Daily Current Affairs for UPSC – 24th July 2023

GS 2

Will G20 agree on a joint communique?

Context: 50 days to go until the G20 Summit in New Delhi

Relevance: GS 2 International Relations

Challenges at the G20 Summit in New Delhi

  • Importance of Joint Communique: The issuance of a joint communique has been a tradition since the inception of the G20 in 1999, and not having one in New Delhi could raise questions about the sustainability of the G20 as it has always managed to find a consensus before.
  • The Historical Context: Despite the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, the G20 managed to issue a joint declaration at the Brisbane summit that year without mentioning the conflict.

India’s Position and Strategy

  • “Bali Paragraphs” Continued: India has continued to use the “Bali Paragraphs” in its documents, asserting that a lot of effort went into their formulation.
  • Three Parts of the Bali Formulation: The Bali Paragraphs consist of references to UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, a statement that “most members” strongly condemned the war in Ukraine, and the use of Prime Minister Modi’s phrase “This era is not of war,” which is universal and not directed at any specific country.
  • Focus on Other Priorities: India’s priority at the G20 is not the Ukraine conflict; instead, it aims to address issues like the induction of the African Union as a member, development goals, digital public infrastructure, gender-led empowerment, and reform of multilateral development banks.

Reasons for Russia and China’s Opposition

  • Russia’s Stance: Russia no longer supports the language used in the Bali Paragraphs, arguing that it doesn’t include increased U.S. and European military support to Ukraine or the subsequent sanctions against Russia.
  • China’s Argument: China believes that the G20, being an economic forum, should not discuss geopolitical issues, and the Bali statement was an exception to this.
  • Potential Challenges: South Africa’s indication that discussions on the “Bali Paragraphs” have not concluded may lead to more pushback from other countries, affecting India’s hope for a consensus.

Chances of a Joint Communique

  • Flexibility Needed: Given the political nature of the issue and the dynamic situation on the ground, finalizing something too early may render it outdated.
  • Placeholder Reference: Until an acceptable alternative language is found, the document will have a “placeholder” reference to “geopolitical issues.”
  • Consultation with Other Countries: India is seeking input from other G20 members like Indonesia and Brazil to find a viable solution.

Leadership Role of Prime Minister Modi

  • Importance of Leadership: The resolution of the logjam over Ukraine will heavily depend on the leadership of Prime Minister Modi.
  • Potential Diplomatic Efforts: Mr. Modi’s diplomatic efforts may include traveling to Russia and Ukraine or engaging in discussions at the BRICS Summit in Cape Town at the end of August.
  • Last-Minute Diplomacy: Mr. Modi may need to exert last-minute diplomacy closer to the G20 Summit to achieve a joint communique.

Can a new data panel improve India’s statistics?

Context: The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has formed a new Standing Committee on Statistics (SCoS) to advise on official data generated by the National Statistical Office (NSO).

Relevance: Governance | Mains Paper 2: Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters

Standing Committee on Statistics (SCoS) – Overview

  • Establishment and Replacement: The Standing Committee on Economic Statistics (SCES) was formed in 2019 to review economic statistics.
  • Membership: SCES had 27 members from various ministries, departments, agencies, and academic institutions. SCoS will have 10 official members from ministries and departments, and four non-official members who are eminent academics. It can also co-opt up to two additional members as needed.

Mandate and Significance:

  • Broader Mandate: SCoS will review and monitor statistical activities of all ministries and departments, advising them on improving the quality, coverage, timeliness, and credibility of official statistics. It will also cover social and environmental data.
  • Enhanced Coordination: SCoS will enhance coordination and integration of statistical activities, reducing duplication and inconsistency of data.
  • Improved Data Quality: By adopting international standards and best practices, addressing data gaps, and limitations, SCoS will improve the quality and reliability of official statistics.
  • Transparency and Accountability: SCoS aims to increase transparency and accountability of official statistics by regular dissemination and involving stakeholders and experts in the statistical process.
  • Credibility and Trustworthiness: SCoS will address data controversies and criticisms, ensuring data integrity and independence, thereby strengthening the credibility and trustworthiness of official statistics.


  • Resistance and Non-cooperation: Some ministries may be unwilling to share or revise their data or methodologies, posing challenges for SCoS.
  • Resource Constraints: SCoS might face resource constraints, including manpower, infrastructure, technology, or funds, impacting its effectiveness.
  • Legal and Institutional Hurdles: Accessing or using data from various sources with different rules or regulations governing data collection, storage, or sharing could be challenging.
  • Political or Public Pressure: SCoS may face political or public pressure that could influence data production or release with sensitive implications for policy-making.

