IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 18th September 2018
Public sector banking reforms: Unification of state-owned banks
Part of: Prelims and mains GS III- Indian economy; Banking
Public sector banking reforms
- The Centre proposed the unification of state-owned banks – Bank of Baroda, Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank – to create India’s third largest bank.
- Merger to provide total business of more than ₹14.82 trillion.
- After getting in-principle approval, the banks will take steps in accordance with the law and SEBI requirements.
- The final scheme will be notified by the Central government in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India.
- The merger will be based purely on commercial considerations.
Why was the decision taken?
- India aspiring to be the fastest growing economy has to be supported by stronger and globally competitive banks with increased choices to the stakeholders.
- Dena Bank has been placed under the prompt corrective action framework (It is in a bad shape with higher NPAs, higher cost to income and falling profitability).
- So the idea is to merge the weaker bank with stronger bank (BoB and Vijaya Bank) so that it would be a strong competitive bank with economies of scale.
- The entity would also be positioned for substantial rise in customer base, market reach and operational efficiency.
- The amalgamation is aimed at catering the massive credit requirements of the growing economy, and cutting costs as well as dependence on the government for capital infusion in the longer term.
Do you know?
- The proposal of fewer but stronger state-run lenders was originally mooted in 1991.
- Narasimhan report on banking reforms had recommended merger of public sector banks to make them stronger
- It had envisaged a three-tier banking structure with three large banks with international presence at the top, eight to 10 national banks at tier two, and a large number of regional and local banks at the bottom.
Machines will rule workplace by 2025: “The Future of Jobs 2018” report by WEF
Part of: Prelims and mains GS III- Indian economy; Employment
- “The Future of Jobs 2018” report by WEF predicts that the rise of robotics will result in machines performing more tasks on the job than humans by 2025.
- The trend could displace 75 million jobs globally by 2022.
- The report surveyed executives from different industries around the world, aiming to get a look at how new technologies, like artificial intelligence, will affect the global labor force.
Details of the report
- In 2018, humans performed an average of 71% of total task hours across the 12 industries spanning manufacturing, services and high tech.
- By 2025, that will drop to just 48%, according to the WEF. Machines will perform the remaining 52%.
- Globally, almost half of all companies expect automation to cut their full-time workforce in the next four years;
- However, new jobs will still lead to a net gain in employment opportunities if sufficient reskilling is done.
- In India, 54% of employees in these sectors will need reskilling by 2022
- Of this 35% would need at least six months’ worth of reskilling,
- 10% would need more than a year of training in order to meet the demands of the new economy
- Roles that rely on human skills, like sales, marketing and scientific-based positions, will likely see an increase in demand.
- The report calls on businesses and government leaders around the world to create a support system for their employees and ensure a smooth transition as the workforce evolves.
Fluoride contamination in Odisha
Part of: Prelims and mains GS II and GS III- Health, Environment and Pollution
- School Children in Odisha’s Nuapada district are facing the brunt of Flouride Contamination with potable water sources in as many as 54 schools and anganwadi premises testing for fluoride presence beyond permissible limits.
- Laboratory tests found 5.25 mg per litre fluoride content in water.
- Consumption of water having fluoride content above 1.5 mg per litre is considered dangerous to health.
- In 2018-19, drinking water sources in eight schools in Nayagarh, seven in Balangir and eight in Kalahandi districts were found to be fluoride contaminated.
- Prolonged consumption of fluoride-contaminated water leads to dental and skeletal fluorosis.
- Mottled Teeth and crippled backbone and limbs are manifestation of the disease.
- Bones in children are in formation stage while fluoride tends to damage bones.
Maharashtra to set up cyber varsity
Part of: Prelims and Mains GS III- Technology, Security issues: cyber security
The Maharashtra Government has taken the first step towards setting up a varsity dedicated to mitigating cyber threats. It has set aside 80 crore for the first round of its funding.
What was the need?
