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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs [Prelims + Mains Focus] – 27th July 2018

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  • July 28, 2018
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains

Focus)- 27th July 2018

Archives


(PRELIMS+MAINS FOCUS)


West Bengal proposes to change its name as Bangla

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Indian Polity; Central State Relations

In news:

  • West Bengal Assembly has passed a resolution to change the name of the State as ‘Bangla’.
  • The state government will forward the proposal to the Centre, which notifies new names of places including states.

Important Value Addition

What is the procedure of changing a name of state?

  • Process for changing the name of a state can be initiated by state itself. However, by virtue of article 3, the parliament has power to change the name of a state even if such proposal does not come from the concerned state.

What happens when name change is initiated by the state assembly?

  • The state assembly would first pass a resolution for such change and this passed resolution would be sent to central government.
  • Central Government will create a bill and this bill will be sent back to the state legislature to express its views in a stipulated time.
  • The state legislature will need to give its views within this time as fixed by president. Once this time is expired, the president will recommend to introduce that bill in parliament. Once introduced, the bill will be passed, and president would give assent. Thus, the name of state would be changed.

Do you know?

  • Article 3 empowers the parliament make changes in area, boundaries, territory, name of states even if such proposal does not come from the concerned state.
  • For this purpose, the central government can simply get a bill passed in the parliament.
  • However, constitution mandates that whenever such things need to be done, states must be given an opportunity to express their views.
  • Thus, first central government will create a bill, but this bill can be introduced in parliament only by recommendation of the president.
  • Before making such recommendation, President would send this bill to concerned state legislature and give it a fixed time to express its view on that matter. However, state’s view has no actual impact for fate of such bill. Whether the state says yes or no, once the time given to it has passed, the President may recommend the bill to be introduced in any house of parliament. Once passed the name of state gets changed.

History:

  • Orissa became Odisha in 2011, but that was just a de-anglicisation of the state’s name.
  • Madras was renamed Tamil Nadu in 1969 and Mysore as Karnataka in 1973, but those also involved re-organisation of territories.

Person in news: Bharat Vatwani and Sonam Wangchuk gets 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Awards

In News:

  • Two Indians Bharat Vatwani and Sonam Wangchuk are among six who have been declared winners of 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Award, often referred to as Asian version of the Nobel Prize.

Do you know?

  • Sonam Wangchuk, a 51-year-old educational reformer from Ladakh, widely regarded as the inspiration for Aamir Khan’s character, Phunsuk Wangdu in the film ‘3 Idiots,’ is one of two Indians named for the 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Awards.
  • The other is Bharat Vatwani, a psychiatrist who works for mentally ill street people in Mumbai.

About the award:

Pic: https://img.timesnownews.com/story/1532606316-magsaysay-twitter.jpg?d=600×450

  • It is Asia’s highest honour and is often regarded as the region’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. It was established in 1957 by trustees of the New York City based Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Philippine government in the memory of Philippines’ third President Ramon Magsaysay who had died in air disaster in March 1957.
  • It is awarded annually to individuals or organizations from Asia region for their altruistic and philanthropic service.
  • It carries Medallion bearing the likeness of the late President Ramon Magsaysay, cash prize and a certificate.

Clean Ganga Fund

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Government schemes and policies; Environment and Conservation

In news:

  • Nearly 90% of the Clean Ganga Fund is sourced from State and Central government public sector units (PSU), according to information from the Lok Sabha.
  • Out of 220 crore donated to the CGF (as of Jan 2018), Private companies contributed around ₹20 crore and the public sector, Central public sector and Government Departments contributed about ₹177 crore. The rest were from individual donations.

About the CGF

  • The Clean Ganga Fund (CGF) was created in 2014 and envisioned as a source of funds from private companies, individuals and institutions.
  • Clean Ganga Fund is for pooling money to be used for cleaning up Ganga river.

Einstein was right: astronomers confirm key theory of relativity

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology

In news:

  • A consortium of astronomers confirmed the prediction of Einstein’s key theory of relativity.
  • Einstein had posited that large gravitational forces could stretch light, much like the compression and stretching of sound waves we perceive with the change of pitch of a passing train.
  • Astronomers’ consortium said that black holes are so dense that their gravitational pull can trap even light.
  • Einstein in his theory of general relativity predicted that a black hole can bend passing light.

About the theory of general relativity:

  • In 1915, Albert Einstein presented his theory of general relativity, which proposed that gravity itself was the result of a warping of space-time by massive objects like stars and planets.
  • Einstein’s theory of relativity indicates that all objects fall the same way regardless of mass or composition.

