Insights Daily Current Affairs, 16 August 2016

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 16 August 2016


 

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

India climbs 15 spots in innovation ranking

 

Global Innovation Index (GII) 2016 has been released. It is published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization, in partnership with other organizations and institutions.

GII 2016 Theme: “Winning with Global Innovation”.

Highlights:

  • Switzerland, Sweden, UK, U.S., Finland and Singapore lead the 2016 rankings.
  • China joined the world’s 25 most-innovative economies, becoming the first middle-income country to enter the top 25 of the index in its nine editions of surveying the innovative capacity of over 100 economies.
  • Despite China’s rise, an “innovation divide” persists between developed and developing countries amid increasing awareness among policymakers that fostering innovation is crucial to a vibrant, competitive economy.
  • GII 2016 data indicate that global R&D grew by only 4% in 2014. This was a result of slower growth in emerging economies and tighter R&D budgets in high-income economies – this remains a source of concern.
  • China moves to 17th place in innovation quality, making it the leader among middle-income economies for this indicator.

    global innovation index 2016
    Source: https://www.globalinnovationindex.org

India’s performance:

  • India climbed 15 spots, from 81 last year, to 66.
  • India has maintained the top spot in the Central and South Asia regions.
  • India scored high on tertiary education and R&D, the quality of its universities and scientific publications and its market sophistication.
  • India ranks second on innovation quality among middle-income economies, overtaking Brazil.
  • In information and communication technology service exports it ranks first in the world.

Way ahead for India:

India has all the ingredients needed to become a global driver of innovation including strong market potential, an excellent talent pool, and an underlying culture of frugal innovation. However, relative weaknesses exist in the indicators for business environment, education expenditures, new business creations and the creative goods and services production.

India has the ability to create a unique spot in innovation history to meet its own market requirements by using its cultural advantages of frugality and sustainability. Therefore, India’s priorities for innovation need to be in the areas of energy, water, transport, health care, food security and digital consumption. It should also strengthen its own talent pool and leverage global talent “in these market-pull areas”.

Sources: livemint.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

 

Drones better than satellites to gauge crop loss, says panel

 

According to a committee set up by NITI Aayog, drones are better than satellites in crop insurance schemes. The committee was tasked by NITI Aayog with studying how unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Why drones are better than satellites?

The current satellites would not be sufficient due to their non-availability during cloud cover, limited revisit possibility during the crop season and high price.

How UAVs are better?

UAVs gather data from low heights [i.e., below the cloud] and at very high resolution.

Other recommendations made by the committee:

  • Sharing cadastral (land’s location, ownership, tenure) details, Aadhaar card and bank account details should be made mandatory for effective crop insurance policies.
  • Farmer field coordinates be made mandatory for issuance of insurance policy. This will help in tracking the crop field throughout the crop season without much ground monitoring, and, any kind of loss can readily be verified from satellite data.
  • Pilot surveys that can estimate varying risk profiles for different regions of the country, and that for schemes such as PMFBY, drones are a better bet than satellite imagery.

Way ahead:

The committee is expected to submit its report to the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) shortly.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

‘Sri Lanka-India economic pact may soon be a reality’

 

Y.K. Sinha, India’s High Commissioner in Colombo, recently indicated that the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) between India and Sri Lanka, which would be an improvement over the existing Free Trade Agreement (FTA), may soon be a reality. He also observed that there has to be “genuine debate and discussion” among stakeholders in Sri Lanka on this matter.

Background:

India-Sri Lanka bilateral trade stood at $4.6 billion last year, of which Indian exports were valued at about $4 billion. Nearly 60% of Sri Lankan exports were making use of the FTA whereas 90% Indian exports did not use the channel.

ETCA:

The Indo-Lanka Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement better known as ETCA (formerly CEPA) is a trade agreement. The ETCA agreement seeks to boost cooperation in technical areas, scientific expertise and research amongst institutions, boost standards of goods and services able to compete on the global market and improve opportunities for manpower training and human resource development.

Sources: the hindu.


 

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

 

GM mustard trials: CIC asks govt to reveal bio-safety data

 

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the environment ministry to reveal safety data regarding trials of genetically modified (GM) mustard without further delay.

  • CIC has noted that any attempt to postpone or delay the disclosure will block the public discussion on the controversial issue.
  • The CIC has also directed the ministry to put in the public domain bio-safety data pertaining to all other GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in the pipeline.

Background:

CIC, in April, had pulled up the environment ministry over its lack of transparency on trials of GM crops and had directed it to make public all information, including bio-safety data, related to the field trials of the GM mustard crop before 30 April. However, instead of furnishing information, the authority requested for two more months. Further, it sought another extension, this time for 90 days.current affairs

What has the CIC said?

The CIC said that it finds no sufficient reason to extend the time for another 90 days to give information which the MoEFCC was supposed to disclose on its own under proactive disclosure provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

About the issue:

The GM mustard in question—DMH-11—has been developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants of Delhi University. If it gets the green light from the environment ministry’s GEAC, it will be the first GM food crop to be commercially cultivated in India. Right now, only GM cotton is allowed. GEAC is the environment ministry’s regulator for GMOs and transgenic products.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

Call to remove IP clauses from trade pact

 

Ahead of the next round of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade talks, humanitarian aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has called for the removal of intellectual property provisions — known as the TRIPS-plus provisions — from the agreement.

Why?

According to the MSF, the TRIPS-plus provisions like patent term extensions and data exclusivity could hinder access to affordable drugs.

About Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership:

The RCEP is among the proposed three mega FTAs in the world so far – the other two being the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership, led by the US) and the TTIP (Trans -atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and the EU).

  • The agreement (FTA) is proposed between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).
  • RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
  • RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the TPP trade agreement, which includes the United States but excludes China.

Sources: the hindu.