- A 2015 skill gap analysis for Maharashtra by the consultancy firm KPMG had pointed to a gap of 1.5 crore professionals in 10 sectors. Of these, there was a greater shortfall in the IoT and Cyber Forensics sectors. The new varsity will bridge this skill gap
- The current supply of cyber professionals in the country is about a lakh while the demand hovers around 30 lakh.
- A cyber-attack is taking place every 10 minutes as opposed to 12 minutes previously. The varsity will remedy this.
- The new Cyber University will train 3,000 professionals to fight online space cyber-attacks, internet crimes, and conduct cyber forensics.
- It will also impart training in 15 other Internet of Things (IoT) areas such as Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
- The government will provide different levels of training and enable affiliated colleges to impart certification for the 15 courses. The State will also supply infrastructure for training and education.
Cost of courses
- The varsity will provide for and prepare internet professionals on the lines of the Microsoft Certified Professional Program.
- The courses will cost less than 5 lakh for courses in data analytics, cloud computing, blockchain, AI, cyber forensics and cyber investigations.
- Maharashtra is already in the process of setting up its version of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team to ward off external cyber threats.
- In 2016, the State had even appointed a consortium of M/s C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) and Railtel Corporation of India for the 838-crore project.
- The consortium in its analysis used the same technology as GARUDA, India’s national grid computing initiative, and the Graphics and Intelligence Based Script Technology.
Do you know?
- GARUDA (Global Access to Resource Using Distributed Architecture)
- GARUDA initiative is a collaboration of the Scientific, Engineering and Academic Community to carry-out research and experimentation on a nationwide grid of computational nodes, mass storage that aims to provide the distributed data and compute intensive High Performance Computing solutions for the 21st century.
- It will deploy a distributed networked infrastructure for universities, research labs, industry and government throughout India.
- Department of Information Technology (DIT) has funded the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) to deploy the nation-wide computational grid, GARUDA.
- It connects 45 institutions across 17 cities, with an aim to bring Grid computing to research labs, industries and academic institutions.
- GARUDA is part of the National Knowledge Network (NKN), an initiative to build a high-speed national network backbone with reliable quality of service (QoS) and security.
- Read more on: GARUDA
India calling: 5G networks may be in place by 2020
Part of: Prelims and mains GS III – Economy and technology
- Having missed the bus for early adoption of latest technologies in the past, India — one of the fastest growing telecom markets in the world — is pushing for a timely roll-out of 5G technology in the country.
- The Indian government is aiming to commercially introduce 5G services in the country by the end of 2020, almost in line with rest of the world.
- The steering committee has recommended that the 5G spectrum allocation policy should be announced by the end of this year.
- The high-level panel has recommended that 5G programmes be also funded by the government.
What is 5G?
- 5G is the next generation of mobile Internet connectivity that would offer much faster and more reliable networks, which would form the backbone for the emerging era of Internet of Things (IoT).
- Previous generations of mobile networks addressed consumers predominantly for voice and SMS in 2G, web browsing in 3G and higher speed data and video streaming in 4G. The transition from 4G to 5G will serve both consumers and multiple industries.
- Globally, over 150 pre-commercial 5G trials are under way around the world, including South Korea, China and the U.S., 5G trials are yet to begin in India.
- Coverage in rural areas remains a challenge.
- Disrupting industries: Once commercialised, 5G is expected to disrupt not only telecom but other industries as well as. 5G is expected to see use beyond delivery of services just on “personal phone platforms.” It will also connect new devices to support a much larger range of applications and services.
- This comes at a time when the industry continues to reel under financial stress, weighed down by high debt.
- Next generation mobile Internet connectivity will offer faster, more reliable networks that will form the backbone for era of IoT.
- The next generation network will see usage in key government projects such as smart cities and Digital India, besides other business-to-business applications.
- Consumption in terms of using IoT (Internet of Things) devices such as connected refrigerators etc.
- It would enable revenue opportunity for Indian telecom operators by 2026.
- The largest opportunity would be seen in sectors like manufacturing, energy and utilities followed by public safety and health sectors.
Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS): Smart fencing will end infiltration
Part of: Prelims and mains GS III- Security and border management
- Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the first phase of hi-tech ‘smart fencing’ of 11 km stretch on the International Border (IB) in Jammu.
- CIBMS would provide for round-the-clock laser-guided surveillance of the borders.
- The smart fencing project will initially be implemented to cover gaps in the physical fencing. Eventually, this technology will be implemented across the entire border,
- The smart fencing is a web of surveillance, communication and data storage devices.
- It will enable surveillance during difficult weather conditions and reduce the need for physical patrolling of the borders.
- It will rely on thermal imaging, infra-red and laser-based intruder alarms to stop infiltration.
TOPIC: General Studies 1
- Role of women and women’s organization
- Social empowerment
The power of Kudumbashree: A case study on Women participation
In the month of August 2018, Kerala faced the worst disaster in a century. Now, long and tedious process of relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction process is going on. There are many heroic stories coming to surface about how people are contributing to rebuild Kerala. One of them is of contribution of Kudumbashree.
What Kudumbashree is doing in disaster relief?
- Kumari had contracted leptospirosis while doing relief work in Kerala after the floods, away from her own home which had not been affected. She was a health volunteer and prominent member of the Kudumbashree Mission.
- Volunteers Zarina and Sudha said: “We saw mounds of foul-smelling black mud piled outside the houses blocking the entrances and, in some cases, partially covering the houses. There were dead animals too….. We knew we could fall ill or be stung by poisonous insects or snakes, but we were not afraid. Tribal women and members of Kudumbashree from nearby areas also joined us.”
- Like Kumari, Zarina and Sudha, around 4,00,000 women of Kudumbashree self-mobilised across the State to do relief work.
- The Kudumbashree State Mission estimates that Kudumbashree groups cleaned up 11,300 public places and two lakh houses.
- They provided counselling and information assistance as well as shelter to families. They also donated Rs. 7.4 crore to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund.
- This scale of voluntary relief work by women is quite unprecedented by any standard.
United in relief work
- The attention is necessary not just to accord women relief helpers like Kumari recognition and appreciation, but also to understand how such an enormous, effective and well-planned intervention could be made across the State by women through their own initiatives.
- Women from working class families, women from the lower middle class and middle class, Muslim women and Dalit women were present.
- They were a microcosm of the 2.43 lakh groups functioning across the State.
- Within a day or two of the deluge, the Kudumbashree members started contacting each other to discuss what they should do.
- They divided themselves into squads of five to six members and started relief work.
- They were helped by the district coordination team of five women, who were on deputation to the Kudumbashree Mission from the government.
- Within a short span of time, there were 7,000 women volunteers engaged in various tasks.
- When the situation in their district improved, some of them set out to neighbouring districts to help.
- Many of these women have family responsibilities, but they convinced their families of the urgency of the work at hand and set off with all the equipment required for cleaning which they themselves had collected through sponsorships.
A unique model
- Started in 1998, it was envisioned as a part of the People’s Plan Campaign and local self-governance, with women at the centre of it.
- In its conceptualisation, it was markedly different from the self-help group (SHG) movements in many parts of India.
- While the commonality with other States was in the thrift and credit activities at the grassroots level through the formations of saving groups, the structures differed.
- Kudumbashree has a three-tier structure. The first is the basic unit — the neighbourhood groups (NGs). There could be several such units within a ward and they are networked through the area development societies (ADS). All ADSs are federated through the community development societies (CDS).
- There are core committees of elected coordinators at all three levels.
- Each Kudumbashree member has a vote. Direct elections for the NG coordinators are held every three years. These people, in turn, elect the coordinators of the ADS who elect the members of the CDS.
- A majority of the members of the coordinator groups have to belong to women below the poverty line or from comparatively poorer sections. There is reservation for Dalit and Adivasi women.
- At the district and State levels, employees/officers of the government are appointed on deputation to help the Kudumbashree groups. Thus, there is a socially representative leadership.
- This secular composition acts as a facilitator for the secularisation of public spaces.
