25th Oct, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Workplace issues’ (GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: A committee of a group of ministers was set up, headed by Union home minister Rajnath Singh and comprising Road Transport minister Nitin Gadkari, Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Women and Child Development (WCD) minister Maneka Gandhi. The group has now been given a timeline of three months to address the issue of sexual harassment at workplace
Mandate of the committee
The GoM will now be required, within the next three months, to examine various provisions for the safety of women and recommend further measures required to strengthen and make them more effective
Recent action taken by the government to tackle sexual harassment
SHe-Box online complaint Management System for women working in both public and private organizations to lodge complaints of sexual harassment at workplace. The SHe-Box was launched in New Delhi. The new SHe-Box portal offers the facility of making online complaints of sexual harassment at workplace to all women employees in the country including government and private employees. Those who have already filed a written complaint with the concerned Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) or Local Complaint Committee (LCC) constituted under the SH Act are also eligible to file their complaint through this portal.
SHe-Box portal is an effort to provide speedier remedy to women facing sexual harassment at workplace. Once a complaint is submitted to the portal, it will be directly sent to the ICC/LCC of the concerned employer. Through this portal, WCD as well as complainant can monitor the progress of inquiry conducted by the ICC/LCC.
‘Women’s health and nutrition status in India’ (GS2: Issue related to Human resources)
Issue: Indian women are lagging behind in rights for health, nutrition and participation in workforce, revealed the country briefing report on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Gender Index
Observations made in the report
- According to the report, in SDG 2 on nutrition, India lagged behind other countries. While it had the lowest rates of obesity among women, it had the highest rates of stunting among girls in 2015-16
- The country also had the highest prevalence of anaemia among women with anaemia rates for women nearly double that of Colombia, El Salvador, Indonesia and Kenya in 2016.
- As far as the SDG 5 that aims to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls is concerned, the report said that India had the lowest percentage of women in its national parliament in 2018 – just 12% compared to 42% in Senegal.
- It also had the second highest percentage of child, early and forced marriage before the age of 18 in 2015-16. In addition, it had a high percentage of women (45% in 2015-16) who reported believing that a husband is justified in hitting his wife.
‘Mars and water’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Water on Mars could hold more oxygen than previously believed, theoretically enough to support aerobic respiration, suggests a new research. A team led by scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), calculated that if liquid water exists on Mars, it could — under specific conditions — contain more oxygen than previously thought.
About Planet Mars
Mars is a cold desert world. It is half the size of Earth. Mars is sometimes called the Red Planet. It’s red because of rusty iron in the ground.
Like Earth, Mars has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons, and weather. It has a very thin atmosphere made of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon.
There are signs of ancient floods on Mars, but now water mostly exists in icy dirt and thin clouds. On some Martian hillsides, there is evidence of liquid salty water in the ground. The first person to watch Mars with a telescope was Galileo Galilei, and in the century after him, astronomers discovered its polar ice caps
Adjudicating Authority and establishment of Appellate Tribunal under Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act (PBPT), 1988 (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the appointment of Adjudicating Authority and establishment of Appellate Tribunal under Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act (PBPT), 1988.
- Appointment of an Adjudicating Authority, along with the three additional Benches and to establish the Appellate Tribunal under the PBPT Act;
- To provide the officers and employees to Adjudicating Authority, Benches of the Adjudicating Authority and Appellate Tribunal by diverting the existing posts at the same level/rank from the Income Tax Deptt./Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT);
- The Adjudicating Authority and Appellate Tribunal shall sit in the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCTD). Benches of Adjudicating Authority may sit in Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai
Benefit of this decision
The approval will result in effective and better administration of cases referred to the Adjudicating Authority and speedy disposal of appeals filed against the order of the Adjudicating Authority before the Appellate Tribunal.
What is Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act (PBPT), 1988?
Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 is an Act of the Parliament of India that prohibits certain types of financial transactions. The act defines a ‘benami’ transaction as any transaction in which property is transferred to one person for a consideration paid by another person
The term ‘Benami Transaction’ covers a transaction or Arrangement
- where a property is transferred to, or is held by, a person for a consideration provided, or paid by, another person; and
- the property is held for the immediate or future benefit, direct or indirect, of the person providing the consideration.
