Daily Current Affairs: 30th October 2019: The Hindu+PIB
The following compilation has been made keeping in mind the need of the UPSC IAS exam. Each and every topic which has been included in this compilation is taken from very authentic and relevant source including The Hindu, The Indian Express, Business Standard, Press Information Bureau, etc.
As per the evolving pattern of the UPSC IAS prelims and mains exam each and every topic has been handpicked keeping in mind the syllabus of the exam.
Future Investment Initiative Summit
Context: The third event of Future Investment Initiative has taken place on 29-31st October 2019 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia which is attended by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
What is it? The Future Investment Initiative (FII) is basically an annual investment forum which is held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in order to discuss trends in the world economy and investment environment. It is hosted by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF). The very first event under the FII was in October 2017 and featured the announcements of the launch of NEOM, a proposed $500bn independent economic zone in the northwest of Saudi Arabia. The second event was in 23-25 October 2018 followed by the third event which is undergoing from 29-31 October 2019. Key Highlights of the Summit As part of the Summit, Prime Minister Modi announced the formation of India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council that will be led by the leaderships of both countries. Apart from the India-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council, the Joint Statement also included India’s condemnation of the recent drone attacks on the Aramco petroleum processing facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais in eastern Saudi Arabia. Both the countries sealed 12 MoUs on issues such as preventing narcotics trafficking, renewable energy, training of diplomats, defence industry production, security collaboration, and the use of RuPay cards in Saudi Arabia. India also cleared an MoU that will help Hajj pilgrims to travel comfortably in Saudi Arabia during the pilgrimage seasons. Apart from above, both countries discussed a number of regional conflicts like the war in Syria and Yemen and sought lasting peace in the Palestinian territories for the establishment of the independent Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders with “Jerusalem as its capital”. India-Saudi Arabia Relations Indo-Saudi bilateral trade reached US$27.48 billion in the financial year 2017–18, up from US$25.1 billion in the 2016-17. Further, Saudi Arabia’s exports to India stood at US$22.06 billion whereas India’s exports were US$5.41 billion. In the history of India-Saudi relations, there have been 4 visits to Saudi Arabia by an Indian Prime Minister: Jawaharlal Nehru (1955), Indira Gandhi (1982), Manmohan Singh (2010) and Narendra Modi (2016, 2019) . There has been an improvement in the relations between the two nation since the 1990s. Saudi Arabia has supported granting observer status to India in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and has expanded its collaboration with India to fight Islamic terrorism in the Middle East. In 2019, Saudi Arabia increased the Hajj quota of India, making it the 2nd highest country in the number of Pilgrims. Thus, the number of Indian pilgrims jumped to 200,000 per year in 2019. India’s major exports include basmati rice, textiles and garments and machinery, while it imports organic and inorganic chemicals, metal scrap, leather, gold and oil from Saudi Arabia. Both nations are expected to expand trade and cooperation and joint ventures in telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, health services, information technology, biotechnology, agriculture, construction projects, energy and financial services. Further, Saudi Arabia is ranked at 15th position in country-wise FDI joint venture in India and it is 2nd in Arab countries followed by UAE. PM Modi is first Indian who is conferred with the Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian honour, The Order of King Abdulaziz.
Context: A study using a new modelling approach, revealed that the number of Indians who stand to be affected by rising sea levels may have been underestimated by as much as 88%.
The study employs a new software called CoastalDEM. What is CoastalDEM? CoastalDEM is a new Digital Evaluation Model (DEM) which utilizes neural networks to reduce Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) error. CoastalDEM is more accurate and reduces linear vertical bias from 4.71 m to less than 0.06 m. This model incorporates 23 variables, including population and vegetation indices, and was trained using lidar-derived elevation data in the US as ground truth. Key Highlights of the Study According to the study, 36 million people would face annual flooding by 2050 and 44 million by 2100 in India, if emissions continue to rise unabated. Approximately 21 million — and not 2.8 million — are expected to be living below the High Tide Line, the boundary that marks the farthest to which the sea reaches into the land at high tide. Estimates on the risks posed by flooding now rely on detailed maps of the globe taken by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), which was a radar mapping system that travelled aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 2000. At present, CoastalDEM estimates a global total of 110 M people on land below the current high tide line and 250 M on land below annual flood levels, in contrast with corresponding SRTM-based estimates of 28 M and 65 M. Current climate studies say that climate change has caused global mean sea level to rise by 11-16 cm in the 20th century and is expected to by as much as 2 m by the end of this century. Other than India, the flood risk has also been underestimated for China at 93 million, as opposed to the current estimates of 29 million; Bangladesh at 42 million vs 5 million; Vietnam 31 million vs 9 million; Indonesia 23 million vs 5 million; Thailand 12 million vs 1 million.
