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Insights Daily Current Events, 27 January 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 27 January 2016

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Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Soon, annual and quarterly reports to replace once-in-5-year job surveys

The government is planning to launch an annual employment survey.

What is it all about?

It will be a first of its kind survey with the ability to generate quarterly reports on job market trends in certain segments like urban India.

How different will this survey be?

Unlike other official data, the employment data generated by the latest employment survey will be released soon after the survey is completed. The survey will be conducted with the help of modern technology.

Significance of this data:

An estimated million people are joining India’s workforce every month, thanks to its demographic dividend of a high number of youth in the population. Such data will enable policymakers to react faster to labour market movements and track job creation goals. Such data also helps assess the state of the economy better.

Background:

The National Statistics Commission had first called for a periodic labour force survey in 2009 and a pilot survey was undertaken in 2012-13. The design of the new annual employment survey has been finalised on the basis of a peer and stakeholder review of the pilot survey’s outcomes.

Currently available surveys:

As of now, the only employment data in India is available through quinquennial (once every five years) surveys by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), a limited ad-hoc survey of employment in a few sectors that was initiated by the Labour Bureau after the global financial crisis in 2008 and the Annual Survey of Industries (which only captures the employees of the registered factories).

Way ahead:

The NSSO has readied the design, modalities and mechanisms for conducting the survey and could start as soon as the nod comes for the formal proposal of the Statistics Ministry.

sources: the hindu.

 

Paper 3 Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

Genetics throws light on genesis of caste system

Based on a study of numerous communities across the country, researchers from the National Institute of BioMedical Genomics in West Bengal have gained some insights into the genesis of caste system in the country.

What the researchers did?

Researchers analyzed high quality genotype data of 367 individuals drawn from 20 ethnic populations. The samples collected ranged in caste, language and geographic locations. They looked at the genes of various communities to answer questions that have often been suggested in history books: when did caste become the dominant norm for ethnic communities of the region.

What was the conclusion?

By looking at ancient genes within modern genomes, the scientists have been able to figure out when the mixing of genes ended — that is, when the caste system closed its grasp.

  • The results point to the Gupta period, nearly 1,500 years ago, when many historians believe prohibition of marriage between castes was enshrined in the Dharmasastra.
  • Similarly, other communities can trace their caste consolidation to kingdoms such as Rashtrakutas or the Pala dynasty.

Various developments during the Gupta period:

  • For most upper-caste communities, endogamy (that is marrying within one’s caste) started nearly 70 generations ago, or around the time of the Hindu Gupta period around 1,500 years ago.
  • A lot of social transformation took place during the Gupta period. Notable among these was the enforcement of social strictures against marriage between castes, as enshrined in the Dharmasastra.

In the case of West Bengal Brahmins, marriages with the northeastern communities continued until the arrival of the 8th century Pala dynasty which cut off these regions.

Other findings:

  • Researchers also indicate that the mixing of genes continued even after the Gupta period, but was asymmetric in nature. That is, upper caste people continued to give genetic inputs to lower caste and tribal populations- but not vice-versa.
  • The study also shows the complex ancestries that now make up the Indian population. It shows the presence of the Ancestral Tibeto-Burman (ATB) genes in communities in the north east and Ancestral Austro-Asiatic (AAA) genes among the tribal populations of east and central India.

sources: the hindu.

 

Paper 1 Topic: Art and culture.

Appoint experts for Qutub Shahi Tombs conservation, Waqf tribunal urged

The Wakf Tribunal of Andhra Pradesh has directed the counsels for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) to form a proposal to find suitable persons for the High Powered Supervisory Committee to oversee the ongoing works at the Qutub Shahi Tombs.

  • Currently, custody of the Qutb Shahi Tombs is given to the State government.

About the Qutb Shahi Tombs:

The tombs of the seven Qutub Shahi rulers are located close to the famous Golkonda Fort in Hyderabad, India.

  • The tombs are domed structures built on a square base surrounded by pointed arches, a distinctive style that blends Persian, Pashtun and Hindu forms. The tombs are structures with intricately carved stonework and are surrounded by landscaped gardens.
  • In the centre of each tomb is a sarcophagus which overlies the actual burial vault in a crypt below.
  • The domes were originally overlaid with blue and green tiles, of which only a few pieces now remain.

sources: the hindu, wiki.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

India sets an example in subsidised TB diagnosis

A study, published recently in the journal Lancet Global Health, has indicated that India is the best country in the world to offer subsidized TB diagnosis.

Details of the study:

  • Of the 12 high-burden countries where the private sector is a major player in providing health care, the Indian private sector offers the cheapest price for the WHO-approved Xpert MTB/RIF, a molecular test for diagnosing TB.
  • India also has the highest number of private labs offering the test, with 113 labs offering it at a subsidised rate.

Cost in India:

While it costs only Rs.2,000 in the 113 labs (with 5,200 collection centres) which are part of a novel initiative — Improving Access to Affordable & Quality TB Tests (IPAQT) — that was launched in India in March 2013, the charges are anywhere between Rs.3,500 and Rs.5,000 in labs that are not part of the IPAQT initiative.

Other countries:

The mean price of the highly accurate TB test in Bangladesh is nearly $75, while it is $50 in the case of Afghanistan. It is as high as $155.5 in Philippines. Xpert is not commercially available in the private sector in six other high-burden countries.