The Primary Act was not comprehensive enough and lacked to make a big impact. The Rules of the Primary Act were not framed and benami transactions continued in India. The Primary Act had several loopholes, including the absence of an appellate mechanism and lack of provisions for vesting of the confiscated property with the Central government. The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 (‘Amendment Act’) seeks to amend the Primary Act and is aimed at catching those with black money in the domestic economy hidden through benami properties.
The Amendment Act seeks to:
- amend the definition of benami transactions,
- establish adjudicating authorities and an appellate tribunal, and
- specify revised penalties for benami transactions.
The Amendment Act increases the scope of transactions which qualify as benami and includes property transactions where:
- transaction is made in a fictitious name, or
- owner is not aware of or denies knowledge of the ownership of the property, or
- Person providing the consideration for the property is not traceable or is fictitious.
‘Fisheries and Aquaculture development fund’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for creation of special Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF).
- Creation of fisheries infrastructure facilities both in marine and Inland fisheries sectors.
- To augment fish production to achieve its target of 15 million tonne by 2020 set under the Blue Revolution; and to achieve a sustainable growth of 8% -9% thereafter to reach the fish production to the level of about 20 MMT by 2022-23.
- Employment opportunities to over 9.40 lakh fishers/fishermen/fisherfolk and other entrepreneurs in fishing and allied activities.
- To attract private investment in creation and management of fisheries infrastructure facilities.
- Adoption of new technologies.
FIDF would provide concessional finance to State Governments / UTs and State entities, cooperatives, individuals and entrepreneurs etc., for taking up of the identified investment activities of fisheries development. Under FIDF, loan lending will be over a period of five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23 and maximum repayment will be over a period of 12 years inclusive of moratorium of two years on repayment of principal.
‘BRICS-Social and labour sphere’ (GS2: Multilateral groupings)
Issue: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) among Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China, South Africa, regarding Cooperation in the Social and Labour Sphere
About the MoU
In the MoU, the parties including India have agreed to cooperate and hold mutual events in the prominent areas viz. labour legislation and enforcement, protection of workers’ rights with focus on vulnerable groups, Employment and labour market policies, Professional education, skills and training and Social protection. The member countries may utilize the BRICS Network of Labour Research Institutes and BRICS Social Security Cooperation Framework for cooperation on Social Security and other labour issues.
Significance of this MoU
The MoU provides a mechanism for cooperation, collaboration and maximum synergy amongst BRICS member countries with the common objective of inclusive growth and shared prosperity in the new industrial revolution. This would facilitate member countries to share knowledge and also implement joint programmes on .matter of Labour and Employment, Social Security and Social dialogue. This would also ensure networking of international Training Centre of International Labour Organisation (ILO) with the BRICS Network of Labour Institutes
‘Sustainable development goals’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the constitution of a High Level Steering Committee for periodically reviewing and refining the National Indicator Framework (NIF) for monitoring of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with associated targets.
- Measures to mainstream SDGs into on-going national policies, programmes and strategic action plans to address the developmental challenges.
- Statistical indicators of NIF will be the backbone of monitoring of SDGs at the national and state level and will scientifically measure the outcomes of the policies to achieve the targets under different SDGs.
- Based on statistical indicator, the MoSPI will bring out national reports on implementation of SDGs. The Report will facilitate assessment of progress, identify challenges and give recommendations for follow up at the national level.
- High Level Steering Committee will review the National Indicator Framework on regular basis for its improvement.
- Data source Ministries / Departments will be responsible for providing regular information to MoSPI on these indicators at required intervals and disaggregation for national and sub-national reporting of SDGs.
- Advanced IT tools will be used for close and effective monitoring.
- SDGs integrate economic, social and environmental dimensions of development. It intends eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world with basic motto of ‘SabkaSaathSabkaVikash’.
- SDGs with 17 Goals and 169 Targets intend for promotion of sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities, raising basic standards of living, fostering equitable social development and inclusion, promoting integrated and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems.
