Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 25 August 2023

BRICS currency in BRICS Summit

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

Brazil's President called for the BRICS nations to create a common currency for trade and investment between each other, as a means of reducing their vulnerability to dollar exchange rate fluctuations. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva made the proposal at a BRICS summit in Johannesburg. Officials and economists have pointed out the difficulties involved in such a project, given the economicpolitical and geographic disparities between BrazilRussiaIndiaChina and South Africa.

Why does Brazil want a BRICS currency?

  • Brazil's president doesn't believe nations that don't use the dollar should be forced to trade in the currency, and he has also advocated for a common currency in the Mercosur bloc of South American countries.
  • BRICS currency "increases our payment options and reduces our vulnerabilities," he told the summit's opening plenary session.

What do other BRICS Leaders think?

  • South African officials had said a BRICS currency was not on the agenda for the summit.
  • In July, India's foreign minister said, "there is no idea of a BRICS currency". Its foreign secretary said before departing for the summit that boosting trade in national currencies would be discussed.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said the gathering, which he attended via videolink, would discuss switching trade between member countries away from the dollar to national currencies.
  • China has not commented on the idea. President Xi Jinping spoke at the summit of promoting "the reform of the international financial and monetary system".

Is the US Dollar in trouble?

  • BRICS leaders have said they want to use their national currencies more instead of the dollar, which strengthened sharply last year as the Federal Reserve raised interest rates and Russia invaded Ukraine, making dollar debt and many imports more expensive.
  • Russia's sanctions-imposed exile from global financial systems last year also fuelled speculation that non-western allies would shift away from the dollar.
  • The objective, irreversible process of de-dollarisation of our economic ties is gaining momentum, Putin told the summit.


Experiments after Chandrayaan-3’s landing

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

After rolling down a ramp from the Chandrayaan-3 lander, the six-wheel26-kg rover, which is capable of slowly moving up to 500 metres, began its job of lunar exploration. The landing happened at lunar dawn, and the six payloads on board the lander and rover was started collecting data soon after to get as much science as possible in the single lunar day or 14 Earth days for which they will remain operable.

Mission experiments

The lander has four experiments on board.

  • The Radio Anatomy of Moon Bound Hypersensitive ionosphere and Atmosphere (RAMBHA) will study the electrons and ions near the surface of the moon and how they change over time.
  • The Chandra’s Surface Thermo physical Experiment (ChaSTE) will study the thermal properties of the lunar surface near the polar region. Chandrayaan-3 has landed around 70 degree south latitude, the closest that any spacecraft has reached to the lunar South Pole.
  • The Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity (ILSA) will measure the lunar quakes near the landing site and study the composition of the Moon’s crust and mantle.
  • The LASER Retroreflector Array (LRA) is a passive experiment sent by NASA that acts as a target for lasers for very accurate measurements for future missions.

There are two scientific experiments on the rover

  • The LASER Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) will determine the chemical and mineral composition of the lunar surface.
  • The Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) will determine the composition of elements such as magnesiumaluminiumsiliconpotassiumcalciumtitanium, and iron in the lunar soil and rocks.

Discovery of water

  • The southern polar region of the Moon is known to have deep craters that remain in permanent darkness, with a high likelihood of having water-ice.
  • Perhaps the most important discovery made by instruments on board Chandrayaan-1 was the discovery of water and hydroxyl (OH) molecules in the Moon’s thin atmosphere (exosphere) as well as on the lunar surface.
  • India’s Moon Impact Probe (MIP) — a payload that was deliberately crashed on the lunar surface near the South Pole — helped study the concentration of water and hydroxyl molecules in the lunar atmosphere.
  • Another payload called mini-SAR helped detect the subsurface deposits of water-ice in the permanently shadowed regions within the craters near the South Pole.
  • third payload developed by NASA called Moon Mineralogy Mapper or M3 also helped detect these molecules on the surface of the Moon.
  • Chandrayaan-2, which was designed to further study the water on the Moon, helped in separately identifying the water and the hydroxyl molecules, and mapping water features across the Moon for the first time.


Vehicles bear ‘caste and religious stickers’

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Noida and Ghaziabad Police, over the past few days, issued challans to 2,300 people for putting ‘caste and religious stickers’ on their cars as part of a special drive that started. The challan for putting such a sticker on the car is Rs 1,000 and Rs 5,000 for placing it on the registration number plate. The police also said that similar drives will be conducted in future.

What does the law say?

  • While there is a clear rule against putting any stickers on the registration number plate under the Motor Vehicle Rules 1989 governments in different states have issued orders against putting stickers that signify caste and religion even on the body of the vehicle.
  • The Uttar Pradesh transport directorate, in its order issued on 10 August 2023, said a special drive to challan vehicle owners for using caste-specific and religion-specific stickers will be held between 11 and 20 August 2023.
  • According to the Motor Vehicle Rules, “stickers and adhesive labels” in registration number plates are not permitted.
  • The rules also state the specifications of the number plate. According to the Section , the number plate ‘shall be a solid unit made of 1.0 mm aluminium’ and ‘should bear the letters “IND” in blue colour on the extreme left centre’.
  • If the number plate is not as per the rules, which includes putting labels or stickers on it, Section 192 of the MV act, has the provision of a fine of up to Rs 5,000 for the first offence. For subsequent offences, they can be imprisoned for up to 1 year and fined up to rupees 10,000.
  • In the case of stickers on the body of the vehicles, the police are issuing challans under Section 179 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988.
  • The section has the provision for fines in case of ‘disobedience of orders, obstruction and refusal of information’.
  • Whoever wilfully disobeys any direction lawfully given by any person or authority empowered under this Act to give such direction, or obstructs any person or authority in the discharge of any functions which such person or authority is required or empowered under this Act to discharge, shall, if no other penalty is provided for the offence be punishable with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, the section states.

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