Way Forward:

  • Autonomy and Support: The government should provide SCoS with adequate autonomy, authority, and support to perform its duties without interference.
  • Collaboration with NSC: SCoS should establish a clear mechanism for consultation and collaboration with the National Statistical Commission, the supreme body overseeing the statistical system in India.
  • Engagement with Stakeholders: SCoS should engage with various stakeholders, including data producers, users, analysts, researchers, media, and civil society organizations, to gather feedback, inputs, and suggestions.
  • Timely Dissemination: Adopting a proactive approach, SCoS should communicate and disseminate its findings, recommendations, and reports to the public and policymakers in a timely and accessible manner.

GS 3

Making meat in the lab

Context: Reports in the Indian press highlight efforts in India to produce meat in laboratories, a process already underway in the U.S. and Europe.

Relevance: GS Paper – 3 Scientific Innovations & Discoveries Biotechnology Food Processing

Benefits of Lab-Cultured Meat:

  • Zero Cruelty: Lab-cultured meat is produced without harming animals, eliminating the need for slaughtering.
  • Healthier Option: Lab meat contains less fat, no cholesterol, and no saturated fats, making it a healthier choice for consumers.
  • Potential Cost-Effectiveness: Once lab-cultured meat becomes widely available, it may be cheaper than conventionally produced meat.
  • Reduced Environmental Impact: Lab-cultured meat has less environmental impact compared to traditional meat production, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmental Concerns of Conventional Meat Production:

  • High Animal Death Toll: Over 136 million chickens and millions of other animals are slaughtered worldwide each day for meat production.
  • Significant Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Conventional meat production is responsible for approximately 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Advancements in Lab-Cultured Meat Production:

  • Progress in Lab-Cultured Meat: Researchers, including Dr. Mark Post in the Netherlands, have successfully created meat from animal cells in laboratories.
  • Government Support: The U.S. Agriculture Department has cleared private firms producing lab-cultured meat from animal cells.
  • Indian Research: The Department of Biotechnology in India provided a grant to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology to culture meat successfully in labs.

Lab-Cultured Meat Production Process:

  • Cell-Based Approach: Lab-cultured meat is produced using stem cells from living animals, grown in petri dishes with essential nutrients to facilitate multiplication.
  • Cultivation and Shaping: The cells are cultivated in steel tanks and shaped into meat-like structures such as cutlets and sausages for market sale.


  • Cultured meat production offers a cleaner, ethical, and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional meat production, making it a promising solution to address concerns related to animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

Captive-bred vultures take wing in forest expanses

Context:In 2020, India released eight critically endangered oriental white-backed vultures into the wild from the Jatayu Conservation Breeding Centre in Haryana. After almost three years, five vultures have survived, and two of them have successfully nested in the Shivalik range.

Relevance: GS 3 Conservation

Positive Impact of Lab-Cultured Meat:

  • There have been no reported deaths due to veterinary NSAIDs since the vultures are now fed lab-cultured meat.
  • Lab-cultured meat is a better option as it eliminates animal cruelty, contains less fat, no cholesterol, and no saturated fats, making it healthier for consumers.
  • It is anticipated that lab-cultured meat might become cheaper than conventional meat, while also having a lesser environmental impact.

Decline of Vulture Population:

  • BNHS study estimates indicate that the vulture population in India has declined by over 97% since the 1990s.
  • The oriental white-backed vulture, in particular, has suffered a staggering 99.9% decline.

Conservation Efforts:

  • The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) jointly manage four Jatayu Conservation Breeding Centres in India.
  • The breeding program has seen more than 700 birds bred in captivity since 2004.

Tracking and Movement:

  • Vultures released from captivity are equipped with tracking devices, leading to interesting movement patterns, with one bird traveling between Nepal, Bhutan, and India.

Soft Release Centres:

  • The successful program has resulted in the establishment of soft release centers in various Indian regions.
  • These areas provide vulture-safe zones with sufficient prey free from harmful NSAIDs.

Ban on Harmful Veterinary Drugs:

  • The Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) has recommended a ban on aceclofenac and ketoprofen, which are toxic to vultures, in animal use.
  • A complete ban on these drugs would be beneficial for vulture conservation, preventing mortality due to visceral gout and kidney failure.


  • The DTAB suggests compiling a list of drugs affecting animal health and the environment for further action.
  • A subcommittee should be formed to examine these matters and submit a detailed report.