Things predicted by General relativity include:

  • As light gets closer to the sun, it bends towards the sun twice as much as classical physics (the system used before general relativity) predicts.
  • The perihelion or the planet Mercury rotates along its orbit more than is expected under Newtonian physics. General relativity accounts for the difference between what is seen and what is expected without it.
  • Redshift from gravity: When light moves away from an object with gravity (moving away from the center of the valley), it is stretched into longer wavelengths. This was confirmed by the Pound-Rebka experiment.
  • The Shapiro delay: Light appears to slow down when it passes close to a massive object. This was first seen in the 1960s by space probes headed towards the planet Venus.
  • Gravitational waves: They were first observed on 14 September 2015.

Miscellaneous: One-country-one-convocation-attire formula

In news:

  • UGC is moving towards one-country-one-convocation-attire formula.
  • UGC has invited designs for convocation dress which would depict Indian culture and tradition

(MAINS FOCUS)


SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

TOPIC:General Studies 3:

  • 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.

India: AI Superpower or Client Nation

About:

According to Google CEO, AI (artificial intelligence) is set to play a crucial role in human civilization. He equates its importance with that of fire or electricity. However, Stephan Hawking feared that AI could end humanity.

Industrial revolution moved the centres of physical power from human and animal bodies to machines. On the same line, AI is set to transform our economic, social and political organisation.

Impact of AI

  • Intelligent systems typically tend to centralise and monopolise control.
  • AI economy might radically concentrate income and wealth. Globally, just one or two concentrations of AI power may rule the world. Currently, these are in the U.S. and China.
  • AI will add to the military might. Russian President Vladimir Putin claims that whoever rules AI will rule the world. (AI powered military will have advantage over non-AI military).

Therefore, many global digital industry leaders have called for assured basic income for all.

Where does India stand in the AI race?

  • India is lagging behind in both data and the availability of skilled professionals capable of handling data.
  • In China and US, tech giants such as Baidu and Google are leading AI innovation. In India, startups are the primary developers of AI. The absence of tech giants also makes it essential that the government lends its support to development of this sector.
  • Nor India has such large domestically owned commercial data systems. Soon, Walmart and Amazon will own between them perhaps the most significant set of India’s consumer-behavioural and other economic data, over which they will develop various kinds of AI. In time, such AI will allow them to control practically everything, and every actor, along various economic value chains linked to consumer goods.
  • Budget allocation to the Digital India programme which will finance India’s AI endeavours doubled this year to Rs 3,073 crore ($477.5 million). While this is welcome, it cannot match with China’s ambitions. China announced the construction of an AI technology park in Beijing worth $2.1 billion. This also exceeds US spending.

Who will help India build its AI for military and other security/strategic purposes?

  • The digital/AI industry works in huge ecosystems with global digital corporations at the centre (Amazon and Google, Alibaba and Baidu, Microsoft etc) and various start-ups and specific digital/AI applications at the peripheries.
  • Start-ups everywhere, including in India, are mostly vying to find a place in such huge global ecosystems, anchored either in the U.S. or China, generally by being bought out.
  • India currently lacks the expertise to do the research and apply it – and it also doesn’t have the vast networks of data to enable AI.
  • Lastly, there is little awareness about the technology and the risks it poses to privacy and security.
  • Regulation of data – how it is collected and used – is still at a nascent stage, which makes powerful technologies like AI vulnerable to misuse.

Conclusion:

A big nation like India cannot derive satisfaction from rapidly becoming a client country for AI, whether as ready users of AI applications in different areas, or by offering outsourced R&D for global digital/AI corporations through start-ups existentially eager to be bought out.

What really counts is whether India owns the centres of systemic AI that comes from controlling huge commercial data ecosystems. In this regard, India’s ambition to be an AI superpower is, frankly, sinking fast.

Connecting the dots:

  • Instead of becoming a client country for Artificial Intelligence (AI), India needs to build its own AI. Discuss.

NATIONAL

TOPIC:General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Dilution of the Right to Information Act

Introduction:

India, the largest democracy in the world, became the 56th country to introduce the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) on October 12, 2005.

This act is one of the most advanced right to information legislations in the world. It has been seen as the key to strengthening participatory democracy and ushering in people-centred governance.

Thus, the RTI serves as the oxygen for democracy and development.

Past attempt of dilution:

Repeated attempts have been made to amend this Act to, perhaps, diminish its power and disarm citizens.

