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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 30 October 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 30 October 2019


NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.


 

Table of contents:

 

GS Paper 1:

  1. Paramahansa Yogananda.

 

GS Paper 2:

  1. 15 point reform charter for better functioning of Parliament.
  2. Corporate Social Responsibility.

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. National Digital Health Blueprint.
  2. Dirac metals.
  3. Edge computing.

 

Facts for prelims:

  1. Strategic Partnership Council (SPC).
  2. SEED awards.

 


 

GS Paper 1:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Paramahansa Yogananda

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: About Yogananda, his teachings and Kriya Yoga.

 

Context: Finance Minister Releases Commemorative Coin on Paramahansa Yogananda to Mark his 125th Birth Anniversary. 

 

About Paramahansa Yogananda:

  1. Born in 1893, he was an Indian monk, yogi and guruwho introduced millions to the teachings of meditation and Kriya Yoga through his organization Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) / Yogoda Satsanga Society (YSS) of India.
  2. He is considered as the “Father of Yoga in the West.”
  3. He was the first major Indian teacher to settle in America, and the first prominent Indian to be hosted in the White House.
  4. He published his book Autobiography of a Yogiin 1946.

 

What is Kriya Yoga?

The “science” of Kriya Yoga is the foundation of Yogananda’s teachings.

Kriya Yoga is “union (yoga) with the Infinite through a certain action or rite (kriya).

  • The Kriya Yogi mentally directs his life energy to revolve, upward and downward, around the six spinal centers (medullary, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal plexuses) which correspond to the twelve astral signs of the zodiac, the symbolic Cosmic Man.
  • One-half minute of revolution of energy around the sensitive spinal cord of man effects subtle progress in his evolution; that half-minute of Kriya equals one year of natural spiritual unfoldment. 

Sources: pib.

 


GS Paper 2:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

 

15 point reform charter for better functioning of Parliament

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of the charter, basic structure of the constitution.

For Mains: Concerns and challenges, need for reforms.

 

Context: Expressing concern over the functioning of parliamentary institutions in the country and erosion of public trust in them, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu has unveiled a 15-point reform charter.

This may serve as the basis for a new political normal to enable effective functioning of the Parliament and State Legislatures.

 

The 15-point charter includes:

  1. Parties need to ensure attendance of at least 50% of their legislators all through the proceedings of the Houses by adopting a roster system.
  2. Review of anti-defection law.
  3. Review of the whip system which is “stifling reasonable dissent even on non-consequential matters”.
  4. Set up special courts for time-bound adjudication of criminal complaints against legislators.
  5. Pre and post legislative impact assessment.
  6. Address problem of rising number of legislators with criminal background.
  7. Governments should be responsive to opposition and opposition to be responsible and constructive while resorting to available parliamentary instruments
  8. Consensus on the proposal for simultaneous elections.
  9. Steps should be taken for the effective functioning of the Parliamentary Committees.
  10. The representation of women in legislatures needs to be raised.

 

Challenges and concerns:

The present pitfalls of our parliamentary democracy are too well known to be elaborated. Briefly, these include:

  1. Declining number of sittings of legislatures.
  2. Persistent disruptions.
  3. Declining quality of debates.
  4. Growing number of legislatures with criminal record.
  5. High degree of absenteeism.
  6. Inadequate representation of women.
  7. Rising money and muscle power in elections.
  8. Lack of inner democracy in functioning of the political parties.
  9. Poor knowledge, low argumentative power of the masses, negative influences of poverty and economic disparities.
  10. Faulty ‘First Pass the Post (FPTP) election system.
  11. Society’s perpetual habit of accepting all permeable state to control public and private affairs.

 

Way ahead:

As an institution, Parliament is central to the very idea of democracy and was assigned a pivotal role in our Constitution by the founding fathers of the republic.

Yet, so many decades later, it has neither evolved nor matured as it could, might or should have. If anything, slowly but surely, it has diminished in stature and significance.

Indeed, it is now more a symbol than the substance of a vibrant democracy that has taken deep roots among our people. The time has come for citizens, whom it represents, to evaluate that performance.

 

Sources: pib.

 

Mains Question:  In the recent past the parliament has been aggressively pushing bills on many fronts for a better India, however they suffer from the common malady that they are likely to be extremely under-enforced because of weak state capacity. Should Parliament pass laws that the government cannot enforce? Analyse.


Topics Covered:

  1. Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders

 

Corporate Social Responsibility

 

What to study?

For Prelims: What is CSR? Who governs them?