Way ahead:

Access to accurate tests at subsidised price is very important in India as nearly 80% of the population in India first seek the private sector. If one out of every four TB patients in the world is an Indian, one in eight TB patients in the world is a privately treated Indian patient. Hence, to further reduce the costs, the study asks the Indian government to waive off customs duty of 31% levied on Xpert machine and reagents.

sources: the hindu.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Do not disclose details of minors without parents’ consent: CIC

In its recent order, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has said schools and Education Department should not disclose information about children under the RTI Act without consulting their parents.

Why?

There are several incidents reported that rivals of the parents or quarrelling spouses take the child from the school. Hence, CIC noted that revealing the details of the child might lead to kidnap or murder etc. During the stay of the child in school, the principal and teachers have a duty of guardian and any negligence on their part might harm the student.

What the law says?

While disclosing any personal information of the student to any person, the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) has to follow the procedures mentioned under Section 11 of the RTI Act. Asper this section, it is mandatory for the CPIO to seek the opinion of parents of the child before disclosing any personal information of the student.

Background:

This issue came up when recently the CIC admonished the principal of RD Public School and the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Directorate of Education (DoE) of the Delhi government for disclosing information about a student to his relatives who had a dispute with the student’s family.

sources: the hindu.

 

Topic: general awareness.

Akbaruddin presents his credentials to UN Secretary General

Senior diplomat Syed Akbaruddin has presented his credentials as India’s new permanent representative to the United Nations to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

  • Receiving the credentials, Mr. Ban welcomed his appointment as the top Indian diplomat to the UN and appreciated the significant role India plays at the powerful world body as a long-trusted partner of multilateral system.
  • Akbaruddin, India’s 21st Permanent Representative at the UN, succeeds Asoke Mukerji who demitted office on December 31.

Way ahead:

As India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Mr. Akbaruddin’s main task would be to push for India’s bid to gain permanent membership of the UN Security Council as well as to strongly advocate its position on key issues.

About Permanent Representative to the UN:

The Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations is the India’s foremost diplomatic representative to the United Nations. The permanent Representative (UN ambassador) is the head of a diplomatic mission to the United Nations (UN).

sources: the hindu.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Denmark: bill allowing seizure of migrants’ valuables passed

Denmark’s Parliament has adopted reforms aimed at dissuading migrants from seeking asylum by delaying family reunifications and allowing authorities to seize their valuables, under legislation that has sparked widespread condemnation.

Why such a law?

The government insists the law is needed to cover the cost of each asylum seeker’s treatment by the state, and mimics the handling of Danish citizens on welfare.

Details:

  • This law allows the seizure of valuables worth more than 10,000 Danish kroner (about $1,453).
  • Under this law, items of “special sentimental value” such as “wedding rings, engagement rings, family portraits, decorations and medals”. But “watches, mobile phones and computers” can be confiscated.
  • The new measures also mean the period migrants will have to wait before applying for relatives to join them will be extended from one year to three – a move aimed at discouraging new arrivals.
  • Temporary residence permits will be shortened and the conditions for obtaining a permanent permit will be restricted.

Denmark is not the first European country to demand the assets of asylum seekers. Earlier this month, Switzerland was criticised by a refugee group for seizing assets from some 100 people in 2015. However, the UN refugee agency UNHCR has claimed that the bill violated several conventions on rights and refugees.

Key facts:

Home to 5.6 million people, Denmark registered 21,000 asylum applications in 2015, making it one of the top EU destinations per capita.

sources: the hindu.

 

Topic: general awareness.

Artificial Intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky

Marvin Minsky, the artificial intelligence pioneer who helped make machines think, leading to computers that understand spoken commands and beat grandmasters at chess, recently passed away.

  • Minsky’s greatest contribution to computers and artificial intelligence was the notion that neither human nor machine intelligence is a single process. Instead, he argued, intelligence arises from the interaction of numerous processes in a “society of mind” – a phrase Minsky used for the title of his 1985 book.
  • Minsky’s insight led to the development of smart machines packed with individual modules that give them specific capabilities, such as computers that play grandmaster-level chess, robots that build cars, programs that analyze DNA and software that creates lifelike dinosaurs, explosions and extraterrestrial worlds for movies.

Artificial intelligence is also essential to almost every computer function, from web search to video games, and tasks such as filtering spam email, focusing cameras, translating documents and giving voice commands to smartphones.

His accomplishments:

  • Minsky’s scientific accomplishments spanned a variety of disciplines. Minsky was co-founder in 1959 of the now-legendary Artificial Intelligence Group at MIT. He also built the first computer capable of learning through connections that mimic human neurons.
  • He designed and built some of the first visual scanners and mechanical hands with tactile sensors, advances that influenced modern robotics.
  • In 1951 he built the first randomly wired neural network learning machine, which he called Snarc. And in 1956, while at Harvard, he invented and built the first confocal scanning microscope, an optical instrument with superior resolution and image quality still in wide use in the biological sciences.

sources: the hindu.

 

Topic: general.

President rule in Arunachal Pradesh (Update)

President Pranab Mukherjee has approved the Union Cabinet’s recommendation for the imposition of President’s rule on Arunachal Pradesh. The President has issued this proclamation under Article 356(1) of the Constitution.

Background:

The Union Cabinet had recently recommended imposition of President’s rule on the Congress-ruled Arunachal Pradesh after it felt the State was heading for a “constitutional breakdown.”

sources: the hindu.