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08 October Current Affairs

“Future of Work in India” survey by WEF

In News:

“Future of Work in India” survey report has been released by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Details:

The “Future of Work in India” survey of of 770 companies conducted by the WEF (World Economic Forum) included various sectors such as textiles, banking & financial services, transport & logistics, and retail.

Highlights and findings of the report:

Major gender gap in Indian corporates: Four out of five retail firms hire less than 10% women. Companies in India experiencing the highest growth prefer hiring men and technology-led job growth benefits men more than women. Notably, while one in three companies preferred hiring men, only one in 10 companies said they wanted to hire more women, accentuating the gender gap rampant in the country.

Statistics: The report found that just 2.4% of these have half or more female employees, and as many as 71% have fewer than 10%. Out of this 71%, 30% companies have no female employees, and another 32% have less than 5%. The sector-wise breakup showed that 79% companies in retail, and 77% in transport & logistics, have less than 10% female employees, while banking & finance companies have 61% female participation and textiles 64%.

Global comparison: India’s female workforce participation is mere 27% and stands 23% points lower than global average. Jobs in India are experiencing highest growth and companies are hiring women at only 26%. Women in India are entering workforce at a slower rate than current female workforce participation.

More than 33% of the total companies said that they prefer to hire men, as compared to just over one-tenth that said that they are looking to hire more women going forward. In the last five years, the surveyed companies stated that they hired just 26% female workers in the job roles that saw the most growth, which is less than India’s already low female labour force participation of 27%.

About WEF:

The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests. The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does.

Source: The Hindu

Task force for closing skills gap in India

In News:

The government has launched a task force for closing the skills gap in India, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum.

Details:

The Task Force is the second country-led public-private collaboration of the World Economic Forum’s closing the Skills Gap Project after South Africa.

About closing the skills gap task force:

The task force will bring together leaders from business, government, civil society and the education and training sectors to accelerate the future-proofing of education and training systems in the country.

The goal of the Task Force is to develop an action plan to address skills gaps in India and make the Indian workforce ready for jobs of future.

Significance:

With more than half of our population in the working age, skills development will be critical to sustaining inclusive growth and development in India.’ The “Closing the Skills Gap” task force will be a significant step to accelerate the impact on skills development already achieved by bringing together relevant stakeholders to act collectively.

Closing the Skills Gap Project by WEF:

The Closing the Skills Gap Project aims to create global and national platforms to address current skills gaps and to reshape education and training for the future. It works at three levels:

Country implementation deep-dives: At the national level, the Closing the Skills Gap Task Forces provides a platform for multi-stakeholder collaboration to close the skills gap and prepare for the future of work. Each Closing the Skills Gap Task Force brings together leaders from business, government, civil society, and education and training sectors to accelerate reskilling and upskilling efforts in the current workforce and the future-proofing of national education and training systems.

Global and regional knowledge exchange: At the global level, an informal Global Alliance for Closing the Skills Gap provides an exclusive global platform for leaders and experts from business, government, civil society, and the education and training sectors to build consensus, share ideas, and identify preferred models and best practices.

Global business commitments: With skilling, reskilling and upskilling becoming a clear “no-regret” move for addressing the flux in labour markets, there is a rapid movement of multinational businesses towards such efforts for their employees, communities and wider audience. Managed strategically, this can be impactful and a win-win for companies and workers alike. As a first step, the Forum is consolidating global business commitments with the goal to reach 10 million people by January 2020.

Source: The Hindu

Parker Solar Probe

In News:

NASA’s historic mission- Parker Solar Probe- to solve the mysteries of the Sun has successfully completed its flyby of Venus on October 3rd. The probe successfully completed its flyby of Venus at a distance of about 1,500 miles during the first Venus gravity assist of the mission.

Details:

These gravity assists will help the spacecraft tighten its orbit closer and closer to the Sun over the course of the mission.

Throughout its mission, the probe will make six more Venus gravity assist and 24 total passes by the Sun. This manoeuvre will change Parker Solar Probe’s trajectory to take the spacecraft closer to the Sun.

About the mission:

NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.

Journey: In order to unlock the mysteries of the sun’s atmosphere, Parker Solar Probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the sun. The spacecraft will fly through the sun’s atmosphere as close as 3.9 million miles to our star’s surface, well within the orbit of Mercury and more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before.

