Insights Daily Current Affairs, 13 November 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 13 November 2017


 

GS Paper 2:

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

 

IRRI

 

Context:

A ‘rice field laboratory’ named after Prime Minister Modi was recently inaugurated by Prime Minister himself at IRRI in Los Banos in Philippines.

 

About IRRI:

What is it?

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is an international agricultural research and training organization known for its work in developing rice varieties that contributed to the Green Revolution in the 1960s.

Aim:

The Institute, established in 1960 aims to reduce poverty and hunger, improve the health of rice farmers and consumers, and ensure environmental sustainability of rice farming.

CGIAR:

IRRI is one of 15 agricultural research centers in the world that form the CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research centres, a global partnership of organizations engaged in research on food security. It is also the largest non-profit agricultural research centres in Asia.

India and the IRRI:

IRRI has successfully collaborated with Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) to introduce drought- tolerant, flood-tolerant and salt-tolerant varieties of rice in India. The Indian government is also setting up a regional centre of the IRRI in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency, to develop high-yielding rice varieties. The Varanasi Centre would help increase farmers’ income by enhancing and supporting rice productivity, reducing cost of production, value addition, diversification and enhancement of farmers’ skills.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 


 

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Project Saksham

 

indian railways employee

 

What is it?

It is the country’s largest time-bound “upskilling” exercise for government employees launched by the Indian Railways.

What it does?

It aims to upgrade the skillsets of its 13 lakh-strong workforce with a single drive spanning nine months. The nature of the short-duration training will range from refresher courses, with an eye on evolved global practices in the respective areas, to skills in the existing lining of functioning.

Who will be trained?

Employees from the rank of a peon to the Railway Board Members and everyone in between will undergo the training.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 


 

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Hausala 2017

 

What is it?

It is the Child Rights Week celebrated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development from 16th to 20th November, 2017.

 

child rights

 

Background:

The country celebrates the Children’s Day on 14th November and the International Child Rights Day is celebrated on 20th November every year. The period between the two important events will be celebrated as Child Rights Week by WCD Ministry by hosting an Inter CCI Festival for the children who reside in Child Care Institutions (CCIs).

 

Significance of this event:

  • The commemoration of the festival “Hausala 2017” will provide an occasion to showcase the talents of children from CCIs from various child care institutions across the country and provide them with a space to express their dreams and aspiration.  
  • Children will be participating in various events like Bal Sansad, painting competition, athletics meet, football, chess competition and speech writing.

 

Sources: pib.

 


 

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Measles & Rubella

 

Context:

The India Expert Advisory Group on Measles & Rubella (IEAG-MR) has commended India on the progress of the measles and rubella vaccination campaign. The expert member group concluded that ‘the country is on the right track’. The group has advised for the MR vaccination campaign to cover the whole country by 2018. Presently, 13 states have been covered by the vaccination campaign.

 

rubella

 

About MR campaign:

What is it?

The MR campaign targets around 41 crore children across the country, the largest ever in any campaign. Under the campaign, children will be given a single shot of Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccination irrespective of their previous measles/rubella vaccination status or measles/rubella disease status. MR vaccine will be provided free- of- cost across the states from session sites at schools as well as health facilities and outreach session sites.

Target group: All children aged between 9 months and less than 15 years will be covered.

 

About Measles and Rubella:

Measles is a deadly disease and one of the important causes of death in children. It is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing of an infected person. Measles can make a child vulnerable to life threatening complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and brain infection. Globally, in 2015, measles killed an estimated 1, 34,200 children—mostly under-5 years. In India, it killed an estimated 49,200 children.

Rubella is generally a mild infection, but has serious consequences if infection occurs in pregnant women, causing congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), which is a cause of public health concern. CRS is characterized by congenital anomalies in the foetus and newborns affecting the eyes (glaucoma, cataract), ears (hearing loss), brain (microcephaly, mental retardation) and heart defects, causing a huge socio-economic burden on the families in particular and society in general.

 

Way ahead:

Measles kills an estimated 49,000 children in India each year, which is about 37% of the global deaths due to this disease. India has set an ambitious goal to eliminate measles from the country. Measles Rubella vaccine has been introduced in 13 states. It is planned to expand across the country, covering 41 crore children by the end of 2018.

 

Sources: pib.

 


 

Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

 

South China sea dispute

 

south china sea

 

Context:

Southeast Asian leaders are planning to start negotiations with China on a so- called “Code of Conduct” in the disputed South China Sea in what they regard as a milestone. However, China has been opposed to a legally binding code.

 

About the dispute over south China sea:

Where is the South China Sea? The South China Sea is located at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean, to Asia’s southeast. It encompasses an area of about 1.4 million square miles and contains a collection of reefs, islands and atolls, including the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands and Scarborough Shoal.

 

China’s claims:

Beijing claims 90% of the South China Sea, a maritime region believed to hold a wealth of untapped oil and gas reserves and through which roughly $4.5tn of ship-borne trade passes every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also contest China’s claims to islands and reef systems closer to their territory than Beijing’s.

China says it follows a historical precedent set by the “nine-dash line” that Beijing drew in 1947 following the surrender of Japan. The line has been included in subsequent maps issued under Communist rule.