For Mains: Need for and significance, a critical evaluation on the need for CSR.

 

Context: President of India Presents National Corporate Social Responsibility Awards.

The NCSRA has been instituted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to recognize outstanding contribution in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

 

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

It is the integration of socially beneficial programs and practices into a corporation’s business model and culture.

 

How is it regulated in India?

India is one of the first countries in the world to make CSR mandatory for companies following an amendment to the Companies Act, 2013 (Companies Act) in 2014.

Under the Companies Act, businesses can invest their profits in areas such as promoting rural development in terms of healthcare, sanitation, education including skill development, environmental sustainability, etc.

Section 135(1) of the Act prescribes thresholds to identify companies which are required to constitute a CSR Committee – those, in the immediately preceding financial year of which:

  1. net worth is Rs 500 Crore or more; or.
  2. turnover is Rs 1000 Crore or more; or.
  3. net profit amounts to Rs 5 Crore or more.

As per the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2019, CSR is applicable to companies before completion of 3 financial years.

 

Amount to be spent:

  1. Companies are required to spend, in every financial year, at least 2% of their average net profits generated during the 3 immediately preceding financial years.
  2. For companies that have not completed 3 financial years, average net profits generated in the preceding financial years shall be factored in.

 

Treatment of unspent amounts:

  1. Amounts to be utilised towards a CSR activity, but unspent must be parked in a special account as prescribed under the provision within 30 days of the end of the relevant financial year.
  2. The unspent amount must be utilised by the company for the particular CSR activity within a period of 3 financial years from the date of such transfer, failing which, it must be transferred to any fund provided for in schedule VII of the Companies Act namely inter alia the Clean Ganga Fund, Swachh Baharat Kosh, Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
  3. Any unspent amount which does not relate to an ongoing CSR activity must be transferred to a fund provided for in Schedule VII within a span of 6 months of the end of the relevant financial year.

 

Fines and Imprisonment:

Provision for penalty in the form of fine on the company and officers in default, between Rs 50,000 – Rs 25,00,000, has been inserted in case of failure in compliance with Section 135. Additionally, every officer in default may also be imprisoned for a term of up to 3 years.

 

Social responsibility has a strategic importance for two reasons:

  1. A healthy business can only succeed in a healthy society. Thus, it is in the best interest of a company to produce only goods and services which strengthen the health of society
  2. If the company wants to succeed in the long term it needs to have the acceptance—or licence to operate—from social actors affected by the company’s’ operations.

 

Sources: pib.

 

Mains Question: Do you agree that corporate social responsibility makes companies more profitable and sustainable? Analyse.

 


 

GS Paper 3:

 

Topics Covered:

  1. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

National Digital Health Blueprint

 

What to study?

For prelims: NDHB- highlights.

For mains: Need for, significance of NDHB, challenges in health sector and ways to address them.

 

Context: National Digital Health Blueprint report submitted to Health Ministry.

 

Background:

In August this year, the government released NDHB which aims to create National Digital Health Eco- System.

 

Highlights of the National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB):

  1. It lays out the ‘building blocks’ for the implementation of the National Health Stack (NHS), which aims to deploy Artificial Intelligence (AI) in leveraging health records.
  2. Keeping true to the government’s larger agenda, of ‘data as a public good’, the blueprint proposes the linking of multiple databases to generate greater and granular data that can be leveraged by the public as well as private sector – including insurance companies, hospitals, apps and researchers.
  3. The blueprint proposes a National Digital Health Mission “as a purely government organisation with complete functional autonomy adopting some features of some of the existing National Information Utilities like UIDAI and GSTN.”

  

Concerns:

  1. This National Blueprint illustrates yet another example of the Centre moving forward with a major digitisation program involving the data of millions of citizens without a data protection law in place.
  2. Data security is a prerequisite for any data movement. Currently, data privacy in health is a grey area.
  3. Data researchers and activists have expressed concerns about the development of this policy, which proposes a health data set-up on a foundation of India Stack – a bouquet of privately-owned proprietary software applications.

 

Sources: pib.


Topics Covered:

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

 

Dirac metals

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Dirac and semi- Dirac metals- features, applications and the recent breakthrough.

 

Context: Researchers from IIT Bombay have discovered special properties in a class of materials called “semi-Dirac metals”- such materials would be transparent to light of a given frequency and polarisation when it is incident along a particular direction. The material would be opaque to the same light when it falls on it from a different direction.

 

What are Dirac metals?

The quality of conduction in normal metals like gold and silver depends on the way energy depends on the momentum of electrons.