Goals: The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.

Parker Solar Probe has three detailed science objectives:

  • Trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the solar corona and solar wind.
  • Determine the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind.
  • Explore mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles.

Why study corona?

The corona is hotter than the surface of the sun. The corona gives rise to the solar wind, a continuous flow of charged particles that permeates the solar system. Unpredictable solar winds cause disturbances in our planet’s magnetic field and can play havoc with communications technology on Earth. Nasa hopes the findings will enable scientists to forecast changes in Earth’s space environment.

Why do we study the sun and the solar wind?

  • The sun is the only star we can study up close. By studying this star we live with, we learn more about stars throughout the universe.
  • The sun is a source of light and heat for life on Earth. The more we know about it, the more we can understand how life on Earth developed.
  • The sun also affects Earth in less familiar ways. It is the source of the solar wind; a flow of ionized gases from the sun that streams past Earth at speeds of more than 500 km per second (a million miles per hour).
  • Disturbances in the solar wind shake Earth’s magnetic field and pump energy into the radiation belts, part of a set of changes in near-Earth space known as space weather.
  • Space weather can change the orbits of satellites, shorten their lifetimes, or interfere with onboard electronics. The more we learn about what causes space weather – and how to predict it – the more we can protect the satellites we depend on.
  • The solar wind also fills up much of the solar system, dominating the space environment far past Earth. As we send spacecraft and astronauts further and further from home, we must understand this space environment just as early seafarers needed to understand the ocean.

Facts for Prelims:

  • The previous closest pass to the Sun was by a probe called Helios 2, which in 1976 came within 27 million miles (43 million km).
  • By way of comparison, the average distance from the Sun for Earth is 93 million miles (150 million km).

Source: The Hindu

Gaganyaan 2022

In News:

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Russia’s Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities (ROSCOSMOS) have signed an MoU to work together for Gaganyaan.

Details:

As per the MoU, ROSCOSMOS has offered ride to Indian astronaut short visit to International Space Station (ISS) on board Soyuz spacecraft for short training mission in 2022.

About Gaganyaan:

It is India’s first manned space mission. Under it, India is planning to send three humans (Gaganyatris) into space i.e. in low earth orbit (LEO) by 2022 i.e. by 75th Independence Day for period of five to seven days.

India plans to build a crew vehicle that can accommodate 2 or 3 astronauts and human rate its GLSV Mk-III launcher.

Recent technological advancements:

In what appears to be a preparation for the Gaganyaan mission, ISRO recently conducted its first ‘pad abort’ test that was successful.

The ‘pad abort’ test or Crew Escape System is an emergency escape measure that helps pull the crew away from the launch vehicle when a mission has to be aborted. The test was conducted at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.

The Pad Abort Test demonstrated the safe recovery of the crew module in case of any exigency at the launch pad.

Way ahead:

A manned space mission is very different from all other missions that ISRO has so far completed. In terms of complexity and ambition, even the missions to the Moon (Chandrayaan) and Mars (Mangalyaan) are nowhere in comparison.

For a manned mission, the key distinguishing capabilities that ISRO has had to develop include the ability to bring the spacecraft back to Earth after flight, and to build a spacecraft in which astronauts can live in Earth-like conditions in space.

If India does launch the Gaganyaan mission, it will be the the fourth nation to do so after the United States, Russia and China.

Source: The Hindu

National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC)

In News:

India’s and Asia’s first Dolphin Research Centre will be set up on the banks of the Ganga river in Patna University campus in Patna, Bihar. It will be named- National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC).

Details:

The announcement for the centre was made on the occasion of Dolphin day (October 5), observed in Bihar for protection and conservation of Gangetic river dolphin to create awareness to save endangered species.

Role:

NDRC will play important role in strengthening conservation efforts and research to save endangered mammal whose population is decreasing. Bihar is home to around half of the country’s estimated 3,000 dolphin population.

About Gangetic Dolphins:

The Ganges River dolphin, or susu, inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.

It is classified as endangered by the IUCN.

This dolphin is among the four “obligate” freshwater dolphins – the other three are the baiji now likely extinct from the Yangtze river in China, the bhulan of the Indus in Pakistan and the boto of the Amazon River in Latin America. Although there are several species of marine dolphins whose ranges include some freshwater habitats, these four species live only in rivers and lakes.

