Insights Daily Current Affairs, 18 December 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 18 December 2017


 

Paper 2:

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

RERA’s administration under Urban Affairs Ministry’s domain

The work of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, which mandates the establishment of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), will be looked after by the Urban Affairs Ministry. The central government has amended the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961, in this regard.

 

About the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016:

The RERA is for regulation and promotion of the real estate sector and to ensure sale of plot, apartment or building in an efficient and transparent manner and to protect the interest of consumers in the real estate sector.

  • It makes it mandatory for all builders – developing a project where the land exceeds 500 square metre – to register with RERA before launching or even advertising their project.
  • The promoter of a real estate development firm has to maintain a separate escrow account for each of their projects. A minimum 70% of the money from investors and buyers will have to be deposited. This money can only be used for the construction of the project and the cost borne towards the land.
  • RERA requires builders to submit the original approved plans for their ongoing projects and the alterations that they made later. They also have to furnish details of revenue collected from allottees, how the funds were utilised, the timeline for construction, completion, and delivery that will need to be certified by an Engineer/Architect/practicing Chartered Accountant.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, 2015

 

Context: In an effort to tackle the delay in issuing adoption orders by courts, which are supposed to dispose such cases within two months from the date of filing, the Ministry of Women and Child Development is planning to amend the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, 2015.

 

The proposal:

Empower the executive magistrate, instead of the court, to issue orders under the adoption proceedings. Presently, according to the JJ Act, once an adoption order is issued by a court, the child becomes the son/daughter of the adoptive parents for all purposes from the date on which the adoption order takes effect. Further, all ties of the child and his or her biological family stand severed and are replaced by those created by the adoption order.

 

Need for an amendment:

Though Section 61 (2) of the JJ Act states that the ‘adoption proceedings shall be held in camera and the case shall be disposed of by the court within a period of two months from the date of filing’, a number of adoption proceedings are getting delayed, some even pending for more than two years.

 

Concerns:

While the intent is good, the execution of this order may not be in the best interest of the child. It is because a district magistrate is already overburdened with several responsibilities and may not be in a position to look at this in detail. Besides, s/he may not have the legal acumen for carrying out these proceedings.

 

About the Juveniles Justice Act, 2015:

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 came into force in January, 2016. The new Act repeals the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. The JJ Act, 2015 provides for strengthened provisions for both children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with law.

 

Key provisions:

  • The Act clearly defines and classifies offences as petty, serious and heinous, and defines differentiated processes for each category. Keeping in view the increasing number of serious offences being committed by persons in the age group of 16-18 years and recognizing the rights of the victims as being equally important as the rights of juveniles, special provisions are incorporated in the Act to tackle heinous offences committed by individuals in this age group.
  • It establishes a statutory status for the Child Adoption Resources Authority (CARA). It also proposes several rehabilitation and social integration measures for institutional and non-institutional children. It provides for sponsorship and foster care as completely new measures.
  • Mandatory registration of all institutions engaged in providing child care is required according to the Act. New offences including illegal adoption, corporal punishment in child care institutions, the use of children by militant groups, and offences against disabled children are also incorporated in the legislation.
  • The new law gives the Juvenile Justice Board the power to assess whether the perpetrator of a heinous crime aged between 16 and 18, had acted as a ‘child’ or as an ‘adult.’ The board will be assisted in this process by psychologists and social experts.
  • It strikes a fine balance between the demands of the stakeholders asking for continued protection of rights of juveniles and the popular demand of citizens in the light of increasing incidence of heinous crimes by young boys.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

Meghalaya launches India’s first social audit law

 

With the launch of ‘The Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act, 2017’, Meghalaya has become the first state in India to operationalise a law that makes social audit of government programmes and schemes a part of government practice.

 

Key facts:

  • The legislation provides a legal framework for allowing citizens’ participation in the planning of development, selection of beneficiaries, concurrent monitoring of programmes, redress of grievances, and audit of works, services, and programmes on an annual basis.  The legislation is applicable to 11 departments and 21 schemes.
  • A social audit facilitator will be appointed to conduct the audit directly with the people. He will present findings to the Gram Sabha, who will add inputs and the result will finally go to the auditors.