 

Importance of South China Sea:

  • It is a 3.5m sq km waterway.
  • One of the world’s most strategically vital maritime spaces.
  • More oil passes through here than the Suez Canal.
  • More than $5 trillion in trade flows through its waters each year. That is a third of all global maritime commerce.
  • The Strait of Malacca that links Indian and Pacific Oceans handles four times as much oil as Suez Canal.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 


 

GS Paper 3:

Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

 

Not to pursue Islamic banking: RBI

 

The Reserve Bank of India has decided not to pursue a proposal for introduction of Islamic banking in the country. The central bank said the decision was taken after considering “the wider and equal opportunities” available to all citizens to access banking and financial services.

 

About Islamic banking:

 

islamic banking

 

What is it? Islamic or Sharia banking is a finance system based on the principles of not charging interest, which is prohibited under Islam.

 

What exactly is Sharia/Islamic banking?

Sharia banking refers to banking activity that conforms to Islamic law or Sharia. The fundamental principle of Islamic finance is the rejection of usury, along with the requirement that there must be no engagement in immoral businesses. Usury is seen as the levying of unreasonably high interest rates while lending money. Interest is Riba, which in its current interpretation, covers all interest — not just excessive interest. Under Islamic law, a Muslim is prohibited from both paying and accepting interest. Thus, Sharia banking means money can only be parked in a bank without interest — and this money cannot be used for speculative trading, gambling, or trading in prohibited commodities such as alcohol or pork.

 

Need for Islamic Banking:

Certain faiths prohibit the use of financial instruments that pay interest. The non- availability of interest-free banking products results in some Indians, including those in the economically disadvantaged strata of society, not being able to access banking products and services due to reasons of faith. This non-availability also denies the country access to substantial sources of savings from other countries in the region.

Therefore, introduction of Sharia or Islamic banking could bring more Muslims into the banking system, and help in the inflow of institutional wealth from entities operating in the Islamic world to the Indian economy. Sharia banking is not restricted to Muslims alone, and other communities who are interested in other forms of banking like ethical banking could be allowed to participate.

 

How does India benefit from Islamic banking?

Introduction of Islamic Banking was mooted by Raghuram Rajan in his report on the Financial Sector in the year 2008 where he recommended that interest-free banking techniques should be operated on a larger scale so as to give access to those who are unable to access banking services, including those belong to economically disadvantaged section of the society.

  • There are many advantages in introducing an Islamic window in the banks. For instance, majority of companies in the Stock Exchange are shariat compliant (this number is more than the shariat complaint companies on the Stock Exchange in Malaysia), thus this would result in attracting huge funds in the domestic market alone.
  • An Islamic Banking window will encourage many from the Muslim community to come forward and invest in projects thereby mobilising huge amount of capital which they may not be willing to put in the banks. This also means that India will be able to attract huge investments from West Asia and from those who invest only in shariat compliant projects.

 

Sharia banking globally:

A 2015 World Bank report estimated Sharia-compliant financial assets to be in the range of US $ 2 trillion, covering bank and non-bank financial institutions, capital markets, money markets and insurance. The Islamic Finance Industry has been expanding at a rate of 10%-12% annually. According to the World Bank, in many Muslim countries, Islamic banking assets have been growing faster than conventional banking assets. There has also been a surge of interest in Islamic finance in non-Muslim countries such as the UK, Luxembourg, South Africa, and Hong Kong.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 


 

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

Cobots

 

Small, collaborative robots, or cobots, are gaining currency across the world, as also in India. Several firms, be it Bajaj Auto or Aurolab, have benefited from the adoption of cobots and are planning to add more to their shop floors.

 

cobots

 

About Cobots:

What is a cobot?

A cobot is intended to work hand-in-hand with humans in a shared workspace. This is in contrast with full-fledged robots that are designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance. They support and relieve the human operator of his excess work.

How they operate? examples

In an auto factory, while the the cobot tightens the bolts, the human worker places the tools in front of the cobot. In a biscuit factory, the cobot would package the biscuits while the worker segregates burnt ones not fit for consumption. In a small-scale industry, the cobot is placed on the drilling job while the worker performs a quality check.

Benefits of Cobots:

Cobots are easy to use, flexible and safe. Unlike industrial robots, cobots don’t need fencing for the protection of workers in the shop floor.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

  • Urdu as second official language of Telangana:

Context:

Telangana government has declared Urdu as the state’s second official language. The state government will appoint Urdu officers in all the offices over the next 60 days to receive petitions from public and reply them in Urdu.

What the constitution says?

The Indian constitution does not specify the official languages to be used by the states for the conduct of their official functions, and leaves each state free to, through its legislature, adopt Hindi or any language used in its territory as its official language or languages. The language need not be one of those listed in the Eighth Schedule, and several states have adopted official languages which are not so listed.

 

  • Former French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay was appointed as Director General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

UNESCO:

UNESCO is UN organization that helps preserve historical and cultural sites worldwide. It is special multi-country agency, formed in 1945 and based in France.

UNESCO pursues its objectives through five major programs: education, natural sciences, social/human sciences, culture and communication/information. It is also known for recognizing world heritage sites and work to preserve cultural and heritage sites such as ancient ruins, villages and temples, and historic sites.