Concerted efforts were made to remove ‘file notings’ from the purview of the RTI Act in 2006 and again in 2009 to stop ‘vexatious’ and ‘frivolous’ RTI queries.

However, on both occasions, the proposed amendments were withdrawn in view of the widespread resistance.

The RTI (Amendment) Bill 2018:

It proposed to do away with the parity given to the information commissions with the election commissions.

In the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill, it has been brought out that ‘functions carried out by the EC and ICs are completely different. Hence, their status and service conditions need to be rationalised accordingly.

  • According to the proposed amendment, the salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of service of the CIC and ICs ‘shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central government’.
  • The tenure of information commissioners at the centre and the states is proposed to be amended from ‘a term of five years’ to ‘terms as may be prescribed by the central government’.
  • The RTI Act 2005 recognises the authority of states to select their SICs, but the proposed Amendment Bill does not allow states to decide their term, status and salary as it proposes the Centre will prescribe it from time to time. Such a measure will compromise the autonomy in functioning.

Argument given by the government –

  • The EC is a constitutional body established by Clause (1) of Article 324 of the Constitution, while the CIC and state information commissions are statutory bodies established under the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005.
  • They both have differing mandates and hence their status and service conditions need to be rationalised accordingly.

Concern:

The information commission functions as an adjudicator as well as regulator.

  • If the commissions are to fulfill the objectives of the Act to empower the common man, the rule of law must prevail. The public must perceive the information commissioner as a public-friendly judge with high integrity, utmost degree of credibility, public trust, professional excellence and capacity, leadership qualities and dynamism.
  • In its role of regulator, every commission is required to monitor the implementation of the Act by the government and its agencies. The commissions are to report to the legislature on how the Act has been implemented.  
  • In this regard, every commission has to keep its ears close to the ground, and remain receptive to the view of the public, the media and non-government organisations, all of whom have an important stake in information freedom.

Thus, an environment has to be created for the IC to function without any interference or pressure.

Issue:

The proposed amendments to the RTI Act will compromise the independence and autonomy of information commissions set up to adjudicate on appeals and complaints of people who have been denied their rights.

The argument that the CIC cannot have the stature of the EC, which is a constitutional body, is flawed as it is the requirement of the job done at these commissions.

Way ahead:

The mechanism of access to information will depend on effectiveness of this system. It should therefore be ensured that the Commission and its functionaries perform their duties independently and with complete autonomy.

For this, the status of information commission should be elevated to that of the Election Commission of India.

Conclusion:

In a democratic society, people are the most powerful element and the right to information empowers them to realise the fruits of democracy. Efforts, therefore, have to be made to have an open regime accountable to its people. Dilution of RTI in any form will be detrimental to openness.

Connecting the dots:

  • The RTI Act, 2005 is truly heralded as one of the most advanced right to information legislations in the world. However, recent amendments proposed by the government is a regressive step. Discuss.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)

Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Q.1) Which Article of the Constitution deals with the formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States?

  1. Article 4
  2. Article 2
  3. Article 3
  4. Article 12

Q.2) Consider the following statements and select the correct answer:

  1. Process for changing the name of a state can be initiated by state only.
  2. Formation of new states, altering boundary and name is considered as Constitutional Amendment under Art 368.
  3. Parliament can redraw the political map of India according to its will.
  4. Consent of States is necessary before changing their boundary or area.

Q.3) According to the Constitution of India, Article 3 authorises the Parliament to reorganise the States. With this authority, the Parliament can

  1. Alter the name of any state
  2. Diminish the area of any state
  3. Alter the boundaries of any state
  4. Increase the area of any state

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1, 3 and 4
  2. 1 and 3
  3. 2, 3 and 4
  4. All the above

Q.4) Consider the following statements with regard to Ramon Magsaysay Award

  1. Bharat Vatwani and Sonam Wangchuk are among six who have been declared winners of 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Award.
  2. The award was established in 1957 in the memory of British Prime Minister Raman Magsaysay, who started Communal Award during 1930s.

Choose the correct answer:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.5) Which of the following correctly defines ‘Gravitational Lensing’?

  1. The bending of light from a celestial body when it passes close to a massive object
  2. Observing massive celestial bodies
  3. Introducing a very large lens or series of lenses to view distant objects
  4. None of the above

Q.6) GravityRAT was in news recently. What is it about?

  1. Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
  2. A RAT that spies on computers.
  3. NASA’s latest Mars lander designed to perch on the surface of the red planet and listen for ‘Marsquakes’.
  4. The most advanced computer mouse which can work with or without a surface.

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