mind of the user.
- Guidelines would be made applicable to all the persons and online platforms including sellers and advertisers.
About Dark Patterns
- The dark patterns include “forced action”, which forces a user into taking an action that would require the user to buy additional goods; “subscription trap”, or the process of making cancellation of a paid subscription impossible or complex; “interface interference”, the design element that manipulates the user interface; and “bait and switch”, the practice of advertising a particular outcome based on the user’s action.
- “Drip pricing” is another such practice whereby elements of prices are not revealed upfront and “disguised advertisement” and nagging.
- Dark patterns have been a prominent feature of many apps and websites over the course of the Internet’s growth, and regulators around the world have started taking steps to limit them.
- In the European Union, for example, users complained that Amazon’s Prime service was difficult to unsubscribe online, as the firm would redirect users through a series of pages seeking to retain them.
GS PAPER: II
Endangered Languages in India
Why in the news?
There are an estimated 7,000 languages spoken in the world today. However, many of these languages are endangered, meaning that they are at risk of disappearing.
- According to the census 1961, India has around 1652 languages. But by 1971, only 808 languages were left.
- An endangered language is a language that is spoken by a small number of people and is in danger of becoming extinct.
- There are many factors that can contribute to language endangerment, including globalization, migration, and urbanization.
What is an Endangered Language?
A language is considered endangered if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
- The number of speakers is declining.
- The language is no longer used in the home.
- There are no native speakers of the language under the age of 18.
- The language is not used in education or government.
- There are no written materials in the language.
The loss of a language is not just the loss of a way to communicate. It is also the loss of a culture, a history, and a way of life
Causes of Language Endangerment:
There are many factors that can contribute to language endangerment. Some of the most common factors include:
- Globalization: The spread of a dominant language, such as English, can lead to the decline of other languages.
- Migration: When people move to a new country, they often adopt the dominant language of that country.
- Urbanization: People who move to cities are more likely to speak the dominant language of the city.
- Intergenerational language transmission: If parents do not teach their children their native language, the language is at risk of disappearing.
Steps Taken towards Protecting Endangered Language:
- Scheme for Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages (SPPEL) was instituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (Government of India) in 2013 to document and archive the country’s languages that have become endangered or are likely to be endangered in the near future.
- Article 350B requires the president to appoint a special officer for linguistic minorities to investigate all matters relating to the constitutional safeguards for linguistic minorities and to report to him.
- UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger is a tool to monitor the status of endangered languages and the trends in linguistic diversity at the global level.
The Way Forward:
- Raising awareness of the issue: People need to understand the importance of preserving endangered languages.
- Supporting language speakers and communities: This could include funding for language education and cultural programs, as well as legal protections for endangered languages.
- Developing new technologies: New technologies, such as digital archives and translation software, can help preserve endangered language
GS PAPER – III
ASEAN Five Point Consensus towards Myanmar Crisis
Why in news?
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has recently displayed a newfound courage by calling out the junta in Myanmar for its ongoing violence and failure to implement the Five-Point Consensus.
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit highlighted the commitment to building a “resilient, innovative, dynamic and people-centred” regional bloc and economic centre in line with the ASEAN Community Vision 2045.
- Myanmar’s assumption of the ASEAN’s chairmanship in 2026 has been revoked, with the Philippines taking over instead.
- Following the military coup in Myanmar, ASEAN devised a plan in April 2021 that aimed to restore peace and stability in Myanmar.
- The junta pledged to cease violence and initiate inclusive political dialogue. Despite the agreement, the junta continued to violate the consensus, prompting ASEAN to take a stronger stance.
What is ASEAN’s Five Point Consensus?
- Immediate End to Violence: ASEAN emphasizes the urgent need to halt the violence in Myanmar, reflecting its commitment to promoting peace and protecting the well-being of the people.
- Dialogue Among All Parties: ASEAN highlights the importance of inclusive political dialogue, encouraging all relevant parties to engage in constructive discussions for a peaceful resolution.
- Appointment of a Special Envoy: ASEAN appoints a neutral special envoy to facilitate effective communication and mediation with all stakeholders involved in the crisis.
- Humanitarian Assistance by ASEAN: ASEAN acknowledges the dire humanitarian situation in Myanmar and commits to providing essential aid to alleviate the suffering of the affected population.
- Special Envoy’s Visit to Myanmar: The special envoy’s visit serves as an opportunity to directly engage with all parties, gathering insights and promoting a comprehensive understanding of the situation.
ASEAN’s recent actions demonstrate a growing determination to address the post-coup crisis in Myanmar. While the impact of their stance remains uncertain, it is crucial for ASEAN to leverage its influence over Myanmar and continue pushing for an end to violence and the initiation of meaningful dialogue. Ultimately, the restoration of a legitimate, responsible, and responsive regime is the key to resolving the multiple crises faced by Myanmar.
GS PAPER – II
What is the Heat Index?
Why in news?
Recently, Iran has been in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave, with temperatures soaring to 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit) in some parts of the country.
- The heat wave has caused widespread power outages and water shortages, and has led to the deaths of dozens of people.
What is heat index?
- Heat index, also known as apparent temperature, is a measure of how hot it feels to the human body. It is calculated by taking into account the actual temperature and the relative humidity.
- The higher the heat index, the more dangerous it is for people to be outside.
- A heat index of 65 degrees Fahrenheit or higher can be dangerous, and a heat index of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher can be fatal.
How does high humidity impact the human body?
- High humidity makes it difficult for the human body to cool down. When the humidity is high, sweat does not evaporate as easily, which means that the body cannot release heat as effectively.
- This can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other heat-related illnesses.
The future of heat waves
- Climate change is making heat waves more frequent and more intense. This means that we are likely to see more extreme heat waves in the future.
- We need to prepare for these heat waves by investing in early warning systems, making changes to work timings, and finding sustainable cooling solutions. We also need to raise awareness of the dangers of heat waves and how to stay safe.
GS PAPER – III
India’s first ever UPI-ATM
Why in news?
Recently, India’s first UPI-ATM was launched by Hitachi Payment Services.
- The ATM is a White Label ATM (WLA) developed in collaboration with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
- The ATM was designed to enable “seamless cash withdrawals” and eliminate the need to carry physical ATM cards.
- It also aims to drive financial inclusion by making banking services more accessible in areas with limited traditional banking infrastructure.
About the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
- NPCI is an umbrella organisation for all retail payment systems in India.
- It was set up with the support & guidance of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) & Indian Banks Association (IBA) as a registered company under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013.
- It operates under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007, for creating a robust Payment & Settlement Infrastructure in India.
Do You Know?
- A White Label ATM (WLA) is an ATM that is owned and operated by a non-banking entity. These ATMs are not branded by any specific bank, and they can be used by customers of any bank that has an agreement with the WLA operator.