- The micro-enterprises undertaken by the women NGs in Kerala also strengthen community bonds. These include organic vegetable growing, poultry and dairy, catering and tailoring.
- The concepts and practices have expanded over the years. Today the community farms run by Kudumbashree groups are acknowledged as a critical avenue for the rejuvenation of agricultural production in Kerala.
- Kudumbashree training courses are quite comprehensive and include women’s rights, knowledge of constitutional and legal provisions, training in banking practices, and training in skills to set up micro-enterprises.
- The Kudumbashree groups are therefore often seen as a threat by those who would like women to adhere to socially conformist roles.
- In a modern democratic India, women are still suffering to prove their existence and abilities.
- This case study is a proof that women are equal half in pair of human. They can significantly contribute to the society as well as economy.
- This model of Kudumbashree can be implemented across India, if it is done with the same secular and gender-sensitive spirit.
Connecting the dots:
- Historically, be it the disaster of world war or floods of Kerala, time and again women proved their abilities. Critically comment in context of role of women in modern society and economy.
Note: Story of Kumari, Zarina and sudha, or story of Kudumbashree can be used in Essay as well as examples in ethics (Humanitarian behaviour in the event of crisis).
TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Biodiversity, Environment and Climate change
- Agriculture and related issues
- India is signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
- As four of the 35 biodiversity hotspots are located in India, it is biodiversity-rich.
- However, climate change and development without consideration for biodiversity are leading to loss of biodiversity.
Some of the issues
- India gave the world crops such as rice, chickpea, pigeon pea, mango and eggplant. Most keepers of these crops genetic diversity are smallholder farmers, including women.
- With the focus on policies that cater to market demands, its reservoir of indigenous traditional crops has dwindled.
- Man-animal conflicts in the fringes of Protected Areas or animal corridors
- Conflicts over unsustainable procurement of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) have been contentious, especially in Odisha and Uttarakhand.
Green Agriculture project and its significance
- India’s National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) recognises the importance of biodiversity for inclusive development.
- The Green Agriculture project implemented by the Indian government and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) takes a novel approach to support the NBAP and synergise biodiversity conservation, agriculture production and development.
- It is being implemented in five landscapes adjoining Protected Areas/Biosphere Reserves: Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.
- It envisages a transformation in Indian agriculture for global environmental benefits by addressing land degradation, climate change mitigation, sustainable forest management, and biodiversity conservation.
- The approach will be to strengthen their role as agrodiversity guardians by developing value chains for their indigenous crops such as traditional rice varieties in Odisha.
- A participatory and landscape approach can ensure sustainability of conservation efforts.
- Keeping the focus on initiatives for sustainable NTFP harvest, eradication of invasive alien species, and mitigation of wildlife conflicts is essential.
- Biodiversity conservation is a part of traditional wisdom. Examples include the Orans of Rajasthan and the village safety and supply reserves in Mizoram.
- Traditional farming systems such as jhum encouraged crop diversity. However, climate change and shortened fallow cycles are undermining jhum cultivation sustainability.
- The landscape approach will aim to restore traditional knowledge systems, such as the conservation of common property resources.
- Participatory learning tools will encourage farmers to adopt more sustainable indigenous soil conservation.
Environmental concerns are inadequately reflected in the development rhetoric. Thus, projects such as Green Agriculture are essential in equipping decision-makers with the necessary instruments to design effective and informed policies to underpin environmental concerns.
Connecting the dots:
- Write a brief note on Green Agriculture project and India’s National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP).
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
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Q.1) Narasimham Committee is associated with
- Banking Reforms
- Labour Reforms
Q.2) Which one of the following is a major effect of long term consumption of drinking water containing little(less than 0.5 ppm) or no fluoride?
- Cavity of tooth
- Erosion of nail
- Deformation of bone
- Mottling of tooth
Q.3) Which of the following can be found as pollutants in the drinking water in some parts of India?
Select the correct answer using the codes given below:
- 1 and 2 only
- 2, 4 and 5 only
- 1, 2 and 5 only
- 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
2+2 is less than the sum of its parts?
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