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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th September 2019

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  • September 13, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 13th September 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Hindi Wikipedia

Part of: GS Prelims

In News

  • The Department of Science and Technology (DST) is planning to translate large number of wikipedia articles into Hindi, as there isn’t sufficient representation of scientific topics on Wikipedia in Indian languages
  • There are about 50 lakh Wikipedia articles in English and only 125,000 comparable ones in Hindi. DST plans to increase the number of Hindi articles
  • Machine learning would be used to train software to rapidly translate large tracts of text from English to Hindi and the services of scientists as well as subject experts would be employed
  • The project will first involve translating a large number of science-based wikis and eventually move on to creating original content in Indian language
  • Hindi would be the beginning but DST plans to branch out to other Indian languages in long run.

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II-  International Affairs

In News

  • Australia’s lead negotiator for RCEP says all countries have “committed” to completing talks before the RCEP summit on November 1.
  • RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between ASEAN and its six FTA partners –China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Ten member states of ASEAN are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
  • RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia
  • Once implemented, the RCEP will be the largest free trading bloc accounting for 45 per cent of the world’s population, about a third of the global GDP and 40 per cent of global trade.
  • India is seeking a mechanism to ‘cap’ imports as a safeguard measure in case its withdrawal of tariffs under RCEP leads to a sudden surge in goods flooding the Indian market.
  • India wants dual tariff mechanism – one tariff system with those countries with which it already has an FTA and a different tariff mechanism with those countries that India doesn’t have FTA
    • India already has bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with ASEAN, Japan and South Korea
    • India doesn’t have FTA with China, Australia and New Zealand
  • With China, India is attempting to limit elimination of tariffs up to about 70 per cent of traded items which is to be spread over thirty years.
  • With Australia and New Zealand in particular, India has been negotiating on agricultural and dairy imports.
  • The need for India is for freedom of movement for services from India to the other countries to be included in RCEP negotiations itself.

Water on Exoplanet

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-III -Space

In News

  • Astronomers have for the first time discovered water in the atmosphere of exoplanet – K2-18b, along with Earth-like temperatures that could support life.
  • An exoplanet or extrasolar planet is a planet outside the Solar System
  • The K2-18b planet orbits the cool dwarf star K2-18, which is about 110 light years from Earth in the Leo constellation of the milkyway galaxy
  • Scientists used archive data from 2016 and 2017 captured by the ESA/NASA Hubble Space Telescope and developed open-source algorithms to analyse the starlight filtered through K2-18b’s atmosphere.
  • The results revealed the molecular signature of water vapour, also indicating the presence of hydrogen and helium in the planet’s atmosphere
  • Scientists concluded further studies are required to estimate cloud coverage and the percentage of atmospheric water present.

Drought toolbox

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-III –Disaster Management

In News

  • Drought Toolbox was officially launched during the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) held at Greater Noida, India.
  • The Drought Toolbox can be used by countries to assess drought risks in their regions much in advance and prepare to deal with the water scarcity.
  • The toolbox uses 30 parameters, including soil moisture, rainfall data and temperature data and can accurately evaluate the vulnerability of different geographic regions to drought.
  • It will also suggest means to mitigate the adverse impact of acute water scarcity.
  • The framework for the toolkit includes three key aspects: (1) ‘Monitoring and Early Warning’ system, (2) ‘Vulnerability and Risk Assessment’ and (3) ‘Risk Mitigation Measures’.
  • Droughts, which are normally difficult to foresee are four times costlier than floods.
  • Impact of global warming on Drought : 2 degree Celsius increase in global temperatures will put an additional 441 million people at the risk of facing drought globally.
  • In India, the Ministry of Agriculture is the nodal ministry in respect of monitoring and managing drought conditions
  • Droughts are classified into meteorological droughts, hydrological droughts and agricultural droughts.

(MAINS FOCUS)


EDUCATION

TOPIC: General Studies 2: 

  • Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes; Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.
  • Issues related to education system and fundamental learning skills.

Fundamental Leaning skills – Focus for the students/children

Context:

  • Indian government announced to attain $10 trillion economic growth by the end of 2030.
  • Government made this announcement keeping in focus of 12 million Indian youth who will attain employable age of 29 by 2030. Even though our youth contribute for the growth of Indian economy, they fail at international level due to lack of fundamental learning skills.

Need for fundamental leaning skills:

  • The schools have achieved increase in the enrolment of students from past 10 yrs.
  • Only about 1/3rd proportion of 3rd grade students are able to read and learn 2nd grade texts.
  • According to National Achievement Survey (NAS), only a little portion of students have achieved critical learning skills and majority fail.
  • Lack of a strong learning foundation at the primary level.