 

Significance of the Act:

First, it will make it easier to correct course as the scheme is rolling along; the audit is not after all the money has been spent. Two, it gives people a direct say in how money will be spent and fills an information gap for officers as they are directly in touch with the ground. Third, social audits have been civil society initiatives rather than government-mandated. They are now part of the system.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

IMA tightens the screws on antibiotic prescriptions

Context: Alarmed over the growing antibiotic resistance that has made it difficult to treat many bacterial infections, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has advised doctors to follow strictly guidelines while prescribing antibiotics. IMA has advised its members to mandatorily restrict the usage of antibiotics for treatment of proven bacterial infections. It has also come out with a policy on anti-microbial resistance.

 

Concern:

Despite the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) setting up the National Anti-Microbial Resistance Research and Surveillance Network (AMRRSN) to enable compilation of data of such resistance at different levels of healthcare and publishing of treatment guidelines for anti-microbial use in common syndromes, the problem of multi-drug resistance due to widespread and indiscriminate use of antimicrobial and antibiotic drugs continues unabated in the country.

 

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotics are medicine used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotic Resistance refers to resistance developed by bacteria against antibiotics or the ability of bacteria to mutate or change so as to resist the effects of antibiotics. The more we use them, and the more we abuse them, the less effective they become.

Antibiotics are unquestionably useful against bacterial infections. However, indiscriminate use has resulted in development of resistance in patients with bacterial infections thereby leading to long lasting illnesses. It is driven by overusing antibiotics and prescribing them inappropriately.

 

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

Sendai Framework

Context: National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is conducting the first national-level Training of Trainers programme to sensitise various Central Ministries and Departments on utilisation of Sendai Monitor for developing action plans for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

The programme is being organised by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction-Global Education and Training Institute (UNISDR-GETI).

 

Need for training:

This training programme will build the capacity of the participants to utilise defined indicators to monitor the progress of the Sendai targets. Training modules at the programme will also enable them to lead consultations and train others on the monitoring of the Sendai Framework Targets.

 

Background:

In June 2016, India became one of the first countries to align its National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) with the SFDRR, which clearly identifies regional, national and local targets along with short, medium and long-term timelines. Various activities are being undertaken across the country to achieve the targets identified in the SFDRR.

 

About the Sendai Framework:

What is it? The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), 2015-2030, is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda and identifies targets and priority actions towards reducing disaster risks and implementing development that is both resilient and sustainable. The Sendai Framework is a 15-year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.

 

The Seven Global Targets:

  • Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030, aiming to lower average per 100,000 global mortality rate in the decade 2020-2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
  • Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030, aiming to lower average global figure per 100,000 in the decade 2020 -2030 compared to the period 2005-2015.
  • Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.
  • Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030.
  • Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020.
  • Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of this Framework by 2030.
  • Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.

 

The Four Priorities for Action under the Framework:

  • Understanding disaster risk.
  • Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk.
  • Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience.
  • Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

 

Sources: pib.

 


 

Paper 3:

 

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

 

Deep learning neural networks

Context: Scientists have announced the discovery of two new exoplanets, Kepler-90i and Kepler-80g. With this discovery, it is now clear that there is another star besides the Sun that has eight planets orbiting it.

 

Use of Deep learning neural networks:

The new exoplanets have been discovered using a deep learning neural network — an artificial intelligence tool that mimics the workings of a human brain.

  • Scientists “trained” their computer to analyse light readings made by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, which are archived and made available for anyone to use. During its mission from 2009 to 2013, the Kepler Space Telescope surveyed nearly 200,000 stars, with 35,000 possible planet signals. The network was made to learn to identify true signals using 15,000 previously vetted signals.
  • They then studied the weaker signals recorded from 670 star systems that had multiple known planets orbiting them, finally coming up with this discovery. The network also identified another Earth-sized exoplanet, Kepler 80g, orbiting the star Kepler 80. This is a very stable system in which Kepler 80g and four of its neighbours are locked together in a so-called resonant chain.

 

What is Deep Learning?

Deep learning is a machine learning technique that teaches computers to do what comes naturally to humans: learn by example. In deep learning, a computer model learns to perform classification tasks directly from images, text, or sound. Deep learning models can achieve state-of-the-art accuracy, sometimes exceeding human-level performance. Models are trained by using a large set of labeled data and neural network architectures that contain many layers.