- NIF will help in outcome-based monitoring & reportingon progress on SDGs at National level.
What are SDG?
The SDGs came into effect in January 2016, and they will continue to guide UNDP policy and funding until 2030.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were born at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. The objective was to produce a set of universal goals that meet the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world.
The SDGs replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which started a global effort in 2000 to tackle the indignity of poverty. The MDGs established measurable, universally-agreed objectives for tackling extreme poverty and hunger, preventing deadly diseases, and expanding primary education to all children, among other development priorities.
The SDGs coincided with another historic agreement reached in 2015 at the COP21 Paris Climate Conference. Together with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, signed in Japan in March 2015, these agreements provide a set of common standards and achievable targets to reduce carbon emissions, manage the risks of climate change and natural disasters, and to build back better after a crisis.
The SDGs are unique in that they cover issues that affect us all.
‘Remittances’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Indians living overseas may boost remittances to a record, helping bolster the nation’s efforts to support Asia’s worst-performing major currency.
The country is expected to receive remittances of about $76 billion in 2018, 10% more than in the previous year
Significance of remittances
Flows from an estimated 20 million nationals working abroad will help bolster India’s efforts to cap the nation’s current-account deficit. Without remittances, the gap would have been about 5% of gross domestic product at mid-year, instead of 2%
‘Thermal power’ (GS3: Infrastructure)
Issue: Capacity addition in thermal power generation will slow down over the next five years to less than half the current pace. Only about 35 gigawatt (GW) of new coal-fired power plants are expected to be added to India’s power generation portfolio from FY19-23. In contrast, India added 88 GW of capacity in the preceding five years
Reasons for a lesser thermal capacity addition
The slowdown in capacity addition largely due to two factors. In the private sector, large capacities that are under construction are stuck because of the financial muddles that promoters find themselves in. Second, new project announcements are limited as players with the appetite to add capacity are opting to buy out some of the bankrupt assets that are available at reasonable valuations.
Lenders have proved reluctant to extend further capital to fire-up stuck power projects as the future of several of these is uncertain and many risk liquidation.
‘Asian infrastructure’ (GS2: Effect of policies of developed countries on India’s interests)
Issue: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to arrive in China on a re-set visit that is expected to trigger significant collaboration between Tokyo and Beijing in developing infrastructure in Asia. During Mr. Abe’s talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang, the leaders of the two countries are expected to seek areas of convergence between China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Japan’s concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Tagged with politically benefitting from “debt traps” through its loans to developing countries, China is particularly keen to work together with reputed Japanese financial firms in third countries.
The Nikkei Asian Review is reporting that Japan and China are expected to promote around 50 private-sector, third-country infrastructure projects this week, setting in motion the first joint deal of building.
‘AI created art’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Christie’s, the auction house that has sold paintings by Picasso and Monet at record prices, was poised to set another milestone with the first-ever auction of art created by artificial intelligence.
The AI-generated “Portrait of Edmond Belamy” depicts a slightly blurry chubby man in a dark frock-coat and white collar, and his off-center position leaves enough white space to show the artist’s signature as “min max Ex[log(D(x))] + Ez[log(1-D(G(z)))].
How AI generated an art?
The AI method is called ‘generative adversarial network’ or GAN, and involves a two-part algorithm.
First, a set of 150000 portraits painted between the 14th and 20th Centuries was fed into a computer. Then the Generator made a new image based on that set, and the Discriminator tried to spot the difference between a human-made image and one created by the Generator.
‘Cell sized robots’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: MIT scientists have developed a method to mass produce robots no bigger than a cell that could be used to monitor conditions inside an oil or gas pipeline, or to search out disease while floating through the bloodstream.
About the invention
The key to making such tiny devices, which the team calls “syncells” (short for synthetic cells), in large quantities lies in controlling the natural fracturing process of atomically-thin, brittle materials.
The process, called “autoperforation”, directs the fracture lines so that they produce miniscule pockets of a predictable size and shape. Embedded inside these pockets are electronic circuits and materials that can collect data