Drawbacks of current school learning system:

  • Even though majority of our children pass out of schools, they lack in basic fundamental skills.
  • Students pick advance skills much faster without paying attention for the basic fundamental learning skills.
  • In turn, students fail to cope up with the current global knowledge economic scenarios.

 Prerequisites for Learning:

  • According to National Education Policy (NEP), the ability to read, write and perform basic calculation is a necessity/prerequisite for quality learning.
  • Children are expected to read simple texts and do simple Maths by 3rd grade and are said to be normal. Those who lack this ability are going to fall behind from this learning curve.

Challenges in delivering fundamental learning skills:

  • Children from poor family backgrounds and less exposure to external influences find it difficult to understand the gateway skills.
  • Most of the teachers have fixed curriculum and time limit to complete their curriculum, so they focus on the bright students and in the meanwhile, the skill lacking students fall behind.
  • Lack of multiple skill development institutes in India which fail to deliver basic fundamental learning skills to students, due to which our students fail to showcase their skills at international level.

Actions to be taken:

  • Government must focus on fundamental learning skills by goal based literary and numeracy skill development programs with the active involvement of the parents and stake holders.
  • Changing the teaching methodology with the help of teaching-learning aids, audio visual aids etc.
  • Training and developing teachers for new methodologies about fundamental learning skills and continuous upgrading the same.

Conclusion:

Fundamental learning skill is a new requirement of modern India. It gives confidence and skill sets for the students to show case themselves at international levels. This will help India to achieve more success and be in the top of the ladder with international standards.

Connecting the dots:

  • Examine the factors behind poor learning outcomes in India. How can this be addressed? Discuss.
  • India lacks fundamental learning skills. Do you agree? What is wrong with our education system? How can we address it? Discuss.

AGRICULTURE

TOPIC: General Studies 3: 

  • Major Crops – Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country, – Different Types of Irrigation and Irrigation Systems; Storage, Transport and Marketing of Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints; E-technology in the aid of farmers.
  • Land Reforms in India.
  • Environment and Ecology, Bio diversity – Conservation, environmental degradation, environmental impact assessment, Environment versus Development.

Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) – Pro and Consequences

What is Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)?

  • ZBNF is a process of farming where the crops are grown using natural resources like cow dung, cow urine etc. This process ensures mitigating the use of chemical fertilizers and nutrients to the soil.

 Is ZBNF useful for the farmers?

  • In 2019 annual budget, Prime Minister stressed on ZBNF that it will be an advantage for the farmers to reduce chemical residue in the soil.
  • It will help the farmers to grow organic products without any chemicals which fetch more prices in the market than the chemically grown produce.
  • Help the farmers to double their farm income.
  • Reduces use of chemicals as there are enough nutrients available to plants by air, soil and water, helps to reduce carbon emission rates.

Controversy about ZBNF:

Panel of scientists from ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) and NAAS (National Academy of Agriculture Sciences) are against ZBNF and claiming that ZBNF alone cannot increase the farm income.

The debate from the scientists:

  • There is no evidence of proof that ZBNF alone has increased the farm income.
  • If there is 30-50% increase in yield by using the chemical inputs, then there must be 30-50% price advantage to the farmers by using ZBNF.
  • The chemical inputs costs around 5-7% of the total production costs.
  • Marketing of these organically grown market is less compared to the basic markets.

Conclusion:

  • Practicing ZBNF consistently will take many years to see the results as the soil has to be completely amended free of harmful chemicals and fertilizers.
  • Sudden shift from chemicals to natural products may reduce the yield.
  • ZBNF if proved successful and advantageous, it will be accepted from the farmers immediately as in case of adaption of Bt cotton seeds.
  • Successful marketing has to be created for these produce as of now the organic markets are in the niche areas only.
  • If the government is prioritizing ZBNF, then extensive measures must be bought in the fertilizer subsidy pricing.

Connecting the dots:

  • What do you understand by ‘zero budgent natural farming’ (ZBNF)? Discuss its benefits over conventional form of agriculture.
  • In the context of the government’s commitment to double farmers’ income by 2022, the recent proposal for reducing cost of production through ‘zero budget natural farming’ (ZBNF), stands to enhance the profit margins for farmers. Elucidate.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Note: 

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Consider the following statements

  1. Drought Toolbox was officially launched during the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) held at Greater Noida, India.
  2. In India, the Ministry of Rural Development is the nodal ministry in respect of monitoring and managing drought conditions

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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

Q.2) RCEP recently seen in news is related to which of the following ?

  1. ASEAN
  2. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
  3. South Asia Space collaboration
  4. None of the above

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