 

Applications:

Deep learning is a key technology behind driverless cars, enabling them to recognize a stop sign, or to distinguish a pedestrian from a lamppost. It is the key to voice control in consumer devices like phones, tablets, TVs, and hands-free speakers. Deep learning is getting lots of attention lately and for good reason. It’s achieving results that were not possible before.

 

What’s the Difference Between Machine Learning and Deep Learning?

Deep learning is a specialized form of machine learning. A machine learning workflow starts with relevant features being manually extracted from images. The features are then used to create a model that categorizes the objects in the image. With a deep learning workflow, relevant features are automatically extracted from images. In addition, deep learning performs “end-to-end learning” – where a network is given raw data and a task to perform, such as classification, and it learns how to do this automatically.

Another key difference is deep learning algorithms scale with data, whereas shallow learning converges. Shallow learning refers to machine learning methods that plateau at a certain level of performance when you add more examples and training data to the network.

A key advantage of deep learning networks is that they often continue to improve as the size of your data increases.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Topic: Biodiversity.

 

Alien invasive animal species

Context: The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has for the first time compiled a list of alien invasive animal species, totalling 157. Of the 157 species, 58 are found on land and in freshwater habitats, while 99 are in the marine ecosystem. This compilation was announced on the sidelines of the National Conference on the Status of Invasive Alien Species in India, organised by the ZSI and the Botanical Survey of India (BSI).

 

What are invasive animal species?

Alien species become ‘invasive’ when they are introduced deliberately or accidentally outside their natural areas, where they out-compete the native species and upset the ecological balance. Invasive animal species pose a threat to biodiversity and human well-being.

Common characteristics of invasive species include rapid reproduction and growth, high dispersal ability, phenotypic plasticity (ability to adapt physiologically to new conditions), and ability to survive on various food types and in a wide range of environmental conditions.

 

Why Does it Matter?

Invasive alien species have invaded and affected native biota in almost every ecosystem type on Earth, and have affected all major taxonomic groups. In economic terms, the costs of invasive alien species are significant. Total annual costs, including losses to crops, pastures and forests, as well as environmental damages and control costs, have been conservatively estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars and possibly more than one trillion. This does not include valuation of species extinctions, losses in biodiversity, ecosystem services and aesthetics.

 

Few examples:

  • Paracoccus marginatus (Papaya Mealy Bug), which belongs to Mexico and Central America but is believed to have destroyed huge crops of papaya in Assam, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
  • Phenacoccus solenopsis (Cotton Mealybug) is a native of North America but has severely affected cotton crops in the Deccan.
  • Pterygoplichthys pardalis (Amazon sailfin catfish) has been destroying fish populations in the wetlands of Kolkata.
  • Achatina fulica (African apple snail) is said to be most invasive among all alien fauna. It is a mollusc and was first reported in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. But today it is found all across the country and is threatening the habitats of several native species.

 

What is being done?

In 2010 almost all of the world’s governments adopted the Convention on Biological Diversity Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, which included 20 headline ‘targets’ referred to as the Aichi Targets. One of these targets (#9) is specifically related to IAS.

“Target 9: By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment”.

This international commitment to addressing IAS was re-affirmed in 2015 through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which includes 17 goals (SDGs) each with specific targets. The SDGs have nature woven throughout acknowledging that nature is fundamental to human well-being. One of the SDGs #15 Life on land, has a target focusing specifically on IAS.

“By 2020, introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species”

 

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:

 

“PRATAP” helicopters:

Context: The Soviet-era MI-8, also known as ‘Pratap’, the backbone of the Indian Air Force helicopter operations, was recently phased out, bringing an end to its glorious service career spanning 45 years.

Background: Formally inducted in 1972 and rechristened as “Pratap”, MI-8 took part in several major IAF operations, including Operation Meghdoot in the Siachen Glacier and the Indian Peace Keeping Force operation in Sri Lanka. The helicopter, inducted in 10 operational helicopter units, was also extensively used in Humanitarian and Disaster Relief operations, besides being associated with VIP/VVIP flying.

 

Nyaya Gram project:

Context: President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, recently laid the foundation stone of the Nyaya Gram project of the High Court of Allahabad.

What is it? It is a model township of High Court in Allahabad. The township includes a judicial academy, an auditorium and residences for judges and staff.