  • India’s successful conservation efforts, including lab-cultured meat, soft release centers, and a ban on harmful drugs, are steps towards protecting vultures from extinction and restoring their populations.

What has to be done to get to Zero Hunger?

Context: Global Report on the Food Crises (GRFC) 2023 released recently.

Relevance: GS Paper – 3 Food Security

Key Findings from the Global Report on the Food Crises 2023:

  • Hunger Levels: The report estimates that between 691 million and 783 million people suffered from hunger in 2022. Although there was no growth in food insecurity during the pandemic years, the data for 2022 shows significantly higher levels compared to pre-pandemic 2019.
  • Progress on Zero Hunger Goal: Hunger is no longer on a sharp upward trajectory at the global level, but it remains far above pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels. The world is still off track in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 – Zero Hunger.
  • Moderate or Severe Food Insecurity: The global prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity remained unchanged from 2020 to 2022, affecting an estimated 2.4 billion people. This is 391 million more people than in 2019.
  • Prevalence of Undernourishment: The prevalence of undernourishment also remained relatively unchanged from 2021 to 2022 but is still far above pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, impacting around 9.2% of the world population in 2022.
  • Improvements in Child Nutrition: Stunting among children under five years of age has declined steadily from 204.2 million in 2000 to 148.1 million in 2022. Child wasting also decreased from 54.1 million in 2000 to 45 million in 2022.
  • Challenges to Accessing a Healthy Diet: Almost 3.2 billion people worldwide could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, with a slight improvement in 2021. The cost of a healthy diet increased globally by 6.7% between 2019 and 2021.

Key Drivers of Food Insecurity:

  • Pandemic-related Disruptions: Lockdowns, economic downturns, and job losses due to the pandemic in 2020 led to reduced incomes for many people.
  • Ukraine War: The ongoing war in Ukraine has impacted food security in the region.
  • Government Policies: Some governmental policies may not be entirely favorable in addressing food insecurity.
  • Increasing Urbanization: Urbanization is driving changes through agrifood systems, and food insecurity is generally lower in urban areas.

Solutions Ahead:

  • Supporting Healthier Food Outlets: Policy incentives are needed to encourage shops to sell more fresh and minimally processed foods, enabling access to healthy diets.
  • Addressing Street Foods: The report suggests addressing infrastructure and regulatory gaps to improve the nutritional safety and quality of street food, which is consumed daily by an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide.
  • Building Rural Infrastructure: Investments in rural infrastructure, such as quality rural and feeder roads, warehousing, cold storage, electrification, and water supply, can improve linkages between small farms and enterprises.
  • Role of Local Governments: Local governments play a crucial role in implementing policies for making healthy diets available and affordable for all, leveraging multilevel and multistakeholder mechanisms.


Genomic data throw light on demise of Copper Age

Context:Ancient human genomic data suggests that Copper Age farmers and steppe pastoralists may have interacted 1,000 years earlier than previously believed. This interaction has implications for understanding the decline of the Copper Age and the expansion of pastoralist groups around 3,300 BC.

The Copper Age Period:

  • The Copper Age was characterized by a new economy based on metallurgy, wheel and wagon transportation, and horse domestication.
  • However, what happened between the demise of Copper Age settlements (around 4,250 BC) and the expansion of pastoralists remains unclear.

New Genetic Data Analysis:

  • Researchers analyzed genetic data from 135 ancient individuals dating between 5,400 and 2,400 BC from southeastern Europe and the northwestern Black Sea region.
  • Genetic continuity was observed between Neolithic and Copper Age groups, but individuals from the northwestern Black Sea region carried varying amounts of ancestry from Copper Age and steppe-zone populations.

Early Interaction and Admixture:

  • The findings suggest that there was cultural contact and mixing between groups from the northwestern Black Sea region around 4,500 BC, nearly 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.
  • The transfer of technology between farmers and transitional hunters from different geographical zones played a crucial role in the rise and expansion of pastoralist groups around 3,300 BC.

The Significance of Admixture:

  • The study indicates early contact and admixture between Copper Age farming groups from southeastern Europe and Eneolithic groups from the steppe zone in today’s southern Ukraine.
  • Early admixture during the Eneolithic period seems to be local to the northwestern Black Sea region of the fourth millennium BC and did not affect the hinterland in southeastern Europe.

Insights from Bronze Age Individuals:

  • Early Bronze Age individuals from Yunatsite and Pietrele did not show traces of steppe-like ancestry but instead exhibited a resurgence of hunter-gatherer ancestry commonly observed in Europe during the fourth millennium BC.

Leave a Reply