Context: EGX edge computing platform has been recently announced by Nvidia, one of the biggest players in the manufacture of AI acceleration hardware to help telecom operators adopt 5G networks capable of supporting edge workloads.
According to the global research firm Gartner, by 2025, companies will generate and process more than 75% of their data at the “edge” of the cloud.
What is Edge Computing?
Edge computing is the practice of processing data near the edge of your network, where the data is being generated, instead of in a centralised data-processing warehouse. It enables data to be analysed, processed, and transferred at the edge of a network. The idea is to analyse data locally, closer to where it is stored, in real-time without latency, rather than send it far away to a centralised data centre. According to the experts, 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. How it is different from Cloud Computing? The basic difference between edge computing and cloud computing lies in where the data processing takes place. At the moment, the existing Internet of Things (IoT) systems perform all of their computations in the cloud using data centres. Edge computing, on the other hand, essentially manages the massive amounts of data generated by IoT devices by storing and processing data 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.
EMPLOYMENT IN INDIA
Context: A new study, which is commissioned by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM), and undertaken by Indicus Foundation and Jawaharlal Nehru University, has highlighted the broad trends for employment in India between 2004 and 2018.
A key feature of this study is that instead of focusing on unemployment, it focuses only on the “employment” data and it does so by looking at 3 comparable surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) – the Employment-Unemployment Surveys (EUS) of 2004-05 and 2011-12, and the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) of 2017-18. Key Findings of the Study In all, the total employment in the country grew by 4.5 crore in the 13 years between EUS 2004-05 and PLFS 2017-18 which is a growth of just 0.8 %— less than 1/2 the rate at which the overall population grew, which was 1.7%. Of the 4.5 crore increase in employment, 4.2 crore happened in the urban areas while rural employment either contracted (by 0.01 per cent between 2004 and 2011) or was stagnant (grew by 0.18 per cent between 2011 and 2017). Male employment grew by 6 crore but female employment fell by 1.5 crore. Youth employment (those between the ages of 15 and 24) has fallen from 8.14 crore in 2004 to 5.34 crore in 2017. However, employment in the 25-59 age group and the 60 years and above group has gone up. The share of organised sector in the total employed has risen from 8.9% in 2004 to 14% in 2017. The share of unorganized sector in the total employed has gone up from 37.1% in 2004 to 47.7% in 2017. Both these sectors – Organised and Unorganised – have grown at the expense of the agri-cropping sector, where employment has fallen from 21.9% in 2004 to 17.4% in 2017. In essence, those who are poor, illiterate, and unskilled are increasingly losing out on jobs.
SENTINEL-3 WORLD FIRE ATLAS
Context: The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced that compared to August 2018, there were almost five times as many wildfires across the world in August 2019, as per the data from its Sentinel-3 World Fire Atlas. Key findings The ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission recorded 79,000 fires in August 2019, compared to just over 16,000 fires detected during the same period in 2018.
The data revealed that 49% of the fires were detected in Asia, around 28% were detected in South America, 16% in Africa, and the remaining were recorded in North America, Europe and Oceania. About Sentinel-3 Sentinel-3 is an Earth observation satellite constellation which is developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) as part of the Copernicus Programme. The Sentinel-3 World Fires Atlas Prototype product has been developed by ESA over the southern countries of the ESA member states. The major aim of the prototype is to provide continuity to ESA ATSR World Fire Atlas ( in operation from June 1995 to March 2012) taking on board all the improvements of Sentinel-3 SLSTR instrument.
MELBOURNE MERCER GLOBAL PENSION INDEX (MMGPI) 2019
Context: According to the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index (MMGPI) 2019, India has marginally improved its ranking to 32nd position in terms of providing pension and retirement benefits to citizens compared to last year. The MMGPI covers 37 countries and is based on how they fare on providing pension and retirement benefits to citizens across different income groups. Key Findings of the Index
- India stood at 32nd position in 2019 out of 37 countries, while it was ranked at 33rd place in 2018 out of 34 countries in the list.
- The country’s score in the MMGPI 2019 rose to 45.8 from 44.6 last year.