Dirac metals differ from normal metals in that the energy depends linearly on the momentum. This difference is responsible for their unique properties.

Semi-Dirac metals behave like Dirac metals in one direction and like normal metals in the perpendicular directions.

 

What is Unique about semi- Dirac metal?

  1. Within any material, charge carriers, such as electrons, acquire an effective mass which is different from their bare mass depending on the nature of the material.
  2. The effective mass and the number of states available for the electron to occupy when it is excited by an electric field, determine the conductivity and other such properties.
  3. This is also true of a semi-Dirac metal. In particular, the effective mass becomes zero for conduction along a special direction.

Examples of semi-Dirac metals are systems such as TiO2/V2O3 nanostructures. There are many known applications for transparent conducting films – the common example being touch screens used in mobiles.

 

Significance of the recent breakthrough:

The energy-momentum dispersion relation can be linear, leading to large velocities and vanishingly small effective masses. The velocities can be over a 100 times more than normal metals, thus increasing the mobility and currents that can be carried across devices made of these so-called Dirac materials.

In the semi-Dirac metals, these properties are direction dependent. The direction-dependence of the microscopical properties gives the material special optical properties.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

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

 

Edge computing

 

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Meaning, features, significance and concerns.

 

Context: According to a research, By 2025, companies will generate and process more than 75% of their data outside of traditional centralised data centres — that is, at the “edge” of the cloud.

As the use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices expands and the need to process IoT data quickly increases, many IT leaders are considering or beginning to employ edge computing options.

 

What is edge computing?

Edge computing enables data to be analysed, processed, and transferred at the edge of a network. Meaning , the data is analysed locally, closer to where it is stored, in real-time without latency, rather than send it far away to a centralised data centre.

It allows for quicker data processing and content delivery.

 

How is edge computing different from cloud computing?

The basic difference between edge computing and cloud computing lies in where the data processing takes place.

Internet of Things (IoT) systems perform all of their computations in the cloud using data centres.

In Edge computing, massive amounts of data generated by IoT devices are stored and processed locally. That data doesn’t need to be sent over a network as soon as it processed; only important data is sent — therefore, an edge computing network reduces the amount of data that travels over the network.

 

Challenges:

According to experts, edge computing introduces several new security risks.

  1. One of the most prominent concerns is the physical security of the devices, which are more vulnerable to malicious attacks and mishaps of all kinds than typical office equipment and technology safely held within corporate walls.
  2. Micro data centers, such as those being deployed by telecommunication companies — in some cases, at the base of cell towers — introduce a level of physical vulnerability that didn’t exist with corporate data centers and large cloud providers.
  3. Meanwhile, many organizations will be challenged to understand, track and monitor what data they have and where, what protections are required at the various points based on the data and vulnerabilities specific to each endpoint and how to govern what could soon be a sprawling infrastructure at many companies.

 

Benefits:

Edge computing may offer some protection against a catastrophic attack where a single incident can compromise large amounts of a company’s data.

In some ways, it’s more resilient, because instead of one or two or even three data centers, you have distributed data and compute on the edge, which makes it much more resilient to malicious and nonmalicious events. 

Way ahead:

Experts believe the true potential of edge computing will become apparent when 5G networks go mainstream in a year from now. Users will be able to enjoy consistent connectivity without even realising it.

 

Sources: Indian Express.


 

Facts for prelims:

 

Strategic Partnership Council (SPC):

  1. Agreement for the Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) between India and Saudi Arabia has been signed.
  2. India will become the fourth country with which the Kingdom has formed a strategic partnership, the others being the UK, France and China.
  3. The SPC will have two parallel tracks: Political, security, culture and society, headed by both countries’ foreign ministers; and economy and investment, headed by India’s commerce and industry minister and the Saudi energy minister.

 

SEED awards:

Context: Fourteen start-ups selected for 2019 SEED Awards.

  1. The awards, an annual affair, are granted to organisations working on sustainable development.
  2. The award highlights the contribution of green and social enterprises to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  3. Every year, awards are decided under various categories. This year’s categories includes SEED Low Carbon, SEED Africa Awards, SEED South Africa Climate Adaptation Awards and SEED Gender equality award.

What is SEED?

  • Founded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
  • It is a global partnership for action on sustainable development and the green economy.
  • This initiative works in Asian and African countries including Ghana, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Thailand and Uganda and supports small and growing enterprises with business and capacity-building support.

SEED was originally conceived as an acronym for Supporting Entrepreneurs for Environment and Development.