Being a mammal, the Ganges River dolphin cannot breathe in the water and must surface every 30-120 seconds. Because of the sound it produces when breathing, the animal is popularly referred to as the ‘Susu’.

Threats:

The survival of the Ganges River dolphin is threatened by unintentional killing through entanglement in fishing gear; directed harvest for dolphin oil, which is used as a fish attractant and for medicinal purposes; water development projects (e.g. water extraction and the construction of barrages, high dams, and embankments); industrial waste and pesticides; municipal sewage discharge and noise from vessel traffic; and overexploitation of prey, mainly due to the widespread use of non-selective fishing gear.

Source: The Hindu

Tiny spheres to trap water contaminants developed

In News:

Scientists have created tiny spheres that can catch and destroy bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic chemical used to make plastics that often contaminates water.

Bisphenol A (BPA):

BPA is commonly used to coat the insides of food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines, and was once a component of baby bottles.

Concerns: While BPA that seeps into food and drink is considered safe in low doses, prolonged exposure is suspected of affecting the health of children and contributing to high blood pressure.

Tiny spheres to trap BPA- how they function?

  • The micron-sized spheres developed resemble tiny flower-like collections of titanium dioxide petals.
  • The supple petals provide plenty of surface area for researchers to anchor cyclodextrin — a benign sugar-based molecule often used in food and drugs.
  • It has a two-faced structure, with a hydrophobic (water-avoiding) cavity and a hydrophilic (water-attracting) outer surface.
  • BPA is hydrophobic and naturally attracted to the cavity. Once trapped, reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by the spheres degrades BPA into harmless chemicals.

Source: The Hindu

JIMEX

In News:

The 3rd edition of Japan-India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX) is being held at Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. JIMEX-18 is aimed to enhance interoperability, improve understanding and imbibe best practices between navies of two countries.

Details:

It is a joint Maritime Exercise between India and Japan. It was started in January 2012 with special focus on Maritime Security Cooperation.

Source: PIB

Nobel Peace Prize

Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad have jointly been awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. They were given award for their efforts to end use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by a committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament.

Source: PIB

Territorial Army

  • The Territorial Army is a part of Regular Army.
  • It was set up after the Territorial Army Act was passed in 1948.
  • Before Independence, British raised territorial army in 1920 with two wings – European wing and Indian Volunteers wing.
  • Its present role is to relieve the Regular Army from static duties and assist civil administration and provide units as and when required.
  • It assist regular army in dealing with natural calamities and maintenance of essential services in situations where life of the communities is affected or the security of the Country is threatened.
  • Territorial Army units were actively involved in 1962, 1965 and 1971 operations.

Eurasian Otter

  • Otter is a carnivorous mammal and there are 7 subspecies found in 3 continents – Europe, Asia and Africa.
  • The Eurasian otter found in all the 3 continents is considered to be “Near Threatened” in IUCN Red List.
  • It lives in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, including highland and lowland lakes, rivers, streams, marshes, swamp forests and coastal areas independent of their size, origin or latitude.
  • Eurasian otter is the one of the least-known of India’s 3 otter species (Eurasian, smooth-coated & small-clawed otters) in Western Ghats.
  • It has been recorded historically from the Western Ghats – Coorg in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiri and Palani hill ranges.
  • Though its range is wide, it is not as frequently sighted as other two otters in India.
  • All 3 species of otters in India are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act and are listed in CITES Appendices.
  1. Eurasian Otter – CITES Appendix I; WPA Schedule II
  2. Smooth Coated Otter – CITES Appendix II; WPA Schedule II
  3. Clawless Otter – CITES Appendix II; WPA Schedule I

Asiatic Lions

  • There are only 700 Asiatic lions in the wild, and they only live in the Gir Forest area, India.
  • At present Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat is the only abode of the Asiatic lion.
  • It is listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, in Appendix I of CITES and as Endangered on IUCN Red List.
  • The asiatic lions in Gir Sanctuary, has recently been succumbed to the deadly infection of canine distemper virus (CDV) and tick-borne babesiosis.
  • Canine Distemper Virus is a contagious and serious disease that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of species of cats and dogs family.
  • Babesiosis is caused by a parasite that infects red blood cells and transmitted by ticks.

 

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