- India’s index value increased largely due to the improvement in all 3 sub-indices of adequacy, sustainability and integrity.
- In the overall list, the Netherlands had the highest index value (81.0), while Thailand had the lowest value (39.4).
- Sub-index wise, Ireland had the highest score for adequacy (81.5), Denmark for sustainability (82.0) and Finland for integrity (92.3).
- Thailand scored the lowest for adequacy (35.8), Italy for sustainability (19.0) and Philippines for integrity (34.7).
NATIONAL PANCHAYAT AWARDS 2019
Context: Union Minister for Panchayati Raj conferred the National Panchayat Awards 2019 on the 240 panchayats. Along with these awards, Spatial Planning Application ‘Gram Manchitra’i was also launched which is a Geo Spatial based decision support system for the panchayats which can be used by Panchayats to plan, develop and monitor developmental activities on real time basis. About the Awards The National Panchayat Awards are generally awarded in following categories:
- Deen Dayal Upadhyay Panchayat Sashaktikaran Puraskar (DDUPSP): given to best performing Panchayats (District, Intermediate and Gram) in recognition of the good work done for improving delivery of services and public goods such as Sanitation, Social Sector Performance, Disaster Management, Innovation in revenue generation, e-Governance etc.
- Nanaji Deshmukh Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Puraskar (NDRGGSP): Given to Gram Panchayats (GPs) for their outstanding contribution to the socio-economic development by involving Gram Sabhas.
- Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) Award: It is conferred to best performing Gram Panchayats (GPs) across the country which have developed their GPDPs according to the State/UT specific guidelines.
- Child-friendly Gram Panchayat Award: This award is given for best performing GPs/Village Councils (VCs) (one in each State/UT) for adopting child-friendly practices.
- e-Panchayat Puraskar: The main aim of this award is to incentivize those States/UTs, which have made dedicated efforts in adopting and implementing the e-Panchayat Applications and enabling electronic delivery of services through Panchayats & equivalent rural bodies.
What are Organoids?
Context: A warning has been given by two neuroscientists that their fellow scientists are “perilously close” to crossing the ethical red line of growing mini-brains or organoids in the laboratory that can perceive or feel things. What are these? Organoids are a group of cells which are grown in laboratories into 3-D, miniature structures that mimic the cell arrangement of a fully-grown organ. They are tiny (typically the size of a pea) organ-like structures that do not achieve all the functional maturity of human organs but often resemble the early stages of a developing tissue. Organoids are basically grown in the laboratory using stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). It is to be noted that the stem cells are provided with nutrients and other specific molecules to grow and become cells resembling a specific organ. What is the present status? In all, Organoids of the following organs have already been developed in the laboratory:
- Small intestine
- Salivary glands
- Inner ear
What are the benefits associated with these Organoids? Since the organoids closely resemble mature tissues, they can be used for studying the complex arrangements of cells in 3-D and their function in detail, and understanding how cells assemble into organs. Further, the organoids can also be used to study the safety and efficacy of new drugs. What is the criticism involved? These has been criticized as the organoids do not have sensory inputs and the sensory connections from the brain are limited. Further, the isolated regions of the brain cannot communicate with other brain regions or generate motor signals. Hence, the possibility of consciousness or other higher-order perceptive properties emerging seems extremely remote.
Fitbit Activeness Report
Context: According to a report by fitness solutions firm Fitbit, India has emerged as the least-active country among 18 countries including the US, the UK, Japan and Singapore, walking an average of 6,533 steps daily. The report also found that Indians were also the 2nd-most sleep deprived after Japan, getting an average night sleep of 7 hours 1 minute, which is 48 minutes lesser than the average nightly sleep of users in the UK and 32 minutes lesser than average nightly sleep of Americans. The study found that Indians are the least active and log in only 6,533 steps daily, the least among all 18 countries which is 3,600 steps lesser than the average of the most active country — Hong Kong. Ireland got the highest amount of average night sleep at 7 hours and 57 minutes. The report states that Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is a crucial aspect for emotion regulation, memory, and the peak stage of protein synthesis at the cellular level that ensures that multiple processes in the body work properly. Further, the report found that Indian users in the age group of 75-90 years got the lowest sleep (6 hours 35 minutes on average) compared to other age groups, even though users in the age group of 18-25 years went to bed more than an hour later (12:33 AM) than users in 75-90 age group (11:22 PM).